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Lochranza to Blackwaterfoot

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  • Lochranza Castle
    / Lochranza Castle
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Cliffs of Drumadoon Point
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Lochranza Ferry Terminal
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Catacol Bay
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Coastal road
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Views of Machrie Bay
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Scottish thistle
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Trail towards Blackwaterfoot
    Photo: Macs Adventure
m 80 60 40 20 -20 -40 -60 30 25 20 15 10 5 km
A challenging section of the Arran Coastal Way keeping largely to the coast following quiet roads and rugged path before passing King's Cave to finally reach the sandy bay at Blackwaterfoot. 
Distance 31.4 km
7:00 h
236 m
245 m
72 m
-24 m

If you are walking this route in one day it can be quite challenging!  Begin from the ferry terminal in Lochranza and follow the old postman's footpath through the birchwoods high above the road before descending to Catacol Bay.  Now commence a long stretch on generally quiet coastal road to Pirnmill village. After Pirnmill it's a rugged trek along the coastline away from the road, which is rejoined at Imachar. Then another long stretch of road walking leads down to the coast, passing the spectacular King's Cave and dominating cliffs of Drumadoon Point to cross the sandy beach of Blackwaterfoot.


This is a long section of the Way, and you have some options depending on your itinerary version:

1)  6 Day & 5 Night itinerary: If you are on this itinerary you are walking the entire route from Lochranza to Blackwaterfoot, however if you decide to shorten the day's walk you can do so by catching the bus fom Imachar or Machrie as below.  To find details of the next bus you can pop the locations into  

2)  8 Day & 7 Night and 7 Day & 6 Night itineraries: If you are walking to Machrie and catching the bus to Blackwaterfoot and skipping the Machrie to Blackwaterfoot section of the Way today then stop at Machrie, ~22 km along the route, to wait at the bus stop for the next bus to Blackwaterfoot.  To find details of the next bus you can pop the locations into 

3)  9 Day & 8 Night itinerary: If you are walking to Imachar and catching the bus to Blackwaterfoot then heading back to Imachar the following morning to finish the route then stop at Imachar ~15 km along the route before returning here to finish the remaining 16 km of the route. To find details of the next bus you can pop the locations into 

Author’s recommendation

Pack a torch, or use the torch on your phone, to help you find paintings and carvings on the walls of King's Cave.
Highest point
72 m
Lowest point
-24 m
Best time of year

Safety information

The roads around Arran are generally quiet but do remember to walk on the right-hand side of the road so you are facing into any oncoming traffic and take to the grass verge to give way to motorists if necessary.  

Take care on the rugged section of path between Pirnmill and Imachar - pay close attention to the route here.  

Tips and hints

Points of interest

King's Cave 

Supposedly used by Robert The Bruce in 1307 for shelter whilst en route from Ireland to the Scottish mainland. The cave is of great interest for it's ancient Iron Age rock carvings and animal images, Ogham inscriptions and Christian symbols. Step through the ornate ironwork railings and get your [phone] torch ready to explore the walls.

Machrie Moor Stone Circles

Not far from Machrie these granite boulders and sandstone pillars are well worth the 1 hour loop walk directly off the main road to visit the 6 stone circles and standing stones thought to date back to 2500 BC.


Food & Drink

There are a number of options on this route.  The hotel and sandwich bar in Lochranza, a tea room and local shop in Pirnmill, and a tea room just before Machrie along with various restaurants and shops in Blackwaterfoot. Make sure to bring a packed lunch and plenty of water for the route.  


Lochranza Castle (10 m)
OS Grid
NR 93125 50628
55.704839, -5.294084
55°42'17.4"N 5°17'38.7"W
30U 355848 6175614



Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Begin with your back to Lochranza castle and TURN RIGHT to follow the road towards the ferry terminal. Keep the coast on your right-hand side.

0.50 km – Just before the ferry terminal TURN LEFT to follow a gravel track uphill. The signpost here reads ‘Claonaig Ferry 115 yards’.

0.76 km – TURN RIGHT to follow the waymarker onto a grassy track.

1.00 km – BEAR RIGHT at the telegraph pole onto a stone walkway across boggy land.

