Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 3: Lochranza to Imachar

I had a much better sleep in the camping pod. After a refreshing shower at Lochranza campsite I felt less achy and ready to walk the next stretch of this beautiful island. The showers and toilets are kept very clean, I love this wee campsite.

We thought it might be a good idea to stay here another night so we were lucky the pod was available. I felt quite relieved that we had somewhere to stay. We could walk our day, then jump on the bus back and maybe also have time to go out for a more fulfilling dinner.

Escaping to this island makes you feel as if you have all the time in the world … but it’s surprising how it slips away before you and the day is gone right before your eyes.

Anne was catching the bus from Corrie and meeting us at the campsite about 8.45am. I know she was feeling sad with her sister leaving and what had happened at home. Determined as ever she wanted to carry on with her peak challenge. After the challenging rocky coast from Sannox to Lochranza, Anne decided she wanted to continue but adapt it to suit her ability by walking on the road. I really wanted to walk the official route as much as I could, that was my challenge, so Anne seemed okay walking some parts on her own this day. I was worried about her though.

Day 3 – Lochranza to Imachar (14.5 km/9 miles)

My Garmin recorded 22.3 km/13.9 miles

Arran Coastal Way Website – Lochranza to Imachar

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It was a wet dull morning. Even the sheep knew it was that kind of day as they sensibly sheltered under the trees. The rain was still doing its magic, watering our thriving land and filling our lochs and rivers.

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Sheltering sheep

As we walked down the road towards Lochranza Castle I captured a few photos of what was around us even though it was cloudy. Colourful flowers still brightened up the greenery around us.

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Church and graveyard
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House ruins and foxglove

Lochranza looked as pretty as a picture as we approached the castle ruins.

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Walking to Lochranza Castle

A yellow bus passed us and we thought that this was the Cardiff Ramblers getting dropped off at their start point. We later found out it was! Maybe we’d bump into them again today.

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Lochranza in the rain

A quick stop at Lochranza Castle was a must. The original castle was thought to be built here for the MacSweens in the early 13th century. The ruins we see today are around 16th century and has been in disuse since the 1800s. Historic Scotland now look after these historical ruins.

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Lochranza Castle
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View from the castle
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Inside Lochranza Castle

We had a quick wander around the castle ruin then continued with our walk.

Near the Lochranza ferry terminal it was time to say farewell to Anne. This was where our path would take us the high route along the Postman’s Walk. Anne was walking the low route and she’d be in Catacol before us!

We passed this old ruin near Coillemore Farm.

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House ruins

It was a steep muddy incline, but still a lovely route with huge ferns, foxglove and sea views. I could see Newton Point and the route around the Cock of Arran. Again, it was rewarding to look back at the land we’d already walked. It gave me a great sense of achievement and motivation to keep going.

I’m assuming this route was used by the local Postman back in the days to deliver mail back and forward from Lochranza to Catacol. It’s a longer and more strenuous route than the road though!

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Postman’s walk

It was so peaceful walking through the forest of birch trees and high fern. The sound of the wind twisting through the trees and watching the fern swish around made me feel excited and content.

This was what my challenge was about, getting into the wild places and feeling it. I was thinking that this might be a woodland where Scottish fairies lived, I could feel the magic around me … sadly I didn’t see any fern fairies.

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Magical woodlands

I stopped for a moment to pick up a text from Anne saying she had arrived at the hamlet Catacol. The mobile phone signal on the island can be really patchy with delays sending and receiving, especially in the woodlands.

We crossed a few burns through the woods then the coastline appeared again.

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Woodlands and sea

Catacol Bay was below. As I looked through our monocular I could see Anne beside a bench talking to the Cardiff Ramblers. I was waving away like mad, but of course they couldn’t see me. I was a blue dot on a hillside. We were soon back on the road though.

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Catacol Bay

The houses on the Catacol Row are also known as the twelve apostles. Each house has a different pattern in its window so that the fisherman’s wives could signal with oil lamps to their husbands out at sea. I wonder what the conversation would be …

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Catacol row – twelve apostles

Did you catch dinner? When are you coming home? I miss you. Don’t be going to the pub tonight! Or maybe there wasn’t much conversation at all. It sounds much simpler than the communications we use today.

It was back on the road again for all three of us.

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Back on the road again
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Cow in the field
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Swans at sea

Alan and I were pleased to walk past a signpost to Loch Tanna (4 miles). We’ve always want to walk there too and maybe even wild camp. Now we knew exactly where to start this walk.

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The path to Loch Tanna

I looked back at Catacol. We were on that hill not so long ago!

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Looking back at Catacol

The long and winding road to Pirnmill was easier on the legs and we still got to enjoy the coastal views.

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Long winding road

There was a very small stretch where Alan and I took the beach, but we were back on the road again in no time. This old burial ground was sitting beside the road looking out sea, a peaceful place to rest.

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Lenimore cemetery

We walked past the signpost to the beautiful Coire Fhionn Lochan. This is an uphill hike off the road but we didn’t visit today. Alan and I explored the mountain loch in July 2016 and would love to go back and wild camp there. This is a photo from our visit.

