An Arran adventure3rd September 2006
Last Easter, after a plan to explore Northumberland and the Scottish Borders hadn't come to fruition, I came up with another idea: Scotland's Isle of Arran. After all, I fashioned a plan about this time last year to head there on a Friday afternoon and stay until the following Sunday but it has stayed on the shelf since then. In fact, the whole idea of exploring Arran was planted in my head in the first place by friends cycling all around it. After seeing the ups and downs of its roads, I now realise that to be a considerable undertaking.
On Arrival in Arran on Easter Sunday morning, I dropped off some of my things at my accommodation before starting to make tracks towards Goatfell. At that stage, I couldn't have known that I was going all of the way to the top with low cloud shrouding it from time to time. Even I went just part of the way, I wouldn't have been disappointed. The weather that I found on Arran was a marked contrast to the glorious sunshine that blessed Ardrossan. Along with the clag, showery rain was about too though it was dry for most of my walk.
Though I doubted my hill fitness and head for heights, I did make it to the blustery windswept summit of Goatfell. It was clear of cloud at the time too though I did meet a hail shower as I got near the top. That was while I was scaring myself witless clambering over rocks and boulders after losing the path before a helpful fellow walker set me right. Any shame at losing the path in the first place was displaced by seeing it snow-covered on the way to the summit. Though there is a viewpoint up there, it was no day for lingering so I steeled myself for the descent because Goatfell is a steep-sided thing and there was that snow in the way too. Nevertheless, no harm came to me with the only disturbance to the peace being a hefty rain shower that I encountered on my return to tarmac after progress along a well engineered track. That rain was to stay a little longer than desired as I passed Brodick Castle and scurried along the shoreline towards my bed for the night.
Next morning, glorious sunshine drew me out for a photography session on Brodick's beach before breakfast, with Goatfell and its fellow hills acting as beguiling subjects. Tired legs and another heavy rain shower convinced that a bus trip around the island before my departure was a good idea. Ironically, the south of the island was basking in glorious sunshine; this is where most visitors go, apparently. It was the mountains that were inducing the showers and the north-south split of the weather was more than apparently. From Arran's west coast, showers could be seen perambulating along the Mull of Kintyre and I wonder if some were crossing to Arran; they aren't far apart.
After my circumnavigation, the time came to return home after what was admittedly a flying visit. Still, it gave me a feel for the island and sows the seeds for a return. Between the mountains and the west coast, there should be enough to keep me busy on a longer stay. Let's see what happens.
Overnight travel by National Express coach between Manchester and Glasgow after rail connection from Macclesfield. Stagecoach Express service from Glasgow as far as Kilwinning followed by a ride on another Stagecoach bus to Ardrossan. Return ferry trip between Ardrossan and Brodick; it was very busy on the way back. Travel by train took me from Ardrossan to Glasgow from where a rail replacement coach conveyed me to Carlisle. After that, it was a pure railway journey to Macclesfield with changes at Preston and Manchester.