Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 2: Sannox to Lochranza

When my eyes eventually decided to open, I realised that the soft vibrating noise was our alarm telling us “get up now and pack away your tent.”

I was stiff and sore lying on my 3cm sleeping mat. Don’t get me wrong, the mat kept me warm, it was just that my bones could feel every bump on the ground. Getting up and moving around was actually better than just lying there.

I slipped my feet into my Crocs and crawled out of the tent to see the early morning sunbeams on the ocean like search lights. What a beautiful way to wake up in the morning. My aches and pains soon eased off.

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Sunbeams on the ocean

I forgot to mention in my last post Brodick to Sannox, how wet our feet were. Our walking boots were not as waterproof as we thought and still damp. Last night I remember the most wonderful feeling of taking off my boots and wet socks to slip into my Crocs with little bumps to massage my prune like feet. You know that way your skin gets when you stay in the bath for far too long?

We packed away the tent, with a few moments of “no don’t fold it that way”, “this way”, “no that way!” It’s funny thinking back now though. Tiredness and the wind didn’t help matters either.

We then had to quickly decide what to carry with us for the day. Our car was a bit of a mess with stuff everywhere and finding things was proving frustrating. We’re usually more organised than this.

It was time to put on my damp walking boots. Rubbing talcum powder on my feet was very pleasant, then I slipped into a fresh pair of anti-blister socks from Trespass. These are thick socks with an inner lining and so far I had no blisters.

Anne and Kathy were walking from their cottage in Corrie to meet us at our camping spot in North Sannox.

Day 2 – Sannox to Lochranza (14.5 km/9 miles)

My Garmin recorded 15.9 km/9.9 miles

Arran Coastal Way Website – Sannox to Lochranza

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Anne and Kathy arrived all refreshed to tackle this day’s walk. We were all still sore and tired from the day before, but getting the legs moving again was a good thing.

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Leaving Sannox

The forestry track was a godsend after all the boulders yesterday. The ‘Fallen Rocks’ are in the photo below, caused by a landslide over 200 years ago.

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Fallen rocks

I was totally loving the walk along the coast. Lush green hills and high fern all around us. I was hoping we’d see a seal or two, but nothing.

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Group talk

A lonely paddle was standing on the rocky beach … I wonder why someone left it like that?

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Without a paddle

I was thinking that I’d like to walk this route again in the autumn. Imagine all the brown and yellow fern.

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Fern on the coast
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Sea buoy

I spied a cave and off I went wading through a maze of fern higher than my waist. I didn’t know what I was standing on below, but I needed to look inside.

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The cave

It wasn’t very deep with nothing much to see, only a crate and a few plastic water bottles. The crate had a trademark on it though: F.S. Annett & Sons, Kilkeel. Seemingly they are fish merchants from Northern Ireland! Shelter, fish and water …

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Inside the cave

Of course, it was also very tempting to climb on top and sit on its mossy roof. Might as well while I was there I thought! Anne and Kathy must have thought I was crazy …

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On top of the cave

Pretty pink wild flowers caught my eye. These little beauties are called Sea Pink.

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Sea Pink flowers

I looked back at how far we’d walked along the coast. The point looked so far away, yet I didn’t feel as if I’d walked that distance.

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Coastline towards Sannox

The path started to get a little bit rocky and I could see a wee white house in the distance. I knew this was Laggan Cottage as Alan and I walked there from Lochranza many years ago.

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Path to Laggan Cottage

The beach had now turned into smaller pebbles. I’m now wishing I had walked on it.

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Pebble beach
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Path to Laggan Cottage

We reached Laggan Cottage, the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and explore. The cottage has been abandoned and is used as a bothy I think. That’s what I’ve read online. The door was open so we had a look inside to find some furniture, including a bed, crockery, pretty posters on the wall and food still sitting around. Someone loved this place and lived here once, possibly a holiday home.

I felt a bit spooked by it all.  I don’t think I’d like to stay there on a dark, windy night unless I needed to.

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Laggan Cottage

Before we left the cottage a large group of walkers arrived. We said hello, as you do, and they introduced themselves as the Cardiff Ramblers. Twelve Welsh ramblers, some retired, who could climb and walk even better than us. I love to see people of all ages outdoors and walking. I’m inspired by their will and determination to keep going. I hope that Alan and I can continue to do the same.

I looked back at Laggan Cottage and thought it looked nicer on the outside. What a beautiful place to call home many years ago.

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Farewell Laggan Cottage

Carrying on along the coast we took our time and stopped now and then. So far the coastal route was well signposted, as now and then we’d come across the yellow route marker.

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Passing the Arran Coastal Way Signpost

We also kept seeing artistic silver badges on the posts with different animals on them. It looks like you could make a rubbing from them.

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Arran Coastal Way Signpost
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Beautiful rock formations

The next place of interest was the 18th century ruins of the salt pans. They were known as Duchess Anne’s salt pans where sea water would be heated in large salt pans until only the salt was left. I wonder how they managed to transport the salt back to the villages? It’s quite a rocky shore for horses, possibly transported by boat.

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Salt Pans
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Salt Pans

The Cardiff Ramblers caught up with us at the Salt Pans. Look at all the bright colours amongst the green fern.

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The Cardiff Ramblers

There were Oyster Catchers on the rocky beach right along the coast. They cried out an alert when we passed them. There must have been young ones around and they were protecting them. We didn’t go too close though, Alan zoomed in for this photo.

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Oyster Catcher

The path along the coast was varied and really kept us on our toes. Wild Irises were scattered here and there giving us a splash of yellow along our route.

