Walking to the Machrie Moor Standing Stones is one of my favourite things to do on Arran. It’s a short but pretty walk along tracks through farmland to the remains of 6 sets of standing stones, thought to have been built around 2000 BC.
Lots of other archaeological remains have been discovered beneath the current standing stones, including timber circles that predate the stone circles by about 500 years, so this is a really interesting walk for adults and kids alike.
From the car park you’ll see the little gate leading you onto a tractor track through a field. If you head along the track, you’ll first come to some ancient ruins. Continuing along the track you’ll find the first set of stones; a wide circle with stones just over 1m high.
A few minutes down the hill from here you’ll be able to see the ruins of the old Moss Farm. The kids really liked playing in here. In the next set through a wee gate, visible from farther away and not too far along the trail, only three stones remain standing. But they are up to 5.5m tall and are quite incredible from up close.
Through this gate you’ll also find the double ring of stones called Suide Choir Fhionn (Fingal’s Cauldron Seat) named after the legendary warrior Fingal the giant. Plus there’s a nice wee stone circle just through the gate and eventually a single, solitary and very impressive standing stone.
There’s something really quite fascinating about stone circles, so it’s pretty easy to make this walk really exciting and magical for kids. There are legends of giants and fairies and magic associated with standing stones and with Machrie Moor; lots of Brave and Frozen chat! So this walk inspired lots of imaginative play as we told them the stories!
The old farmhouse was a witches house; we hid from giants and giant dogs after telling them the story of Fingal the Giant. (He is said to have leashed his dog to a hole in one of the stones while he ate his dinner.) The first, smaller set of standing stones must have reminded them of the trolls in Frozen too. Plus there were fairy and dragon games galore following our visit to Machrie Moor!
The walk to first few stone circles isn’t too long. It took 8 of us ranging from age 3 to a very pregnant 37 around 45 minutes to reach them. It isn’t a circular path so you just walk back the same way you came. A round trip to see all the stone circles is roughly 3 miles long, but you could see the first few and then head back if you were stuck for time or little legs were tired.
- Total distance: 4.25km / 2.75 miles
- Ascent: 42m
- Duration: It took around 45 minutes for us to reach the stones. In total we spent around 3 hours exploring (with snack breaks).
- Difficulty: 1/10. This is an easy, gentle walk.
- Wheels: The walk is pretty flat and easy but with giant puddles and muddy bits I wouldn’t say it’s massively suitable for buggies. It is doable, but a carrier would be easier.
- Parking: Parking is available in a wee car park right at the start of the trail and there’s a bus stop right beside it. Like pretty much everything on Arran it’s very easily accessible.
- Toilets: There are no toilet facilities here.
- Clothing: This is a walk through farmland and it can be quite boggy so if it’s been recently wet, wellies or waterproofs are handy.
- Dogs: Good for dogs, but you do meed to walk through a field of sheep and there are sheep around the entirety of the walk, so make sure they are on lead at all times.
The Machrie Moor standing stones car park is located between the tiny villages of Machrie and Tormore on the A841. Like pretty much everything on Arran, Machrie Moor is well signposted and very easy to find.
It’s free to park and free to visit the stones.
This is one of my favourite walks on Arran for families, and not too strenuous for anyone. The Machrie Moor standing stones are beautiful and impressive and honestly, a little bit magical. Highly recommend.