Tom's top 3 Arran recommendations:
- Goatfell (874m), from Brodick Castle - 10.5km (4.5 - 6 hours)
- Devil's Punchbowl (Coire na Ciche) - 5.25km (2.5 - 3 hours)
- Three Beinns Walk, Glen Rosa - 14km (6 - 7 hours)
The lack of travel, and the enforced restrictions on it, drastically changed the outlook of 2021. Normally my calendar is filled with ambitious adventures abroad, the outcome often being travelling for days on end to remote corners of the world to seek out a specific climb or objective.
I enjoyed a freedom and sense of achievement that verged on the glamorous. When most of my planned expeditions around the world in 2020 were cancelled, I couldn’t face more disappointment for 2021 so my goals had to become more localised. It afforded me the space to commit to the smallest details. To restrict my travel to the limit of my endurance, to be invigorated in the simple rewards bought by the competent application of intrinsic hard work. The sacrifice of the outcome made me fully connected to my basic motivations.
In contrast to the frustrations of the past year and a half, we planned a 2 day trip to the small Scottish isle of Arran. Its modest size is not proportional to its possibilities, and it packs a hell of a punch. From the ferry we caught at Ardrossan Arran protruded out the sea through the haze of a rare Scottish heatwave. The isle shimmered, giving it a fishlike unworldliness.
Our trip appeared to be perfectly timed, falling at the confluence of superb weather and a trip ethos invested in chasing the beauty bought by effort and the peace of a goal achieved. We explored quiet beaches on the south coast, with views of Ailsa Craig (a small island of pristine granite where curling stones come from) and Pladda Lighthouse. It was sedate, yet tactile, its intimacy complementing perfectly with the second day; a heart pumping, lung busting 12km trail run up the 874m Goat Fell via Stacach Ridge.
Chasing the summit as much as the sunrise, we were rewarded with a spectacular cloud inversion. The rugged landscape contrasting against the softness of the clouds as they poured into the valleys and lapped against the slopes was utterly magical.
The trip proved that modest aspirations do not necessarily lead to modest rewards. The key decider the ‘force multiplier’ being that of knowing what you want, and where you find joy. I have missed the mountains this year and I love chasing big, bold lines and achieving hard, intimidating things Arran reminded me
my motivations make a walk on a beautiful beach or pausing to watch the
sunrise equally as thrilling. It is very much where I find I am most alive.
It IS my alive.