Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scotland's training grounds

Scotland's Isle of Arran, oft described as 'Scotland in miniature,' was a useful training ground presumably for the rest of our trip. Arran showed us that despite the cost of getting there, internal public transport would be exorbitantly expensive and lack useful transfers, the weather could change on a dime and stunning, challenging walks were waiting further along the valley.

Mimicking Scotland, Arran has lowlands in the south, dramtic highlands in the north and breathtaking off shore islands to explore.

On advice from a Glaswegian in a pub and against the visitor centre's wind and weather advisory, Orion and I set out to tackle the highest peak on the island while Robyn wisely opted to take a sick day.

(Goat Fell from Brodick)

Visible in Brodick, we began at sea level and climbed through fern-shrouded valleys that agev way to exposed meadows where the last of the year's heather lingered. Our final summit push was delayed as a squall passed over, forcing us to take shelter underneath a precariously balanced rock for its duration.

(Orion and I taking cover)

The howling wind quickly dried out the rock staircase to the top that Orion equated with the intensity of Vancouver's Grouse Grind.

(Views from the summit)

After an uneventful descent, we popped into Brodick Castle grounds, passed the cheese factory and brewery and made for home in our waterproofs as the rain rolled over again.

Satisfingly sore and tired from the day, the three of us retired to the pub for folk music, tasty pints and bargain pizzas before travelling to the north of the island the following day.

(Orion enjoying refreshment in the hills)


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