Wednesday 21st June 2017, 10:17am
A 65-mile-long circular route around the Isle of Arran on Scotland’s south-west coast has been added to the Scotland’s Great Trails network by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The Arran Coastal Way is the 29th Long Distance Route (LDR) to achieve this status, along with world-famous paths including the Great Glen Way and the West Highland Way. It is one of the more challenging LDRs, but the rewards for users are high.
The trail passes through ancient woodland and along sandy beaches and rocky shores, with amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery all the way around the island. The route links 12 coastal villages which offer accommodation and local food for trail users to enjoy at the end of the day, making it perfect for a week-long walking holiday. Equally, with plenty of side trips and other attractions to visit, the path is also ideal for those wanting to explore particular areas of the island.
To be included in the Scotland’s Great Trails branded network, LDRs must fulfil certain criteria. Each trail is at least 25 miles long and largely off-road with a clearly defined path. The routes all have a high standard of waymarking and signage in place, with a range of visitor services along the way and an online presence with information to help all types of visitors plan a trip.
SNH developed and champions the Scotland’s Great Trails brand to identify, improve and promote the country’s network of LDRs. Collectively, the different routes provide more than 1900 miles of well-managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands.
The route on Arran was originally conceived in the 1990s by two local men who had a dream to create a walk around the island’s entire coastline. Several years ago, the Arran Access Trust (AAT) took on responsibility for the route and - with funding from the Coastal Communities Fund - has overseen recent improvements to the path, signage and interpretation along the route.
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “It’s fantastic to see the Arran Coastal Way added to Scotland’s Great Trail network which brings together world-renowned walks and hidden treasures to promote our great outdoors. I have no doubt that the Arran Coastal Way will encourage many tourists to visit the island and enjoy the spectacular scenery it has to offer.”
Dr Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, said: “The Arran Access Trust has worked incredibly hard over the last few years to bring the path up to the high standards required to become one of Scotland’s Great Trails.
“We hope that this great trail will encourage many more people to head out and enjoy our nature and landscapes.”
Malcolm Whitmore, from the Arran Access Trust said: “Arran has been called ‘Scotland in miniature’ as the island encompasses so much of the landscapes, history, geology and wildlife of Scotland and - being only two hours from the centre of Glasgow - it offers unrivalled opportunity for folk to visit and enjoy island life. We believe the Arran Coastal Way is the finest walking circuit of an island anywhere in Scotland and look forward to welcoming walkers whether they are completing the whole circumnavigation of the island or exploring a taster section for a day.”