The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Scotland for the Brave
This year’s Scotland trip was a return visit to the beautiful Isle of Arran. Our last visit was 18 years ago, so you’ll be forgiven if it’s beyond your recall. In that time Lochranza hostel has had a bit of a re-vamp and is now run by the former wardens of Blaxhall YH (coincidentally where we are going in July). Also Lochranza now has a distillery, and one with a teashop to boot – perhaps they heard we were coming?
Our first night on the island there was a ceilidh to celebrate the distillery open day. Lubricated with a plentiful supply of real ale and whisky, we joined in with our usual enthusiasm. This was embraced by the locals and we were soon whirling, spinning and basketing at a devilish pace. A frantic and fun evening, this was a perfect warm-up for our first big walk of the trip.
Meall Mor is a relatively small bump, towering behind the hostel. Like many smaller hills in Scotland it’s little walked, which makes it trackless and deceptively hard work. It all started innocently enough with a morning coffee in Catacol Bay, but before long we were yomping over heather and clawing our way up a steep hillside. The views made it all worth while though: a skyline crested with snaggle-tooth peaks. Give it a day or two and we’d be up there.
The next day our target was Goat Fell: the highest point on the island and, although fractionally less than a Munro, you pretty much had to climb it from sea-level. Another day of hard work, but after a dramatic stormy downpour on the summit we were again treated to spectacular views.
Now I’m writing this like we all did the same walks everyday, but in truth there was quite a variety. On Meall Mor day, Mike, Jake & Colin bucked the trend by scrambling along one of the less accessible ridges of the Arran massif, whilst James & Marion were the first of many to walk the Cock of Arran. This proved to be the pattern most days with greater and greater variety of activities as the week went on. Horses and bikes both featured, as did castle visits and a variety of tea shops. Our last full day on the island saw most people walk the glorious Glen Rosa valley, with an intrepid sub-group heading up the side of the valley for the mountainous version. Lots of granitey scrambling and airy paths, but views to die for (not literally, thank goodness!).
Our trip home was via sunny Glasgow. We arrived in time for a foot tour followed by a sumptuous feast at the best curry house in town. After a good nights sleep it was time to head back to Essex. A wonderful week, over far too soon.
Mersea Island Circumnavigation
Thanks to John for guiding us around Mersea Island and telling us some of the history of the area, from Roman fort to nuclear power station, a civil war blockhouse and a zeppelin crash. Too bad about the brief, if torrential, rainfall, but we made up for it with tea and cake at the end of the walk.
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