The Isle of Arran is one of the UK's most spectacular islands with a great
diversity of scenery from dramatic peaks and valleys carved during the Ice Age
to broad, sheltered coastal bays.
The island is often referred to
as 'Scotland in miniature' because of its range of scenery.
|Solitude and wildlife excellence
Although the island is only 20 miles
long and 10 miles wide, the north of the island is mountainous with lochs whilst
the south comprises gently rolling hills.
The reason for this mix of scenery
is the Highland Boundary Fault, a great crack in the Earth's crust which runs
through the island.
It's the same fault line that separates the Highlands
from the lowlands on the mainland.
In winter the island is a wildlife haven
with Red Deer, Otters, Common Seals and Red Squirrels.
Isle of Arran is also home to one of the most beautiful species of birds to grace
British shores in winter - Loons or Divers.
To see them you've got to stick
to the coastal and inland loughs because it's here that they gather in groups.
Look out for three species of diver - the Red Throated (with its turned-up
head), the Black Throated (with a triangular white patch on its rear)and the Great
Northern (with a large, dagger-like beak).
All three birds that have started
to reclaim their old breeding haunts after centuries of persecution by egg collectors
Once upon a time these birds were a staple part of the diet
in the Hebrides - and the fat from the birds was used as a form of medicine, for
the treatment of sciatica.
The name 'loon' comes from the sound they make
during the breeding season - which varies from a kind of meowing and yodelling
to mad laughing.
In winter you can't rely on the sounds these birds make
because that's something they do in the spring.
In legend the birds were
dubbed 'rain goose' because of their apparent ability to predict coming storms.
are not the easiest birds to spot because they lie low in the water and they are
prone to diving down in search of fish.
These divers are supremely adapted
to lifestyle in rough British waters.
mild climate results from the influence of the Gulf Stream and this means that
the plant season is usually a few weeks ahead of the mainland.
of a botanical bent and want to see your winter flowering plants first, then this
is the place to come.
Even in winter there can up to 50 species of wild
flower can be found.
The island also boasts some unusual trees including
the unique Arran Whitebeam, a curious hybrid between a Rowan and a Whitebeam,
which is only found here.
Arran is also a fantastic place to see one of
Scotland's great birds which you'll find inland of the glens.
are the UK's second biggest bird of prey, and winter is a good time to track them
down, as this is when the adults are starting to establish their breeding territories
for the coming year.
There are ten breeding pairs of Golden Eagles on the
island, and, because of the island's size, they're not that hard to find
out for them especially in late winter when the adults start to display as a precursor
to the breeding season.