343 Lagg to Blackwaterfoot

This morning I park my car at Blackwaterfoot and catch the bus back to Lagg. The first section of today’s walk follows the road. Great views over the countryside, with Ailsa Craig a constant feature on the horizon.

01 Ruth Livingstone walking from Lagg, Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I decide not to take the first path down to the shore. The official Arran Coastal Way sticks to the road anyway, until you reach the village of Sliddery. 

I walk past a church with boarded up windows…

02 disused church, Ruth hiking the Scottish coast, Isle of Arran

… and a little further along is a war memorial. It seems to be in the middle of nowhere.

03 war memorial, road from Lagg to Sliddery, Ruth Livingstone

After a mile or two, the road twists down towards Sliddery Water, and Sliddery Bridge.

04 road down to Sliddery Bridge, Ruth hiking in Arran

The sun appears intermittently, lighting up the landscape with glorious colour. Meanwhile, the clouds over the Mull of Kintyre look ominous.

05 view of Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk, Isle of Arran

Sliddery is a tiny place (with a great name!). I spot the signs for the Arran Coastal Way, pointing down a farm track. I just hope it’s not as muddy as yesterday. Finger’s crossed.

06 track down to shore, Ruth Livingstone hiking on Arran

I meet some cows with interesting black and white faces. [Later, I look the breed up on the internet and discover they are produced by crossing red Herefords with black Aberdeen Angus. Sometimes these beasts are called Black Herefords, sometimes Black Baldy.]

07 black baldies, cattle on Arran, Ruth Livingstone

Luckily the track doesn’t disintegrate into a muddy river, and I arrive on the beach with dry feet. A number of people are strolling along the sand with their dogs.

08 shore at Sliddery, Ruth's coastal walk, Isle of Arran

Out to sea, Ailsa Craig is eerily pale in the morning light.

09 Aisla Craig, Arran Coastal Way, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I follow the shore, walking past a paddock of goats. Like the cows, these have black and white faces too.

10 goats, Isle of Arran, Ruth Livingstone

The sand disappears and the shingle makes difficult walking, so I follow a track along the top of the beach for a while…

11 Arran Coastal Path, Corriecravie, Ruth's coastal walk

… before hopping down to the shore again. Here I come across a rotting carcass. Poo! It stinks. Probably a dead sheep, but hard to tell. Maybe a goat?

12 sheep skeleton, Isle of Arran, Ruth walking the coast

A little further along, I spot a kitten sitting on a piece of driftwood. A kitten? Yes. With only one eye. The other is closed up, either due to injury or due to infection.

13 blind kitten, Arran coastal way, ruth hiking in Scotland

What should I do? I look around. There are no houses visible. How did the kitten get here? It must be lost. I try to work out how I can carry it to safety… if I empty out my rucksack, I can put it in there. But where will I put all the stuff I carry with me?

As I’m trying to figure out how to rescue the lost kitten, it decides to shoot off into the reeds. I don’t even try to follow, knowing I’ll never find the tiny animal among the maze of vegetation. Oh, well. Perhaps it knows where it’s going.

I worry about the kitten for the rest of the day.

Oh dear. Here is something else to worry about. A field of cows. And they have numerous young calves with them. Oh no… what shall I do?

14 cows and calves, Ruth in Arran

There is no fence separating the field from the coast, so no safe path for me to follow. But if I stay on the rocks, I’m sure the cows will be too wary of slipping to want to follow me. Won’t they?

The rocks present rather a challenge.

15 boulder field, Ruth hiking the coat of Arran

Slowly, very slowly, I clamber around, keeping below the high tide mark, where the stones are slippery with water and seaweed. It takes me ages to pick my route through.

18 rocks and Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk, Arran, Scotland

Meanwhile, the cows watch my progress with a somewhat perplexed gaze.

