Another Arran Summit camp. May 2018

Date: Saturday – Sunday 12th-13th May 2018
Distance: 12 + 8km
Ascent: 1250 + 600m

We’d been planning on a ferry-camp trip with a good looking forecast. For one reason or another we ended up on a different ferry from planned.

No matter……Arran was on the horizon and looking nice. A Calmac bacon butty is always a welcome breakfast. Saw one Minke or Pilot whale briefly surface on the way across.

MV Isle of Arran is providing extra capacity to both Arran and Islay at the moment:

Off at Brodick for 1040, then took the bus to the Glen Rosa turn.

No rush, a long day ahead to allow a wander to our camp site.

Headed up Glen Rosa, it’s a great time of year with vibrant greens emerging. House Martins are working the river.

At the head of the glen you get a view to Cir Mhor and Ceum na Callich:

We took the path up Beinn Nuis – a bit of reconstruction work done, although still a bit soupy in its upper reaches.

Once at the top Coire na Bradain is on view – a nice wee day loop:

It’s a simple enough plod up Beinn Nuis, watched a couple of buzzards circling above. Soon after agitated raven calls signalled a solitary Golden Eagle which whipped up over the ridge line and then headed away south, mobbed by 2 ravens.

We were glad to get to the top of Beinn Nuis, our legs have got better after a number of camping trips, but it’s still hard work.

We decided to carry on to Beinn Tarsuinn to have lunch. Passed by a number of walkers and runners on the way – Arran is pretty busy.

The views are good though – Brodick and Holy Island:

The Stone Head on Beinn Tarsuinn:

Had lunch on Beinn Tarsuinn, out of the light (but cool) southerly.

We did this route in reverse in November 2011. Getting up Tarsuinn with the camping packs had been a little steep. Our memories were correct – the route down is not technical, but is easier done without big packs. Took a little while to get safely to the bealach with A’Chir.

Took the A’Chir bypass on its west side. This was better than remembered. It gives nice views of the huge slabs flanking A’Chir.

We made reasonable progress, reaching the end of A’Chir to look at its shadowed north flank.

Carried on towards our camp site – the summit of Caisteal Abhail. Took the route across the west side of Cir Mhor, we planned to head up this one the following day. This quickly bypasses the incredibly spiky looking Corbett.

The jumble of geology of Caisteal Abhail is amazing.

Once at the ascent of Caisteal Abhail the spike of Cir Mhor is on view:

Ascended Caisteal Abhail – there are 2 springs on this route, the higher at 700m. Filled up our reservoirs for the night and headed up the last 160m with the extra weight.

Stuck the tent up in our usual spot. This was our 4th summit camp on Caisteal Abhail……some pitches are worth repeating.

Although we had put the new tent up in the house, getting it pitched on a hill with a variably brisk breeze proved more of a fankle than imagined. There was a bit of swearing, loss of karma and about 60 minutes invoved.

……still, better late than never.

Calm restored we were able to cook tea, sit around and enjoy a great evening looking across to Kintyre, Colonsay, Jura, Islay and Ireland. Jura is the standout view.

The local views to the Arran hills here are great.

The tors on Caisteal Abhail and the sea view are sublime.

The tent was redeeming itself.

Sun lowering:

We could see north to Mull, Ardgour and even Sgurr Thuilm at Glenfinnan.

A lovely evening, we were able enjoy the lowering sun all the way 2130 with a sunset right to the horizon behind Colonsay and Jura.

Flaked out at 2230, having watched the lighthouses of Ailsa Craig and Rathlin Island. The town lights across on Northern Island and the Republic were easily visible.

I set an alarm for 0100…….but we both slept right through to 0430 as it was getting light. Can’t even remember turning over once.

Looked out to see a grey looking sky – high cloud but confluent and no chance of a clear dawn.

Went back to sleep.

Had a look out at 0600 – skies clearing to the west, but grey overhead and to the east.

Went back to sleep.

The sun hit the tent at 0730 and the morning cleared from there. Opened the door of the tent and snoozed in the sunshine for another hour. Although the air temp was cool, inside the tent was toasty and hot.

A very relaxing way to start the day.

Got up at 0800 and had a leisurely breakfast. A lovely day.

Garbh Coire to the north:

Got going at 1030. We’d debated the route out – there are routes to drop into Glen Rosa, or round into North Glen Sannox which would be easy. We fancied heading over to the Goatfell side of the range though so we dropped down towards Cir Mhor. Passed a couple who’d been camping on Cir Mhor on the way.

From the bealach it’s a steep 175m to the Cir Mhor summit.

On the south side of the summit, about 30m below the top, there’s the start of a path down to The Saddle.

This has been repaired by NTS – it is still steep, but in decent nick. Still a knee jangler with a heavy pack.

From The Saddle the ridge up to North Goatfell is a little more gradual (for the most part).

Looking back up Cir Mhor…..steep!

Plodded our way uphill, one of those days where the perceived temperature varies from chilly out of the sun in the wind to hot in the sun in a lull. Lovely to be out though.

North Goatfell ridge:

Looking down to The Saddle and Cir Mhor:

As we got to the last 100m of ascent the ridge steepens significantly. We’d managed down this with camping packs in Nov 2011. Picked a few poor lines in ascent, but managed to the top OK.

Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail:

Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn Nuis:

Had lunch on North Goatfell, with plenty of time in the bag to get down to Corrie for the bus.

Didn’t bother with Goatfell’s summit – too busy. We headed at a stroll down to pick up the path into Coire Lan.

The path down to Corrie is a very good one and rapid progress is easy. Just an amble required down through the lovely new greenery above Corrie before spending a while sitting on the rocks in the sunshine waiting for the bus.

The bus-ferry link up on Arran is great – a quick bus ride back to Brodick and then straight on the ferry.

Holy Isle:

Sat out on the ferry deck for the sail back to the mainland. Another good island camping weekend.

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