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.