West Highland Way Trek Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen, 13 miles

Each day of our journey started out with a large Scottish breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, cooked tomato, mushrooms, potato scone, toast and if we were really lucky fresh cut-up fruit with yogurt and always some dried cereal choices).  Let’s just say, we didn’t starve.  If you are wondering how the vegetarians fared… they served vegetarian sausage!

After our large breakfast, we made our way to the start of our West Highland Way trek.  The official beginning or end (for those starting in Fort William), is in the middle of the town of Milngavie (pronounced mul-guy) at a granite obelisk, where of course we took our first team photo…

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After posing for photos, we picked up our official WHW passport booklets to be stamped at each town we walked through.  At the end of the journey we would present the passport and receive a certificate of completion, a fine souvenir.

With our first stamp under our belt we began our 96 – mile journey.  From the start we could tell this would be a well marked footpath as a variety of signs showed us the way.   The path shown below took us under a road into a lovely forested foot-path and eventually to footpaths with sweeping views.

 

The beginning of our 13 mile day started out dry, but then turned to intermittent rain and finally ended with a steady rain fall.  A warm welcome to the “fine” and unpredictable weather of Scotland!  Luckily we would only endure two rainy days on our trek.  And we learned that if rain does fall on your trek, the best day for it is on day one, as the foot paths are quite level (flattest day of the trip), relatively smooth and the spectacular views don’t come till day two.

We found trees to shelter us on our rest breaks…

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As we hiked along we saw the rolling hills and countryside of the Campsie Fells, but due to the rain did not see the mountains of the Highlands in the distant horizon.

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At the half way mark on this first day, basically at lunch time, a conveniently located restaurant sits next to the trail called the Beech Tree Restaurant.  We had packed our lunches, but wanted to dry off a bit, so we went inside and ordered tea and scones.  These had to be the best scones of our trip, served with whipped butter and homemade jam.  After our snack we were shown the trekkers’ picnic area where we ate our sac lunches.  It didn’t take long for us to start to get cold, so we ate quickly and continued on our way.

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The rest of the day was wet and a bit muddy, but mostly through lovely wooded areas.   We did discover one area of deep mud as we walked through some farm lands, giving us  a full-on initiation to the West Highland Way!

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We finally made it to Drymen and to our B&B, wet and very happy to be able to take a warm shower.  Our first day concluded with a celebratory dinner at the Drymen Inn’s Restaurant.  Our meals were phenomenal, and since we had burned so many calories walking, each table shared a sticky toffee pudding dessert, topped with ice-cream, of course!

 

Next up WHW Trek Day 2: Drymen to Balmaha to Rowardennan

Until then,

Keep on Trekking!

West Highland Way of Scotland 2017 – A Group Adventure

Six-months ago, Pam Perry of Grand Asian Journeys and myself, Sheri Goodwin of Transformational Journeys, decided to team up and hike the West Highland Way.   This was a trek we had not experienced before, but thought it would be fun to invite other women to join us on this exploratory journey.  Within two weeks we had eleven brave and adventurous women signed up to go.  Apparently, Scotland and the West Highland Way are on many people’s bucket lists.  We quickly sorted out the training plan and training hikes, reserved B&B’s, small hotels and bunkhouses along the trail, booked train rides and a tour of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  We were ready and excited for the adventure ahead of us.

A bit about this trek: The West Highland Way is Scotland’s first long distance hiking trek and is currently Scotland’s most popular foot path.  This 96-mile trail, runs from Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis (Great Britain’s highest peak- 4409ft) in the Scottish Highlands. It takes you along the rolling East Dunbartonshire countryside to the waterside paths of Loch Lomond, to the remote, wide open spaces of Rannoch Moor and the stunning mountain range of Glencoe.  All of which give the trekker new impressive scenery each day.

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Our trek started on July 10th and finished on July 18th, with the distance each day ranging from 8 to 15 miles.  We not only tackled the highlands of Scotland, but Nessie (Lochness Monster), midgies (basically a tiny mosquito), a bit of weather, and men in kilts, all the while tasting some of Scotland’s finest whiskey!

The next eight blog posts will highlight our eight days on the trail.

Below was our itinerary for our July 2017 trek.

Trek Day 1: Milngavie to Drymen, 13 miles

Trek Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan, 15 miles

Trek Day 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan, 13 miles

Trek Day 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum, 12.50 miles

Trek Day 5: Tyndrum to Inverarnan, 9 miles

Trek Day 6: Inverarnan to Kings House Hotel, 10 miles

Trek Day 7: Kings House Hotel to Kinlochleven, 9 miles

Trek Day 8: Kinlochleven to Fort William, 15 miles

Stay tuned for the next blog featuring our walk from Milngavie to Drymen!

Until then,

Keep on Trekking!

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!

