2013 in photos: The Isle of Arran

highlands walk

In earlier travel posts about the Isle of Arran, I’ve shared photos of Neolithic remains and fairy glens, as well as the petroglyphs at King’s Cave. But that doesn’t begin to exhaust all that we found worth seeing (and photographing) there.

arthropleura tracks 2

There were, for example, these sea-side trace fossils of an enormous centipede ancestor called arthropleura, which attained lengths of 8 1/2 feet.

oystercatcher with Ailsa Craig

Sea-side walks were full of photogenic surprises, such as this view of an oystercatcher with the off-shore volcanic neck known as Ailsa Craig.

sandstoney beach

The rocky shores themselves were extraordinary. Near where this photo was taken, the geologist James Hutton identified his first unconformity.

On a trip to the Isle of Arran in 1787 he found his first example of an unconformity to the north of Newton Point near Lochranza, but the limited view did not give the information he needed. It occurs where vertically oriented Precambrian Dalradian schists are overlain by more recent cornstones in the Kinnesswood Formation of the Inverclyde Group (Lower Carboniferous) with an obvious difference in dip between the two rock layers, but he incorrectly thought that the strata were conformable at a depth below the exposed outcrop.

gleaners at Lochranza

At low tide, gleaners failed to disturb the slumber of harbor seals.

weathered beach boulder

Beach boulders were endlessly fascinating.

rippled seaside rock

Some still bore the marks of more ancient seas.

Lochranza Castle 2

Of the three castles on the island, Lochranza was the only one we took the time to visit. (The money-grubbing custodians of the much larger Brodick Castle wouldn’t even let us walk in their woods for free, so we had no interest in seeing the rest of it.)

Lochranza Castle 3

I suspect I wouldn’t have liked it nearly as much if it hadn’t been a ruin.

Lochranza Castle 4

The scaffolding and renovation going on in one section only added to the visual appeal.

red deer stag

We frequently encountered red deer, which are closer in size to elk than to Pennsylvania’s white-tailed deer.

juvenile European robin in hawthorn-1

This juvenile European robin let me get quite close.

In general, I let Rachel with her superior lenses take the telephoto and macro shots. I’ll round out the post with a selection of her Arran photos (which number 114 — to say nothing of her photos from previous visits).

black guillimots 02

Black guillemots nested right in the ferry terminal pier at Brodick.

hungry shore pipit

Shore pipits. It was definitely the season for hungry fledglings.

Firth of Clyde

We went swimming in the ocean. And by “we”, I mean “I”. Even in late July, the Irish Sea is not terribly warm.


A stonechat posed obligingly next to a stone wall.

scotch argus

Of all the butterflies and moths we saw, the Scotch Argus was my favorite.

lizard too

The highland trail pictured at the beginning of this post was rocky in some parts and boggy in others, but by forcing us to watch our feet, drew our attention both to a lizard

tiger beetle

and to a tiger beetle.


Ten days in Arran were barely enough to whet my appetite. I can see why people get so attached to the place.

Laggan Cottage shutter

I hope to return someday.


  1. I love the photo of you in the cold cold sea! And the deer–and the stonechat…lovely. Makes me feel away-from-homesick. :)


  2. fabulous places and images!! Ailsa Craig, the source of curling stones, was for sale in November.


  3. These photos are so beautiful. What a spectacular place. I’ve never heard of the Isle of Arran before, and now I want to go there and walk around to see these splendid sights. I hardly ever regret not being an air-traveler, but I do right now.


  4. Thanks, all. I love the expression “away-from-homesick” — a different feeling altogether from “wanderlust.” (It’s not wandering I long for, but alternative homes.) Yes, Ailsa Craig is still for sale, and the price has been dropped by a million pounds. But given its value to wildlife as seabird nesting habitat, I think the government should buy it.

    Robin, perhaps you and Roger could catch a slow boat to Britain?


    1. Thanks, Jean. I like that photo, too, but it’s almost too perfect for my taste. I personally prefer photos with slightly less “wow” factor.


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