Uncovering tales of whisky smuggling, curling, and giants on Arran

Uncovering tales of whisky smuggling, curling, and giants on Arran

By Kelly Morrison

I first sailed across to Arran over ten years ago when I spent a week there volunteering with the ranger service at the National Trust for Scotland’s property, Brodick Castle.  That first glimpse of the island from the CalMac ferry still fills me with as much excitement each time I have been back over the years.

A few weeks ago, I went over on a day trip with a friend, in search of COAST stories… We went as foot passengers, and the crossing from Ardrossan takes around 55 minutes.  If the weather is not too bad, I like to spend most of the journey out on deck, to enjoy the surroundings and experience the elements, but I am also partial to a walk around the pet area to say hello to the dogs on board!

Once we arrived on the island and had fuelled up on a late breakfast, we walked along the ‘fisherman’s walk’ which edges the golf course and the shore along to Brodick.  As we rounded the bay, I took out my phone and checked the COAST app, which I had already downloaded, and was intrigued to see what stories were in this area. The ‘nearby stories’ button on the home page brought up a list, with the closest first, and directions linked though to maps for directions and details of the distances.

As we were staying around the Brodick area that day, the four main stories that caught my eye were about ‘the giant Scorri’ – where Glen Scorrodale got its name, and ‘Corrie’s Curling Capers’, about the history of curling on Arran.  This story was written by Alison Page, an author of children’s picture books who lives on Arran, who uncovered more about the significance and connections of curling on Arran through her research.

Just off the coast itself were also tales of smuggling both from and to the island – ‘Caught in the act’ and ‘Pursuing smugglers around the Arran coast’, a side of Arran’s history I previously knew nothing about and an interesting background to the industry which is a part of the island’s economy today.

I will not give too much away, and let you read more about these stories for yourself on the COAST website and app, and they are even better to read when you are there in person. The interactive map is especially useful if you are travelling to a particular spot – which is accessible on both platforms.  Now that there is a wealth of stories to access on the move, I am looking forward to more trips around the west coast, to deepen my understanding of places I have visited before, and to discover the unique heritage of sites that are new to me.

Kelly Morrison, COAST Project Officer, Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research – UHI West Highland

There are 20 stories to discover in and around Arran and you can find out more about a trip to the island at www.visitarran.com.   You can also plan and book your journeys at www.calmac.co.uk.

Kelly on the ferry to Arran
View across to Goatfell
Finding nearby stories on the app