Holy Isle Hike
Where: Holy Isle just of the coast of the
Isle of Arran
When: July 2013
Who: I Parker
Why: Good weather so a day out
Distance: about 6 miles
The image below is of the Arran ferry
Caledonian Isles loading at
Ardrossan. It costs about £7 per person
for a day return on the ferry, and about
£30 per return for a car, so many people
park in the large car park next to the pier
for a few pounds per day, rather than take
the car. If you are taking a car at weekends
or in the school holiday season, it is best
to pre-book, as the ferry can be fully booked
I was only going to the Holy Isle from
Lamlash about 4 miles south of Brodick, so
parked the car at the pier car park and
boarded as a foot passenger.
Ardrossan Train Station is situated less
than half of a mile south of the ferry
terminal. You can normally buy train/ferry
tickets together with a discount. Train/Ferry
The first ferry normally departs Ardrossan
at 07.00 and the next at 09.45. Afternoon
ferries leaving Brodick are normally 16.40
and 19.20. In summer, there is also a smaller
ferry that runs so there will be more
crossings available. Price checks and
timetables for the ferry can be found at the
The image below is of one of the
restaurants on board the ferry. The crossing
takes about 1 hour to Brodick, so plenty of
time for breakfast.
The image below is from the ferry when
approaching Brodick, looking south to the
Holy Isle. This was the 09.45 ferry, so i was
hoping the buses would be waiting on the
ferry docking. Note, there are no buses that
run to suit the first early ferry?
The bus stops are right next to the ferry
terminal and there were three buses sitting
waiting. One goes north to Cladach, Brodick
Castle, Corrie, Sannox, Lochranza and round
to Blackwaterfoot. Another goes straight over
to Blackwaterfoot via the mountain road, and
the other goes south to Lamlash, Whiting Bay,
Kildonan, Kilmory, Lagg and round to
Bus Website .
Bus Tel: 01770 302 000
If you miss the bus, or are on the early
ferry, A.R.C. Private Hire are based in
Brodick with a price guide for up to 4 people
of about £8 between Brodick and Lamlash.
Tel: 0777 608 2752.
Lamlash based Taxi and mini bus hire call
George on 07967 587 481.
I managed to get on the correct bus,
Service 323, so arrived at Lamlash about ten
minutes later. There is about a two hundred
yard walk from the bus stop to the Lamlash
The image below is of the Holy Isle
booking office at Lamlash Pier.
Map . Arran Attractions
I made the booking at the office that was
about £11 for the ferry trip. The
ferries are supposed to run on the hour, but
on busy days, they can run about every 20
The last ferry back from the island is
17.15. Evening trips have to be booked in
advance. You are not allowed bikes, pets or
alcohol on the island.
You are given a pamphlet when booking that
gives information on the island and has a map
of the walking and hiking routes.
The ferries run most of the year when the
weather is suitable, and you do not need to
pre-book. Out of the summer season, it would
be best to phone to check the ferries will be
running on the day of your visit.
Ferry trips Tel: Tom Sheldon on 01770 600
998 or Jim on 01770 700 463.
Island Website: www.holyisland.org
The image below is of the jetty on the
Holy Isle. There is normally someone here to
meet you and give information on the
The image below is of the place you will
be given information on the island and about
the owner of the island. The building here is
the Centre for World Peace and Health where
an ongoing retreat and course programme takes
place. This building cannot be visited most
of the time, unless you are staying on the
island for a course.
The image below is of the start of the
Holy Isle mountain trail. This point is
straight in front of the jetty, so easy to
find. There is a stile at the top of the
field that leads to a woodland path. The
woodland path leads for a few hundred yards
up onto the hills.
If you do not fancy the steep climb over
the mountains, you can follow the good
coastal path down the west side of the
island, and round to the Pillar Rock
Lighthouse on the southeast side of the
The image below is from just above the
woodland path with some wild horses out on
The image below is of the well marked
trail to the top of the north hill named
Mullach Beag at 807ft. There are a number of
trails up here, probably horse trails, so you
have to follow the way markers.
The image below is looking back down from
close to the top of Mullach Beag to the Holy
The image below is from Mullach Beag cairn
looking south to the 1,030ft Mullach Mor.
