Well then, all our plans to go and walk some of the paths out over Rannoch Moor on Tuesday, came to nothing ….the bad weather that has been causing mayhem in most of the UK, finally caught up with us here and although it didn’t sound like it would be anything like as bad as elsewhere, we certainly didn’t fancy setting out on the 90 mile drive north with snow forecast and the roads likely to be bad. Instead then, after a quick rethink, we decided to go across to Arran and do a low level walk there. We’re very lucky here in North Ayrshire in that if ever the road conditions look to bad further north, we can nearly always get the few miles to Ardrossan and catch the ferry over to Arran and its fantastic mountains …some of the finest, south of Glen Coe.
We got up at 04.00 to find a couple of centimetres of snow everywhere …but it seemed to have stopped and once out of the estate where we live the roads here were fine. First a quick detour to Kilwinning train station to pick up Guy at just after 06.00 and then on to Ardrossan and the ferry terminal …where we had a brief surprise …the ferry wasn’t sitting waiting where it normally does! Instead it was in a second space further away. After getting out tickets we were told that we would be boarding by way of the vehicle ramp …not a gangway. Different. Even more different when we emerged from the car decks to find that the layout of the ship seemed to have changed!!! When we wandered into a completely re designed café, finally it dawned on us that this was a different ship! Apparently the normal ferry was in dry dock having some work done. The breakfast though was up to its usual high standards and we were soon on our way.
Guy had been planning on catching the bus to Sannox and then walking up Glen Sannox, then up and out onto the Saddle and down Glen Rosa back to Brodick. When I heard his plans I have to admit that I said a very loud ‘No’. Nita and I had done this a number of years ago on a perfect summer day and although 97% of the route is a straight forward walk, the final section oft the climb up to the Saddle is interesting to say the least, and proved challenging for me even in good summer conditions. The route climbs steeply at the head of Glen Sannox up a very well made path …but it’s a bit misleading. High up this little motorway ends abruptly and the only way to continue is to scrabble up a very steep and eroded gully and then out to gain the final small path onto the top of the Saddle ….the col between North Goat Fell and Cir Mhor. With the prospect of climbing this gully with snow and ice in it …well …No! As Guy said, he can always go back and do that himself sometime. Instead, with forecasts of strong winds higher up, we opted for the gentle route to the Saddle …from Glen Rosa … returning the same way.
Although we’ve done this walk several times over the years it is always very beautiful and this would be the first time we done it on a real winter day. The snow wasn’t right down in the base of the glen at first but we reached it higher up. Near to the head of the glen, the point where you cross the stream and go up easy slopes to the Saddle, we stopped. We’d spent so long stopping and looking, taking photos and generally enjoying the complete peace and quiet that we were running a little behind time and decided it was far enough.
The mountains look wonderful in the snow, their upper slopes disappearing into the clouds. I snapped away with the camera and more importantly spend long minutes just stood looking and trying to fix in my mind the subtle colours and tones created under these wild and wintry conditions …I’m looking forward to trying to create some paintings or drawings based on what I saw. My two guides, Nita and Guy had a good day spotting wild life too. There were plenty of deer to see and Nita spotted a couple of Golden Eagles …confirmed by a very interesting local gentleman who we met …and who spent quite a bit of time trying to point them out to me. Alas, I never did get to see one of them this time …but with all the excitement of the others …I feel like I did. I’m not sure who the chap was, but he spoke with so much enthusiasm and passion for the glen. He was pointing out the colours and telling us about how they change over the year ….he was a man after my own heart …he might have been a painter too. Hopefully we’ll meet up again another time when we’re wandering the hills or glens on Arran …and I can remember to give him one of my business cards!