The Gaelic word rùnach can be translated into “beloved” or “secret”, making Runach Arainn an escapist’s dream. Evidence that even in today’s world, where everything sometimes feels already discovered, we can still find universe-pausing moments and secret places.
Considering that the cyclists who frequent Arran can get around it in a few hours, the small island in the Firth of Clyde on the North West Coast of Scotland is not the biggest. But, like most of its islands and the country itself, size does not represent the brimming history or the promise of adventure.
While only two hours away from Glasgow, the island offers a variety of landscapes and fauna and flora. Mountains, woodlands, waterfalls and remarkably all five of Scotland’s favourite animals. The proud red deer, the elusive red squirrel, the soaring golden eagle, the distinctly grey seal and the averagely coloured otter.
BALMY PART OF SCOTLAND
Flagrantly flying in the face of Scottish meteorological tradition, the North West coast is blessed with some of the best weather found in Britain. Thanks to its position in the Gulf Stream, the beaches of Arran are quite lovely and warm and well worth a wander. Best ones to visit are Blackwaterfoot in the West, Torrylinn in the South and Lochranza in the North, which could all be sampled within a weekend thanks to the islands compact size.
“Many first time visitors to this part of Scotland are surprised by the weather,” says Pippa, co-founder of Runach Arainn, “It isn’t uncommon for parts of the country to be getting snow while we’re walking around in shorts on the beach.”
Taking full advantage of the beautifully balmy conditions in the most Scottish way, the island boasts seven golf courses. Visitors (and locals) also enjoy sailing and kayaking and for those seeking a full tasting of experiences can visit Arran Adventure Company, everything from gorge walking, wild camping and archery are available.
Speaking about the island’s heritage, Pippa explains, “Arran has a long history that can be seen right across the island from the standing stones of Machrie Moor to the Giants’ Graves in Whiting Bay,” she says, “Guests can visit Brodick Castle and Lochranza Castle, both of which have insightful histories behind them that can offer a deeper appreciation for Arran’s important role in Scotland’s legacy.”
A plenitude of cafes and restaurants offer a variety of cuisine and drinks, and many of these can deliver food if you’re not looking to leave the comfort of your Runach Arainn yurt. However, for those looking for a specific tasting of the island, both Lochranza and Brodick boast fantastic distilleries, and no visit would be complete without deciding which one you prefer.
THE GLAMPING SITE
Located on the south end of the island, Runach Arainn offers intimate glamping accommodation with their self-catering luxury yurts. An ideal holiday destination for families or couples looking to dip a toe, or take a plunge, into an experience that is both glamorous and visually stunning.
Set in a small orchard near the Old Manse just outside the hamlet of Kilmory the site has a trio of Scottish made yurts. Everything that a guest would need is provided for, including bedding, towels, crockery and cooking utensils. Two of the yurts can sleep half a dozen people each, while the third can take four. There is great WIFI provided across the site and the yurts are fully Covid compliant with all expected precautions.
THE LITTLE DETAILS
Undeniably, the little details are what makes or breaks a holiday experience and will always influence the guest reviews and, inevitably, the reputation of a destination. When it comes to these crucial fundamentals, Pippa and Andy Downing, her husband/ business partner, have it sussed.
“You cannot overestimate the importance of a good shower and a great night’s sleep,” says Pippa, “Or the value of a happy smile and an eagerness to offer something unique.”
With this in mind, the yurts come complete with luxury double beds plus two futon sofa-beds for other guests. A wood burning stove and oven for cooking and heating feature in each yurt and private bathroom and showers. An outdoor firepit is also available for long, chilled out evenings staring into the flames.
“We don’t have a lot of unnatural noise here thanks to the parking being a short walk away,” says Pippa, “And as a dark sky area, on a clear night you can see the expansive Milky Way as it should be seen. A truly galactic spectacle.”
The privacy offered with each yurt being well spaced apart, has been an essential advantage in navigating the Covid period. As Pippa explains, this is just one of the reasons glamping sites have been able to get through the last two years intact.
“Of course it has been a challenge,” she says, “However many glamping sites are based around escapism and privacy. So, when we were able to take bookings again we could open up immediately with only a handful of adjustments needed and the private bathrooms were a huge asset for Covid regulations.”
As soon as hospitality sites were able to open up again, clientele poured back in and Runach Arainn was inundated with bookings. Demonstrating not only the natural appeal of glamping and boutique accommodation, but also the desperate need of travellers to get out of their cities.
“Regular and new guests have been really good and we did what we could to be as flexible with bookings during this time of uncertainty,” Pippa says, “This included allowing free moving of bookings should circumstances change. This has meant a certain level of juggling on our side, but communication is absolutely key and a massive part of our customer focus.”
COMMUNICATION MAKES A HAPPY FAMILY
Guest experience was always a focus for the site since they officially launched in late 2015. Based on what their family enjoyed during their copious camping holidays, it was an extension of what they loved and wanted to share. The passion for it translates well with guests and the engagement from both sides is pretty natural.
One of the appeals of the island getaway, over and above the spell binding sense of release and freedom, is its ease of access. Less than an hour’s journey out of Glasgow it’s close enough to offer a weekend getaway. This does mean that they are booked almost year round. Closed only from December to January for essential maintenance during the quieter winter period. Bookings can be made over the phone or through their website.
With businesses in all industries being scrutinised on their sustainability, many sites are doing what they can to appear greener. However, such “box-ticking” approaches effectively do the bare minimum of what is required, and often the effort is abandoned and old habits return as soon as the pressure for it dissipates.
“We don’t believe in greenwashing,” says Pippa, “Straight from the start we set ourselves the task of building a sustainable business and exploring all aspects of this, including making it part of the guest experience. On site we have a self-sustaining forest garden, bee keeping and solar power. Our toilets are dry compost and we use quirky upcycled vintage furniture.”
Many guests have an interest in their apiculture and jam making, and while not for everyone, it does lend a topical experience that guests just won’t find in any hotel or bed and breakfast. Pippa believes that as we continue to learn to live with Covid, that the travelling culture and expectations will continue to shift. Part of this shift will see more people looking to find ways to conveniently enjoy the outdoors and the activities that can be found there.
“Imagine if one of the take aways we have from the last couple of years is a greater appreciation for the outdoors and nature,” she says, “Wouldn’t that just be wonderful?”
All Images are provided by and are the property of Runach Arainn Glamping Yurts
Telephone Number: +44 1770 870515
Address: Runach Arainn, The Old Manse, Kilmory, Isle of Arran, KA27 8PH, UK