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Report on Arran "Day Trip" (part 2)
31 August 2008   (3257 views)

With the party reassembled it was time for our afternoon tea break before setting off down Glen Catacol for the coast?and the pub. As usual the group spread out as the 5.3km time trial to the bar began. It is amazing how group spirit totally disintegrates on the journeys final leg when the whiff of alcohol is in the air. Glen Catacol proved to be a bit of a soggy plod with an almost constant smir of rain in the air. Eventually the group reassembled at the Catacol Bay Hotel where a notice requested that rucksacks were left at the door. This was unfortunate (for them) given the number of bodies involved. Blocking the entrance to the pub with the bags we headed in for a well earned pint. Fortunately we had enough time for a quick drink before our bus would arrive...or would it? Five minutes before the designated bus arrival time we piled out of the pub and across the road to wait, anticipating the bus?s imminent arrival. For the first 10 minutes or so all was well. After our well earned drink in the pub we were a merry band but it would be nice if our transport arrived? say about now? From our vantage point across from the pub we could see the road a mile or so around the bay. What we couldn?t see was a bus. It was now about 20 minutes late. After a quick word with the barman we discovered that the bus was frequently late, but this was never a problem as the ferry waited for the bus to arrive before sailing. Why were we just a wee bit concerned about the bus you are no doubt asking? We weren?t so much worried about the bus as the ferry?the last ferry! If we didn?t make this ferry we were stuck, well and truly. So if this bus didn?t come? However after the talk with the barman we were much reassured and waited patiently, eyes riveted on the coastal road to the south. The midges however were proving to be less patient. They had obviously worked out that the bus was running late and that we would be sitting targets for a while yet. They piled out of the verges in their droves munching all in their wake. The battle continued but in the distance help was at hand. The long awaited bus, now over half an hour late, was rumbling its way towards us from the south side of the bay. As we boarded the driver apologised. The bus had been in a minor bump but we were not to worry as the ferry would wait. Placated we piled on and promptly moved to the serious thrill seeker seats at the back ready for the mandatory roller coaster ride back to Brodick.
We were on our way to Lochranza when things really started to go pear shaped. A car heading south waved down the bus driver and a brief conversation took place between them.
Apologetically, the bus driver turned towards us to announce that there had been a fatality near Brodick Castle and that the police had shut the road. As it was liable to be closed for at least 5 hours we had no chance of making the ferry?the last ferry. There was a stunned silence. He then uttered the words I never expected to hear from a bus driver??Where do you want to go?? We had our own giant sized private taxi. Unfortunately we had nowhere to go to!As I sat on the bus pondering our fate I couldn?t stop the old Talking Heads song going through my head?

?We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride??

Mobile phones were quickly jammed onto ears as there was a rush of calls home. As usual my phone didn?t have a signal which gave me a little time to think. While I could see the 2 legs being able to find a bed for the night I knew that the 4 legs would experience significantly more difficulty. I contemplated my Plan B should all else fail.
There was a strange mix of emotions on the bus. There was obviously our immediate concern with regard to our overnight accommodation but without fail the conversation kept returning to that fatal accident. We at least would be back with our families tomorrow. Elsewhere on the island there was at least one person who wouldn?t be making that same journey home.

Fortunately the Air Na Creagan club are frequent visitors to the island and have a regular cottage base at Sannox. The building belongs to a Christian group and is not, I understand, a mainstream self catering venue. There was there a good chance that it might be vacant. The bus driver was given his first port of call. Sannox here we come! As we rumbled our way through the early evening, Irene spent the time trying to phone the building?s caretaker but couldn?t get through. It was time to gamble?we had nothing to lose. There was a surreal atmosphere in the bus as we drove through the bleak moorland between Lochranza and Sannox. As we neared our first port of call I had a great view of the Witches Step as the cloud had lifted a bit from earlier. Irene and Kathryn jumped of the bus at the cottage and sneaked up the drive for a peek in the windows to see if the building was vacant. In the meantime the bus turned around with a view to heading the long way back to Brodick. Irene and Kathryn appeared at the foot of the drive. It was a no-go, the cottage was occupied. Our first option was gone. I have to say that Air Na Creagan are a resourceful bunch, with contacts everywhere?including Arran. The next option was a call to one of the club members with a large house at Lamlash. Irene got on the phone to Linda.
?Can you put up 11 people and 2 dogs for tonight?? What a question to have to ask anyone! ?No problem? was the reply. I suspect the actual reply going through Linda?s brain at this moment in time sounded a bit more like ?Aaaarrrgghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? Not only did the truly magnificent Linda organise lodging she phoned the local golf club at Lamlash and organised food. We were back in business. To celebrate the bus driver stopped the charabanc for a welcome toilet break and soon we were heading back southwards once more.
Once more the Talking Heads lyrics popped into my mind, now on a much brighter note?

