Published 24th May 2018, 17:54

    DID you put the bunting out and settle back to enjoy every bow and scrape of the £32million wedding? Yeah, me neither.

    I was walking down a different isle, Arran to be more precise, lapping up some beautiful sunsets and sunrises and taking part in the annual mountain festival.

    I was helping lead two night walks; Goatfell on the Saturday morning, and the Three Beinns circuit early on Monday. 

    The Goatfell night walk has become a firm festival favourite, an ascent starting from Corrie in the early hours to reach the ridge for first light at 3.30am, then a leisurely stroll along to the summit to wait for the sunrise. And what a sunrise we got this year; a burning red sphere seemingly in a real hurry to push up through the horizon, captivating its waiting audience. Now that was truly worth a bow.

    On our way to the highest point, we spotted a light moving along a higher ridge. When we reached the top, there was another walker sitting waiting for the light show to begin. He must have thought he would have the place to himself, and the disappointment on his face when we showed up was hard to disguise. Should have checked the posters, my friend.

    The Arran festival is a true community effort, and seems to grow in strength year on year. And cakes. The cake mountain seems to grow as well.

    My first engagement was as a speaker at a joint event on Friday evening with mountaineer poet Stuart B Campbell. It was one of the first chances to talk about the progress of my Mountains of the Moon book project. I was bookended by Stuart's readings, a thought-provoking mix of the beautiful and the bizarre, funny, visceral and always fascinating. Three hours later and I was in a dark car park waiting for the guests to turn up for the Goatfell trek.

    It's taken three years but I think I'm starting to get the hang of this Arran mountain timetable. The key is lots of food and lots of sleep, no hardship.

    We were back down the mountain by 7.30am and I was showered and in bed at my base in Lamlash by 9. I didn't rise until after 4pm, and the fact I went out for a meal meant I had not only missed the royal wedding, but two cup finals as well. Ach well, no great loss.

    Neither match held any great appeal, certainly not when it came to the option of re-visiting the Old Pier Cafe, one of those little gems you stumble across every once in a while. I discovered this old-style eatery four years ago and have frequented it at least once a day on every visit. On one occasion, I was in it three times in one day.

    Experience in sleep deprivation had taught me to give the festival ceilidh a miss and enjoy a more laid back evening, so I went for a sunset drive round the island. 

    The light was constantly changing with every beach stop, and by the time I reached Lochranza there was moisture in the air, whipped in by a strengthening wind. I made it back before the storm got properly started and was in bed again by midnight.

    Sunday was purely a food-fest, breakfast in the house, another at the Old Pier, then, tempted by the freshly baked offerings that had emerged from the oven as I was leaving, I went back for lunch two hours later.

    A lie down, then afternoon cakes and coffee at the festival hub, another two hours and I was imbibing again, double portions at the final night meal. I certainly wasn't taking the chance of feeling hungry on the Three Beinns night walk.

    Five night walks so far, and every one had been dry and mostly clear, sunrises galore. We were due a bad one, and here it was. The Glen Rosa circuit of Beinn Nuis, Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn a'Chliabhain is a classic but with a forecast for wind and rain it would be a tough night.

    The biggest surprise for myself and mountain guide Rachael was that two brave lasses turned up, the other four obviously deciding that staying in bed was a better idea.

    We were battered by the wind and soaked through by the rain, with some tricky navigation at times, but we made it down safe and sound. And I never once felt the slightest bit peckish.