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Isle of Arran or Braemar/Cairngorms National Park?

21 replies

solittletime · 04/07/2020 16:35

Anyone with experience or knowledge of the two? Would prefer just to pick one in order to minimise driving. How to choose they both look so beautiful!!!

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solittletime · 04/07/2020 16:39

We are going with children from 4 to 13 yrs. Enjoy walks but also like the idea of being near a village or town, we’re not a super outdoorsy hiking family!

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solittletime · 04/07/2020 16:39

Just bumping for traffic thank you!!!

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3YearT1dyUp3 · 04/07/2020 17:51

Ive been to Arran a couple of times. Left car on mainland. Feels like an adventure going via ferry. Pre virus times, there was an effecient local bus. Lovely walks & food. Saw lots of wildlife seals, eagles, basking sharks.
I prefer this to Cairngorms

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Coffeethrowtrampbitch · 04/07/2020 17:58

I've only briefly been to either, but I would think Arran as less likely to have lots of midges!
There are also lots of attractions on the Ayr coast, Heads of Ayr is a brilliant farm park which is opening again with social distancing, and also Kelburn Castle which has amazing nature trails and outdoor play places.
I hope you enjoy it wherever you decide to go!

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solittletime · 04/07/2020 20:28

Ok two votes for Arran then. I’ve heard about the midges - are they really that much of a problem? Would even consider going in the autumn (Covid allowing!!) if it’s a better season. But first need to sort out this summer. Really undecided as Arran really appealed - as long as ferry with the car is straightforward

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solittletime · 04/07/2020 20:31

Is the Ayr coast on Arran, facing East, or do you mean on mainland Scotland? Sorry my geography is seriously lacking !

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GalesThisMorning · 04/07/2020 20:34

Arran is lovely. Really beautiful beaches and mountains and in non covid times lovely restaurants and shops too. It feels very wild and cut off but at the same time accessible and interesting. The distillery is fun and makes really nice whiskey. Then only problem might be finding a place to stay as I think accommodation fills up quickly

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GoneFishingAgain · 04/07/2020 21:01

I would say more to do in the Cairngorms. It's always an adventure going to an island but Mull has a lot more to offer.

If the summer you may struggle to get a ferry booking for Arran as passenger numbers are very restricted. You can only book 2 weeks in advance, for each journey. Masks are mandatory on ferries.

You may also struggle to find any accommodation in either location as everything will either be booked months in advance or still closed due to Covid.

Check what facilities and attractions are open wherever you go, many won't open this season.

Midges hellish wherever you go, stock up on Smidge and hope it doesn't rain.

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solittletime · 04/07/2020 21:07

Thanks gonefishing! Annoying about the ferry... a bit risky if I book accommodation (I’d already found something to reserve) and then can’t get on the ferry, specially if services might be restricted this year... mmh, still feeling the pull of the island though! But maybe Cairngorms more sensible

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Mum2jenny · 04/07/2020 21:13

Arran is a beautiful island with many nice/ geological places to visit, but it is a small island - 1 week should be enough to see its main assets. Cairngorms national park is central north Scotland so you could spend 2 weeks plus looking around that region. It just depends on what you want to see and your main interests.

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Alaimo · 05/07/2020 15:35

It depends how long you want to go? I'd say Arran is great for a short-ish break (up to 5 days or so) but I'm not sure I would choose to spend more than a week at a time there. If you want to go for a week or longer I'd probably choose the Cairngorms. Activities might depend a bit on where you are staying, Aviemore area probably has more options for accommodation & activities than Braemar and surroundings. From Aviemore: Rothiemurchus forest is lovely for walks. There are opportunities for renting mountain bikes or canoes if the older kids would enjoy that sort of thing. There's the wildlife park (assuming it has reopened or will do so soon). And the Moray coast (1hr from aviemore) tends to get more sun than other parts of Scotland, so if the weather is rubbish you might be able to escape the rain there.

Also as a pp said: you can currently only book the ferry two weeks in advance. Also, while it's unusual in summer, it does happen that the ferry is disrupted due to bad weather, so always best to allow for an extra day in case the ferry doesn't run.

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3YearT1dyUp3 · 05/07/2020 15:41

I've been to the Cairngorms a long time ago. Think there was a reindeer farm & an ice rink

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loubieloo4 · 05/07/2020 18:11

I would go to Aviemore if you can get accommodation, loads to do for the children.

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GoneFishingAgain · 05/07/2020 18:13

@3YearT1dyUp3

I've been to the Cairngorms a long time ago. Think there was a reindeer farm & an ice rink

Helpful Hmm

The Cairngorms have masses to do but like everywhere in the UK many attractions will be severely restricted in their opening plans this summer, if they open at all.

But it's an excellent outdoor base, there's lots of walks and places to visit that can easily be done while maintaining social distancing, e.g. the Highland Wildlife Park.

Think about getting food supplies, not to put pressure on small local shops - order groceries for delivery to your holiday house, or take stuff with you. Support local businesses who are really struggling.

Also, remember Scotland is a few weeks behind England in opening up, and is doing things differently - make sure you follow Scottish guidance when travelling, in shops etc.
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sleepyhead · 05/07/2020 18:40

Arran is lovely but I'd worry about the ferry this year.

Cairngorms also lovely and less complicated transport wise so it'd get my vote.

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sleepyhead · 05/07/2020 18:42

Oh, and midges both places!

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midnightstar66 · 05/07/2020 18:51

I'd definitely consider the difficulty in getting a ferry to any scottish island this year. They are only taking a small % of capacity and can't book too far in advance. Assume they prioritise locals for essential travel too - at least I hope so!

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solittletime · 07/07/2020 16:38

Thank you very much to everyone. Although Arran was my number 1 choice I’ve decided to be sensible and leave it for another time!
One more question! Since you’ve all been so helpful- driving from Great Yarmouth to Scotland ? Google gives so many options but would like which motorway is worse for traffic/roadworks? Also would prefer a scenic route bit not if it’s going to make all the children car sick!!

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OllyBJolly · 07/07/2020 16:50

I drive to Norwich frequently from just north of the central belt. My route would be M1, A66,M74, A80, A9.

A9 has/will have a lot of roadworks but it's scenic enough. Heading north our usual stops are House of Bruar or Ralia. (Sometimes stop at the shopping park on the Inveralmond roundabout on the way out of Perth for Lidl or Aldi plus M&S Food. And of course lunch at the Tiso cafe!) If you have DCs then Pitlochry has a playpark.

Once you get there:
Landmark Adventure Park - unmissable. Probably best children's attraction I've ever taken kids to.
Highland Wildlife Park -very well done
Loch Insh water sports - nice cafe and a really pleasant spot
Loch Morlich beach - beautiful
Soft play at McDonald hotel if open
Steam train to Boat of Garten

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solittletime · 07/07/2020 17:20

Wow what a quick and comprehensive reply thanks so much I’ll look that route up

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Mum2jenny · 08/07/2020 21:46

I’d do A1 rather than M1, then A66 etc

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