19 cows watching Ruth Livingstone, Arran, hiking

A plopping sound startles me. It’s coming from the sea… no, it’s coming from the rocks close to the water…

Ah! Seals! The timid ones slip into the water – plop, plop – while the braver animals watch me carefully. They look surprised to see a human invader crawling around on their rocks.

20 seals watching Ruth Livingstone, Arran

I feel guilty disturbing the seals. Perhaps I should head back up the shore. No. Those damn cows are still watching me. Look at all those baby calves. Their mothers will be feeling very protective.

21 still watching, Ruth hiking around the coast of Arran

I better stick with terrorising the seals. There are plenty of them out there. Luckily, I don’t think they’re producing pups yet.

22 more seals, Arran, Ruth Livingstone

I finally get to the end of the cattle field, and can head back to the top of the beach. It’s taken me 30 minutes to travel a couple of hundred yards. And now I face a boulder field.

Luckily, I discover hopping across dry boulders is much easier than clambering over slippery stones, and I make better progress.

23 boulder field, Ruth walking the coast, South Arran, Scotland

I continue scrambling along the shore, picking my way across boggy grass, or leaping from the top of one huge stone to another.

For a while I’ve been steadily swinging northwards. Now I discover I’ve lost sight of Ailsa Craig. Oh. I always hate leaving a friendly waymark behind, but there’s the Mull of Kintyre to keep me company now. Beautiful.

The air is cool, but all the leaping about has made me hot and thirsty. I’m also tired and hungry. So I stop for a rest on a rock, and eat my picnic snacks.

24 lunchtime view, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way

As I’m eating, a couple appear – the first walkers I’ve met since the dog strollers earlier. They have American accents. “Lovely day,” we agree.  They haven’t seen any seals, so I point out the youngster who has been sitting on a nearby rock, watching me eat my lunch.

Later, I watch in awe as the Americans stroll boldly through the field of cattle. They take two minutes to cross, with the cows reluctantly parting to let them through. I think of the half hour I spent climbing gingerly over slippery rocks. If only I’d been braver!

Onwards. The boulders give way to sand. I’m grateful, because this provides a much easier walking surface.

25 sand and rocks, Ruth hiking the coast of Isle of Arran

I balance my camera on a rock and pose for a self-portrait.

26 Ruth Livingstone on the Isle of Arran

Walking close to the sea, I’m amazed how clear the water is.

27 clear seas, Arran, Ruth hiking the coast of Britain

The beach comes to an end. I pick my way over more boulders, and stumble along the boggy grass at the top of the shore. Uh-oh. The sky is grey ahead. There’s rain falling over the water and looks like it’s coming my way.

28 rain over Mull of Kintyre, Ruth Livingstone, Arran

Yes. The rain plummets down. I stow my camera away, put on my rucksack cover, and zip up my jacket. I didn’t pack any waterproof trousers (I hate the things) and soon my legs are soaking wet.

Uh. Head down. Plod on. The path winds close to the cliffs and becomes extremely muddy.

I’m surprised to meet a couple of workmen. They’re only wearing t-shirts and are soaking wet too, while trying to heave some enormous stepping-stones back into place along the path. The stones must have been washed down the slope by a previous flood.

The rain lightens and I can’t resist swinging my camera out of my rucksack, and taking a photo of the men and the path of stepping-stones.

29 mud and stepping stones, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastl Way

As quickly as it began, the rain stops. And in a few minutes the sun is out again. This is better. A dry path. Blue sky. A brilliant blue sea.

30 good path, Ruth hiking the coast of Arran, Scotland

I come to another boulder field and am glad the sun has dried the stones. They would be horrible and slippery if wet.

31 boulder hopping, Ruth walking the coast of Arran, Scotland

Beyond the boulder field is a mass of bracken. But the path has been recently cleared and is easy to follow. I bless the workmen I met earlier. Thank you.

There’s a village ahead. Must be Blackwaterfoot. I’m nearly there.

