The weather forecast for our first full day on Arran was fairly dry in the morning and wet in the afternoon, and it was very accurate. We caught the bus from Brodick to Lamlash and walked along the Coastal Way back. The distance was about 12km which suited a morning walk for us. The Coastal Way is a moderately new route on Arran with an excellent website ( http://www.coastalway.co.uk/). The entire way is 105km (65 miles) and is moderately well waymarked with a gannet symbol, although I would not advise anyone to do it without a map.
Lamlash is the largest village on Arran. With a population of just over 1000 it is significantly larger than Brodick, pop. 800. Lamlash also has the only hospital and the island’s secondary school. But Brodick is definitely the Commercial centre and the transport hub with main ferry terminal and bus station.
Our walk started at the far end of Lamlash Bay from Brodick, just outside the school. We walked along the road for a short stretch then took to the beach and a wide grass verge with magnificent views out to Holy Island; now home to a Buddhist retreat but open for visitors to walk around.
A ferry normally runs from Lamlash harbour to the island but we were too early and we were told it would probably not run that day because of the strong wind.
A pretty row of cottages caught our eye and we crossed the road for a closer look. Called Hamilton Terrace and built in the late 19th century the cottages form an impressive sight.
In front of the cottages is a large memorial to “The Clearances” when more than 300 people were forcibly moved, mostly to Canada. The memorial records that before the first boat set sail from Lamlash, with 86 people on board in April 1829, a Reverend conducted a service from close to this point. The memorial was paid for by Canadian descendants of the settlers. I was clearly disturbed by this memorial. I put down our map and mapcase and walked off leaving it there. By the time I returned after an hour, it was gone. No surprise there! Luckily the village shop was open and I bought another map.
The path follows the coast round, first by a road then a track and finally a footpath. The route provides great views out to sea and back across Lamlash Bay.
Further on the path leaves the coast just before Corriegills Point and goes up a track past a a house, then still climbing reaches some more houses and enters a small copse. We stopped here and had our lunch perched on a new stile on what seemed to be a new footpath. This path crossed several fields with good views over Brodick towards Goatfell.
After a short while we descended to a road just by Strachwhillan Farm. Then we took the road back into Brodick. We just had time for a quick shop for dinner before the foretold rain arrived.
Next day was forecast to be wet and it was. Around 2 p.m. it eased off enough for us to take a bus up to the Heritage museum. It is not far from Brodick and is well worth a visit. There is great deal of local history and geology, with a cottage set up like it might have been 100 years ago and stories from the first and second world wars and from the emigrants sent to Canada. We spent a couple of hours there and by the time we left the rain had ceased so we walked further out of Brodick to a group of shops including the Cheese and Arran Aromatics outlets then on to the Arran Brewery and the entrance to Brodick Castle which is the start of the Goatfell track. We walked back into Brodick across the golf course and alongside the beach. That evening when we dined well on prepared meals from the nearby Co-op supermarket.
The next day, Monday and a Bank Holiday, had a good weather forecast, the best for the week it seemed. Anxious to make the most of it we took the bus at 8 am back to the Arran Brewery and Castle to walk up Goatfell.
To start with the summit was in cloud and we were a bit concerned, but pressed on. The path is extremely well maintained and marked, there is absolutely no problem with route finding. It is a steady climb all the way and after it joins the path from Corrie it becomes steeper and rockier. The final section to the summit was quite snowy and tricky because the path was covered. Going up was not too bad but coming down was quite hazardous and I needed hands on sometimes. My colleague waited a bit below the summit, where the going became very steep and the cloud/mist covering the top started. It was windy all the way up but on the ridge after joining the Corrie path it became much stronger. I carried on and was lucky that the cloud partially cleared about 10 minutes after I arrived at the top.
There are stunning views and despite its height (874m) it deserves its “mountain” label. Of course, on my way down the cloud cleared completely from the summit! The climb took about 3 hours and a similar time coming down with a stop for some lunch on the way. At the bottom we went and had coffee/hot chocolate and cake, of course, at Janie’s.
It was quite busy on the path; perhaps 100 people passed us going up and down, many of them seemingly very inappropriately dressed. There was a cold wind even though the sun was out much of the time and we were wearing fleeces, hats, gloves and jackets, some others were in t shirts and shorts!
We walked back to Brodick along the shore. That night we ate at the Fiddlers, a very convivial bar with live music. We chatted with people on neighbouring tables on holiday from France and Holland and had few beers from Arran brewery. A great day all told with Arran at its best in bright sunshine.