A short walk on the Isle of Arran

Holy Isle and Lamlash Bay

Holy Isle and Lamlash Bay

This time last week I’d just got back from a trip to the Isle of Arran with my partner Anita and good friend Norma. I can’t quite believe a week has gone by so quickly and this blog is now a day late! Norma had travelled over from Angus on Friday evening with the aim of getting out for a walk, catching up on news and grabbing a beer or two. We first met ten years ago (and hasn’t that time flown) when both Norma and I were on the Mountain skills course for visually impaired, at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore. Ever since we’ve kept in contact and most years get to meet up once or twice, either over here in the west of Scotland or in Angus where Norma lives. Over this time we’ve done a good few walks including Goat Fell, Ben Lomond, and Meall a’Bhuiridh in the west and Mayer, Driesh and Mount Keen in the east ….and yes, we’ve sampled a few different east and west coast brews too!

Goat Fell ....clear

Goat Fell ....clear

Last Saturday we were a little undecided quite where to go for our walk. The forecast was for very low cloud …200 – 300m so there didn’t seem much point in gaining too much height. On top of this was the fact that Norma was still a little uncertain about one of her knees that she’d hurt back in February on a cross country skiing holiday over in the United States. She didn’t want to take on anything too gruelling for this reason and so all in all a low level walk somewhere seemed about right ….now all we had to do was decide on the somewhere!

A good few years ago now, (the year of the foot and mouth disease in fact) Nita and had had to cancel our usual spring walking holiday and instead took a two week long break over on the Isle of Arran in late October. It was a particularly bad couple of week’s weather wise and as such we kept fairly low much of the time. One of the walks we did was a very pleasant little walk south along the coast from Brodick to a point over looking Lamlash Bay and Holy Isle and then inland a mile or so and up and over the wee Clauchland Hills before returning to Brodick. This, or a variation on the theme, seemed an ideal choice as it meant a civilized start (catching the quarter to ten ferry over instead of the seven o’clock sailing and we didn’t have to fight our way onto the crowded buses ….we could walk straight off of the ferry.

Catching the later ferry on a Saturday in August does have one drawback though …it’s very busy and by the time we were aboard nearly every seat was taken and the storage area for rucksacks and bags was over flowing. In good weather this isn’t a problem as you can go and sit outside, but last Saturday morning it was grey and cool and everyone seemed to be jammed inside. After a bit of searching we did find one empty little corner in which to stick our sacks and we eventually got some coffee and cake. I was going to say that this was the busiest I’ve ever seen this ferry but then remembered we actually failed to get on once on a very busy summers day!

Our walk last Saturday proved a good one. As it wasn’t going to be a long day we just wandered along in no great rush, enjoying the views out over the sea and indeed enjoying the sun that was starting to appear. The cloud though was well down on the Arran hills and you’d never have known Goat Fell existed as we looked back across Brodick Bay. We had our lunch atop a prominent little headland in what was fast becoming bright sunshine with wonderful views over to Holy Isle accompanied by the occasional cries of either a Buzzard or an Eagle …we couldn’t decide …or agree!

August on the Isle of Arran

August on the Isle of Arran

After lunch we wandered on …uphill now and over the undulating heathery little lumps of the Clauchlad Hills to reach the high point at around 260m. If the cloud had lifted from the bigger hills at this point we would have had exceptional views I think …but still there was many bright patches of sun and the colours around us were lovely ….especially the heather which was well in flower. We returned slowly the same route and as we descended the wee road back into Brodick the cloud did finally clear and Goat Fell and the other big hills all came into view …it looked stunning. The ferry back to Ardrossan wasn’t as bad as the morning crossing and we even got a seat in the bar …and so enjoyed a fabulous bottle of Arran Blonde beer on our way back. The Arran Brewery really do produce some very fine ale and if you haven’t tried it …then keep a look out in your local super markets …many stock bottles. I prefer their Arran Blonde beer but they brew several different ones …all that are very fine.

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