Arran Run Ran

Photos from Doug Lee

The 2014 Extravaganza happened. This year brought us to the "Scotland in miniature" island of Arran, to conquer its fabled (and largely mythical) Coastal Path. An adventure such as this requires a full weekend of commitment, and so a 23-bed bunkhouse on the far flung southern village of Kilmory was booked and duly filled. As well as allowing us to escape the bustle of the ferry town of Brodick, Kilmory provided the logistic challenge of just getting there. A complex combination of cars and bicycles more-or-less did the trick, and we steadily gathered in the Lagg Inn for an (unusually light) training session on Friday night.

First leg started at 6am sharp(ish), with Don, Sharon and myself exploring a 5 mile stretch of gravel, rock, slippery rock, crumbly slippery rock, wet seaweed covered slippery rock, brier, more rock, yet more bloody rock, rain, disintegrating cliff face, more brier, and (finally) a short sandy stretch leading up to the end of the stage and no sign of any Westies. Paula eventually turned up, explained that the end of the leg had been officially moved 100m down from the hotel to the car park, took Sharon away (Don having finished some time earlier), leaving me with my trusty bicycle. The chain came off shortly after. I spent the next three hours cycling around Arran in the refreshing rain, stopping briefly in Brodick for a cuppa and meeting up with the support crew at the start of my second leg in Sannox. With the leg timings looking decidedly shaky, Paula, Doug and I set off at the scheduled start time and enjoyed a superb section of actual Coastal Path around the top of the island to Lochranza. More cake and tea followed in the Lochranza hotel, and (with minimal regret) I became separated from my bicycle and was forced to endure the comfort of a car seat for the remainder of the afternoon. All that remained for me was the final, short leg along the coast from Sliddery to Kilmory. This leg featured rocks and cows, and the brief navigational challenge of working out when to stop (thanks, Jane!).  And so, the Coastal Path was conquered in just over 12 hours (albeit with some earlier stages still to complete!)

The post-race festivities reached the usual standard, and we enjoyed a splendid evening of delicious home made food, drink and banter.

Sunday brought its own mini-adventures. After a relaxed start, folk variously made their way back to Brodick by car, bicycle or foot. Steph reported some excellent trail running on the route back. Steve and Gwyn nipped up Glen Rosa and Goat Fell. Don, Cam and I took the clockwise cycle route. We arriving in Brodick time to find the ferries cancelled due to high wind. So, we scored another night on the island and an early start to catch the 5:30am ferry. Not an especially productive work day on the Monday, but a fitting end to an outstanding weekend.

Posted by John Hamer on Thu 17 Apr 2014 | 3 comments

Category Extravaganza


  1. Don said...

    I don't think you emphasised enough just how slippy those slippy rocks were on that first leg John! Seriously though, had a fab weekend from start to finish, despite suffering severe sleep deprivation due to Colin's snoring, which on Sun night reached biblical proportions in the Drumcloy guest house.
    My plan on leg 1 was to get a lead just to rattle the dice a bit and make sure i got past the entrance to the black cave (more a recess than a cave really) before the tide came in. However, as John eluded to, the Arran coastal path is sketchy to non existent at this point and perhaps it was a good thing that he and Sharon stayed together on this leg.
    My next leg over Goatfell with Steve, Gwyn, Cameron and Cedric was fantastic, the rain having stopped and the sun was out. Despite having climbed this hill a dozen times in races, this was the first time i got the chance to stop see the view - spectacular. We had a great technical thrash down the track to Corrie.
    The last leg for me was a short run along the coast to Blackwaterfoot in the company of Grimor and Gibby, on a part of the trail that actually looks like a path, and was very enjoyable!
    Sunday provided the chance to cycle round 2 thirds of the island in the company of Cameron and Captain John back to Brodick.
    Our enforced stay on the island on Sun night, meant that we had to visit the Arran Tandoori. This turned out to be a hoot, every time we ordered beer, the waiter had to run round to the co-op next door for supplies! The food was very tasty though - curry points bekon i think.
    I would like to thank all the people who took part for their great company, food and banter and especially the westies who organised and took their cars over and ferried myself and my gear around the island.

    Thursday 17th April 2014 11.27am

  2. Cam said...

    It was a brilliant weekend. I arrived on the first ferry over on Saturday morning with my bike and quickly pulled on full waterproofs. I cycled south to Lamlash where I bumped into the runners waiting to start the leg through Lamlash. Thankfully the rain was easing a little now so as I cycled each leg the layers of clothing decreased.

    My first (and only) running leg was over Goatfell and it was a truly magical run. The highlight had to be overtaking a couple on the climb who were also out running. The guy didn’t like being overtaken too much, probably because he looked less manly in front of his girlfriend, so he tried to stick with us. Needless to say he soon disappeared off the back and into the arms of his girlfriend – on reflection I’m not sure who’s victory it was!

    Back down at sea-level I skipped soup and sandwiches to hop back on my bike and accompany Rod, who had finally fixed his puncture, over the climb from Sannox to Lochranza. I grabbed a toastie there and pressed on hopeful that at some-point the wind was going to end up behind me.

    It was not until Blackwaterfoot that the wind finally offered me some help, but from then on I flew along.

    An evening of refuelling on good food and beer followed, then I reversed my cycle on Sunday only to find there was no route home. So Steph and I booked into a posh hotel and had a romantic meal out – actually no better way to spend a Sunday evening!

    Thanks to everyone for the weekend, especially the organisers, cooks, drivers, runners and cyclists – great fun as always!

    Thursday 17th April 2014 12.49pm

  3. Rod Fleming said...

    Was a really enjoyable weekend.

    After a relaxing time changing my punctures, Cam set a quick pace over the Lochranza hill which was into the wind too. Running down the west coast in the sun by the palm trees was amazing, and it was a good time in the hostel as well.

    Monday 21st April 2014 11.05am

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