Acting the Goat @ 75 - prelude to a mass Arran exodus

Corbetts: Goat Fell

Date walked: 04/04/2024

Time taken: 5.3 hours

Distance: 10.8km

Ascent: 850m

What is it about Arran!!!??? There always seems to be some sort of drama involved in me getting there. Or getting away from it. Or both! :shock:

My wife has been a fairly frequent visitor to Arran over the years but my first visit was only about a decade ago. I can't remember exactly when it was as no hills were done and therefore there is no trip report to reference the date, but Ailsa couldn't have been more than a couple of years old. My cousins Ruth and David were over from Australia and the States respectively, David with his wife Crystal and young son Cooper. There was no Isla (although something makes me think that Ruth was possibly pregnant, which would have made it around 10 years ago) or Owen. The entire maternal side of my family was therefore present and in a large house in Whiting Bay. Debbie and myself were only there for the weekend as we had to return on the Sunday evening for work but Ailsa was going to stay with my parents until the following weekend. It was an eventful trip, both the journey across and the journey back. After meeting up in Glasgow for lunch, we almost missed our ferry, due to a lost ticket for the multi-storey parking in Glasgow. A mad dash down to Ardrossan eventually got us on to our ferry by the skin of our teeth.

Coming back on the Sunday evening had been even more traumatic! We had said our goodbyes in Whiting Bay and given Ailsa a big hug before heading to Brodick. I can't remember exactly at what point we realised that Ailsa's beloved MonkeyMoo, without whom she couldn't possibly get to sleep that night, let alone get through the week ahead, was still with us and on his way to the mainland! Of all the stuffed toys she was given by people when she was born, MonkeyMoo is the boss. The big Numero Uno. The Grand Fromage. The One! And almost certainly the cheapest one, having been picked up by a former colleague, now emigrated to Australia herself, for £1 from a "reduced to clear" shelf in the Green Welly shop in Tyndrum :lol: . Anyway, let's just say that there were tears and lots of arm waving and deep breathing going on in the CalMac offices at Ardrossan once we had disembarked.

The bold MonkeyMoo - like most of us a bit more frayed about the edges these days, but otherwise it's like he hasn't aged at all!

I think it took the CalMac woman a wee while to understand the situation :eh: . Initially she seemed to think that we had inadvertently left our toddler daughter behind on Arran but eventually the penny dropped that it was even more serious than that! :lol: The much maligned CalMac were brilliant and arranged for MonkeyMoo to travel free of charge as a personal guest of the ship's captain on the next sailing back to Brodick, where my dad was waiting and was approached by a CalMac employee who asked him if he was there to meet someone by the name of MonkeyMoo. There were more tears in the car when my dad called to say that Ailsa and MonkeyMoo had been reunited.

Fast forward (scarily fast, given that the little girl who couldn't have slept on Arran back then without MonkeyMoo is now a teenager!) to the spring of 2024. A significant point in time, given that Ailsa would turn 13 and her maternal gran, my mother-in-law, would turn 75. To celebrate the latter, we were going back to Arran, this time with my wife's side of the family.

We were booked on the 12.30 from Ardrossan on the Tuesday and for once, there was no drama. No lost multi-storey parking ticket. No stowaway passengers. Niente! Smooth as you like. Something didn't feel right and I wondered what (and when) the catch would be! :problem: :think:

The northern peaks of Arran keeping their hats firmly on their heads for the 12.30 crossing

Holy Island

Much to my pleasant surprise, we drove off the ferry at Brodick without any drama having beset us and were even allowed into our accomodation an hour or two before expected. We settled in and Debbie, her mum and myself went to recce the nearby Ormidale Hotel, just because it would have been rude not to! :lol:

The Wednesday turned out to be one of the most horrendous days of weather in the history of the world and we braved a good few hours of it on a rather miserable Mogabout forest tour where we learned about........ well, forestry. And fairies. And drinking tree sap to get high, which might have had something to do with the fairies. And other stuff, most of which escapes me for the time being! :problem: The guide had mentioned that there was already some big question marks over whether CalMac would be sailing over the weekend due to the incoming Storm Kathleen and suggested we keep an eye on their website for updates. He thought that even if the Brodick sailings were affected, the Lochranza to Claonaig route would probably be OK.

