It was a place that I had only visited once before back in 1988 albeit for a day trip that involved several modes of transport. That particular day out included a very long train journey, The Waverley Paddle Steamer from Troon Docks and the largest fleet of double decker buses I have ever seen to transport the passengers from Troon railway station to the docks. Suffice to say that on arrival there was only a short period of time time to see Brodick.
However on a similar vane there were so many offshore Ayrshire locations I chose to visit this week that there still wasn't enough time to see them all properly. Travel connections proved challenging having to connect with a ferry from a regional car drive from Irvine with usually a bus on an island.
One of the objectives for the day was to visit the National Trust for Scotland location of Brodick Castle. For a sparsely populated island, the bus service link passing the castle gate entrance was acceptable, although as a result I had to curtail my castle visit to two hours in order to additionally explore and photograph Brodick before catching the ferry back to the mainland with evening meal in Saltcoats.
It's becoming quite a challenge at the entrances of National Trust locations to avoid being press ganged by the volunteers into paying the annual subscription fee. Much as I'd like to have the freedom to show a pass at these places and the opportunity to visit them on a more frequent basis, I would never get my use out of an annual ticket due to other travel ideas and additional time pressures that make up the year. I have given myself to carefully work out in my head the amount of money spent on NT properties over the previous year and on this occasion, the total spend was £7:50 on Lindisfarne Castle, £5 special ticket for a food festival at Wallington Hall (with free house entry) and £12:50 for Brodick Castle. The National Trust for Scotland ticket is just under £40 ... I'll let you do the Maths.
Brodick Castle was built on a south east facing slope in front of Goatfell on the north side of Brodick bay. In the past, The Isle of Arran and Brodick Castle have both been of strategic importance due to the islands size and its location in The Firth of Clyde.
Invasions and a stronghold of some sort has been present since the 5th century with The Gaelic invaders from Ireland to the subsequent invasion of The Vikings in 800 AD. After their defeat at The Battle of Largs in 1263, the simplistic version in history is that the Vikings seemed to throw in the towel as The King of Norway sold The Isle of Arran back to Scotland three years later. An internal power struggle developed between England and Scotland over a few issues resulting in The English king overreacting and invading Scotland. The English troops based in Brodick were forced later to retreat by Robert the Bruce in 1307. The castle was later damaged by two further attacks and the Scottish King (James lll) decided to transfer it to his Brother in law, James Hamilton (1st Lord Hamilton). It was was left to his son, who was given the title Earl of Hamilton, to renovate and rebuild the castle into a tower house in 1510.
The next period of history saw the castle survive attacks from fellow Scottish clans and a variety of other religious reasons. The 2nd Earl was seen to be in league with Mary Queen of Scots and had to deal with an army sent by Henry VIII. The 3rd Earl lost the castle as a result of not agreeing with the Presbyterian views of the ruler of Scotland and had his title converted to Duke. However he managed to regain the castle soon after at the outbreak of the Scottish civil war only to lose it again to the clan Campbells.
The Duke became embroiled and suffered in the English civil war and left Brodick castle to his daughter Anne. At the time though, Oliver Cromwell's army acquired the castle and extended it as a temporary barracks to defend the Firth of Clyde.
It seemed that Duchess Anne didn't like the traumas that affected Brodick castle and returned to the estates she had in Lothian and Lanark for good. She married the Earl of Selkirk who became Duke of Hamilton and used the castle for sporting and hunting activities. After a long period of time and as a result of family money from his mother, the 11th Duke decided to live there and took on a large building project to extend it further in 1844. It was unfortunate for the family name that his son had no heirs and the castle and titles were passed to distant cousins that had a female daughter.
On marrying the 6th Duke of Montrose in 1906 the castle left the Hamilton family after 500 years but he was credited with significantly improving the interior decor the castle.
As a result of taxes on death duties The castle became the property of the National Trust for Scotland in 1958 as a result of taxes on death duties in the family.
Although the gardens date back to 1710 with additional work done in 1814, the extensions of the building in 1844 incorporated a significant amount of garden work to transfer the property from Castle to Stately home.
It became one of the passions for the family with the Duchess of Montrose being more prominent in that role.
There was just enough time to check out the summer house before returning for the bus to Brodick and even thought the light didn't lend itself for a photo, the internal roof structure was unique in it's design.
A last thought on the way out was the inscription on the gate ... "May he be shamed who thinks badly of it".
The highest point on The Isle of Arran is the distinctive peak of Goat Fell visible from the shoreline at Brodick. It stands at 2867 ft (874m) in height and is a magnet for hillwalkers of a more than average ability due to its ridges and scrambling routes.
Brodick like so many other local place names in the area originates from a Scandinavian Viking word meaning Broad Bay.
There wasn't a lot to photograph from the street of shops overlooking the bay ...
... but there was an international trading company that did capture the imagination and humour !
The last 15 minutes on the island were spent looking for boat art moments.
Some seemed to work and others didn't in more ways than one ...
The ferry back to the mainland was a different vessel to the one I arrived in as it was an additional relief service.
The MV Isle of Arran was built in 1983 and operated on the Ardrossan - Brodick route for the first 10 years of it's life before a larger ferry was required. After a long stint in Kennacraig, it has been operating additional services at peak times on it's original stomping ground since 2012.
Time for the relief vessel to enjoy semi retirement while it lasts .... !!