Friday, July 24, 2015

Hiking in the Isle of Arran

I usually set out for linear walks and, in order to find accommodation at suitable leg distances, I avoid high season.
Unfortunately this year I couldn't plan for a spring or early summer trip and I only had a free week in July at the last moment.
So, beside camping every night (too bad for my age and Britain climate), a solution would be to walk in an area where public transport be available all day long.
The Isle of Arran offers 3 buses lines covering most part of the island from early morning to late night. Fantastic.
Moreover a few years ago I had planned to hike in Arran but, unfortunately, I was obliged to cancel my trip because a sudden illness.
I was lucky to found a cheap weekly accommodation overlooking Whiting Bay in the south-east coast of the island.
Arran is considered to be "Scotland in miniature": she features sea coasts, rivers, forests, moorlands and mountains. So I decided to dedicate my five days of walking to the different terrains there available.

DAY ONE (July 16th)

A tough walk along the pathless south-east coast from Whiting Bay to the hotel near Kildoan.
Probably only 8 km but strenuous because very rough bouldery or pebbly terrain and Dipping Head to be negotiated at low tide.
Gorgeous rocks, seen a seal and many sea birds, a short refreshing swim in the cold sea.


DAY TWO (July17th)

An other tough and wet hike through forests and moorland from Whiting Bay to Lamlash.
Firstly on roads and forest track to the Glenashdale Falls; then through pathless moorland (Cnoc Mòr) and forest (compass mandatory); finally forest track and road.
Very demanding in the pathless section of forest because each step must be checked due to high layer of dead branches covered with moss.


DAY THREE (July 18th)

A walk along the north-east coast from North Sannox to Lochranza.
Mainly pebbly and rocky vague tracks.
Gorgeous scenery and panorama of Kintire Peninsula, Firth of Clyde and Isle of Bute.
Unfortunately second part walked in a hurry to catch the last bus.


DAY FOUR (July 19th)

A tough climb from Sannox to the brow of Cioch na h-Oighe and back (7 km).
My intention was to get to the top and then through the ridge gain Goat Fell from where to descend to Corrie on the coast.
But, already exhausted by wet and rough partly pathless bracken and heather terrain, when I arrived to the steepest part of the mountain I couldn't find any passage to the top I could be able to climb, considering my fitness and mountaineering skill (very poor).
So, a bit disappointed, I retraced my steps to the starting point.


DAY FIFTH (July 20th)

A walk along the west coast from Blackwaterfoot to Machrie Bay with a detour inland to visit a stone circles site.
Beautiful coast and megalithic monuments but partly spoiled by heavy rain all the day long.



I enjoyed very much hiking in Arran but without the charm of the linearity of a real long distance walking.
The terrain and the weather was very demanding. I must confess that I am beginning to be a little tired of the British rain and bogs.  I am thinking about a long distance walk in a more mild area: Rota Vicentina in southern Portugal?



As I was staying at the same place all the week I didn't have to carry all my normal gear so I had the advantage to walk extremely light: water, food, cutlery, poncho, fleece and jacket. A feather.

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