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Arran


(Isle of Arran)

Sheltered from the Atlantic by the Kintyre peninsula and separated from mainland Scotland by the Firth of Clyde to the east and the Sound of Bute to the north, the mountainous island of Arran has a circumference of 55 miles (92 km) and rises to a height of 874m (2866 feet) at the summit of Goatfell. There are ferry links from Ardrossan to Brodick and, during the summer, from Claonaig on Kintyre to Lochranza. The island's principal settlements include Brodick, Lamlash, Whiting Bay, Blackwaterfoot, Pirnmill and Lochranza and amongst its historic attractions are Brodick Castle and Gardens, the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum, the stone circles on Machrie Moor, Auchagallon stone circle, Kilpatrick Dun, Torr a' Chaisteil Fort, Torrylin Cairn and Lochranza Castle.

Most of the island was the property of the Dukes of Hamilton, who tightly controlled development until the end of the 19th Century. Their estates were administered from Brodick Castle on the east coast. Islanders were encouraged to leave their homes by the 10th Duke, who wanted to modernise agriculture by consolidating crofts into larger farms. As elsewhere, these 'clearances' were controversial; people were naturally unwilling to move despite new housing and even land in Canada being promised by the Duke. There is a memorial to the clearances at Lamlash. More recently, the population of the island has risen from 3700 in 1961, through 3564 (1971), 3845 (1981), 4475 (1991) to 5045 (2001), but then fell back to 4629 (2011).

A road completes the circumference of the island which is traversed from east to west through mountain glens by the String Road, built by Thomas Telford in 1817, and to the south by the Ross Road. A mecca for geologists, Arran lies on the great Highland Boundary Fault and has examples of rock formations from many periods. It was frequently visited by the 18th-century geologist James Hutton (1726-97) whose discovery of an unconformity here helped consolidate his theories of igneous geology. Often described as 'Scotland in miniature' owing to its topography, tourism, farming, forestry and the production of dairy products, beer, whisky and fragrance products are the chief industries on the island. Tourism can bring the population of the island to more than 20,000.


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