Its been a while- Loch Lubnaig

At the end of December I had decided to get the walking boots back on and I have done a couple of walks since then. At the end of December a friend and I took the car to Strathyre to walk down the length of Loch Lubnaig and back. It was a very cold day but utterly stunning. At one point my water froze in my water pipe and we were both very glad of a hot cuppa on reaching the cafe. Unfortunately my camera skills did not do justice to the ice formations.

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Arran Hoilday- The Highlights

Well, after my adventures doing the Arran Costal Way I had a full weeks holiday to enjoy on Arran with Kit and Paul. As some of you know, Kit Paul and I are working our way through the Scottish islands at least one a year. This year it was to be Arran with a possible addition of the Holy Isle. BTW, the Holy Isle did not happen.

So the holiday started with getting settled into the cottage, going to Lamlash to collect my things an inviting a near stranger to share dinner with us on the Friday night. With the usual insanity I had done a spreadsheet before going that had the outline plans for the weeks activities, the packing lists and the meal plan, so we were quite well organised.

On one of the days we took Scott’s advice and headed up the Catacol burn to the Catacol pools and had a lovely morning there with an early picnic. I had a good bit of paddling and we had a small fire as we enjoyed the views.

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Another day we went back up to the Glenashdale falls to do one of the many geocaches that we did over the weekend.

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As I had hoped Kit did do a pretty picture making the water do the blended look.

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We had two sessions at the crazy golf course (Paul disputed that it could be counted as such as it lacks a windmill) The first session was inbetween heavy rain showers (and during one) so the course was made more of a challenge by the lying water. However all these photos were taken on the second day with much better weather.

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Kit’s victory pose having achieved a hole in one.

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Paul going for a tricky three hole hole.

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After a visit to some standing stones on the west of Arran.

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This heron was stalked by us to get a good photo after going around the coast from Lochranza. I had wanted to give a little token to the path builders and Kit and Paul did some caching while I did so. We got a few nice photos.

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I had wanted a good photo of a yellow flag iris as I really like them and we had a perfect opportunity that day.

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Out caching again on our way down from Lagg to a lovely beach. We had a good walk along the sand before the rain turned us back again. Unfortunately like many times in the holiday there was just not quite enough wind to get the kite up.

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On the way home Kit got a good photo of a man feeding chips to the sea gulls that followed the boat.

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There were lots of other good things we did not get photos of. In Lochranza we had a lovely meal at the Stags Pavilion- I could not recommend it highly enough. We had a tour at the brewery, followed of course by a very good tour at the distillery. I loved the landscaping inside the distillery and the tales of eagles. We  are pretty certain we saw eagles twice when in the north of the island which was amazing.

We did get the kite out and inspired a fashion of others doing likewise.  We enjoyed some lovely days down the west coast and saw many little corners of the island in the pursuit of small boxes. We had some very silly drives in the car with Kit taking Mist places no Honda Jazz has probably ever gone before.

A surprising highlight was the tour of Arran Aromatics. They do factory tours on Thursday nights during the summer and we went along. The tour turned out to be very detailed and done by the site engineer, he was really superb and so enthusiastic about the machines, processes and the prospects of the company.

One obvious omission from the highlights is my walk up Goat Fell, it was a highlight, but I believe that it may deserve a post of it’s own, so it is getting one.

 

Arran Costal Path Day 3 Kildonan to Brodick

Well, onto the last day. I started with a road section and was unbelievably revealed to find that the road took a more gentle incline out of Kildonan than I had arrived by the night before.  I did not like that it was more road walking, but it was nice to see Kildonan castle ruins.

This was one of my attempts to catch the spray coming over the rocks at Whitling Bay where I stopped for some food and a bit of a rest. The path was about to go up to the Glenashdale falls and I wanted to be ready for it.

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The path was not too bad, and the views were excellent. It was lovely to be through the trees and I saw the most amazing letter box that we took photos of later in the week.

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At the falls themselves I played with the camera for a bit trying to take one of the pretty shots where all the water melts into its self. Kit did it much better when we were there for a walk together, so I will show you his photo later.

