Arran Coastal Way ~ Day 6: Lagg to Whiting Bay

Who would have thought it? My first time sleeping in a gypsy caravan was the best sleep I’d had so far on this adventure!

It was much needed. The past five days (91.6 kms/57 miles) were catching up with me, my body was starting to feel quite tired. I wouldn’t change it though. I was enjoying every exciting new day and what it would bring, good or bad.

We couldn’t book another night at Seal Shore campsite as we left before the reception opened. We still hadn’t decided where to stay. We’d arranged to meet Anne early at Lagg to start day six of our walk. The owner of the Lagg Hotel kindly let us park our car across from the hotel for the day.

Day 6 – Lagg to Whiting Bay (16 km/10 miles)

My Garmin recorded 20.7 km/12.9 miles

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Today would be a full day of solo walking on the road for Anne. We aimed to go a little bit further to Lamlash if possible. I was really worried about Anne on her own and gave her a quick safety brief about walking on the road. We gave each other a hug and said cheerio.

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Anne and me

As soon as I walked off the road I was already quite excited! We were walking through the woodlands and all of a sudden my tiredness was gone. I had a bounce in my step. I loved not knowing what was around the next corner. With every step, my eyes were taking in new places I’d never seen before. This is what exploring is all about, taking you to new places. There’s a whole Scotland out there, but this week I was exploring Scotland in miniature!

After a short walk, I could see we were getting closer to the coast. I could also hear the waves of the ocean whooshing around. We stopped off to see the Torrylin Cairn, the remains of another Neolithic Chambered Tomb.

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Path to Torrylin Cairn and the coast

This was used as a burial place around 5300 years ago. We’d seen a lot of old burial places this week, all of them placed beside the most scenic views. A little piece of heaven I’d say! You can just make out the little island Ailsa Craig in the photo below. It seems to line up with the burial chamber. I’m not a history buff, although I wish I was, but there must be some meaning in this.

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Torrylin Cairn and Ailsa Craig

I walked down to the wall to have a peek at our coastal walk. It was going to be perfect I thought. It was a bit hazy, but you’ve got to take what our Scottish weather gives you. Imagine what it would be like on a crisp clear day!  I’m definitely coming back in autumn to see the changing landscape.

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Wall at Torrylin Cairn

As I stepped over the stile I couldn’t believe the beautiful sandy beach right before me. This week has shown me so much more to Arran. I’ve never been lucky to see the sandy beaches before, it must have been bad timing with the tide.

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Stepping over the stile

The beach isn’t like the white sands you’ll see in the north of Scotland, but it’s still very pretty and inviting to me. A border of rocks separated the sand as if I wasn’t supposed to cross over, but you know me, I just had to.

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Crossing over the rocks

Our footprints were the first to walk on the sand today. Like the beach near Corriecravie the day before, I couldn’t see any seashells in the sand.

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Sandy beach at Lagg

We found lots of glass though, some still sharp and other pieces had already turned into beautiful smooth sea glass. If I’d wanted to walk barefoot across the sand I would need to watch where I was walking. I wonder if people purposely throw glass bottles into the ocean to create sea glass?

I could have easily just spent the day here, paddling in the ocean, collecting sea glass, then watching the tide come back in. But we didn’t have time as we needed to get to the Black Cave before the tide stopped us from passing. You can check the Arran Coastal Way website for tide times.

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Kildonan – 3 miles (7.5km)

We explored the beach as we walked, stopping now and then to see the changing coastline and take photos.

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Coastal walk to Kildonan

It was so relaxing being able to walk on the flat sand for a change. Many of our walks so far had been walking over bouldery paths and wading through fern higher than me!

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Sandy beaches at Lagg

I was thinking at this point how Anne would have loved walking along this beach. I wish she could have seen it.

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Reflection
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Ailsa Craig and mossy rocks

We walked back towards the rocky cliffs to follow the grassy path. I could just about see the Isle of Pladda at Kildonan.

As I am writing this, it gives me the urge to go back and walk this stretch again. It really is a stunning coastline and we had it all to ourselves. The local people who live here are so lucky to have this on their doorstep.

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Coastal cliffs
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The paddling Herring

A wee step over another stile and I was in a different land.

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Over the stile

The beach was rocky and we were following a grassy path with boulders and rocks.

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Rocky beach and Ailsa Craig
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Grass and rocky path
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Looking back at the coastline we’d just walked
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Bennan Head and the Black Cave

It’s so funny sometimes what you find lying on the beach. Today’s find was a black menu board. I started to feel excited thinking there might be a wee cafe or bar on the beach. Soup of the day was ‘whisky’.

