Sat 28th Aug - Sun 29th Aug, 1999
BH Arran, prob hut/bunkhouse
Members present: Iain MacCallum, Chris Thickett, Pete Walker, Keith Williams.
The above four travelled north together on the Friday, arriving on Arran on the mid-afternoon ferry. Midges not bad.
Sat. Excellent crisp sunny morning as per forecast so clearly a day to get onto the tops while they could be seen. The initial plan was to head for the col between A' Chir and Cir Mhor. Once on the way, however, it was soon decided to include Cir Mhor whose summit was reached after a steady walk to the top of Glen Rosa on an excellent path with wafts of scents from all the flowers like nowhere else I've been to for years. Superp views like only the Highlands can serve up were on hand from the spare bouldery top but still a small posse of midges were in for the kill.
The bad step on A'Chir was outflanked to the west while the rest of the ridge proved very entertaining with lots of bouldery problems - real ones, quite different from the indoor variety. Once again, the route was extended - this time by taking the Beinn Tarsuinn option rather than Beinn a' Cliabhain. Finally, we descended across the mouth of Coire a' Bhradain via the only wet stretch of the day before dropping steeply down into Glen Rosa and back to the campsite: eight hours of superb mountaineering in glorious conditions.
Sun. Something of a change in the weather as per forecast. Midges tiresome but quickly up and away to the Goatfell-Cioch ridge. This started by wading/jumping Glen Rosa Water then up the edge of the forest to join the main path up from Brodick Castle. By this time the rain had started and it was clear that we were in for a less than delectable ascent. The rain became heavier and gradually the wind rose so that soon the qualities of Goretex were being comprehensively tested. However, on the final half mile to the summit, the mist broke up and fleeting glimpses of mountain and sea tore in and out of view. The wind by this time was gusting severe gail force and an executive decision was taken by the meet leader to enjoy the Cioch on another day. The descent to Glen Sannox was damp, but towards the end the sun started to re-assert itself and a welcome cup of tea was taken on the grass while waiting for the bus to take us back to Brodick.
Mon. No forecast for today, but thick cloud and steady rain came as no surprise to test our resolve to walk the Beinn Bhreac circuit east of Glen Iorsa. With cloud base at about 200m it was obviously the time to introduce Mr. Walker - who had not visited the island before - to some of its lower points of interest. Thus the fleshpots of Brodick and Lamlash were quickly dispatched then over the Ross to the west coast where an enticing youg lady lured us to take morning coffee in the Kil-something hotel at Blackwaterfoot. Not to be diverted by saunas, gyms or sun beds we returned to our circumnavigation only to find that although the rain had moderated, cloud base remained determinedly depressed. There was nothing for it but to stoke up over lunch at the Catacol Inn while further improvements developed.
By 2.00pm the proposal was agreed to circuit the Cock of Arran so after admiring the 7/8 point stags which were grazing the golf course at Lochranza - it was far too bad for them to be up on the hill - we crossed over the ridge to Laggan an proceded back along the shore path around the northernmost point of the island. This is now a popular bad-weather trail but it looses none of its interest for all that with repeated reminders of Scotland's turbulent past on both geologic and human timescales.
A quiet, wet Tuesday morning saw the midges at their worst and as the gas ran out half way through making the morning brew, we needed no further incentive to get the tent down as quickly as possible and hie us awa' to Brodick where breakfast could be completed in the civilised confines of Stalker's Café. The mid-morning boat had us back on the mainland by noon and it remained only to drive in steadily improving conditions back to Lancashire.
A frequently wet but compact - is that the euphemism? - and entirely pleasurable meet for a' that.
Recent reports from last year's Arran meet have focussed on the state of the bunkhouse at Corrie which was used as the venue. These suggested that it was less than salubrious, if not downright scummy. Notwithstanding that, I tentatively made enquiries of the owners - posing as a member of the Rucksack Club - and was assured that it was in splendid condition. Such rumours were obviously being spread by that other bunch of thieving climbers from Manchester who didn't even pay for the privilege of using this excellently appointed hostelry. I agreed heartily with the lady from Arran Estates noting that they wouldn't get much of a welcome.
So there it is, the choice is - camping:-
On a blasted heath ("award pending", presumably for the toilet block/cold water facilities) at Glen Rosa - £4 per tent pn.
Behind the beach at Lochranza - more facilities, caravans, etc. so £8 per tent pn but special rates for groups possible.
In the wild up the side of the burn at North Glen Sannox used to be a good place for free but have no recent info on this.
Hotels, guest houses, etc.: contact me for further details.
I suggest that the Glen Rosa campsite should be the base since it represents the best compromise re price/facilities, is handy for at least some of the hills and is only 2 miles from the ferry for foot passengers.
The hills need no sales pitch. This is simply a magnificent pocket of the Highlands offering outings for all except of the overhanging limestone variety - there's even a nudist beach if that's what you need.
The main ferry is operated by Cal Mac between Ardrossan and Brodick, takes an hour and departs. Ardrossan at 9.45, 1230, 1515, 1800 every day with some variations. Single journeys for cars up to 4m - £23-15; up to 4.5m - £33-00 etc. + £4-10 for driver/passengers. A cheaper 5 day return is possible. Full details from CalMac on 01475 650100 or www.calmac.co.uk
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