Isle of Arran: Scenery to bottle

Nowhere more than on the Isle of Arran do I wish I could bottle the scenery and take it home, to open up every time I need to escape from the everyday. My most recent visit - for Hogmanay - was packed with landscapes of the most mesmerising sort. First, walking from Dun Ffion along Clauchlan's Point on the shiniest of days, we stumbled upon a panorama of Brodick Bay in a mediterranean blue surrounded by a mountainscape encompassing Goat Fell, the Three Beinns, A'Chir and Cir Mhor. The view was permitted thanks to the removal of swathes of pine woodland, part of a programme to reinstate native tree species - and what a treat for walkers now.
Another 'bottle it' moment came one afternoon spent plodding along the sand at Machrie Bay. A golden sheen polished the sea and sky. I shut my eyes and could hear only the lapping waves. We gazed at the same sea while walking from Catacol up to Coire-Fhion Lochan, the altitude extending the view to the Paps of Jura and Islay. We passed a collection of houses in enviable locations, before crossing rough moorland to the lochan. An eagle soared above. The steep sides of the basin left wintry grey reflections upon the water. Now, no sound but the rustle of the wind. A party of red deer observed us from afar, as still as statues. That same afternoon, Nigel treated Tim to a RIB boat trip (he returned glowing!) and Mum and I played Christmas carols. I attempted playing the recorder for the first time since primary school!
We were spending our first 'Hogmanay' on Arran, and New Year's Eve was lovely. It started with scrumptious scones (mine were cranberry and orange) at Janie's cafe at Home Farm outside Brodick. We stocked up on smoked salmon and mackerel pate at Creeler's next door before returning to the campsite, where it was blowing a gale. I had prepared myself for the worst after deciding to spend midwinter in a caravan, but it was toasty and cosy - though a tad worrying when the wind seemed to lift it.

The weather cleared that afternoon and we had a nice walk along the golf course. Around us, the fells were golden - amazing, this colour, when the world around should be dead. Evening celebrations started with dinner (salmon in creamy sauce) and pen-and-paper games at Lochranza Hotel, and continued at the caravan over several competitive rounds of Masterpiece. There's nothing like a board game on a wintry night.

We saw in midnight singing Auld Lang Syne and toasting a 'wee dram'. New Year's Day began with the sensation of the caravan being lifted by the wind (again) and the pounding of raindrops - let's hope the year didn't start as it intends to go on! We forced ourselves out, getting a good soaking on the way up - and back down - Glenn Esan. We looked upon its swollen waterfall, whose lagoons apparently make a nice summer swimming spot. The afternoon was somewhat cosier in a beautiful house overlooking Lochranza Bay, where friends of mum had invited us for a delicious roast lunch.

In Scotland it's important not to wish anyone happy new year until it has arrived - so we spent time clinking glasses and well-wishing over glasses of Bucks Fizz. I loved meeting the locals, all of whom had fabulously interesting backgrounds, and was royally entertained by their performance of Robert Burns' Tam o' Shanter. It's one thing visiting a place, and even more of a treat to get an insider glimpse by meeting the people who live there...
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