Friday, 17 December 2010

Arran re-visited, final part

Here we go - the last pics from our Arran trip. As I said, I was now a cripple, unable to walk with a very swollen and painful knee! We decided to do a round-island exploration today, and just LOOK how nice the weather was! This is the lovely cottage we stayed in, details here;
I have to say, it was really lovely. The perfect location, warm, comfortable and the owners are just SO friendly. The welcome pack is great. I think we'll be returning to Glenbank in the future!

This is Corrie harbour, right outside the door. I think I've already mentioned that Marvin, one of the owners of the cottage, did the figurehead for the boat (on the front). You can see his super work here;

A calming view across Brodick bay.

Holy island, taken by Sue, from Lamlash bay.

One of our favourite views - the sentinel which is Ailsa Craig, with Pladda island on the right.

(Sighhhhh) Lovely Ailsa.

A view of the two through a sculpture at Kildonan hotel.

The Kildonan sculptures. There is a 'roof' on these during Summer, but the winter sees it taken off and locked away from the wrath of the gales that lash the coast.

Looking inland across the gentler countryside of Arran, on our way to Blackwaterfoot.

A zoomed view of the mountains of Beinn Bharrain range

Looking across the bay to the 'twelve Apostles', used to house ousted farmers during the clearances.

As we passed Lochranza youth hostel we saw this deer, nonchalantly grazing in the garden, oblivious to us only yards away, taking pictures.

Next stop was the famous butchers in Lochranza, where we bought two lovely venison steaks for dinner. Of course, you need a good whisky to wash it down, so we also called at the Arran distillery to get one.

I mentioned 'The Bastion' in my last set of pictures, here it is!
Notice how different and MUCH more imposing it looks from this angle?

We arrived back at the cottage with the weather picking up, and severe warnings on the TV and radio. A bit worrying, as we were due to get the ferry back in the morning. The way things looked, it would be touch and go! It was really rough during the night, with the wind rattling tree branches against the cottage roof and howling round the building all night. The next morning, it had calmed a little, but the drive to the ferry showed just how nasty it had been during the night. The sea had ripped up sections of the road, torn down railings and strewn boulders and pebbles, seaweed etc all over the roads. One old resident said he'd NEVER seen it like this before! This is a (bad) picture taken through the car windscreen on our way to the ferry.

The night ferry had been cancelled, but we were assured the morning one, on which we were due, would sail. Sail it did, and to be honest, the crossing was about the same as the one over, maybe a little rougher. Standing on deck was a bit difficult, as the wind was screaming round the ship but I got this shot.

That was it, all that was left was the six hour drive home, which we did without incident.
Arran is a fantastic place, and I would say anyone would enjoy it, it's just got so MUCH going for it. Of course, like most of Scotland, particularly the west, I would avoid the 'midge season', which is the Summer months - usually June to September.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Arran re-visited, part five

Well, this was the last day we walked (Saturday). The day broke like this, a bit angry-looking, but with promise. I had to nip into Brodick before we left, and I got this lovely shot of Holy Island on the way.

Goat Fell looked pretty impressive too with the sun on it. The sea was nice and calm too, but that was to change dramatically soon!

With the weather still fair, we set off for North Glen Sannox. The burn was, understandably, in full spate and made for good pictures. The first part of this walk was really pleasant and easy, with a good path underfoot. It REALLY lifted our spirits to be walking in fair weather for a change.

Many, many waterfalls were seen in the walk up this Glen, we particularly earmarked this one as a fab' place to skinny dip (but not today - BRRRRR!)

We climbed higher and higher up the glen, the path getting thinner and less easy, but we pressed on, enjoying the atmosphere. Ahead, we saw the drawing witches step. This place was pulling at us, as we wanted badly to 'do' it, but weather and time had so far prevented us. We kept looking at it today though, and thinking; so near.

This waterfall was thundering, as the burn was squeezed into a thin chasm and was bursting through it.

The path now deteriorated, and was pretty hard going at times, and VERY wet underfoot.
That ridge though, it WAS close. Could we get up there? Would we have time?

Here's the answer, we decided to go for it! This photo doesn't really do justice to how steep the climb up to the ridge was, but I think Sue's posture helps to show it.

NOW it looks steep, but even though Sue was a bit below par with the start of a cold, she was game to press on to the top. We were already watching the clock, and although we could see the witches step very near, I estimated it would take at least an hour to get to it and come back (as come back, we had to) to walk the ridge back towards the car.

We arrived at the top, breathless with exertion and amazement at the views. Although there was a little low cloud and mist, these were still the best views so far on this holiday. This is the view from Coirre Fhearghas, across Glen Sannox (where we'd been a couple of days previous) to Cioch na h-Oige, The Bastion. Viewed from the road, this mountain looks fearsome, and looks like it's a stand-alone thing, but from here, you can see the connecting ridge.

The view forward, now getting a bit murky, to Suidhe Fhearghas, where the path drops down. I said to Sue that if we could maintain about 2 KPH, that would see us with time to get down before dark. Not a hard pace, but we didn't realise how difficult the path down would be, and how much it would slow our pace.

A longing look back to the witches step. If only...........
On the left, you can see the saddle, where we were yesterday.

Here's a better view of it, and the ridge (left) to North Goat Fell.

Looking down into Glen Sannox. We followed that burn all the way up to the chimney, from where we retreated a couple of days ago.