But alas, nothing in sight.

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Where’s the bar 🤔

Yet another item from Ireland washed up on the shore. It did make me laugh out loud though. I wonder if Ireland has Scottish treasures washed up on its shores.

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Taste of Irish Beers

Then we found a gas bottle. We were definitely cooking with gas now!

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Cooking with gas

About 800 metres after the Bennan Head signpost we passed a red waymarker, hidden in the overgrowth, for the escape route to the road. I looked up at the escape route and then glanced at Alan. “Where is it?” I laughed.

It was so overgrown and not an obvious path. Was there anything in those trees and bushes? We didn’t walk further to investigate.

The tide was low, so we knew we’d be okay getting around Bennan Head and passing the Black Cave. I was excited about seeing this cave. I’d seen a really cool photo of it in a magazine called The Scots Magazine.

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Escape to the road

Onwards we walked passing ragged cliffs, rocks, wild flowers and weeds. Or do you think a weed is a wild flower? I think they are. They just naturally grow without any tender loving care, and they keep coming back stronger every year! Be careful of the jaggy ones though, like thistles and brambles.

When you think about it, the countryside and remote wild places can really hurt you with harmful plants and insects if you’re not careful.

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Wildflower path

We were making the path for those who would follow … in fact, where were the Cardiff Ramblers today?

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Coastal cliffs and wildflowers

We got through the wildflower path and then it was back to a less overgrown section, but more boulders led the way to the Black Cave!

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Bennan Head

Waterfall stop! It was a quick one though, the tide was catching up with us.

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Waterfalls

There it was, the Black Cave! This is Arran’s largest cave, named after the dark basalt of the cliffs. I boulder hopped into the cave as far as I could, it was slippery in parts. I looked up in awe at the height. You need to see a person standing there to visually put it into perspective. Wow!

Alan perched himself on a rock near the entrance of the cave as photographs were a must! So, while he was taking photos of me and the cave I took some of him. I wish we could have captured a photo here in our wedding day outfits.

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The Black Cave, Bennan Head

The cave wasn’t very deep and gradually got steeper towards a hole at the back. I didn’t go any further though, the tidal clock was ticking and we still had to reach Kildonan, then Whiting Bay!

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Looking out from the Black Cave

Then it was a gathering of walkers. The Cardiff Ramblers had caught up with us at the cave. Clambering over the rocks they came while I stood on a huge boulder taking photos.

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The gathering of walkers

The ramblers didn’t stay long though. They impressively made their way around Bennan Head towards Kildonan.

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The Black Cave, Bennan Head

Alan packed up his camera as the tide was already catching up to where he was perched with his tripod. Then he took a quick look at the Black Cave before we escaped.

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The Black Cave, Bennan Head
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Looking back at the Black Cave around the corner

We still had a fair bit of boulder hopping before we reached a grassy area again. Then another find. A huge tyre! How did that get there?

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Flipping the tyre

This was me pretending to be strong and flip the tyre … it’s a My Peak Challenge thing. This seven day walk was part of my peak challenge, to try something outwith my comfort zone that I’ve never done before. I’m helping myself and others at the same time as I’m also raising funds for the charity Bloodwise (research for leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood disorders) 😀

Kildonan was looking closer and we still had a blue sky!

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Kildonan ahead

Then we seen the seals at last! Lots of them were bathing on the rocks. Sometimes it’s hard to see them as they blend in. Alan used his camera to zoom in and capture their wee cute faces.

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Seals at Kildonan

I wasn’t this close, the camera makes it look this way. I read later that you shouldn’t get too close to the seals as it will scare them. If they start to make moves to jump back into the water then you are too close. Moving their bodies off the rocks uses up a lot of their energy.

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Seals at Kildonan

We waved cheerio to the seals and got back to our walk.

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Seals at Kildonan

Mmm, I didn’t like the look of those dark clouds … we’d better get a move on I thought.

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Ailsa Craig from Kildonan

As we approached Kildonan the rain came with us. We walked with the Cardiff Ramblers until the next Arran Coastal Way signpost at Kildonan.

We were supposed walk around the next coastline called Dippin Head, but it was impassable in high tide and slippery with more boulder fields. It would be longer and more tiring than the last one with no escape route.  The Cardiff Ramblers decided to take the high route to Whiting Bay, so we said farewell.

Alan and I didn’t know what way to go next. We spent so much time on the Lagg to Kildonan walk. This was my favourite part of the walk so far. A text message came through from Anne to say that she was already in Whiting Bay and she would continue to Lamlash. That was a long walking day for her, but it would mean she could have a shorter walk on day seven with her daughter.

