Goatfell Walk

With the good weather continuing, I decided to walk up Goatfell in Arran. I took the train from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan in Ayrshire then caught the ferry to Arran. The train was one of the new 380 class, which First Scotrail have introduced and is very comfortable.

The ferry journey was uneventful and I arrived in Brodick at the scheduled time of 10.40. I took a bus to the start of the path at the Wineport Bar and started the climb to the top. It was very warm and sunny, so had 2 litres of water with me and plenty of food.

Start of the Climb

Bottom of Climb
Bottom of Climb

The path was quite busy, no doubt due to the warm sunny weather and many people had brought their dogs with them.

The first part of the climb is on a well-defined path which is easy to walk on, but is fairly steep.

As I walked up, I passed a number of people taking a rest, but I kept on walking, drinking plenty of water to keep me hydrated. It is very important to keep drinking fluid during exercise to avoid dehydration.

Scenery Below
Scenery Below

Occasionally, I would turn round to admire the scenery below and had good views of Brodick and beyond.

The surface of the path continued to be good and this helped me keep my pace up.

Busy Path

Many people were walking down the hill, as I walked up it and so it got quite congested at times. With about three-quarters of the climb completed the path changed from a good surface to a rocky one and was less well defined, as well as being harder to climb. It also became much steeper.

View from Top Looking West
View from Top Looking West

Fortunately, the rocks were dry and not slippery, as it would have been much harder to climb in wet weather.

My progress at this point was much slower than before and I could see the people in front of me also moving more slowly than before.

Golden Eagle

As I neared the summit, the path seemed to get less steep and the rocks formed small steps which made the last stretch a bit easier. A bird of prey was hovering near the summit and looked like a golden eagle, but as I didn’t have my binoculars to get a closer look, I could not be sure. Golden eagles are known to frequent the area so it probably was one that I saw.

View from top
View from top

Soon I was at the summit and able to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding area and hills.

The Cumbrae Islands, Jura and Islay could also be seen. The climb had taken me 2.5 hours.

Lunch at the Top

I had lunch at the summit before making my way down the hill again. This was a bit tricky in places and I wished I had brought walking poles with me. I managed to get to the bottom without falling, although I did slip a few times.

View from top
View from top

I walked back to Brodick and spent some time there before catching the ferry back to Ardrossan.

Conclusions

The walk was fairly easy, as the path and rocks were dry. If it had been wet it would have been far more difficult and dangerous, especially near the top of the climb and on the descent.

I was also surprised at the number of people who only had small bottles of water with them and a small amount of food. With the warm weather and the heat, a small bottle was probably not going to be enough.

At the top, I saw a young boy with a bottle of water which was nearly empty. If that’s all the water he had he may have had hydration problems on the way down.

Map of the Area

Further Details
Height – 874 m, 2867ft
Grid Ref –  NR991415
OS Maps – Explorer 361 1:25,000, Landranger 69 1:50,000

Ferry Details – http://www.calmac.co.uk

Lightweight Walking

I am always amazed at the amount of equipment some backpackers take with them on a walking trip. As well as the necessities, some people also take things which are completely unnecessary and only add to the weight of the backpack.

Hair straightners
Hair Straightners are not Required on the Trail

Unneccessary things are curling tongs and hair straightners – any hairstyle is going to be messed up quickly with the wind and rain. Other people carry large bottles of shampoo, shower gel and large tubes of toothpaste.

The curling tongs and hair straightners are not a joke – some women have been known to carry gas filled ones. Regarding items of personal hygiene, small bottles should be used to carry enough shampoo etc to cover the walk to save some weight.

Clothing should be quick drying and some companies such as Tilley and Rohan sell quick drying underwear and outer wear which avoids the need to carry large amounts of clothing.

One of the ways to save weight is to get a cooking system which is lightweight and cooks food to a reasonable temperature. I have two systems in place for cooking.

Spirit Stove
Cooking system using spirit stove

One uses a Primus spirit burner, an army kidney-shaped stainless mug, an old tuna tin and a metal sheet which is used as a pot stand. This fits into a British Army Crusader water bottle pouch with a small bottle of methylated spirits included in the pouch.

The other one uses a similar set up but instead of the spirit burner it uses a cut up tuna tin as a hexamine tablet holder and pot stand. This is even lighter than the above, but not quite as efficient.

Gas is of course much faster, but spare cartridges are not always available. Methylated spirits are quite easy to buy, even in remote places, and a packet of hexamine tablets can last a week.

When you are looking for a cooking system decide what your main objective is. Your consideration can be weight or efficiency, but whatever method you choose it should be capable of cooking meals on the trail.