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 The busy National Trust shop has been replaced by a few shelves of odd items and the shop area filled with tables and chairs which looked most uninviting and, although we arrived over lunchtime, only one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.