340 Lamlash to Whiting Bay

I drive to Kildonan, on the southeast tip of Arran, where I leave my car in an official car park, which turns out to be a strip of grass by the side of the road. From there, I catch one of the infrequent buses that travels around the coastal road in a huge loop.

Back in Lamlash, and the sky looks ominous.

01 Lamlash, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I walk along the green bank, before dropping down to walk along the shore.

02 Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

My route is interrupted by a river. I can’t walk along the bank, because of private property, so I stop to take a photo of the footbridge – so near, and yet so inaccessible – a few hundred feet away.

03 river crossing, Lamlash, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

A furious barking starts up, and two retrievers jump over a low wall. Luckily, their bark is just a pretence, and their tails send a different message, wagging like fury. We have a chat, and a pat, before I turn back to find a path that leads to the bridge.

Ah, here it is. Luckily, somebody has put up a sign. Coastal Way, this way.

04 Isle of Arran Coastal Way, Lamlash, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Once over the bridge, I walk down a residential lane. I’m on the edge of Lamlash, in an area called Cordon.

05 Cordon area of Lamlash, Ruth's coastal walk around Arran

The lane is a dead-end for traffic, but a footpath continues and take me down to the shore. I walk past a grandma supervising several children, who are busy building a den in the branches of a tree. After that, I’m alone.

I stop to take a photograph looking across Lamlash Bay, along the route I walked yesterday. I’m pleased the sky has cleared and the sun has come out.

06 shore of Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I walk along the foreshore. It’s treacherous underfoot, with slimy seaweed and slippery rocks. Possibly there’s a better path just above the rocks, but it’s now covered in Himalayan balsam. (Somebody really needs to do something about this weed. It’s certainly out of control in this area.)

07 Himalayaan Balsam on beach, Lamlash Bay, Arran, Ruth Livingstone

I slip and slide on stones, and spend a long time not getting very far, so I’m pleased to spot a series of wooden steps leading up the bank…

08 Arran Coastal Way, Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking in Scotland

… and discover a wonderful walkway has been created among the trees. This is better!

09 board walk, Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

The woodland is old, and full of character. I pass wild flowers, upturned boats stashed under the planking, and the occasional waterfall.

10 waterfalls, Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking around the coast of the Isle of Arran

I guess the walkway must be fairly new, as none of the planks are rotten or broken, and I am very grateful to the people who built it. Just occasionally I come across a fallen branch that blocks the way.

11 fallen trees, Ruth Livingstone's coastal walk

All too soon the walkway comes to an end, and the path runs along the shore again. At least there is a grassy bank for part of the way. But in other places, I have to walk over the slippery rocks, and I soon get tired of ankle-twisting stones…

12 Holy Island, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

…so I’m really glad to see the walkway starts up again. This is lovely.

13 walkway through woods, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I hear voices ahead, and meet a group of hikers. I stand aside to let them pass, and wonder where they’ve come from.

I’m hot, and strip off down to my t-shirt.  But then I notice there are hundred of dancing insects in the air, and I begin to worry about the infamous Scottish midges. (The only time I’ve been bitten, so far, was a few bites one evening while in Irvine. I’ve heard horror stories, but never experienced a full-blown attack.)

Anyway. Beter safe than sorry. I stop and smother my arms in Smidge. It’s supposed to be good.

14 smidge spray, Ruth hiking in Scotland

This section of boardwalk ends, but a little sign tells me it’s only 400m to the next section. Good. I hate the rocks on this shore. So slippery!

15 signposts, Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

And so my walk continues with short sections of rocky scrambling, interspersed with easy segments of boardwalk.

On one occasion, when I come down to the shore, I meet a lone woman hiker. She has an American accent and asks me if the boardwalk really resumes here. She’s made some false starts on paths that peter out. Yes, I reassure her. She warns me there is a family of swans ahead. I must watch out.

16 walker on shore, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I do watch out, but I never meet the swans.

Onwards, and I stop from time to time to take photographs across the bay. Where’s the famous Goat Fell? Still hidden in the clouds.

17 Lamlash Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I feel sorry for mountain walkers, stuck up there in all that mist and drizzle, while it’s sunny down here by the coast.

Nearly miss the next set of steps. They’re almost swamped by the invasive Himalayan Balsam. Someone really needs to do something about that plant!

18 steps to board walk, Ruth hinking the Arran Coastal Way, Lamlash Bay

Further along, back on the shore again, and there are some odd constructions floating in the water. The faint thrum of machinery. I think it must be a fish farm. Salmon?

I have mixed feelings about fish farming. I know it’s the only way to preserve our fish stocks and generate a sustainable supply of fish. But it seems… well, so unnatural really. (I know that’s illogical. All farming is unnatural!)

19 fish farm off Holy Island, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Anyway, after musing about fish farming, I begin thinking how nimble I am on the rocks, and congratulate myself on choosing safe places to put my feet… and so, you can almost predict what happens next…

Yes. My boot slips on a smooth rock and my leg shoots out from under me. I land with a wallop and a yell.

