Arran Coastal Way – Kilmory to Kildonan

(Apologies for taking so long to write this up, life has a bad habit of getting in the way!)

I was actually looking forward to the walk today, not very many miles and no huge heavy rucksack to heave over boulder fields…better still, the sun was shining! Kilmory Hall is right on the Coastal Path, so after a restful night in my private camping field (school playing field!) I wandered down through the ‘Fairy Woods’ to Kilmory Beach. A cool, shady path with little fairy doors and fairies hiding among the trees, a really pleasant start to the day. It works its way down past Torrylin Cairn, a Neolithic Chambered Cairn with a helpful information board, to the long empty beach. I read somewhere this is called the ‘Secret Beach’ which seemed to live up to its name. I saw one other person heading in the opposite direction when I got to the sand but otherwise had the beach to myself. A lovely walk around strewn boulders and tussocks all the way along to the Black Cave and Bennan Head.

I had been a bit worried about this part, knowing that I had to get around Bennan Head while the tide was out or going out but managed to time it pretty well getting to the junction of the escape route as the tide was turning. Just to make sure I sat on the beach in the sunshine and ate my lunch enjoying the view of Ailsa Craig in the distance.

Had a quick look at Black Cave as I passed and onto Bennan Head boulder field. As my last experiences of boulder fields over the last few days had been anything but fun I was a bit anxious but the ease of scrambling over rocks with no 14kg + rucksack was fantastic, actually enjoyable!! Someone had helpfully placed small piles of stones on the rocks to guide the way across the boulders so it was fun to figure out where the next pile was going to be and heading towards it. (I’m easily pleased!)

Coming down off the boulders there was a long stretch of beautiful sandy beaches into the distance, it was hot and I was tired so stopped for a drink and watched the seals wallowing in the sea offshore. They looked like huge bananas floating in the sea! This is a seal hauling out area so there must have been hundreds of them in the distance. I pulled off my shoes and socks and walked along the beach, which felt like absolutely bliss, with amazing views of Pladda and Ailsa Craig.

Kildonan itself is a strange place (personal opinion before any one complains!) Some very new, very large, dare I say it..slightly pretentious holiday homes interspersed with beautiful old houses, some standing abandoned which seemed such a huge shame. I headed along to the Bistro at the hotel to find a coffee. I was hot, sweaty and probably looking slightly bedraggled and felt a bit out of place but they seemed happy enough to serve me! I was a bit surprised to find no other coffee shop / cafe unless I just missed it by not going any further than here.

My plan was to get the bus back to Whiting bay as I needed some shopping before heading back along to Kilmory. As I had a little while to wait I wandered back along the seafront to the community hall, where there is another great community toilet. I’d like to point out that I don’t spend all my time in toilets(!), I just loved the fact that the different communities looked after their facilities so well and it was nice to not be faced with a compulsary 20p / 50p charge everytime you needed a wee (I live in the Lake District and this seems to be becoming the ‘norm’ here).

Remembered these houses from our last visit to Whiting Bay – looks just the same ten years on!

I found out that Whiting Bay on a Saturday afternoon is mainly shut! So it was back on the bus and a mash packet and soup for my tea that night!

Arran Coastal Way – Plan B! (Part two) – Blackwaterfoot and Kilmory

Blackwaterfoot has some great, and very popular (!) community toilets , a village shop / newsagents, a butchers and a store / post office so is a good place to wait for a bus for an hour and half. I lay down on the grass and listened to podcasts in the sunshine…bliss! The Danish couple from the morning turned up and the worn out looking walker from earlier in the day arrived in the back of a car. He’d had to get a lift and leave his friends walking as he was just too tired to go on (unfortunately they didn’t make it back in time for their bus to catch the ferry, so had to get a taxi – hope they made it!) It was nice to chat to people whilst I waited and a bit of people watching is always entertaining!

My stop for the night was at Kilmory Haven which is actually a bunkhouse/ village hall / bar all rolled into one. They had assured me that I could camp there free of charge when I had messaged them previously, but it was a bit vague, so I was a little bit worried they had forgotton! There was no need to worry…it turned out I would be camping in the school playing field over the weekend. A bit strange but actually this turned out to be the best place to stay for two nights, I had the field to myself and a fantastic view over the sea to Ailsa Craig in the distance. The lovely friendly people in the hall let me use the kitchen and the toilets inside and I could help myself to coffee whenever I wanted one, in fact they even made me one when I went in to ask to fill my water bottle. The bar was open in the evenings and although there were people coming and going until early hours I felt perfectly safe in my little field tucked away!

View over to Ailsa Craig – the little bump behind the house!
The view the other way! But very peaceful with no-one in the school at the weekend.

I would definitely come back here again, mabe even treat myself to a bed in the bunkhouse!