The Isle of Arran is possibly (depending on how I’m feeling when you ask) my favorite Scottish island.
And there’s a big long list of reasons why—but it’s partially because it’s full of brilliant hikes, dotted around the entirety of the island.
So in this article, I’ve brought you the 13 best hikes on the Isle of Arran. I’ve covered long ones, short ones, arduous epics, easy jaunts, and even a multi-day extravaganza. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s on this list.
Hope you’ve packed your bag and warmed up kid, cos this one’s gonna get heavy!
1. Brodick Castle Country Park
If you’re looking for a gentle stroll without any real purpose or plan, you’ll love this one. It’s perfect if you’ve got kids, or don’t want a challenging walk.
Brodick Castle Country Park is (of course!) in the grounds of Brodick Castle, but it’s way bigger than most people realize, with more than 10 miles (16km) of waymarked trails.
A quintessential British country estate, but even better than most, the place has a red squirrel hide, formal gardens, bridges, waterfalls, and lots of plants and animals. It’s a brilliant choice for a fun day out, and families with kids love the place.
When they’re walking here, most people just go on an aimless wander—but if you like a bit more structure (like I do), here’s a great (and very easy) route.
2. Glen Rosa Circuit
If you want excellent views of the Goatfell range without having to tackle tricky routes and steep ascents, this is the walk for you.
Glen Rosa is the glen (or valley) that sits between some of the biggest and best mountains in the Goatfell range, so some people reckon it offers the best views of the entire area. And I’m tempted to agree.
The walk starts in the same place as the hike above (which is actually a starting point for lots of Arran’s wanders, including the easiest ascent up Goatfell). From here, follow the signs for the Easceanoch Trail and Glen Rosa, then follow the flow of Glenrosa Water.
After an hour or so, you’ll hit a footbridge, which you can cross before heading back towards where you started (though if you’re up for a longer walk, you can extend your hike beyond this footbridge before turning back).
This excellent circuit takes you past sparse forests, boggy moors, wide-open plains, and excellent views of distant mountains. No matter what type of walking you’re into, you’ll love this one.
3. The Fairy Dell
I reckon the little area north of Lochranza is hugely underrated. One of my favorite spots on the island, it’s ridiculously picturesque.
Starting at Lochranza campsite, head north towards the massively photogenic castle, perched over the shores of the sea. From here, follow the eastern shores of the water before turning right. There’s a track close to the shore, and another above it, which combine to make a convenient loop.
When you reach the white cottage, you’re at the Fairy Dell, and it’s time to turn back.
For me, the best part of this walk is the beginning, when you’ll probably see some of Lochranza’s famous wild deer. I like trying to touch them, but I don’t necessarily recommend it, because they might headbutt you to death.
As a juicy little bonus, you might also see the seals who live on this part of the island’s coastline.
4. Coire Fhionn Lochan
I reckon this is the most underrated hike on our list.
Beautiful, quiet, pretty easy, and in a lesser-explored part of Arran, it ticks all the right boxes, and I massively recommend it.
There’s a tiny car park next to the miniscule village of Thundergay, on the northwestern tip of the island. Head there, before following the convenient signpost to start the trail.
You’ll walk through moors, marshes and heather (and hopefully past lots of deer), with great views of distant mountains. But the highlight is when you reach Coire Fhionn Lochan itself, a beautiful little loch nestled surreptitiously between some of the area’s biggest mountains.
Stop for a picnic, explore the loch, then retrace your steps to get back to your car. It’s an excellent wander.
5. Machrie Moor Stone Circles
This place is the most famous archeological site on Arran. A set of six Neolithic stone circles, the area was once home to burials, rituals, celebrations and cremations.
Honestly, I’m not into all the Neolithic stuff, but I still absolutely love this walk. The whole area is really beautiful, packed with barren moors, deserted landscapes, and incredible views of Goatfell in the distance.
On a clear day, this walk is incredible — Arran doesn’t offer many better views than the isolated standing stones backed by the towering summit of Goatfell. So make sure you bring your camera.
To start this one, head to the car park on the A841 road, then follow the easy-to-find path to all the various stones. Once you’ve passed a little farm, keep going for about 5 or 10 more minutes, and you’re at the last set. Hang around here for a while before heading back by retracing your steps.
6. Kingscross Point and Whiting Bay
Our first beach-based wander, this is a picturesque but easy walk along lovely Lamlash Bay, featuring woods, sands and shores.
Start at the northern side of the strangely-named village of Whiting Bay, then head towards the beach. Keep following the shores, which will take you to Lamlash Bay, one of my favorite beaches on Arran. You’ll then hit a wooded trail, which leads you southwest and back towards where you started.
It’s a pretty short walk, but it’s a great choice if you want an accessible wander with brilliant views and a decent amount of variety.
The best parts of this walk are the incredible views of Holy Island, a tiny little place just off Arran’s southeastern coast. There’s another excellent hike on Holy Island, but we’ll get to all that soon.
7. Brodick and Lamlash Circuit
I absolutely love this one. If you’re into leisurely strolls that take you between charming villages and little towns, you’ll probably love it too.
The walk connects Brodick with Lamlash, the two biggest settlements on the island—and because it starts from the ferry terminal in Brodick, it’s super accessible.
Start by following Brodick Bay, and wander along the area’s lengthy shores until you hit Lamlash. Stop here for a picnic and explore the small town, then set off again by following the path running parallel to the A841 road heading north.
After a while, this path separates from the road—keep following the path until you’ve made it all the way back to Brodick.
This walk is super diverse and charming. You get great beaches, inland sections, views of Goatfell, cute harbors, and Arran’s two biggest villages. It’s an excellent introduction to all Arran has to offer.
8. The Arran Coastal Way
If you’re looking for the best Arran hiking challenge you can get, this is it.
