10 of My Favourite Isle of Arran Walks

No doubt about it, the Isle of Arran is the home of my heart. I love it. I met my husband there, and this spring we took our baby boy for his first visit. What can you do with a baby on Arran? Well, you can WALK! And walk we most certainly did.

arran walks

Arran was made for walking, whether you’re a mountaineer or you’re an average Joe like me. I wanted a balance of easy walking days and slightly more challenging ones, especially considering I was carrying a fifteen pound monkey on my front. So, in no particular order, here are my 10 favourite Arran walks.

North Glen Sannox

Park at the sizeable parking lot off North Sannox Bridge. You’ll find some great informational signage that talks about the highland clearances. It was from Sannox that many islanders left Arran for the prospects of Canada.

arran walks

This walk climbs and climbs, hugging the forest and stream. You’ll come to some great viewpoints of rushing water, but the real beauty is when you get to the top and reach the deer fence. You can go further into the hills, for sure, but you would want to be better equipped and skilled in map-reading, which I am not! While the photo below doesn’t do it justice, you’re seeing the other side of the Sleeping Warrior, which is really quite special.

arran walks

arran walks

I’m pretty sure that if you do Gorge Walking with Arran Adventure, they bring you up here… at least they did when I tried gore walking YEARS ago. Nothing like some freezing cold water and a wet suit to wake you up.

Glen Sannox

I cannot for the life of me believe that in all my years living on Arran, that I never walked the EASY route into Glen Sannox. This will forever be on my must-do list when I visit Arran. It was just so unbelievably stunning. For anyone that hasn’t been to Scotland before, Glen Sannox is akin to the best that a Scottish walk has to offer. Lush vegetation, a stream, stepping stones, jagged peaks and a bit of history thrown in.

arran walks

arran walks

arran walks

You’ll find remnants of baryte mining along this walk, from old storage areas to housing. Mining concluded in the area in 1938.

This walk is ideal for any age and relative ability. Watch out for adders, as one was spotted on the day of our particularly sunny walk!

Fisherman’s Walk

This easy walk has changed over the years. When I went to high school on Arran, Brodick beach was much more intact than it is today (though I hear there is work happening to change this). We always start and end this walk around the small Co-Op parking lot. You head past the children’s park, over the bridge marked “Fisherman’s Walk” and through the gorse bush. You’re rewarded the entire way with view of Goatfell, a meander through the golf course (respect the players, please!), and up the north side of the beach.

arran walks

arran walks

You could always come the same way back, or if you’re after a coffee or some shopping, take the main road back to Brodick passing Arran Aromatics, the Wine Port, Creelers, etc.

Lamlash Track

Sometimes you just need a gentle evening stroll so that you can justify dessert. This was what the Lamlash Track walk was for us. Heading inward on Benlister Road (adjacent to the Hamilton Terrace parking lot), you follow the road right round. You’re passing some lovely houses, the back of the high school, then you’re taking this road all the way until it connects with the Ross road. You really can’t get lost, it’s a basic circuit.

arran walks

arran walksBasic though it may be, you get to pass a working farm, fields of sheep, enjoy the view of the hills and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a rainbow like we did.
Connecting with the Ross Road, as you near the A841 again, you’ll be passing the Paterson Arran Fine Foods shop. The prices here are the best of the island, so it’s the perfect place to stock up on chutneys, cheese and all sorts of delights!

Coire Fhionn Lochan

Not for the faint of heart! This is a tough ramble, but well worth it if you’re up for it. Park at the bottom of the marked track in Thundergay. There aren’t many spots, so arrive earlier in the day if possible, as you’ll want cooler weather for your steep climb. The beginning of the walk will take you past some lovely cottages, through a deer fence and past rolling hills which are stunning. Make sure to turn around plenty so that you get a great view across the water.

arran walks

arran walks

All too soon you’ll reach a really rough section. I was walking with a baby on my front, so perhaps I was more nervous than most. Finding your footing is the important part, particularly when you have to come back down this route. Walking sticks would have been a great help for us.

arran walks

arran walks

arran walks

Giving the munchkin a bottle by the side of the loch.

Once you pass this section, you still have a steep ascent, but it’s much less nerve-wracking. To your left is a glorious stream and you keep saying, “just over this hill!” At some point, you’ll finally be right, and you’re rewarded with the calm Coire Fhionn Lochan. Make sure you pack a picnic, or a snack at minimum, so that you can rest your weary bones on the sandy beach, enjoying your view.

It took us about 1.5 hours each way.

Glenashdale Falls and Giant’s Graves

It’s been years since I’ve visited Glenashdale Falls, so I was excited to return, this time taking in the Giant’s Graves as well! Parking at the Coffee Pot, we walked south through Whiting Bay, crossing the bridge and taking a right to begin the path. Quite quickly you’ll see a fork in the road, where you can either choose to take in the Giant’s Graves, or head straight for the falls. We took the rather steep hill of switchbacks to the graves.

arran walks

arran walks

Carrying an extra fifteen pounds of sleeping baby on my chest, I greatly appreciated my bottle of water!

