Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Glen Sannox to Glen Rosa

10th September 2009
Hilary, Lorna, Toosh and I started out at the bottom of Glen Sannox and walked up the Glen towards the Saddle. The first photo shows the morning cloud hanging over Suidhe Fhearghas (Fergus's Seat) as we started the walk, past the old salt mines and with the beautiful Cioch na h'Oighe (with the Devil's Punchbowl) on our left. As we got further up the Glen we could hear the rutting calls of the stags, and saw one quite close to us (encouraged, no doubt, by Toosh's impersonations!)
As we neared the crest of the saddle, we needed our hands, knees and Toosh's help to scramble up the chimney. The view from the top is great, as you can see all the way back down Glen Sannox and also down into Glen Rosa, as well as seeing the tops of all the mountains.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Machrie Moor Stone Circles

23rd June 2009
A glorious day, so Hilary, Mark, Moss and I headed to the other side of the island to visit the standing stones and stone circles at Machrie Moor. Geoff Holder in his book 'Mysterious Arran' quotes Aubrey Burl's guide to stone circles which calls these "the best group of architecturally varied stone circles in Western Europe" . Holder continues that, "in a highly concentrated area you can find seven stone circles, plus several chambered cairns, standing stones and hut circles'.

You walk along a track from the car park between Blackwaterfoot and Machrie, which takes you into beautiful moorland from which you can see Goatfell and the other mountains. After a mile or so of easy walking you come to the stone circles and standing stones. The stone circles vary in size, and some have altar-type stones with them, and there are also single stones scattered around that seem like sentries. Further on you reach the three large standing stones, as well as one large stone on its own. It really is quite eerie, especially as they are next to a derelict farm house, Moss farm.
This is a great walk for people who don't fancy anything too strenuous. Machrie Moor itself is beautiful, with stunning views, and the standing stones are awesome. I have included a photo of Mark and Hilary next to one of the large stones to give an idea of scale.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Glen Sannox

Thursday 11th June
Hilary, Annie & I walked along Glen Sannox, starting out at the car park between Sannox and Sannox Bridge. Not to be confused with North Glen Sannox (see earlier entry), this beautiful Glen takes you up to the other side of the saddle from Glen Rosa (again, subject of an earlier entry). It was great to approach the mountains from the other side, as we got to see the other mountains, Suidhe Fhearghas (Fergus's Seat) and Cioch na h'Oighe (with the Devil's Punchbowl) that are hidden from Lamlash and Brodick side. The path starts by taking you along a burn and past the old salt mines, before opening up into the Glen itself. As you go further up, you start to see North Goatfell and Mullach Buidhe on the left, and the Witch's Step and the Castles on the right. These two peaks are really distinctive, with the Witch's Step featuring three sharp ponts with a large gap (her step) in between the first two, and the Castles having large granite boulders that look like crumbling turrets on the top. But most impressive is straight in front of you: Cir Mhor, the large comb, which Hilary and Annie descibe as a 'perfect mountain'. I hope the photos do justice to the beauty of this Glen and its mountains; well worth a visit, especially as the ascent is not arduous, ideal for those who want to see the mountains without having to climb too high.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Holy Island at last!

31st May 2009:
After several aborted efforts, I finally got to Holy Island with Hilary and Annie, on the most beautiful sunny day. Our house looks out over Holy Island, so it was great to finally get on the little ferry boat and go there to see the island for myself. Holy Island is owned by the Ropka Trust, and is home to Tibetan Buddhist monks who run closed retreats of up to 3 years on the Island. Although visitors are welcome, you cannot go near the retreat building itself. Recently a group came out after a retreat of 4 years! The Buddhists also run short courses at the Centre for World Peace and Health, in subjects such as meditation, Tibetan yoga and vegetarian cooking. See for more info on the project.
As it is in Lamlash bay, the hills on the island, Mullach Beag and Mullach Mor, allow great views back over the water to Lamlash, with views of Goatfell and the mountains behind. As you get higher up, you also start to get views around to Brodick to the North and Whiting Bay and Ailsa Craig to the South. There are two lighthouses on the island, as well as horses, goats, and rare Soay sheep.
We walked over the two hills, then followed the coastal path back round. On the path we passed St Molaise's cave, where the 6th century Christian Saint lived, as well as more modern rock paintings of Lord Buddha and Tibetan Buddhist Saints. We also passed the 'Old Man', a rock formation exactly like a face. As the bracken was too high to see it clearly, the photo attached is courtesy of Toosh, as is the one of the Soay Sheep and lamb.
Holy Island really is a beautiful place to visit, as hopefully the photos show. It is great to now be be able to look across to the water and know that I have been there - and hopefully will be there again before too long!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Dun Fionn, Brodick and the Fairy Glen