A multi-day epic clocking in at 65 miles (105 km), the Arran Coastal Way runs around the entire perimeter of the island in a big loop. If you’re a big stubborn completionist, this is the hike for you.
Though it hugs the coast for most of the route, it jumps inland on occasion, so you’re not always walking along cliffs, beaches and bays. Highlights along the way include tiny villages, secluded sands, towering hills and mountains, lonely lighthouses, and a massive amount of variety. If you want to see as much of Arran as you can, this is the best way to do it.
When you’re done, as a little bonus, you can finish your hike with an ascent up Goatfell, the biggest (and most famous) peak on the island. After a massive multi-day hike, that might seem a bit excessive—but it’s a perfect finale.
9. Lochranza to Sannox
If you don’t want to tackle the entirety of the Arran Coastal Way, do this short stretch instead. It’s the best part of the whole coastal route, and it’s a great pick for a challenging but accessible day hike.
Starting at the northern tip of Lochranza, you follow the coast all the way to the tiny settlement of Sannox. Though the distance isn’t too challenging, the terrain is, so it might take longer than you expect. When I did it, I was surprised by all the rocky beaches and boulder-scrambling, so try not to snap your ankle.
Along the way, you pass quiet beaches, short stretches of jungle-like forest, occasional deer, and some lonely little houses. It’s an absolutely beautiful walk, and it’s largely bereft of other hikers.
For getting back to where you started, you can either take the 324 bus, or just hitch a lift. Hitchhiking is ridiculously easy in Scotland, especially on the islands.
The highest peak on Arran, this walk’s iconic. If you like steep hikes, lofty panoramas, and attempting place’s most popular walks, this is the one you want to tackle.
There are lots of ways to get up Goatfell. But the easiest, most accessible and most popular is from Brodick Castle—park up at the Cladach Center, right beside the castle, and it’s easy to find the path.
Goatfell measures in at around 874 meters (2,870 feet), and (because you’re starting from sea level) there’s a similar sort of ascent on the hike. It’s relatively challenging, but it’s all pretty steady, so there aren’t any particularly difficult sections.
From the top, you get excellent views of Goatfell’s surrounding peaks. You also get great vistas of Brodick Bay (especially on the descent), and some lovely wooded sections. If you can, try to do this one really early in the morning, or in the off-season, because it can get ridiculously crowded.
11. The Three Beinns
Goatfell is the most well-known mountain hike on Arran, but it’s not the most challenging.
If you’re looking for something more difficult than Goatfell, get yourself on an ascent of the three Beinns, an excellent walk taking in three summits west of the island’s biggest peak.
Starting from the car park just beyond the Glen Rosa campsite, you walk through the valley of Glen Rosa for a while. You then briefly head west on a trail that eventually leads you to the peak of Beinn Nuis. This is your first peak, followed by Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn a’Chliabhain.
A fantastic walk, you take on around 950 meters (3,120 feet) of ascent in total. Along the way, you get endless peaks, great views of Goatfell, panoramas of Brodick Bay, and an excellent circular walk along tricky paths and narrow ridges.
12. The Pirnmill Hills
Up north, near Lochranza, you have the off-the-radar Pirnmill Hills.
One of the most underrated parts of Arran, this walk is a good choice if you like avoiding other people. It’s also a good choice for a challenge—the one walk I know in this region is almost as difficult as the Three Beinns wander I’ve just outlined above.
To get going, park up in the tiny village of Pirnmill. Head east before you hit a ridge. Follow this ridge, and you’ll ascend Beinn Bharrain first, followed by Beinn Bhreac. Along the way, you’ll get great vistas of the other Pirnmill peaks, along with dramatic panoramas of Arran’s western shores.
My favorite part of the whole hike is towards the end, when you get excellent bird’s-eye views of Coire Fhionn Lochan (if you like, you can even combine this walk with the Coire Fhionn Lochan wander which I outlined earlier).
13. Holy Island Circular
Just off the southeastern coast of Arran, you have Holy Island, a beautiful, secluded and remote little place measuring in at a diminutive 1 square mile (3 square kilometers).
To reach the start of this walk, you need to take a ferry from Lamlash. Once you step off the ferry, head east on a path going inland. This path quickly takes you on a steep ascent up to the highest point of Holy Island (Mullach Beag, measuring in at 314 meters/1,030 feet).
From here, you keep heading in the same direction to reach sea level once more, on the opposite side of the island.
Head west, and keep following the shore all the way back to where you started. Along the walk, you get excellent views of Arran, Holy Island, and all the surrounding seas. This one is fantastic, and really varied.
Holy Island is home to free-roaming goats, sheep and ponies, and it’s owned and managed by a bunch of Buddhist monks (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).
Final Thoughts and Further Reading
There they are—all the best hikes on the Isle of Arran! Get your boots on, get your bag packed, and tackle as many as you can. You’ll fall in love with them all, and you’ll fall in love with the entire island.
If you want to know anything else about Arran adventures, check out our guides to the top reasons to visit, the best campsites on the Island, the best place to stay on the Isle of Arran, and all of the island’s wildlife.
Thanks for reading, stick around for much more, and we’ll see you next time!
Do you want to be a digital nomad?
If you do, maybe you don’t know where you might want to live. Or how to live there. Or whether you need a visa. Or how to make friends in the scary sprawl of a brand-new city. Or how to stay productive while you travel. Or how to find an apartment. Or whether this lifestyle really is for you. Or… I’m sure you get the idea.
But with some insight and experience, it’s not as difficult as you think. So in this book, I’ve gathered my 6 years of digital-nomadding experience… and I’ve used it to answer all your questions, soothe all your fears, and get you on your way. After reading this, you’ll realise being a digital nomad is much easier (and much more possible!) than you think.