Sunday, 11 May 2014
The 30 hour adventure - Arran arrival
As we approached Loch Ranza, the Calmac ferry MV Loch Tarbert was leaving on her sailing across to Claonaig in Kintyre. This meant that we had time to keep to the southern shore of Loch Ranza as we approached the village without getting in the way of a departing or arriving ferry.
Ahead of us and in the eye of the bright morning sun stood the bold outline of Lochranza Castle, the counterpart to Skipness Castle on the Kintyre side of Kilbrannan Sound.
We were able to land on the spit right next to the castle near the head of Loch Ranza to explore the castle.
Lochranza is, like Skipness Castle, under the care of Historic Scotland. The original castle was likely a modest fortified hallhouse built by the same half-norse Mac Sween earl who built Skipness and specifically placed to control Kilbrannan Sound. The ruins which are most prominent now are of 16th century construction and are associated with the Montgomeries. Plaques on and around the ruin highlight where floors, stairways, fireplaces and individual rooms would have been. We took a look into the castle dungeon and agreed that it was a pretty unpleasant place to be even for a few minutes, never mind a long period of incarceration!
Back out into the sunshine and we could appreciate the striking lines of this fine ruin. The ground level entrance in this image is a later addition, made in more settled times; the original defended entrance is on the opposite side of the castle....half way up the wall.
In spring sunshine Locharanza is a pretty village clustered around the head of the loch. With a ferry link, the castle, a golf course, geological fame and the nearby distillery (the product of which, a non chill-filtered, light whisky is excellent!) it has much going for it. It's claimed though, that in winter Lochranza ranks as the Scottish village which gets the least natural sunlight due to the surrounding hills.
We were certainly in full sun this morning, but a chilly breeze had sprung up making us rather pleased we'd kept our drysuits on. If we'd have known how warm it was to get later we probably wouldn't have felt so self-satisfied!
This anchor and cable near to where we'd landed looked as if it had been around for some time. We didn't linger in this rather pleasant spot, which had ideally placed benches, for second breakfast due to the breeze and set off looking for a more sheltered location which would "conform" better to our requirements.