346 pm Sannox to Brodick, at Ruth’s Coastal Walk (UK)

Cross-posted from: Ruth's Coastal Walk (UK)
Originally published: 31.10.17

I’m walking through Merkland Wood. It nestles against the lower southern slopes of Goatfell, and is a popular walking area, although I don’t meet anyone up here. Plenty of signposts…

27 woodland walk, Arran Coastal Way, Ruth hiking to Brodick

…and plenty of footpaths. Most of the places mentioned do not appear on my OS map, nor on my Garmin. The Isle of Arran seems to have a whole different system of mapping, which it keeps secret!

28 forestry commission signs, Ruth hiking through Merkland Wood, Arran

As well as footpaths, there’s also a network of marked cycle routes. I think my hubby would enjoy it here, although the mountains might be a challenge compared to the flatness of Lincolnshire.

29 cyclists beware, Merkland Woods, Ruths coastal walk

I planned to climb up to the top of Goatfell today. But I abandoned the idea this morning, when I woke up to rainstorms, 40 mph winds, and saw the tip of the mountain was covered in dark cloud.

Here is the route up to the peak.  I know the top section would be a scramble across exposed rocks, but this stretch of path does look temptingly easy.

30 path up to Goat Fell, Ruth hiking on Arran

Although it’s sheltered down in the woods, I can hear the wind howling through the top branches of the trees. So, I decide to resist temptation. Getting blown off the mountain would be a sad end to my trip!

With my sense of adventure thwarted, I see a signpost to a cemetery. I’m intrigued, and decide to make a diversion.

31 path to Hamilton Cemetary, Ruth's coastal walk, Brodick, Arran

It’s not far, and I soon come to a walled burial ground surrounded by iron railings. Isolated and spooky. Would make a great location for a horror movie!

32 Gates to Hamilton Cemetary, Ruth's coastal walk, Arran

Why put a graveyard in the middle of the woods? I presume it belongs to Brodick Castle, which is hidden somewhere below me. In fact, there are only three gravestones in the enclosed space. Two large ones belong to Dukes, and a third, smaller one, to a Duke’s wife.

33 three graves, three Dukes of Hamilton and one wife

From the entrance to the burial ground, you can’t see the wife’s grave. Her stone is small and situated below her husband’s and makes me reflect on how poorly women were viewed in the past. Even in death, women were given lower status then men.

34 autumn colours, Merkland Wood, Ruth hiking on Arran

I head back along the path to resume my walk. Love the warm glow of autumn leaves, although the colours are nowhere near as vivid as they were last year.

A weather-beaten information board tells me about the Goatfell range. I haven’t seen any deer today, just one very large bird gliding through the trees. Don’t know what it was.

35 information sign, Goatfell range, Ruth hiking on Arran

My path crosses over a tarmac roadway. It’s a non-public entrance to the castle, still invisible among the trees.

36 past entrance to Brodick Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, Arran

Around here, I meet a couple of groups of walkers – a family, and a trio of older hikers. They’re the first people I’ve met since the two men at the beginning of the track. Shame, then, that at this moment it decides to pour with rain again.

My path continues downwards.

37 track down to road, Ruth Livingstone hiking on Arran

Luckily the rain soon passes. The path ends in a courtyard, where there’s a motley collection of craft workshops, and a pink-painted brewery which is also a pub. The brewery/pub is tempting… but I resist.

38 brewery and craft shops, Brodick, Isle of Arran

Now I’m back on the coast road. I don’t see any coastal way signs, and there is no footpath marked on my map, so I turn right and follow the road towards Brodick.

39 main coast road, Ruth walking around Arran, Scotland

[Later, I discover I probably should have crossed straight over and picked up a footpath somewhere on the other side of the road. It would have taken me down to the shore.]

I’ve not got very far, when I spot another inviting craft complex. This is Arran Aromatics, and attached is a pottery and a café too.

40 Arran Aromatics, Ruth Livingstone hiking to Brodick

I enjoy a hot meal and a pot of tea, while watching the potter at work. Actually, she’s tidying up, rather than throwing pots, but it’s a nice to sit here doing nothing while someone else is working. (Retirement is sheer joy!)

Onwards, following the road. At least there’s a pavement here.

41 road into Brodick, Ruth on the Arran Coastal Way

The views to my right are impressive. Yes, that’s Goatfell. I notice the tip of the peak is now covered with cloud, and so I feel vindicated in my earlier decision not to try to climb the mountain.

42 Goatfell, Ruth hiking on the Isle of Arran, Scotland

A lane leads off to the left, through a golf course. Oh good. It should take me down towards the shore.

‘DANGER’ says the sign ‘TAKE CARE’. Yes, I will. At least it doesn’t tell me to watch out for flying golf balls – an impractical instruction, as by the time you see a flying golf ball, it’s probably too late!

43 path down to shore, golfcourse, Brodick

Anyway, nobody is playing golf itoday.

I turn off the path, probably too early, following footpath signs. If I’d continued straight, I would have reached the shore. Instead I cross over Glenshurig Burn via a little bridge…

44 footpath to Brodick, Ruth walking the coast of Arran

…and wonder why there’s a second footbridge further downriver. Is that where the coastal path runs? Ah well. Nearly at Brodick now.

45 second footbridge to Brodick, Ruth walking aroun Arran

On the other side of the water, an enterprising householder is selling duck food at 50p a bag, with an honesty box.

46 duck food 50p a bag, Ruth Livingstone on Arran

Further along, I discover a woodchopper with a sense of humour.

47 carved tree trunks, Ruth hiking on Isle of Arran, Scotland

Now I’m back on the road again, feeling somewhat frustrated because I’m not walking closer to the shore.

Along this road, I meet a couple of tourists who ask me if there is a pub back the way I’ve come. They’re supposed to be meeting friends there. It’s a pink building, apparently. ‘No’ I say confidently.

48 road to Brodick, Ruth hiking around the coast of Arran

They turn back and, sometime later, I feel guilty because I realise they probably meant the pink brewery/pub in the craft area.

I reach the outskirts of Brodick, walking through intermittent bursts of rain, and head down to the shore, where a couple are throwing a ball for a dog.

49 beach Brodick Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, Isle of Arran

It’s a surprisingly pleasant beach. But, just look at those dark clouds over Goatfell. They’re coming this way.

50 Goatfell, from Brodick Bay, Ruth's hiking on Arran

I turn my back on the storm, and look towards the ferry port, where a ferry has just arrived. I feel a tug of sadness. Only one more day to go, and I’ll have finished the Arran Coastal Way. Shame. I love it here, and don’t want to leave.

51 Brodick Ferry Port, Ruth Livingstone on the Isle of Arran

Onwards to Brodick. A splatter of drops on my neck, and I turn to look back. The rainstorm is approaching rapidly, blown on the strong winds gusting from the north west.

52 Rain on Brodick, Arran, Ruth Livingstone

I walk, through the rain, along a nice foreshore area, where a green strip of land acts as a wide promenade, and there are plenty of parking spaces. The rain soon passes, and the day ends as it began, with a glorious rainbow above Brodick.

53 Brodick Rainbow, Ruth walking the coast of Arran

Tomorrow, assuming the winds have died down, I’m going to walk the section of the Arran Coastal Way around the north of the island, linking Lochranza with Sannox. Then, my circuit of Arran will be complete.

Miles walked today = 9 miles
Total around Arran = 65 miles
Total distance = 3,584 miles


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Ruth’s Coastal Walk (UK) : My solo trek around the coastline of Britain