Loch na Davie Loop Walk, Lochranza
Distance: 16.5km Time: 5.5-6.5 hours
Terrain: Rough boulder path, Extremely boggy in places depending on the weather, starts and finishes with stretches on the road.
Loch na Davie Loop: A Scenic Hike to the Heart of Lochranza
Embark on an adventure through Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes with the Loch na Davie loop walk. Start at the charming Lochranza and be transported back in time as you stroll past a ruined castle with a rich history. Marvel at the Arran Distillery, built on the purest water source in the country, and wander along the sparkling river. Tackle the rocky path and be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Loch na Davie, the purest loch in Scotland surrounded by the rarest trees in the UK. Discover the story of the Twelve Apostles, a village with a fascinating past, and pay your respects at the Sailor’s Grave, a place where history and mystery intersect. End your journey passing the ferry terminal to new and exciting possibilities. Experience the breathtaking beauty of Scotland and leave with a sense of awe and wonder.
STAGE 1: Start at Lochranza Hotel Car Park
Begin your journey in the Lochranza Hotel car park and head south along a peaceful road. Admire the stunning remains of a ruined castle, with roots dating back to the 13th century, standing tall on a promontory. Continue on past the youth hostel, field study center, and campsite to reach the new Arran Distillery. It was built here in 1995 based on the recommendation of Glasgow University’s Geology Department due to the pure water, ideal location near the Gulf Stream, and rich history of quality (illicit) whisky production on the island.
STAGE 2: Explore the Crystal-Clear River
Take the path after the distillery but before a small bridge to follow the sparkling river through Gleann Easan Biorach. The path quickly becomes rocky and bumpy, with waterfalls cascading through a picturesque gorge. The path levels out onto a damp moorland, where progress may be hindered by deep patches to avoid.
STAGE 3: Ascend to the Purest Water in Scotland
Climb towards the bealach, navigating a rocky and often wet path. Reach the serene waters of Loch na Davie, which has been described as Scotland’s purest water by Glasgow University. Circle around the right of the loch and ascend over the shoulder of Beinn Bhreac to reach another beach. Descend into Gleann Diomhan and follow the well-trodden path on the east side of the burn. Admire the rare Catacol Whitebeam (Sorbus pseudomeinichii) trees, the only two examples of their kind in the United Kingdom, protected by a deer fence and two kissing gates.
STAGE 4: Stroll through Glen Catacol
Pass through the gates and follow the path into the beautiful Glen Catacol. Listen to the rush of water over the light-coloured granite slabs and watch as it becomes Abhainn Mhòr as the valley opens up below Creag na h-Iolaire. Join another path at a cairn before making your final descent to the road south of Catacol. Walk north along the quiet road, passing the historic Twelve Apostles cottages, built to house crofters displaced by the clearances. Each cottage was unique, with a differently shaped upper window to allow fishermen to signal from offshore.
STAGE 5: Visit the Sailor’s Grave
Pass the Catacol Bay Hotel and continue along the road, taking in the rugged cliffs dotted with caves and inhabited by nesting seabirds. Branch right onto a grassy track and reach The Sailor’s Grave, a simple inscribed rock headstone marking the resting place of John McLean. It is customary to add a pebble from the beach to the mound as a form of apology for his exclusion from the village graveyards. Follow the road back into Lochranza, passing the ferry terminal and returning to the start of your walk.”