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Hiking trail

Lagg to Whiting Bay (Low Route)

Hiking trail
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Bennan Head and Black Cave
    / Bennan Head and Black Cave
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Approaching Bennan Head
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Seals on the rocks
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Walkers on the trail
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Boulder field approaching Dippin Head
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Highland cows and Holy Isle in the background
    Photo: Macs Adventure
0 150 300 m km 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

This is an adventurous day with wonderful wildlife spotting opportunities, if you're feeling up to the challenge.

difficult
16.1 km
5:00 h
33 m
32 m

This section of the route is one of the most challenging on the Arran Coastal Way.  It involves tricky scrambling over boulders to round the headlands of both Bennan Head and Dippen Head - do not underestimate the time these sections take to complete. Bennan Head is not passable at high tide and even Dippen Head can become tricky at this time so make sure you check the tide times before setting off. Either or both of headlands can be avoided by taking the alternative inland route before you reach Bennan Head. 

Only take this low coastal route if you are fully up to date with the tide times (links in Tips, Hints & Links below) and are confident scrambling/boulder-hopping for a significant amount of time over the boulder fields. If for any reason you don't feel confident once you near Bennan Head, there is an escape route option where you can head inland.

Dippin Head has no escape route and little to no phone signal so only continue here if the conditions are calm and you feel you have the steady footing required to take you safely across the boulder fields.

Author’s recommendation

If you're a keen photographer there are amazing photo opportunites of the seals just before arriving in Kildonan.

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
31 m
Lowest point
-1 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Only take this low coastal route if you are fully up to date with the tide times and are confident scrambling/boulder-hopping for a significant amount of time over the boulder fields. If for any reason you don't feel confident once you near Bennan Head, there is an escape route option where you can head inland.

Dippin Head has no escape route and little to no phone signal so only continue here if the conditions are calm and you feel you have the steady footing required to take you safely across the boulder fields.

 

Further information on the tides can be found at:

http://www.coastalway.co.uk/route/lagg-to-whiting-bay/

www.xcweather.co.uk/forecast/Brodick

www.tidetimes.org.uk/lamlash-tide-times

Add or subtract the following minutes from the Lamlash high water times to calculate when high tide is for these other locations (the most important for your is Kildonan:

Brodick: +25 mins, Corrie +20 mins, Lochranza +15 mins, Blackwaterfoot +25 mins, Kildonan (for Black Cave) -5 mins, Whiting Bay – 2 mins.

Equipment

A sturdy pair of walking trainers with good grip are vital for negotiating the boulder fields on today's route. 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!

Tips, hints and links

 

Points of interest

Pladda Island & Seals

Just off the coast after Bennan Head lies Pladda Island, although very small and uninhabited it unsually has it's own fresh water source. Between here and this section of coast you're liklely to see many harbour/common seals out fishing the waters and basking on rocks, along with an abundance of bird life.

 

Food & Drink

The Lagg Hotel can make you a packed lunch for the day's walk - make sure to give them enough notice, and take plenty of water with you for the day ahead.  On arriving in Whiting Bay you'll find a few restaurants, bars and shops to choose from.

Start

Lagg Hotel (13 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
55.445823, -5.234088
UTM
30U 358690 6146673

Destination

'The Coffee Pot cafe, Whiting Bay

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Begin with your back to the entrance of the Lagg Hotel and TURN LEFT to follow the main road.

0.13 km – TURN RIGHT at the signpost for Torrylin Cairn, and follow the gravel track through the trees.

0.25 km – BEAR RIGHT where the track splits, and in 400 m continue STRAIGHT ON passing Torrylin Cairn on your left-hand side.

0.70 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON at the metal gate.

0.86 km – At the next gate BEAR RIGHT to follow the descending trail towards the beach. This is signposted ‘Coastal Way’.

1.00 km – TURN RIGHT to follow the descending gravel vehicle track.