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After the falls the path winded through the woods and joined onto a cycle path. The path was good and I made quite good progress. The last sentence of the page I was on of the guidebook suggested cutting through the woods to a picnic bench with the most amazing views. The only slight issue with this was that the path that I thought I was meant to take was really a dirt track for bikes. I had been fooled by the track makers using the same yellow spray paint that the Arran Costal path used on the rougher areas. By the time I realised that I was a bit far into the woods and I had no way to tell what way would get me back to the main cycle track. Apart from a few times where I got a little worried it all worked in and I met a path I found on the map to take me back to the track I was supposed to be on.

I got into Lamlash a little later than I had hoped, but decided to make a last dash to get to Brodick in time to meet Kit and Paul off the ferry. As it was going to be tight anyway I decided to abandon most of my stuff at a hotel to be as light as I could for my walk.

The walk was pretty and I did manage to enjoy much of it despite my hurry to get to the ferry terminal on time.

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The book suggested that there were two options to finish the walk. One along the coast and the other that used the roads. The coastal path was not an option. There were signs up to say that due to path issues to take the road. So my day ended with a road section and it was a surprisingly quick section as I ended up running to get to the ferry on time.

I only missed it by 5 min so I passed Kit and Paul on the road and they turned around and came back to get me. Walk all done and dusted in 2.5 days. We then made our way to the holiday cottage and celebrated being on holiday.

 

 

Arran Costal Way Day 2 Afternoon and Evening Lagg to Kildonan

By this point I was certain I could get to Kildonan for the night which is pretty amazing as I felt that it was a big ask before I was an evening short of time. The reason that I wanted to get to Kildonan was that the campsite there would allow for me to wash and rest in a little more comfort.

Shortly after leaving the hotel I also left the road, the path headed for the coast. Looking out over the water there was a woman looking like she was doing the mobile phone hunt of signal game. So I thought I would play the same game not having called in for a while.  The two of us ended up having a great chat, mainly me taking the mick out of myself.

Then I landed on one of the beaches of Arran. It is a very long beach and was lovely to walk along. I knew I would not be on it for a very long time as the first tidal boulder field was coming up and I felt that with aching feet, a heavy pack and a slow maximum speed even on good ground that I would be stupid to risk doing it.

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This was my first view of Ailsa Craig, which stayed in view for most of the day. I did get better views of it in the week after while we were traveling around.

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I loved seeing the cormorants drying themselves on the rocks.

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Looking back over the beach at the end.

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The beach getting more stony as the walk went on. I tried to see it as a rustic foot massage to relax my feet.

 

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It was lovely when the lighthouse came into view, it made me feel like I was not missing out on too much of the walk. That said, it also made me wonder if I was being a wimp not doing it.

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I began to get a little nervous of finding my escape route up to the road. So I left the beach and skirted the coastline keeping an eye out for the path up.  I met these three geese who where not sure about sharing their path with me and hissed at me quite a lot to make sure I knew.  Once again there was a bit of bog to get through, but nothing problematic.

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Soon I met the path that would take me to the road, and it was quite steep looking, so the walking poles came out to help me get up.  I loved the windblown trees looking like they were battling their way up the hill also.

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The view of the light house I would look out at in my second night’s camping.

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I have no photos from that night, but it was a wonderful evening of showers, shelter from a neighbors tent and lovely hot food from a couple of women and their kids who took pity on my minimalist setting. They were fascinated by the bivvi  bag. They were also interested in walking solo and doing it on a budget. We talked into the evening and I loved sharing their hospitality. I was even invited to sleep in their porch if the rain was heavy during the night. I did not need to as although there was some rain it was light enough.

Arran Costal Way Day 2 Morning Conc na Coille to Lagg

Getting up in the morning was more gradual than it often is, mainly because I did not want to face the midges.

With great strength of will I stayed at the site for long enough to take a photo.

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Due to the start of the day being mainly on road, a bit wet and not very interesting I have not taken many photos, but this one showed the way back where I had been that morning. It is always great to see the way you have come and feel that something has been achieved.

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Shortly after this vantage point my walk headed back down hill to the coast again. It was mainly through the woods and gave a little shade.  Unfortunately as it was the west coast shade meant midges so I could not stop for long at all.

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This is the entrance to the Kings cave and although it looks impressive it smells very strongly of pee. I do wish I had gone in, but it was so off putting at the time.  Some of the other caves down there looked more interesting and were a good bit fresher.

