This is the question around which, my desire to write this blog evolved. Three years ago, I nervously bundled my then ten year old, eight year old and two year old into our over packed car and set off for the Isle of Arran. I actually felt worried that they might be bored if the weather was bad and I felt very responsible, because IT WAS ALL MY IDEA! I had wanted to visit Arran for years and had persuaded my husband that even though our two year old was potty training, our car was ancient and the weather forecast wasn’t exactly optimistic, it would all be fine. Do you know what? It wasn’t just fine, it was absolutely FANTASTIC!
I could of course, give you the usual guide book speil about all the available activities that the islands have to offer but I thought that it would be interesting to ask my own children why they like to visit the islands. The results surprised even me!
“It’s not too full of people.”
This was the top answer from both my oldest daughters and really not what I expected, from a thirteen year old and an eleven year old. In the past we have stayed at popular British holiday parks and endured endless queues for overpacked entertainment venues and swimming pools. All whilst trying to dodge noisy arcades and evade the constant sell, sell, sell of commercialised, overpriced tat being constantly rammed in our kids faces. We endured this because we thought that this kind of holiday would be fun for the kids. It turns out that actually they weren’t that bothered and would far rather play on a deserted beach!
“I like the ferry.”
This was my youngest daughter’s contribution. At the age of two she was obsessed with “my boat” and the fascination still holds. The iconic Caledonian Macbrayne (Calmac) ferries are fantastic for families, offering really good facilities, especially on their larger ferries. There are good value cafeterias and even shops, offering a taste of local produce but nothing really beats being up on deck, watching the mainland retreat and the islands approach. If you are really lucky you might even see a dolphin!
For young children it’s also very exciting to drive right inside the ferry. My daughters loved doing this.
I guessed that this would be a top response. The Scottish islands boast stunningly beautiful, unspoilt, sandy beaches. If the weather is good, it feels like a day in paradise but even if it is a bit chilly, the kids can always wrap up warm and enjoy rock-pooling and hunting for pebbles and shells. Here are some of our favourite beach photographs.
This comment refers to the Isle of Arran. Everywhere we visited there were swings, usually with a beautiful view out to sea. I couldn’t believe the amount of play equipment on offer to our visiting children. The pictures of playgrounds below were taken in Brodick and Lamlash. There may seem an excessive amount of photographs but I personally would like to have seen a post like this, before I decided to take my children to Arran. I don’t think that enough of this kind of information exists for parents.
“Interesting places to visit.”
The islands are filled with unique attractions which are both educational and fun. We particularly enjoyed visiting Brodick Castle and the Isle of Arran heritage museum. On the day we visited the museum there was a vintage tractor rally, so that kept Ian entertained too!
This summer when we visit Mull, we are looking forward to visiting the aquarium and local museum.
Whilst on holiday we have been known to indulge in the odd (okay, numerous!) Scottish delicacy. Our kids are big fans of ‘square’ (Lorne) sausage, Scotch pies, tablet and the local cheddar. At the Home Farm Visitors Centre on the Isle of Arran, you can watch skilled cheese makers at work and sample the produce. Their cheese is sensational! This summer we are hoping to visit the Isle of Mull cheese farm, near Tobermory. Because of the islands’ location, they rely heavily on fresh local produce and this really shows when you eat out.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful in showing that the Scottish islands have so much to offer younger visitors too. Personally, I can’t think of anywhere that I’d rather be with my children this summer. Happy Holidays!