When you reach the top of the hill and see the Giant’s Graves, you will not be disappointed. I’d argue that there’s perhaps no better view in terms of bang for your buck. You get to see the graves, the Holy Isle AND Goatfell all from the same point. What are the Giant’s Graves, you may well ask? They are the remains of neolithic chambered tombs, though after seeing them in the flesh, you can understand where their name came from.

arran walks

arran walks

We continued on down the forest track to meet up with the falls. As you approach the next signpost towards the falls, you hear them before you see them. There is a great viewpoint to enjoy the falls, and even a picnic bench just across the footbridge so you can rest a while longer. From there, you can continue through the forest enjoying patches of silence as the trees keep the sound at a minimum. It can be quite spooky and simultaneously enjoyable! This track will wind its way back into Whiting Bay, conveniently leading you straight to the Coffee Pot where I recommend you enjoy lunch or baked treats.

This was about a 2 hour walk for us.

Glen Cloy

This track road is easy for all walkers, but a family favourite for us. Simply walk up Auchrannie Spa road and continue behind the spa resort. You’re essentially doing one big loop down the spa road, round the bottom of the glen and back through the trees along the stream. It’s not a long or difficult walk, but you’re rewarded with the timeless views of Glen Cloy.

arran walks

arran walks

Once upon a time when I worked at the Cruize Bar and Restaurant in Auchrannie, I loved to work the breakfast open shift. It meant that before anybody else had set foot in the restaurant, I could set up the tables and chairs on the balcony and just admire the view. It’s the view that I always think of first when I think of Arran.

This is maybe 35-45 mins.

Glen Rosa

“Spread my ashes in Glen Rosa,” is a sentiment I’ve heard from many islanders. On a sunny day, there is no place like it. You can park in the tiny parking lot on the Glen Rosa track road (maybe room for 6-8 cars?), at the old cemetery, or you can simply begin your journey from Brodick itself. You will follow the stream along your walk, which is a well-worn path, so don’t worry about getting lost.

arran walks

arran walks

arran walks

I’ve walked this path, cycled it, and even attempted to run it *cough cough, not a great runner, cough cough*. Year-round it is a fabulous walk and you get different experiences in every season. Whether it’s a sunny day with blue skies (as we were blessed with on this trip) or a moody grey day, it’s one of my favourite walks, and if you’re a FitBit person, you’ll definitely get in your 10,000 steps if you start at the cemetery and walk to the bridge and back.

arran walks

The amount of time this walk will take you entirely depends on where you park and how far into the Glen you go. We typically turn around at the bridge, mainly cause we park so far away!

King’s Caves

The story goes that when Robert the Bruce was defeated by the English, he retreated into exile… and the local story goes that part of this exile took place on the Isle of Arran. It is said that Robert the Bruce, while taking refuge in a cave, watched a spider trying to build his web. The spider would spin the web, fall, the web would break, but he would keep going. Again and again and again.

It is said that this cave is the King’s Cave near Blackwaterfoot.

arran walks

A few kilometers north of Blackwaterfoot you’ll find a parking lot marked for the King’s Caves, complete with a forestry map and information. You can choose to make the trail a loop, or go to the caves and back via the same route. We started left, through the forest track, emerging at a gate followed by incredible views of the coastline. You’ll see the gorgeous cliff face at Drumadoon, and on a sunny day there is nothing like the colour of the water below. The path will turn to red dirt as you get closer and closer to the beach, and it can be quite narrow.

arran walks

arran walks

Onto the beach itself, you’ll find many balancing rock sculptures. In my part of the world they’re called Inukshuks, but I’m not sure what they’re called on Arran. Make your way across the rocky beach, have a wander in the caves and ensure that you bring a torch or the flashlight function on your smartphone to decipher some of the ancient graffiti within the caves. The beach also makes a great place for a snack or a picnic.

arran walks

We then headed up the rocky path, the opposite end of the beach that we’d entered, to take the circular route back to the car park. It rises quite quickly, and this section can be incredibly muddy if it’s been wet in recent days, so make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear. We wound our way back along the edge of the forest, then through the woods for a really pleasant return.

arran walks

The total trip took us about 2.5 hours including time at the caves, and we rewarded ourselves with a delicious scampi and chips lunch at the Shiskine Golf Club.

Sannox Beach

Another easy walk, easy parking, and one of the nice sandy beaches on Arran. You’ll see the parking as you drive to the north side of Sannox, plenty of space. Across from this parking lot is actually where you go for the Glen Sannox walk as well. Two walks in one day perhaps?

arran walks

arran walks

I’ll tell you a little secret about our recent trip to Sannox beach. I’ve always had a desire to send out a message in a bottle. The idea that years from now (or even tomorrow!), someone could find the message that we put together is such a romantic, whimsical thought. So, the three of us put together our wishes for whoever finds this bottle, our hopes and dreams for this stranger.

