Back in the 1990s, two local men, Hugh McKerrell and Dick Sim, had a dream. It was of a walk around the entire coastline of Arran, linking the villages and taking in the stunning scenery and brilliant wildlife to be seen along the way. A supporters and volunteers group was formed and after many years of hard work, the The Arran Coastal Way was officially opened by Cameron McNeish on 28th March 2003. Cameron is the voice and recognised face of walking in Scotland and we are indebted to him for sparing the time to visit Arran and for opening the Way for us.
Both Hugh and Dick have sadly died, but their legacy lives on in the form of the Arran Coastal Way. What started as a little-used route undertaken by an intrepid few has become a well-known feature of the island. It is followed by folk from all over the world and contributes significantly to the island economy.
Several years ago the Arran Access Trust took on responsibility for the route and, in order to plan future work and seek the necessary funding, undertook a review of the Way. A condition survey of the path, signage and way marking was carried out in 2012 and a number of problem stretches and short comings identified. In 2013, the focus was on gathering the views of users of the route and providers of accommodation and services along the Way. Finally in 2014, the Access Trust secured grant funding from the Coastal Communities Fund (Government money, managed by the Big Lottery Fund) as well as smaller but vital contributions from The Arran Trust, North Ayrshire Council and Forestry Commission Scotland.
The project ran from May 2014 to April 2016, and created 3.5 miles of new path (re-routing in problem areas), performed major upgrades on 17 miles of path, provided 4 year-long paid training positions for local people to learn new skills for employment, re-waymarked the whole route, installed new interpretation materials in all villages, established 3 new volunteer groups to help maintain the paths and boosted the publicity and marketing associated with the Coastal Way.