The image below is of the steep section on
the north side of Mullach Mor. There is a
little bit of scrambling required up this
part, it is that steep.
The image below is of Mullach Mor summit.
This was a busy day with people from around
the world on the island.
Just to the left of the spot where this
pic was taken, is a view almost straight down
to a cove on the east side of the island,
about 1,000ft. I was fortunate to be looking
down when the fast tour boat Ocean Breeze,
from Lamlash, sped into the cove. Saw the
fast tour boat again at the south side of the
island, and again at the jetty when waiting
on the ferry back to Lamlash. Ocean Breeze Website.
The image below is of the trail leading
down the south side.
The image below is of the trail down the
south side of Mullach Mor. This first part is
really steep, another bit of scrambling.
Down to the left when going down here, you
get great views down to the Pillar Rock
Lighthouse on the southeast side of the
island. When you get to the bottom of this
ridge, you will find the path round the
island shoreline. You can take the path to
the left round to Pillar Rock Lighthouse. The
shoreline path ends at that lighthouse.
Following the shoreline path to the right,
you will see up on the hillside, a square
house, home to the owner of the island, Lama
Yeshe Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation
master in the Kagyu tradition.
Some hikers go down the west side of the
island, then up from this south side, said to
be the steeper route up.
The image below is of the shoreline path
heading north back to the jetty for the
The area around the lighthouse, down here
on the southwest corner of the island, is a
Closed Buddhist Retreat, so cannot be
The image below is of one of a few carved
rock paintings along this shoreline. The
paintings depict the Buddha and several
Tibetan Buddhist icons.
There is also the St Molaise Cave &
Holy Spring along this coastline. The cave
has inscriptions thought to have been made in
1263, when before the Battle of Largs, the
Norse king Haakon anchored his fleet in
Lamlash Bay. The Viking inscriptions may have
been made by sailors at that time.
The image below is of the shoreline path
reaching the Boat House by the jetty. You can
have a complementary cup of tee or coffee at
the boathouse most days.
The kayaks here are from the Arran Outdoor
Education Centre that is based at Lamlash.
They offer a range of activities on land and
The image below is of the ferry arriving
at the Holy Isle. There are interesting
looking wild sheep around the jetty area.
These sheep look more like goats.
The image below is looking back from the
ferry to the Holy Isle.
The image below is from the Lamlash pier
towards the Holy Isle.
The fishing boat next to the Land Rover
had just returned from a sea fishing charter.
They had caught a fair number of mackerel.
The fishing tours can be booked at the same
booking office for the Holy Isle ferry.
Tel: Tom Sheldon on 01770 600 998 or Jim on
01770 700 463.
The image below was taken from the bus
stop just south of the Lamlash Pier, when
waiting on the bus back to Brodick for the
ferry to the mainland.
The monument here is in honour of locals
that emigrated to North America in the 1800s.
The emigration took place after many crofters
on Arran were forced off their land to make
way for large scale sheep farming.
The plaque reads:
Erected on behalf of Arran clearance
descendents across North America to their
brave forefathers who departed from their
beloved island home to Canada during the
clearance years 1829 to 1840.
Here at Lamlash on April 25th 1829 part of
the clearance (86 souls) when embarking on
the brig Caledonia (196 ton) the Rev.A.Mackay
preached from The Mound (opposite) formed by
the departing his text "Casting all your care
upon him: for he careth for you" 1st Peter
The Caledonia arrived at Quebec City June
25th 1829. The group was the first of more
than 300 Arran colonists of Megantic County,
Province of Quebec. The largest group, more
than 400, had as their destination the
seaport town of Dalhousie, New Brunswick to
be pioneer settlers of the Restigouche-Bay
"Yet still the blood is strong, the heart
is highland". A chlann eilean mo ghaoil
bithibh dileas d'a cheile.
The hike over the Holy Isle had as good a
views as you will get anywhere in Scotland.
The hike was steep from both sides, so you
have to be fairly fit to do the hill
If you are only looking for a fairly easy,
scenic walk, the trail round the coast of the
island is ideal.
Holy Isle OS
For more information on Arran and Lamalsh,
visit the Tour of Arran Page.