Life on Arran

@arran

Trail running notes on Arran plus a few other things

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Wee calf or six

May 8, 2018

The last time I wrote, I mentioned that I felt my calf pop. That was 23 March. Turns out it's pretty lengthy recovering from a calf injury.

I'm not sure if it was a strain or a minor tear, but today - six and a half weeks later - I did a 10k without any issues.

I ran a couple of weeks after the first strain thinking it was OK - supporting my new compression socks too :) - but the bloody thing popped again sending me back to the beginning of the recovery process (and an embarrassing hobble through Lamlash!).

After lots of stretching, resting, a bit of swimming, more stretching and some light jogging in the last two weeks stretching every 200m or so, it now feels stronger - or less fragile!

Sadly, I missed the Ormindale 10k in April as a result of the strain, but have signed up to the Arran 25k called the Tarsuinn Trail on 16 June. So with some strength training (I need to Google that...) and lots of stretching I should be OK for it. Yaldi!


Today's 10k was flat and on the road, but a lovely costal run.

Start from the Arran Fine Foods at Lamlash and run through the village. Hug the coast line all the way round until you get to a point where the coastal path splits (there is a sign) pointing up to Clauchland Hills or along the coast to Brodick. If you turn there and head back, it's a 10k in total.

Perfect for getting back into it. Here are some photos.

view to Lamlash

gorse near lamlash

arran costal way sign at clauchland hills

view towards brodick from arran costal way

Glenashdale Falls and Giants' Graves Part 1

March 23, 2018

entrance to glenashdale on arran

I had planned a route from the top end of Whiting Bay to Glenashdale Falls and Giants' Graves and back again, which was about nine miles round trip. However, I only managed the Glenashdale Falls part. Hence, "Part 1" in the title.


The weather was decent today despite some heavy clouds looming, which thankfully never burst open. I was a bit short on time, so the nine mile route was pushing it with the time I had available, so I set out knowing I might not complete the full route I had planned.

Of course, being short of time, today was the day I also got lost twice and, out of nowhere, strained a calf muscle. So I spent 15 to 20 minutes getting back on track and stretching out the calf at intervals!

I never made the nine miles, but I did end up doing a cracking 10km!

heavy clouds at whiting bay looking towards prestwick


Starting the run from the top end of Whiting Bay - or The Bay Kitchen and Stores (if you want a coffee beforehand!) - and run out of Whiting Bay going north.

You'll have to run at the side of the road for five minutes, so just be careful. You'll pass a church and a raised bungalow on your left and then see a footpath sign for Auchencairn. Take the footpath and it will head to the road that takes you to Knockenkelly.

The road is fantastic. You'll get great views on your left hand side and you'll get to run through some pretty cottages and farm buildings. You'll be going up hill here, so make sure you use "taking photos" as an excuse to stop and catch your breath :)

As the road flattens out, it turns into a track and takes you through Knockenkelly and by the farm with the same name. It's gorgeous.

Running on for about half a mile - enjoying the whiff of manure - you'll see a gate on the right...

gate and footpath near knockenkelly

Despite looking at the route last night, I had a mind blank and instead of going through the gate I kept on the track, which took me downhill back to the main road at Whiting Bay. Doh!

So I headed back up the hill and through the gate above on to the walking path, which is a bit boggy at this time of year. After a few hundred yards, you get a view of the golf course leading you over a bridge and a nice waterfall.

whiting bay golf course

burn stream and waterfall near whiting bay

Continue on this path until it becomes tarmac again. There are some houses on your left. The golf course is on your right. You then arrive at a T-junction; left goes to Whiting Bay, right takes you up to Glenashdale and the falls.

Go right.

This is where it gets a bit messy.


I've gotten lost twice here before. I'm sure it's not difficult to get it right, but I just haven't yet!

After turning right at the T-junction and continuing up past some cottages, you'll see a sign for Glenashdale Falls pointing left. You can probably hear the falls from the sign.

The path takes you down and through some trees. It's pretty cool. There's also an iron age fort in here somewhere.

