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Issue 58 - Arran adventure

Whisky Magazine Issue 58
August 2006

 

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Arran adventure

Dave Broom is writing a book on distillery-related walks. Here he confronts Goat Fell

Arran is a compression of an already compressed country.

Scotland distilled.

Its northern hills are the equal of the best of the Highlands, its southern grasslands as gentle as those of the Ayrshire countryside only a few miles away across the Firth of Clyde.

This day was to take in both. Euan Mitchell, Arran distillery's sales director, and I had spent the night in the southern village of Blackwaterfoot, all decaying seaweed and machair grasses, the lights of Campbeltown glinting across the Kilbrannan Sound. Our walk though was in the north.

It's a bright but windy morning as we head north east over the String Road, but by the time we make Brodick the gathering clouds have made it seem like night is imminent. The rain batters the coast with tropical intensity and then clears as suddenly as it hit giving us our first look of Goat Fell. The peak is white with snow. In the last week of May! Bloody Scotland.

There's a path to the top starting in Brodick, but we've decided to take the shortest route from the hamlet of Corrie with the intention of bagging both summits. Short and direct it may be, but it's also the steepest way up.

Goat Fell is one of the few Scottish hills where you start climbing at sea level; and the Corrie route rises abruptly from the shore road, changing quickly from a rhododendron bordered road to a rocky path leading through rowan and alder, new leaves bunched like tight little fists.

The bones of silver birch shimmer in the dim wood.

The path, rip-...

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