Amongst the books we found in our hire cottage on Arran, was one called “Arran for Families”. It was a brilliant little book – fully illustrated with easy to read information about places to visit on the island. On a showery day, we decided to visit two of the destinations we found within its pages – the Giant’s Graves and Glenashdale Falls.
We left the car in free parking in Whiting Bay. Clad in waterproofs because, as Alfred Wainwright so rightly said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, we set off on our way. After stopping by the information board, we decided to visit the graves first, then head to the waterfall whilst keeping an eye out for the red squirrels who make this woodland habitat their home.
A level track led us through the trees. The air smelled fresh and the greens seemed all the more vibrant due to the recent rain. After less than half a mile, we came to a sign post pointing the way to the Giant’s Graves.
Turning off to the left, a dirt track began to zig zag up the hillside, the brambles along the way providing a couple of sweet treats for Rowan. As we gained height, we could see the top of the forest canopy below us, and in amongst the vegetation bordering the paths were little toadstools. They always make me think I should look out for a foraging course.
It was a short sharp climb, covering around 130 metres in just over half a mile. As we reached the top, the path became stony before levelling out. Behind us, we could see Holy Island under ominous clouds and ahead a plaque gave us a little history of the Giant’s Graves.
The site, a grassy clearing with Holy Island and Goat Fell providing the back drop, was a spectacular location for two Neolithic chambered burial cairns. The cairns have both been excavated in the past and findings include flint knives and stone arrow heads, pottery and human bone. The cairns, built by the Neolithic community, would have been used multiple times for the remains of our Neolithic ancestors. It is amazing to think that these structures are over 5000 years old. Visiting sites, and the one at Machrie Moor, like these always makes me wonder about the lives of the people who built these monuments and I am increasingly finding myself wanting to learn more.
We chose this atmospheric setting to have our dinner, sitting where people may have sat 5000 years before us looking at the same mountains that they would have seen. After our sandwiches, we continued along a gravel path at the south end of the site. From here, we turned right and followed the finger post to Glenashdale Falls.
We were now on a wide forest track. Looking back through the pinks, whites and greens of the plants and trees towards the sea, I reckoned I could just about see a circular mound on which the cairns are standing. Though I could also have been watching too much Time Team.
Our route now afforded us amazing views, from the patchwork greens of the forests and rolling fields to the dark imposing mountains in the north of the island. And the bench overlooking Holy Island looked just too comfy to resist.
The quiet lane was the perfect opportunity for Rowan try his hand at walking his Pebble Pie. He found her zig zagging around hilarious and was very proud of himself, though we did have to keep telling him not to run as Pebble can be light on her feet when she wants to be.
We were on this track for about a mile before we tuned right to head back into the trees. The grey gravel path led into the shade and a bridge across Glenashdale Burn. The sunlight caught the water making it sparkle as we stopped at a picnic table for a quick rest.
After a short while, we crossed a second bridge and a quick stroll led us to the viewing platform for the waterfall.
With a height of 140 feet and a double cascade, the thundering falls literally took my breath away.
We spent some time admiring the waterfall until some more people arrived. At this point we moved on, but not before Rowan spotted fungus high up in a tree.
Now, we had to head back down the many steps that would lead back to the start of the walk. We did try counting but soon lost count. The trees seemed so tall, and there were plenty of rocks and boulders to explore along the way.
We love How To Train Your Dragon in our house – my car is even called Toothless. Rowan turned dragon trainer on the walk back. The branches of trees were dragons that he had to train using leaves as food and it was a very serious undertaking. I had to be careful walking past because the dragon wasn’t sure of me yet and there were a number of dragons to creep past along the way. I love the way his imagination works.
Despite the ongoing threat of untrained dragons, it was a gorgeous walk back in the shade of the trees with the burn babbling to the side of us. Eventually, after just over three miles and 500 feet, we found ourselves on the track we had started out on, so Rowan left his dragons behind to guard the forest. If you’d like to try and find them, you can find the route here.