Arran Coastal Way

Dear Ken

Fri 30th – 17.30

Back in Glasgow and within Wi-Fi range and I know you will be wondering whether we were caught by the tide. We clearly not as you read yesterday’s escapades. It was good to hear from you in the comments section. But who is ‘Kenneth’, we would love to meet him sometime.

Now for a pot of tea and recount our adventures to Gail.

Eventually, photographs will be added to the blog – probably when we get home.

From Kenneth.
Very many congratulations from us both to all 5 of you for successfully completing the walk. It has been a pleasure following your escapades during the week.. If your are there on Sunday I will get someone to introduce you to Kenneth
.

Dear Ken

Fri 30th – 14.30

We were up today at the same time as ever, but we did not have the aim and objective of another twenty miles to walk. We knew there was a cafe that did a cooked breakfast but it didn’t start serving until ten o’clock. So we mooched about – absolute bliss! Then, the cafe only did sandwiches. We left in a disappointed huff, moved on to Lamlash, a hotel that did breakfast from 8am – gggrrrr we mooched and drank tea when we could have been having breakfast. Hotel breakfast ended at ten o’clock – double ggggrrrr. However, another cafe was open and serving. Glorious. Mmmmmmmmm!

Going then to the caravan four men withdrew and cleaned, loaded the car. We were magnificent and left it quite immaculate – Jenny will agree hopefully!

BEING A TOURIST IS TIRING.

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A coffee at the brewery, a look round the cheese shop and perfumery, a fish for lunch and off to the ferry.

JOURNEY END

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Dear Ken

Thurs 29th 22.00

A useful lunch if ever there was one. We had decided to ‘escape’ the longest section of boulder torture in favour of the less punishing road route. As with yesterday, this would give us best part of ten miles on the tarmac. The waiter who served us our sandwich and tea (massive volumes) asked us where we had been. Did we really look so tired? He then confirmed our decision by saying the beach route was very long, sometimes dangerous and not to be undertaken unless you have lots of time and were extremely fit. He also said the road was not direct and not very interesting.

VIEW – Over to Kintyre and Northern Island in the very distance.

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However there was another way which took you into the hills and forest in a ten mile track established for off road cyclists. We looked at the map, recognised a good thing when we saw it and decided to follow his advice. The route mirrored the coastal route.

FOREST TRACK

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So we climbed out of Lagg and within a mile we turning left onto what looked like a farm track that headed towards highland forests. Finally, the weather caught us up, but the rain was never heavy, more of cloudy, misty mizzle. Peter opted for a rain coat, Chris and myself stayed in our basic t-shirt and got damp. It was still too warm for a coat of any description.

We later found out that the forest was to be harvested over the next few years and whole track was really well maintained. If only the whole of the Arran Coastal Way was as well organised!

We consistently climbed for well over an hour with occasional breathers and stops to samples of sweet wild raspberries. Suddenly, we broke cover into a farmed area – a large swathe of fields set in the centre of a forest. On the map we were halfway to our destination. From that point swift climbed to the summit of the way and onward to the down hill section to Whiting Bay.

We arranged to meet Gordon at a principle waterfall two miles from Whiting Bay. We got within 50 yards of the falls, couldn’t see his elfin features anywhere and the phone signal was non-existent, we left a message and walked on. Half a mile on, the phone rang – Gordon was hidden at the falls and we missed him. At the village we stopped, had a pint (Peter a hot chocolate) and we waited.

The final mile and our journey was over. Tired and subdued we had managed our walk in very little time. A job well done!

A brief rest, a wash and brush up and we re-visit the’Trafalgar’- wonderful food and an excellent raconteur. His wit and food made a grand celebration. Sleep will come easily.

Dear Ken

Thurs 29th 13.45

From the caravan we went north to Brodick, before cutting across the island. Gordon and Bramble joined us for a short beach walk – Mr. Smith’s knee wasn’t up to the pounding it would take. Peter and I feared for Chris, whose limp was progressing. On the flat he coped, but uphill and down dale in the extreme between cliff and sea we couldn’t make progress faster than one mile an hour.

JUST OUT OF BLACKWATER FOOT. Starting the boulder torture.

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Proof of the pudding The first section we hit was minor beach work before it degenerated into some sort of private hell. It had rained during the night and our boots were quickly soaked, the rocks were slippery, the vegetation sharp on bare legs and it took far longer to travel a couple of headlands. As the land opened out into pasture we were blocked by a herd of cows with young. Peter and I were mega cautious and diverted to the shore line while Chris sauntered along shooing with confidence. A mother and calf stepped aside to reveal the bull. Chris said he was calm and collected and prepared to push past – he came down to join us – not that confident I feel!

