So we come to the final day, and we still hadn’t made a decision about the towering mass of Goatfell. The plan throughout the week had been to do Goatfell on the last day. There were two reasons for this; one, to do it when we were supposedly at out fittest, and two, to look back from the highest point of Arran on everything we had walked over the course of the week.
However, we now knew that there was no way we could climb it with the rucksacks weight dragging us down. The weather was due to be hot again, and the amount of water we would have needed to take would have weighed us down even further.
We had been discussing ways of moving our bags to Brodick to await our arrival - our host at Darven Cottage was very helpful, but by the time we were eating breakfast, it was clear that his plans for the day and ours were not going to align. We couldn’t ask him to go out of his way for us, so we had no choice but to pack up the bags and stick to the coastal path for the day.
Making our farewell to Darven (a place we will surely use again, if only as a base camp for when we do tackle Goatfell), we set out along the road south to Corrie. This was a delightful village, full of pretty houses spread out along the coastline. Sadly, it was still only around 11am, and too early to justify a stop, so we merely enjoyed the view as we strolled through.
After Corrie, we left the road and took a forestry track that climbed along the lower shoulder of Goatfell. The heat was cranking up, and the short, sharp climb up onto the ridge showed us what a good decision we had made in not attempting Goatfell - we struggled enough with the ridge. As you would expect from a forestry track, it was clear, easy going, but with no shade, and once again the horseflies were attempting to get a bit of me for lunch. They weren’t so bad as previous days though, so it was relatively easy to ignore.
After a brief water stop at a good viewpoint over the sea to the east, we started descending into the Merkland estate, where the trees were allowed to get a little closer to the path, and the shade was welcome. It wasn’t long before we reached the edge of the Brodick Castle estate, and from there, it was a mere mile to the famous Arran Brewery.
We’d done it! The brewery was on the outskirts of Brodick, and while we still technically had 2 miles to go to the ferry terminal, we had several hours to go before our ferry was due to depart. So, a celebratory beer was in order! Sitting on the picnic tables outside the brewry with an ice cold Arran Blonde in the heat of the afternoon was heaven. I swear things taste better after a good walk :)
After a beer and a bite to eat, we decide to head down to the ferry terminal. It was early to be doing so, but we had little else to do, so we marched on. As we crossed Cladach beach on the Fisherman’s Path, it seemed that the ferry was coming in - but it was far too early for the 4.40pm crossing we wanted to take. Strange, but somewhere we found the energy to up the pace a little, and arrived at the ferry terminal to discover a bonus crossing had been added due to the number of tourists making use of the good weather, and we’d arrived with 10 minutes to spare to catch it! Straight on board then, and away home, the walk complete.
As we sailed away and watched the island recede into the distance, I had a chance to reflect back on the walk as a whole. It was a pretty awesome week, all in all. Long distance walks are always hard at times, and sure, at those times, it hurts (sometimes a lot). But in return, we seen awesome sights, had great excerise and improved our fitness, and seen Arran as I think it should been seen. Life shouldn’t be about rushing around trying to see everything in one go. We’ve spent a week exploring the place, and I feel like there’s plenty more I could come back for (Goatfell, for starters….). In addition, we got some of the best weather Scotland has seen in years, and it’s a real pleasure to be out walking in it, instead of looking at it from an office window while working.
So here’s to you, Arran, and here’s to next time. We’ll be back.