As you follow the path down, it takes you to a look-out point to the falls. There were some walkers enjoying the views, so I left them to it and swung round to the right on to a path that I thought would take me to the falls. After a couple of minutes, I ended up veering off the path, through the trees, by the iron age fort and over a few burns.

burn near glenashdale falls

There wasn't a specific path for what I could see. It wasn't particularly remote or dangerous though, just a bit slippy, steep and dense with trees and moss.

However, I ended up on a pathway that I think I was trying to get to in the first place.

The pathway takes you over the top of the falls and down to a look-out point (across the river from the other look-out point). As we've had a lot of rain recently, the falls were looking pretty mean. Gggrrrrrrrrr.

glenashdale falls

From here, you can take a trip up to Giants' Graves, or run down a bit further and then go up to Giants' Graves from there (my original plan), or just continue to the main road at Whiting Bay.

A quick look at my watch told me I had ran out of time, so I headed to the main road and ran along the shore finishing at The Bay Kitchen and Stores.

In the end, it was a cracking run finishing flat with views of the sea on the right and Holy Isle ahead. Tip top!


The elevation gain was around 660ft and distance just under 10k. You'll definitely need trail running shoes for this unless the weather has been particularly dry.

glenashdale 10km

A run of two halves...

March 17, 2018

...I mean that in every sense. Weather, terrain, motivation, elevation...


I ran to Kilmory today from Lamlash and back. There's a circular route you can take that heads down the coast, across the island, up the lower part of the west coast and then back over to Lamlash. In total, it was 21 miles with a 2800ft elevation gain.

run from lamlash to kilmory and back

I used it as a training run for some of the runs I've signed up for here on Arran and one on the mainland.

This run had been on my list for a while, and as I wrote a few days ago, I had it planned for today regardless of the weather.

As you can see below, geographically, it is a run of two halves. That made it a challenge, especially as the wind was with me on the way out and against me (plus driving rain!) on the way back.

elevation gain from lamlash to kilmory and back

The circuit is more of a road run with about 60% being on tarmac. I'd also guess, the way I did it, that around 60-70% of it it is up hill. So it felt like a bit of a slog. Great views though and the temperature (cough, driving rain) kept my body temperature down!


Start from Lamlash and head south out of the village and take a right onto The Ross (by Arran Fine Foods) and make your way towards Dyemill car park. There are slightly different routes you can take here from the car park. Today, I kept it simple and kept on the main track that heads over the bridge. This is the forest track for logging vehicles and takes you all the way to Kilmory.

For the first 4-5 miles of the track, you can veer off to different places like Hawthorn near Whiting Bay. Keep going though by the golf course on the left, until you see a sign post for Whiting Bay in one direction and Kilmory in the other. Follow the latter and it will take you up by a place called Cloud Base on the right.

When you get to that point, the track flattens a bit. Here it feels quite remote and a bit like no man's land. Now is the time to do a pee if you need one :)

track between whiting bay and kilmory

The track trundles on for another few miles and you begin to get a sense that you're coming closer to the coast again - I think that's something to do with the light and the sea. You'll also pass a gorgeous farm on the right hand side.

a farm near kilmory

After another mile, you'll get your first view of Ailsa Craig and then Kilmory over to your right. You can either head right down a track (sign posted and on the Arran Art Trail) or keep going to the main road for more views of the sea and Ailsa Craig.

first glimpse of ailsa craig from kilmory

If you take the main road (you end up on it anyway), be aware that there is no pavement and that cars will be passing you - so make sure you can be seen! Especially, if it's hosing down with rain!

On the main road (heading west), you'll go through Kilmory, past Kilmory Creamery and down into Lagg by the Lagg Hotel and Velo Cafe. From there, you run for about another mile until you get to an old rundown church and a war memorial. Take that - this is The Ross (remember it from earlier?).

war memorial at the ross

The Ross - despite it being tarmac - is the better half of the run because you run by some farms, streams, old ruins, a buddhist retreat and some steep hills on either side. It has much more to it than the first part. Like the starey ram below.

It wasn't so pleasant today given it was straight into the driving wind and rain, but still pretty in its own way.

farm animals on the ross

the ross road arran on a rainy day

After about 4-5 miles, you start to climb up to the highest point of the run. Today, it was a bit of a slog, but only because of the weather (well, maybe also because you start climbing around mile 17).

