Staying in hostels never ensures a great nights sleep, however I was not in a big city with bars or night clubs. I was in Lochranza where reindeer and sheep roam the streets, where only one restaurant with a bar that closes by 10PM exists. I thought I was okay to assume this was an early to bed type of town. For the 30 or so people that actually live In Lochranza, this was probably an accurate assumption, however for the 30-40 hostel sleepers, not so much. I have no idea what my bunk mates were doing till 2:30AM – Frolicking with the local sheep? – Dancing with the deer? Finding magic mushrooms in the woods? Who knows, but in walked roommates from 12AM on, the loud squeaky door and lights from phones waking everyone up. The last pair waltzed in at 2:30AM, unbelievable! Let’s just say I had no problem making noise when I woke up early to go trekking! :). If you can get your own room at the hotel, I recommend it!
Despite the less than desirable hostel experience I was still looking forward to my day and visiting the local sandwich shop that came highly recommended by the owner of the Corrie Hotel.
I scored two half sandwiches, the humus red pepper and wild garlic sandwich and the smoked salmon sandwich, each looked like full sandwiches for a total of 4 pounds, not bad! I was now set for the day, off I went to find the start of the days trek, which was a bit confusing. If it weren’t for the directions I printed off from http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk, I would have been lost many times on this adventure. There are signs, but not nearly enough. The route didn’t follow the road, but went way up above it into the trees and tall ferns. Looking back as I hiked higher presented rewarding views of Lochranza and it’s castle.
The climb continued, a nice path turning muddy and uneven, as well as more and more narrow through tall ferns and eventually through a sideways forest, at least it felt that way…
As I eventually made it out of the angled forest and could once again see where I was going, the end of this thin muddy trail in sight, I breathed a sigh of relief. I tend to prefer the wider trails with better footing, without mud and branches and bushes clinging to my clothes along the way. Seeing houses below re-assured me that better footing wasn’t far away. As I came to the end of the ferns and started the steep descent, I took in the incredible views that were all around me, not just the water views but the mountains that reminded me of the highlands.
Down I marched to the 12 apostle cottages. Next door to these cottages is a restaurant where I head a rest and a coffee.
After my relaxing coffee I was on my way again, this time the trail stayed on the main road for a long time, finally coming to the next town called Pirnhill. Just before I arrived, I decided it was time for the first half of my large sandwich and decided the rocky beach would be the place. As I sat down facing the water with bushes behind me, I heard some rustling and all of the sudden a large brown duck came flying out of the bushes, freaked me out! I guess we both freaked each other out, I felt bad that I had interrupted it’s sleep and hiding place.
The sandwich didn’t disappoint, and neither did the show that was taking place in front of me. The gannets were out and so was Mr. seal. The gannets were showing off their mad skills flying up and then pummeling down into the sea to come up with fish, one after another diving into the sea. Mr. seal stole the show though, no he’s not so much a fury friend, but a slick one. That curious and clever seal spotted me at the same time I spotted it. He was checking out the gannets, hoping to catch a dropped fish, when we made eye contact. After our quick connection, he dove under the water and a few seconds later he was almost on the shore popping his head up and staring at me with his big brown, beyond puppy dog eyes. He went back under and within 10 seconds he popped his head up again making eye contact with me, back under he went and again within 10 seconds he popped up and stared at me. I was in love and ready to scoop him up and take him home or at least get a photo, but as quickly as he had appeared he was gone. Our special moment forever locked in my memory banks and heart. I wish I could share him with you with a photo, but apparently that moment was for my eyes only 🙂 Of course later I realized that the seal was just looking to see if I had fish for him, but still a special moment.
After lunch I had about one more hours walk to catch the bus to take me back to Lochranza. The town I was walking to was only a two house town, one house lived in by humans, and the other by peacocks. Yes, it’s an interesting Isle, an Isle that really must be experienced in person! I was well ahead of time to catch the next bus, so after lunch I stopped in Pirnhill’s tiny grocery store, and then into the Lighthouse restaurant for some tea.
After a nice rest, I hiked on along the road to the the bus stop at Imachar. At the time I had no clue that Imachar was only a two house town, nor that it didn’t have an actual bus stop sign or a town sign. Needless to say, I marched right by those peacocks and two houses and half way to the next town. Looking at my watch, I knew something was wrong, the bus was coming in 15 minutes and there was no town in site, a bit panicked I began to run, yep, full pack and all. After about 5 minutes of running I started thinking more clearly and flagged down some bikers, as if they could help me. They were nice, but of course had no clue where the town was, soon a bus was in view, but heading towards me in the opposite direction I wanted, I flagged him down anyways. When you are on a small Isle, busses stop. He let me know the next bus was coming, but late and that I indeed had passed the bus stop a while back. Back I went towards Imachar, but the bus was coming before I could get there, so I flagged down my third vehicle of the day and hoppped on. Luckily the people of Arran are happy and willing to help. What a day, gannets, a precious seal and friendly busses, not sure it gets any better than that!
Next up, Imachar to Blackwaterfoot…
Until next time, keep on trekking!