In 2018, our honeymoon took us to the Isle of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland. We fell in love with the place. So much so, we were back again the following year, this time bringing along my Mum, Dad and sister, Karen. Whilst driving around during our prior visit, I kept noticing a path running alongside a river in the mountainous north of the island. It was so inviting, and it was now time to see where it led.
I love it when someone goes hill walking for the first time and gets the bug. After walking the Langdale Pikes and the Old Man of Coniston, I was out with Beth again, this time to tackle Bowfell on another hot day. Nigel also joined us as we set off early from Manchester to arrive at the National Trust car park by the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub (LA22 9JY) by about 10 am. After toilet stop and a check to ensure plentiful supplies of suntan lotion, we set off towards Stool End (snigger) farm. Our route would take us along both the valleys we could see, but whilst the tops of Mickleden were clear, clouds shrouded Crinkle Crags at the head of Oxendale.
You may remember from my first Wainwright walk post, Cold Pike and Pike o’Blisco, we used to get around the Lakes in Old Peg, our brilliant old campervan. We’ve missed having a van so last year, after much scrolling through eBay, we bought Tormund the Transit. And our first trip (after the back garden) – the Lake District. Travelling up on Friday night, we stayed at Sykeside Camping Park and after tea in the pub and a wander down the lane at the back of the site, we settled in for the night.
Earlier this year, we were in the Lake District, walking the Wainwrights again. Returning to Great Langdale, we decided to revisit Lingmoor Fell. Rick and I had walked here with the mutts one snowy day eight years ago. We decided it would be the perfect fell for a walk with Rowan, especially given the shorter days.
After having such a fab day out in the Langdales, me, Angela and Beth decided another day out in the Lakes was long overdue. The October weather forecast was pretty changeable, with some strong winds and rain forecast. We decided that we would go ahead – we’ve got waterproofs! Given the forecast, we were careful with our choice of walk, opting for Coniston Old Man for a clear route and relatively short day.
Most of my previous walking has been done in the Lake District. When I open the OS map to plan a walk, it is criss-crossed with green and black dashed lines indicating footpaths and right of ways. This was not the case when I opened a map of Arran. Contours and streams were there, and lots of other symbols, lines and colours that make maps so brilliant to look at – but not too many footpaths. I guess the Scottish Outdoor Access Code means that much of the landscape is one big right of way (within reason). But it came as a bit of a shock when I was trying to plan a day in the hills for us. After consulting my guide book, I decided that Coire Fhionn Lochan would be the walk for us.
After we’d visited Machrie Moor Stone Circle, there was still plenty of time left for more adventure, so we drove the short distance down the road to Torr Righ Beag, a coniferous forest by the sea. From here, we could walk down to the beach to explore the King’s Cave, but not before the customary check of the information board. Here, we found a circular walk which, for no particular reason, we chose to do clockwise. We made our way to a forest track on the left hand side of the car park.
Last year, Rick and I got married. It was a lovely weekend in the Lake District not dampened in the slightest by the inevitable (for the Lakes) rain. With Rowan now at school, we had to wait for the summer holidays for our honeymoon, but the end of August saw us heading north to visit Scotland in Miniature – the beautiful Isle of Arran.
After listening to me harping on about walking in the Lakes, my friend Beth decided she would like to go hill walking. As it would be her first walk, we wanted something with not too many miles, but at the same time, managing to satisfy Beth’s motto of “go big or go home”. The Langdale Pikes with their stunning scenery and little bits of scrambling opportunity were hopefully, going to be the perfect walk. So, joined by Angela, we set off early one Saturday morning in July.