CHRIS CRACKING ON! Notice Alisa Craig out to sea.

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We decided, being behind time, to make for the road a little earlier than the official route. We were four miles from lunch and we made good progress to the Lagg Hotel. Another change of socks was my first job because wet boots wet the first set of dry socks I had changed into after the cows.

From Kenneth,
Received 5 reports today. We have a quite large scale map of Arran to follow your route. I hope it is not Bramble who is feeling the strain. You have really moved since your last report. It is children not grandchildren and I have not seen either of them since Monday so it is all my own work.

Dear Ken

Thurs 29th 08.45

Getting up with more stiffness this morning. Struggled to find any signal anywhere close, so just keep reporting and will send when we get ‘free’ access somewhere.

Porridge and sausage sarnies fuel us for the day and we are heading back to Blackwaterfoot to start the final and most tortuous day. Some gruelling hours on boulder fields if the tides are favourable.

Dear Ken

Wed 28th 22.00

No signal i.e. no up-to- date report.

An afternoon that was, but for the views of Kintyre sliding past us at walking pace, mundane. Another section of trial by boulder field – with the only reassurance of being on the right ‘path’ was an occasional splurge of yellow paint. We eventually completed the traverse of meadows to return to the road nearly two and a half hours. With wet boots blister number one appeared on my little toe and due to compensating for this, another one appeared on at the pad on the base of my big toe. Even though I changed my socks again (water- proofing didn’t work) good company, Chris racing ahead and us spurting on to catch him up and rolling countryside made ignoring them easy.

We found a tea room by the golf course and we worked out we were ahead of time to meet Gordon so tea and a scone recharged us nicely.

A phone call from Mr. Smith rings to say he is at the rendezvous already. We crack on and the path suddenly turns inland, just to take in an existing forest walk. Also, the headland, where one man and his dog awaits, is beyond the point we were heading.

At ‘King’s Cave’ we could see where Gordon was and for once the beach path was quick. A rocky outcrop meant we had to go up onto the cliff to reach Gordon, who we could see but not reach. We caught him up at a stile and we were accompanied into Blackwaterfoot alongside the golf club fairways.

BOULDER ART AT THE COCK OF ARRAN AND KING’ S CAVE

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JUST A PHOTO FROM ABOVE KING’ S CAVE TO KINTYRE

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Sweaty and tired, we had a good bar meal at Kinloch Hotel and a couple of pints to rehydrate. We drove back to base assessing the south coast for tomorrow’s trials.

Gordon had visited the Arran Distillery, so we toasted out a long day, you yourself Ken and the final offensive.

Dear Ken

Wed 28th 14.30

A hearty breakfast and we were on the road to Lochranza for our starting point for today. Gordon, still pained, took Bramble back along the north shore of the loch while we were on the south side heading toward the ferry port.

POSTMAN’S WALK – Back to Lochranza

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Now Ken, I find you a most charming of individuals – smiley and sometimes very polite. Our guidebook however talked of our next stretch as being ‘charmingly narrow’. Well – charming in now redefined as boggy, overgrown and a right scramble! The section is known as the ‘Postman’s Walk!’ Unfortunately, the first ever letter delivered this way put off the postman from using the route ever again.

Road walking is notoriously wearing and often boring to boot but after the misleading Postman’s Walk we welcomed some tarmac. My boots and socks were wet through and my second toe hurt. A change of socks aided and we were off. Occasional slow bits of chore-like sections on the shore gave way to more road work around a bay and we found a good tearoom for a hearty bowl of soup and sandwiches.

POSTMAN’S WALK – Forward to the Road and Ferry to Kintyre

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Dear Ken,

Wed 28th 9.30

Well – we certainly didn’t want to get out of bed this morning – but nothing out of the ordinary. However, we were particularly well cocooned this morning. The odd joint complained that they too wished to remain in some form of stasis.

From Kenneth,
Just read your Monday report, well done. Just got back from my non-sponsored walk but it was well worth it with a 3-2 win.
It seems that it is a good thing that there are 2 young fit ones with you!!!

Dear Ken,

Tues 27th – 21-00

It is good to see your grandchildren are helping you to reply using the old (or indeed new) ‘tinterweb’. Peter was in fact on the soft variety of drink. They did however run out so the other gentlemen and myself sampled some of the local brown sauce.

The Wi-Fi connection is very poor here and ranges between full bars to none whatsoever. My friend the caravan owner said it was 50% of rubbish. I can concur, as I seemed to lose all of the blog and only managed to retrieve it this evening.

Yesterday evening we dined at ‘Trafalgar’. Get this – a German Glaswegian with a sense of humour and some really good food. Pink chicken liver starters and thinly sliced venison with a poached bramley apple. He kept telling us how rubbish and rotten his menu and food was going to be. Oh how he was wrong! We plan to return on Thursday.

