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Western Glen Rosa: there's a Nuis loose aboot this hoose!
by bobble_hat_kenny » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:35 pm
Route description: Cir Mhor and Beinn Tarsuinn
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Tarsuinn, Cir Mhor
Date walked: 22/05/2012
Time taken: 8 hours
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 1250m4 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I had been up Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail a few years earlier with my sister and her partner, but it was hoaching weather that day and we got no views whatsoever. Beinn Tarsuinn was the one Arran Corbett that I hadn’t done yet. I was therefore hoping to do a circuit of Western Glen Rosa, from Beinn Nuis over Beinn Tarsuinn then bypassing A’Chir to finish on Cir Mhor, then back down to the Saddle (as the Cir Mhor / North Goatfell bealach is known) and descending via the path through Glen Rosa. This was a reasonably big walk (for me, anyway) to get done in time for dinner in Brodick and then the last boat back home, so I had to get down the road from Glasgow in time for the first boat of the day, leaving Ardrossan at 7 a.m. … it was all something of an out-of-body experience, but I did (just) make it. At least the excellent-value CalMac fry-up breakfast brought me round a bit! (Don’t try this at home, kids: remember, Fatty Foods are Baaaad …)
Arran looked positively Polynesian from the ferry in the morning sunshine:
Having blown most of my cash in the ferry cafeteria, I only just had enough remaining sponds on arrival in Brodick to leave my bag with a change of shoes & clothing at the Left Luggage at the ferry terminal (currently quite a bargain at £1 per bag) and then get the bus along to the end of the String Road (85p; also very reasonable I would say) – I had exactly one penny left. Last of the big spenders, me.
The road to Glen Rosa (signed as “cart track” but actually a good paved road for the first wee bit) is off the right-hand side of the String Road just about 100 metres uphill from where it joins the main A-road that runs round the island’s perimeter. The bus driver kindly dropped me off right at the String Road end so it was an easy walk. Glen Rosa was also looking very scenic in the sunshine. Walking on up the Landrover track past the campsite and up into the glen, the western hills came into view spectacularly, from the intimidatingly pointy Beinn Nuis, across the intriguingly lumpy ridgelines of Beinn Tarsuinn and A’Chir, right through to the Toblerone-box pyramidal peak of Cir Mhor: fantastic!
The path up to Beinn Nuis and the other West Glen Rosa peaks leaves the left-hand side of the Glen Rosa track just after the very picturesque bridge over the Garbh Allt (as the name – I think it translates as “the Rough Burn” – would suggest, this is a scenically tumbling wee burn with pretty wee waterfalls). The path is good at first, winding fairly steeply uphill on the right-hand side of the Garbh Allt. There was even a handy opportunity to top up my water bottle from the stream (anyone working in Public Health, please avert your eyes now… as if the CalMac fry-up breakfast wasn’t dangerous enough ). Unfortunately, the Good Going doesn’t last forever. After reaching a levelling at which it crosses the gulley of the Garbh Allt (some brief but funsome minor scrambling), the path crosses a fairly substantial bit of boggy moorland and very quickly degenerates into Swamp Thing. I was quickly wishing that I’d packed snorkel and flippers. If it’s like this in warm weather, this section must get seriously nasty in the rain!
