On the second day of our foodie adventure and first full day in Arran we awoke after a good night's sleep and could then fully appreciate why our room at the Douglas Hotel was named after Goatfell, Arran's highest point. Read about what we got up to on day 1 of our Arran and Ayrshire adventure here.
Then it was time to head downstairs for breakfast - Salmon with scrambled eggs and a full Scottish, a well-cooked non-greasy fry up with big slices of bacon and thankfully a tattie scone - from a local supplier Wooleys as well (too many Scottish hotels don't provide them!).
We said goodbye to the Douglas Hotel and then headed to our next destination just a short walk / drive along Shore Road.
James of Arran - Arran Chocolate Factory
Shore Road, Brodick, KA27 8AP
We remember this shop from our first visit to Arran, in fact, it may have been our first stop! At James of Arran you can not only buy handmade chocolates but also, if you are lucky, get to see them being made. We missed out on this, however, you can still peek into the Willy Wonka world through a window in the shop. Note that as a result of COVID they are only permitting one family inside the shop at a time so we had to wait on a couple buying gifts for all their children and grandkids! However, it is worth the wait.
Knox House, Shore Road, Brodick, KA27 8AJ
Crofters, just a few doors further along Shore Road is a bar and bistro which not only embraces an ethos of selling Scottish products but as a result of lockdown, they are now also making their own range of pickled sauce and condiments, Crofters Larder, which is available to in the bistro and online. We sampled a fair few of these alongside Arran cheeses and oatcakes.
They have a great selection of Scottish beers, and where possible Scottish spirits, so will find plenty of Scottish gins and rums in addition to the usual whisky. If you're after something non-alcoholic their coffee is roasted just outside of Brodick by the aptly named Arran Coffee. They are also dog-friendly.
Closed Monday - Thursday. Open Fridays from 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 noon - late.
Arran Botanical Drinks
Cladach Beach House, KA27 8DE
Just outside of Brodick is Arran Botanical Drinks, a large shack with an idyllic beer garden beside a sandy beach thus making it possibly Scotland's only beach bar!? They began life as Arran Gin but then branched out and started making cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Now they have collaborated with the small-batch brewer Seagate Brewery, who are based in Lamlash in the south of the island.
Inside, it was cosy with a wood-burning stove doing its thing. We got a tour around the premises and learned about some of the unusual botanicals that go into making Arran Gin. Compared to other gins the juniper takes a back seat to more earthy, savoury flavours. This is as a result of the foraged seaweed and coastal plants that are used in place of more conventional, and often imported, ingredients. All of the botanicals used in the gin are found locally on Arran, with the exception of juniper as there simply isn't enough of it to go around. It's a pretty unique flavour and quite different to Gordon's!
We also sampled their lovely Cassis and their latest beer, a light lemony brew called Botanical Blonde.
Just imagine sitting here with drinks on a warm summers day.
Open Wednesday and Thursday 12-6pm
Friday and Saturday 12-7pm
The Bay Kitchen and Stores
Whiting Bay, Arran, KA27 8PZ
We turned around and headed back through Brodick towards the south of Arran stopping in Whiting Bay to visit a shop-cum-cafe who have a fresh milk vending machine, unpackaged goods, fresh bread from the Blackwater Bakehouse (which was still warm when we visited), local herbs and massive vegetables.
For a village on an island with a total population of around 5,000 The Bay Kitchen and Stores stocks an incredible amount of unusual, organic and vegan products in addition to the local, fresh produce. They also stock all the basic essentials of course.
So much can be purchased from here, it really is incredibly well-stocked.
We loved the packaging on these local eggs as well.
As we were leaving we noticed an interesting display of rubber ducks on a neighbour's hedge, then we got back in the car and as we were driving off we saw a group of people looking out onto what appeared to be a seal posing on a nearby rock! If there wasn't already traffic behind us we would have stopped for pictures but that is something to be aware of when you're in Arran, wildlife is everywhere.
Our next destination was the Lagg Distillery, but just before the bend before the entrance we spied an honesty box at the edge of the road and had to stop!
A well-stocked honest box is something we like to see so we picked up a few items, deposited our money and continued the short journey to the distillery.
Kilmory, Arran, KA27 8PG
The first thing you notice about Lagg Distillery is that it looks so modern, clean and tidy compared to most other distilleries. It only opened in 2019 so is not yet bottling spirit that can be legally called whisky, but that time will come later this year.
It's owned by Isle of Arran Distillers, who are the same people who run the well-established Lochranza distillery in the north of the island. The key difference is that at Lochranza they produce non-peated whisky but here at Lagg, they are making peated whisky only.
Some people refer to whiskies made on islands as 'island' whiskies (unsurprisingly) but although there are legal definitions for the five main whisky regions (Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown), Island isn't one of them so according to our tour guide, because of the where the line was drawn between Highland and Lowland, the whisky made at Lochranza is officially 'Highland' while the whisky at Lagg is 'Lowland' yet it tastes more like an Islay - Scotland in miniature indeed! We sampled two drams made at Lochranza, one peated and one not, as the original distillery had dabbled with peated malt before opening this new venture.
We also enjoyed a big bowl of cream Cullen skink for a late lunch before departing.
As we were driving the distillery kindly gave us a driver's dram for taking our whisky home with us but if you do plan on arriving by public transport the bus stops near to the entrance, though note there is no pavement.
We even got to enjoy a wonderful sunset over Mull of Kintyre from the Lagg Distillery car park - as did a few others.
Blackwater Foot, KA27 8EX
Our last stop of the day before checking into our next hotel and dinner was Bellevue Farm. Here, you can buy free-range eggs and home reared pork and lamb, you can even take the family on a farm tour to see a Shetland pony, donkeys, Highland cows, chicks, rabbits, ducks, hens, goats, and alpacas. But we were here to find out all about the Farmers Market, which is held here and draws in customers and producers from all over the island, some of whom we had already visited. We met up with Cameron Bruce from Arran's Food Journey who told us more.
The market takes place inside the big barn above so don't be put off if you are on Arran when the market's on but the weather is rubbish! also, if you don't have a car there is a bus stop (both directions) less than 5 mins walk on the main road outside.
The video below shows what to expect at the Farmers Market.
Auchrannie Road, Brodick, KA27 8BZ
Auchrannie is a well-known and well-regarded spa resort in the Glencloy valley a few streets away from the main road in Brodick. Our room was modern and well-equipped with tasteful furnishings with tartan touches.
We dined at Brambles Seafood + Grill, which was a relaxed and informal restaurant. The menu is modern and embraces local produce such as Arran cheese and mustard.
We learned that Bramble's have a famous chunky fishcake so I ordered this, which was a beast of a fishcake with a lemon & pepper mayonnaise, just what was needed on a cold, wintery day. Mark picked the tempura style broccoli with chilli, soy & sesame dip to liven up his tastebuds. We then moved on to mains with steamed Scottish mussels in an Arran smoked cheddar & cider broth served with sourdough bread & butter. Lots of lovely sauce to dip the bread into and plump mussels as well. We continued the fish theme, well we were on an island, with their 6oz salmon burger, which was served on toasted ciabatta with smoky bacon, sun blushed tomato, rocket & mayonnaise, and a side of hand-cut chips. This moist and unusual sight on the menu was chunky like the fishcake but not overly fishy.
Before heading to bed, we had a quick drink in the cosy bar, which of course stocks local Arran ales and has a roaring log fire. There is also a tapas restaurant here, it's closed in winter but should you stay at Auchrannie in summer you will have three restaurants to choose from.