With the Friday being Jeanette's actual 75th birthday and there being all sorts of weird spa treatments booked at Auchrannie that day, Thursday was our window of opportunity to do Goat Fell. Despite her frequent Arran visits, my mother-in-law had never been up Goat Fell and felt that it was a case of now or never. Now suited me just fine, especially with the forecast suggesting that Thursday would be the best day of the week by a country mile. It was a low bar, I'll admit, but it was a very big country mile! :lol:

The high point of the island looking enticingly tropical from the back of our house

My sister in law and niece were left behind (by agreement, not by accident) and Debbie, her mum, Ailsa and myself drove the short distance round to Cladach. We parked up in the parking area next to the Wineport Bistro and set off past the Arran Brewery shop onto the track that soon bends right, crosses the Brodick Castle road and heads up through Cnocan Wood before emerging above the trees onto the open hillside.

Right turn in the track with Glen Rosa ahead

Early doors views down across Brodick Bay

Ailsa striding out and leading the way

Early sighting of the summit of Kilimanjaro :lol:

The parking area hadn't seemed all that busy but suddenly the hill path seemed to get quite busy. Certainly it was the busiest hill walk I could recall doing since my last jaunt up (or should I say "down") Snowdon back in 2016. Maybe the pace was a bit more leisurely than I am used to and latecomers were catching us up. Never mind - it was a cracking day (for now, although the forecast suggested it wouldn't last much beyond late afternoon) and we had no plans for the rest of it other than another recce of the Ormidale Hotel around dinner time, so no rush! :thumbup:

We stopped at the wooden footbridge and swapped photos with a couple of young girls who then proceeded to leave us in their dust as they powered on up the path into the south east facing coire below Meall Breac.

Group mugshot

Cotton wool clouds dusting the summit

Into the coire

Darkening skies south east over Brodick Bay and Holy Island

We paused for a bite to eat on a huge flat topped rock by the side of the path while seemingly thousands of walkers passed us in both directions. Jeanette still wasn't sure she would make it but was keen to battle on as long as she could and see where it took her.

Almost at the junction of the path up from Corrie - about to turn left up the ridge of Meall Breac

Back down the ridge and across the Firth of Clyde with the Cumbraes and the tip of Bute visible

Not quite Tryfan but a mini-canon nonetheless

I've seen Princes Street quieter on a Saturday afternoon

All life seemed to be accounted for on the winding stone staircase and quite a few languages and accents too - English, Irish, German, even a bit of South African! We kept powering on and Jeanette kept putting one foot in front of the other. :clap:

Dwarfed by huge blocks of granite


An interloper spoiling a good picture

A rare sighting of Ailsa on a Ronnie

We met the girls who had taken the group photo of us back at the footbridge as they were descending and they confirmed what a few others had already said, namely that it was Baltic up top. Jeanette was just focused on getting to the top. Dealing with how cold it might be there was a secondary issue at this point.

Down to Corrie and across to Am Binnein

It's usually the kids that ask "Are we nearly there yet?" :lol:

Gigantic dark cloud over Brodick Bay

C'mon Jeanette - it's a short weather window!

Ailsa doing a spot of hands on

South ridge from just below the summit

And then we were there and Jeanette had fulfilled a long standing ambition that she had probably spent much of the time over the last couple of hours thinking would not come to pass. We mingled for a while amongst the assembled hordes, I took a few thousand photos of the views, primarily those to the west across the other Corbett peaks of the island, and I quickly planned a future camping expedition into upper Glen Rosa. 8)

Jeanette celebrating the eve of her 75th birthday at the high point of Arran

Debbie gazing over to Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail and thinking to herself "I wonder what kind of hare brained scheme he is cooking up in his head right now!"

Two of the assembled hordes lending some scale to the views north

Things closing in to the south

And also to the north

We dipped down into the "relative" shelter of a huge rock to have our lunch. We didn't linger too long in the bitter conditions before retracing our steps. Ailsa and I went on ahead while Debbie stayed back and went at a slower pace with her mum. The descent (initially in particular) was playing havoc with my "relatively" young knees so I could sympathise with my mother in law!

A last look across the void to Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail - see ya later alligator, I'll be back for you!