Arriving near the top you are rewarded with a view back down to Lamlash and Holy Isle. And of course, a couple of miles of running down hill; finishing the 21 miles off in Lamlash.

a view of lamlash and holy isle from the ross

Psst - Today, I had a treat waiting for me when I finished. A bag of chips from Hooked and Crooked. Yaaassss!

The Ross and Glenkiln Farm

March 14, 2018

I've got a longer run semi-planned for later this week, so the first run of the week was a five miler up by Glenkiln Farm in Lamlash with views of The Ross, Cordon and Holy Isle.

The last time I did this, there was snow and ice on the track, so proper trail running trainers were needed. As it's mostly gritted though, road trainers would be fine. It's half up hill and half downhill - so a good training exercise with some great views near the top:

a view of holy isle and cordon from near the ross

From Lamlash, run south towards Whiting Bay and take a right at the end of the village and run up toward Dyemill car park. Before you get to the car park, you'll see a track on the right that leads to a farm (Glenkiln Farm).

Take the track, and run through the farm by some cottages about 200m after the farm and on to a track that climbs upwards. Just follow that for as long as you want.

the ross from cordon in lamlash

I'm not sure where that track goes or finishes (a run for another day), but as you get to a plateau (2.5 miles from Lamlash), you'll see the track continues further. You may be able to swing around to the left to get to the top of The Ross. As I say, a run for another day!

the track after glenkiln continues up

Note, you'll have to open some gates on the track - remember and shut them :)

Brodick from Lamlash via Glencloy

March 6, 2018

running route from lamlash to brodick

It was overcast today. But I needed the fresh air, as I'm currently moving house, which is full of annoying (and stressful!) tasks. So I went for a run to Brodick - the first time I've done it.

I was expecting a slightly better run and terrain than I got. A lot of the route from Lamlash to Brodick you're on a gritted forest road for logging vehicles. You also pass a quarry, so the track needs to be solid enough for heavy machinery to get through. You can see the road surface in the photo above.

Despite the lack of "trail", it's still Arran, so there are plenty of paths through trees, bridges, streams and views of the mountains and Holy Isle.

The run was just over 10 miles. And you take the same road from Lamlash to Cnoc na Dail car park that I wrote about in the Clauchland Hills post.

Once you get to the car park you go left instead of right (to Clauchland Hills). The route left takes you on to the forest track I mentioned above. If you have a look behind you, you'll be rewarded with this view:

view of holy isle from cnoc na dail car park

Along this track, you'll see Brodick off to your right. You'll pass a quarry on your left and start to head down and left with a view of the "Northern Mountains" straight ahead.

The track crosses a burn called Glencoy Water and you head right (see my note below), which takes you on to a lovely trail through dense trees with Glencoy Water on your right and into Glen Cloy. This takes you all the way down to Brodick by Glen Cloy Farm and the Auchrannie Resort.

As you reach the main road in Brodick, turn right and take Alma Road (after about 200 metres) on your right and carry on until you see a sign post for "Lamlash 3 miles".

Follow the road that the sign post points to and from there it's pretty much straight back to Lamlash along a nice forest trail. It's called Fairy Glen - and is probably the best bit of the run.

view ot the northern mountains of Arran

As you head back towards Lamlash, you'll find yourself back at Cnoc na Dail car park. If you wanted to extend the run, you could take a left into the car park (over the road) and head up to Clauchland Hills and then down and round the coast into Lamlash. This would make the whole run around 15 miles.

Instead, I headed straight down to Lamlash from Cnoc na Dail car park and by the golf course making it 10 miles, which was all I was looking for today.

holy from lamlash golf course road

The run itself is a good run to do when clouds are low and it's damp outside - pretty much what it was today. The elevation gain for the 10 miles I did was 1300 ft.

On sunny days, there are better trail runs on Arran, but today was cloudy and damp, so it was a good match - and enough to forget about moving house!

Enjoy!

