Summary: Port Bannatyne to Loch Ranza (Arran). 23.2 miles in 4 hours. Through the Kyles of Bute and the Burnt Islands and across to Arran.
We left around 8.40am heading through the East Kyle to the Burnt Islands and then down the West Kyle past Tighnabruich and Kames and across to Loch Ranza on Arran. A beautiful trip despite the weather and we managed to sail for the last part across to Arran. Picked up a visitors mooring in Loch Ranza.
In the afternoon we went ashore and walked past Lochranza Castle at the end of the bay. Lochranza Castle, as with many in this area, dates back to the 13th century, though most of what cn be seen today dates from the 16th century. Perhaps its most recent claim to fame is that it was used as the model for the castle in the Tintin adventure ‘The Black Island’. Bob de Moor, Hergé’s chief post-war assistant toured Britain finding appropriate settings and chose Lochranza for the castle in The Black Island.
We then paid a visit to the Arran Distillery. The distillery is a very new one and only opened in 1995. In fact the opening was delayed by a pair of Golden Eagles who were nesting in the hills above the distillery – all work was stopped while the pair raised their chicks. The distillery now produces around 750,000 litres per year and I can vouch for the fact that the 10 year old single malt is very nice! It is said that there used to be around 50 distilleries on Arran, but since they were all ‘moonlight’ ones, the new Arran distillery is the first legal one.
After visiting the distillery we walked round the bay following signs to the fairy dell. We are not sure if we ever got there as we didn’t see any fairies and we weren’t sure we saw a dell, but it was a lovely walk nevertheless. We did see two different orchid species though – the common spotted orchid and the northern march orchid.