Luckily, I land on my bum. Unluckily, I land on a very sharp stone. It hurts like hell and I have to sit there for several minutes before the shock wears off and I can stagger to my feet again. Surprisingly, there isn’t any blood, but I discover I’ve torn a giant rip in the seat of my trousers.

I contemplate the view of Holy Island, and mutter a few profanities.


20 Holy Island, Jetty, Kingscross, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Well, I have no choice but to carry on walking. And, as the pain settles, I know I’ve done no serious injury to myself. But what I’m really worried about is the 6 inch rip in my trousers. It’s big enough to expose many square inches of my pink knickers.

(It’s an odd British thing, but I think I would rather suffer from injury than suffer from embarrassment!)

In the end, I take my jumper out of my rucksack and tie it around my waist. I arrange the material so it drapes down over my back side. There. That’s fixed the problem.

After that experience, I’m nervous on the rocks, and very glad when I come to a footpath sign and realise I can leave the treacherous shore. Good. To get to Whiting Bay, I must climb up this hill. But is it really only 2.5 miles back to Lamlash? I feel I’ve been walking for hours!

21 signpost to Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

The hill turns out to be a cliff. And sometimes the path doubles as a river. So it’s a steep and difficult climb, and I’m glad I’m going UP, rather than down.

Near the top is a bench. Thank goodness! I sit down for a rest, and take some more paracetamol. I’m still feeling poorly with an intermittent temperature and a fruity cough. And now an aching bum!

22 steep climb up to Kings Cross, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

At the top of the cliff, my path joins a track, and then a road, and then a track again. Basically, I’m going to end up walking three sides of a rectangle.

23 track around Kingscross, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

But it’s pleasant up here. Hello horses.

24 horses in field, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I pass several farms and houses. And what a great place to live. Although these might be holiday cottages.

25 track to Kingscross Point, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Here’s a stunning view across Lamlash Bay. Dramatic clouds still hanging over Goat Fell, while here the sun is shining.

26 view to Goat Fell, Ruth's coastal hike, Arran

The track heads downhill now. Ahead is Holy Island. I meet another fiercely barking dog (who runs out of the house you can see in the photo below). He too, is just a fraud with a wagging tail.

27 Holy Island from Kingscross, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Down another footpath, and I’m back on the shore.

This is beautiful, although it’s a shame the sun decides to go in when I begin to take photographs. I’m looking towards Kingscross Point. Across the water is a jetty and lighthouse near the tip of Holy Island.

28 Holy Island and Kingscross Point, Ruth hiking around the Isle of Arran

Near the water’s edge is a heron. It lets me get surprisingly near. Looks rather stiff and elderly. Poor old bird. Actually, I realise, he looks just how I feel!

29 heron on the beach, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I climb up to Kingscross Point. There are irregularities in the ground, suggesting an old fortification. An iron age fort, maybe? The place has an ancient and mysterious atmosphere.

30 Kingscross Point, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

[Later, a Google search suggests this is an old Viking burial site.]

I find another bench. Not lunchtime yet, but I’m feeling really tired and hope a snack will perk me up. After eating, I pose for a self-portrait. (Note the casually draped jumper covering my bun!)

31 Ruth Livingstone, Isle of Arran

There were a young couple walking on the shore below, but since I’ve climbed up the headland, there is nobody around. I take another photo looking across to Lamlash Bay.

32 view from Kingcross, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I check my watch. I can’t understand why the first half of this walk is taking so long, and then I realise I’m deliberately wasting time. Why? Because I still feel rather unwell, despite the paracetamol, and that fall has shaken me up.

Onwards. I walk across a series of interlinked meadows. Open spaces covered in short grass, but surrounded by walls of bushes and ferns. Is this grass being cropped by animals? I can’t see any cow pats, thank goodness. Or do they mow it? I can’t tell.

It’s a bit of a maze to be honest, and sheer luck that I don’t lose the path.

33 Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Finally, I’m heading down to the shore again, and walking in a southwest direction, straight into the sun, which makes photography difficult. There, ahead, is Whiting Bay. Oh, and some lovely sand.

34 looking towards Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I’m glad to see a beach, after the rocky scramble earlier, and enjoy walking along the sand. The sun is shining and I’m very warm. (Just as well, since I can’t wear my jumper as it is being used to cover my bum.)

A popular area.  A man collects driftwood and begins building a fire. There are families on the shore, dog walkers, and strollers.

35 Whiting Bay and Holy Island, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

The sand turns to rock. Warm sandstone makes a wonderful colour contrast with the emerald-coloured seaweed and the deep blue of the sea.

36 shore at Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

As the beach becomes stonier, I climb up to the roadway and walk along the pavement. There’s the village of Whiting Bay ahead.

37 Whiting Bay coast road, Ruth hiking in Arran

I pass a family of swans. Teenage girls overtake me, chatting on their phones.

The rocks below have unusual linear formations, reaching out into the sea like mini roads, or railway tracks. Are they artificial? Or natural? I can’t make up my mind.

