Holy Island (Arran)
Originally called Inis Shroin (House of the Water Spirit), the Holy Island seems to have been a place of great spiritual importance from the time it was founded. The island later became the home of Saint Molaise. He lived in a cave, which has since been named after him.
Today, Holy Island is home to a community of Buddhist monks, who follow the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Apparently, a vision of the Virgin Mary persuaded the previous owner to sell the island to Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, who is one the monks. There are two settlements on the island; the Centre for World Peace and Health in the north and the monastery in the south, the latter being off-limits to outsiders.
Alcohol, tobacco, meat and drugs are all banned by the monks on Holy Island. If found with them, you can expect a somewhat hostile response from the Buddist monks and will be asked to leave the island, you have no obligation to comply.
Pets are also discouraged on the island because of its unique wildlife. This rule has been especially enforced since 2009, when a dog was bought onto the island on a private boat and subsequently killed a rare breed Soay sheep.
See the Arran page for more information on getting here.
There is a direct train to Ardrossan from Glasgow Central.
The two nearest airports are Glasgow Airport and Prestwick International Airport.
At Brodick take a ten minute ride on bus number 323 to Lamlash Pier. At the pier, you can board the ferry for another ten minute ride to Holy Island. It is advised to contact the boatman, Tom Sheldon, after 6 pm on the evening before your departure to check the times of tides suitable for sailing. Tel:01770 600998. Leaflets for the ferry are available all over Arran. Prices are £6 single and £10 return as of 2010.
This is a small island with no roads, so walking is the only way to get from place to place.
There is a gift shop called The Boathouse near the Peace Hall, selling gifts, recipes and other things.
Meals are only available if you stay at the monastery or the Centre for World Peace and Health. For all other things, you can go to the Co-op in Lamlash. Be aware that meat is forbidden to the Buddists, so only eat your meat in secret!
Alcohol will be frowned upon by the Buddists. If you get found with any amount of alcohol, drugs or tobacco you will be instructed to leave the island, despite what they may say you have no obligation to comply. On the other hand, you can get free tea and coffee at the gift shop.
There is short-term accomodation at the Centre for World Peace and Health. A bed in the dormitory costs £28 per night, a single room £47 and a double room £72. Two sea view rooms are also available, costing £85 per night or £60 for single occupancy. Prices include 3 vegetarian meals per day. A £20 deposit is required.
Wild camping is permitted, however it is worth noting that the monks on the island should they find out may ask you to leave. Previous campers have reported heated encounters with Buddist monks attempting to move them on. Wild camping in Scotland is protected by law so any attempt to evict you should be politely but firmly resisted.