King’s Caves, Arran

The King’s Caves trail on the beautiful island of Arran is a great walk for families, taking you on a circular walk down to a rocky beach where you can explore a series of natural, oceanfront caves.

One of the caves is said to have been where Robert the Bruce took refuge after defeat by the English, and where he had his famed encounter with a spider. Which is where the caves get their regal name. If you don’t know the legend, Bruce watched this spider spin its web, he saw the web slip from the wall, but the spider returned again and again, never giving up, and eventually the web stayed strong. This is said to have been what inspired Robert the Bruce to try again and eventually win the battle at Bannockburn.)

Even if that isn’t totally true, the caves have carvings on the walls, some of which are thought to date back quite a few centuries, possibly even to the bronze age. There are even some medieval inscriptions, Pictish symbols and some 19th century Christian symbols too in the caves; evidence that the caves may have been visited by early Christian travellers. There are also a bunch of carvings from this past century…

Make sure you take a torch and you can have great fun trying to spot interesting carvings! To prevent these fragile carvings from being damaged, one of the caves is closed to the public by a big metal gate, probably so that the carvings don’t get drawn over by Kier + Sophie woz here 2020, obvs in an oversized loveheart. (I’m not sure if the gate is always closed but it was closed when we visited.)

See more great family activities and things to do on the island of Arran:

A couple of the caves get quite narrow and dark towards the back. I’m not sure how far they go, but one of the little kids tried to keep going through and we all had a panic yell at him to come back since none of us adults could have possibly gotten through to unstick him if he’d gotten stuck!

The walk is a 3 mile loop, and the path back up from the beach to the forest can be quite tiring for little legs. It is steep and also quite narrow at some points, but our just 3 year old managed the whole walk himself until about 10 minutes before we got back to the car, so it’s definitely doable for little ones.

The Route

The walk begins as a beautiful scenic walk leading initially through forest. The path quite quickly comes out of the trees and then along a coastal path bordering the forest with views across cliffs and bays. From here you can see the Pirnmill Hills and right across this stretch of water (the Kilbrannan Sound) over to the Kintyre Peninsula.

The path eventually curves round to the left and heads down a quite steep rocky path, and through a gate which leads to the shingle beach below. There isn’t really a path down at the beach, but you just head left along the shoreline and you’ll find the caves on your left dotted along the coast.

After the caves you will see the path in the hillside on your left which climbs steeply back up to the path above. Take a left at the fork back towards the forest which will lead all the way back to the car park.

The Highlights

The kids really enjoyed playing on the beach and of course, exploring the caves and making really loud echoes inside them. They loved trying to find drawings on the cave walls too.

The walk through the forest is incredibly pretty, and the views back towards Arran and out over the Kilbrannan Sound towards Campbelltown and the Kintyre Peninsula are absolutely stunning.

The Stats

  • Distance: 4.5km / 2.75 miles
  • Ascent: 140m
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Mostly easy at a gentle gradient, but with one sharp descent to the beach and ascent back up to the path.

The Logistics

  • Wheels: The majority of the path is suitable for wheels but the descent down to the beach, the beach itself and the ascent back up to the path are not wheel friendly at all.
  • Parking: Small car park. Free parking.
  • Toilets: There are no toilet facilities here.
  • Clothing needed: Nothing in particular. Just dress for the weather.
  • Dogs: Suitable for dogs.

The Location

The Kings Cave car park is located on the A841 between Torbeg and Tormore, on the island of Arran. It’s very near Machrie Moor so if the little legs are all doing well you could double them up. I’d do this walk first though because the Machrie Moor walk is much gentler.

The Cost

Completely free.

The Verdict

The King’s Caves walk on Arran is a great family walk. It is mostly a gentle walk with one steep section down to the beach and back up the other side. The caves are great fun for kids to explore and they’ll love the stony beach too.

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