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Arran Coastal Way – Have map, will travel.

First step: actually figure out where you’re going!

There seems to be a lack of write-up’s about the Arran Coastal Way online, not really sure why and not sure whether this is something to worry about or not! I did find a great blog ‘Ruth’s Coastal Walk’ which covers Arran, as well as her progress around the UK which makes for inspirational reading for some future adventures.

I have, however, managed to get hold of a map showing the coastal way route, a teeny tiny little map that folds up really small, weighs next to nothing and is waterproof…who knew these things existed?? Obviously not me, but maybe I’m the only one who didn’t! This, and the very imformative Rucksack Reader guide (also on rainproof paper!) should be more than enough to guide me around Arran. It details each leg of the journey with maps and interesting facts, as well as advising where shops, pubs and other amenities are.

Routes, information, history and rainproof.
Waterproof, double sided teeny tiny map!

One Hour Outside…

There are some great blogs and youtube videos out there at the moment, there seems to be a real surge of women pushing their own and societies boundaries, really doing what they love and letting other people know, which is fantastic, be it wild swimming, mountain biking, solo hiking, motorbiking across continents…

One of those blogs I’ve discovered recently had a great write-up all about spending one hour a day outside. I won’t ruin it for you because she’s written a brilliant post and one that I am going to attempt to do this year. Have a read here:http://splodzblogz.co.uk/one-hour-outside/

This week has been cold and our wood supply has dwindled to nothing brrrr. The ever practical Mr.Gnomead arrived home from work at the beginning of the week with a car and roof loaded with branches he’d picked up at the side of the road just on his journey home. So this week has mainly consisted of moving wood, cutting wood, chopping wood, stacking wood and then burnng wood… So my one hour a day has also mainly consisted of exactly these things!

Very satisfying!

No.2 teen has also re-discovered geo-caching which we used to do a lot of when they were smaller, so we’ve got out and about for a few hours this week trying to find small boxes in the undergrowth. He casually remarked as he was reaching behind a stone wall in full earshot of some walkers “Just dropping the drug stash here and we’ll send them the co-ordinates” The police haven’t turned up on our doorstep as yet…

As I work from home and I know I have a tendency to not want to move once I’ve started work this is a great way for me to ensure I get out and breath some fresh air each day. One hour a day … that’s all!

Arran Coastal Way – I want, I want, I want…

We’ve camped for years, got at least five tents in our loft (yes, a ridiculous amount!) ranging from a lovely heavy bell-tent to a brilliantly reliable two man Eurohike tent which we were given. We have rucksacks of all shapes and sizes, some vintage, some not quite so. Camping stoves, water carriers, electric hook-ups, sleeping mats, sleeping bags…BUT after a big rummage around the other day I realised I have NOTHING really suitable to go on a multi-day hike and wild camp!! Aaargh ….

Obviously being on a small budget some things will have to be a compromise…the two man tent is 3kg in weight, this could possibly be lightened by taking out the carry bag, getting lighter tent pegs? Maybe? With other things I need to get something more suitable. My lovely five inch deep, self inflating sleep mat is really not going to fit into my rucksack! So on that note I have made a dream list of everything I would really love to have. There’s always Valentine’s day and a birthday before I go so here’s hoping!

Dream Equipment List

  • Lightweight 2-man tent (preferably under 1.5 kg)
  • Lightweight, compact 2-3 season sleeping bag.
  • Newer, lighter rucksack with raincover.
  • Thermarest Neo-Air sleep mat. (REALLY want one of these or something just as good. A dodgy hip makes a comfy mat a priority!)
  • Compact stove, something like a Tomshoo, MSR Pocket Rocket type
  • Some stainless steel / titanium cookware and long handled spoon.

Then, of course there’s also things like new wool socks, merino base layers, compact down jacket, decent waterproof… the list goes on…

This could all get a bit depressing but I have to remember that people have been hiking and backpacking for years without all this modern, lightweight equipment and they coped!! So, a few compromises, a few hours scouring ebay for pre-loved items and some priority things to save up for, and all will be well in the end… I’ll let you know how I get on!

Scottish Surprise

Our Christmas present to ourselves was a couple of nights away, minus two teenagers… yeehaa! And because I like to think I’m the boss in the house, I sorted out and booked the two nights without letting on to Mr’Gnomead where we were headed… Unfortunately for him it wasn’t a spa break at Centre Parcs, or a luxury hotel with all mod cons (he was warned!!) Something WAAAAY more fun…

YES! a wooden hut in the middle of nowhere with no electricity or toilet facilities…or kitchen…or water… oh dear, what had I done!!??

We arrived at our destination on a dull grey afternoon and I was a little bit concerned when we walked in to a small, cold, dark wooden house at the bottom of a field. Visions of luxury hotels and spa breaks did fleet across my mind at this point! But soon with the log burner roaring, the candles lit and some fish and chips in our tummies it transformed itself into a magical little hidey-hole, so peaceful, so secluded and so, so cosy…

The next day was spent on a whistle stop tour exploring the Rhins of Galloway with lighthouses, beaches and lovely seaside villages, an area well worth visiting. We had tea cooked on an open fire outside and then into the cosy Roundhouse to fall asleep to candle light and the log burner flickering…bliss!

We woke up to a misty, mysterious morning, ate breakfast by the campfire and packed to head home by the scenic route.

Misty morning

This was at a great little campsite called Balloch O’Dee which had been recommended to us by two of our friends. An absolute gem of a place and one we will certainly be returning to. As well as camping they have other quirky and unique accommodation available. Gorgeous showers and toilets and friendly people – what more could you want? !

Arran Coastal Way – Beginning…

I’ve done a few solo day walks but never a long distance one so this was on the top of my Bucket List for this year. There are so many in the UK that can be done, some on our doorstep where we live, but I’ve decided on the Arran Coastal Way for my first foray into Long Distance walking and into solo wild camping…nothing like diving in at the deep end!

Why the Arran Coastal Way? Well… it’s an island I’ve been to before, that time in a beaten up campervan with the whole family on an amazing adventure around Bute, Arran and the Kintyre peninsula. We stayed on a few campsites but mainly ‘wild campervanning’ . This is going back a fair few years and it is still my son’s favourite holiday ever.

As I’m a bit of a woose, I wanted to be somewhere vaguely familiar and easy to get back to civilisation on my first solo walk / camp. There is a great bus service that runs frequently around the island so I know I can get back to the ferry point pretty easily if needed.

And, of course, Arran is beautiful and who doesn’t want to spend a week by the sea on a Scottish Island!?

The plan so far is to go in Spring, hopefully before the midges come out in force but when the weather will not be too wet and miserable