Trip Report: Arran, May 2015
As part of a recent trip to Scotland (more to come soon on the rest of my week) I was left to my own devices for a couple of days. I don’t mind spending a few days by myself but I rarely do so in the great outdoors, preferring some company and second opinions for my outdoor decision making and entertainment. My default position when I’m travelling on my own is to stick to the cities but this blog isn’t called zooutdoors for nothing, it was time to push my boundaries a little and take in the great outdoors all by myself.
I eased myself in gently to solo travel with a delightful stay in Grasshoppers Hotel in Glasgow. A favourite (well I’ve been there twice) stylish, welcoming hotel right in the centre of Glasgow. I often find my travels to more northern parts of Scotland pass through Glasgow and a stay here is the perfect end or beginning to a more outdoorsy part of a trip. It’s right next to central station and their included self serve breakfast gives the opportunity to create possibly one of the best bacon sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.
I digress. Apologies. I wanted to visit a Scottish island, I had two nights and no car so selected Arran to meet my outdoorsy needs. It’s super easy to get to from Glasgow and without wishing to give too much away it met and far exceeded my expectations.
A train, ferry and bus combo (TIP: buy a combined ticket from the outset) took me to Lochranza. Situated in the north of the island it was perfect for a couple of days of non touristed walking. It was the first outing for both my tent and my stove so I played it safe at a campsite. For next time I’ve definitely scouted out a few outstanding wild camping locations.
My first walk was a late afternoon windblown affair along the recently created Arran Coastal Way. It was spectacular from beginning to end. The colours of the sea and seashore were more vivid than any I’ve ever seen, add in a leg stretching climb back over a saddle to the campsite and I was in my element.
The second day I decided to head inland. A right hand turn at the distillery and within minutes civilisation was a dot to me. I climbed up through a beautiful if slightly boggy valley and before long I was in what felt like a previously unexplored wilderness. Granted every now and again I’d come across a reassuring boot print but I saw no owner of said prints all day. For good measure I popped up the nearest summit I could climb. The views were spectacular; out over a panoramic u shaped valley, up to the craggy ridgeline of the islands taller peaks housing some spectacular climbs and scrambles that I will save for another visit. Most of all I really enjoyed the sense of challenge I felt by being out there on my own. Any navigational decisions were mine and mine only, it brought a real sense of peace and far from being stressful was actually really relaxing to know that my only task of that day was to potter around the hills and get myself ‘home’ again in one piece.
All in all I couldn’t have asked for more from my first Scottish island experience. I now know that I can cook a mean dinner on my stove and that my tent will withstand some pretty heavy wind and rain.I’ve got a bit more confidence in the bag in my ability to go out and do the things I want to do on my own. I’m planning my next trip already….
I hope this has inspired some mini adventures for you, I’d love to hear about them.