*NOTE: If you did the run in reverse coming from Brodick then you'd see a Forestry Commission sign stating the path is temporarily closed. As I was coming from Lamlash there wasn't a sign, so I only noticed at the end. I don't know when this path will re-open.

Races on Arran

March 4, 2018

I've been searching around for races on Arran. I've found a handful, which I've listed below. Looks like we need a race in August and September! Will update when new ones appear.

14 & 15 April 2018
Ultra Trail of Arran
Organised by Rat Race
Two day weekend running 50km each day

22 April 2018
Ormidale 10k
Organised by Arran Runners
Flat coastal route between Brodick and Corrie

19 May 2018
Goatfell Race
Organised by Arran Runners
15.5 km run from Brodick to the summit of Goatfell and back

16 June 2018
Ultra Trail Scotland: Arran
Organised by Ultra Trail Scotland
71km course with 5000m+ ascent

16 June 2018
"Tarsuinn Trail": Arran
Organised by Ultra Trail Scotland
At a little over 25km with 2000m+

1 July 2018
Isle of Arran Half Marathon
Organised by Arran Runners
Half marathon on the west coast

PS - note that as of today, the Goatfell race is full

What weather warning?!

February 27, 2018

I woke up today and had an email from my "mother-in-law" saying her car had got stuck in the snow in Kent - 500 miles south of where I am. It's normally the other way around.

All the papers are warning about the weather over the next few days: "STAY IN DOORS".

So there are plenty of reason not to go running :)

But as I was saying last week, planning the run the night before makes it much easier. I did that, and it was a 14 mile trail run from Lamlash to Whiting Bay around King's Cross and then back to Lamlash that was the task for the day. The photos below speak from themselves...

trail run from Lamlash to Whiting Bay and Kings Cross

This is a cracking run. And a half marathon race waiting to happen! Starting off from Lamlash, you head up towards Dyemill car park and take the trail over the bridge and you'll see a sign post for "Urie Loch 1.6 miles".

Run along for a bit with the Monamore Burn on your left and then take a left down towards another bridge which you don't go over - instead you go right.

This trail takes you upwards to a wee pond and then around by Lagaville Village (an old ruin) and Meallach's Grave.

wee pool near Dyemill car park

The trail ends at the Forest Path, which you join. The "path" is basically a gritted road for logging trucks to get up and down.

Run on this for about three miles or so. If you can resist the temptation of turning around to see the views of The Ross behind you then you'll get them on the way back, which at mile 12 might give you a wee boost :)

After about three miles on the Forest Path, you see a sign post for Whiting Bay (and Kilmory in the other direction). Take the Whiting Bay route, which will take you by Glenashdale Falls and down on to the main road at Whiting Bay.

Turn left when you get to the main road (the bowling green should be on your left). At the end of the beach in the distance towards Holy Isle, you'll see the coastline rises a little. That's King's Cross where you'll get "holy shit!!!" views of Holy Isle, Lamlash and Goat Fell.

So to get there...

Just follow your nose, along the main road, over the football "pitch" on the right and around the coast a bit. There is a 200m stretch on pebbles. After that, you'll see a sign post for King's Cross point. Follow it on to the boardwalk and then up a stoney path and you'll end up at an old Viking fort from 800AD.

I'll just repeat that...

You'll end up at an old Viking fort from 800AD.

Holy Shit.

view from kings cross arran of goat fell

From there, follow the Arran Coastal Way signs down and along the coast, through some trees and it will lead you up a hill by a large house on the right. As you get to the top, you arrive at King's Cross - a damn sight better than the one in London :)

At the top, head right on to the road, then left and follow the path that is sign posted for Sandbraes. This takes you back to the coastline where you came from and into Whiting Bay.

Go back the way you came on the main road until you get to the school on the right hand side. If you get to the church then you've gone too far. On the right of the school there is a small road that winds up the way. Follow it until you see a tight trail on the right - beware of the barbwire at the sides of the path.

It climbs up and through some gorgeous cottages on to a track. Turn right and you'll head up by Knockenkelly Farm. You'll smell the manure.

After you've run by some more cottages on your right and a small waterfall on your left, you'll get to a path signed posted "Forest Path" on your left. Take this path, and it will take you on to the gritted road (Forest Path) you were on earlier. Turn right.

