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A day in the Arran hills

A day in the Arran hills


Postby Stefan1 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:26 pm

Route description: Cir Mhor and Beinn Tarsuinn

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Tarsuinn, Caisteal Abhail, Cir Mhor

Date walked: 12/05/2018

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It's a Wednesday evening. I have to wait for the washing to finish before I can go to sleep... and I'm traveling for work this weekend, so no hills for me this weekend! I am however already keenly planning future trips for when a free weekend coincides with good weather. This, in turn, has made me all whimsical and nostalgic, and I find myself wanting to write up an old walk. Here goes.

Arran is perfect. It is really rather good in it's own right, but for someone living in Edinburgh with no car, it's even better. It provides some of the best and most accessible hills to the car-less hill walker. Throw in some cracking beaches, nice forests, lovely waterfalls, a rather decent malt and (trust me on this one) the most incredible apple and ale chutney anyone has ever produced, and you have an excellent oasis to escape to. I have been to Arran many, many times, once even on a day trip from Edinburgh. But usually, if the weather is good and I have no plans, it;s a simple case of jumping on a train at 7 am on a Saturday morning, and by 10:40 you're standing on Arran, wondering why on earth the rest of the city dwellers arn''t here too. The Saturday is, of course, spent walking. Sunday is whisky day. I've experienced the Arran hills in a brilliant range of conditions, snowy blizzards, thick fog, persistent rain, and yes, sometimes even sunshine. Perhaps the best conditions I've ever had were on a gorgeous weekend in May this year. I took the opportunity to do a rather excellent walk.

The early morning walk through Edinburgh had it's own surprises, with beautiful morning sunshine gleaming through the cherry blossom on the Meadows. In fact I was so captivated I had to drag myself away - remember, there are mountains to climb! The train journey passed quickly and I was soon on the boat - scoffing down the important cooked breakfast that should, thanks to the heart-attack inducing levels of salt, keep the cramps at bay. Fortunately the breakfast was finished before the ferry set off. On a sunny Saturday the Arran ferry is often rather full, so I was keen to head straight out on deck and grab a nice spot to watch the world go by. A few fluffy clouds lingered on the hills of Arran, but they were sufficiently broken up to suggest a brilliant day was in store. In fact, everything about the ferry crossing screamed a perfect summers day. Aisla Craig a little triangular mark on an otherwise unblemished blue horizon. This would be fun!

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I appreciate that this is not Arran... but it was part of the same day! And it was rather pretty!

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My playground for the day.

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In a word... serene.

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The peaks poking through the clouds

As I got off the ferry I headed to the bus for the North of the island. It quickly filled up with passengers, leaving barely room to breath, let alone sit! A group of loud Australians loudly discussed golf. Fortunately, I had been here enough times to know that the majority of these passangers would leave the bus by Brodic Castle, either to see the castle itself, or perhaps to climb Goatfell. Goatfell is a fine peak, and the allure of the highest point on an island has proved irresistible to me on every single island I have been too (except Islay where I was too busy being lured by the local produce...). However, on a day like this it was sure to be horribly busy. And there's only so many times you can climb the same hill, even one as good as Goatfell! For all that I am happy to sing Goatfell's praises, I do think it is the 4th good of Arran's Corbets, that is to say, least good. And the podium finishers among Arran's Corbets were my goals for today. The three peaks of Caisteal Abhail, Cir Mhor and Beinn Tarsuinn.

I got off the bus at the bridge over North Sannox Burn, and headed up the glen, incredibly I had the whole path to myself, despite the incredible weather. The witches step loomed into view, although I opted for the horseshoe around the north of the glen - I had a long way to go today, simple paths were better! As ever, the pathless strech just past the end of the forest confused me as I trampled through the grass, feeling sure there must be something of a path... I mean, it's such a good walk to Caisteal Abhail!

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My first mountain, I followed the ridge on the right of the image.

I gained height quickly, cursing the hot weather and remembering fondly the snow and blizzard that had been blowing the last time I had been here! Jura appeared in the distance, and I wondred if people on Jura were looking accros to Arran, also enjoying thier undoubtedly impressive views? I finally saw two other people, and stopped briefly for a chat and to admire the view. Ok, that's a lie, I stopped because I was tired.. but I'm going to stick with that cover story of the view thing is anyone asks.

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Jura.

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The huge tors of Caisteal Abhail

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The previous time I'd been here... rather different conditions, but both beautiful.

I continued round the horseshoe on the gentle ascent to the summit, before climbing up to the tor. I remain convinced (and pleased!) that this is the most underrated of the Arran peaks. The walk is simple, yet enjoyable, perhaps only marginally more difficult than Goatfell from Brodick, but more interesting and more beautiful. And to top it all, the view south from the summit of Caisteal Abhail is simply one of the best Scotland has to offer, I'd genuinely rank it alongside classics such as the Suilven summit view east, or the view across the water from Elgol. I took it all in. It was still early and I had time to take in my playground for the day.