1.40 km – As the walkway ends continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the trail through woodland. It can be boggy and slow going in places with roots, rocks and streams to cross so please take care.  

2.60 km – Here you'll have views across Catacol Bay on your right-hand side, continue to follow the trail.

2.80 km – Once out of the woodland, the trail descends steeply as to BEAR RIGHT towards a wooden stile at the corner of a field.

3.00 km – Cross the stile (take care on rotten step and if the wood is wet) then TURN RIGHT onto a gravel track. After 50 m TURN LEFT to join the main road. You'll be following this road for approximately 6.5 km towards Pirnmill. 

[5.70 km – Optional detour: you can bear right here to join the beach for 500m before joining the road again.]

9.50 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON as you enter Pirnmill.

10.40 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON to pass the Pirnmill village shop and restaurant on your left-hand side.

11.70 km – BEAR RIGHT at a set of red swings and follow the trail directly onto the beach then continue STRAIGHT ON.

13.00 km – Behind a large pile of rocks on your left-hand side there is an old walled cemetery that can be accessed on either side. In 100 m take care crossing a very rocky section of beach.

14.40 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON to cross the fence via the wooden stile, and stay close to the cliffs on your left-hand side.

14.80 km – Re-join the main road, just after Imchar and continue STRAIGHT ON following the road for 4 km.

Please note if you are not walking onto Blackwaterfoot and are catching the bus from Imachar to Blackwaterfoot head for the bus stop and await the next bus. To find details of the next bus you can pop the locations into    

18.80 km – Continue on the coast road as you cross the bridge next to Dougarie Lodge.

21.90 km – Machrie Tea Room is on your left now, a good place to stop for refreshments.

Please note if you are not walking onto Blackwaterfoot and are catching the bus from Machrie to Blackwaterfoot head for the bus stop and await the next bus.  To find details of the next bus you can pop the locations into  

[23.20 km – Optional detour: The turn off for the Machrie Moor Stone Circles is on your left-hand side here if you wish to visit it.]

24.80 km – TURN RIGHT to head towards the woods and follow the signpost for ‘Kings Cave’.

24.90 km – TURN RIGHT to follow the trail on the outskirts of the woods.

26.80 km – The trail now begins to descend towards the shoreline, continue STRAIGHT ON.

26.90 km – BEAR RIGHT then head down a steep rocky gully and through a metal gate.

27.00 km – TURN LEFT once you reach the shore to follow the pebbly track.

27.20 km – At this point you will see the entrance to Kings Cave on your left, continue STRAIGHT ON, after making the detour to the cave if you wish to visit.

27.40 km – TURN LEFT onto the ascending track then continue STRAIGHT ON following the sign for Blackwaterfoot. There are views of Drumadoon cliffs in the distance.

27.50 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON the well trodden grassy trail, or walk on the beach if you prefer.

28.70 km – Follow the trail to BEARS LEFT and ascend as you approach the cliffs of Drumadoon Point.

28.80 km – Continue ascending stepply beside the cliffs then pass through a metal gate and BEAR RIGHT across the field.

29.00 km – Cross the wooden stile and continue STRAIGHT ON.

29.40 km – Cross another wooden stile next to a metal gate then BEAR LEFT to follow the gravel track next to the golf course.

29.70 km – BEAR RIGHT at the split in the track, and take care to be mindful of people playing golf here. 

29.90 km – TURN LEFT at the split in the track and either walk directly on the beach or continue STRAIGHT ON down the gravel track.

30.20 km – At the end of the beach join the tarmac road on the opposite side of the carpark.

30.60 km – BEAR RIGHT as you head towards the centre of Blackwaterfoot.

30.80 km – Finish the walk just across the bridge and opposite Kinloch Bar. Now it's time for some refreshments!


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NR 93125 50628
55.704839, -5.294084
55°42'17.4"N 5°17'38.7"W
30U 355848 6175614
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


A sturdy pair of walking trainers are adequate for this route if you don't wish to wear hiking boots. Along with your usual kit for a day walking in the elements make sure you pack an extra layer, a wind/waterproof jacket in case the weather closes in, suncream and midge repellant spray!

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31.4 km
7:00 h
236 m
245 m
Highest point
72 m


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