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Àite-falaich an Rìgh ann an Arainn (The King’s Arran Hideout)

Seall sa Ghàidhlig

There are several locations in Scotland that rejoice under the name of Uamh an Rìgh (‘oo-uv un REE’) or King’s Cave, and which are connected, at least in oral tradition, to one of the most celebrated of Scotland’s kings – Robert Bruce. Arguably the most famous of these is an impressive sea cave on the west coast of Eilean Arainn, the Isle of Arran, in the Firth of Clyde, now raised well above the shoreline due to isostatic rebound following the last ice age, when the dead weight of the ice was removed and our landmass slowly rose by several metres. Uamh an Rìgh, along with neighbouring caves, all of them cut into the native sandstone by the sea thousands of years ago, is one of many notable geological features in the ambitious Arran Geopark which seeks to achieve UNESCO Global Geopark status. If you like being in a fascinating and inspirational landscape, consider a trip to Arran!

The cave is one of the places connected to the (possibly apocryphal) legend of Bruce being inspired to rise against the English King one more time after watching a spider’s repeated attempts to spin its web. He then led the Scottish army to victory in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Arran was not unfamiliar territory to Bruce – his mother hailed from Carrick on the nearby mainland, then a Gaelic stronghold in southern Scotland, but it should be noted that the place name is not ancient. The cave was earlier known as Uamh Fhinn ‘Fingal’s Cave’, connecting the feature to the legendary hero Fionn MacCumhail ‘Fingal’ who was – to the Gaels of Arran and beyond – an even more imposing figure than Robert the Bruce.

The cave can be visited from near Blackwaterfoot where Forestry and Land Scotland have provided a car park and a marked trail. Wear good shoes and take a torch to read the inscriptions inside the cave – and perhaps even spot a spider! And enjoy the views across Kilbrannan Sound to the attractive peninsula of Kintyre whose Gaelic name Cinn Tìre identifies it as Scotland’s own ‘land’s end’.

Inside of a dark cave with green moss growing over the walls. King's Cave near Blackwaterfoot, Isle of Arran
Image provided by VisitScotland/Kenny Lam