I’ve been and not quite conquered the Arran Coastal Way for reasons I’ll go into later but I’ll attempt to give a run down of each day for anyone who’s interested!
The first day was mainly taken up travelling, starting out at 10.30 to catch the train to Glasgow Central and then on to Ardrossan to meet up with the ferry. I love trains and ferries so I find this part quite enjoyable, even the waiting between connections is fun if there is coffee and people watching involved. I had booked my train ticket from Oxenholme station (nr Kendal) to Glasgow back in January for just over £20 return and picked up a ‘Rail and Sail’ ticket which covers travel from Glasgow to Brodick for £22.90 from Glasgow Central. The plan was to walk a section each day carrying all my stuff with me to camp along the way. (I’d like to add at this point that my rucksack must have weighed in excess of 15kg so not ultralight by any stretch of the imagination!)
I arrived in Brodick at 4.15pm to a few grey clouds and a little bit of wind and headed straight off knowing that I had until about 9pm to get to my intended wild camp site at Sannox approx 8 miles away. Unfortunately both my phone and solar charger were slowly dying so didn’t manage to get too many photo’s along the way.
I think I had underestimated how much of this walk was uphill, heading up into Merkland Woods above the castle at Brodick and then following broad forestry paths for what felt like miles. Just as I thought I was coming back down to the coast, up it went again! The views through the gaps in the trees were amazing and I couldn’t wait to get back down near the sea way down there. I was getting tired and ended up slipping at one point and smacked down on my bum, I felt like a turtle trying to get back up with a fully loaded rucksack attached!!
Eventually I came down to the road and walked along to Corrie, finding a handy water tap at the village hall there (also toilets!) and the lovely pier complete with sheep! I must have looked shattered as a local came cycling up to let me know I could camp at the village hall if I wanted to. Thinking that Sannox wasn’t very far, I thought I’d push on and make camp so I was that bit further on for the next day. That last mile or so was tough, I was sooo tired and feeling disheartened that it seemed such a struggle on day one!
Tent up, food eaten, bed ready, woolly hat and numerous layers on…sleep! The rain and wind woke me a couple of times but my first night wild camping on my own was absolutely fine. The tent held up to everything thrown at it and I felt safe even if a little fed up.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the possible need for a different tent to take around the Arran Coastal Way, the smallest tent I had was a great little Eurohike one which had never let us down but weighed in at over 3kg. I’ve spent weeks wading through Ebay to find a half decent one that I could actually afford, that was a more reasonable weight of 2kg or less, and failed miserably. In a last ditch attempt I put a shout out on some Outdoor Gear Facebook pages just asking if any one had one they were upgrading, chucking out, or willing to sell. I thought I would get back some snidey comments about never finding anything for my budget but how wrong was I!?
I had a whole host of helpful comments about where to look, giving advice of what to look for, offering tents for sale as close to my budget (which wasn’t much!) as they could go. I was extremely grateful for all offers but the one that blew me away was a lovely lady offering me an older tent, still in great condition, which she just wasn’t using anymore. At first I didn’t catch on and kept asking for the price but it turned out she was actually offering it to me for free!! WOW !! Not just any old cheap tent, an older model Lightwave T1 Cylq… not only that, she posted it to me and wouldn’t let me pay the postage either! She had upgraded and wanted someone to make good use of her old tent and obviously thought I might be a likely candidate.
BUT…the story doesn’t end there readers (!) The day it arrived I had another message from someone else offering me a older Vango Banshee 200 for ‘cheap as chips’ money! I didn’t want to appear greedy so explained I had just got one but that my son would love it so we could go wild camping. So now we will have two great little tents to go adventuring with. So, so happy!
I haven’t been out much this last week or so, the weather has been pants here and work seems to have taken over my life! When the sun has decided to put in an appearance it’s usually been on days when I’ve had to be taxi-driver for the teenagers. All in all, frustrating and I’m tired and grouchy (had you guessed!?)
Anyway…a quick update on how I’m getting on with getting bits and pieces for doing the Arran Coastal Walk in May. Firstly I’ve picked up a nearly new Down 2-3 season sleeping bag which is fantastic and a nearly new pair of Craghoppers Kiwi Pro-Stretch trousers which are as comfy as all the ladies who rave about them said they were! I have a new pair of walking shoes (don’t really like boots) from Karrimor on their way and I’ve decided I really need another tent…3kg is just too much weight to carry. The rucksack we have is not ideal but this will have to be last on my list of things I can afford, so that would be a bonus.
So, things are ticking over, my birthday is in three days so fingers crossed a tent appears!!
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.
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!
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