Scotland’s Arran Trek Day 7: Whiting Bay to Brodick – Last day of the trek!

The last day’s weather was wonderful.  No rain!  A great way to end my week long journey.  Not only was the day wonderful, but the path and scenery were as well.  The trail started out along the side walk looking out on the coast and Holy Isle.

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Soon it came to a dirt road leading to an over-grown trail and to a farmer’s stile taking me to a wooded area with a boardwalk that eventually lead to a grassy area and through a kissing gate…

where I met a few locals and their dogs…  The two pugs were full of energy and loved lots of pets.  The day was so outstanding that even the locals were out enjoying the weather and

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the views of Holy isle and its light house.  The building on the isle is used for Buddhist retreats.

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The trail continued on a grassy path for a while then up a dirt road leading to the main road.  Some of the signage on this route isn’t perfect and on this road bit it was not.  As I mentioned in an earlier post written directions are very important to take with you.  I used http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk, which I highly recommend.  The road eventually led to the beach again.  The beach trail was rocky and boggy (muddy) in places.  Eventually the trail led to boardwalks, which were a fantastic relief.  There would be a stretch of boardwalk, then a stretch of coastal path then boardwalk then coastal path.   This is a relatively new part of the trail, making the 2 mile coastal path stretch that I was on way more enjoyable.  Thank you board walk makers!

Eventually I came to the first town of the day and the last town before Brodick, Lamlesh.  I walked by a tea and coffee shop and decided it would be a great place to sit and rest for a bit.  While having tea, I met the only two trekkers who were also walking around the isle while I was there.  It was nice to share moments with them that we both had along the way.

The next stretch of the trip proved spectacular.  Blue sky was making a showing and so was the sun, but of course clouds were still part of the picture :).  The trail was on cement until I came closer to Clauchlands Point at which it turned to a dirt road (or track as the Scots say).  At Clauchlands Point I had a choice to make, either stay on the coast or climb high above it towards Dun Fionn, an alternate route for when the tide is high and or there is flooding.  The tide was out, but I wanted to climb high for the views, so up I went along the grass trail.  The views were stunning.  I highly recommend this route!  The coolest thing is that the sky was clear enough to see the tallest mountain on Arran isle, the mountain I climbed the first day of my trek – Goatsfell Mountain.

DSC00282When I hit the top of the trail, I stayed for a bit to enjoy the 360 degree view.  An English couple had beat me to the top and were having a quick nap in the grass.  We conversed for a bit and then I was on my way down and into Brodick.  My seven days were done and when I arrived at the information/tourist center I found out that I earned a certificate and a pin for completing the journey, making for a grand souvenir!

Up next the West Highland Way of Scotland, day hikes on the Orkney Isles and day hikes on the Isle of Skye.  For those of you in the Seattle area, I will be giving a talk on trekking in Scotland in November at the Savvy Traveler in Edmonds, WA.

Until then,

Keep on trekking!

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 6: Lagg & Kilmory Bunkhouse to Whiting Bay

After my 12 hours of deep sleep I woke to rain and lots of it!  The rain gear went on and I headed down the hill to the start of the days path which is located between the Lagg Hotel and the Kilmory Bunkhouse, about a 2 minutes walk.  The beginning of the path was lovely.  It went through a wooded section on dirt trails protecting me from the rain.  This part didn’t last long enough and eventually I was out in the open on an overgrown wet grassy trail, which led down to the beach.

DSC00075The path on the coast was also along an over-grown grass trail just above the beach and and thanks to the rain, it drenched my feet.  My trail running shoes are water resistant, but not water proof by any means!  This is a discomfort I choose, as I am not a boot fan (some boots are waterproof).  I just bring a decent amount of extra socks to change into on those wet days.  If you are a boot fan, this would be the trek for boots.

As I walked along the beach I spotted my first otter of the trip.  He thought he was alone on the beach until I arrived and scared him back into the water.  I also spotted at least 50 bunnies who call this area their home.  They seem to like the beach and the farm land just next to it.   They were everywhere.  I wondered if the rainy day had something to do with so many of them being on the beach, hmm.

I had two choices for routes on this day.  I could either take the coast the whole way, which can only be accomplished when the tide is out or the beach for a bit then back to the main road. The coastal route sported the largest cave of the journey, one that would have been great to see if only the rain wasn’t flowing and visibility was better.    It is not an easy route and requires scrambling over rocks.  I could not tell whether or not the tide at that point was in or out.  I also knew that the rocks would be quite slick and while a fall into a stream is recoverable, a fall into the sound possibly not.  Inland I went, however I may have turned too soon to go inland as the path I took led me through a farm with a bull and many young.  Another risky challenge.  I walked as far away as I could from the bull, luckily he didn’t budge, but a few of his lady friends did and they came sprinting towards me.  On my treks I have never experienced this, only curious females walking towards me or scared females and calves runnning away.  When an animal about 3X or more the weight of you comes running at you, it gets the heart going.  I yelled at them, and as soon as I did they stopped, turned, and ran in the other direction.  Cows scare easily, even the most curious ones.  I felt better as soon as I was off the farm and onto the road.