Coming to the end of the ridge, with lower Glen Sannox in full view now, and the sea beyond.

A look back to the saddle, and murky weather closing in on us.

Me at the summit of the ridge. After this, we made the hard descent to the car. There was a lot of rough ground at the end and I trod awkwardly, and 'popped' out my cartilage! Luckily, we were only about 100 yards from the car, as it would have been a rescue job otherwise. I couldn't walk, but managed to hop the final bit. JUST after we reached the car, the heavens opened, and the rain LASHED down. How glad was I that we weren't stuck up there with a bad leg???
I couldn't put any weight on my leg for a few days after that, and even now, I can't walk fully. It will be a long process, as the knee is really swollen, but I'll work it back to full strength and be walking again soon. Luckily, driving wasn't a problem, just walking.

As we had one day left on Arran, but I couldn't walk, we decided to do a round-island drive - something we'd been wanting and meaning to do. Now, it was the only choice. Thank goodness I did my leg on the next to last day, and not at the beginning of the holiday! There are just a few more pics of that drive, which ironically was probably the best day we'd had, weather-wise! I'll post those next.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Arran, re-visited, part four

Ah, day four, and yet another rain-soaked morning! At least the birds didn't mind, and were on the table as SOON as I'd put the seed out. The apple was for the squirrel, he seemed to like it.

We drove to the start of Glen Catacol, with the aim of possibly going over the top to Brodick, then catching a bus back to the car. However, the weather was again to play a large part in our plans.

Looking back from the start of the walk. An angry-looking sky above and behind us.

We saw this - another good example of the Fly Agaric fungi, this time a very young one.

We also said 'good morning' to Mr Toad.

He was a bit grumpy today.

Things looked a little brighter as we progressed higher up the glen, but you can see by the path that it was very wet underfoot.

As usual though, it made for very good water shots (as if you haven't already seen enough).

This was called a 'deer exclosure'. They were trying to get vegetation to re-establish itself here. It was around now that the heavens REALLY opened, and we battened down the hatches, then made the decision to turn back, due to time and weather.

At Catacol, I took this picture of the famous 'twelve apostles' houses, built during the infamous 'clearances'.
Read all about them here;

Glancing across the bay to Kintyre, we could see the rain coming along the straits.

Wildcat showers were hitting all along the shoreline.

We drove onwards to Lochranza, where we visited Galbraiths butchers shop and purchased two lovely venison steaks. That's dinner, sorted! We also had some divine sausages, with a BLACK PUDDING centre - so that's BREAKFAST sorted as well!

At LAST it stopped raining......just as we got home :-) Oh well, every cloud has a silver lining, and we saw this fabulous rainbow as we sat sipping our well-earned gin and tonics.

The doves were happy to see us as well, so we put more seed and nuts out.

Next posting is the last Arran one, and we planned to do something a bit more adventurous - with some unexpected complications and results.
Watch this space!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Arran re-visited, part three

Again, the day started with rain and low vis', but we really wanted to go up the beautiful Glen Rosa.
This was the view at the beginning of the walk.

We soon came to our first bridge and burn of the day, gushing full of the recent rains.

STILL she smiles :-)

With cloud still very low, we pressed on up the very lovely glen.

This was probably our favourite so far. It must be really great in fine weather. It was pretty good today.

We followed the path alongside the meandering burn, amazed at the array of different browns on show around us

I could take picture after picture of the waterfalls, they were at their best right now.

All at once Sue squealed, the witches step came briefly into view as the curtain of mist parted. This is very high on our list of 'must do'. Today,we knew we just wouldn't have time, but we walked towards the mesmerising sight in front of us.


The burn seemed stronger than ever, and we had to cross it several times.

Not that it put us off, at all.

Looking back at the majestic sweep of this fabulous glacial valley.

The things I'll do to get the best shot!

The state of the path was super, all down to a bunch of very tough guys who live up here in nothing more than sheds, tied down against the wild weather. They live up here, doing path and other restoration work, for days, sometimes weeks, at a time. We spoke to several of them, and lovely guys they were too. They LOVED the fact that we took the trouble to come up here on such a foul day. We told them, WE loved the fact that they took all the trouble they did to make it not only passable for us, but pleasantly so.

'Home, sweet home'.

In what seemed like no time, we were on 'the saddle'. This was what we were trying to get up to yesterday when we had to turn back. This side of it was FAR easier, with no rock scrambling at all. That's the North Goat fell range above us in the mist.

We decided to go as far as time and weather would allow, with no real chance of getting to the top. The wind was quite severe up here, with sudden gusts liable to catch you unaware and almost take you off your feet.

All looking a bit forbidding

But, every now and then, a glimpse of blue sky.

We had lunch in the lee of a large boulder, watching deer scurrying across the hillside above us, before starting back down again. This is looking down the 'chimney' that Sue & I were trying to climb up yesterday.
That's a super view of glen Sannox and the burn that runs down it.

Another cracking view down glen Sannox. That high ridge on the left above it was our unintentional goal for tomorrow. I say unintentional, as we really made a last minute decision on it, but more of that in the next posting.

For now, it was down to a couple of last shots before setting off back. Time, once again, was against us.

Stay there - we'll be back for you!

On the walk back, we JUST got caught in the rain before we arrived at the car. Wet, but happy, we returned to the cottage to settle in for the night.