|25.4 km or 15.8 miles
|2377m or 7799ft
4 Arran Corbetts & 2 Corbett Tops
An epic all day walk bagging, in order, a Corbett top; Beinn Nuis, a Corbett; Beinn Tarsuinn, bypassing A'Chir because we weren't feeling brave and weren't sure we had the time to traverse it's tricky ridge, going past Cir Mhor to another Corbett; Caisteal Abhail, heading back to Cir Mhor for Corbett number 3 before taking the quick way down to The Saddle (a 400m descent) then up the steep ridge to Corbett top 2; North Goatfell (now a 400m ascent!) with a detour around Stacach along the ridge to the final Corbett; Goatfell and back home down the shoulder into Brodick.
I was inspired to do this walk for several reasons, first being the excellent walk reports doing the same route (or similar) by the following who i'd like to thank for their excellent photo's and write ups:
Arran - Scotland in miniature & a Corbett Heaven by Beaner001. No Goats, but what a day ! by tall-story. The mists of Arran by basscadet. Arran Magic - Glen Rosa Horseshoe by weaselmaster. Timing is Everything - An Arran Adventure!!! by dooterbang A lucky horseshoe around Glen Rosa by Driftwood
Second of all is the fact that despite growing up on the island for much of my childhood and calling it home from when I was born I had never climbed any of the mountains while taking the local option of staying in the pub for many years and leaving Goatfell for the tourists! So after getting quite into hillwalking I decided enough was enough and that to make up for all the years of having these mountains on my doorstep, I would bag all four Corbetts and a couple of Corbett tops to make it 6 peaks in one go! That should help make amends and I can visit Mum in the process while also partnering up with Iain who loves, and I quote:
"Epic ridge walks and long days on the hills in glorious sunshine"
Well, talk about giving someone their ideal day out, this one did exactly that for both of us!
Just under 16 miles walked with 2377m of ascent and descent so it was a real energy sapper requiring a fair few short breaks especially during the torturous ascent up North Goatfell's not so easy ridge. We took a few slight detours from the standard path with the most insane one being when we left the summit of Cir Mhor and climbed down a gap on the east face which, on looking back from below, looked to be highly technical! The rest of the steep path down to The Saddle also appeared much worse after we had done it... thinking back it's an incredible little Corbett and no wonder so many rate it so highly. The grassy section near the top was also a brilliant spot.
There were so many interesting features, routes, views, scrambles, ridges, peaks, hills, giant rocks and tors with lots of simulcra, it was really like being in the land of the giants with massive finger like protrusions, the ribs of the earths sticking out and massive dinosaur-back ridges, you can see how the story of the sleeping warrior fighting the dragon came about. This incredible small range of mountainous ridges, Corbetts, all manner of tops, corries and massive glens sees you back in their territory and taking a walk into the past where you'll feel dwarfed on all sides.
If Caisteal Abhail, Ceum na Caillich and Suidhe Fhearghais are the sleeping warrior then Goatfell, North Goatfell and and Cioch na h-Oighe are definitely the dragon with Beinn Tarsuinn the Giant, with his fingers sticking out of the ground in places (see the photo's further below) and the epic subsidiary peaks of Beinn Nuis, Beinn a'Chliabhain and A'Chir all belonging to it. Although we wimped out from doing it there was something special about the A'Chir ridge. It looks formidable in places and a very entertaining beast to conquer and again it's no wonder it is also rated as one of the best ridge traverses in Britain. I'll definitely be back to give it a go at some point and also to take in the Glen Sannox and North Glen Sannox ridge walks. This time next month I should have done the western hills including Beinn Bharrain/Mullach Buidhe and Beinn Bhreac, looking forward to it already!
Before the walk we didn't get the early night we wanted due to excitement and catching up but had still prepared well and also had a secret weapon, 2 Watertogo bottles with filters to save us carrying litres of water for the day and allowing us to safely refill from mountain streams, perfect. So with brekkie down the hatch we eventually left the house around 9am, much later than planned but we had the entire day ahead of us to leisurely stroll round the incredible Arran mountains without the worry of racing off Goatfell to catch a ferry. Although the state we were in coming off of Goatfell later on would make such a suggestion even more hilarious!
We reach the summit and the views are already amazing with the entire Island (minus the north which is blocked by bigger "hills"!) opening up for the view. To the west is Beinn Bharrain/Mullach Buidhe, Beinn Bhreac and Meall na Damh:
For the first time I took videos from some of the summits, here is the first from Beinn Nuis: <**view on>
We head down from the double summit of Beinn Tarsuinn after stopping on both although I think the first one is the higher peak. Almost immediately on looking back you see the famous Old Man of Tarsuinn!
The path down off Beinn Tarsuinn is a steep one and the view opens out to display the awesome A'Chir ridge with Cir Mhor behind it and the Witches Step and Castles (Caisteal Abhail) to the left, superb!
Ooft still not even halfway done yet and we've yet to decide if we'll tackle the infamous A'Chir ridge... already we're thinking it may be biting off a bit more than we can chew, especially considering some of the videos i've seen of Le Mauvais Pas, the Bad Step, requiring ropes!