We still didn’t have any accommodation for the night, so we popped into the Seal Shore campsite again and booked a tent pitch. We couldn’t risk walking the coastal route, we were both disappointed. We walked back down to where the Cardiff Ramblers escaped and followed the high road to Whiting Bay.

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Kildonan

The continuous uphill climb was really hurting Alan’s knees though. He didn’t have his walking poles as he thought we’d have a flat walk today.

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View to Ailsa Craig and Pladda

Then another two cute faces came walking towards us. Now, don’t laugh, but at first I thought these were baby calves … then later someone told me they were goats, or are they sheep?

We stopped, they stared, they smiled. Then they turned and walked back up the hill. I half expected their mum to come running down the hill after them, but there was no parent around.

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Twins

We reached the road at last, but the red Arran Coastal Waymarker was showing two directions. Which one do we follow?

I knew we should turn right as that was north, but if a new visitor didn’t know the island or have a map it could be confusing. We were both thinking it would be a good idea if they were marked north or south. We were walking the coastal way anti-clockwise, but some people might decide to go the other way.

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North or South

We followed the road looking for the next signpost. I actually missed this one, it was Alan that spotted it. I’m short in height and the overgrowth was hiding the sign until I got closer. You can just see it behind the bench!

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Signpost

We were heading the right way now though, but more hills for Alan …

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Signpost to Whiting Bay

We still managed a few fun photo stops before the heavy rain came.

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Touching Ailsa Craig
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Ailsa Craig and Pladda
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Walking the forestry track

The rain came down heavily from above, my feet were really squelching now. It was head down and march on. This track would take us to the Giants’ Graves eventually then down to Whiting Bay.

When we reached the Giants’ Graves I needed to make a quick stop for a photo. After all, this was where we found our surnames when we first started dating. It was too wet to hang around though.

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Torrential rain at the Giants’ Graves

The dirt path that takes you back down was a mud bath and very slippery. When your legs are sore and wet, they don’t work very well, this was really difficult to walk on.

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Muddy path down to Whiting Bay
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Muddy path to Whiting Bay

I was so glad when we reached Whiting Bay. We missed the bus back to Lagg though and had to wait for two hours until the next one!

We hobbled into the village to look for somewhere we could eat, rest, dry off and toilet. It was around 6pm and I hoped somewhere would be open. We reached the take away cafe called The Shore and was pleased that we could also sit in here and eat our take away food.

The lady that served us was so nice and understanding. We were literally dripping all over the place. She couldn’t have been more helpful. I munched into my macaroni cheese and chips, my body was starting to feel a little bit better I thought. Poor Alan was broken.

Then I looked outside and there was a magical rainbow. A pretty end to an exciting and very challenging day.

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Rainbow at The Shore

I could see right across to the Holy Isle now as well. We’d be walking around that point tomorrow I thought. Our last day was near. We were tired.

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Holy Isle, Whiting Bay

We stood at the bus stop patiently waiting. I took off my boots to see how bad my feet were. No blisters, but they were prune like. My socks were so wet I had to wring them out then put them back on. I couldn’t wait until we got back to the car so I could put my Crocks on.

By the time we got to Seal Shore Campsite it was starting to get dark. I just wanted to sleep … but we had to put the tent up, get dried off and organise charging up our phones, camera batteries, and Garmins.

Anne made it safely to Lamlash, wet and tired as well. She walked a longer distance than us and on a busy road. I was hoping we could have reached Lamlash too, but our day was very challenging too and we couldn’t have continued.

Tomorrow would be our last day walking, Whiting Bay to Brodick (11 miles/18 km). The Arran Coastal Way website recommends splitting this over two days, but we joined them together.

We totally crashed out to the sound of the waves, rain and a few bunny rabbits jumping around our tent.

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Seal Shore Campsite

See you on day seven for our last adventure!

Thanks for reading.

Dawn-Marie 😴

Catch up on my other walking days

  1. The secret wedding
  2. Arran Coastal Way – Day 1 – Brodick to Sannox
  3. Arran Coastal Way – Day 2 – Sannox to Lochranza
  4. Arran Coastal Way – Day 3 – Lochranza to Imachar
  5. Arran Coastal Way – Day 4 – Imachar to Blackwaterfoot
  6. Arran Coastal Way – Day 5 – Blackwaterfoot to Lagg
  7. Arran Coastal Way – Day 6 – Lagg to Whiting Bay
  8. Arran Coastal Way – Day 7 – Whiting Bay to Brodick
  9. Watch my six minute video of the whole week

 

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