Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Three Beinns, Goatfell, Happy Days!

I'm at my happiest wandering the mountains of home and I'm incredibly lucky that my local peaks are so astonishingly brilliant. This week I've had a real treat.  On Sunday, I was on the Three Beinns, (Beinn a Chliabhain, Beinn Tarsuinn, and Beinn Nuis), with Erin and Casey from the US, and today I was working for the Lochranza Field Centre  who have a school group staying with them who were keen to do a mass assault on Goatfell.  Despite being a large group, they were a lovely bunch of young people and we had a ball in the sunshine with great views and good company. Happy Days!

Above Glen Rosa, looking out towards Brodick Bay on the Three Beinns Walk.

Beinn Nuis is on the left in the cloud, Beinn Tarsuinn sneaking out on the Right.

The Old Man of Tarsuinn.

The remains of a B54 Liberator that crashed on Beinn Nuis in August 1943.

Another day, another dollar.... Stunning views on the way to Goatfell.....

....And even better ones from the top! This is Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Arran Mountain Festival: Holy Isle

Yesterday I was on the lovely island of Holy Isle, volunteering for the Arran Mountain Festival, and working alongside Andrew Binnie from the Comunity of Arran Seabed Trust.  We were there to enjoy a walk over the top of the island, and along the shore, enjoying the wildlife and learning more about COAST's ambitions project for marine conservation and a South Arran Marine Protected Area.
The day dawned damp and misty, but we crossed Lamlash bay on the Holy Isle Ferry in a flat calm. The climb to the summit of Mullach Mor (314m)  is a fairly steep one but is thankfully over pretty quickly.  Following this is a steep rocky descent to the south end of the island and a leisurely stroll back along the shore to the slipway. Wildlife highlights included lots of coastal wildlife including oystercatchers and common gulls nesting close to the path (please take care), as well as kestrel and peregrine falcons tousling together in the sky above.

The Holy Isle Project has a lovely new welcome sign at the slipway.

Chatting with Andrew from COAST on the summit of Mullach Beag.

Mist clearing from the summit of Mullach Mor

Team photo

The Holy Isle walk has a bit of everything, including art appreciation.

Green Tara

Exploring the intertidal habitats on the shore of Holy Isle.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Improvers Navigation Day 2

Yesterday's weather was not as bad as forecast and so Brian, Helen and I set out with optimism for the southern flanks of Goatfell this morning despite a forecast of strong winds and heavy rain.  In the event, the rain fell as predicted, but the winds were not so bad.  More importantly, the poor visibility gave us a chance to practice navigation techniques in a real situation with very challenging conditions. We looked at following bearings on difficult terrain, and a range of relocation strategies, using the featureless shape of Glenshant Hill and the steep ridge and coire above.  The conditions also gave us a chance to look at the wider issues associated with hillwalking in bad conditions, such as equipment, both personal and group, plus river hazards.

Yes, it really was wet!

The burn from Coire nan Meann, normally a lively burn, today a roaring torrent

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Improvers Navigation Day 1

There's been a break in transmissions on the blog recently as its been a busy few weeks with lots of work both indoors (I'm writing for Outdoor Enthusiast Magazine) and outdoors doing the usual wildlife watching, DofE expeditions, plus over the last couple of weeks, lots of John Muir Award Residentials. I'm delighted to be back on Arran this weekend and even better, on the hill, doing an Improvers Navigation course with Helen and Brian. Today was day 1 and we headed up to Coire Fhionn Lochain to look at on-path navigation, contours, map features and timing.  We then ventured off road and had fun in the bog with our compasses, finding lochains and stream junctions. The weather was pretty rubbish, with strong winds and rain on and off all day.  Unfortunately it didn't grace us with bad visibility which would have been useful for the nav practice, but this meant we got some stonking views despite the weather, hooray!

Looking east towards the Goatfell range from the bealach above the Lochain

Helen and Brian did a great job of staying chipper in some chilly squalls.

Now where is that pesky stream junction?