Arran Coastal Way
Nestled in the picturesque waters of the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Arran in Scotland stands as a breathtaking jewel of natural wonders and rich heritage, self-described as ‘Scotland in Miniature’. This captivating island boasts a diverse array of attractions that appeal to all kinds of adventurous travellers. To its north, rugged mountains clad in emerald-green heather beckon walkers seeking to climb their majestic peaks, including the iconic Goat Fell, which offers astounding panoramic views all over the island. Meandering around the island’s rim is the enchanting Arran Coastal Way, a 105km loop of great diversity that clings to rocky shores and diverts to inland woodlands and moors. The walking route is varied and generally quite moderate, though there are some more strenuous sections. One of the Island’s advantages is that Arran is easily accessed with a short train ride from Glasgow and a one-hour scenic ferry ride.
There are more attractions in Arran than we have room to list here but more than anything it is the tranquility of the varied landscapes that entices people back here again and again. The charming towns and villages dotted around the island, such as Brodick and Lochranza, exude warmth and hospitality, welcoming visitors to soak in the traditional Scottish culture and friendly atmosphere. For history buffs, Arran’s illustrious past unfolds in its ancient castles and standing stones, such as the imposing Brodick Castle and the mystical Machrie Moor stone circles. Wildlife abounds on Arran, on the coastal walk you’ll see the iconic Grey Monk Seals resting along the shore along with Golden Eagles overhead and Pheasants and Red Deer inland. At the end of the day, culinary delights await the hungry walker, with the island’s local delicacies like freshly caught seafood and delectable Arran cheese tempting taste buds. There are also two distilleries and a brewery on the island where you can visit and sample their excellent whiskies and beer.
The Isle of Arran’s charm lies not only in its remarkable landscapes but also in the sense of escapism it offers. The slower pace of life and the absence of overwhelming crowds and vehicles create an opportunity for enjoyment of and real connection with nature. This blissful respite from the hustle and bustle of modern life is what makes Arran a haven for travellers seeking solace and rejuvenation.
Get ready for
- Scotland in miniature – highlands and lowlands
- Coastal villages and walking
- Ancient stone circles and standing stones
- Seals, deer, eagles and native wildlife
- Local distilleries
- Option to visit Holy Isle
On the trail
What's it like underfoot?
The Arran Coastal Way follows a circuit around the Island that involves different walking conditions: at times you will be walking on dirt paths by the coast, along beaches and through forest and hills. There are several stretches where the Way uses the quiet coastal road that fringes the island and you walk along that. Sometimes there are low tide alternatives to the road – some of these coastal alternatives can also involve walking across pebble beaches and boulder hopping which makes for slower-going but very rewarding scenery. There is one day when you have an option to walk up into the highlands at Goat Fell otherwise the walk stays fairly low.
Where you stay
On Arran you’ll stay in some lovely accommodation – a mixture of hotels that also doubles as pubs and bed and breakfasts, lodges. All are located conveniently on the route or very close to it. There are days where you walk to your accommodation and some days on the West Coast you’ll catch the local bus at the end of the day back to your last accommodation.
Arrive in Brodick, the main ferry port of Arran.
Settle into your accommodation and take a leisurely stroll along Brodick Beach to stretch your legs. Explore Brodick Castle and Gardens, a historic castle with beautiful gardens. If you arrive early enough then there is an option today to climb Goat Fell (6 hours). Alternatively, you can do this on the following day or at the end of your trip if the weather is better.
The name Brodick comes from the Norse ‘Breda- Vick’ Vic or Broad Bay, which is a nod to its Viking past and the bay forms the beautiful backdrop to Arran’s second-largest village. You could choose to visit Brodick Castle today, which is Arran’s most popular tourist attraction and a wonderful example of a medieval defensive castle. The castle belonged to the Dukes of Hamilton from 1503. Alternatively, spend the afternoon browsing through the village’s diverse shops and cafes and perhaps sample the local craft beers at the Arran brewery. If you need any outdoor gear there is a good shop in town on the Esplanade.
The start of the Arran coastal way is near the ferry terminal and follows the esplanade on the coast on the so-called Fisherman’s walk, which will take you onto the other side of the Bay and Brodick Castle. The path skirts around the estuary of Glen Rosa water before continuing on past the castle and heading inland. There is an opportunity to hike up Goat Fell (784m) if you’re up for a challenge in good weather and want to experience stunning panoramic views from the summit. The path diverges and you have a choice of taking the upland route over Goat Fell and down to Corrie or continuing on a lowland route, which will take you more directly to Corrie. This section of the Arran Coastal Way offers fantastic coastal views and opportunities to spot wildlife.
Arriving in the quaint village of Corrie your accommodation is the lovely Corrie Hotel. Look out for the nearby bookstore (‘The Wee Bookstore’), which specialises solely in outdoors and nature books; it’s well worth a visit. Enjoy the tranquil beach beer garden and perhaps dip your feet in the refreshing sea of the Firth of Clyde!
