Island in the Sun – Part 1   8 comments

Easter is backpacking time. For the past few years its been the tradition to use the long bank holiday for a trip to the highlands for some proper backpacking. After much debate with GM we settled on Arran as I’ve never been and GM visited only once several years back. The long drive up was tedious with heavy traffic and dreary weather but we were bouyed by the promise of high pressure settling over Scotland. After a night in a motel in Kilmarnock we woke to a cloudless sky and a frosty car (cue the comedy sight of GM driving the car to a sunny corner of the car park to pack, peering out the only clear portion of the windscreen in the bottom right-hand corner!)

 

We arrived in Adrossan for the mid-morning ferry and waited with the thronging masses. Arran sat across the water beckoning us with its delights

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

There is something exciting about traveling to your destination by boat. After fortifying ourselves with a pretty decent fried breakfast on the boat (tip, get straight in the queue when you get on the boat). I was as happy as a clam just wandering the decks watching Arran get closer. I’ve always wanted to climb it’s rocky peaks so to see it under an awesome day was brilliant

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Our plan was to approach from the north and walk through to Brodick to catch the ferry home. Arran has an excellent bus service and we were dropped off at Lochranza ready for the adventure.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

The weather was superb as was the walk up Gleann Easan Biorach. A trifle boggy in places but the scenery was superb. I’d had a nagging cold and sore throat for several days but it vanished within minutes of setting off. Something to be said for the powers of sunshine and fresh air.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

We’d had a plan to camp near Loch na Davie. We had no idea what the terrain would be like although our fear was it might be a little boggy. It was a gorgeous spot but apart from a couple of isolated knolls everywhere was wet. After an hour of wandering about we eventually settled on a spot further down the valley to the south next to the river.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

It was a fine position but whilst superficially dry, soon became soggy after we’d trampled around setting up camp. We decided that the front porch needed some protection so we proceeded to pave it with slabs of granite from the river

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Lunch in the sun next to the stream was awesome and it took some effort to convince ourselves that more walking was required.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Caisteal Abhail was directly above us so obviously a direct ascent was called for. The steep slopes and deep heather were astonishingly hard work and I was fading badly by the time we broke through to the grassier upper slopes.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

What you need at this point is something to lift the spirits and the rocky summit of Caisteal Abhail looming over the spectacular Garbh Choire was just the ticket

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

What a spot! The long sea lochs spread out below us and the tors of the summit were superb. We’d thought about camping in Garbh Choire and whilst it looks like there are places to pitch, most of it was already in shade. It really was a cracking spot.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Suddenly the going seemed easier and we flew (relative in my terms) to the top. The views to the main Arran ridges of narrow granite edges and tops was amazing, accentuated by the lowering evening sun. The summit is littered with tors of granite and you could spend happy hours up here just scrambling their various tops.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

As we reached the summit Arrans most arresting peak Cir Mhor came into view, it’s northern facet a sheer wall of clean rock

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Even Ailsa Craig could been seen out in the sea like a life-raft of rock.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step, Ailsa Craig

The main top is another giant granite tor which GM took direct but I walked around to its easier side.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

We sat on the summit pretty much in silence, awestruck by the tapestry below us

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

We had planned to wander down to the Ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step to see how hard it was and perhaps traverse through Garbh Choire back to the tent. When we realised it was already after 6pm we thought better of it and headed down for tea at the tent. The terrain of heather, bog and large holes was tedious on tired legs. I managed to find one rather large hole with a handily placed sharp edge of rock at shin-bone height causing me to bleed rather lavishly through my trousers. I’ve had worse being a clumsy git.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

After a ludicrously outsized tea of noodles and stir fry (we like to eat well) we settled down to enjoy the evening in our little patch of wild Arran heaven. Nothing finer than watching the setting sun splash varying shades of colour across the mountains while you sit in peaceful isolation. It’s hard work lugging a heavy pack around the wild terrin of Scotland but the rewards are well worth it on an evening such as this.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

I finished off the evening trying to take night photos using the tripod in particular the glow of light from inside the tent. Much harder than it sounds but I’m learning and it was great to have excuse to wander about in the dark watching the stars when normally you head inside the tent when it gets dark.

Ardrossan, Brodick, Lochcranza, Gleann Easan Biorach, Loch na Davie, Caisteal Abhail, Garbh Choire, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, ceum na Caillich, The Witches Step

A cracking start to the trip. Arran was already delivering in spades

6 Miles,

6 Miles, 2800 Feet of ascent

 

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8 responses to “Island in the Sun – Part 1

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  1. Lovely. Better weather than we had, but still brings back excellent memories of our week there for Geoff’s 60th last October, celebrated with seven wonderful friends and relatives. 🙂

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    • Fantastic island and we were so lucky to see it in beautiful conditions. Those western hills are just as magnificent as the better known rock ridges as well. Great memories

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  2. Good looking first part to your trip. You take a good photo as well!

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    • Well thank you Mark! 🙂
      It was a truly magnificent day and cracking trip (more posts on their way) but this was the best weather day. Quite easy to take good photos with a subject as good as Arran under a blue sky!

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  3. What a beautiful island with fantastic views! I need to add to my bucket list!

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    • It’s a superb island although seeing under such clear skies is not all that common. Our wild campsites were wet and boggy for a very good reason! 🙂

      It’s rocky ridges are some of the best in the UK

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  4. Stunning photos. What a cracking trip you had. Obviously, I’m not remotely jealous. Oooooh No! Will you be going back next Easter by any chance?

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    beatingthebounds
    • There is a lot more on Arran I haven’t done, including Goat Fell so a return visit is on the cards. The high level site we found on the last night is worth it alone. You would have liked Arran 🙂

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