|Location Map ( geo)
|23 miles (37 km)
|unclassified, B880, Kilbrannan Sound Ferry
|Route outline (key)
The A841 used to make a complete circuit of the Isle of Arran, following the coast road all of the way around the island. However, in the early 2000s this was curtailed so that the western and southern sides of the route are now unclassified. This page will describe the full circuit of the island, starting half way along the current route of the A841 at the main ferry terminal in Brodick.
Brodick - Lochranza
Most people visiting Arran will arrive on the Calmac Ardossan - Brodick Ferry. This provides a regular year-round ferry service to Arran from Ayrshire and arrives at Brodick Pier, at the southern end of the village. Brodick is, however, not the largest settlement on the island; that honour goes to Lamlash a few miles to the south.
From the entrance to the ferry port, the A841 heads west through Brodick, running along the shore with views across Brodick Bay to Brodick Castle beyond. There are a variety of shops on the landward side of the road, from the large Co-op supermarket to small gift shops targeted at the many tourists who visit Arran. In the summer months the Paddle Steamer Waverley makes regular visits, as do a variety of other boats. After half a mile or so, the road turns sharp right across the Cloy Bridge, and past the golf course to reach the junction with the B880 at the Rosa Bridge, the only other classified road on Arran. Indeed, the B880 is the straight-ahead route, but still has to give way to the A841 which sweeps round a near hairpin bend to head east along the north coast of Brodick Bay.
The road rejoins the coast as it passes Brodick Castle, and stays close to the shore as it winds its way out of the bay and north along the shore under the slopes of the islands highest peak, Goat Fell, to the small village of Corrie with its rows of white cottages staring out to sea. The road is right at the waters edge through the village, the rocky beach occasionally interrupted by small harbours. A little further on the slightly smaller village of Sannox is reached, beyond which the road swings properly inland this time, climbing into Glen Sannox. After the pretty run along the shore side, Glen Sannox shows a different side of Arran. The island has been described as 'Scotland in Minature', and this desolate moorland glen of heather and bracken is a sharp contrast to the picturesque villages on the shore.
Halfway up the glen, the river is crossed at North Sannox Bridge, and then the road turns north west up a tributary glen as the climb steepens. A hundred metres is gained in a mile to reach the summit at just over 200m, from where there are fines views of the mountains to the south. The descent down Glen Chalmadale is perhaps not so steep, but the snaking shape of the glen prevents a view out to sea. At the bottom lies the pretty port of Lochranza, where the Kilbrannan Sound Ferry docks, crossing from Claonaig on the B8001 in the summer, and from Tarbert on the A8015 in the winter months. The village sits at the head of the bay which provides a natural harbour, and is dominated by Lochranza Castle on a spit of land near the head of the bay. Shortly after passing the ferry terminal at the western end of the village, the NSL signs appear, marking the end of the A841 as it stands today.
Lochranza - Largymore
The road along the western coast of Arran is no longer a classified route; however for over 70 years it was part of the A841, and so we shall continue to describe it. Starting at Lochranza, the road continues to hug the coast; indeed at one point a stretch of old road can be seen on the shore side of the modern route. The small village of Catacol is home to one of the island's most photographed buildings - the terrace of 12 cottages known as the 12 Apostles. Beyond Catacol comes mile after mile of coastal road, with views across the Kilbrannan Sound to Kintyre, often less than 4 miles away. Pirnmill is another village of pretty white cottages staring out to sea, beyond which there is a short sharp climb from Whitefarland Point over a rockier section of the shore. The road then drops just as steeply past Imachar Point.
The next few miles are perhaps the most rural along the coast, certainly the frequency of houses and villages has dwindled dramatically. The road is now curving round the shore of shallow Machrie Bay, where an unclassified road turns inland to meet the B880. After crossing Machrie Bridge, the former A841 also heads inland behind the low hill of Tor Righ, and crosses the edge of Machrie Moor. This is an arable landscape which is home to stone circles and prehistoric villages. The road returns to the shore at Blackwaterfoot on Drumadoon Bay, with its grand hotel overlooking the shingly beaches. Here the B880 terminates after taking the much shorter route across Arran from Brodick.
The route changes character beyond Blackwaterfoot, as indeed does the landscape. The narrow shoreside shelf along which the road has wound for so many miles is gone, and instead the road has to climb over the cliffs, dropping down to cross the rivers and streams. This rollercoaster route sees a number of sharp bends and steep ascents, making it the hardest bit for the many cyclists making a tour of the island. Three times the road climbs up over the hills reaching 80m, 160m and 140m. Between these climbs, it deeps into the steep sided valleys to cross Sliddery Bridge, Lagg Bridge and Auchenhew Bridge, with other dips too. Beyond this last bridge, a side road drops down to the coastal village of Kildonan, but the former A841 stays high up the hill. Eventually, however, the small settlement of Dippin is reached and as the road turns north it drops steadily down the hill through Largybeag to Largymore, the current southern terminus of the A841.
Largymore - Brodick
This is the shortest section of the coast road, and again shares characteristics of coastal road and mountain pass. Largymore is simply the southern end of Whiting Bay these days, a village little different to any on Arran, in that it hugs the shore; the smart Victorian Villas and more modern houses looking out across the water at the mainland beyond, until the mist rolls in anyway! At the north end of the bay, the road briefly turns inland behind Kingscross Point, climbing up beside the Kingscross Burn before crossing the flank of the hill with views across to Holy Island, Arrans little brother!
The road drops down below forestry into Lamlash, the island's largest settlement, curving around the back of Lamlash Bay, a large natural harbour protected by the bulk of Holy Island (owned by a Buddhist community) across its mouth. Again, there is an assortment of shops catering for locals and tourists, and a number of hotels as well as the island Hospital. Just over halfway around the bay, the A841 turns sharply inland, climbing up Blairmore Glen, the pass across to Brodick to avoid the cliffs of Clauchland Point or the steep slopes around Corriegills. Much of the glen is forested, with a couple of car parks offering walks. A little over 2 miles later, the road drops back down to the shore at the entrance to Brodick's ferry terminal, and so our journey around Arran has come full circle.
The original route of the A841 was from Corrie on Arran's east coast south through Brodick and Lamlash to Dippin, where it became the A843 at Dippen Farm, where the road to Kildonan branches off. Fairly soon it was realised that having three A-roads on this relatively small island, with little traffic, was unnecessary and so the A841 was extended along the length of the A843, and ultimately, by the late 1920s, formed a circuit of the entire island. However, in the 2000s, the route has been trimmed back once more, so that it now starts at the northern ferry port of Lochranza and heads east, then south through Brodick and Lamlash as it always has done, to now terminate at Largymore a couple of miles short of Dippin. At both ends, the A841 ends at the NSL sign but there is nothing to suggest the start or end of a classified road.