After the glorious preceding day, Tuesday did not have a good forecast and in fact it rained continuously until about five in the afternoon. We took a bus round the South part of the island to Blackwaterfoot. Judging by the views through the steamed up windows of the bus, this is the least picturesque and interesting part of Arran, but not without some charm. At Blackwaterfoot we changed buses and went right the way up to Lochranza in the extreme north of the island where we visited the distillery. As you can see, even in the rain it has a wonderful setting; red deer graze nearby and Golden Eagles nest in the mountains beyond.
The distillery trip was a very pleasant surprise. We took a limited trip termed Oak, there were others, the most expensive being Copper at £75. Ours was £6.50 as seniors! It involved two malt tastings, a short film and a guided tour of the distillery. I must admit I had low expectations but I found it interesting and enjoyable and well worth the money.
Back in Brodick, in the rain around 4.30, we bought another ready made dinner at the C-op and decided not to venture out again, although it did dry up later on giving us a glimpse of sun just before sundown.
Wednesday was wet at first then became dry but overcast and windy. We walked along the coast to see Brodick Castle parts of which are over 800 years old.
The grounds were very attractive and the house was grandly decorated, with magnificent furniture and fittings – especially the silverware. I found the collection of nearly 100 mounted stags’ heads rather less impressive. We left around lunchtime and caught a bus to Blackwaterfoot where I took a walk along the coast.
I set off North along a track designated as part of the Arran Coastal Way. It started along a road out of Blackwaterfott and continued through a golf course. The direction markers became a bit vague and I deviated “off piste” a little and walked over The Doon instead of around it. Once back on the path. the way was very clear but I saw very few Gannet waymark signs for the Coastal Way. Beneath The Doon there are very impressive columns in the cliffs, well worth a look back.
Further along the raised beach there are a series of caves including the King’s Cave with steel grills and door across the entrance. This is reputed to be a hiding place of Robert the Bruce. There are probably at least 12 or more caves along this stretch of the path. Soon after, the path climbs onto the cliff and passes alongside a forest and trends inland. There are quite impressive views north over Macrie Moor.
On meeting the road, the Coastal Way sets off along it. This is what I did and after a while, at a convenient passing place, I waited for a bus and rode back to Brodick. I was looking for a bus stop but the bus driver said that “In the country we will stop anywhere to pick up passengers”, which is brilliant. The Coastal Way follows the road all the way north to Lochranza; an attractive coastline but you would have to keep dodging cars etc.
Thursday was forecast to be dry and we decided to go north to Lochranza on the 10.55 bus. Lochranza has a population of 250 and is reputed to be the village with the lowest annual hours of sunshine in Britain. The Castle at Lochranza is, however, very impressive.
I took the Coast Way path around the coast to Laggan, which follows the Coastal Way, then back over moorland to Lochranza. It took just over three hours. The path starts off on the road. It then becomes a well made track and path on a wide raised beach.
It was cool with a keen wind but mostly the sun was shining. After a while the path becomes less distinct, though still very easy to follow, until a rock fall is reached where the footpath becomes a scramble, not difficult or at all hazardous. But you do need to pick your way with care. After 200m or so of this the path rejoins a raised beach. From here there are several streams crossing over from the high cliffs to the sea. Crossing them is mostly not an issue, although some required a deal of thought and planning. The path has quite a few boggy, peaty sections but most have carefully placed stones to tip toe over. Because, we had quite a bit of wet weather in the week or so before my walk it may well be that my experience is not typical. Anyway, I have certainly been on much worse paths than this.
The path passes some ruined properties in places but there are no signs of current human activity and it feels really remote and very peaceful. You suddenly arrive at Laggan an empty house right on the shore. This is where I turned inland and climbed steeply uphill. The path meanders up the grassy hillside and eventually reaches a track heading back, roughly northerly, but still climbing. Soon you can look down on the remains of Cock Farm and the track becomes stony before reaching a col at around 250m. From the col there is a fairly gentle descent all the way into Lochranza, right by the golf course, where the route starts. A herd of red deer has colonised the golf course and are quite indifferent to the golfers and their silly game.
After the walk we caught the bus back to Brodick for the last time and saw several red deer and some seals on the way.
This was our final day on Arran and next day we left on the 08.20 ferry.