It was time to leave Arran. We certainly covered a lot whilst we were here for three nights and four full days. It was more of a relaxed holiday this time as we didn’t spend hours and hours hiking. Our days were varied. I think the only day we were a little rushed was to get to Machrie standing stones for the midge sunset.
I was starting to weary a little, but Arran always brings a smile back to my face when I look upon the landscape sparkling in the morning light. We checked out of the Lagg Hotel and wandered down the nearby woodlands again. Afterall, there was no rush as we’d booked the 7.20pm ferry back home.
Strolling along a different path we found a tree swing, yay! I do love a tree swing. This was a tricky one though … I struggled to jump onto the huge knot. Testing my strength for sure… or more like lack of! I wasn’t the most elegant and it was sore. I tried but soon realised I didn’t have the strength to really swing … ha ha
Then another surprise that brings out your inner child, a fairy trail. I love that the children embrace this and help us older ones smile again. The woodlands were shimmering with magical light peeking through the canopy above.
There was an important message left amongst the mossy boulders that we should take note of:
🧚 Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance💃
With the small amount of footage I had, I’ve created a 30 second video. I won’t be using these clips in my poem, so thought I’d try a short here instead 🧚
Crossing the Ross Road
We left the fairy woods and drove via Blackwaterfoot again, then taking a turn across the Ross Road that runs right through the island to Lamlash.
In all the times that we’ve visited the island, this was the first time we’d driven across this road. Buses don’t run along this road, it’s narrow and gives you a flavour of driving on a single track road across a more remote area of the island.
Even though we’ve walked around the island and off road, the middle of the island was new to us. Being a quieter road I can imagine it would be good for cyclists. It was narrow and windy, mostly woodland views. We pulled over at one point as the Holy Isle came into view.
There’s a Buddhist retreat on the Ross Road and I think we passed it. The Samye Dechen Shing Retreat Centre is based in the former Glenscorrodale Farm. The farm that once stood there was the childhood home of former First Minister for Scotland, Jack McConnell. Definitely a remote and peaceful area to live and contemplate life.
The other road that runs right through the middle of the island is the String Road and is the main route used, as well as the circular route around the island.
We made a quick stop at Lamlash again as I was looking for a postcard to send to Sam the Geography Cat. Sam and his owner want to encourage people to love geography and also help students pass their exams. If you send him a postcard this will added to his paw print map! This is so brilliant, I love it.
We had a quick look at the sailing times for the Holy Isle. The island is dedicated to world peace and health. It has an Interfaith Centre that runs courses and retreats for all faiths or none. The island also has a closed Buddhist retreat.
I would love to hike to the top of the island and look across to Arran and be lucky to see the wild Eriskay ponies. We will come back on a day trip to sail here. Fingers crossed my legs will carry me to the top! It will be through sheer determination that I do it.
Yay! It was time to walk over the stepping stones to Sannox beach. I love these stepping stones and in five minutes you reach a pretty curved beach. I hold a fond memory walking this section of the coastal way on my own. I was nervous and excited at the same time.
The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles. It has always been very calm when I’ve visited here, with a gentle ripple flowing in. I can imagine it must be different in winter though! I’ve joined together a few raw clips that I’ll possibly use as part of my video.
When you turn around and look behind you it’s a breath-taking moment being able to see the mountains that tower over Glen Sannox. I was so happy it was a clear day. Beach and mountain views all in one place. Isn’t it beautiful.
I keep saying I need to spend the full day here and I will. One day I’ll make a spur of the moment decision to jump on to the ferry, with a picnic and a book and sit here for hours.
We headed back over the stepping stones to prepare for a short hike up towards the mountains in Glen Sannox. There was a public toilet near the car park, and I must say the cleanest toilet ever! The community look after many of these across the island now and they really do a great job. A wee donation was definitely worthwhile. I was pleased to see public toilets were open again as when we walked the Arran Coastal Way most of public toilets were closed.
Goat fell murder
First we stopped at the burial ground to find the resting place of the Englishman Edwin Robert Rose. His sad story is known as the Goat Fell murder.
Edwin Rose and Scotsman John Watson Laurie met as strangers and hiked up Goat Fell together on 15 July 1889. Only John Laurie came back down. He left the island taking some of Edwin’s belongings. Edwin’s body was found three weeks later hidden below a large boulder in Coire nam Fuaran on the south side of Glen Sannox.
John Laurie was on the run for a while but was finally caught and found guilty of murder by the jury. At first his sentence was death by hanging but then it changed to life imprisonment. He always maintained his innocence and said he robbed Edwin but didn’t murder him.
Was he pushed? Was it an accident? Did John Laurie do it? We’ll never know. So here rests poor Edwin with a boulder still on top of him. Quite a sad memorial for him.
After the post-mortem the Police removed Edwin’s boots and took them to the shore at Corrie, where they buried them beneath the high-water mark. Seemingly this was a Highland superstition. Burying the boots meant that the ghost of the dead man wouldn’t be able to walk amongst the living…
… and here I was worried when I camped on top of Goat Fell that his ghost might have been wandering the hills. It must have been something else I heard that night.
I found some detailed information online about the Goat Fell murder if you’re interested in reading more. Very sad but interesting.
We’ve walked up Glen Sannox once before, so I knew that I could capture some of the peaks near the large boulder stepping stones. It wasn’t a long walk. I wish we could have walked deeper into the glen again but it was a short stop today.
It was perfect for a timelapse with the clouds casting their shadows on the mountains. It gets quite dark at times as you will see. The changing light can make the mountains look so foreboding.
Arran mountain rescue
We were just about ready to pack up our cameras when we heard a helicopter approaching. It was Arran Mountain Rescue and they were hovering above the ridges. Alan kept his camera on and captured some clips. There was a land rescue later that night by the team so possibly it was connected.
What I didn’t realise is that the team members are unpaid volunteers giving up their time to help people, on-call 365 days a year. What a fantastic community the island has.
Goat fell hike 2017 in the fog
When I hiked Goat Fell with my brother in 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 seagull …
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. It’s a good idea to let friends or family know where you are hiking or leave a note in your car window. The Arran Mountain Rescue Team have a going to the hills form on their website you can use.
Back to the current day. We drove back to Brodick and enjoyed something to eat in the Douglas Hotel while we waited for the ferry.
We noticed that the Anvil had found a new home in the Douglas front garden. I was happy to see this sitting here with Goat Fell in view. This 120kg anvil was dragged up Goat Fell by Davy Ballantyne of Lagg in June 2016, a marathon challenge to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). It took him 26 days to pull this up from Corrie to the top. Then it had to come back down…
We enjoyed a very tasty Douglas club sandwich, yummy indeed.
The ferry was docking at Brodick so it was time to say farewell to the island.
Phew, I was relieved I had some energy to visit all these places. It was so much easier using the car and enjoying shorter walks.
Over the next few months I hope to pull together inspiring footage to make an enjoyable video to compliment my Arran poem and the island. The only thing is I’ll need to record a voice over to say the words of the poem. Mm… my voice sounds so weird and I don’t like it much. I will build up the confidence to just go for it though. I can’t change the way I sound, unless I was a really good actor!
I’m not sure yet whether to make one long video or split it up. It’s such a long poem and could get boring for viewers if the video becomes too long. I’ll need to see how it all fits together.
This project will be a tricky one for me, but as always, I will try my best to create a beautiful video of the Isle of Arran, Scotland in miniature.
Thanks for reading and also watching 😘