Thursday, May 31, 2012

Isle of Arran

Wow, what a trip.  As my last major holiday before heading back to the States I decided to go back to Scotland.  A few months ago I was trying to think about what places I'd really like to see or places I'd want to go back to...Scotland came up at the top of my list.  Specifically the Isle of Skye, but it's a long journey there from London...Granted it would be longer still from the States.  In looking at a long-distance walking book one picture jumped out at me.  When I looked where it was I was like "hey!! that's doable!!!"  Arran was only a rain journey to Glasgow, then another rail journey to a harbour town and a ferry ride to the Isle.  Easily done by my standards.  So I booked it and had about 3 full days (2 half days and 2 full days) to enjoy the Isle of Arran.  Took my bike up (free of charge) as well so I could cycle around the Isle as well as hike to my heart's content.

My favourite picture (maybe, too many to really count)

Turns out I got to visit Arran on its (probably) hottest 3-4 day stretch of the year.  As in, warmest place in the UK, upwards of 30 degrees Celsius, which feels pipping hot for the UK.  Combine that with the daylight hours of Scotland at this time a year and you've got a great combination.

When I arrived late afternoon I almost immediately set off from my B&B hiking to the neighbouring town (around 3 miles away).  I wanted to see as much of the Isle as possible.  After having a meal and a beer I strolled back feeling like I had loosened my legs up enough for the next day's long hike.  When I told the B&B guy what I planned on doing (it was ambitious I'll admit) he said I wouldn't be able to...little did he know he was dealing with a Moyer...100% stubbornness at times.  My plan was to hike the 4 tallest peaks of Arran in a single day.  Probably around 16-18 miles depending on how many times I got lost on the trails.  The peaks weren't THAT high...only around 2,600-2,800 ft or so, but when you're starting at sea level and go up and down 500-1000 ft between each one it adds up.  Not to mention some of the trails were about as sketchy as I've ever been on.  One was like being on a beach at 2,000 ft only at an angle you wished you weren't standing at!!!  I had been warned that a rugged 31 yr old local had been found dead after slipping in the same area and plummeting down the cliff.  Wasn't found for three days.  Combine those factors with the lack of water on the mts and the hot temps (especially hot since it's been 10-12 degrees Celsius lately in London) I was looking at a challenging day.  In the end I completed my day in just under 9 hours.  The next set of pictures are a few selections from that day.


Looking at the Isle of Arran

Holy Isle

Goatfell - the highest peak.  B&B proprietor said it was 3 hours up 2 hours down...I made it up in just under 2 hours.

The path up

Looking westward off Goatfell

Brodick in the background

Looking north at North Goatfell

Northward again

The path up...

"The Saddle" aka beach of death at 2,000 ft

Looking up the Saddle

My path up Cir Mhor - pretty much straight up (or at least it felt that way)

View from Cir Mhor

Looking at Caisteal Abhail

View south

Another Southern view

Natural arch near Beinn Tarsuinn

View from Beinn Tarsuinn

View from either Beinn Tarsuinn or Beinn Nuis, can't remember which

View up the valley

My next day consisted of cycling around the Isle on the perimeter road.  About 55 miles the whole way round.  Partway around I took a detour and walked out a couple of miles to some stone circles that dated back to 3500 to 5000 BC or something like that.  Older than the pyramids.

Lots of coastline

Standing Stone

More standing stones

Yet more

Sheep for my mom

That doesn't look steep, but it was a LONG hill...took a while, esp in the heat of the day

I got in mid-afternoon and decided I'd take a stroll to the next town for a meal via the coast path.  This was probably 6-7 miles, but I can't say for sure.  A lot steeper in places than I expected, but well worth it.  I took the shorter path home.


After my hike along the coast path

Coast path

Following morning I rode the bus around 1/3 of the Isle to some waterfalls and ancient tomb site.  Glenashdale Falls and the Giant's Grave.  Pretty places.  You can see the clouds on the mountains and the lack of viability.  This was what I expected when I came.  I got really really really lucky.  Often you can't see 10 ft in front of you, but I got two picture perfect clear days.  One of my best trips for sure (so hard to rank them though).

Glenashdale Falls

Giant's Grave (honestly I didn't write my was another Sam)

Cloudy morning

Looking toward Goatfell

Bye bye...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

South West Coast Path: Day 5 - Porthcurno to Penzance

Last day on the coast path.  Needed to make it to Penzance by 4pm because that's when my train left.  Purchased a cheap ticket so it was that train or getting a new ticket...Started the day with a HUGE breakfast.  Muesli and OJ followed by a full English breakfast of an egg, 2 slices of bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, fried bread, beans, 2 tomato halves, two slices of toast, and a pot of tea.  YUMMmmmmm.  Left with a full stomach ready for the day ahead.
View from my bedroom window...yes you can see the sea!

Back toward Porthcurno

Fun little waterfall

Different signage

First (and only) wooded area of the coast path

Lots of flowers along the path

Lunch...probably the nicest lunch I had from any day.  Usually I just had some fruit and flapjacks (like a compact granola bar)

Coming into the village of Mousehole

Overlooking Mousehole

Coming into Penzance

Rail station...the end

Lots of lovely coast, forested areas, and villages today.  Got to Penzance by about 3pm, just enough time to wander around and find some authentic organic cornish ice cream.  Probably got sunburnt today as well, but that's better than ending by getting rained upon.  Total of around 11 or 12 miles today.  Long trip back to London Paddington, then on the tube home to Wood Green.  Got in around 10:30pm.