Lochranza is yet another lovely, peaceful Arran village, but with its own distinctive character. It has its own brand of very friendly deer, who lounge and browse on the golf course and cool themselves down in the waters of the Loch. Seals lazily sun themselves on the Newton Shore. Eagles, unmistakable in their majesty, soar high above the village, and gannets dive into the bay. There are walks into the hills, or around the coast , the new Village Hall hosts ceilidhs and concerts, Lochranza Gala Week is fun filled…and the sunsets can be spectacular.
Again the Vikings were among the earliest visitors to Lochranza and it was they who named it Ranza. Until the end of the 19th Century Lochranza was one of the main herring fishing centres of the West coast with as many as four hundred men making their living from that, and the bay was often crammed with as many as three hundred fishing boats. The boats were small with a crew of four or five and, as you can imagine, the life was hard and many were lost at sea. The herring fishing brought prosperity to the village and when the herring disappeared, and why they did is still a mystery, the men had to find other work., which they did, turning to trade, industry and of course, the sea. At one time there were more Master Mariners belonging to Lochranza than to any other village on the West coast of Scotland. Today the bay provides moorings for a relatively small number of pleasure craft and the ferry between Lochranza and Claonaig goes quietly back and forth in the summer, causing a small stir in comparison with the bustling day of the Clyde steamers when they called in at the pier to be met by horse drawn carts and later by the buses. After lying derelict for many years the pier at Lochranza was re-opened in 2003 and, once again, the beat of paddles echoes across the bay as that wonderful old steamer “Waverley” sails into Lochranza.
Dominating the loch, is Lochranza Castle, standing firm on a strip of green land, its ancient walls restored by Historic Scotland, its story told by inlaid plaques and a lingering atmosphere of life and people long gone.
Lochranza has its golf course, Youth Hostel, has lost its tennis courts, but has gained the Distillery and an excellent restaurant Staggs but you’ll need to book early. The village pub is still a place for local and visitors to gather and share the “craic”. You can find more information here.