North Goatfell via Cioch na h-Oighe August 2013.

Date: Sunday 25th August 2013
Distance: 13.1km
Ascent: 1000m

On Thursday we’d been gloomily looking at weekend options. Forecast looked a bit patchy, roads would be busy with tourists, the top of midge season and deer stalking on the hills.

The forecast did, however, suggest Argyll and Arran might be nice so we hopped on the new Ardrossan-Cambeltown Calmac service after work on Friday and touristed on the Mull of Kintyre on Saturday before hopping over to Lochranza and a visit to Arran.

Leaving our accommodation on Arran on Sunday morning we spent 20 minutes watching an otter family on the shore. Close enough to hear the kits squabbling over an eel. As others were watching I didn’t try to get close enough for good pics, but it was one of our best otter sightings.

Parked at the phone box in Sannox – followed the track on the south of the Sannox burn as far as NS 008 452 before turning uphill on a faint path towards Coire na Ciche.

Scotch Argus:

H on ascent:

The hill looms rather impressively.

We took a line a little too far north which led to some heather-trotting before recapturing the path which takes a slanting line WNW to arrive on the NE ridge of Cioch na h-Oighe. (best follow the Allt draining Coire na Ciche to pick up this path easily).

The ridge is fairly steep, we rounded onto its NW side initially, following easy lines back onto the ridge proper. There is a path of sorts all the way up and the ascent doesn’t quite reach a scramble.

Great views develop out to Bute and the Clyde coast.

Once at the first peak of the Cioch na h-Oighe the remainder looks a bit airy:

My “height and exposure alarm” was nipping ma heid at this point, but in truth the ridge is an airy walk with a few very minor scramby bits.


Cir Mhor:

H at the ridge end – heid nipping ceases.

The Devil’s Punchbowl – Coire na Ciche:

Holy Island:

We grabbed a seat at the 819m point at the N end of the Goatfell ridge and sat to enjoy lunch and to absorb the views.

We could see north across Jura, Mull, Cruachan, Lui, Arrochar, Crianlarich and Luss. We could even identify the hills on Cowal.

A deer hind and calf came wandering over the ridge, taking a wee while to spot us.

We were then visited by one of Goatfell’s ravens. Ravens are a personal favourite, but we rarely get so close.

Modelling duties were duly paid for with ginger cake.

The midge, absent for much of the summer, were rather noticeable. Clouds on the ascent had given way to just nuisance levels on the summit.

Got up to head on – with a few pics of the surrounds:


Raven and Caisteal Abhail:

Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail:

Headed on to North Goatfell, crossing Mullach Buidhe gives a view over to Beinn Tarsuinn:

Ascended North Goatfell and took stock. Mull of Kintyre:

Ridge down to Saddle and Cir Mhor:

Ben Cruachan and a previous high camp pitch:

Mullach Buidhe from North Goatfell:

Cir Mhor and Jura:

The options from here were to ascend Goatfell , dropping down Meall Breac to the Corrie track, or descend Coire Lan. We decided the direct descent would both avoid the crowds on Goatfell and give us a relaxed return for our 1640 ferry.

Coire Lan:

H and Goatfell:

With plenty of time we descended the excellent Coire Lan path to Corrie. A good crop of Peacock butterflies on Arran:

Peacock with wings shut:

There’s a 3km walk back to the car from Corrie to Sannox. The roads were quiet and it was an easy amble along a pleasant shore. Used our spare time to sit near the river at Sannox watching Sand Martins in flight:

Back down to Brodick and the ferry home – a cracking last minute smash and grab. 8)

There’s little trumps a good day on a Scottish island.

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