Thursday 14th May 2009

Today should have been my long-awaited visit to Holy Island, but once again the weather wasn't favourable for the ferry trip across. Instead, Hilary and I set off around the coast from Lamlash, along Clauchlands to Hamilton Point, a small rocky island which marks the North limit of the no-fish zone in Lamlash bay. Rounding the corner we climbed to the trig point at Dun Fionn, a walk that gives great views back to Holy Island (which looks different from this angle) and also around the coast to Brodick and the mountains behind it.
We then dropped down into Brodick via Corriegills, a very pretty Hamlet which reminded me of a Cornish village. We then walked along the front of Brodick and took the path back along the Fairy Clen to Lamlash.
Our route up Dun Fionn and into Brodick pre-empted the one taken by the competitors in the Scottish Islands Peak race that took place the following weekend. This is an amazing event, with teams of sailors and mountain runners sailing between islands and then running up a mountain before sailing to the next island. The Race starts in Oban with a short hill run, then sails on to Salen on Mull, with a run over Ben More, a sail to Craighouse on Jura, where they run the Paps, a sail to Arran, running Goat Fell, then sail to Troon. See for some great footage of the 2008 race.
We didn't realise that our house would be in prime position to enjoy the race. From about 7pm on the Saturday we started to see the yachts sail into Lamlash Bay, with the competitors being rowed ashore before running past our house off to Goatfell via Dunn Fion. Watching them setting off and coming back was amazing; they arrived throughout the night and on into Sunday afternoon. Those arriving overnight actually ran Goatfell in the dark! To make it worse, it also threw it down with rain for a while! Absolutely mad, but great to watch.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Sheans

Thursday 16th April

A rather cloudy morning broke into sunshine as we set off to climb The Sheans. We crossed traditional scottish moorland and then an area of peat flats, before reaching the trig point at the top. On the descent into Lamlash, we passed a beautiful traditional stone sheep fank (for holding the sheep for dipping or shearing), as well as a Chamber Cairn (shown in the photo). The unexpected sunshine was appreciated by the wildlife as much as us: we saw a lizard enjoying the spring sun, and then managed to creep up on a hare dozing in the warmth.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Seal watching at Kildonan

11th April 2009
A beautiful spring day; took the opportunity to take Moss to one of our favourite beaches at Kildonan; always a good place to spot seals. If you carry on the track past Kildonan's only shop, you reach a series of lovely bays which the seals love. We got close to two large fellows basking on a rock, and were able to watch many more in the sea, all watching us as curiously as we were watching them! Pladda lighthouse made a great background, but Moss was more interested in the sandcastles left behind by the Easter visitors!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Some great Arran views by our guest, Gerard Fitzpatrick

Glen Rosa to the Shoulder

Thursday 2nd April
A beautiful sunny day; Hilary and I walked up the gorgeous Glen Rosa to the saddle. Passing the magnificent A Chir and Cir Mhor (for a future, more strenuous walk!) we reached the saddle and were able to look down the other side into Glen Sannox. We could see a submarine on the surface of the water off the coast near Corrie and Sannox, clearly sailing in a series of circles. The saddle is a great vantage point to see The Castles and the Witches' Step, as well as Mullach Buidhe and North Goatfell. These peaks look daunting, but Hilary assures me we will be up them before too long!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

King's Cave (and guest dog, Holly)

Tuesday 24th March 2009
I was given the excuse to go across the island to the King's cave walk by the arrival of guests including Helen and her dog, Holly. Whilst the guys played golf at the famous Shiskine course, Helen, Moss, Holly and I walked along the beautiful beach at Blackwaterfoot before walking the circular route round to King's Cave. This cave (like many others across Scotland!) is reputed to be the setting of the encounter between Robert The Bruce and the Spider. We didn't encounter the descendents of either of these, but, once again, the geology students made an appearance, leaving rucksacks in all the places most likely to obscure a well-conceived photograph!

North Glen Sannox

21st March 2009
This was a spur of the moment, 'let's get out of bed and go for a picnic', type walk, fairly short as we took Moss with us. We walked alongside the beautiful waterfalls as far as the second deer fence, looking up at Suidhe Fhearghas when the clouds lifted. The arrival of spring was announced by the appearance of a number of geology students, complete with helmets and clipboards. Their rucksacks may have been bigger than mine, but at least mine contained a packet of hobnobs! (and a sausage for Mossie).

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Mullach Buidhe

17th March 2009
Wow! My first walk to the top of a mountain when the weather was clear enough to see anything. What can I say? Spectacular!
On the shoulder between North Goatfell and Mullach Buidhe I saw the spot of the infamous Arran murder of a man named Rose in 1889, for which his fellow-walker Laurie was found guilty. But did he fall or was he pushed? Debate still continues about this on Arran, perhaps because more recent crimes are relatively few! If you want to read more, there is an account of the murder and trial at