Two funny events of today. I saw a big black insect run across our path. “That’s called a John Lennon,” I said. “No it’s not!” Peter exclaimed, “It’s just a beetle!” “Mmmmmmm,” says me.

Second Chris crossing a river on some stepping stones. I had come across using my two sticks – extremely stable, Peter young and fit – a mere hop, skip and a jump, while Chris wibbled, wobbled and then washed his left boot, sock and trouser turn-ups in the peaty torrent. The act was caught on video though minor profanities mean we cannot place the clip on the web. (Private showings available at a later date.

So today’s efforts – after a gallon of porridge and sausage sandwiches Gordon – indisposed because of a dodgy knee – dropped us at Brodick. His day was spent on a beach with Bramble and ‘chillin’.

We set off around Brodick bay, including the golf coarse. A little road work and then into the forest and up a small incline. We were expecting to go to the summit of ‘Goat Fell’, but the hill tops were wearing cloud hats and were not sensibly possible.

Road work through Corrie and Sannox before we got to another golf coarse and a little hut for soup and sandwich.

SANNOX AFTERNOON START – STEPPING STONES

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The afternoon was a good ten miles around the coast and away from any road. We could almost touch Bute and Great Cumbrae, whilst the sea was like a mill pound. A smattering of rain spoilt the day and the wind picked up as time progressed. The track was very easy, well worn and easy on the foot. There was some interesting things to see – gannets diving, a basking shark, some collapsed cliffs called the standing stones and red sandstone used to build Glasgow tenements.

Within 4 miles of Lochranza we hit rocks. A major scramble ensued and we were slow going for half an hour. We normally hate shingle beach walking, but coming off of the scramble rocks and onto shingle – heaven!

HAPPY BEFORE THE BOULDER FIELD

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Bramble and Gordon met us just after we thought we had misread the map and we needed to get across another bay to the next headland. We saw the ferry leaving the port and realised we were actually closer. Wonderful!

We stopped at Lamlash – the ‘Drift Inn’ – simple Fish and Chips – in our muck, but in need offood. It was also getting too late to shower before we dined.

So, dear Ken, this might be publish straight away or sometime tomorrow.

Keep logging on!!!!

From Kenneth,
Hope your mini walk yesterday and the bigger one today have gone well. I am doing a non-sponsored hectic walk tonight down to the John Smith Stadium and back. I did a successful practice of the same walk last Saturday.
NOTE for Peter: My other half has been looking out old photos of when she stayed on Arran at a Christian Endeavour Holiday Home and found a picture of her and friends paddling at Whiting Bay and also visited Holy Island.. This was way back in the 1950’s.
All the best especially to poor Bramble
.

Dear Ken etc

Mon 26th – 17.45

Well Ken, I don’t quite know how the ‘Terriers’ were after their win on Saturday, but we have an air of weariness in the caravan this evening.

Off the ferry at 10.40am we were at the caravan just after 11am. We nearly were in the first ‘blue’ caravan after half reading the very clear instructions – a neighbour showed us to the right pitch. A brief unpack and dress up into walking boots and we were set.

THE FIRST WALK

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The first track lead onto the cobbled beach which wasn’t easy going. Soon though, a way-marker set us straight onto series of mowed paths and meadows. Hopefully not a reoccurring theme the track came to a halt and we scrambled onto the beech at a fish farm landing. Signs talked of ‘No non Personnel’, so we hoofed up a concrete road eventually joining the main road to Lamlash.

Cornish pasties, crisps and Irn-Bru and we were ready for the next leg to Brodick. The sun was out, the sky was blue and with palm trees in many gardens we could have been in the Mediterranean. Round a headland and for a couple of miles we navigated a barely discernible path alongside the sea. Hard going at times but the view across to the mainland at regular intervals was idyllic.

A detour took us up – and I mean up – a steep bank, along a minor lane before we hit the main road and dropped down to Brodick and the bus garage.

Honest, we were planning a mile or two more only the return bus was not until a lot later and a bus back to the caravan was only twenty minutes away.

The same bus dropped us off one stop beyond the site but a shower and a pot of tea revived us into a state where we felt 80 years old (Peter and Bramble seem hardly affected by our jaunt)

We now need sustenance! Come on and get a wriggle on in that shower!

From Kenneth (Ken),
I hope Peter was on the soft drinks!!. Hope you had a smooth 55 minute crossing to Arran. You said you were going on the early ferry but the first one went at 0700 hours
..

Dear Ken etc

Mon 26th – 10.15

On your new machine look up on Google – ‘Billy Connolly’s Desiderata’. (Please remember to turn the computer on first!) The last line of Mr. Connolly’s musing talks of ‘a mug of hot tea and spicy square sausage’. Well, our second breakfast, and energy boost for today’s coastal ramble consists of such fare – mmmmmmmm!!