Thankfully, on reaching the eastern slopes of Beinn Nuis, Swamp Thing does the decent thing and rapidly evolves into a surprisingly nice, albeit steep, wee hill path again. The next bit was good fun, with pleasant easy scrambling over a few rocky sections but no real difficulties. Fortunately the pointy peak of Beinn Nuis, which looks a bit scary from a distance, looks much less improbable at close range and actually proves to be fairly straightforward. Soon I was at the top:
The continuation to Beinn Tarsuinn (the actual Corbett; Beinn Nuis is its associated Corbett Top I think) is an easy and enjoyable romp along a broad, bouldery ridge. There are some strange and scenic rocky tors along this section, rather reminiscent of the “castles” that give An Caisteil its name. One of these tors contains the Old Man of Tarsuinn, a Popeye-like natural stone “sculpture” that has a very human-looking profile. Sadly, although I’ve seen photos of it, I managed to completely miss it on the way past ! However, surprisingly soon I was at the pleasingly un-cairned and stony summit of Beinn Tarsuinn (“Sideyways Hill” or something like that; my Gaelic isn’t up to much):
The next bit – the descent to the Beinn Tarsuinn / A’Chir bealach – proved harder, although fun. Again there was a lot of easy and entertaining scrambling, including a nice wee bit under a big overhanging boulder. Down at the bealach, the scary-looking southern face of A’Chir loomed ahead. Apparently there is a walkers’ way to the top, but it is “adventurous” to say the least, and the continuation to the north along the great stone comb of the A’Chir ridge proper is very strictly for rock climbers only. Even the walkers’ route to the summit from the south (and then straight back down again by the same route to the bealach) was definitely not for me. Fortunately, there is a bypass path … This forks off to the left at a cairn just at the north end of the bealach, as you can see in the photo above. The only disadvantage is that the path has to lose a lot of height as it curves round the west side (the Glen Iorsa side) of A’Chir, so as to avoid the massive boiler-plate granite buttresses of this peak. (Incidentally, does anyone know what a “boiler-plate” actually is and why big slabs of rock get compared to one ? I’m too young to know these things !) All of that height then of course has to be re-gained to climb up to the next bealach, the one between A’Chir and Cir Mhor.
Cir Mhor, the Big Comb, is a very steep wee hill however you tackle it, and I was fair peching by the time that I eventually reached its stony summit. Here I encountered a very friendly trio of guys who had come all the way from Leipzig. They were very patient and let me try my pidgin German on them . (They all had excellent English of course, but I needed the practice.) After this they very kindly took my photo at the top:
If I hadn’t had a dinner date, it would have been very tempting to continue on from Cir Mhor to the next Corbett of Caisteal Abhail, up its beautifully curving south ridge:
Now, how to get down from the summit to the Saddle, which lies down the even steeper east side of Cir Mhor? The correct answer, as I subsequently discovered, is to back-track down the western ascent path for just about 60 metres or so to pick up a side-track that branches off left to curve south around the hill to its east side. The Wrong Answer is to take the faint scrambly path that cuts down immediately east of the summit ! This quickly got me into some very tricky scrambling indeed, and I found myself a bit out of my depth. I did get down – eventually – to join the proper path down the east side of the hill where it curves round from the south , but it was more by luck than good guidance, and with the benefit of hindsight I think this route is for Expert Scramblers Only (among which number I don’t count myself). Even once back on the “official” path down to the Saddle (you can see this at the bottom of the photo above - the problem was getting down to it), it still proved to be continuously steep and entertainingly scrambly in parts, although there were no further significant difficulties. However, the view back up the west face of Cir Mhor from the Saddle shows how steep this wee mountain is:
There were also lovely views from the Saddle to the eastern half of Glen Rosa, with North Goatfell looking rather tempting:
From the Saddle, all difficulties are over and it was just an enjoyable romp home on the excellent path (eventually becoming a track) beside the Glen Rosa burn, whistling “The Hills are Alive...”, “My Knapsack On My Back” and suchlike… My cousin very kindly picked me up at the Glen Rosa road end, drove me back to the ferry terminal to pick up my change of clothes, and then back to meet the rest of the family for dinner (pork casserole since you ask; very yummy ).
Sailing away from Arran on the last ferry of the day, the island just looked too beautiful to be leaving …
by Gavin99 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:17 pm
by Graeme D » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:09 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:15 pm
by tomyboy73 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:23 pm
by jools » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:45 pm
by bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:42 pm
jools wrote:enjoyed your TR, me and gang are hoping to set foot on Arran at some point this summer, your report has wetted my appetite and look forward to seeing the sites for myself, not sure how the mutts will fair on the ferry, hope they have sea faring legs
It's a big boat and seems to be fairly canine-friendly: a lot of folks take their dogs across ; I'm sure they'd enjoy the outing...