Island in the Sun – Part 2   15 comments

Morning had broken. Another day on the Isle of Arran, another day in the sunshine.

 

Another day on the ridges was in order but not until breakfast in the morning sun by a mountain stream under a blue sky. Life was pretty fine

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

We headed across the grassy slopes towards Cir Mhor. What we’d started to notice were the obvious pathways in the grass for the small voles and mice. The whole ground was a maze of them. Then we began to see glimpses of them scuttling through the grass. I’ve only ever seen the most fleeting of glimpses in the past but here they were everywhere. I’m not sure if it was the warm weather drawing them out but they came to be a feature of the weekend and I saw them pretty much everywhere we walked

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

As with the previous days the weather was glorious and the views especially across to the western hills were magnificent

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

In what seemed to be no time at all we were at the col between Caisteal Abhail and Cir Mhor. Both mountains looked dramatic beyond their height

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

The wonderful clean rock of the north face of Cir Mhor is eye-grabbing and we stopped many times on the ascent to take it in

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Despite it’s dramatic appearance from most directions it’s an easy climb with a good path all the way to the top

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

The summit is satisfyingly small though, giving an almost Alpine flavour and considering it’s popularity was relatively quiet. I was enjoying myself but GM as always had ants in his y-fronts and hassled me to get moving

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Next on the list was A Chir, Arrans hardest summit. It looks fairly benign from this view but looks can be deceiving

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

On left of this photo by the way is the famous Rosa Pinnacle on Cir Mhor which GM has climbed in his more adventurous youth

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

After some excellent easy scrambling we came to this point where the ridge vanished into a deep  cleft. One look was enough to tell me I was out of my league as well as the exposed looking ridge beyond it. You can see a couple of guys descending it if  you look closely. I turned around and left GM, much the better mountaineer than me to it and headed for the easy path that traverses around. Within minutes GM had caught me up a he didn’t fancy it either. (when we got back home we Googled A Chir and discovered that the point where we turned back was a famous bad step or mauvais pas and that most people take rope for this section. Whoops.

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

We traversed around and after a stop for lunch tried the summit from the other side. Much easier but still pretty exposed so again I left GM to it and enjoyed ambling about on the lower part of the ridge. This in itself was great fun, with some sheer cliffs, clean rock and a spectacular gash through which the rest of the ridge to Beinn Tarsuin and Beinn Nuis was visible. I wish I’d given the summit a better go bit a combination of being spooked by the other half of the ridge, concern that I’d have to reverse whatever I’d climbed up and just general middle aged wimpiness led to my discretion

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Here’s GM posing on the summit ridge

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

The climb up Beinn Tarsuinn is a stiff one and in the warm sun I found it punishing and hard work. The sky had turned a little hazy but the walking was still magnificent and the views from the summit breathtaking

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

We had planned on traversing out to Beinn Nuis but we thought an extended late afternoon by the tent and tea in the sunshine was a much better idea. We plunged down the NE ridge which was an inspired choice being a easy angled grassy spring of a descent

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

We decided to traverse around the hillside back to the tent. Looked easy on the map. In reality after a long stretch of deep grass with a dried crust that made it like a walk through spring snow we hit a steep slope of trackless deep heather and boulders. Schoolboy error. There was even a rather nasty deep ravine to get over. Indiana Jones should be my nickname (I have been called Indy by some wags at work in the past). The ravine did have the advantage of a cool clear mountain stream to grab a well deserved drink from so not all bad but not as good as the extra 100 foot of ascent that would have avoided all this pain altogether.

After the aforementioned tea in the sun, very nice it was too, GM retired for the night and I went for a walk along the path towards Glen Catacol

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

One of the pleasures of backpacking in good weather is a to take a late evening post prandial stroll. You feel you not only have the local area but the whole world to yourself

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Alone with my own thoughts it’s true de-stress in every sense of the word. No pack to weigh you down and no particular goal in mind, you just walk. You enjoy the views, you think, and just absorb

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Back at the tent I had another fun evening playing night shots. My best efforts so far

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

a chir, Caisteal Abhail, ceum na Caillich, Cir Mhor, Goat Fell, Loch na Davie, the Witches Step, beinn Tarsuinn, Beinn Nuis

Yet another cracking day.

6.2 Miles, 2,600 feet of ascent

6.2 Miles, 2,600 feet of ascent

Despite the meagre miles walked and ascent I felt weary when I turned in but relaxed like no other activity can. More of the same please

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15 responses to “Island in the Sun – Part 2

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  1. Could all inspire me into another Arran trip, this could! No shame in the odd, middle-aged, wimpy moment mind. I certainly have my own, in-built, ridgy, exposure limits – they probably come into play long before yours, too!

    Had to look up the word ‘prandial’ though………

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    • It’s a great island isn’t it – helped of course by blue skies. Much better for backpacking than I’d thought especially on this western side.
      When I was younger I had pretty much no fear on rock. My mates reckoned I had a technique all my own called “leap and prey” which probably wasn’t all that sensible. I’m just more circumspect these days.

      Post Prandial is a phrase one of my friends came up with – I like it’s alliterative qualities (I went to University you know!) 🙂

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  2. Another outstanding set of photos, superb conditions. It reminds me that a return visit to do the western summits is overdue, we were enthralled by Arran on our two backpacks there. Your pitch near Loch na Davie was not far from one of ours, a splendid region. It’s certainly true that good pitches are hard to find around there, the ground is either boulders, tussocks, heather, bog or a combination of them.
    It must be a good year for rodents: on Baugh Fell in England in early May we noticed many of those little grassy tunnels and saw several mice/voles running about.

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    • Hi Geoff – good to see you back. Are you getting out again and posting on your blog?
      It was your posts that inspired the idea to approach from the North and West. It really is an island of magnificent contrasts between the grassy, heather clad hills to the West and the famous rock ridges in the East. It deserves much more than a long weekend.
      We managed to find a superb pitch for the last night, more of that in the next post, would have been a grand base for the weekend had we known. Cir Mhor is quite an obstacle to traverse from the Western ridges to the Eastern ones and Goat Fell

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  3. Yes we’re out and about again. I just reconstructed the blog section from scratch and posted our first few report notifications. I’m not entirely sure how feeds work, but some news readers just might require the blog feed link to be removed and added again, even though the address is the same.

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  4. Great shots. I love the shooting star!

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    • I think it’s an aircraft vapor trail actually. The shot was taken on a very long exposure (over a minute) in complete darkness so I had no idea what was actually in the shot. Quite pleased with the way it came out 🙂

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  5. Another set of photos straight from the top draw. Some of this looks waaaay too ‘exciting’ for me. (OK lots of it.)

    Like

    beatingthebounds

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