The beach path was meant to have a sign to tell me when to turn off and to the road path, but I never came acrossed it.  I felt if I didn’t turn when I did, I would be out of luck and be forced to do the scramble.  Possibly the sign was just a bit further, please let me know if you come across it when you do this trek 🙂

The rain continued to dump.  A nice couple driving by stopped and asked if I wanted a ride.  I couldn’t believe that anyone would want someone as soaked as I was to step foot in their car.  As tempting as the ride was, I thanked them but declined as I wanted to walk the whole way.  I continued on to a split in the road where you could continue along the main road which is more inland or turn right to take a longer road route along the coast.  I chose the coast mainly because I knew there was a hotel and restaurant where I could use their facilities, change my socks, and have a warm cup of coffee while my hands dethawed.

I made it to the coast and saw two more otters playing on the coastal rocks.  Needless to say I was happy I chose that route!  I was also able to clearly see that the tide was in at the point where I would have needed to scramble on the cave walk.  I was again very pleased with my route choices as I would have had to turn around and retrace steps, not something I am fond of on long hikes.

DSC00081I reached Hotel Kildonan and asked them if it was okay that my soaking wet self came in. They smiled and welcomed me into the bar.  I sat and had two coffees and contemplated staying at the hotel as the rain was not letting up, but decided to trek on to Whiting Bay.  This was the only night I didn’t have reservations.  I was hoping since it was a bigger town along the trek that I wouldn’t have a problem finding a place to stay.  I was lucky to grab the last room at Hotel Burlington located directly across the street from the coast.  I don’t recommend flying by the seat of your pants on this trek, reservations are important.  Places do get booked and some areas do not have many places to stay.

DSC00104The Burlington Hotel was very nice.  My only complaint was the music that played at breakfast.  They could have made more appropriate music choices for the older generation of guests staying at their place, otherwise it was a fine place to stay for 50 pounds, which included breakfast.

Next up Whiting Bay to Brodick, the last leg of the trek!

Until then,

Keep on Trekking!

 

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 5: Blackwaterfoot to Lagg and Kilmory Bunkhouse

I woke to a great weather day, not blazing sun, but warm with cloud cover, perfect for hiking.  I left after a full Scotish breakfast, yet another great B&B.  As I left I snapped a few shots of the Lochside B&B (on the left) and the path leading from the B&B to the water (on the right).  Not bad, aye?

The first part of the trail that day was either on the rocky beach or right next to it on a grassy footpath, that was not always very smooth, actually quite boggy.  For those of you who are not fluent in Scottish just yet, bog means mud.   Yep, I now speak Scottish ;).  If only French was as easy!

Reaching the beach, I turned to get one last look at the village of Blackwater (remember to look behind you on your treks, so you don’t miss out).  Below you can see Blackwater way in the distance as well as the smooth part of the grassy trail…

DSC00016After a bit of a smelly coastline (this didn’t last long), and some not so even footing and bog, I found the cave of the day.  This cave is referred to as the Preaching Cave.  According to http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk, it was used as a church for a bit of time after 1843 when clearances of whole villages by landlord Earl Hamilton led many on Arran to abandon the established church in favor of the Free Church.

DSC00028.JPGAt the cave I prayed for even footing the rest of the way, but to my dismay the bog became worse and the footing more rocky and bushy, not my favorite path day.  The path that you see in the next photo, may not look like a path, but thankfully the faint yellow arrow helps you to understand that it is!

DSC00036After this coastal stretch, I was relieved to climb up and out and onto the narrow highway.  The views from above were fantastic.  Not only did I have great coastal views, but great sheep views as well.  The animals along the way always brighten my day…

DSC00054.JPGI felt as if the road path didn’t last long enough as I quickly found myself back on the rough uneven boggy path right along the coast again.  Turns out I turned too soon.  I quickly realized it when I came to a rather wide stream.  I didn’t want to head all the way back to the road, so I attempted to cross it, and fell right in.  Yep, that happened, apparentally I need more balance exercises with the pack on!

As I walked I did dry off quite well and enjoyed the beautiful coastal and sky views, that this walk consistently provides.  Such a peaceful place!

DSC00061.JPGThe trail ended on the nice smooth pavement with the beautiful Lagg hotel enticing me to stay. . .

DSC00072.JPGBut no, I had one more hill to climb to the more affordable option, the Kilmory bunkhouse, only 21 pounds.  I happened to be the only one staying there and when the owner went home, I was the only one in the whole place!  It was so quiet and I was so tired that I ended up sleeping for 12 straight hours, but not before I had dinner at the Lagg Hotel!

Up next Kilmory Bunkhouse to Whiting Bay.

Until then,

Keep on Trekking!