Walking on Arran: King’s Cave and Machrie Standing Stones

Before I start writing about walking on Arran I feel I need to let you know a little bit about why I love it so much there.

Me in the 1980s

I first visited Arran when I was 18 years old and attempted to walk up Goatfell with friends wearing white plimsoles, a black jumpsuit and carried a white  handbag. Yes, it was the 1980s, I had permed hair like Kylie Minogue and I didn’t have a clue about being prepared. The photo says it all!

I didn’t get to the top of Goatfell that day. It seemed like we walked for ages, but only got a short way and turned back.

I always remembered the amazing feeling inside me when I was there though. From where I was standing I could see sun kissed water streaming down beside the mountain and a silence that was calm and pleasing to my ears. I couldn’t quite get why it made me feel good.

Thinking about it now, I played outside a lot when I was a child and would go for walks in the countryside, without an adult. Possibly this visit in the 1980s triggered those outdoor memories. I seemed to love being outside, it made me feel better. I vowed I would return one day and complete my mission.

Seventeen years later I went back to try again.

A visit to Arran

My now husband and I visited Arran for the first time together in 2006. We had only been seeing each other for about three months and this was our first holiday away together. We were still getting to know each other.

Sailing to Arran

We stayed at the lovely Glenartney Guesthouse in Brodick for four nights and our plan was to explore the island together.

Glenartney garden

We purchased the book Walking on the Isle of Arran by Paddy Dillon to help us decide what walks we could try. This book was really helpful as it had a variety of walks around the island for all abilities.

As our relationship was still at the ‘getting to know each other’ stage I was determined not to let my lack of fitness stop me from being able to walk anywhere. I didn’t want to totally embarrass myself!

Fortunately the Scottish weather shone brightly for us that week. During our stay we explored:

~ King’s Cave, Blackwaterfoot
~ Machrie Standing Stones, Machrie
~ Goatfell, Brodick (my main mission!)
~ Giants’ Graves and Glenashdale Falls, Whiting Bay
~ Lochranza Castle, Lochranza

Let the adventures begin

King’s Cave, Blackwaterfoot

Blackwaterfoot can be found on the west coast of the island. We drove across the island in our old Land Rover Defender and parked at the harbour near the Kinloch Hotel.

Hiking boots and backpacks on, then off we went heading towards the coast. We eventually came to a downhill path where the beautiful coastline panned out in front of our eyes.

Coastal path to the King’s Cave

Just around the corner in the distance was the historical King’s Cave! I’d never been in a cave before, it all sounded quite romantic in a strange sort of way!

The cave is one of the few locations in which Robert the Bruce allegedly had his famed encounter with a spider.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

I certainly was hoping that this relationship would be a successful one. Sharing this walk together was the first time for both of us so it was the perfect way to break the ice. It didn’t matter if we didn’t talk for a wee while, we were walking and enjoying the scenery around us.

Looking back towards Blackwaterfoot we noticed this unusual rock formation along the coastline.

Drumadoon cliffs

The top of Drumadoon was home to the remains of an Iron Age fort. There’s a rocky path that runs along the bottom taking you back to Blackwaterfoot.

Along the way we saw many pebbles and rocks stacked on top of each other like standing rocks.

Balancing pebbles and rocks

They looked very mystical at the time, but it must have been ‘others’ that placed them this way. I attempted to make a small tower too, but it was actually quite difficult to stop them from falling over! Just be careful they don’t fall on you.

When we eventually reached our destination we saw many caves not just the King’s Cave. I was feeling excited and daring so off I went to explore.

Exploring caves

After some cave exploring we finally reached the main entrance to the King’s Cave. A huge gate stood before us and then we remembered the book said we might need a key to get in.

Luckily we saw some other explorers and gate was open. It is always open.

The gate at King’s Cave

It was quite dark and the walls had interesting carvings. I especially liked standing at the back and looking towards the gate with beams of light peeking through. I never saw any spiders though!

I won’t show you photos of inside the cave, you can explore yourself one day. I would recommend taking a torch!

This photo looking back at the caves from the rocky beach just makes you say “Wow”!

The King’s Cave

The book would have taken us on a circular route back but we decided to walk back the way we came with a slight detour underneath Drumadoon cliffs to Blackwaterfoot.

Machrie Moor Standing Stones, Machrie

After the King’s Cave we drove to Machrie to look for the mysterious standing stones. Machrie Moor is a Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual landscape.

Along the Moss Farm road we stopped to look at some stone circles which date back to approximately between 3500 BC and 1000 BC! Moss Farm is a ruined farm building on the moor near the standing stones. It really adds to the abandoned feeling in this atmospheric place.

As we walked further on we found quite a few other stones scattered across the moor.

Machrie Moor Stone Circles

When we came closer to the standing stones I was impressed. The first one stood on its own and looked so tall and proud! I could see Goatfell faraway in the distance and thought about how I’ll soon be standing on the top of that mountain.

Machrie Standing Stone

A short walk away there was another three stones standing in a circle. There they stood, majestic and tall with a 360 degree view of lush green moorland and mountains around them. They lived in the most beautiful place.

The silence across the moors that day was a strange feeling.

Machrie Standing Stones

It wasn’t until another visit here in 2015 that I really felt a strong sense of something.

I don’t know what it was, but when I stood behind one of the stones in the circle, facing out into the moorland, I could hear the wind making soft howling noises. My eyes were closed. I could feel the wind on my face. When I came back into the circle it was calm with no wind.

Maybe I was hoping for my very own Outlander moment! For those of you who have watched the series, you’ll know what I mean!

My Outlander moment
The stone and the shadow
I really loved the day exploring.

It gave me a great sense of calm and I also realised that simple things like this was what life should be about.  I felt young again and my lack of fitness didn’t let me down thankfully.

Find out about our Goatfell hike in my next post!

Thanks for reading.

Love, Dawn-Marie x

6 thoughts on “Walking on Arran: King’s Cave and Machrie Standing Stones

  1. lwphotoartistry 7 August 2017 — 12:52 am

    Thank you so much for this! It is an amazing looking place, and now on my bucket list! Most certainly reminds you of the Craig Na Dun in Outlander!!! MAGICAL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it there as you can see! I was married there in June and took my photos at the standing stones. It is a very special place 😃


  2. I love the walk to the Kings Cave. We go to Arran pretty much every year and always make the walk to the cave. I’ve still never seen a spider.

    We always treat ourselves to lunch and a little cake at the golf club on the way back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an amazing walk there!

      I think it would be too slippery for that spider to climb now ;).

      Lunch and cake at the golf club sounds nice, I’ll need to try it the next time I’m visiting!

      Thanks for the reading my post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post Dawn Marie – it has inspired me to visit next year. I always wanted to visit King’s Cave but you have shown me much much more (y)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. I’m happy it has inspired you. Thank you 🙂


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