 

 

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 4: Imachar to Blackwaterfoot

My second night in the hostel wasn’t quite as bad, the latest I heard someone come in was about 12AM.  After a good night’s rest I was wishing it wasn’t Sunday as the bus didn’t come till 11:38AM to take me back to Imachar.    However this did allow for a leisurely breakfast, a stroll to the castle, sheep gazing, and time to finish up a blog.

DSC09843.JPGI enjoyed walking through the old castle, all ruins at this point, and not huge, but still  something that you wouldn’t find at home on a hiking adventure.

DSC09831.JPGThe bus finally came and I was off.  I had the driver drop me in the next town past Imachar since I had almost made it there the day before.  This next “town” consisted of one grand home that I think may have been a B&B, and a fishing equipment house of some sort.  No bus stop stand.  Apparently you must be local to know where the bus stops are located.  The first half of the trail that day was all on the road that hugged up next to the sea.  I passed many sheep, cows, and of course a golf course and the golf course’ tea house and restaurant.  About one mile further I reached the first main sight of the day… Machrie Moore, where the famous Standing stones of Arran stand, used for some sort of ceremony many moons ago.

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This was a special place, with beautiful hills and mountains as the back drop.  The place also had several burial mounds and other stone circles.  I spent longer at this site than I thought I would, there was just something about it.

Eventually I headed back down to the road and the sea, on the way down the wind picked up and the rain started.  I quickly put on my rain gear and about 5 minutes after the rain gear went on the rain stopped.  Rather warm, but not wanting to change again, I hiked on reaching the road and continued along it until I reached the trail to the King’s cave, the second site I was looking forward to seeing that day.  The trail was a 3 mile circular route if you didn’t want to continue on the beach to Blackwaterfoot.  At this point I was too hot, so changed out of the rain gear, of course 5 minutes later the winds picked up again and the rain began again!  Lucky me.  This time I was under the trees and waited it out instead of making another clothing change.

DSC09926.JPGSoon the rain let up and on I trekked.  The trail and the view were beautiful.  Soon the sun came out making it that much more stunning.

 

DSC09939Eventually I reached the Kings caves.  The largest of the caves had a metal gate in front of it that is locked during the winter months, but open during the summer months.  The size of the main cave was rather impressive and there was old writing and drawings on the wall as well as some new.  I didn’t spend too much time in the big cave as the large metal door that could be closed on me freaked me out a bit.

After the caves the final stretch of the day was upon me.  Most of the rest of the walk was on the beach heading towards some impressive cliffsDSC09970.JPGAnd of course just beyond the cliffs the trail joined a golf course.  I felt a bit akward walking through a golf course with all my trekking gear.  Luckily I received mostly smiles from the golfers, a few odd looks as well, but better than being chased off the green. 🙂

DSC09982And the final stretch into Blackwater was on the sandy part of it’s beach.  Not too many pure sandy beaches on this Isle…  The B&B I stayed at was just up from the beach next to a small loch, called Loch Side B&B.  It was a lovely and peaceful place to stay, but about a ten minute walk from the town of Blackwaterfoot.  I had dinner at the main hotel in Blackwater, fantastic lasagne, and maybe a glass of wine or two!

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Up next Blackwater to Lagg & Kilmory bunkhouse

Until next time,

Keep on trekking!

 

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 3: Lochranza to Imachar

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.

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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…

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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.DSC09793.JPG

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 2: Corrie to Lochranza

The unthinkable happened this morning, I over slept, untill 10:15AM!  Normally I am an early riser when trekking, so I was not pleased.  Of course I was a bit jet lagged, so had an excuse, but still.  I even missed my Scotish breakfast that comes with the room and the chance to chat with others who might be hiking or biking the island – part of the fun.  At least the dog hadn’t left and the wonderful owner offered to get me some toast and coffee as he knew I had a long walk and needed some fuel.  I loaded up on caffeine and bars I had brought from home, gave the dog a few pets and was off.   On the way to Sannox, the next town, I walked passed many cute Scotish cottages that overlooked the water.

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I continued past Sannox, a place where I couldn’t find accomodations, which is why I stayed in Corrie.  The path left the road and headed towards a waterway, in which walking stones had been placed so hikers could pass.  When I arrived the stones were underwater, apparentally a rare occurrence.  My trail running shoes and socks came off as I prefer to hike in dry shoes.

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Once across, the trail lead to a white sandy beach, and an amazing view when looking behind me, something I always try to remember to do.

 

 

I continued along the nice dirt path entering into some woods and soon reached the blue rock-cliff.  I thought they also had a pink tinge to them.DSC09614.JPG

Soon the trail led past a park and thought a gate to a wide try that eventually narrowed and became quite bushy and at times the ferns were almost as tall as me.  Wearing shorts through this section wouldn’t have been the best experience.  I was glad I had my long pants and long sleeved shirt on.

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On I trekked past the white cabin and soon the trail became extremely rocky and in places a bit of scrambling over boulders was needed.   The coastline was beautiful, many different colors…

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Rounding the next bend Lochranza came into sight, a beautiful town with a castle, whiskey distillery, the isle’s only hostel, the best sandwich shop across the street from the ferry on the Isle, and a town with deers and sheep roaming their streets and their golf course.