Today’s walk sticks to the coast and visits an isolated northeast corner of the island far from the road and human habitation, so you can get a real sense of solitude. The first part of the day is quite straightforward as you follow along the coast to reach the village of Sannox. It’s a very enjoyable day’s walk and for most of the day the walking is at sea level on good paths. But as you round the northern tip of the island the terrain changes and there are rocky and boggy sections that are not as easy before you reach Lochranza.
Lochranza is situated in a sheltered inlet with a spectacular ruined castle and it also has its own Whiskey distillery and shop which is well worth a visit.
From Lochranza you will follow a mainly coastal route often on the quiet coastal road which often has more cyclists than cars. The first part of today’s walk takes you in London slightly uphill through woodland eventually emerging at the village of Catacol, with its row of white fisherman’s cottages. From here you then follow the coastal Rd which will take you South to Imachar, at times you have the option to diverge onto the nearby beaches for sections. Once you reach Imachar you will catch a bus back to Lochranza for a second night stay.
A wonderful and scenic day of walking continues along the West Coast of Arran, with some fantastic historical points of interest including the King’s Cave and the Machrie Moor standing stones, following the coastal road for the start of the day. There are great views of Kintyre across the water and the cliffs of Drumadoon Point as you walk Southwards. After crossing Iorsa water you’ll have the option to visit the first set of standing stones today at Auchencar and further on you’ll pass caves set into eroded sandstone before reaching Machrie.
The diversion to the Standing Stones at Machrie Moor is a must, these are one of the outstanding attractions of Arran and some of the finest ancient monuments in Scotland: the Bronze Age stone circles here date to about 4000 years old and are positioned with commanding views of the surrounding landscapes. The ancient weathered pillars are made of red sandstone and granite.
After returning to the road from Machrie Moor you follow the path to the King’s cave along a beautiful stretch of coastline and forest. The fabled King’s cave is where Robert the Bruce hid from English forces in 1307 and was supposedly inspired by watching a spider determinedly weave its web to try again with his rebellion. The cave also contains intriguing ancient rock carvings dating back to the Bronze Age. Again, it’s a sight you won’t want to miss and well worth the effort.
The trail continues towards the imposing cliffs of Drumadoon Point, which has an ancient fort on its summit. After rounding the point you continue along the beach to reach the hamlet of Blackwaterfoot and your accommodation at the hotel.
A shorter more relaxing day’s walk today skirting up and over the coastal hills to Lagg and its distillery then and the Lagg Hotel. You follow a coastal path for the morning section passing Caves which were used once as a church by the local congregation. The path rollercoasters by green hills before turning up and inland to meet the road at Sliddery. Afterwards you continue on an upward climb to pass the Distillery at Lagg, which is well worth a visit if nothing else for its café and wonderful views. A shorter day’s walk means you have time to take a distillery tour today if you choose to. Not long afterward the distillery you will drop down to the quaint little valley of the Lagg hotel, where you overnight.
From Lagg there is an opportunity to follow the coastal route at low tide or take the road at high tide ( or a bus!). The coastal walking is very rewarding but slow going and tough in places as you need to negotiate boulders and pebbles. Today is a good day to see seals in particular as you pass a colony of Monk Seals at Bennan Head. You can choose to walk down from the road to the beach just after East Bennan and do a shorter section of Coastal walking ( tide dependent), it’s particularly beautiful as there a few waterfalls that plunge down from the hills to the coast. Continuing along the road you can divert for a short distance to reach the hotel at Kildonan, with views of the Island & lighthouse of Pladda with the dramatic Ailsa Crag. It’s the ideal place to enjoy a good Lunch.
From Kildonan you have a choice of following the Coastal path at low tide or heading inland on the main route. The coastal path around Dippin head involves a lot of boulder fields so you should choose this route carefully with enough time around tides. The inland route climbs into forest and eventually you come to the Giant’s Graves, 5,000 year old chambered tombs. After the Giant’s Graves you come to the waterfall of Glenashdale Burn with it’s 45m drop. Look out for Red squirrels as you descend down the path to reach the town of Whiting Bay.
Option to add a day for Holy Island
You have an option to add an extra day to your trip for an excursion and walking on Holy Island. in the summer months to take the bus to the next village of Lamlash where a boat operates to Holy Island (Between April and end October). Holy Island was the home of a Celtic saint in the 6th century, St. Molaise, who lived as a hermit on the Island. Nowadays it is home to a Buddhist community and the centre for world peace and health, which runs retreats there. There is a wonderful, rugged walk on the Island, which climbs to the summit of Mullach Mor 314m (allow around 3 hours). There are also rare animal breeds on the Island, yet another reason to visit this fascinating Island.
Overnight: Whiting Bay or Lamlash
On your final day, hike from Whiting Bay back to Brodick to complete the loop around the island. You follow an easy coastal path around Kingscross head (look out for the sign for the Viking fort and Grave mound) which gives great views of Holy Island and will eventually bring you to the town of Lamlash, where you can enjoy lunch at one of the cafes. The path then continues to Clauchlands Point, where there is an option to walk uphill on an inland route or continue on the main coastal way. The last sections of the path track towards Brodick Bay across open marshy terrain and finish to complete your walk and celebrate tonight in the town.
