Soon, Fiona Rodriguez stopped in with her young son and daughter. She'd grown up on mainland Scotland and had vacationed on Arran as a child. Now a divorced single mother, she had just relocated here from Vancouver, Canada, after 23 years away from Scotland, seeking a wholesome environment for her children.
Kildonan, at Arran's southeastern tip, has the ruins of a castle and a rocky shore on which many a ship has met its fate. I spent my last two nights at the pleasant, homey Kildonan Hotel, one of Arran's oldest, dating from before 1800. The hotel provides binoculars for guests who want to watch the seals just offshore.
On my last night, I raised a glass in toast to new friends in the hotel's popular pub as, to guitar accompaniment, everyone sang a spirited rendition of John Denver's "Annie's Song." It was a nice ending note.
Recommended for the Arran itinerary
From LAX, direct service (stop, no change of plane) to Glasgow is available on Continental; connecting service (change of plane) is offered on American, Aer Lingus, British, Continental, KLM and US Airways. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $836. From Glasgow, it's a 38-mile drive to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan. There also is a train from Glasgow Central station timed to ferry departures. Round-trip fare, Ardrossan-Brodick, in peak season, is $97 per car, plus $16 for each passenger. Information: Caledonian MacBrayne, 011-44-8705-650-000, http://www.calmac.co.uk .
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 44 (country code for Britain) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY:
Kilmichael Country House Hotel, Glen Cloy, Brodick; 1770-302-219, http://www.kilmichael.com . The historic property includes exquisite public rooms and accommodations in a garden setting. Open Easter through October. Doubles from about $272, including full breakfast. Four-course dinner, by reservation, about $71 per person.
Kildonan Hotel, Kildonan; 1770-820-207. http://www.kildonanhotel.com . Inviting seafront hotel with newly refurbished rooms. Doubles from about $137, including full breakfast. Popular pub with live music and view restaurant, with dinner entrees about $13-$39. Open year-round.
Auchrannie House Hotel & Spa Resort, Brodick; 1770-302-234, http://www.auchrannie.co.uk . Something for everyone, including self-catering lodges. Indoor pool and tennis, a fitness center, three dining options. Doubles, room only, at newer spa resort from $105; in Victorian-era hotel from $170, including breakfast. Open year-round.
WHERE TO EAT:
Lagg Hotel, Kilmory; 1770-870-255. The ambience at this circa-1791 coaching inn includes Scotch-plaid carpeting and an oak-beamed bar. Dinner entrees in bar $15-$25; in dining room $19-$29. Open Easter-October.
Ormidale Hotel, Brodick; 1770-302-293, http://www.ormidale-hotel.co.uk . Meet the locals at this lively bar and restaurant, which serves large and small meals and a variety of beers and whiskeys. Open Easter through September. Dinner entrees $11-$26.
Lighthouse restaurant, Pirnmill; 1770-850-240. The casual seafront spot is known for its homemade scones and meringues. Open Easter to October. Dinner entrees about $11-$23.
Eagle's Nest, Isle of Arran Distillers in the Lochranza visitors center, 1770-830-264, http://www.arranwhisky.com . This attractive restaurant serves lunch and dinner. Main courses at dinner $17-$48.
TO LEARN MORE:
The Pier, Brodick; 1770-303-774, fax 1770-302-395, http://www.visitscotland.com . Open seven days.
Ayrshire Tourist Board, http://www.ayrshire-arran.com or http://www.visitarran.net .
Visit Britain, (800) 462-2748, http://www.visitbritain.org .
— Beverly Beyette