By Kenneth Gibson MSP
As you may have heard from hillwalker Alfred Wainwright, or – depending on your circle – from Billy Connolly, there’s no such thing as bad weather. There is simply the wrong clothing!
When many of us think of the great outdoors, our minds go straight to summer.
Sheltering from unexpected showers, squinting into the distance in the sun, nodding to passers-by that “it’s a great day for it.” But as we know, the Scottish summer is ever-changing, unpredictable and gone for this year.
Since we’re used to four seasons in a day, it seems only right that we embrace what’s on our doorstep all year-round. After all, some of our most stunning days happen in the dead of winter, and Arran certainly has a great deal to offer whatever the weather.
A walk up Goatfell’s magnificent summit is always worth the effort. Or maybe a run, in preparation for the annual Goatfell race? Maybe not.
Arran is also home to an excellent network of mountain bike trails. From beginner and family-friendly routes up to challenging cross-country and island-traversing routes, there’s something for everyone.
For those who are feeling particularly brave, or own a wetsuit, Arran has some of Scotland’s most beautiful and popular wild swimming spots, and if you have the knowledge and expertise, sea kayaking is a beautiful way to explore the coast year-round.
The Lochranza centre, a well-deserved recipient of a Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund grant, offers a range of outdoor courses and activities for all ages. Although currently running at reduced capacity, the centre still offers a full range of outdoor activities, from archery to raft-building and everything in between.
As well as offering a huge range of outdoor courses and activities, the Lochranza Centre and its staff work hard to bring together the local community.
Between craft fairs, Christmas parties and supporting the Arran Mountain Festival, it’s a wonder the have time for anything else. Particularly in a non-COVID-19 year! They also organise regular beach cleans and provide the base for Arran’s Geopark.
The staff at the Lochranza centre, along with Arran Outdoor Education Centre, have gone above and beyond to support communities over the last six months, offering digital and technical support as well as helping with essential shopping for people self-isolating.
While there may not be as much daylight to enjoy as in the summer, there is certainly no shortage of things to do to make the most of it. Just be sure to wear the right clothes!