We've passed the intersection of Tarsuinn and the ridge to Beinn a'Chliabhain at the Consolation Tor and look back at yet another impressive looking ridge going towards the summit of Beinn a'Chliabhain:
A'Chir approaches... and looks even more menacing close-up than it does at a distance! We opt for the bypass route instead of spending time an energy (which I know will be required for the "Saddle stage" later!) negotiating the fractured looking ridge:
Right then, our next destination is halfway up Cir Mhor ahead of us, showing off the imressive Rosa Pinnacle to the right of the summit, before we head left to take the ridge up Arran's less well known second highest summit Caisteal Abhail. I've been looking forward to that one the most as the summit looks brilliant.
Looking back at A'Chir with Beinn Tarsuinn looming menacingly behind it. Tarsuinn is another underrated mountain on this range but has a lot going for it and is the third tallest Arran Corbett at 826m:
Hahaha it suddenly dawns on me just how steep this ridge is and we've got to go back down about 100m before going up another 200m! It's not helped by the ridge ahead seemingly going off into the abyss!!
Directly south is A'Chir, Beinn Tarsuinn and the giant Glen Iorsa on the right which stretches down almost a quarter of the island from the north to the mid-west. Tarsuinn looks intimidating from this angle and A'Chir again looks even scarier!!:
On the way up the ridge we stopped and tried to quickly film a deer that we saw on a grassy section just below the summit of the Castles! Here it is, a bit windy but I then swing round to show Cir Mhor and our next section of ridges!: <**view on>
Our walk back down was interrupted by a herd of about 8 deer that came up out of Coire na h-Uaimh and across our path from left to right! I managed to snap a quick photo here and the second one was a straggler that followed the herd about 15 seconds later:
Iain pointing in disbelief at the remaining three peaks... we're only half way done, already feel shattered and still have the worst section ahead of us, The Saddle descent/ascent!! who's idea was this anyway?!?!
Looking down the steep 200m+ drop off the north face down into Glen Sannox. Shortly we will end up down at the grassy outcrop to the bottom right. Cir Mhor really does remind me of a Star Destroyer from so many different angles:
So now we just needed to retrace our steps slightly and go south of the summit to find the grassy section below... except Iain seemed to go directly south off the summit and find us a path down which didn't look that steep at first, until we found ourselves scrambling down and even lowering ourselves down off of a few ledges in the process!
We reached a point with a longer drop down and we thought we may be trapped for a moment until I noticed that we maneuver along the rock at the bottom right here and over onto the grassy area which we did:
Yes... that gouged path down off the summit of Cir Mhor! To be fair it looks worse from below but at the time we were in complete control and handled the scramble down like a couple of pro's but i'd still recommend people take care coming off Cir Mhor and don't try to take this route down! :crazy:
With the time in mind we continue on the path off of Cir Mhor down to The Saddle and it is a steep one. On looking back I realise i'm happy to be coming down it and not going up, at least you can make out the path that way! There is a path snaking down here, honest:
At last we've made it to The Saddle, and looking back we are again stunned with what we've just descended! Cir Mhor is fun for such a little mountain, it's full of surprises and yet again looks like a different kind of towering beast to the shark tooth we've seen earlier:
Unfortunately it looked like we had taken the wrong way round Stacach as the path vanished and we decided to push on diagonally up the steep side of the ridge instead of retracing our steps. Our angle took us out at the end of Stacach leaving us to curse our pathfinding ability at this late stage but with just the final summit of Goatfell to climb, which we did....
At last, i've finally climbed Goatfell but in the complete opposite way from normal and with the pleasure of taking in all of the other amazing and underrated Corbetts on Arran for which Goatfell seems to bag all the glory! well hopefully this report will put the other three higher up on everyone's list, they deserve to be!
Summit video from Goatfell, the final peak in our 6 Corbett top challenge! <**view on>
It doesn't take too long to reach the drive leaving Brodick Castle which we follow down to the main road, looking back at the sillhouette of Goatfell, such a familiar sight in Brodick and one I can now proudly say i've climbed at last!
We soon got home and were treated to a cuppa tea with toasted cheese, thanks Mum! A perfect end to a perfect day out on the hills and I spent the rest of the night checking out my photo's before crashing out for the most well earned rest I've had in years!
When we left for the ferry on Sunday we looked back a the mountain range we had conquered just the day before in much nicer conditions and felt a sense of pride and awe. So many memories from such a varied and exciting walk which had everything and the best thing is we missed so much, several more impressive looking summits, more unusual rock features, a fair few WWII plane crashes and many more incredible ridge scrambles that it will be easy to go back again and find a new route to take with countless surprises in store!
So from a farming family in the south of Arran for more than 7 generations to the king of the mountains and proper Lord of the Isles in only 38 years... well that's how I felt anyway!
Thanks again to those who previously did this amazing route and inspired us to tackle it, hopefully this report will inspire more people to do it. It needs a fair bit of hill fitness and some pretty good scrambling skills along with a head for heights but the effort will be well worth it and right up there with anything else you can do on the hills. Iain said it was like a mini Cuillin and that's pretty high praise since the it's his favourite range. I am, of course, bias to the max but i'm looking forward to comparing the Arran Corbetts to other impressive mountain ranges as I continue to walk my way to new and exciting hills around Scotland and beyond!
From Arran and Glasgow with love...