Saturday, 3 July 2010

Caisteal Abhail. Arran Ridge.

Something a bit special this week.Spur of the moment thing.After looking over at it for weeks I decided the time was right to make a return to the Arran ridge.Phoned up Alex but unusually he was working on Saturday. Bugger.
"Just go for it" he sportingly offered. "I can always go again next time.If it`s a good weekend just go as you never know when its going to break down.This good spell wont last for ever."
I took him at his word and went over early Friday morning getting the 9.45am ferry and arrived in Brodick around 10 .30am.I got the bus from the pier to the road end arriving in the Glen Rosa campsite around 11.30 after a pleasant walk up the farm road.

I was keen to save the legs.Big day ahead.Mind you it always is on Arran.It was still fairly over cast and cloudy up on the ridge but I hoped it might clear later so I was in no real rush to go too soon.Scoffed down a few pork and pickle pies, some crisps and juice flung up tent and was off for 12.00 noon.
Campsite is basic at £4 a night.No showers,one toilet block and sinks.Campfires allowed if under control.No room for cars as such.It was a lovely campsite though,several small meadows nestled in the silver folds of the winding river.As nice as I remembered it,just a few tents scattered around here and there.

Spotted this heron right away.

By the time I was ready to go so was the weather.
In a way this was a nostalgia tour.Both Alex and myself had such happy memories of camping here over the years with our club.Long hard days on the ridge then down for a quick hot meal at the tent.A 2 mile evening stroll along quiet lanes to the Ormidale hotel,the nearest pub ,where we refreshed then thundered up and down the glass conservatory in our climbing boots,impressing the locals with our Punk" anything goes" version of country dance to the music of Strip the Willow and The Grand Old Duke Of York.Happy days indeed.We must have been fit then though as we`d do it all again the next day then race down for the Ferry home.

Walking up Glen Rosa there was a large number of these flitting around.I love these big monsters almost six inches long.Fearless predators to whom most other flying incests are on the menu.Blood sucking clegs were also about and I got hit a few times before hitting back faster.
With the lack of people around it really felt like an untamed island Eden over here,full of small winged angels and demons fighting it out for supremacy of the skies.

The Arran ridge was even more spectacular than I remembered it.Ridge after jagged ridge slowly appearing out of the murk.It was going to be a cracking day after all and a very stiff growing breeze would keep the worst of the heat and flying teeth at bay
I crossed the Garbh Allt river then followed a faint path over Cnoc Breac heading for Beinn a Chliabhain as I thought the views would be good,looking down into several corries.This proved to be the case.

As I climbed the wind approached gale force though still warm,Tee shirt and shorts throughout.This made scrambling difficult and in places I was crawling along the pinnacles steep drops either side.I met the first folk of the day around here, a couple from Pembrokeshire enjoying a hoilday. It was too windy to have much of a conversation though.

I decided at this point to skirt round the A`Chir ridge as its hard enough at the best of times without attemping it on my own in these conditions.
This was a lucky moment though because I soon spied this and was in just the right place at the right time to capture it.

A couple of climbers on Sou`Wester Slabs on Cir Mhor`s Rosa Pinnacle.An immense piece of rock architecture.

I took some time here clambering into the right positions on the edge of the drop as both Alex and myself had climbed this fine route and a few other routes on this great wall.

I remember doing this route and it started to snow heavily halfway up.An interesting few hours later we reached the top in spring sunshine again.Ah the joys of climbing in early May.

I met one half of this father and son team later on in the day and promised to upload these snaps.Good climbing in what was a very gusty day.
I was headed for Caisteal Abhail however and wanted to get going again.
First a quick slog up to the tiny summit of Cir Mhor, the Matterhorn of Arran.

What a mountain this is.Amazing!

I decided I still had the legs for one more thanks to the cooling wind ,more a blessing than a curse unless I was plucked screaming from a summit.It nearly happened here.

I slogged up the great curving ridge of Caisteal Abhail towards my prize.Its towering summit blocks.

Climbing up this one my cherished hat shot off ,whipped down into the corrie by the wind.Fortunately I always carry a spare which will annoy Alex as he keeps complaining I look like a smurf with it on.Only three to go now boy.Ha!
I was surprised I`d only seen four people up here on the ridgeline.It pays to come here midweek.

One of Beinn Bharrain to keep Alex happy.We have both still to do this far flung ridge and also the Sannox glen horseshoe containing this little wonder of nature.

So hopefully be back here soon.Its a fantastic ridge.

This is looking back the way I`d came.It looked a long way back to the tent.Holy Island in the distance.Making for this goal had given me energy,now it was a long hard slog back.

