Solo Wild Camp: North Arran

My first ever solo wild camp was at Bearradh Tom a’Muidhe, the highest point of the “Postman’s Path”. This path goes from Lochranza to Cock farm and Laggan Cottage, old hamlets that were once bustling inhabited by farmers, but are long since abandoned.

[July 2016]

I had planned for a few weeks to get one last wild camp competed before August, but I didn’t want to return to my usual stomping ground of Laggan shore, so the plan was Bearradh Tom a’Muidhe. Both my brother and my dad were unavailable to accompany me this time round, which meant I’d be going solo. Since this was my first camp alone, I decided to try and cut down on pack weight even more than usual. I looked out everything I would need for the trip and eventually arrived at what I thought was as minimal as I would dare to go.

Everything I need for a 1 night wild camp in very familiar territory.

I packed and weighed my rucksack (the Osprey Exos 48 came with me on this trip. Click here for information on my camping and walking gear) and it came in at roughly 9kg including water. I was pretty happy with this, but in hindsight I could have done without sunglasses (I was being optimistic about the weather) and my wash kit, but I’d rather have something to clean myself with and something to protect my eyes if the sun decided to make an appearance (granted, this doesn’t happen very often in Scotland at the moment).

For dinner, I had with me a freeze-dried meal that I found in TK Maxx of all places. For breakfast, a few granola bars usually hit the spot so I stuck to my usual. I had 1.2 litres  of water packed (2x “Smart Water” bottles), which turned out to be exactly what I needed, but probably not enough for anything more demanding or in warmer weather.

So, my rucksack was packed and it was time to head for the ferry to Brodick. I caught the 1800 ferry, which gets into Brodick just before 1900 and after sitting for nearly 50 minutes on the bus from Brodick to Lochranza, I began walking at around 1950. From the A841 through Lochranza, I turned north onto a small road that leads to the north side of Loch Ranza. at the end of this road, I turned right onto the Narachan track, a small road leading to some houses back up the glen.

Start of my walk – Narachan Track

After roughly 1km, a junction in the path is reached. I took the left turn to join the Postman’s Path (the right turn continues to more houses). The path provides decent traction and isn’t too boggy or muddy to begin with. After a short while, a small bridge is crossed. This is about 500m after turning off the Narachan track.

Bridge across Allt Eadaraidh on the Postman’s Path

It was now about 2015 and the clouds began to close in around the tops of the mountains to the south of Lochranza. I could no longer see the summit of Caisteal Abhail, which meant the rain was coming! I dug out my Paclite jacket and rain cover and sorted myself and my pack out before continuing my journey.

After another kilometre or so, the path starts to level out and head away from the valley towards Bearradh Tom a’Muidhe, the summit of the Postman’s Path. I reached the summit at around 2025 and after stopping to put my waterproof trousers on due to the increasingly heavy rain, I turned south-west off the track to look for a pitch I’d found a month or 2 ago on a previous day trip to Arran.

It was only a few minutes until I reached my home for the night. However, a group of around a dozen deer had also taken a liking to this spot. Seeing me approaching soon scared them off and I was free to pitch my tent. This took no time at all as I have now had plenty of practice at pitching my Laser Comp, which admittedly is slightly annoying to get used to as it never seems to look properly pitched. The ground was soft and spongy, but reasonably dry, so my tent pegs simply slid into the ground (and thankfully stayed put all night). I dumped my pack in the porch and dove into my tent, sorted out my sleeping kit for the night and fired up my JetBoil to make my dinner. Again, as usual, the JetBoil took less than 2 minutes to boil the 350ml of water needed for my freeze dried spaghetti bolognese. I munched down my meal and finished off the remaining water in the bottle before taking a couple of photos from the door of the tent and turning in for the night.

Panorama of my view from the tent door. From left to right: Loch Fyne, the Cowal peninsula and the islands of Inchmarnock & Bute

My original plan was to wake up at around 0730 and catch the 0955 bus back to Brodick for the 1105 boat, but my unconscious self obviously had different plans! I woke up at 0516 and after peeking out the door of my tent to see if I had any chance of photographing a sunrise, I decided to just pack up and begin my descent in the hope of catching the first bus of the day at 0707.

My attempt at trying to photograph the sunrise
My pitch at dawn
Remember: leave no trace

I packed up and munched my breakfast of 2 granola bars and headed back towards Lochranza at 0550. The walk down was simply the opposite from the way I had walked the previous night.

Summit cairn at Bearradh Tom a’Muidhe, Arran’s Corbetts still shrouded in cloud

I reached the main road again at 0620, so I decided to turn west and take some photos of Lochranza castle to pass the time until the bus arrived. Unusually, the bus was exactly on time. I climbed aboard and enjoyed the journey back to Brodick. I hopped back onto the ferry that I’d left only 13 hours ago and relaxed for the crossing back to Ardrossan.

Loch Ranza, Lochranza castle and Torr Nead an Eoin in the background

Overall, this was another successful trip. I tend to avoid planning trips during rainy weather so to be caught in a shower and stay dry to due my excellent waterproofs and fantastic tent is always a bonus and a bit of reassurance that my kit is doing its job. I would definitely use this as another solo wild camp in the future, but unfortunately there’s not really any room for more than 1 tent without more searching, but that means you have the hill to yourself for the night. My first solo camp has definitely given me the confidence to undertake another expedition on my own. It’s a chance to feel totally independent and self-sufficient and anyone who has a little knowledge and experience of wild camping can safely and easily enjoy a night to themselves. Remember, always tell friends or relatives where you are headed and give someone close to you a rough itinerary, just to be safe!

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