Climbing Goat Fell
Updated: Nov 20
Right at the top of my 30 before 30 was climbing Goat Fell! In 2011 I lost my step dad who had been a constant in my life for 9 years. He helped develop my skills in amateur dramatics, introduced me to good music (Led Zeppelin, Shakespeare's Sister, Thin Lizzy and so many more) as well as teaching me life lessons that I still live by now.
Before he died he told the family he wanted his ashes scattered at the top of Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran. Which in hindsight was a bloody good joke - because none of us had ever been up there before and expected it to be a hill BUT not as big as it actually is! As a result, a year after he died, we ventured over as a family (I think about 10 of us) and set out to climb up Goat Fell.
We walked for about 30 -35 minutes up what felt like a mountain, it was that steep and decided to stop as his elderly mum was struggling and we wanted to scatter him as a family. We found a nice wee place that overlooked the Clyde, said some nice words, the sun even came out and we felt like we’d made the right choice. So off we popped back down the hill to the pub - which he would have approved of by the way!
The ninth anniversary of his death was in the middle of the first 2020 lockdown, which made it quite hard to escape. It doesn't matter how long it’s been, it still gets you and I often try to plan nice things to do, to distract myself. But I literally couldn’t that year, so it got to me and as a result of that I texted my sister and said … “Why don’t we climb it next year? It will be 10 years and it will be a nice celebration”. She agreed and so we started planning!
I booked wee shepherd huts on the Isle of Arran because we weren’t sure what the state of the world would be and we wanted to do our utmost to ensure we could go! These are the ones I booked (https://www.arransleephuts.com/). The view from here was EXCEPTIONAL, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for reasonably priced accommodation on the island.
So here we are in 2021 about to embark on our 10 year anniversary walk all full of life and ready for our cheeky vodka and irn bru at the top!
To make sure we passed where his ashes were scattered we started at Corrie, you can get a bus to it if you want to go the way we did. I’d forgotten how steep this bit was but we found him and spent a wee minute with him, my sister and I also cursed him (tad prematurely we realised, thinking the worst was over!) for picking such a steep hill to be up!
We kept going and I’ve got to tell you it was so worth it. The side we went up was the side of the hill and looked straight over the water, was nestled in forests and was BEAUTIFUL. We even spotted a few rogue deer too. The way up was steep, especially the side we’d decided to go up. It would be a small gradient for a while and then it would be like climbing stairs, just big rocky stairs (being a short arse I had to climb a few on my knees!).
About 3/4s of the way up we had to cross a waterfall and my god it was breath-taking. The sound, the smell and the look of it. You just felt like you had entered into this magical place that only we were in.
Crossing the waterfall was ENTERTAINING to say the least. I’m not particularly stable on dry ground never mind smooth, wet rocks BUT I got there after a few wobbles. My sister on the other hand … who is even worse on dry land and is scared of water … took a few attempts, bless her! Plus we nearly lost our friend because on her way to help my sister took a nose dive into a rock!
We clambered on and eventually got to the last bit, which was STEEP and slippery. It had rained the day before and hadn't quite dried off yet. This was the hardest bit because there was no reprieve, it was just up and up.
We got lapped by a fair few people, who looked the part - whereas we did not!
HOWEVER we made it to the summit (the bit before the very top) and decided this was enough for a few of us (me, my sister and Mr Pandi). So we cracked out our vodka and irn bru and had a wee toast!
It was super windy at the top but my god was it worth it. The views were SPECTACULAR and made all the huffing and puffing worth it.
Our friends set off to get to the very top, which was an absolute scramble, lots of hands and knees to get up.
The way down wasn't quite so exciting. This route, which is often the advertised route, had a clear path to follow and in my opinion was the most boring way to go. This side of the hill sat in a valley so the views weren’t quite as good, pretty still but not phenomenal.
It took us SEVEN hours to get to the top and back down, which I think may be the record for the slowest climb ever BUT we had fun. Plus we’re not hill walkers and we’re not exactly fit people either.
When we got back to our accommodation, chippy in hand, I got quite emotional (not that I showed it), this was a massive achievement for my sister and I. Plus it was the first time we’d seen each other in about 18 months! This is why I wrote a 30 before 30 list, to challenge myself, firstly, but to create amazing memories with people. I’m not in a rush to climb Goat Fell again BUT if I ever did I’m not sure it would ever match up to our walk in 2021.
My advice: if you’re wanting to climb Goat Fell, start at Corrie, it’s a wee bit harder and you can’t see the top for ages (kept thinking we’d nearly made it, then we’d turn a corner and realise we were nowhere near haha!) but you’ll get the best views ever.
Here’s to you Big Yin, we did it and I hope our effing and jeffing the whole way up made you laugh!