Our staging post caravan is at Whiting Bay and that is where we will begin. A mere twelve miles north to Brodick. Are we ready? Still on the ferry, we feel inclined to just lounge all week – but out faithful sponsors expect the task completed. Gordon and Chris have three-quarter-hinted (a little more than half-hearted) that rest days may be possible – though not in Peter’s itinerary!

Are we ready? Well, some of the party have covered over 120 miles in the last five weeks including 35 miles over the last full weekend. Our legs are ready though our minds are less enthusiastic. Bramble has innate fitness, Chris has covered some though not all of the mile myself and Peter have accomplished, which leaves Mr. Smith – rest day and transport coordinator may take precedence. We shall see……..!

From Kenneth (Ken),
I hope Peter was on the soft drinks!!. Hope you had a smooth 55 minute crossing to Arran. You said you were going on the early ferry but the first one went at 0700 hours

Dear Ken and other interested parties.

Mon 26th – 08.30

Who’s idea was it to get up at 7am and travel to meet the early ferry? I blame Peter the booking agent for this holiday. (I do, of coarse mean expedition.)

THE EXPLORERS HEAD OFF FROM GLASGOW

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A quick bite and we are off through the rush hour traffic (another oversight), through the Clyde tunnel and on the motorway to Ardrossan.

Not putting too fine a point on it, I would rather be in France with my daughter than rubbing the sleep out of my eyes contemplating four days of route marching.

Bramble – a three year old Standard Poodle seems the most alert of the car load of travellers. No doubt she will walk, run and scout a lot further than us put together – unless Chris our septuagenarian has overdosed on his sanatogen.

Onward then to the ferry, second breakfasts and some initial day footslogging.

GLASGOW DRINKS ON ARRIVAL

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Dear Ken and other interested parties.

Sun 25th – 15.00

If in doubt collar the Curate because during the August Bank Holiday week the Vicar of St. Peter’s is on walk about.

Being sponsored for the North Wall Project Simon, his son Peter, and friends Chris (Barnsley) and Gordon (Glasgow) will be walking around the perimeter of the Isle of Arran. 70 miles in 3 1/2 days of road, beach, boulders, fells, fields and woodland. A very good bus service means we will seldom be from a lift back to base at Whiting Bay.

If you are not interested in our walk, the food we find might tempt your taste buds. So come along to this site every so often during the week.

The first night we are in Glasgow – Evensong at St. Mary’s Cathedral on the Great Western Road, before heading for the ferry quite early in the morning.

A few minutes more and we shall be on Scotland.

Dear Ken and other interested parties.

Sun 25th – 13.30

This is a small blog written in response to those who were glad to know our whereabouts last year while walking the West Highland Way.

Ken is new to the Internet having progressed from slate and chalk earlier this year. As an incentive to turn on his computer this blog will be addressed daily to Ken. In recognition of his dotage I will endeavour to type slowly as he does not read very quickly.

Enough to say we successfully alighted our first train and caught our connection at Manchester. So full steam ahead to Glasgow.

JOURNEY START

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6 responses to “Arran Coastal Way

  1. Kenneth replies: 18.45
    Peter, We have not heard the Cathedral bells as yet, possibly the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

  2. From Kenneth (Ken),
    I hope Peter was on the soft drinks!!. Hope you had a smooth 55 minute crossing to Arran. You said you were going on the early ferry but the first one went at 0700 hours..

  3. From Kenneth,
    Hope your mini walk yesterday and the bigger one today have gone well. I am doing a non-sponsored hectic walk tonight down to the John Smith Stadium and back. I did a successful practice of the same walk last Saturday.
    NOTE for Peter: My other half has been looking out old photos of when she stayed on Arran at a Christian Endeavour Holiday Home and found a picture of her and friends paddling at Whiting Bay and also visited Holy Island.. This was way back in the 1950’s.
    All the best especially to poor Bramble.

  4. From Kenneth,
    Just read your Monday report, well done. Just got back from my non-sponsored walk but it was well worth it with a 3-2 win.
    It seems that it is a good thing that there are 2 young fit ones with you!!!

  5. From Kenneth,
    Received 5 reports today. We have a quite large scale map of Arran to follow your route. I hope it is not Bramble who is feeling the strain. You have really moved since your last report. It is children not grandchildren and I have not seen either of them since Monday so it is all my own work.

  6. From Kenneth.
    Very many congratulations from us both to all 5 of you for successfully completing the walk. It has been a pleasure following your escapades during the week.. If your are there on Sunday I will get someone to introduce you to Kenneth.

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