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Life changing events and Goatfell

Life changing events and Goatfell


Postby dogplodder » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:25 pm

Route description: Goatfell, from Brodick Castle

Corbetts included on this walk: Goat Fell

Date walked: 05/08/2016

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 10.5 km

Ascent: 874m

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Back in autumn 1965 I lived in Yorkshire, was in my last year of school and life was filled with A levels and UCAS forms. Yorkshire wasn't my natural home. My parents came from the north of Scotland where I was born, but work had taken my father south and Yorkshire was my childhood home. Then the bombshell came. Dad's work was taking him to Ayrshire and we were moving at Christmas - except I wasn't as it didn't make sense to transfer to a Scottish school which did Highers when I was more than half way through A levels. So my parents and brothers moved to Ayrshire and for the next 6 months I stayed on in Yorkshire.

It left me with a mix of emotions. I loved Scotland - especially the Highlands where we headed each summer - but I was happy living in Yorkshire. My friends were all there and it was a wrench to leave them. :?

Any negativity I felt was greatly helped by where my parents chose to live. They bought a house in Seamill opposite the golf course and two minutes walk from the beach with wonderful views of Arran. I was used to the views from Marske over the grey North Sea to an empty horizon beyond but having a mountain range just across the water drew my eyes every time I went out of the door!

Arran from Seamill beach
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The first time I stayed at the new house the 'sleeping warrior' was a constant companion and comfort on those days my heart was sore for what I was leaving behind. And when my exams were done I was given leave to skip the last month of school since my family had already moved to Scotland. :wave:

I wanted to do something with this extra month so wrote to SU Scotland offering to go as a volunteer anywhere an extra pair of hands was needed. I'd not done anything previously with this organisation but liked what I'd heard of their activities for kids and since teaching was the direction I was heading it seemed like a good idea. I don't remember if I added any caveat to my open offer but in their wisdom they sent me to Lamlash on the Isle of Arran for the month of July to help run a kids' holiday club - and apart from a secret dislike of team games like puddox (which SU in those days seemed obsessed with) I loved it.

On the ferry to Brodick
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So when we crossed from Ardrossan to Brodick on 4th August (which if she was still here would have been my mother's 93rd birthday) I was feeling a touch emotional. It was almost exactly 50 years since I'd made that first crossing in 1966 to live and work with a bunch of folk I'd never met. Scary stuff for a wet behind the ears school leaver from Yorkshire!

They couldn't have been kinder. They all knew each other, had worked together before and (from what I can remember) were all from Glasgow. But they didn't make me feel the outsider and I learned a lot during that month which laid a foundation for so much I've done since (apart from the rules of puddox which I've completely forgotten). :shh:

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Goatfell
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The following summer I was busy doing what students do, earning money waitressing and making beds for tourists in Largs. But the year after that the pull of Arran was too strong and I was back with a student pal who had a lovely singing voice. It being the 60s coffee bars were the way to go in youth work so we decided to run a cafe for the throngs of older kids hanging around Lamlash of a summer's evening.

For a youth cafe we needed live music. We had a singer but no musicians. So I phoned my brother who was at home doing nothing in Seamill and suggested he come over. He agreed to come and suggested it would be good to have someone playing bass - and that's how it came about both my brothers ended up playing guitar each evening at the cafe in Lamlash. I didn't climb Goatfell that year but I do remember taking a boat over to Holy Island which sits in Lamlash bay and walking to the top of it.

Goatfell from Brodick
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The following year my brothers were back and it was that summer they met two lovely girls on holiday in Lamlash who came to the cafe each evening - and a few years later became my sisters in law. :D

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Despite it being so close to the family home during those years, I never did climb Goatfell. And I don't imagine I ever would..... until an invitation came from the bass player brother and his wife inviting us over to Arran to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary the first weekend in August. The meal was to be on the Saturday so we booked to travel over on the Thursday which would give us Friday free - and I saw my chance. I reckoned going up by the tourist path from Brodick castle Pete would come with me and I could go on to the top when he'd had enough.

When the others got wind of the plan they decided to come too and that's how I came to be setting off to climb Goatfell with my two brothers, along with our three spouses - a momentous occasion indeed! The last time all six of us did anything like climb a hill together was possibly on holiday in Wigtonshire away back in 1977! :-P

The six of us heading out for a meal in Wigtonshire in 1977
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The six of us about to climb Goatfell in 2016 (sister in law's photo)
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We started off at the Cladach Centre, parking in front of the pink Wineport building, and headed up the path through the woodland. We ignored paths going off on either side, crossed a tarmac road and stayed on the path until it cleared the forest and gave us our first views of our target.

Clear of the woods
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On the excellent path
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Watering point at Mill Burn (sister in law's photo)
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Zoomed to Brodick bay
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From the start of the walk Pete had been suffering with the start of a cold, his nose running so much that we collectively ran out of paper hankies to give him. He was feeling increasingly miserable and I'm amazed he kept going for as long as he did, considering that climbing hills is really not his thing. So we agreed that when we reached the eastern shoulder of Goatfell, just before the start of the steep ascent, we would stop for an early lunch. We wanted to get as far as this before we stopped as another family member was doing the climb starting in Glen Sannox and would be coming down this way heading back to Corrie.

Cairn marking where the Brodick path meets the path from Corrie
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Coire Lan and path from Corrie to north Goatfell
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Boulders lined up with Holy Island
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We sat behind a flat-topped boulder and opened our plastic boxes to find out what the B & B lady had given us. I enjoyed not knowing what was in there and it was a nice surprise to find she'd included a tub of fresh fruit salad from breakfast, along with the usual filled rolls and cereal bars. 8)

Lunch stop on Meall Breac
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It wasn't long before the one who'd taken a more challenging route appeared running down the path from the summit and we had a quick catch up with him before he continued down the Corrie path and back to his car.

