The Arran Coastal Way is a challenging and rugged long distance route running for 109km mostly around the coastline of the Isle of Arran. The Way fits neatly into a week long holiday, and the excellent bus service around the island makes it possible to walk the route in stages from many bases around the island.
Arran is famed as being 'Scotland in miniature', and it shouldn't come as a surprise that the route enjoys fabulous scenery throughout. The Way doesn't stick completely by the coastline, venturing inland at several points to sample the best the island has to offer.
It begins with an (optional) ascent to Goatfell, the island's highest peak and a stunning viewpoint. There follows the picturesque village of Corrie and Sannox before a classic stretch leads around the remote coastline of the Cock of Arran. From Lochranza and its ruined castle the route follows the old postman's path to tiny, beautiful Catacol. There are stretches of roadwalking through Pirnmill before the route visits the celebrated King's Cave. Southern Arran features perhaps the toughest part of the route; if you enjoy rough scrambling over boulders, you'll love the tidal stretches below the headlands of Bennan and Dippen Head (there is an easier alternative if the boulders are too tough). From Whiting Bay the route climbs to the spectacular Glenashdale Falls before descending to lovely Lamlash. From here the Way sticks to the coast for a final, beautiful stretch back to Brodick. Full descriptions and maps of each of the stages and alternatives are available on the links below.
|Stage 1: Brodick to Sannox via Goatfell||15.5km||6 - 8 hours|
|Stage 1b: Brodick to Sannox low level route||11.75km||3.5 - 4 hours|
|Stage 2: Sannox to Lochranza||15.75km||4.5 - 6 hours|
|Stage 3: Lochranza to Imachar via Pirnmill||14.5km||4.5 - 6 hours|
|Stage 4: Imachar to Blackwaterfoot||16.25km||4.5 - 6 hours|
|Stage 5: Blackwaterfoot to Lagg||12.25km||3.5 - 5 hours|
|Stage 6: Lagg to Whiting Bay via the headlands||15.25km||6 - 9 hours|
|Stage 6b: Lagg to Whiting Bay inland alternative||19.25km||6 - 7 hours|
|Stage 7: Whiting Bay to Brodick||19.25km||6 - 7 hours|
The Arran Coastal Way has some very rugged terrain at times, giving demanding walking despite being at low levels after the first stage. There are waymarkers with a gannet logo - yellow for the main route, red for the alternative routes.
The ascent of Goatfell is a straightforward hillwalk for those with the necessary experience and can be avoided in any case by using the low level alternative if the weather or ability is in doubt. But several of the other sections involve rough going along the shoreline, with pathless and / or boggy sections, and some clambering over boulders. The stage from Lagg to Whiting Bay is particularly demanding in this respect, with awkward going over angular boulder-fields below both Bennan Head and Dippen Head; the Bennan Head section is impassable at high tide, whereas Dippen Head is especially rough. Both these headlands can be avoided by using the inland alternatives on this stage.
Click to find organised Arran Coastal Way walking holiday packages and baggage transfer providers.
Near the end of the first stage, Corrie has a hotel and hostel accommodation; there is then another hotel at the end of the stage at Sannox.
After Sannox there are no facilities until Lochranza is reached at the end stage 2; this has a hotel, B&B accommodation plus a SYHA hostel.
Part way through stage 3 is the hotel / inn at Catacol, whilst further on there is a bed and breakfast, a cafe and a shop at Pirnmill. There are no facilities at the end of the stage at Imachar.
Stage 4 passes close to a cafe at Auchencar and another cafe is passed at Machrie Bay golf course tea room; otherwise there is a shop, hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of the stage at Blackwaterfoot.
Stage 5 continues from Blackwaterfoot and has a good amount of road-walking, but there are no facilities until the end of the stage at Lagg which has a hotel / inn plus nearby bunkhouse accommodation.
Stage 6 leads past Kildonan where there is another hotel and a campsite. Whiting Bay at the end of the stage has hotels, bed and breakfast, cafes and a shop.
The final stage passes through Lamlash at half-way, which again has hotels, bed and breakfast, cafes and a shop. The stage then ends back at Brodick.
The usual route to Arran is by ferry from Ardrossan in Ayrshire, which can be reached by train or bus. There is also a ferry service to Lochranza at the north end of the island, connecting with Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula.
The Arran Coastal Way is fairly unique amongst Scotland's long distance paths in that there are bus services running aroud the island linking up the start and end of every stage; the bus can be caught from many intermediate points too. This opens up the possibility of staying in the same place on the island and walking the Coastal Way in sections using public transport.
Timetables for all the routes can be found on Traveline Scotland.
There are 46 Walkhighlanders who have completed the Arran Coastal Way. To record if you have completed the route, you must register and be logged in. Our users have contributed one public walk report for the route.