Hiking Goat Fell mountain is a different experience every time. I’ve reached the summit four times now and brought back so many different memories and photos. I feel another wee story should be told … and I also really want to share with you the stunning views my eyes did see!
My half marathon training for My Peak Challenge started this week. I’m running the Edinburgh half on 28 May 2017. This will be my first time at this distance. My running plan changed a bit this week though and I ended up hiking Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. As you know, I’ve become pretty active over the last four years, more so with the support from My Peak Challenge.
An old friend, who I hadn’t seen for about two or three years, was inspired to climb a mountain after seeing my photos and adventures on Facebook. I love that what I’m doing encouraged her to want to try it as well. So we got in touch and arranged a suitable day to climb.
I was regularly checking the Met Office weather for Goat Fell. To really enjoy the experience and see the magnificent views you really need good weather. I was so pleased the day we picked was just perfect for it. Cold, but the sun was shining with excellent visibility.
The Arran webcams are great to check the weather too. I layered up with my thermal top, fleece and my new blue Trespass jacket. It was cosy! I also wore my thermal leggings under my walking trousers. It can be windy the higher you climb so these should help keep my legs warm.
Ferry to Arran
It was a 4.30am wake up call to get ready and catch the 7am ferry from Ardrossan, North Ayrshire. I parked my car at the ferry terminal.
You can find sailing times and fares at Calmac: Arran. Remember to always plan ahead, check sailings are going ahead and book your ticket.
Breakfast on the ferry was toast and jam with a coffee to start my day. The sailing was a bit choppier than normal and a tad windy! I did the usual walk round the ferry and captured some photos of the sea views.
Arriving in Brodick
When we arrived at Brodick we were both really excited. I looked up at the mountain and it was clear with some snow on top. I experienced walking in snow on my last hike, the Merrick Trail, so hopefully I would be okay with this. It didn’t look like there was a lot of snow. I also checked what the conditions were like with other walkers who had recently climbed. They said it was fine and I wouldn’t need crampons. I don’t even own a pair yet.
We walked towards the Fisherman’s walk that takes you along the beach and golf course to the start of the hike at Cladach Visitor Centre.
The yellow gorse bushes were in full bloom again. They seem to be in bloom all year round! They smell like coconut and remind me of my youth when I used to go for walks in the countryside.
Brodick Castle was peeking out from the trees.
Starting the hike
We walked, talked and enjoyed the fresh air. There was a slight breeze that kept us cool at the beginning. I felt quite warm with all my layers on so the jacket came off. It was lovely catching up after all this time and there was plenty to talk about.
Losing the path
After the bridge and the deer fence the wind was stronger, so heads were down for a wee while fighting the wind. We chatted a lot on the way up and I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking.
Then I lost it a bit. I don’t know what happened but I suddenly stopped, feeling confused as I couldn’t see the path in front of us. “Where’s the path” I said to my friend. All I could see were boulders that didn’t look like any obvious way to follow. It just didn’t look familiar to me at all.
This has never happened to me before. I was embarrassed as I was supposed to be the expert in this hike having done it three times before. I wondered what my friend was thinking!
We both knew we needed to keep going up but it was best to stay on the path.
So we wandered left a bit to look for the path and it didn’t feel right. Then we walked to the right and kept going upwards climbing over heather, marsh and rocks. I started to get worried.
Lesson learned here though. It shows you how easy this can happen no matter how well you think you know the mountain. I obviously didn’t know it very well at all! If the weather had been bad with poor visibility this could have been quite scary.
Finding a path
I think after about ten minutes we eventually came to a path. It wasn’t the right path, but a different one that starts from the village of Corrie. I knew where I was though.
I was so relieved as this would take us to the foot of Goat Fell and the area I was familiar with. Phew! It actually turned out quite well as I have never walked from this angle before. It presented me with the most beautiful views!
Scramble to the summit
The last part was the most difficult. It was time to climb the step-like boulders to the top. At first the rocks were okay and clear of snow.
We walked past the wee hairy guy I met when I wild camped on Goat Fell last summer. He was looking very poorly and aged quite a bit. His green hair now looked very ginger, a true Scotsman!
Then the climb became more challenging.
Snow was covering most of the rocks and boulder steps. It was difficult knowing where to walk. I was aware that there would be gaps between the rocks. I stood on the snow not knowing what was beneath me.
It was a bit of a scramble at some bits but we both managed really well! I was digging my feet into the snow trying to test how deep it was. Other walkers were coming down off the mountain so that gave us a guide of where to head for.
We tried to follow the footprints of the others … in the hope that they had walked the right way!
