The trip to the isles is always a bit more of an adventure and members often head up early to take advantage, as was the case this time. Ania and Adrian arrived early to benefit from the nice conditions. After a warm up bouldering session, on Friday they took on the impressive Rosa slabs. Thankfully, no Sou-Wester was required for one of the slabs they chose to climb!
George and Susan took the ferry from Claonaig to Lochranza to allow them to sneak in a couple of corbetts on the way to Arran at Butterbridge
The Ardrossan ferry being fully booked meant many had the added bonus of a pint on board, and heavily burdened were collected at the quay for the short hop to the accommodation.
The Shore bunkhouse in the grounds of Brodick Castle, a new destination for the club, though bijoux offers great facilities, and easy walking access to Goat Fell and the spine of rocky outcrops that follow as well as Glen Rosa. Members gathered in the late afternoon sunshine and after a bite to eat settled down to the usual duff-chat. Ania and Adrian returned late after climbing all day and Gerry then played a few tunes and the small band joined in for a pleasant and much enjoyed evening and an early bed for most to dream of the day to come.
The weekend promised much with dry weather forecast and after a bit of discussion the group split in two, with the hard core Adrian, Ania, John, Jim, George and Susan determining that some mixed scrambling with some interesting technical challenges, would be the order of the day. Gerry, Ian and Alan opted for the more sedate walk or so they thought! Saturday morning was mixed cloud and bright sunshine and seemed, if anything, to offer more than the forecast.
The A team, (A for A’Chir of course) set off on a route through the Castle grounds heading for the Corbett of Beinn Tarsuinn via Beinn Nuis. This was to be the entrée to the main course of the A’Chir ridge. The route through the grounds had been carefully recce’d at 6am that morning. There was some doubt about the accuracy of the route but after some deliberation, the group found themselves crossing the river, en route for Beinn Nuis. A particularly attractive pool was noted as they crossed the bridge, with Jim gauging the depth in desirous anticipation. The wet slog up on to Beinn Nuis was forgotten as John Calder proceeded to entertain the company with the many tales of his Navy and Merchant Navy past. None of these can be repeated in print for the sake of National Security, but rest assured, the country is in safer hands since he retired!
After Beinn Nuis, the walk over Beinn Tarsuinn was an easy stroll, but on descending to the start of the A’Chir ridge, they were surprised to see a group of mountain bikers ascending the rough granite! Absolutely crazy, as they were carrying their bikes rather than riding them. Each to his own!
Whilst the group got kitted out to start the challenging ridge, George went on ahead thinking that if he had done a few of the scrambles in Andrew Dempsters book of Scottish scrambles, this one should be easy enough. The scramble was enjoyable until a bad step halted progress. This was overcome, with Adrian making sure everyone descended safely, but at that point John calmly suggested to George that ‘it might be better’ if he could put on the hat and harness that John had kindly provided for him. After hearing of John’s earlier exploits, George knew that ‘it might be better’ more accurately translated as ‘put the f__’n gear on or yer gettin a belt on the coupon’! Thereafter George fell meekly into line as the crux of the scramble revealed the 40 foot abseil. John, Adrian and Ania took control as the novices fell into line and the abseil was great fun under their careful watch. All reckoned that the ridge had been really enjoyable, but that protection was definitely required!
The long walk out beckoned but as soon as Jim, Adrian and Ania reached that earlier pool, there was only one thing happening, depth or not! Bombs away! Thankfully the water was deep enough although Jim says he did touch the bottom. We’re not sure which bottom he was talking about but ‘what goes on, on the hill, stays on the hill’! Suffice to say, the trio involved will not be entering the synchronised swimming scene! The pace lessened for a pleasant walk through the woods back to the Bunkhouse.
Alan, Ian and Gerry walked past the castle and climbed through the forest to the first view of Goat Fell above. A slow first climb hampered as walkers swarmed the hill and on top it felt a bit like Sauchiehall St bus station. The vista over the island was a breath-taking 360 aspect and the trio took advantage of the views, before heading off along the ridge, with none of the swarm, which they shared the top of Goat Fell, in pursuit. The impressive rocky spine presented a welcome challenge as they picked their way over to North Goat Fell. A discussion about which hills and descent to make ensued, but a desire to take advantage of the improving conditions, given recent crap weather for meets, and also to stay together as a group, committed them to a long day. The impressive terrain gives the impression of much bigger mountain ranges and the boys relished the challenge as they became more comfortable, even climbing some of the stacks to get the obligatory ‘look mum’ snaps.
The glorious, sun soaked 12hr day continued with the ascent of Cir Mhor and finally Caisteal Abhail before the descent from the bealach down Glen Rosa and the three hour walk out, or run in Alans case. In the true spirit of the’45, the guys refused a lift for the remaining 3 miles from a kindly stranger. Perhaps they were fearful of the disapproving looks from their peers had they succumbed! Ian and Allan arrived at the Arran brewery just in time to persuade the lovely bar lady to provide a welcome pint and even hang on the 30 minutes it took Gerry to catch them up. After a happy midge-infested libation, they continued to the bunkhouse arriving around 9pm, footsore, hungry and thirsty but delighted with their day.
The rest of the group welcomed them with stories of daring done, and another pleasant night was passed off in front of George’s obligatory fire! Gerry was encouraged into croaking out a few tunes before bed and John gave a brief blaw on the moothie with his greatest hits. Well done to the musicians after such a hard day on the hill.
The ’45 departed as they came – in dribs and drabs they caught the ferry back to Ardrossan after a fabulous weekend. Despite one of the lowest ever turnouts, the camaraderie, the climbing, the musicianship and the lovely hills made for one of the best ever Meets!