The trail follows the coast of the Isle of Arran

The trail follows the coast of the Isle of Arran

A route around the coast of a Scottish island has gained the Great Trails status.

The 65-mile circular Arran Coastal Way is the 29th long-distance route to be included in the network by Scottish Natural Heritage, the government’s advisory body on the outdoors.

The route on the Isle of 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 took on responsibility for the route and, with funding from the Coastal Communities Fund, has overseen recent improvements to the path, signs and interpretation along the route.

The trail passes through ancient woodland and along sandy beaches and rocky shores, with wildlife and spectacular scenery all the way around the island. The route links 12 coastal villages which offer accommodation and local food.

SNH said, 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. It added it is one of the more challenging long-distance routes, but rewards for users are high.

Malcolm Whitmore, from the Arran Access Trust said: “Arran Access Trust is delighted the Arran Coastal Way has become recognised as one of Scotland’s Great Trails.

“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.”

To be included in the Scotland’s Great Trails network, routes must fulfil certain criteria. For example, 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 signs 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.

Walkers on the Arran Coastal Trail

Walkers on the Arran Coastal Trail

SNH developed and champions the Scotland’s Great Trails brand to identify, improve and promote the country’s network of long-distance routes so they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. Collectively, the different routes provide more than 1,900 miles of well managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands.

Dr Mike Cantlay, SNH chair, said: “We are really pleased to be able to give this much deserved award to the Arran Coastal Way.

“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. Their vision and commitment is a shining example of what communities can achieve when they have a shared vision.

“The Arran Coastal Way is a fantastic outdoor tourism asset and one of the flagship routes in our national walking and cycling network. We hope that this great trail will encourage many more people to head out and enjoy our nature and landscapes.”

The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “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.”

Details of the route are on the Arran Coastal Way website.

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