Reaching the summit
Hurrah! We did it! We reached the top in one piece through sheer determination. The views were just spectacular. I’m always in awe of the views on top of this mountain.
I was so proud of my friend and she was too. She said earlier that she was never sure if she could do it. Well now she knows she can. I love this, and it feels like I’m sharing the wonderful feeling of My Peak Challenge.
We ate our lunch and took some photos. There was a cold wind blowing so we sat behind some rocks for shelter. It was heaven. We stayed for about 45 minutes and we were lucky to have the summit all to ourselves.
I also noticed that the 120kg Anvil I wrote about in my Summer Solstice Mountain Sleepover post was gone. That’s a shame after all that effort dragging it up there. I wonder where it is now?
One of my favourite views looking down to Brodick, the Holy Isle and Ailsa Craig.
I wandered down to the grassy area Alan and I camped at last year. It was covered in snow. I didn’t want to walk on it as it looked so pretty sitting there untouched.
My first 360 photo
I experimented with my new Samsung Gear 360 camera! This is how my first photo turned out:
Back down the mountain
It was time to get back down safely. It looked quite daunting!
We took our time trying to follow the footprints again. At one point I stepped on the snow and it was up to my knee. I was wishing I had a sledge!
I was quite relieved when we were back on normal ground. My knees were starting to ache, as they usually do, but it was bearable.
We made a point in looking for the area where I’d got lost. There’s a section where it’s a mish mash of flat rocks and boulders and it doesn’t look like a defined path. I think this is where I was confused. I’m such a numpty!
We made it back to Brodick just in time for the 4.40pm ferry. I looked back at the mountain and said a fond farewell. I’ll be back again in June or even sooner!
We had a glorious sunny day, walked/hiked 11 miles all in and enjoyed 12 hours of one-to-one catch up time. The reward was just the best.
My friend now knows she can do it and she will climb more mountains with her family and friends.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the photos.
Love, Dawn-Marie x
More Goat Fell hikes
I’ve been up Goat Fell a few times over the years. Six times all in since this post, one we reached the shoulder and walked back down the Corrie route.
I returned to the Isle of Arran with my sister in June 2018. She treated me to an overnight stay in the amazing Auchrannie Resort.
This was a rare treat for me as I’m usually always camping. Hotels are normally over my budget but I would totally recommend it. My sister was lucky to get a good deal on our stay. It was so nice and cosy.
She was very keen to hike Goat Fell mountain as she’d never done this before and always wanted to try it. I know she wasn’t sure if she could. To be honest, I was unsure if my current fitness would allow me to get to the top as well, but for some reason I was totally fine this day. It must have been the full Scottish breakfast on the ferry, fuel for the day.
We both reached the summit and I’m so proud of my sister. No matter how painful her legs were she kept going.
Determination gets you through and we were fortunate with the weather. There were a few scary moments near the top when the wind was strong, but it calmed down eventually.
Sometimes your mind keeps saying “I can’t” but really you can, you’ve just got to at least try.
Watch the video of my sister conquering Goat Fell mountain
2017 hike in the fog
When I hiked Goat Fell with my brother in July 2017 we could see across the island on the ascent, but the mountain above us was slipping in and out of cloud.
As some points we experienced rain, hard hitting hail, strong winds and the visibility wasn’t good. The last 800 feet to the summit is steeper with the route not obvious in places, even more difficult in fog.
We both felt confident enough to keep going so continued to the summit very slowly with a few stops. This was my brother’s dream, to reach the top of Goat Fell and he didn’t mind that he wouldn’t see the views. It was total white out and eerie at the top. It was just me, my brother and as usual a lurking gull …
Then an elderly gentleman with a walking cane gave us a fright. He just suddenly appeared out of the fog like a ghostly figure. He chatted to us saying that he hikes the mountain regularly. He mentioned his walking cane was made from something special and I can’t remember what it was … I was so inspired by his climb though, he seemed way fitter than us.
On the way back down we heard echoing voices, but couldn’t make out what they were saying. I thought it was just some people talking, but then it sounded more like someone shouting: “Hello…”
All of a sudden a few young men came out of the fog, scrambling down the rocks to my left, asking if this was the path to the summit.
I was relieved they were back on the right path. I’m not a fully experienced climber and this made me think it could easily have been us getting lost and calling for help. I hope I never need to call for help in the hills here, but it’s reassuring to know that help is there from Arran Mountain Rescue.
It’s also a good idea to let friends or family know where you are hiking or leave a note in your car window.
Read about my very first hike up Goat Fell. My dream came true and I was on the top of the mountain.