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Up next Lochranza to Imachar.

Until then,

Keep on trekking!

 

 

 

Scotland’s Arran Isle Trek Day 1: Brodick to Corrie via Goatfell

My day started with a tasty Scotish breakfast served by the same gal that knew me by name upon arrival and helped me with my final preparations for my 7-day trek.  I’m not sure she ever went home.  I definitely recommend Hunter’s guest house, great bed, breakfast, 5 minute walk from the ferry, 2 minute walk to the start of the trek, and phenomenal service.

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The trail began just above the sandy beach next to the Co-op store and continued on to the bridge in the photo above, which takes you over a water-way and right onto a golf course – when you are in the land of the home of golf, expect them to be everywhere!   The  symbol of the journey as seen in the photo is quite fitting… the Gannet, its a bird you will see often as you walk along the beach.   Flying high above the water and then turning on a dime to pummel straight down into the sea, attempting to catch a meal.  They are quite the sight, especially when you see one after another after another performing their acrobatic dives.  Yellow Arran Coastal Way markers represent the main route and red Arran Coastal Way markers represent the alternative route.

My first day involved climbing up to Goatfell, the highest peak on the island, which boasts amazing views.  The day started out only partly cloudy, so I had high hopes of tremendous views.

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I walked past the golf course, heading towards the Brodick castle, seen on the far right hand side of the photo above and Goatfell partially hidden by the clouds on the left hand side of the photo.  As I approached the base I came to the mile marker sign, 3.5 miles to the top of the mountain, up I climbed.   I found out that this is one of the more popular climbs on the isle, many people were hiking to the top that day.   I had one of the fellow hikers take this photo of me and the view around the half way mark, evidence that I was there.  Behind me is the town of Brodick where I started the trek.DSC09528.JPG

I continued the climb up, passing a bunch of college students in t-shirts and shorts, no backpacks, water or food.  I do not advise the lack of clothes or supplies.  It is very windy and gets quite cold at the top and you will be thirsty climbing up for 3.5 miles, but to each there own 🙂

The last bit of the climb was quite steep with a bit of scrambling through large stones, a decent level of fitness is recommended for this climb.

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At the top it was quite foggy.  On clear days they say you can see all the way to Ireland, would have been nice to see that, but I still enjoyed the view I had…

The way down was quite steep and a bit wearing on the quads.  I was excited to reach the street and beach again especially since it is lined with benches to have a quick rest and snack…DSC09571.JPG

The rest of the hike was flat along the road, a nice change from the steep rocky decent.  I arrived to my place of stay, the Corrie Hotel.  It is located directly across the street from the water, with a beer garden on the grass just above the beach, a very pleasant place with a great vibe.

Eighties music played in the bar and once again I was reminded that dogs are just as welcome as humans here in Scotland…  another hotel that I highly recommend.

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Up next Corrie to Lochranza

Until then keep on trekking!

 

Scotland Adventure 2017! Trek #1: Isle of Arran, 7-day coastal trek.

In case you are wondering how and why I decided to go trekking on an island most have never heard of, I will quickly explain.  This isle is known as being “Scotland in miniature” to me that meant the beauties of Scotland intensified, only taking 7-days, 109 kilometers, to see the highlights of Scotland – fantastic!  I also loved the idea of walking around an island with hills and mountains on one side and the water on the other- not sure it gets any better than that!

DSC09485.JPGI finally arrived to Arran Isle after two flights, one 3+ hour lay-over, one 15 minute bus ride, one 30 minute train ride and a 1-hour ferry ride!  Tired?  Yes!  Worth it? Ending my long day with the view above and dolphin sightings, you bet!  My route in case you were interested. . .  Seattle – Iceland – Glasgow – bus to Paisley Gilmour Street – train to Ardrossan – Ferry to Arran Isle – Brodick.

Off the ferry it was about a 5 minute walk to my B&B (Hunter’s Guest House), situated directly across the street from the water.   As I walked to the door, I was greeted by name by the owner.   Apparently I was the last to arrive, the only explanation for her knowing my name.   The service at this B&B was fantastic.  The owner made sure I was fully ready for my 7-day trek, showing me her display of books and pamphlets on the walk as well as bus schedules just in case.  She even helped me to set up the last of my accomodations for the trek.  After a shower I was off to the grocery store to purchase my lunch for the next day.

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On my way to the co-op I noticed a great dinner spot called The Fiddler, with live music.  If only I had been hungry, too many snacks throughout the day 😦

After my short outing, I was ready for bed.   I had managed to stay up till 9PM.  The days are long here on the island, not sure it ever got dark, at least I didn’t find out, as as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out, with dreams of adventure dancing around in my head. . .

Next up Day 1 of Arran Isle Trek:  Brodick to Corrie via Goatfell

Until then. . . Keep on Trekking!