I ENJOYED reminiscing about the joys of Rum last week so much that I’ve decided to stay on the islands.
Not that I had much choice during a weekend in Arran a good few years back. Storm force winter winds forced the cancellation of the ferry home and that meant an extra day on the island.
Doesn’t sound like a great hardship but my boss at the time didn’t agree. When I called to say I wouldn’t be in on the Monday, he didn’t seem to understand the situation.
“Is there no other way you can get back in time?” he asked. Well, I didn’t have enough money for a helicopter, and I thought the swim was a bit far so basically, no.
There was no hint of any weather problems as we sailed over on a beautiful morning in early February. It was icy and cold but wall to wall blue sky and sunshine suggested spring rather than winter.
We were staying with my friend’s brother and his wife, and had two days of superb walking and scrambling ahead. Our host was in charge of routes, we were merely followers. It was his home ground.
The ferry pulled in around lunchtime and with no time to stand on ceremony, it was a quick hello and straight on to the hills. It would be dark in about four hours after all.
We walked up Glen Rosa, then climbed on to Beinn Nuis and over to Beinn Tarsuinn before taking a look at the impressive A’Chir ridge and heading round to close the circuit of Coire a’Bhreadain.
Our visibility was now impeded by an thick icy mist and the approaching darkness. On top of that our host was getting worried that his favourite watering hole was on winter hours and our slow descent and then the long road walk back would mean a dry evening.
This is where local knowledge came to the fore - he called a taxi from the top of the hill. This was the thirsty man’s equivalent of a 999 call and as soon as we hit the road, the local Schumacher recognised the scale of the emergency and had us in the pub within minutes.
I’ve seen walkers using taxis to arrive at the start of a walk and have often thought of doing it myself at times, but then have always thought it seems too much like cheating. Hitching or begging a lift from other walkers always seems to work well enough.
The next day was also car co-ordinated. We were driven round to Glen Sannox by his missus and a phone call from the ridge would tell her when to pick us up.
We climbed Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail, dodged round the Witch’s Step - nearly coming a cropper, my slide only halted by a foot becoming wedged between two boulders - and then finished on Suidhe Fhearghas before retracing our steps a little and dropping down to the north.
We were running late again due to the icy conditions but our driver was picking up the lights from our head torches, and we could see the lone car headlights moving up the road to meet us. It all seemed so civilised.
We celebrated for the rest of that Sunday night, not realising that the forecast storm was arriving 24 hours earlier than predicted. The only hurricane we noticed was the one inside our heads.
A frustrating day pinned indoors ended when the winds eased in the evening and the ferry finally ventured out. I’m happy to report my swimming trunks were not called into action.
(First published Daily Record, April 3, 2014)