A weekend’s break at Kildonan on Arran and the Missus in a benevolent mood meant that Jazz and I had a day wandering around the south end of Arran doing a bit of their Coastal Way. The idea was to start at Lagg, wander back to Kildonan for lunch, and then on to Whiting Bay while the Missus indulged in Arranian retail therapy. As you know, our jaunts are the subject of ruthless planning and another factor this time was that the tides had to be right – and they were.
Things started out well with a wander down a pleasant grassy track to the Torlin chambered cairn. The sun was out, the Buzzards were calling, the scenery looked great: all was well with the world. And then what we’d taken to be a dried mud-bank turned out to be coo slurry with a crisp coating – we dropped a foot into this pungent crème brûlée. However, even this didn’t put us off for long – so long as I stayed upwind of Her Pungence.
The path wanders along a lovely deserted beach: remember to look for the imaginative use of a fish-box to support a sea wall. It then reaches the boulder field: the guide warns about this and says we are in for a couple of kilometres of “fun”. The first lot are nicely worn with great grip, making for easy rock-hopping. Along this stretch is a lovely set of limestone cliffs which simply glowed as the low sun caught them. Later we reached the basalt near Bennan Head and things get much more angular and ankle-breaking requiring frequent returns to drag a Spaniel over a tricky section.
It was around here that I spotted a plastic canister with some stencil red lettering and the words Calcium Fosfide on the side. Apart from the obvious rant about mis-spelling, this looked a bit dodgy and a small bell rang in my head from years ago about explosives washing up on beaches around the Irish Sea. So we prudently decided against a game of fetch and instead took a photo and GPS position to send to the Coastguard when we got back in case they were interested. It turns out they were very interested and on the following Monday I was helping their team over the phone to find this thing which they did after 3 hours. Apparently it was a used submarine flare that still had chemical residue that could give a nasty burn and so the bomb disposal people would be dealing with it. I was really impressed at how the Coastguard people handled this.
Further on, we reach the main attraction on this section: the Black Cave at Bennan Head. Now, this is a decent enough sea-cave but I’m just glad the Brat wasn’t with us: “we’ve come all this way to see that!” would surely be ringing out. However, just beside it and much more attractive is a waterfall where the Struey Water drops down the cliff into the sea. This section is covered at high tide and so you have to time it right 1 or sit in the cave for 4 hours 2.
From the Black Cave there is a bit of scrambling over boulders and eventually onto the path leading to the road at Kildonan and its collection of holiday homes. We passed a lovely sandstone bench with the following inscription around it, that we liked 3:
Does the song of the sea stop at the shore or in the hearts of those who listen?
The view out to sea here is lovely with Pladda and Ailsa Craig vying for attention. So lunch at the Kildonan Hotel was a perfect stop. After lunch we were heading on to Whiting Bay but the next section to Dippin Head was another few hours of boulder fields so we begged a lift from the Missus to drop us off instead at Largybeg where we could rejoin the path. A path leads down from the road, beside a field with an excellent colour-coordinated set of fish-boxes being used as cattle feeders, to the tiny standing stone circle on the cliff. It then drops down onto the beach and follows it all the way to Whiting Bay with lovely views of the Holy Isle and over to the Ayrshire coast.
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