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This was the start of a lovely walk with the sunlight just ahead of me.  It was hitting a large cliff just ahead of me and it looked wonderful.

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Then there was the most impressive man made geological joke I have seen, it made me smile.

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Then there was the climb away from the coast, and into Blackwaterfoot.

From Blackwaterfoot to Lagg it was utterly miserable. I hated the section with a passion. If I had the heart to take any photos they would have been of yellow flag irises and the wild mint, the two things that brought me a little pleasure.

Just after Slidderry I met a lovely man who in combination with chocolate made the day feel so much better. My progress was clearly going to be a lot slower on day two but the burning pain in my feet was getting at me. I walked for a while with the insoles removed from my boots and that gave me a little relief.

On reaching Lagg I slunk into the pub for a lemonade and lime, it is wonderful how much better that much sugar can make me feel. They were also kind enough to top up my water to let me on my way again.

Arran Costal Path Day 1 Evening Lochranza to Imachar

Just before getting into Lochranza the men repairing the path had spoken to me about my plans and we spoke of good places to stop for the night. I was not sure if I would get to just before Thundergay to the path up to a lochan. My plan was to pitch part way up the hill, make camp, have dinner and then go for an evening walk up to the lochan its self, because what you really need after a full day’s walking is an evening stroll.  The suggestion of Scott (one of the men) was to get to Catacol burn and make camp there for the night. It sounded very tempting and like a pretty stop. It also had the advantage of not being as far to walk.

The other bit of very useful advice they gave me was to avoid the small section called Postman’s Path as with my pack they did not think that I would fit through the overgrown path. This will not be a problem from the very near future as they were due to move onto that section next.

So I used the road passing sailors grave and some more coastline.

Looking forwards

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Looking backwards

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Shortly after this the heavens opened. Not just a bit but proper solid bouncing rain that knows how to get everywhere even though waterproofs were on me and my rucksack. It was ferocious stuff.

At this point the most sensible option appeared to me taking shelter in the pub/ hotel in Catacol. This was a great idea and I rewarded myself with a bowl of soup giving me some much needed vegetables. I seriously considered a night in one of their rooms at a very reasonable £35. The only reason that I did not fold and stay there was that I had already had to pay for a room in Ardrossan before even getting to Arran.

So I picked the brains of the people in the pub, and they came up with one side of a bridge or some caves I could sleep in. At this point even under a picnic bench was looking very good. Once the rain was back to normal rain I made my move and started heading further down the coast. At this point I was already 17 miles into the day and my feet were getting tired (most of me was to be fair).

As it happened the rain eased off a bit as I was rounding Imachar point and shortly after rejoining the road I made my camp for the night very near Cnoc na Coille. It had been a long day and I was attracting a lot of midges. So I got bundled into my sleeping bag and midge net and tried to take a photo from the safety of my barricade.


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Arran Costal Way Day 1 Afternoon North Sannox to Loch Ranza

It feels a little odd to be doing the days in so many parts, but the posts would be a bit picture heavy left as a full day’s entry. Also, splitting it up this way puts it into the size of walk that is recomended for a day’s walking.

This was my favorite part of the walk. It was not only remote and unspoiled but just felt so west coast Scotland. The place felt right and smelt right. Even the feel of the machire under my feet was good. There was enough bounce under my feet that it was so comfortable, Just to complete the scene it was sunny also.

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Not only was the walk beautiful it was also great to chat to some of the other people walking that section of the way. Seeing seals, butterworts and sundews added to my enjoyment of the walk.

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I loved that this old mill stone was right out in the middle of nowhere. I was so strange to see it there.

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I got this photo of of a shag on one of the points.

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Between these photos I met the crew that has been hired to make path repairs along the way. I must admit that in many places it is badly needed, but they are working for two years to make it all good again. They were a very friendly bunch and gave me some ideas for where to stay that night.

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Loch Ranza is a village around a bay that is getting on for being an inlet. It has a castle right in the center of the tidal bay.

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The deer are all over the village and people fence in their gardens and the deer keep the grass on the golf course short. They are know for going to the base of  castle, but there were none there when I was.

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This is where I had either my last lunch or my first dinner depending on how you see it.

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