Ailsa and I powered down the hill against a gradually dwindling flow of folk going in the opposite direction and were soon back into the woods above Brodick Castle and Cladach. Once back at the car park, we concluded that it would be anti-social to sit in the car and wait, and that having parked in their car park for the last few hours, the least we could do would be to grab a table in the beer garden of the Wineport Bistro and have a pint of Arran Blond and a can of Sprite while we waited for mum and gran to appear! :thumbup:

Back in Brodick we got freshened up and headed out to the Ormidale Hotel for dinner and a few drinks. The following day reverted to form i.e. it was a **** wet miserable day. Ailsa and her cousin (with a little help) cooked the birthday breakfast before Debbie and her mum headed for spa treatments at Auchrannie. We were all booked for dinner at Brambles later on but were already debating whether we should cut our losses and try to get off the island before we ended up stranded there. All Brodick sailings had amber warnings and the next day when we were due to sail looked even worse. We had the house for that night but then we were out and would need to find alternative accommodation although there was always the prospect that if we couldn't get off the island, any incoming guests would be unlikely to get on to it. Our mind was made up when I got a text message from CalMac while Debbie and her mum were at the spa, saying that all Saturday sailings were cancelled. We cancelled dinner, hurriedly packed, met Debbie and her mum at Auchrannie and headed for Lochranza where a 3 hour wait in a queue of cars on the road to Blackwaterfoot awaited us. The Claonaig ferry was running a constant shuttle back and forth until the 19.40 sailing from Lochranza, which both our cars managed to get onto, leaving 10 or so vehicles still sitting on the tarmac behind us! :shock:

Rush hour in Lochranza

Once across on the mainland, we had the unenviable prospect of the long drive home through Tarbert (where we stopped for Jeanette's substitute 75th birthday dinner at a chippy which was barely open let alone edible, consumed on the pavement and followed by birthday cake in the drizzling rain), Lochgilphead and Inverary, over the Rest and be Thankful, down through Arrochar and along Loch Lomond, where Jeanette, Sandra and Mhairi carried on over the Erskine Bridge and we hung a left through Balloch, on to Stirling and on up the A9 to Perth, scraping in shortly before 1am.

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Comments: 2

A very Good Friday in the Shire

Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Cairn-mon-earn, Strathfinella Hill
Date walked: 29/03/2024
Distance: 6.7km
Ascent: 450m
Views: 258

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Attachment(s) Munros: An Riabhachan
Date walked: 16/03/2024
Distance: 23.7km
Ascent: 1490m
Comments: 4
Views: 479

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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: The Coyles of Muick
Date walked: 20/01/2024
Distance: 10km
Ascent: 510m
Comments: 2
Views: 853

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Attachment(s) Fionas: Mullach Coire nan Geur-oirean
Date walked: 09/10/2023
Distance: 30km
Ascent: 1290m
Comments: 4
Views: 641

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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Glas Bheinn (Glenelg)
Date walked: 08/10/2023
Distance: 9.7km
Ascent: 560m
Comments: 2
Views: 465

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Attachment(s) Corbetts: Beinn Tharsuinn
Date walked: 24/09/2023
Distance: 15.3km
Ascent: 880m
Views: 264

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Attachment(s) Munros: Maoile Lunndaidh
Date walked: 23/09/2023
Distance: 22.4km
Ascent: 1300m
Comments: 1
Views: 422

1, 2

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Attachment(s) Munros: A' Mhaighdean, Ruadh Stac Mòr
Corbetts: Beinn a' Chaisgein Mòr
Fionas: Beinn a' Chaisgein Beag
Date walked: 29/07/2023
Distance: 66.2km
Ascent: 2370m
Comments: 17
Views: 2422

No more screw-ups and a worthwhile exercise in masochism!

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Sgòrr na Diollaid
Date walked: 11/06/2023
Distance: 6.4km
Ascent: 550m
Views: 304

Graeme D

User avatar
Location: Perth
Occupation: Teacher
Pub: Moulin Inn
Mountain: Too tough to answer
Gear: Paramo gilet/Scarpa boots
Member: MCofS
Ideal day out: No such thing as a bad day out on or amongst the hills - only degrees of goodness.
Ambition: 2b sent home on full pay!

Munros: 251
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Corbetts: 124
Fionas: 75
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