Coire Fhionn Lochan, Isle of Arran, Ayrshire, Scotland
Coire Fhionn Lochan

We enjoyed these remote swings sitting by the roadside with a sea view. It was a fun way to take the weight off our feet for five minutes. I was swinging high like a child again.

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Swinging in the rain
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The coastline near Pirnmill

When we arrived at Pirnmill and I was really looking forward to a hot drink, something to eat and the toilet. We were disappointed that the Lighthouse Restaurant was closed on a Monday. Just our luck.

Alan brought his Jetboil, so we popped into the shop next door and bought some pot noodles. We sat on the picnic benches outside the Lighthouse and Alan was preparing to boil some water.

The owner of the Lighthouse came out and said that we couldn’t cook there as we were too close to his gas bottles. We didn’t see them at first. He kindly said we could sit there and he boiled a kettle of water for our pot noodles. Friendly service on his day off. Thank you! Still no toilet around though …

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The Lighthouse Restaurant, Pirnmill

No sign of the Cardiff Ramblers either, they must have been walking faster today. I suppose they were walking to time as their bus was picking them up at their finishing point each day.

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Winch to pull boats in

We reached another little swing park. This was where we would take separate routes again. Anne enjoyed another quick shot on the swing before she walked the road and we followed the coastal path to Imachar.

We were talking to a nice gentleman just before this and he said that the swings were going to be taken away soon because of budget cuts.

That’s such a shame. As adults, we don’t very often get to jump back to our childhood and have a shot on a swing. With these swings being so remote this was an ideal opportunity for us to rest our weary legs for a wee while. They were a fun distraction as part of our Arran Coastal Way challenge.

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Anne on the swing

I was ready to get back to the coast and this next stretch was beautiful.

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Rocky beach – looking back towards Pirnmill

Did you ever doodle love hearts on your school jotters with your initials and a boy you liked at school? I did. Most likely that boy didn’t even notice you, but you still wrote it hoping that it would come true.

This heart in the sand was for real, it came true, and we would be together forever.

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💖 AA + DMA 💖

We stumbled upon another cemetery right on the sea front. It’s a beautiful place to rest, but not very accessible. One side of the cemetery was flooded with water, even though there was a sea wall protecting it.

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Pirnmill Cemetery

As you can see from my photos, the weather changed! Blue sky, puffy clouds and sunshine was very pleasing for the last part of our walk. The sea changed to a beautiful colour of grey/blue as we looked across to the Mull of Kintyre.

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Coastline near Imachar
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Coastline near Imachar

We met a lovely couple walking with their dog and chatted for a few minutes. Their dog was carrying the largest tree branch and wouldn’t drop it even though he/she couldn’t pass through some of the path. It was funny, apart from almost tripping us up on the boulders! This couple could walk and boulder hop really fast. We kept up with them for a very short while then we slowed back down.

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Imachar coastline

Just around the corner there was another cave, yay my favourite. It wasn’t deep but for some unknown reason I didn’t like the feeling of being there. I really don’t know why, it was bright with the sunshine lighting up the cave. Alan recorded me coming back out saying I didn’t like it … I love exploring caves, so weird!

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The cave

We were almost back at the road again where Anne was waiting for us on the beach.

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Path to Imachar

Anne was enjoying her alone time, sitting on the beach listening to the waves. What an amazing beach too, look at those rock formations!

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Imachar beach
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Imachar beach
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Quiet beach time

We still had a little while to wait before the bus would pass us, so we continued walking as far as we could to make for a shorter start in the morning. We almost reached the next village of Dougarie, but not quite! The bus was in our sights, it was time to wave it down.

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Here comes the bus

When I was sitting on the bus a young American guy looked at me and asked if I was from the States. With a confused look, and my Scottish accent, I said “no.” Then he asked if I was Outlander crew. I replied, “no just a fan.” Then I realised it was my Outlander cap I was wearing, it had a label saying Starz Crew on it! I then told him my hat was a gift.

He was the only person throughout my seven days of walking that recognised the television series Outlander. The story is set in Scotland, the Jacobite era, and ironically not many Scottish people know about it. That may change soon though as I’m so pleased it’s now showing on mainstream television Channel 4 More4.

We jumped off the bus at Lochranza and went back to our pod to get out of our damp boots. We even had time to go somewhere for dinner, I was so hungry. The Lochranza Hotel was just down the road so we went there.

I was so ready for a cooked meal. Nachos for a starter, then lasagne and chips. I wasn’t worrying about the calories, as I was burning off more than I was eating for sure. After a very tasty meal and the most refreshing white wine with soda, the tiredness sneaked in.

As we left the Lochranza Hotel we could see deer everywhere! They were munching away quite happily on the grassy water edge.

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Deer at Lochranza

It was time for bed again, our day three walk was finished.

Tomorrow we would be walking from Imachar to Blackwaterfoot (14.5 km/9 miles), via the Machrie Standing Stones. I was excited to show Anne the standing stones. We would be starting nearer Dougarie though as we walked that little bit further today.

Thanks for reading!

Dawn-Marie x

4 thoughts on “Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 3: Lochranza to Imachar

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