MJ STEEL COLLINS picks five haunted places to visit on Scotland’s Isle of Arran
The Isle of Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde. At 10 miles wide and 20 miles long, it has a lot packed into a limited space. Arran’s tourism website makes much of the villages, pubs and beaches the island boasts. However, there is much to be found for the fan of the supernatural, for Arran boasts enough ghosts and otherworldly beings to make the famed Edinburgh bogle raise an ectoplasmic eyebrow.
Lochranza, Isle of Arran
A small village of 200 people, Lochranza sits at the northern tip of the island, replete with a small sea loch, Loch Ranza with a small island, and ruined Lochranza castle.
The fairy legend attached to the village tells the story of a midwife who was collecting the harvest with her neighbours when they came across a yellow frog. The frog was about to be killed, when the midwife intervened, thinking there was something strange about the amphibian.
Later on the midwife was visited by a young boy on a grey horse. He told her that she had saved the life of the Queen of the Fairies, who often disguised herself as a yellow frog when travelling. The midwife was offered safe passage to fairy land and ended up as the Fairy Queen’s personal midwife.
Machrie Moor, Isle of Arran
There are several stone circles on Arran, the Machrie Moor circle being regarded as one of the best in the UK.
One of the many origin myths behind the circle is that it was created by a group of fairies flicking pebbles onto the moor below from the summit of Durra-na-each, a nearby mountain.
Brodick Castle, Brodick, Isle of Arran
Brodick is the largest village on Arran. The castle has a long history dating back to 1510, though the site has been in use a lot longer.
The castle was held by the Hamilton family for centuries and has several tumultuous tales. It was occupied by Cromwell’s troops during the 1650s and has been attacked several times.
The castle has been added to over the years, and in 1958, became the property of the National Trust for Scotland.
There are three supernatural tales associated with the castle. The Grey Lady is believed to be the ghost of a plague victim, when it struck Brodick Castle. Peter Underwood writes that she has been seen by several staff members, presumably in the days before the castle was owned by the NTFS. She was seen on several occasions by ‘a psychic house keeper’ and a butler reported seeing her apparently stopping to talk to a tradesman one morning as he worked in the castle. The Grey Lady haunts the older part of the building.
Another ghost is of a man clad in green and wearing a wig, who haunts the library. A white stag has also been seen on several occasions when a member of the Hamilton family dies.
The Cat Stone, near Corrie, Isle of Arran
Lying on the road between Corrie and Sannox, the Cat Stone has a strange ghost story attached to it. An old lady wearing a shawl has been reported several times walking from the beach, apparently crying. She vanishes if witnesses look away for a second.
King’s Cave, near Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran
Not strictly haunted, but the location of a famous Scottish legend. The cave is said to be the place where a beleaguered Robert the Bruce took shelter in his travails against the English. Close to giving up, he happened to see a spider struggling to spin its web in the cave. Every time it went wrong, the spider picked up the pieces and began again.
This gave Robert the Bruce the strength to carry on – ultimately succeeding. He went on to win the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. It also gave rise to the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.”