38 rock formations, Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Further along is a mini putting green, and a sign advertising a nearby golf club. There are cafes, a pub, and an area of parkland where people stand chatting while their dogs run around sniffing each other.

39 sea front at Whiting Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, Arran

I’ve nearly reached the end of Whiting Bay, and stop to take a photo looking back. The sand banks look lovely, but I’m worried about those dark clouds. Definitely looks like rain.

40 view over Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

Right at the end of the bay, an alternative route for the Aran Coastal Way heads off to the right, climbing up beside a stream called Glenashdale Burn, and then going over the top of the hills, before dropping down to Kildonan where my car is parked.

I’d already decided I would probably go over the hill, even though it’s a more inland route than the coastal alternative. Why? Because I really don’t fancy another rocky scramble along the shore. I’m nervous of another fall. And the tide is coming in.

But… I look up at the hill. I really don’t feel like climbing up there either.

I dither. Two ladies sit down on a nearby bench and stare out to sea. That is exactly what I feel like doing too… sitting and staring.

40 Whiting Bay, Ruth hiking the coastal path, Arran

But I must get back to my car. What should I do? Of course, I could catch the bus to Kildonan. Yes.

I check the timetable. Crikey. Nearly 90 minutes to wait until the next bus! I spend the time in a small café, where they apologise for a delay in serving because they’re busy, and then hand me the most enormous prawn salad I’ve ever eaten. The meal takes around an hour, and then I spend another 20 minutes drinking coffee. Works out as perfect timing for the bus.

Miles walked today = 7 miles
Miles around Arran Coastal Way= 13 miles
Total around coast of UK = 3,522 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 20 Ayrshire and Arran and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to 340 Lamlash to Whiting Bay

  1. Diane iles says:

    Looks beautiful Ruth. I know the West Coast of Scotland well but have never visited Arran so great to see on your blog. I’m really looking forward to seeing your walks through some of what I consider the most breathtaking scenery in the country, so can’t wait to see more Ruth. Watch out for the tics though, I’ve had countless bites so never without my tic removers in Scotland. Not sure if you’ve heard about skin so soft spray by Avon, it’s fabulous for midges and recommended by the locals too. Hope you better soon and the bum isn’t bruised too much.

  2. tonyhunt2016 says:

    We take falling over for granted as children, but it’s a shock (and more risky) as an adult. I know what you mean about preferring injury to embarrassment; torn clothes can be cured quicker than a fractured coccyx, however!
    Fish farms are indeed unnatural, and impact upon the nature around them, but they’ll become ever more widespread as we continue to let the population grow. Exponential growth on a finite planet – it can’t end well.
    On a short holiday on Arran some years ago, I concluded that the attractive Lamlash/Whiting Bay area would be the best base for any future holiday there. I only now realise how lucky we were to have a clear, dry ascent of Goat Fell at that time!

  3. Eunice says:

    Love the views, especially of Whiting Bay. I can hardly wait till you get up to Arisaig and the white sands of Morar – the views are to die for so I’m eager to know what you think of them. I just hope it’s sunny when you get there 🙂

    • Arisaig seems a long way away yet, Eunice. Hoping for good weather too. I think short days over winter months are going to be a big challenge in Scotland, as I normally manage to walk most of the year, but walking time is going to be limited 😞

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    Sorry, but I laughed! Not at the fall (ouch) but at your pink knickers – they would have matched the rest of your outfit perfectly: I’m so impressed by your coordination. Did the Smidge work? It’s the best I’ve tried yet (better than Skin so Soft) though nothing’s perfect.

  5. So, literally tearing along on those rocks, eh?

    I slipped on them too but in my case I kind of skated along for a couple of feet, aquaplaning on seaweed, but somehow remained upright at the end of it. No idea how I managed that but it got the adrenaline pumping. Was very glad of that seat near the top.

    • 😆 Funnily enough, the rock that actually got me in the end was a smooth one with no seaweed! Sneaky. Glad I’m not the only one who had trouble with that section. Also glad you managed to stay upright, Ju.

  6. Dawn-Marie says:

    My husband and I walk the coastal way anti-clockwise, so this section was our day 7 of walking (Whiting Bay to Brodick). Like you, those rocks were sore to walk on and so slippery! We struggled with this as we were so tired. The boardwalk was bliss though! Loved reading this. Beautiful photos! 🙂

  7. Karen White says:

    I’m very glad you suffered no serious injury in your fall – I had a similar accident many years ago and did indeed fracture my coccyx, as mentioned by Tony Hunt. I was horribly painful and I still get a dull ache if I stand or sit still for too long. Smidge isn’t a repellent I’ve heard of but as I invariably get bitten and react badly I will check it out.

    • Yes, I was lucky Karen, although the bruises lasted several weeks and I had to throw away one of my favourite pairs of walking trousers! Smidge works really well. You just have to remember to put it on before you venture into midge territory. The midges still hang around, but they don’t bite the Smidge protected areas of skin. They will, however, do their best – and will bite eyelids and even lips (where you can’t put Smidge), and places that you didn’t know were at risk, like your ankles!

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