25th to 28th August 2023 - Lochranza YH, Arran (Late August bank hol)
Scotland in miniature they call it, and Arran provided. Our arrivals on Arran were staggered over the course of a few days, with a lively bunch of 16 at peak time staying at the Lochranza Youth Hostel.
The prize for best transport effort goes to Kai and Bethany for trying to cycle to the meet (scuppered by a broken spoke and written-off wheel) and to their rescuers who gaily squoze an extra two into their already full car for the journey from Brodick. The wildlife spotting prize goes to Mike and Karen who saw mink on the south coast before heading up to Lochranza.
Classic climbs were ticked off by Keith, Nicola, Doug and his sister Emma all climbing the Sou’wester slabs over the weekend. Doug and (sister) Emma managed to spend a few hours in absolute downpour during their day out on Friday, so Keith and Nic chose the better day for it on Saturday.
The large party (Me, Martha, Kai, Bethany, Mike, Karen, Brendan, Shireen, Emma Y, David T) on Saturday went for a scramble and walk around the stunning Glen Sannox. Shireen started a shorts trend which led to a proliferation of bloody knees throughout the day as we hugged the sharp granite on our scrambles. A sub-group of us added Goatfell to the round and found the scramble between North Goatfell and Goatfell quite lovely!
David turned down the glen at The Saddle and the rest of the group reunited on our way up Cir Mhor only to nearly lose some members to shock when Doug and (sister) Emma jumped out from behind a rock on Caisteal Abhail having reached the top of their climb just minutes before. We scrambled our way to the Witches’ step as a large group in the mist, leaving Doug, (sister) Emma, and Kai to wriggle their way up it in the wet, while the rest of us took the adventurous (grade 2!?) bypass option.
Back down in the sunny glen Martha persuaded me to join her in a refreshing dip in the Sannox. The perfect ending to a lovely day.
Meanwhile, Kate had gone up North Glen Sannox over Carn Mor to Caisteal Abhail and back the same route, sadly not coinciding with the rest of the gang. Persevering though his stonking cold, Allan accompanied her up and down North Glen Sannox.
On Sunday, the large party headed for Brodick by which ever means they liked. David T, Keith, Shireen, Kate, Kai, Bethany and Brendan went up Beinn Tarsuinn from the campsite in Glen Rosa going over the three bens. Allan and Emma went up Glen Rosa and back to a cafe in Brodick before rejoining the others. Karen and Mike, meanwhile left from Lochranza and went over two of the Corbetts, arriving in time for a lift back to the youth hostel.
Meanwhile, Martha, Nicola and I had a gentle jog outing up Mullach Buidhe from the bottom of Glen Catacol, over the ridge and back down the glen It was cloudy and windy on the top, but the route included a lovely rocky descent (no running possible) and an incredible dip in the river at the base of a waterfall. What a spot.
Back in Lochranza, the running trio headed to the beach for a snorkel as part of the Lochranza snorkel trail, as did David T, once he got back a bit later. Four snorkelling members must be a first on an EMC meet!
By Monday, the broken wheel was replaced, so it was time for a cycle for Bethany and Kai, and separately Keith, who left from Lochranza rather than Brodick. Kate and Allan dropped the cyclists in Brodick and headed for the beach and woods behind the castle. David T headed up the Mullach Buidhe (sadly no views this day either!). Meanwhile, another team (Karen, Mike & Brendan) headed round the Cock of Arran to find more dinosaur footprints. The running trio toured the standing stones near Machrie, opting for a dubious "island hopping" route though a very scratchy bog which filled us with blackberries but destroyed any skin not already taken by the granite. We took in the caves of the west and south coasts, visiting many seals and a further “dinosaur” footprint, and, of course, dipped in the sea, en route.
For us there was just enough time for an ice cream at the parlour before the ferry home on Monday.
Arran has it all, and with all the walking, scrambling, climbing, running, swimming (dunking), snorkelling and cycling, I’d like to think we made the most of it!