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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Exploring Glen Catacol

Arran’s mountains are amazing. When you first see Arran across the Clyde, the mountains look too impossibly big to be on an island. And when you first look up into Glen Sannox, the jagged mountain ridges look straight out of a Lord of the Rings film set.

Arran’s glens are awe-inspiring too. To the west of Lochranza you come to glacier-scoured, U-shaped Glen Catacol, home to golden eagles, adders and the unique Arran whitebeam trees. As you walk up the glen there is a powerful sense of natural forces sculpting the landscape here and now. Wherever you are you can hear water. The burn glides over flat granite rocks into pools descending to the Kilbrannan sound. As you head higher towards Loch Tanna, the landscape is almost reminiscent of the Alps with recent gorges carved out by heavy rain, clear water and white rocks. The most striking feature up here is the long slide of the burn and the giant Allt nan Calman waterfall plunging to join it. With its steep hillsides and lush climate, Arran is an island of waterfalls and the Allt nan Calman has to be one of the most spectacular.

Eventually you arrive at a broad, boulder strewn col overlooking the expanse of Loch Tanna. Routes from here lead to Coire Fhion Lochain, down to Loch Iorsa and Dougarie, or over Beinn Tarsuinn to Lochranza. It’s rocky and heathery terrain, but whichever route you decide to take you will be sure to have these wonderful mountains and glens at the north end of Arran all to yourself.

Loch Tanna and Glen Catacol is one of the routes offered on this September’s Arran Mountain Festival programme. Have a look at: www.arranmountainfestival.co.uk

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