Saturday, May 11, 2013

A wee epic in the 'Shire 'highlands'

When you think of Ayrshire, the highland landscape is not really featured in your train of thought, but, the Isle of Arran is both part of the 'Shire and also the highlands.

An early morning 5am alarm call was met with disdain, but with a wee ride on Arran to look forward to, before I knew it, I was out of bed and in the shower, making tracks for the 6.07 train. Due to scotrails apparent inability to organise a train for the first ferry in the morning, we had to brave the usual 4 mile ride to the port of ardrossan from Kilwinning, and an unexpected headwind didn't help. Turns out this headwind would feature heavily for the next 8 or so hours...

After a short hourlong journey, we were headed on a wee road section to Sannox, where we'd turn off road and start biking proper. The coastal path along from Sannox is a lovely, sometimes peaty piece of trail that ends up at the very quaint looking Laggan cottage, before turning steeply uphill and over the top toward Lochranza. All this in an absolute wall of rain.

The aforementioned headwind was super strong on the climb from Laggan cottage, and so we were forced to walk up sections of the path that we would usually ride. This ride is pretty much the same as Robin and I did a few weeks back, but in reverse, with another bit tacked on. We'd both agreed the last time that the section over to Lochranza would be better in reverse, giving a big, rocky, ballsy descent back to the village.

How true. The descent was ace, big baby headed, nay, Rooney headed boulders but enough gradient to fly over them, even if the trail had turned into a river for the day. Must have been some rain last night. Then we had the fortunate situation where the headwind from before carried us up the boguillie, a steep road climb back over from Lochranza to Sannox. Then it got surreal.

But in a nice way!. We popped into the tearoom at corrie golf club (in Sannox though) and were met with an 80th birthday party. The lady who the party had been thrown for promptly came over to our table with a bottle each of red, white and even champagne. At 11am.

This was followed with a lovely wedge of victoria sponge birthday cake (after we'd had coffee and the obligatory soup) how bloody good is that?!. What a smashing lady, I hope she reaches telegram age.

Putting wet clothes back on is horrible, and this time was no different, before we set off up glen Sannox to meet our high point of the day, the saddle. And what a high point. The ride up the glen is fine, only disrupted by deep water culverts and mental gusts of wind, until we got to the head of the glen, where it was sheltered, but steep as hell.

This resulted in over an hour of bike carrying up steep steps and massive slabs of rock, until we got to a section that would have been a scramble without a bike, never mind with one. We had to form a chain (not one of Drew Thomsons' chains I hasten to add) to pass the bikes up to the top, so steep it was. Finally at the top, the clouds lifted and we were met with an awesome sight.

The boys with caisteall abhaill behind.
The fabled witches step


Our intrepid heroes.


Where we'd been - glen Sannox


Where we're going - glen rosa.



The descent was well worth the climb, a complete tech-fest, but not too steep, and some absolutely lovely singletrack. Happy days. The only downside was that it was a bit stop start in places, due to the many big treble drainage ditches, but still good. There was also some lovely flowing flat singletrack right at the end, enough to forget about Les's punctures, but not Gavin's guff talk.

A wee pint in eillan mhor, then onto the ferry for the train journey home, we were wet, tired but happy. A monster bowl of pasta was consumed at home, and another beer or two. I'm a lucky boy.

Some wee extra thoughts. I'm really, really looking forward to our week in the cottage in lamlash, hopefully get Maria up her first mountain, and get some more of the quaint tea rooms fitted in. I don't care what the weather will present us, Arran is such a great island, and that's what waterproofs are for.

Getting up to the saddle today made me want to get some proper Arran ridge walking in this year, I'll rope Garry into that one.

Gorgeous island. The highlands rock.

Robin in glen rosa with a moody cir mhor looming behind.


Strange 'sea rainbow'


1 comment:

  1. You're making me want to go back to Arran! Sans panniers...