Friday, December 3, 2010

ISLE of ARRAN / Kildonan...

Named after the Irish monk Saint Donan, who is believed to have lived here in the sixth century, Kildonan lies at the south eastern extremity of the Isle of Arran. Reached via a loop of minor road dropping to the shore, the village stands out for two reasons.

The first is that it is home to an excellent beach which offers stretches of sand, a relative rarity on Arran. The second is more immediately obvious as you approach it. The views south over the village to the Ayrshire coast and the islands of Pladda and Ailsa Craig are simply superb.

Heading down into Kildonan

is it always this busy?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ye olde village bell...

. . . . . . . . .  . .  . . ye new village

. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . .belle...

rock formations and little tidal pools

A key focal point when looking south from Kildonan is the island of Pladda, which lies a kilometer or so offshore; its name comes from the Norse for "Flat Isle". Those who have dreamed of owning their own island might not welcome hearing of a missed opportunity: Pladda was on
the market for the first time ever in 1990 for £80,000, complete with its own water supply. The lighthouse on the island was built by the Stevenson family in the 1820s, and was manned until it was automated in the 1980s.

Also featuring in southern views from Kildonan is the much more distant Ailsa Craig, complete with its 1109ft or 338m peak. The name comes from the Gaelic "Fairy Rock"; and its contrast with Pladda, rising just 20m from the sea, could hardly be greater.
There are great views of Ailsa Craig from Turnberry Golf Course, on the Ayrshire coast, where The 2009 [British] Open was held.

Beautiful sea level views of Pladda &Ailsa Craig

three 3 geese a-wadin'

four 4 seals a-sunnin'

this is the [former] Breadalbane demolished.

the Kildonan Hotel...

with it's quirky sculpture gardens,

it's a popular place for weddings

just ask this attractive newly wed couple!
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Kildonan also boasts a castle, standing out on the old raised beach behind and above the village. It was once, with Lochranza Castle and Brodick Castle, one of three fortresses guarding Arran's strategically important position in the approaches to the Clyde. Today's Kildonan Castle is only a shadow of its former self, but still reflects its origins as a 13th Century keep.
The castle was originally built by the Lords of the Isles, but by 1406 was in the ownership of Robert III, who in that year passed it on to his illegitimate son, John Stewart of Ardgowan. In 1544 it was acquired by the Hamiltons, the Earls of Arran.

Kildonan Castle has long been ivy clad and unstable, making close examination a dangerous proposition. It also stands in the garden of a house, meaning that it can only be seen from a nearby right of way leading to the beach.

two final views of Pladda and Ailsa Craig

before we head WEST to...
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