It always seems twice as high on the return leg.
When I arrived back,close to staggering, it was to find my tent lopsided,clips sprung off but no damage done.Easily fixed.
The campsite now resembled T in the Park.A large crowd of tents all around and more arriving by the minute.A boisterous young team or several teams who seemed to know each other started erecting a mini canvas city.
I wasn't fussed ,only interested in heating up my beans and sausage and corned beef hash and potatoes,getting stuck in then collapsing into my sleeping bag.Now I remembered why I hadn't visited Arran for so long.It was always so bloody hard!!!!

A police van arrived to check out the young team.I was too tired to care.
Soon,after a dry day the rain came on.A heavy ,no warning,downpour.Most of the young team were still unpacking their rucksacks or bags and had unwisely opened several cans of strong drink first instead of flysheets.
They seemed to be thirsty boys.
"Aw man.I,m pure damp now!" Was heard several times as an effort was made to erect fast canvas to no avail.
I fell asleep laughing to the sound of curses and tent pegs getting hammered in, rain battering the roof of my tent for what seemed to be a long time.

When I awoke it was dark and dry,around one or two in the morning.The party was in full swing by now.Big bonfire,loads of shouting,people stumbling about nearby,with and without torches.I was worried someone would fall over my tent in the dark by mistake.
A loud shout in wonderment."Whoa! Check it out!Ive just fell up to my arse in the ground.Its pure soft here.Super spongy!!"
Another voice,more experienced."Hey! Watch that mad bog ya halfwit!"
"Man.Ahm aw pure slimed up now!"
More experienced voice again." Told you camping was a good laugh.Here, have another can."
I didn't get much sleep after this,glad for my earlier crash out.I made a mental note when coming here again to come midweek, or camp further up the glen.
After a long while morning came.
Surprisingly some of the party folk were up early or,as I suspected, hadn't yet been to bed.
A voice seemed to conform this.
" Any midge repellent.?"
"Naw.Here, have another can.That's just as good."
"Anybody got any grub.I,m starving!"
"Did you no bring anything to eat?"
"You only told us to bring the drink.There wisnae any room for anything else anyway.!"
A laugh."Nae food!That's a sore omission my man.Pure negligence on your part."
A different hopeful voice."Maybe somebody else has got some grub in those other tents?"
Needless to say I left on the Saturday.
The ridge stayed under cloud til the afternoon anyway and I`d done what I`d intended to do. A slow walk to the ferry would suit me and a long lie in bed next day.
Has Arran changed?Not really, but the type of visitors probably have.Back in the day although folk liked a party and I`ve been kept up countless times by my own club singing and drinking until late on, we were there to climb the hills.Now it seems the party is the main event.It`s not just here,I suppose its all over.
But maybe I`m just getting old.
Certainly, on this encounter, if you like the quiet life or have a family, a trip to this Arran campsite on a peak summer weekend may have its drawbacks.You might well be lucky but then again....... on the plus side Bute still retains its quiet charm weekend or otherwise.Pity, because the hills here are immense.

A couple taken on the way home.An interesting trip!!!!!


Alistair said...

Cracking day out Bob, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The times are a changing. The Kingie is a pit these days what with the same kind of car camping fiends with their boom boxes and all night parties.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Alistair.I actually toned it down a lot writing this .It was pretty wild and I was glad to get away from it. Felt sorry for the families.Had a lovely walk back though.Maybe wild camping is the answer. bob.

Robert Craig said...

Most other parts of the world are like this, the Highlands tend not to be because the main campers are walkers rather than drink/druggies, but even in a little-known secluded spot near Kinlochewe I've been kept up all night by amplified music that was refused to be turned down when I asked. (I did plan to disable their vehicle once they'd crashed out, but they had still not gone to bed by the time I got up and left for Slioch.)

The answer is to walk a short distance from a road before pitching your tent. Got to say that the Kingshouse has always been a bit rowdy of a weekend in my recollection.

Moray Club said...

eeehh, Pure dead brilliant write up, man.

I can see the TV sketch -
Still Game Neds go camping on Arran.

Cracking pictures and your commentry had me in stitches!

Keep up the banter Bob, you may be 'older' but you are made of the right stuff!


blueskyscotland said...

Cheers guys.Its been such a long time since I,ve been a weekend away camping I guess I,ve forgotton what its like out there in the big bad world.Mind you I remember going up to Skye to pitch with my club who had arrived the night before only to find they were on their third and final warning for singing ,guitar bashing,beer guzzling and heavy footwork which is pretty hard to manage so fast -14 folk in a 4 man tent with two guitars did it.Maybe its just an age thing.....Bob:0)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for uploading the photos!! Sorry for the late reply, by the way this is a brilliant blog and i will let people know!

Calum ''climber on sou' wester slabs''

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Calum.Glad you liked the pictures.Hope you have many more adventures out on the hills.Having a great time outdoors is one of the few cheaper pleasures left in life and one you never tire of as there are always so many exciting places to go. Keep safe on the climbs and Best wishes.bob.