A working walk

Arran: Scottish Mountain: Cir Mhor

Cir Mhor from Glen Rosa

Well, as I said in a brief comment on Face book earlier this week, I finally got a day, if not on the hill, then certainly in amongst them. We’ve been having a lot of fine cold clear days recently and last Friday we decided to take a trip over to the Isle of Arran.

From Irvine, Arran is just a few miles away across the Firth of Clyde. Indeed, even with my poor bit of sight, with the aid of a monocular I can see the mountains at the north end of the island from my studio door. To actually get there, takes a short trip up the coast to Ardrossan where the ferry to Brodick goes from. Until a couple of years ago, it wasn’t really possible to do a serious walk on Arran in a day trip during the winter months. The winter ferry service was somewhat restricted and for me at least, there wasn’t enough time between first and last ferry. Now though, there is an early ferry leaving at 7.00am and, and a later ferry back from Brodick.

Arran: Scottish Mountains: Glen Rosa

Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran

So then, with the temperature at -4C and the first light just appearing, we went on board and went straight to the café ..you can get an excellent breakfast on board and it sets you up nicely for the day ahead. It takes about 55 minutes to get across to Brodick and by the time we walked down the gangway the sun was lighting up the tops of Goatfell and it’s neighbours …all of which were covered with snow. It looked stunning. We hadn’t at this stage decided quite what we were going to do and had carried all our winter gear incase we decided to head uphill. The scenary and colours were so good that we decided to make this a working walk and to simply take a wander the few miles up Glen Rosa in the heart of the Arran hills. With the wonderful mixture of snow, crags, grass and bracken, there would be plenty of scope for photographs and sketching.

The walk along the front and around the edge of the golf course at Brodick is scenic enough in these conditions but as we approached Glen Rosa it was just spectacular. On the north facing slopes the snow was all the way down to the base of the glen, on the southern slopes the lower levels were free of snow and the grass and bracken was a mixture of bright ochres, yellows and terracotta in the low early morning sun light.

Arran: Scottish Mountains: Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran

Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran

After about a mile the glen takes a sharp dogleg to the right and you can see all the way up the glen to Cir Mhor – a wonderful pointy peak at the head of the glen that incidentally, is as pointy at the tip as it looks …but that’s another tale. At this point we were out of the shade and into bright sun and so it seemed a good point to do some sketching and just enjoy our surroundings. Then disaster ….I thought I’d packed my sketchbook and drawing pen …well, I’d got the sketchbook, but the pen I’d picked up was not a drawing pen ..it was a thicker indelible marker pen! Oooops. That’s the joy of fuzzy sight for you! Oh well, nothing for it, I’d just have to draw with this …but it wasn’t very successful and although that day I did three drawings – all of them were dreadful. What do they say about bad workmen always blaming their tools?

Despite this, it was a great day and a very useful one for me. I came away with several new ideas for paintings and although the drawings weren’t great, just sitting and looking at the hills and glen with my monocular really helps when it comes to painting later.

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One Response to “A working walk”

  1. […] on two long thin 76 x 23 cm paintings that will be for the Blairmore Gallery show in the summer. One of these is based on our day over on Arran the other month and is worked in diagonal bands of co… This painting is almost complete and indeed I have it hanging in an old temporary frame in the […]

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