?We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

Feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know,
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go??

We would have to part company with our most excellent bus driver at Brodick but he had, by this time, organised another bus to meet us at the port which would take us south to Lamlash. True to his word the second bus was waiting in Brodick and as soon as we had all boarded it started its way southwards. Well almost started. Before leaving Brodick the obliging driver made an unscheduled stop at the local cashline, so we could pick up money to pay for dinner at the golf club! It was after 8.30pm when we rolled into the bar of Lamlash Golf Club, minus our boots and dogs. The dogs were tied up outside so they wouldn?t run in and the boots were tied up so they wouldn?t run off. It had been a long day. While us, almost humans, tucked into our various meals, Sophie and Maisie tucked into Steak Pie and cold chicken. Well fed and a few drinks later it was time to leave the golf club with Linda and Ian for our final destination of the evening. While a few of us walked the dogs across the pitch dark golf course the others were given a lift the short distance to the ?bothy?. A hot shower?beer?a comfy sofa with a cover and pillows?fruit juice, muesli and a cooked breakfast?I reckon I could cope with bothy life. The Fatdog seemed to enjoy herself immensely with no end of potential providers. At lights out she curled up at the foot of the couch and didn?t stir until morning. Next morning we decided to walk the 6km to Lamlash to catch the 11am ferry. It was time to say goodbye to our amazing hosts, Linda and Ian, and to start our hike to the port. Through the golf course we marched to bemused looks from early morning golfers. Once on the main road we picked up the parallel (remote) path which took us through woodland all the way to Brodick. If it hadn?t been for the pissing down rain which caught up with us about half way, it would have been a most enjoyable walk back to the ferry. By the time we reached the hill above Brodick we were well strung out in at least 3 groups along the route. Dorothy and I put on a spurt as we saw the ferry docking and arrived on the dock just as the foot passenger queue had begun to board. Perfect timing.
I have never had a trip quite like this one and I expect it will be quite some time before I do again. I had great fun with a great bunch of people and might even consider returning to Arran...sometime! In the interests of good taste I have omitted any reference to discussions centred round the problems of night attire, underwear etc. this being a family site. As the group were only carrying lightweight day packs most essentials for an overnight stay were absent eg hair straighteners?an appliance I particularly missed. I have also declined to mention those who elected to share beds for, yet again, more delicate reasons. On that note I will draw this ?tail? to its conclusion and leave you with the contact number for Arran?s Superbothy. It?s 0???.., ?Oh b****r?where did I put that piece of paper?"

The Thankyou?s
Irene for organising the trip and for making sure we had somewhere to stay when all went pear shaped.
Air Na Creagan ? (Irene, Dorothy, Jacqui, Kathryn, Julie, Kenny, Peter, Bryan, Mark and Gordon) for inviting myself and the Fatdog along and for providing great company throughout our extended stay.
Arran?s ?First Bus? Drivers for patiently helping in our quest for accommodation and providing a service well above that which could normally have been expected.(This does not apply to the a******e who was driving the bus on our way out from the ferry to Thundergay btw)
Lamlash Golf Club for allowing us anywhere near the premises in our hill-fresh condition.
The Staff at Lamlash Golf Club for staying late to provide us with food.
and most of all to Linda and Ian who provided a 5 Star Bothy Service like none other.

Ken Brown

waiting for bus
Dotty modelling a midge net
Kenny eaten by midgies
on the bus to nowhere
the following morning
Murchie Hotel
Holy Isle
Brodick Pier
heading out of Lamlash
towards Brodick
Heading towards Glen Catacol

Photos: Ken and Irene

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