Cas­tle woes

The Arran Banner - - Letters -

Sir, We are just back from our third visit to lovely Ar­ran this year. We are still get­ting over the shock of both of our fer­ries run­ning to time as ad­ver­tised.

Dur­ing our hol­i­day we vis­ited many es­tab­lish­ments for food and drink and shops for the pur­chase of gifts for our off­spring. Our gen­eral feel­ing was that busi­nesses on the is­land con­tinue to thrive and, as ever, are of­fer­ing ser­vice with a smile. Long may that con­tinue.

There was one visit that we found dis­ap­point­ing and that was to what should be the jewel in Ar­ran’s crown, Brod­ick Cas­tle. We ap­proached by the Fish­er­man’s Walk and en­tered by the steps from the Wineport. The cabin that used to is­sue tick­ets was closed and there was no con­trol over en­try. It did not mat­ter to us as mem­bers, but the cabin ap­peared to have been closed for some time with lost op­por­tu­ni­ties for rev­enue and mem­ber­ships. The cas­tle it­self is closed, and has been for some time, af­ter be­ing shut for re­fur­bish­ment, which seems to have gone on for ever.

The thriv­ing and lovely ter­race cafe has gone. We walked on to the vis­i­tor re­cep­tion. The busy Na­tional Trust shop has been re­placed by a few shelves of odd items and the shop area filled with ta­bles and chairs which looked most un­invit­ing and, al­though we ar­rived over lunchtime, only one per­son was us­ing the fa­cil­ity, and he ap­peared to be a mem­ber of staff. Sim­i­larly, the area that used to sell plants lay empty and ne­glected.

I in­quired if it was pos­si­ble to get a bus back to Brod­ick but was told the open-top ser­vice which called at the cas­tle vis­i­tor re­cep­tion had ceased some years ago.

Of course the grounds are still im­pres­sive and there have been im­prove­ments, the mas­sive play area (our grand­chil­dren love it but I strug­gle at 65) and the new squir­rel hide is im­pres­sive but the im­pres­sion left af­ter our visit is an at­trac­tion that has gone back­wards while oth­ers have pro­gressed. Come on, Na­tional Trust for Scot­land, get the crown back where it be­longs.

Michael Smith, North Shields.

Mu­si­cians play in sup­port of the Ar­ran branch of the SSPCA out­side Lam­lash Co-op.

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