Goatfell – 874m
Mullach Buidhe (top) – 829m

Sunday 20th July 2008

Weather/Conditions: Sunny, with some cumulus but a lot of wind. Just like a lot of these days seem to be.
Accompanying: Dad

Dad wanted to climb Goatfell once before the holiday was done. In the end we climbed Goatfell and went on to walk to Sannox over the north ridge on a nice day but with some intense wind at points. With a Canon 5D in hand and more knowledge than I, he also outdid any photos I ever took. Dammit.


We started at the Brodick car park and began walking up the track as I had been doing numerous times now – this was to be my third time up Goatfell in eight days. The day was good and really rather warm but up we went slowly but steadily. We came out of the forest and continued on up the summit ridge to the top ... much like my other days up Goatfell. There was a strong wind up top so I ended up sitting at the top for 45 minutes in the shade, did the usual things I'd do anytime at the top. There wasn't much to say about this trip up Goatfell, everything I had already done twice previously.

Over the north tops

After some time at the top we went onwards to the pinnacles. They were fun to navigate through but the wind wouldn't die down. Extreme wind speeds paired with the exposure of these pinnacles, it made for some pretty intense moments - yet I was loving it all the same. We continued, taking the (not easy) bypass paths and before long we'd got back onto the ridge and were right beneath North Goatfell. Skirting it's east side, we didn't go up but instead went onwards to Mullach Buidhe. In the shadow of North Goatfell, the wind had died down but returned when we headed onwards over the rough paths to Mullach Buidhe. I knew this subsidiary top from before but today would be the first time I'd walked north of its' summit.

There were two options from Mullach Buidhe - go down to Corrie on paths or head over the north ridge and round the rocky, cliff-ridden spur known as Cioch na h-Oighe. Screw that prominence malarky as a judgment of a peak, this is probably the most impressive sight on the entire Goatfell Massif and it's merely a spur of the rather less photogenic Mullach Buidhe.

Descent via. the Bastion

With a strong wind blowing we headed over the north ridge and would find out how to get down The Bastion when we got there. The easier alternative was to descend into Coire na Ciche but we would have to wait and see. We passed interesting rock formations, all backed by the turrets and tors of Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail. I'd expected a longer ridge to reach the Bastion but we hadn't walked for longer than ten minutes when far below us, the spur jutted out from the surrounding hillside.

The Bastion is nothing short of incredibly steep, incredibly sharp, vertical and rugged. It's a peak with attitude. It could be part of the Skye Cuillin and not look out of place and casts particularly dark shadows over Coire na Ciche. (An alternative name for Coire na Ciche is "The Devils Punchbowl". Some epic names on Arran) Understandably, we chose not to descend by the Bastion, but Coire na Ciche instead.

When the headwall of Coire na Ciche had become too steep to walk over, we followed the eastern spur down opposite the the Bastion. We also gave mum a phone to come and pick us up from Sannox. The descent into the corrie was steep and the rough ground was unnerving. Boulders in all sorts of angles were ready to topple. As can be seen in one of the pictures, boulders were at all sorts of angles and just ready to topple. But we got to the bottom without incident and picked up a path that ran alongside Ice Age moraine.

But we lost this path as quickly as we found it and then headed over very rough ground trying to reach the Glen Sannox path. Had I had a map, I would have realised that an indistinct path goes all the way back down but without such knowledge it was straight over thick ferns, long and rough grasses. That last descent out of Coire na Ciche took a long time and demanded elbow-grease. We ended up on the track after plenty effort, then from there it was ten or fifteen minute walk back to Sannox. I walked for ten more minutes to get to the car park which mum was parked in and that was us. It was a moderately difficult day with a surprise ending. It would help to stay on the path; the alternative is unforgiving.


Arran Hills from Goatfell

Southern Highlands, Scottish Lowlands and Firth of Clyde from Goatfell
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.30am Brodick
(2.40) 2.10pm Goatfell
(3.35) 3.05pm Goatfell (left)
(4.40) 4.10pm Mullach Buidhe
(7.20) 6.50pm Sannox
(7.30) 7.00pm Back at car

Written: 2008-07-22, 2008-08-11
Edited & added new photographs: 2010-01-20