Holy Isle Hike

AS Walking

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
Weather: Sunny
Distance: about 6 miles

The image below is of the Arran ferry Caledonian Isles loading at Ardrossan. It costs about £8 per person for a day return on the ferry, about £33 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 then.

I was only going to the Holy Isle from Lamlash about 3 miles south of Brodick, so parked the car at the pier car park and boarded as a foot passenger.

Ardrossan Train Station is less than half of a mile south of the ferry terminal. You can normally buy train/ferry tickets together with a discount. Train/Ferry Map.

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 ferry website:

HD Video / Slide

Ardrossan to Brodick Ferry image

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.

Caledonian Isles Restaurant image

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.

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 Blackwaterfoot.

Bus Website .

If you miss the bus A.R.C. Private Hire are based in Brodick with a price guide for up to 4 people of about £12 between Brodick and Lamlash. Tel: 07776 082 752.

Lamlash based Taxi and mini bus hire call George on 07967 587 481.

Holy Isle from the Brodick Ferry image

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 Pier.

The image below is of the Holy Isle booking office at Lamlash Pier.

Lamlash Google Map

Arran Attractions Map

Lamlash Page

Holy Isle booking office image

I made the booking at the office that was about £11 for the ferry trip, in 2023 it was up to £18. The ferries are supposed to run on the hour, but on busy days, they can run about every 20 minutes.

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, it is better to pre-book through the website now as can be fully booked some days, also there are a few different offers available for visits. 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: 07904 846 765.

Island Website: holyisland.org

Holy Isle Ferry at Lamlash image

The image below is of the Jetty on the Holy Isle. There is normally someone here to meet you and give information on the Island.

Holy Isle Jetty image

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.

Holy Isle Centre for World Peace and Health image

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 Island.

Holy Isle hiking trail image

The image below is from just above the woodland path with some wild horses out on the hills.

Holy Isle wild horses image

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.

Mullach Beag on the Holy Isle image

The image below is looking back down from close to the top of Mullach Beag to the Holy Isle jetty.

Large Image

Holy Isle mountain view image

The image below is from Mullach Beag cairn looking south to the 1,030ft Mullach Mor.

Mullach Mor Holy Isle image

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.

Mullach More steep north side image

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 has stopped operating now.

Mullach Mor summit image

The image below is of the trail leading down the south side.

Mullach Mor south side trail image

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.

Mullach Mor steep south side image

The image below is of the shoreline path heading north back to the jetty for the ferry.

The area around the lighthouse, down here on the southwest corner of the island, is a Closed Buddhist Retreat, so cannot be visited.

Hloy Isle shorline path image

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.

Holy Isle painting image

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 sea. Website.

Otters Tail Kayaking is also based at Lamlash.

Holy Isle Boat House image

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.

Holy Isle Jetty image

The image below is looking back from the ferry to the Holy Isle.

Holy Isle from the ferry image

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 dont seem to be operating now though.

Holy Isle from Lamlash image

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 ch.5 v.7.

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 Chaleur District.

"Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is highland". A chlann eilean mo ghaoil bithibh dileas d'a cheile.

Lamlash Monument image

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 route.

If you are only looking for a fairly easy, scenic walk, the trail round the coast of the Island is ideal.

For more information on Arran and Lamalsh, visit the Tour of Arran Page.