Today you can choose to depart Brodick in the morning or instead end your time with a challenge and climb nearby Goat Fell if you missed the opportunity on the first day. In which case you’d depart on a late afternoon ferry for your onward arrangements.
Brodick is the main ferry port of Arran. The name Brodick comes from the Norse ‘Breda- Vick’ Vic or Broad Bay, which is a nod to its Viking past; the bay forms the beautiful backdrop to Arran’s second-largest village.
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If you’re up for a challenge, the hike up Goat Fell (784m) rewards you with stunning panoramic views from the summit.
In the quaint village of Corrie, The Wee Bookstore specialises solely in outdoors and nature books and is well worth a visit. Enjoy the tranquil beach beer garden at the local hotel and dip your feet in the refreshing sea of the Firth of Clyde.
Lochranza is situated in a sheltered inlet with a spectacular ruined castle. It also has its own whiskey distillery and shop, which is well worth a visit.
Imachar is a beautiful coastal hamlet. The traditional stone cottages and buildings add to its timeless charm.
Home to a picturesque harbour and sandy beach, this small village boasts beautiful views of the Mull of Kintyre. It’s known for its striking rock formation Drumadoon Point, which adds to the area’s natural beauty.
The sandy beaches in the town of Lagg are some of the best in Scotland. The family-run hotel is the oldest inn on Arran, dating back to 1791. Red squirrels are abundant and can be seen roaming around the hotel’s garden. There are various cairns near Lagg on either side of the local river, reached by a forest footpath named ‘lover’s lane’.
Whiting Bay is a popular seaside resort town. There are plenty of interesting forest walks in this area, especially the well-known trek through the woods of Glenashdale Falls, the island’s most impressive waterfall.
Holy Isle was the home of a Celtic saint in the 6th century, St. Molaise, who lived as a hermit on the Island. Nowadays it is home to a Buddhist community. There is a wonderful, rugged walk to the summit of Mullach Mor 314m (3 hours). There are also rare animal breeds on the Island, yet another reason to visit this fascinating island.
- 8 nights twin share accommodation in hotels and B&Bs
- 2 packed lunches
- 8 breakfasts
- 6 luggage transfers
- RAW Travel app for accurate on-trail navigation
- Arran Coastal Way guidebook
- Emergency back-up in the UK
- Single supplement ($790)
- Any lunches not included, bought locally en route
- Travel insurance
- Lunch and dinners
FINDING YOUR WAY
Our RAW Travel App is designed to help you navigate easily on the trail showing your location in real-time without any internet connection needed. The app has many great features; it shows you weather forecasts localised for each of your overnight stops, and information on the location of each night’s accommodation. There are important reminders, safety information, videos, and emergency contact information for your route. It also has a unique audio feature that can tell you about places and points of interest as you approach them on the trail. It means you can walk safely and confidently on a self-guided trip.
Walk with Confidence
We have our own UK support person who can assist if things don’t go to plan. Neil is a fully qualified UK Summer and Winter Mountain Leader based in Kendal, England. He has been guiding trips for more than 7 years and leads RAW clients on our Coast-to-Coast walks. Whilst things always go well for our Self-guided clients, its good to know you can have support in an emergency. Read more about Neil here.
West Highland Way – Scotland
- Hike Scotland’s classic long-distance route
- Experience the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond, the brooding majesty of Rannoch Moor and the staggering beauty of Glencoe
- Enjoy drams of whisky or a local ale in cosy inns
- Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland
Scotland’s West Coast Islands
- Enjoy an island-hopping adventure on the west coast of Scotland
- Discover enchanting lochs, impressive castles and stunning seascapes
- Experience easy hiking and indulge in tasty local produce
- Expect wildlife aplenty, including seals, sea eagles and otters
A Cornish Camino – Cornwall
- Travel the path of Saints and pilgrims along the Cornish coastline
- Wander along cobbled streets past pretty whitewashed cottages
- Follow the path through tranquil woods and country lanes
- Walk the ancient cobbled causeway to St Michael’s Mount
Coast to Coast
Dales and Moors – Coast to Coast
- Walk quiet pathways of England’s most-loved national parks
- Discover the fascinating and mysterious Nine Standards Rigg
- Eat fresh local produce and sample regional ales and ciders
- Explore the almost 1000-year-old Richmond Castle
North Cotswolds – Cotswold Way
- Walk from Stratford-upon-Avon to delightful Painswick
- Enjoy honey-coloured villages and medieval market towns
- Indulge in exceptional local cuisine at posh gastro pubs
- See the birthplace of poet and playwright William Shakespeare
South West Coast Path: St Ives to Penzance – Cornwall
- Walk the ancient narrow causeway to mystical St Michael’s Mount
- Experience the dramatic and isolated Cornish coastline
- Savour craggy landscapes, hidden coves and stunning views
- Explore ‘Poldark’ country and the heart of Cornish tin mining
Coast to Coast
The Part-Guided Walk – Coast to Coast
- Part-guided and fully pack-free with our qualified mountain guide
- Ramble through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Be charmed by quintessential English villages and pubs
- Rolling hills, pastures and the world’s most charming sheep
TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed