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Report on Arran Weekend
Friday 23 - Sunday 25th April 2004

The A'Chir Ridge, Arran (Yon "Awe **** & Shit" Ridge)

Back to Arran, over on the normal early boat and round to Sannox to rendezvous with the advance party that had came over the night before. To my surprise there weren't many casualties from the previous night all though breakfast was still being served and I was grateful for a cuppa due to my normal early morning sprachelling around to pack my rucksack.

Victims (sorry I mean keen participants) for the A'Chir Ridge had fallen off overnight with moans about Glen Sannox being to muddy!!! However, not to be dissuaded a small party of four, which included myself, Auld Sherpa Johnson, Chicken George (sorry Alan) & Caroline set off up Glen Sannox en route to the "Ikea Ridge" (according to Alan!).

At the head of the Glen, which actually proved to be reasonably dry, we headed up Corie nan Uamh, between the Castles & Cir Mhor. This proved to be over rough heathery ground, and eventually lead to the steep head wall of the coire of which luckily enough the fine scree of the path was stuck together with the right amount of moisture as any wetter or dryer and it would have been extremely slippery. Skirting the west path round Cir Mhor we continued until the start of the ridge where we stopped to have lunch.

It was at this point that the nerves started to kick in. Although having done the ridge three times before it had been a while since I had last been over it so I wanted to familiarise myself with it again before taking along Caroline. However, as we were a small party I decided to drag Caroline along, confident in her scrambling and climbing ability although not so sure about her ability to control her hyperventilating! Anyway Auld Sherpa Johnson was there and Alan would do just fine!

Proceeding along the start of the ridge things appeared fine as the scrambling was easy however the real problem was the down climbing. Past the first couple of small problems and a couple of the parties breathing was starting to become more rapid. On to the next down climb - "I'm going back said Caroline & Alan" "no your not" said Chris and I, "look you just do it this way, see here …". "No I can't" said Alan". "Try this other way" said Chris. The conversation continued and out came the rope but still no compliance. Eventually with a whole lot or cajoling, screaming and kicking we got down this hurdle only to hit another down climb which Chris used to install confidence in the rest of the team as he slid down the full length of it, no doubt skinning his arse in the process. Again we heard the cries of "Naw am no doing it!" By this time Caroline & Alan had bonded well, partners if fear as they clung together. Again with a lot of persuasion and support from Chris who held feet in place where there were little on no footholds we descended what is probably the most difficult down section of the ridge.

What came next was the hard scrambling bit! A large overhanging flake of rock made more difficult by the outward thrusting rock above, which tends to push you off especially when wearing a rucksack. You really need to shimmy along the outer edge of this flake with a bit of a layback and then fling your leg over as if you're mounting a horse. While the others stood back pondering their next moves Chris tried it first however, it was too slippery and greasy. In fact doing it in dry summer conditions doesn't improve this obstacle much! I had a shot next and found it much the same however, its really just a committing move as once you have gotten your leg over you need to haul yourself along with every bit of friction you can muster from your hands, forearms and thighs, scrapping every thing in the process and not to mention getting dirty.

Not fancying this option much and bearing in mind our other two nerve shattered companions, then discretion became the better part of valour. So to their delight and relief we quickly descended of the few escape routes off of this ridge, down into Glen Rosa and walked into Brodick, promising to return in drier conditions. We some of us anyway!

On arrival at the Arran Hotel in Brodick we met up with a few of the other walking parties of the club and shared our days experiences over the odd refreshment which was resumed in the Sannox Hotel along with the rest of the gang. We then headed back to the now famous "Air Na Creagan Retirement Home", for a finely prepared feast, many thanks, and a night of light entertainment by myself on the Karaoke! Which I'm sure others will comment on in their own reports.

Karaoke King - not !!
Photo:  Irene Cahill

Many thanks to Irene for having more stamina than the rest (perhaps she was just deaf!) and staying up half of the night helping me celebrate my birthday.

Stephen Browning

Photos: Stephen Browning

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