Thursday, September 28, 2006

A special place

A break from thinking about education today. Instead we were up at the crack of dawn and off to spend the day on Arran. My favourite glen - probably anywhere - is Glen Sannox, a perfect glaciated U-shaped valley. Until recently, it was also an extremely muddy hike, as the water drains off the surrounding hills on its way to the burn and sits in the peaty hollows on the floor of the glen. However, it has in recent years been attacked by the National Trust, who have made a wonderful job of creating a natural-looking gravel track over the bogs, with drainage ditches channelling the water to the burn and huge rocks ensuring that the channels remain firmly defined. So now a walk that used to consist of much leaping and cursing among the tussocks has become a pleasurable experience - and the state of the boots at the end of the day is noticeably cleaner.

Perhaps it is the extreme wildness of the glen which has always attracted me, or the looming shapes of Cioch na h-Oighe, Caisteal Abhail and Cir Mhor which bring the cloud hanging over the centre of the island, or the thrill of finding the excavated whinstone dike which is the key to the route up The Saddle at the head of the glen - I can't pin it down. But I know that today, when we had only a few hours on the island which I regard as my other home, it was Glen Sannox that I wanted to spend these hours in. I have never been there so late in the year, when the bog myrtle is losing its heavenly perfume and the bracken is turning, but I should like to return in winter, to see the mountains under snow.

Living here in Dunoon, Arran is always visible, filling the road through Innellan, looming above Bute when seen from Toward. I never see it without wanting to be there. Today, I was.


  1. I love Glen Sannox. I am madly jealous. I haven't been up there for a long while and did not know that the National Trust had been doing some work. I think the last time I was there was with a group of youngsters gorge walking so the state of the path wouldn't have a huge impact on our awareness.

  2. I've just been corrected by beau-frere Bill about the responsibility for the path upgrade. The path upgrade was due to Arran Access Trust – Argyll & the Islands Enterprise, Heritage Lottery Fund, European Commission, Scottish Executive, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and North Ayrshire Council.
    Thanks, Bill!