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Path and Irises

The rock formations along the route were so unique. I can see why the island is a geologist’s paradise. In fact, we met a young girl on the coast who was studying the rocks as part of her geology field trip.

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Kathy admiring the view
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Changing coastline
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Pause for thought
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Beautiful coastline towards Lochranza
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A better path

We’d seen quite a few caves along the coastline, all pretty much similar. We were looking for Ossian’s Cave and noticed a trodden path towards the cliff that took us to a small cave. We’re not sure if this was Ossian’s cave. I’d later read there was another chamber to explore with a carving of a ship on the wall. There might have been an entrance at the back that we missed.

I should have researched this before the walk. I was carrying my Arran Coastal Way Rucksack Reader, but I’d still to finish reading it all.

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Possibly Ossian’s Cave

Large sections of beautiful red sandstone were so vibrant in colour. I stepped on top of it and felt like a giant stomping across a mini Grand Canyon.

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Red sandstone – looking back

We were now approaching the Cock of Arran. The large boulder on the left below supposedly looked like a crowing cockerel before its poor head broke off, hence the name of this coastline.

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Cock of Arran
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Cock of Arran – boulder on the left

The high path at Scriodan Rock Fall became very narrow and bouldery. The tide was coming in so we couldn’t walk on the beach. To make things worse the rain came on making it very slippery.

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Scriodan Rock Fall
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Taking the high route

Anne and Kathy admitted they found this part of the coastline quite scary and were worried that they would slip and fall. We took our time and got through it. I had a few slips myself! I don’t have any photos of this part of the walk as my camera would have been soaked. Concentration on where we were stepping was also really needed here.

At last we reached flat ground but the rain just kept coming. The thought of a warm cup of coffee and something nice to eat was almost within my reach. We were hoping to reach the Whisky Distillery in time before it closed.

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Thinking of food and whisky!

Alan and I hadn’t even booked any accommodation for ourselves at Lochranza. The plan was to turn up at Lochranza campsite and book a pitch for our tent. With soaking wet feet and tired legs, I was hoping that a camping pod would be available for us. Maybe we’d get a better night’s sleep for our next day’s walk.

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Hutton’s unconformity

We passed what we think was Hutton’s unconformity. In 1787, geologist James Hutton found evidence here that supported his theory that the Earth was much older than previously thought. Observing the different types of rocks, their age gap and angle confirmed his theory.

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Hutton’s unconformity

Lochranza was ahead at last! It’s a beautiful village surrounded by hills and its own castle ruin.

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Newton Point, Lochranza

This cairn’s inscription was ringing so true to us.

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Dedicated to the memory of geologists and walkers

“There is perhaps no scene on Arran which so impresses the beholder with a feeling of solitary beauty as the first glimpse of Lochranza. The traveller may perhaps be somewhat fatigued with his protracted journey as, on a still summer evening, he rounds Newton Point. But tired and hungry though he be, and with the very smoke of the little inn curling before his eyes, let him pause for a moment at the entrance of the loch and seating himself on a granite boulder, quietly contemplate the placid scene before him”

Andrey Crombie Ramsay’s ‘Geology of the Island of Arran’

We certainly were tired and hungry, but we didn’t contemplate hanging around to view the placid scene as the rain started to get heavier. We still had a surprisingly long walk along the edge of the loch to reach the campsite and Whisky Distillery.

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Lochranza in the rain

As we were walking along the road a majestic stag was standing in a field right in front of us. I’d never been so close to one before and I couldn’t get my camera out because of the rain. Luckily Alan had his waterproof phone handy!

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Stagg in the rain

I started to walk a bit faster up the road towards Lochranza campsite, desperate to get booked in. We were both relieved when the owner said he had a pod available.

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Yay, we got a camping pod!

We walked up the road to the distillery to catch up with Anne and Kathy. I was so looking forward to a tasty warm meal but we were too late as it was closing soon. Coffee and cake was still being served, so that had to do.

Sadly, Kathy and Anne received some upsetting news. Two family members had separate accidents and were in hospital, so Kathy was planning to leave the island the next day. Anne would stay though and continue with her challenge.

Alan caught the bus back to Sannox to pick up the car. I pulled off my soaking wet boots and socks and thought this is the perfect time to write in my journal.

My lovely colleague Catriona bought this for me and I was excited to start writing in it. I haven’t written in a diary since I was a teenager. With four days still to write about, I never had time to write much. Hunger and tiredness was setting in.

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My journal

By the time Alan returned it was too late to eat out, so that tasty restaurant meal my mouth was watering for didn’t happen. We did have our dried camping food, so we boiled some water and ate this instead.

What an adventure! I was so relieved to lie down and rest. Our next day’s walk would be Lochranza to Imachar 14.5 km/9 miles.

Thanks for reading!

Dawn-Marie x

2 thoughts on “Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 2: Sannox to Lochranza

  1. What a great adventure you’ve had, it sounds so fantastic. Why have I not been to Arran yet? Arran appears to be a lot larger than I had previously thought, I really need to get over there and camp. Shame about the rain, especially with that stag so close. This is why I changed my camera last week to a weather proof DSLR! Great pictures again 👍 Hope the 2 members of your friends family are ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve never been to Arran? You’d love it Paul. We’ve been visiting for 11 years and still not seen everything. I love Lochranza campsite, lots of deer, and the Seal shore campsite at Kildonan, lots of seals! My Lumix 100 camera was getting really soaked. I’ve many photos with rain drops on the lens! Yes thanks, the family are recovering. My favourite parts of the coastal walk have still to come. It was difficult at parts, especially with unpredictable weather. But still so beautiful 😃. I hope you visit soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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