They always say that solo hiking isn’t for everyone. Now that I’ve done it, I understand why… but I also know that it’s definitely one hundred percent for me!
When Dan signed up for a reverse five ferry challenge starting from Wemys Bay and ending at Brodick, the main city on the Isle of Arran, I knew it was the perfect excuse for me to go do a whole day of walking. I’ve never been to the island before and I never went off on my own either, so it just made sense to spend the day with some recreational hiking.
I was planning to go up the island’s tallest munro, Goat Fell (874m), but as my hiking boots pulled a rain check on me (let’s just say they grew hairs… mouldy hairs…. yuk!), all I had to wear was my running trainers. As such, I couldn’t hope to get up any mountain or do any treks requiring waterproof footwear… So I ended up combining two routes, both circular and neither of them too strenuous, into a longer but still no-sweat 19km roundtrip.
The weather looked bleak and wet when I set off to the ferry terminal in Ardrossan. Somehow halfway across the Firth of Clyde though the sun made an appearance and we arrived in Brodick in bright warm sunshine. I started out slow along a windy path between the golf course and the marshy beaches, shedding jacket and jumper, and soon even applying sunscreen.
Walking alone didn’t for a moment feel lonely or difficult, there was just so much to see at every point during the trek. I found that I noticed much more detail around me when the only entertainment came from my surroundings.
The path soon turned away from the marshlands and started climbing uphill amongst trees, the forest floor covered with bluebells. But they weren’t the only flowers, just about everything else was in bloom too. Spring was definitely in full swing, the leaves a new fresh shade of green, the wind carrying a faint sweet scent.
As I headed North along the Cnocan Burn, waterfalls started out small and frothy but the further I climbed into the valley, the bigger and louder they got. The foliage quickly turned almost tropical-looking too, ferns, large meaty looking leaves, hanging ivy, tall maroonish stalks and moss everywhere.
I entered Glen Rosa from here following forestry routes and old crumbling stone walls, crossing a pine forest, then emerging into a wet and fertile valley in blazing sunshine. All the while, and we’re talking already a good 8km-s into the hike, I haven’t passed a single soul, barely even saw people in the distance at all. It was blissful to be alone in the landscape, I felt incredibly safe and happy to be out there on my own, and absorbed every view with undivided attention.
Soon the glen took a turn and the full length of Glenrosa Water came into view, with the black, angry-looking granite peak of Cir Mhòr looming at the far end of the valley. The path became more and more wet with all the water coming down the mountain sides, beginning to resemble small streams at times, so I couldn’t have been more than a third into Glen Rosa proper when I had to stop.
It was sure not easy to turn my back on these views:
With my shoes soaked and a very ugly bunch of black clouds rolling over the munroes from the West, this was probably the right decision. Not that I escaped the rain, no… the downpour didn’t last long (it never does), but a misty kind of dampness lingered on the entire way back to Brodick.
To say the weather was changeable would be an understatement… I got drenched good and proper by the time I got back on tarmac roads and dried completely again once I reached the edges of Brodick. By the time I got to the pub, the sun beat down hot. You know the saying… „Don’t like the weather? Just wait five minutes.”
Hiking solo just felt so natural… The experience of being out there on my own made me so much more present; knowing that I can only rely on my own navigational skills made me focus on finding the right turns and making sure I don’t put myself at any risk, which in turn somehow cleared my head of the usual thoughts I would be wrangling in the back of my mind on an average day.
Out of all the many things I’ve tried lately to quieten my inner worry-wart, this was definitely the most successful. Now I’m just wondering when and where I can go next.