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Monday, 28 May 2012

The Arran Mountain Festival moved to May this year and experienced weather from snow on the Friday to hot sunshine on the Monday. I posted a blog about my day out on the Gaelic in the Mountains walk. You can find it at www.arranmountainfestival.blogspot.co.uk

Things Happen in Threes

In one of my earlier blogs I’m ashamed to say I complained about not getting out much. Feeling like being in a cake shop and not allowed to eat. Luckily for me my complaints were read by Joe who lives close to the Irish coast, which can be seen from Arran on clear days. Last year he came over the sea in his Redbay rib Ricochet with daughter Hannah, and this year he came to whisk us away for an exhilarating ride in beautiful, sparkling sunshine.

Just like buses- you wait for one for ages then three come at once- I was especially lucky  and had a third day out in the same week. This time it was a city trip and it involved catching the first ferry then the train to Glasgow (my fares for the day including ferry and train return came to only £16). I travelled with Wilma Stark who is a play-writer living in Lochranza. If you notice a ruined cottage near the Youth Hostel she has written a moving play about its history. It’s called the Barking House and it’s being performed in Edinburgh in September. The purpose of the day was to go to the Play, Pie and Pint at the Oram Mor at lunchtime where we saw a powerful tale of man’s inhumanity to man. The plays are new writing and can last no more than an hour.

Returning to Lochranza, bathed in golden sunsets every evening lately, is like returning to a different world. No traffic sounds, just sheep sitting on the road, deer grazing round the village and the eagles circling above Torr Nead.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Places to go Hunting For…..

It’s not much more than a century since Lochranza was reached only by sea, despite, at that time, supporting a much higher population than now through fishing and crofting. Today, the beautiful scene of Lochranza’s castle ruin encircled by the loch, with the white cottages of the village scattered along the shores, is a familiar one in calendars of Scotland. Nonetheless, this area is still full of little-known, relatively unvisited but truly remarkable places of historic and geological interest. To find them, you need an OS map as there are few signposts. The walks are not long but the terrain can be rough.

Here are five of my favourites (some previously referred to in this blog):

Giant Millipede Tracks near Laggan Cottage   GR 972512
These dimpled tracks imprinted on boulders splashed by the sea were left behind by Arthropleura  320 million years ago-  it was the largest land-based invertebrate ever known.

Fairy Dell   GR 948523
This lies beyond the well-known fairy Dell and its little white cottage. It is a long hidden chasm formed by a collapsed cliff- an actual Rivendell, enchantingly pretty and with a sense of enchantments. Rock bridges and trees arch overhead. Be careful! There are steep drops!

Lochranza’s Prehistoric Celtic Hill Fort  GR 927503
It’s only when you stand on it that you realise what a well-chosen defensive position and vantage point it is.  The long wall is a reminder of a time of warring tribes.

The Allt nan Calman in Glen Catacol   GR 916455
As you walk up to Loch Tanna you pass this giant waterslide and pretty plunge pool. To me, it’s the highlight of the walk.

Coastal Path at Imachar  GR 863405
South of Pirnmill and Whitefarland are raised beaches and inaccessible cliffs of ancient woodland. Where the road cuts inland is a delightfully pretty stretch of the Coastal Way with little waterfalls, rock pools and caves. In summer it’s splashed with bright-coloured wild flowers. Look out for the distinctive dry stane dykes in this area.

If you find walking in rough terrain difficult but would like to find magical microcosms like the ones I’ve mentioned, I recommend a visit to Brodick Castle for its woodland trails, especially the Cnocan Burn and the Merkland Burn. The land is managed here by the National Trust and the Forestry Commission.