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Pete was feeling lousy and was going to head down and one of my sisters in law decided she would join him. So the summiting group was now down to four. The final part of the ascent was much steeper, with a little weaving between granite boulders, and suddenly without any warning we were at the top - which is fortunately quite spacious to absorb the many people who were milling around it. We hadn't met all that many people during the ascent so it came as a bit of a surprise to find the place so busy!

The first thing to do was to get a photo of the 40th wedding anniversary couple - and the challenge to get no one else in the photo!

The Ruby couple with backdrop of the Clyde estuary :clap:
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View NW to other peaks including Cir Mhor which they had climbed earlier in the week
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View south towards Lamlash where they first met
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Zoomed to ferry coming in
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I took the photo of the ferry as I thought Moira was on it, on her way to the SU Camp at Kings Cross, where she was volunteering as a cook for the week. Little did I know 50 years ago that the same organisation I volunteered with then was the one my future hillwalking buddy would have worked with as a staff member for 16 years! Or that in the late 1970s we would start a children's holiday club in an urban area teeming with children, which ran for the next 25 years. It evolved into something that looked a bit different, but the original idea was inspired by those early days on Arran. There was such a strong sense that day of things not happening by chance and a guiding hand in it all - which if I'm honest I found profoundly moving.

My brothers at trig point - along with a few dozen others who as far as I know had no connection to me at all
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It's an exceptional view point - north west to the other Arran peaks, north east to the islands of the Clyde, east to the Ayrshire coast, south to Ailsa Craig, west to the Mull of Kintyre - and on a clear day over to the coast of Ireland.

We sat eating what was left of our lunch looking out at the ridge to north Goatfell and had it not been for the others who would be waiting for us down at the Wineport and the fact we had no car at Corrie I think we might have gone that way.

The ridge to north Goatfell looked very tempting
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On the way down from the summit we had our first ever encounter with a real live haggis who obligingly posed for a photo before hirpling off in the way only a haggis can do. :shh:

Friendly haggis by the path
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The sun appeared on the lower slopes and I think we all felt blessed to have had the day it turned out to be. Weeks before I knew the chances were slim of it being good weather on the one day I had free to climb Goatfell - but I was just going to go anyway! In the end I not only had good weather but also the company of my brothers and the last time I stood on a significant summit with both of them was on Ben Lomond in 1962. :eh:

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That evening four of us had a meal together in Lamlash - the village I first set foot in 50 years before and where, unknown to me at the time, so many good things started.

It had been a day to remember on all sorts of levels - and to crown all of that I was so chuffed that, after all those years of looking at it, I'd now climbed Goatfell! :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:46 pm

Just beautiful - a wonderful story and stunning hill :clap: :clap:
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby Beaner001 » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:28 pm

A fitting hill for such a nice family history :clap:
Arran is stunning, must go back some day
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:40 pm

Great story, great pics. :clap: :clap: :clap:

And Arran can hardly be beat...

I had a much less dramatic experience last year, reliving Arran after 45 years. As someone on WH said, "Scotland in miniature" - it really is.
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby Mountainlove » Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:41 pm

What a lovely story and a great place for a reunion. Love the picture of the Haggies!! :lol: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:17 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Just beautiful - a wonderful story and stunning hill :clap: :clap:


Thanks Liz. My brothers and I climbed our first Munro together 54 years ago (not that we'd heard of such a thing back then) but we've not climbed anything significant all three of us together since - which made it a very special day to be able to do Goatfell together. :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:47 pm

Beaner001 wrote:A fitting hill for such a nice family history :clap:
Arran is stunning, must go back some day


Thanks Beaner - hope you and the canines have had a good summer! :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:49 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Great story, great pics. :clap: :clap: :clap:

And Arran can hardly be beat...

I had a much less dramatic experience last year, reliving Arran after 45 years. As someone on WH said, "Scotland in miniature" - it really is.


A wonderful island. 8)
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:31 pm

Pretty special when you can combine looking across the hills with looking across so many decades.
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby ianmac123 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:14 pm

A striking and moving account of people meeting,working and walking together.Thanks very much and maybe the book will be on its way soon?! :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:11 pm

Mountainlove wrote:What a lovely story and a great place for a reunion. Love the picture of the Haggies!! :lol: :clap: :clap: :clap:


Thanks ML. This is is your neck of the woods isn't it? :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:13 pm

litljortindan wrote:Pretty special when you can combine looking across the hills with looking across so many decades.


Nice turn of phrase that... yes it was special. 8)
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby Silverhill » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:45 pm

What a lovely story! :D
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:43 pm

Yes a lovely story - and Arran is great - a real minature: but what were the midges like?
I had a cousin with a lovely sailing boat on the Clyde. One August, they dropped me off at Lochranza in the morning and sailed round to Lamlash, while I walked over Casteal Abhail, Cir Mhor and Goat fell, descended to the road and flagged down a bus - meeting them in the evening. But even on the top of Goat fell the midges were horrendous and I couldn't stop anywhere to have a bite to eat :lol: i've never experienced midges at such a height (before or since) but in general i've avoided the West highlands in August :)
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Re: Life changing events and Goatfell

Postby dogplodder » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:09 am

ianmac123 wrote:A striking and moving account of people meeting,working and walking together.Thanks very much and maybe the book will be on its way soon?! :D


Thanks Ian, but writing walk reports is about my limit! :)
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