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Easy walking around the horseshoe.

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One of the finest views in Scotland, The beautiful cone of Cir Mhor dominates the vies with Goatfell to the left, the dramatic ridge of A Chir to the right. Holy Island and Ailsa Craig jump out of the sea in the distance.

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Just for contrast, the same epic view on my previous trip to Caisteal Abhail a year or so previously.

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Yup, there it is again, back to the current trip!

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The ridge to Cir Mhor and then onto A Chir and Beinn Tarsuinn is clearly visible, marking my route for the day.

After what must have been at least half an hour, but seemed like all too short a time, I finally dragged myself away and set off down toward Cir Mhor. Cir Mhor is rightly considered Arran's finest mountain, in terms of the climb it is a fun, simple scramble. The steep drops on all sides of it's summit cone mean good views in all directions. The biggest problem with Cir Mhor, however, is that you can't really see Cir Mhor from Cir Mhor, at least not until someone rigs up a giant mirror half way down Glen Sannox. While I am keen to sing the praises of Caisteal Abhail, it is not a very pretty mountain from the South, so the views from Cir Mhor rather suffer. Nonetheless, I was delighted to climb it and stop for some lunch on the top. A few other people passed by, but it was far from busy. By contrast I could see dozens of people on top of Goatfell! I'd definitely picked the right hills for today!

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Looking down Glen Sannox from Cir Mhor

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Looking back at the unimpressive shape of Caisteal Abhail.

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Busy, busy Goatfell.

Having enjoyed my break on this middle summit of the day, it was time to continue. It was hot, and I decided I needed to start rationing my water, until I found a suitable stream (spoiler alert - I didn't find one until the end of the day!). The descent into Glen Roas looked tempting, although I decided that I felt fresh enough to push on over the peaks. The A Chir ridge was not nearly as difficult as I had been led to believe. On fairly tough drop, but otherwise it was simply a very enjoyable scramble/elevated walk. Adrenaline must have kept me going over it a little though, as this was where the tiredness hit me. The ascent up to Beinn Tarsuinn was exhausting. This was the only one of the Arran Corbets I had not previously been up, and I was amazed by how rocky and scrambly the ascent was. Yes, tiredness probably exacerbated these features, but nonetheless, it was a great surprise! Eventually I found myself on the summit and looked back towards the path I had come. Rather worryingly, Brodick still looked a very long way away!

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Looking back.

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The pleasant airy walk along the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn

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Nice views to the West as the sun started to think about providing a hint of yellowness as it dropped in the sky.

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Holy Island... I was staying in Lamlash that night, so still had to get all the way to there!

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The remarkable Old Man of Tarsuinn, surveying a rather good view!

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Evening starts to make an appearance.

I will admit, the descent of Beinn Tarsuinn rather detracted from this peak, although the ascent from the North had been so fun that I was willing to overlook this flaw. The path down to Glen Rosa was indistinct and the rather featureless descent did not provide much entertainment for tired legs. Unfortunately, lower still the moorland proved terribly boggy with the path, which were well marked on the map, seeming to more or less not exist in reality. It took a lot longer than I expected to reach Glen Rosa. And I got there with rather wetter feet than I had expected! That was about it for the walk. From here it was a simple walk along the road to Brodick, where I finally bought some water, and cheated for the last bit to Lamlash... I got the bus!

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Looking back at Cir Mhor.

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Evening in Brodick.

A left over sandwich served me well for dinner, and after all those miles, I slept rather well! My phone had clocked 24 miles, making this one of the longest walks I'd ever done. I would well and truly deserve the whisky at the distillery on Sunday. And so that for me in Arran in a nutshell. A perfect weekend get away. A big walk among some amazing hills, and a bit of relaxation, be it whisky, swimming or more walking! What a great day! What a great island!
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Stefan1
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Oct 12, 2017

Re: A day in the Arran hills

Postby iangpark » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:11 pm

Wonderful photos as always. Did this walk in reverse two months ago (although went up Beinn Chliabhain and Suidhe Fhearghas as oppose to Beinn Nuis and Creah Dhubh). Very well done on traversing the whole of A'Chir - I would have certainly had a shot of Le Mauvais Pas had a group of climbers not been spying below. Views to your Jura venture also visible which I had never anticipated!
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iangpark
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Posts: 197
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Grahams:21   Donalds:70
Sub 2000:35   Hewitts:10
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Joined: Dec 29, 2015
Location: Greenock

Re: A day in the Arran hills

Postby tomyboy73 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:25 pm

great report and some fantastic shots there, need to go back to c.a on a nice clear day
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tomyboy73
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Posts: 991
Munros:122   Corbetts:21
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Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:5
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Joined: Jan 21, 2010

Re: A day in the Arran hills

Postby Pamelalra » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:42 pm

Absolutely gorgeous photos! Hoping to do this route next month.
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Pamelalra
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