Goat Fell is the highest peak on the Isle of Arran. Despite this impressive claim to fame, it’s actually a “corbett“. This doesn’t mean that it’s somehow connected with Sooty & Sweep, it’s just that it falls 144 ft short of the magical 3000 required to join the munro club. To get to it you’ve got to use the ferry, so at about 6.20 on Thursday morning, our little car was in the queue to board the first ferry of the day from Ardrossan on the Scottish mainland to Brodick on Arran.
This was our first time on a ferry with dogs, and whatever the website recommended, there was no way were going to leave them stuck below decks in the car. As soon as we’d parked up, the four of us got out and headed upwards to the outdoor seating areas. Both Beanie and Biggles were a little overawed by the unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds of the ferry, and the stairs between the decks were a little too steep for Biggles so I had to carry him, but once we got up top they were both much happier. There were still a few sightings of the raised Paw Of Uncertainty for a while..
..but that disappeared once we’d taken them on a sniffing tour of the deck, to be replaced by an overwhelming desire to be nosy. The makers of the ship had clearly anticipated this as every gap in the railings was exactly the right width to allow a Beagle head through.
The ferry was very quiet so early in the morning, and though haze restricted visibility it was still a very scenic voyage.
In under an hour we were back in the car and driving into Brodick. Our path up Goat Fell was set to start in Brodick Country park which apparently wouldn’t open until a little later, so we took a stroll by the sea front to kill time.
Our ferry – already preparing to depart back to the mainland
Goat Fell viewed from the sea front in Brodick. It doesn’t look so bad…
A plaque marks the tragically short life of a young man named after the island
We got into the country park around 9.30 and parked up at the visitor center, which is closed on Thursdays at this time of year. No matter; we loaded up with water bottles and treats, and set off on the clearly marked trail to Goat Fell. It was already hot, and we soon started to have misgivings about doing the climb on such a sunny day. Still, the first part of the trail was shaded by forest so we decided to press on and re-assess when we hit the exposed part of the ascent. When we emerged from the trees it was really hot, but there were plenty of fresh running streams to keep Beanie & Biggles cool so we continued on a little further. The going was really very easy, and eventually we approached the ridge that marked the final ascent to the top. There were no more streams past this point, but there was a constant cooling breeze. It didn’t look like there was far to go; I figured maybe another hour of walking would get us to the top, and it was now pleasantly cool (though still bright and sunny) so we decided to keep going. The walk to join the ridge took a lot longer than I expected, and as it turned out that set the pattern for the rest of the climb. Whenever we looked up towards the summit it didn’t seem that far, but every time we estimated how long we’d take to reach a certain point, we were way off. The path was mostly obvious and in a good state of repair and there no scrambles, but we were constantly weaving around huge boulders and this slowed us down considerably. In fact there were so many boulders around, a certain episode of the original series of Star Trek kept popping into my head. I was half expecting to get attacked by a bloke in an outrageously unconvincing lizard suit. If only I could find a large bamboo-like tube, some sulphur, coal, diamonds..
On the final section now, not long to go…
One more steep climb, not long to go…
Surely this is the final bit ???
OK, this really is the last bit though, right?
The view over my shoulder’s already shaping up nicely though..
Eventually we made it to summit, and I sat down for a breather while Beanie & Biggles conducted as thorough a sniffing as their canicross leads would allow. At one point they chose to sniff in opposite directions and when they tried to swap they found that there was only enough room for a single Beagle to pass at a time. Instead of using their brains, they just stood there pushing at each other desperately until eventually Beanie climbed onto Biggles’ head and walked along his back to the other side. I still think Beagles are smart dogs, but clearly they have an issue with narrow openings.
Anyway, time for some pics of the extremely rugged scenery at the top:
OK so we’re up a mountain, but it’s still OK to be nosy
This diagram on the summit shows you what you can see in every direction
And it makes a great platform for a self-timer piccie!
We were dreading the walk back down. The final ascent had been pretty steep and it looked even worse from the top, but in practice it was about the easiest descent we’ve had to date. However, just like the walk up, it took a surprisingly long time to get back to the car. To sum up, Goat Fell is at the same time rather easier, but a lot longer, than it first appears, but well worth the effort.
Once back in Brodick center we had time for fish & chips, ice creams and a nap before the return ferry. Going back over the walk, one thing that stuck in my mind (besides the unseen danger of a guy in a lizard suit) was how well behaved our two Beaglets had been. We’d had a few baying outbursts, but they’d been very short-lived. Part of this is no doubt due to the complete absence of sheep around Goat Fell (no goats either, come to think of it), but I do think our two – Biggles in particular – are getting better at self control.