32 Blackwaterfoot, Ruth hiking the Arran Coastal Way, Scotland

I pass a series of caves in the cliff. My map says the largest one is called “Preaching Cave”. Presumably somebody stood and gave sermons here.

33 Preaching Cave, Ruth's coastal walk, Isle of Arran

Beyond the caves, the path becomes very indistinct and peters out. Frustratingly, neither my OS map, nor my Garmin, show the Arran Coastal Way, so it’s very easy to make a mistake and lose the route. In fact, I’m convinced I’ve lost the path. Maybe it turned inland?

34 scramble path, to Blackwaterfoot, Ruth Livingstone

I follow the shore as best I can, sometimes stumbling over the stones on the beach, and sometimes feeling my way over uneven ground covered in vegetation along the top of the shoreline. At least there isn’t far to go now.

I meet a woman walking her dog. And then a man and his daughter. They ask me if the caves are ahead. Yes, just round the headland. I wonder if I should warn them that the path is tricky… but, too late, they’ve marched onwards.

Ahead are more dog walkers, and the houses of Blackwaterfoot.

35 walkers, Blackwaterfoot beach, Ruth hiking on Arran

I reach the point where the Black Water burn empties into the sea. That’s the end of my coastal walk for the day.

36 Black Water burn, Ruth hiking on Arran

Every place looks different when viewed from the shore, so it takes me a few seconds to get my bearings. To my right is a hotel, and the car park where I left my car, and the bus stop where I caught the bus this morning.

37 bus stop, Blackwaterfoot, Ruth's coastal trek around Arran

The river widens out in front of the hotel to form a little harbour. It’s very pretty in the sunshine. A popular place for sightseers.

38 harbour at Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran, Ruth Livingstone

I can’t resist popping into the hotel for half a pint of cider, which I drink outside in the sunshine. I think I’ve deserved it.

Miles walked today = a miserly 7.5 miles, but hard work.
Miles around Arran Coastal Way = 35.5 miles
Total around coast of UK = 3,554.5 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.

13 Responses to 343 Lagg to Blackwaterfoot

  1. Such an enjable read (another one!). Thanks for taking us along.

  2. Eunice says:

    Blackwaterfoot looks like a nice little place, I love the little harbour on the river : )

  3. tonyhunt2016 says:

    You beat yourself up about your ‘miserly’ distances walked, but looking at http://www.coastalway.co.uk/route/, given the spacing of the coastal settlements it’s probably hard to increase the distances without making them massive, isn’t it?

    • Yes. The distances, and the very infrequent bus service, make the logistics of planning transport difficult. Also, boulder-hopping is hard work! Still, I sometimes get frustrated with how little forward progress I seem to make.

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    We visited the Preaching Cave earlier in the year – sad story connected to the Highland Clearances –

  5. gillianrance says:

    Lovely walk Ruth, like you I wish I was as brave as the couple who just strode through the cows…I wonder if cows sense when we’re scared of them! But I’m not putting it to the test.

  6. Quite a critterfest! Seals are so beautiful and I enjoyed seeing them in Norfolk…poor little Kitten – I am a Cat lover and would have worried for its welfare, but it is probably feral, just hope the eye gets better, I love cheeky Goats… Cows, not so much when they start moving as a herd towards me…

    Loving your blogs on the Arran coastal Way – shame it is still not mapped on OS Landranger or Explorer, unlike Kintyre Way (Oh no that bloody song again!) and West Highland Way for Bute and Cowal Way.

    I am avidly following your West Coast adventures, what a shame Summer is pretty much over.
    I have just got back from Scotland, walking Carnoustie to Arbroath and then starting the West Highland Way to Drymen.

    Best wishes as always, Gemma.

  7. Karen White says:

    How pretty this coast is and how lovely to sea the seals so close to you. I would always be cautious of cows, better safe than sorry! Perhaps they do sense fear but I would think it is foolhardy to walk straight through the middle of cows with calves whether or not you’re scared!

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