Day 3 - Lagg to Blackwaterfoot
This day was going to be good. Some of the wilder terrain on Arran, not too hilly, just a long way from towns and villages. Nice to get even further away from things. In addition, the distance we estimated to be 8 miles, which after the epic march of the evening before was a welcome relief.
Since it was going to be a short day, we had a slightly later breakfast, and were underway by 10am. The main issue of the day was going to be lunch - there were no convenient towns to stop in en route, so we tried to get supplies in Lagg. Sadly the village store seemed to be closed. Not to worry, there was apparently another store en route to the coast path.
|Wading through bracken|
On yet another sunny day (in Scotland! Unbelievable) we set off, sad to leave such an awesome spot. On subsequent trips to Arran, I think the Lagg Hotel will be a strong contender for accomodation. The first section of the walk was road-based, and we strolled up out of Lagg and along a couple of pleasant miles to Sliddry, when the second store was said to be.
While Sliddry does indeed have a store, it seems it's a farming supply store rather than a food shop. Good job we still had the provisions we bought on day 1! Heading down a lane, we found ourselves back on the coast proper, and with good paths underfoot, we set off around the southwest corner of Arran.
|Wilder parts of the Arran Coast|
The paths didn't stay good for long, and a few times we lost our way and started to make it up a bit. We'd heard on previous days that we "were going the wrong way round" - apparently nearly all walkers go anti-clockwise around the island. Here it made a difference, as the Coastal Way arrows only served to tell us when we had regained the path, rather than stopping us from losing it in the first place.
Lunch was taken on some appropriately large and comfortably shaped rocks. We figured we had about 3 miles to go to Blackwaterfoot, and it was only 1pm. Easy work after the previous day. However, we hadn't reckoned on the terrain.
|Can you see the path? This was a highway|
compared to what we had just done
Our notes said "Uneven rocks underfoot, with constricting vegetation. Progress will be slow". That was one hell of an understatement. The bracken was easily 5ft high, and concealed a large number of brambles which proceeded to hook onto our clothes at every opportunity. All this vegetation was growing on an uneven boulder scramble, which meant you couldn't always see where your feet were coming down, and as such you had to test your footing carefully. The saving grace was that the rocks were marked with blobs of paint to signify the course of the path - which zigzagged up and down the side of the coast as we progressed northwards. At one point we lost the path entirely, and might have done the rest of the walk as a boulder scramble nearer the sea, but the one solitary other walker we saw that day gave us a point to aim for ("He's got to be on the path right?"). Given the abysmal nature of the terrain, we arrived at Preacher's Cave, 1 mile south of Blackwaterfoot, by 3pm. 2 hours for less than 2 miles - not the greatest speed ever, but we
were glad to be out of the hell zone.
Preacher's Cave itself was impressive (so called as sermons were held in it in past times), but weren't in the best of moods to appreciate it. My feet were not happy at all - with my rucksack I was weighing around 17stone, and having that jolting down on one unstable rock after another was not fun. We took a good long rest, and then ambled the last mile into Blackwaterfoot itself.
Another good meal at the Kinloch Hotel, followed by a pint in our B&B (Blackwaterfoot Lodge), as well as a chat with the owners of said B&B helped set things to rights.
|Finally, Blackwaterfoot in sight!|
We went to bed in good spirits, but I was worried - the next day was to be 11 miles, over half of which was by road (very hard on my already aching feet), and today had not been as restful as expected. If that wasn't bad enough, we had a dinner reservation for 7.15pm, so we had a deadline as well. It was going to be a tough day...