We know that you love to explore.  There is so much to see and do right on our doorstep we wouldn’t blame you if you spent all of your time right here in Ayrshire.  We hate to admit it, but there are some equally beautiful places to explore further afield.

The isle of Arran, Bute and the Cowal peninsula are stunning.  You can explore them by road but you’ll be spending a good couple of hours behind the wheel.  By hopping on a ferry you can take in the scenery, travel across the countryside and be back in time for dinner.  CalMac offer a range of Island Hopper tickets which save you the trouble of buying lots of individual ones.  Here are some of our favourite routes.

Wemyss Bay to Colintraive

Take a short drive to Wemyss Bay then relax and enjoy the half hour crossing to Rothesay.  Rothesay Castle is well worth a visit and there’s also a very unusual tourist attraction in the form of working Victorian toilets!  Once you’ve had a cup of tea or an ice cream from Zavaroni’s be ready to drive north to Rhubodach to take the five minute crossing to Colintraive.

You can take a break here and head to The Colintraive Hotel for some lunch, or carry on to Portavadie and take a drive from there.  There’s a viewpoint on the coast road near Tighnabruich where you can see Kames Castle and across the Kyles of Bute.  We think it’s one of the world’s best views so we’d love to know if you agree.

If you’d prefer to stay in Portavadie for the afternoon there are boat tours, kayaking, diving and horse riding.

Ardrossan to Arran

If you’d prefer to get on the ferry even closer to home, you can.  During the summer months you can travel from Ardrossan, explore Arran then hop across the water to Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula.

The Arran ferry travels to Brodick on the island’s east coast.  If you’d like to spend your morning playing golf, there’s an 18 hole course just north of town.  Brodick Castle is currently closed but they’re still doing guided tours of the beautiful grounds.   There are landscaped gardens and woodland trails to explore.

If you’re feeling particularly active, Goat Fell is nearby and the view from the top is spectacular.

When you’re ready for something to eat, carry on to Lochranza, home of the Isle of Arran distillery.  The whisky lovers among you can take a tour of the distillery and there’s a restaurant serving local produce too.  You could also have lunch at the Lochranza Hotel then get straight onto the Claonaig ferry.

Arran to Claonaig

We’ll be honest, there’s not much to do in Claonaig itself.  The Kintyre Way runs through and there are 10 and 11 mile sections that you can either walk or cycle.  Otherwise, head towards Tarbert on the shores of Loch Fyne.  You can climb up to the ruined castle and enjoy the scenery.  If it’s a nice day we’d recommend heading to Shell Beach.  As the name suggests, it’s a small cove made up of broken seashells.  The water is wonderfully clear so you can even have a paddle if you like.  The route to the beach follows the pier, so there are some great views to enjoy along the way.  One note of caution though: you have to clamber over rocks to get onto the beach so be careful!

If you’d like to take a memento away with you the Luckenbooth Fine Arts Centre and Loch Fyne Gallery are both worth a visit.

After all that we think it’s probably time you headed home!

There are lots of gems to discover when you go exploring by ferry.  We look forward to hearing about yours.