1.20 km – TURN LEFT at the signpost for ‘Kildonan 7.5 km’ and begin following the sandy beach.

1.90 km – If the tide is low it’s easy to continue your way along the beach between the rocks, if not then it’s best to BEAR LEFT towards the grass and follow a faint path instead.

2.30 km – At the end of the sandy beach BEAR LEFT towards a metal gate then cross a stile and continue STRAIGHT ON following the grassy track.

2.80 km – After a small stream cross another wooden stile and continue STRAIGHT ON. The ground can be very muddy here after wet weather, be careful with your footing too as there are a lot of cattle holes amongst the grass.

3.50 km – Go through the metal gate and continue STRAIGHT ON following the signpost for ‘Bennan Head & Black Cave’.

4.00 km – Here there's a signpost for the escape route (off to the left) for Bennan Head. If you decide to continue over the boulders then re-check the tide times if you can and only continue if you’re confident scrambling across the large boulders. DO NOT continue on this route if the tide is still rising, close to it’s high point or if the seas are rough. Bennan Head is impassable on a high tide.

If the tide times are suitable to make the boulder field crossing then continue STRAIGHT ON through the metal gate ahead.

4.60 km – Cotninue STRAIGHT ON as the ground becomes rockier on your approach to Bennan Head.

4.90 km – After a large, upright boulder you have reached Black Cave. This is the biggest cave on the island. After passing Bennan Head the boulders are initially quite large and will require some scrambling to overcome. They gradually become smaller as you hop your way along the coastline. There are great views of Kildonan directly ahead and Pladda Island off in the distance.  Continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the coastline. 

6.20 km – After passing a gate you'll see a beach ahead - great for spotting seals fishing the shallow waters and basking on the basalt rock.

7.80 km – Pass through the gate and continue STRAIGHT ON down the track to join the tarmac road through Kildonan.

8.90 km – Before you reach Dippen Head you have a choice of route; you can turn left and follow the inland route to Whiting Bay via Dippin Head, alternatively, if you can cross the Dippen Head boulder field then continue STRAIGHT ON

Before making your decision check the tide times again if possible, and assess how you felt on the last boulder field. If you choose to continue to Dippin Head please be aware that the boulders there are significantly larger and the boulder field covers a longer distance.

9.60 km – Opposite a small grassy green as the road bears left, TURN RIGHT to walk down the steps to the beach then TURN LEFT.

9.70 km – The sandy beach soon gives way to boulders but there is a grassy track you can follow if you BEAR LEFT.

9.90 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON as you pass the ruins of Kildonan Castle on your left.

10.70 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON over the large flat rocks, these can be slippery in places so please take care.

11.70 km – The real scrambling begins as you approach Dippin Head. Take great care here as the boulders are large and can be very slippery.

12.60 km – As you round the headland the boulders start to become smaller. There are views of Largybeg Point straight ahead, continue STRAIGHT ON following the coastline.

13.10 km – The next section of scrambling across the boulder field is at Largybeg Point ahead.  Alternatively, to avoid this BEAR LEFT to take a small stone stairway to the top of the cliff then follow the track over a stile and re-join the shore after the headland.

13.40 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON along the shore.

14.10 km – Cross the wooden stile and continue STRAIGHT ON the grassy track and take care of any Highland cows that might be in the area.  The cattle are generally docile but can become defensive if they have calves, and if there is a bull present do not approach him.  There are views across the bay to Holy Isle here.

14.80 km – TURN LEFT to ascend a short set of wooden steps to the main road then TURN RIGHT to follow the road into Whiting Bay.

15.90 km – Finish your walk here, opposite ‘The Coffee Pot’ cafe and signs for the golf course. (If staying at the Viewbank House B&B then please bear in mind that it's a short uphill walk to reach this accommodation, follow the signpost outside the cafe.)

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
16.1 km
Duration
5:00 h
Ascent
33 m
Descent
32 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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