The road goes up and down for a couple of miles. You'll eventually be rewarded with amazing views of The Ross and beyond. It's all downhill from there. Yay! Follow the road towards Dyemill car park and down into Lamlash. Job well done.


You'll need trail running shoes for part of this. And providing you can handle a half marathon distance then it's a great run for all levels. The views at many parts of the run are spectacular.

Enjoy.

The hunt for Urie Loch

February 21, 2018

I never quite got there today; Urie Loch. After returning home from the boggy run, my girlfriend told me that it's boggy even in summer, so that made me feel better at turning back :)

Apparently, you keep climbing up and up (ignoring the signs that say 1.6 miles and then 2 miles...) and eventually you get there.

The climbing wasn't the issue though; I was concerned I might lose a shoe :)

Regardless of not quite making, it was a stunning morning. A little bit of cloud made it more special when the early morning sun did come out.

There was a break in the woods at one point - and a break in the clouds - and the views were fantastic. The sun was shining on The Ross. The green moss on the trees was lit up luminous green. And you could see the white cottages of Lamlash glistening.

Pretty cool.

To be honest, it was only boggy at the top. The majority of the run is simple trail terrain. So don't let me put you off. It's worth doing...

Heading south from Lamlash, you take The Ross road by Arran Fine Foods and keep going for a bit to Dymill car park. Cross the bridge over Monamore Burn and head right where the trail continues through the trees or cuts across another bridge.

You can go both ways, but the bridge is a better route. From there, you start to climb on mixed terrain.

This morning was so peaceful: not a breath of wind, I could hear birds tweeting and running through the forest had an eerie silence to it.

I didn't have my phone on me, so no photos today. But I'll take it next time and make sure I get to the loch. And tie my shoelaces tight!

Clauchland Hills

February 17, 2018

Today is one of those days where trail running really kicks the ass out of road running. The latter, I've always found boring and mechanical, so I avoid it most of the time.

But with both, motivation lacks when the weather is brutal. The way around that though - I'm learning - is committing to the run the night before.

Yesterday, the weather was brutal. High winds, chucking it down and cold. Standard for February. Ferries cancelled.

However, last night I picked a walk from Walking On Arran and decided I was running it, regardless of the weather. The weather forecast was a bit grim, but the act of reading about the walk, looking at the map and getting my running stuff ready meant I was committed. And if I didn't go, I'd feel pretty guilty most of the day. (Probably not the best way to make yourself to do exercise, but when's it's February and you're on Arran, you do what you can...)

I got lucky.

The weather was clear in the morning. It was windy, but not raining, and there was a touch of sun around. So at 10am, the journey to Clauchland Hills began.

It's just over 10km there and back from Lamlash; although if you get a bit lost, like I did, it can turn into about 15km.

You run up by the golf course and on to the track on the left hand side heading out of Lamlash. Then after a km or two you'll be able to cross the road to Cnoc na Dail car park.

From there, you run on a bit and then take a left up towards Hill Path. Not surprisingly, you start to climb for a bit. It was typical February terrain (bits of ice and frost and boggy in places), but would be easier in summer. You then arrive at a cairn at the top with views to Brodick and Holy Isle. Wowzers.

view of holy isle from clauchland hills

I was lucky again. The sun was out, the ferry was just coming into Brodick and Holy Isle looked amazing.

view of brodick and arran ferry from clauchland hills

From the cairn, you run down (kind of up and down really). I got lost a bit - don't be tempted through the track with the very long trees. Instead, KEEP GOING - otherwise you'll need to climb back up :)

track through trees near clauchland hills

Getting down from there - after you've avoided the temptation to go through the trees that look like they lead to a magical world - it's fairly easy to get back to Lamlash. I ended up going through Clauchland Farm - I went in with yellow trainers that came out brown - but there is another route if you continue over the Iron Age hill fort (according to Walking On Arran and my brother-in-law).

In total, I ended up doing around 12.5km with an elevation gain of 430m. It was a bit boggy in places, so you'd need trainers with good grip.

A great run for all levels of trail runners.