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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Lochranza Christmas News
By the end of October, the red deer rut is over and tupping begins. The hill ewes are brought off the open hill to the golf course in early November and the tups (or rams) are let loose. We’re now expecting lambs in early April and red deer calves in the middle of June.
We’ve had a holiday but it’s always good to get back to Arran’s sparkling air and water. The days are very short now and the sun doesn’t lift above Torr Nead an Eoin and Meall Mhor, so, for a few weeks, the campsite will be in perpetual shade. It’s the opposite, of course, in midsummer, when the sun is still beaming its rays down on us at ten o’clock at night. At this time of year we can see the sea glistening through the bare branches of the golf course trees. At night the stars are dazzling.
The days might be short but the hills around Lochranza are still blazing with autumn colour: the chestnut brown of bracken and the golden brown of the deer grass. The first snow of the winter has settled on the mountains and, talking of mountains, the Arran Mountain Festival programme of walks should be on the website any day now: www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk. The festival dates are 15th-18th May.
If you’re planning to walk the 65 mile Arran Coastal Way in 2015 great progress is being made with Arran Access Trust’s improvements to the path. The Postman’s Path between Coillemore (above the pier) and Catacol, as well as the path to the Cock of Arran at the An Scriodan rockfall, are two sections that have been carefully improved so far.
At the end of October when the Calmac ferries went on to their winter timetable a new- and most welcome- tariff came in. On your next visit to Arran you’ll find the ferry fares altogether more affordable. Whilst some Arran businesses, like us, close over winter, most of the shops stay open. The Arran Distillery is open six days a week and warming malt smells keep drifting over here. Nigel and I do our Christmas shopping on the island; we find everyone we know is pleased to receive Arran produce in their stockings.
If you are, or know, a keen caravanner, I recommend Camus Calling and Camus Answers by Jessie MacQuarrie for Christmas presents. The author stayed here in the summer. The books present day-to-day life on a campsite in West Scotland and you very soon find yourself engrossed. It’s hard to believe that the author has never run a campsite as the books are packed with realistic and humorous detail. You can find out more at: www.jessiemacquarrie.com
Sad news is that John Graham passed away after a short illness last month. John did a lot of work on the campsite and golf course over many years- and knew the place like the back of his hand, as well as what every ancient implement in the sheds was actually used for. He was always on hand whenever anyone on the island needed help and a very active Coastguard and First Responder. Lochranza’s pontoon is also part of his legacy. He epitomised the spirit of island life and will be much missed.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas  
Kathy and Nigel