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The Isle of Arran is a retreat you can’t beat: Leave your cares (and kids!) behind with an idyllic island getaway

Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran
Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran

I LOVE children but, for a father-of-two, I do seem to spend a lot of time avoiding them.

To be clear it is other people’s kids I’m evading (mostly).

It’s nothing personal, but when I’m not with my children I just want a bit of peace.

That’s a position that leads me nicely to the striking view stretching out beyond my luxury chalet on the Isle of Arran as I write this.

Most people who have heard of the island’s Auchrannie resort will know of its well deserved family-friendly reputation but it now has another string to its bow in the shape of a newly opened “couples retreat”.

A string of single-storey chalets strung across a field on the edge of the resort is clearly where the action is at judging by the number of Auchrannie regulars who walked by to have a nosey.

But the chalets have rightly caused a stir in the island’s well-honed tourist scene.

In front you have a view of the craggy peaks of the awe-inspiring Goatfell range, but it is at the back where you get the better setting.

The hills above Glen Cloy fill the skyline in an almost horseshoe shape and made for a great afternoon sitting in glorious sunshine in the great company of my purchases from the nearby Arran Brewery, with sheep knocking around in the adjacent field.

We visited during the recent spell when Scotland kidded on it was part of the Mediterranean, which meant it was just too sweltering to use the chalet’s hot tub.

However, it didn’t take too much of a leap to imagine sitting in the tub of a crisp evening with the stars twinkling above and a light dusting of snow on the hills around.

The chalets are a bit Tardis-like with a high-end specification you’d expect in a top hotel and well designed to ensure privacy.

On the edge of the resort, the couples retreat feels like it is exactly that but you’re only ever five minutes’ walk away from the restaurants or other facilities such as the good-sized swimming pool or spa.

Designing a chalet just for couples means a comfortable bed, as well as ample reading and lounging spots are essential.

Chief among them is a giant-sized wooden seat, which looks like a massive hamster wheel but was easily one of the most comfortable reading chairs I’ve ever used.

There are decent cooking facilities in the chalet, and a wine fridge, but we ate at the three restaurants in the resort as they were of a good standard with cheerful service.

Best of the lot is the eighteen69 restaurant that specialises in Scottish dishes served Tapas style.

It’s a winning approach with great use of local produce, especially the meats.

The warm welcome from the staff felt genuine and was consistent across the whole resort and they even posted me back a much-loved shirt I’d accidently left in a wardrobe.

Part of Arran’s appeal is that it is a microcosm of Scotland (right down the midges), so a drive around the island is essential if visiting with a car – it’s only 56 miles in circumference, so doable meandering for a day.

Among the highlights to the south are Whiting Bay and the Eas Mor Waterfall.

On the west, Machrie side of the island, the road hugs the shoreline and there are plenty of beach stops to break up the journey.

The mountainous north gets slightly more challenging but it is still enormous fun and gives you the sense of simply driving for the joy of driving that you rarely have on the mainland – especially in the “passing point prison” which the North Coast 500 is rapidly becoming.

For the more adventurous and active a hike up Goat Fell is a worthwhile day trip and it is accessible walking from the Auchrannie resort.

Although “only’ a Corbett at 874m (2866ft) you start from sea level so it is a reasonable hike but the views up and down the Firth of Clyde are majestic.

Having been to Auchrannie with the family it was great to see the resort from a different – more peaceful! – perspective and my love for Arran has grown even more.

Facts

To book, or for more details about Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran, call 01770 302 234 or visit their website at auchrannie.co.uk

Prices start from £149 per night for a deluxe couples retreat.