Arran Coastal Path, Scotland; April 2017

On a brighter morning than the forecast suggested we sailed to Brodick, the small port on the East of Arran. The ferry was absolutely packed and it seemed there was a memo for all and sundry to spill forth onto the little island, the so called Scotland in miniature.

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The plan was to walk the Arran Coastal Path incorporating Goat Fell and ending up back where we started in a couple of nights time.

Soon we were on the lower slopes of Goat Fell which were splendidly wooded and starting to wake up from the winter slumber. Gradually the woods gave way to rough moorland and the steep upper slopes of the hill which is studded with huge boulders to pick around. It’s a pretty steep climb and one which you could definitely tell you were carrying three days worth of gear. However, the summit was gained and the route north and back onto the true Coastal Path was found. The route wound it’s way round the coast and by beaches finding our way eventually to Lochranza and a night’s rest.

Lochranza Hotel was understaffed, a fact the landlord was eager to bitterly impart to anyone near him in the bar, and over subscribed. There was quite a queue to the bar, which I’ve never seen outside of a busy nightclub before, where would be patrons shuffled up to the baleful gaze of the owner who took your order and, seemingly, died a death for every customer he served. We had to make do with a shelf to eat our food on and quite a wait for it, but it came and it was hot so who cares?

The next morning started with brighter skies and tricky path through some wooded hills before taking to the verge of a road for a while and continued in this fashion for quite a few miles although always with great views and a few fantastic graveyards.

The wind gradually picked up through the course of the day and the sea was running with white horses.  The path became harder going as it took in shingle beaches and muddy fields. It became clear we wouldn’t get to our intended destination and so we stopped for the night around Kilmory and a much more relaxing meal in the Lagg Hotel than it’s Lochranza counterpart.

We found a field near the beach to wild camp and I slept for hours as the day had obviously taken it out of me.

The next morning had leaden skies and was the most challenging of the walk due to the weather and the route which went over a mile of huge rocks which tempests had carved out of the sheer cliffs over aeons. It was hard work to get by them needing to be ever vigilant to the risk of slipping on rocks which were slick with erosion, kelp, rain or all three! It wouldn’t work out well for you if you got a foot caught in one of cracks between rocks or if you miss timed your walk and ended up pinioned against the cliffs by an indifferent sea.

The final section of the walk took us through large plantations and to the spectacular Glenashdale Falls set deep in the woods. If you are in the area it’s a short walk up from Whiting Bay and in lovely surroundings and must be truly breathtaking when the river is in spate. It was then a straightforward route back to Brodick and another long distance path complete.

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