Holiday on Arran and the Lake District

Day three - 31st October

On day three, I set off to climb Goat Fell, the highest mountain on Arran, from the North, going along a ridge and around a horseshoe to reach it. I started at a car park in North Glen Sannox, and climbed up Cnocan Donna onto Suidhe Fhearghas. I then went on to Ceum na Caillich, Caisteal Abhail, and Cìr Mhór, in order to go along The Saddle and up North Goat Fell, then to Goat Fell and down the grannny trail to the shore at Corrie. I love these names, but I haven't a clue how to pronounce them! The day started really well, however the cloud was too low for me to get really good views.

Looking down Glen Sannox from between Caisteal Abhail and Cìr Mhór

The route was very slow. There was a path, but it was very hard to make out at times. I had planned a nine mile walk for the day, which should have been easy, but the terrain made progress very slow indeed. You can see how spiky the ridge between Suidhe Fhearghas and Ceum na Caillich was in my photo on day one - each of those spikes was another up and down.

So, I made it to the top of Cìr Mhór, and started down a path towards The Saddle. At this stage, the light was failing, and I was going to take a path from The Saddle down Glen Sannox to the shore. In fact I had been wanting to bail out early since lunch time, because I could see how slowly I was going, but this seemed to be the best opportunity to me. The path down toward The Saddle got steeper and steeper, until I was scrambling down. I had been on such bad paths already that day that I had no idea I was on the wrong path, until it reached the top of a cliff, just as the light went. I decided I could not make it down the cliff, and I couldn't safely make it back up to Cìr Mhór in the dark either, so I called the mountain rescue service.

They got the RAF to send a helicopter out. They took about an hour, and it was cold, so I put on all my coats and got in my survival bag. I didn't have a torch (silly me) to attract their attention, but I did have a camera with a flash, so I used that instead. The helicopter came and hovered about thirty metres away from me on a level, and had a good look around, then flew off. After half an hour, I was wandering what they were up to. It had seemed like they had seem me, so why did they leave! I phoned them, and they said that the cloud level meant that they couldn't fly any higher than me, which they needed to do to winch me out. However, they were going to fly out some "troops" who would walk up to where I was. About an hour later, I saw the helicopter fly up the valley again, and deposit seven rescuers with torches in the valley below me, then fly off again. I saw the torches go around to the right of the mountain.

An hour later, I could see torch light above me, so I flashed with my camera, and shouted, to show them where I was. However, they went down a different path to me. I could see their torchlight shining through the mist behind a huge wall of rock on my left, and I watched as they went down the mountain. A while later, I saw a torch shining up from the valley, so I flashed with the camera again, and eventually saw the torchlight come back up on the wrong path again, then half an hour after that, they came down the right path and found me. The torchlight in the valley was actually another team of seven who had walked up the valley, and seen the distance between my flashes and the first team's torches, and radioed to tell them where to go.

The team stopped about ten metres above where I was, because they reckoned it was too steep to walk down. They let one of them down on a rope, with a spare rope. He tried tying the rope around my chest, but he didn't have his glasses, so I did it. Then they pulled us both back up. They got out the tea and chocolate, and then one of them asked "So, are you still on for pony trekking tomorrow then?" It turns out his sister runs the pony trekking, and when he had received the callout, the only piece of paper handy was the paper with my booking on, so he had recognised me from my phone number.

After a rest, we walked back up to the top of Cìr Mhór, to see that I had missed the right path by about five metres. We then turned South and went down to Glen Rosa, where we met the other team. We then marched pretty quickly down Glen Rosa towards Brodick, until we reached a couple of land rovers with two more team members, who drove us the rest of the way to the rescue hut in Brodick. We had some refreshments, and I thanked them profusely, and then one of them gave me a lift back to the youth hostel. I got back at about 2:30 am.

They were all very nice. They were not annoyed at all about having to rescue me. They said I was very well equipped, except for not having a torch, but they do get annoyed when they have to rescue someone who is not well prepared at all.