Fingers crossed I live long enough to find out if someone discovers it. The only problem, which I realized after we set the bottle out to sea, was that we didn’t date the letter!

arran walks

These are merely my 10 favourite Arran walks, but there are so many more to be had and discovered. ONE DAY (I say this every time I visit), I’ll get to climb Goatfell. One day the Gods will conspire with me to provide good weather, a stronger back and a child-free day to climb at my own pace. To discover more great Arran walks, or for more details on those listed above, check out the Walk Highlands website.

 

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16 Responses to 10 of My Favourite Isle of Arran Walks

  1. diana July 10, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    What a great review of those wonderful walks. Looking forward to doing them. Really hope someone finds the message in the bottle one day – soon.

    • Victoria Smith July 12, 2016 at 7:34 am #

      While we’re alive! That’d be great.

  2. Anna Kucharska July 12, 2016 at 1:52 am #

    It’s too long since I was in Arran, you just took me back . Thank you.

    • Victoria Smith July 12, 2016 at 7:33 am #

      Oh, I’m so glad, Anna. Any plans to go back soon?

  3. Maggi July 12, 2016 at 2:18 am #

    Done them all so many times and have never tired of them.

    • Victoria Smith July 12, 2016 at 7:33 am #

      That’s so great. Are you from the island, Maggi? I can’t get enough of Arran.

  4. Dawn-Marie Wyllie July 12, 2016 at 2:49 am #

    Beautiful photos Victoria!

    I’ve done some of these walks too and I try to explore a new one each time I visit the lovely Arran. I love it too! So much still to explore, I need to retire now lol.

    Great blog you have too 🙂

    • Victoria Smith July 12, 2016 at 7:35 am #

      Thanks, Dawn! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I also try and do some new exploring each time I’m on Arran. The goal is to increase my ability a bit. Would love to do some of the more challenging rambles, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me this year with both the baby and my lack of experience rambling!

  5. Del Friend July 14, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    Hello Victoria,
    Thanks so much for your detailed list of lovely walks on Arran. I will definitely take it with me the next time a visit Scotland. I am from Australia and had the wonderful opportunity in 2015 of visiting Scotland for the first time. It was amazing and the autumn was so perfect the whole of October and early November. I couldn’t believe my luck.

    I was actually doing house-swapping. The first swap was in the little village of Fishcross, near Stirling for 2 weeks and I did some amazing glen walking while in this area. The second swap was for 2 weeks on the Isle of Mull. I loved Mull and once again did some great walks also. After that I did a bit of a driving trip further north which included going past the Five Sisters and into Skye. Unfortunately time did not allow for a visit to Arran but I was very disappointed. I would love to find a swap one day on Arran and check out some of your listed walks. If you ever hear of anyone wanting to visit Australia I would definitely be up for a swap to Arran. Bye for now. Del

    • Victoria Smith July 15, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      Hi Del,

      Sounds like you had an incredible trip to Scotland with many great walks. Mull is actually where my in-laws are from, albeit every time I’ve visited it has rained CONSTANTLY so no walking for us. You will definitely have to get back to Arran. While I don’t live on Arran, I’m sure you can find some way to connect with house-swappers on the island. Perhaps through the Visit Arran Facebook page? Best of luck and hope you get to return to Scotland very soon.

  6. Erica August 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    I made the mistake of visiting Arran much too early in the spring this year, and a lot of the trails I wanted to do were snowed out. It was interesting, though, to be there without any other tourists at all. I love this list and I’m bookmarking it for future trips with (slightly) warmer weather!

    I linked to this post in my write-up of my own trip too 🙂
    Erica recently posted…Finding Life On The Isle Of ArranMy Profile

    • Victoria Smith August 15, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing! Hopefully you get to revisit Arran soon.

  7. Heather April 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

    I just got back from a family vacation to the Isle of Arran with my 4 year old and 7 month old. This article was so helpful in helping me find appropriate walks to take! We all LOVED Glen Sannox (the rock hopping was such a treat for the 4 year old). We also did Sannox Beach and Glenashdale Falls/Giants Graves. Just wanted to say thanks for such a helpful article!

    • Victoria Smith April 24, 2018 at 1:02 pm #

      Heather, I am SO glad to hear that this was helpful for you. Such a fun time and fun ages to take kiddos to Arran. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, please tag me in some of you Arran walk photos @girltrieslife so I can share in your adventures. Hope that you’ll return to Arran many times in the future.

  8. Catherine Taylor September 6, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. Your excellent recommendations have been greatly appreciated. Arran is awesome!

    • Victoria Smith September 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

      Catherine, I’m so glad they were helpful! Arran is amazing. I can’t wait to go back in the near future.

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