A walk to Sandaig, Gavin Maxwell and the Ring of bright Water


Sandaig and the Sandaig IslandsEdals grave

Sandaig, with its burn, beaches and islands are a highlight for most visitors to the Glenelg area and for decades many have returned regularly.


Getting there

Leave Glenelg and travel around 3.5 miles South along the road to Arnisdale and you come to Upper Sandaig on the right (a cottage just after a small lochan). The well made Sandaig Bay forestry track, on the right just before the lochan, is the start of a 1.5 mile walk that takes you down to Sandaig. The late Gavin Maxwell, author of “Ring of Bright Water” named it Camusfearna to try to hide its true location, the place where he brought up his otters and penned his worldwide best seller. The walk itself has good views and there are several ways you can go when you arrive down at the gate into Sandaig.


Around Sandaig

Raef Paynes cottage Looking to the left is the remains of a small cottage used by Maxwells friend, the late Raef Payne and to the right of this the bay and main beach. Forward and to the right lies the memorial stone that marks where Gavin Maxwells ashes are buried and this also marks the place where his writing desk was placed in the cottage, before it was burnt down in 1967. A few yards away towards the burn is a memorial to Edal, the otter that perished in the fire. Also nearby and visible when not covered by bracken, the rusty remains of a boat trailer used for Maxwells boat, the Polar Star. At the burn there is a rope bridge that you can cross or, if there has been a dry spell, it’s possible to Rope bridge use the stepping stones. (Before crossing, if you walk along the bank to the right you come to a small waterfall.)

On the other side you can turn right and take the short cut back up to the forest track or head left (the bracken is high in season) and walk round to the islands. Around 3 hours either side of low tide you can walk across to the first island with its tiny patch of Machair, adjacent white coral beach and stunning view North to Glenelg Bay. This makes an idyllic spot for a picnic.


Coral beach Note:

If you are planning to visit Sandaig, it's best to take a note of the tide times if you wish to go over to the island beach. It’s usually ok approx 3 hours either side of low water time (Remember to add the hour for BST). More details and a map of the walk can also be found here.

Alastair Holgate

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