Saturday, 19 July 2008

Lamlash to Kildonan, Isle of Arran

This week I went to Arran with Richard and Kath and we stayed at Aldersyde Bunkhouse in Lamlash.
When we arrived we had problems finding the bunkhouse as the only indication of its presence was a wheelie bin with 'bunkhouse' written on it (we later discovered that this was due to a land dispute between the owner of the bunkhouse and the owner of the inn next door). The bunkhouse was nice enough although the kitchen was very cramped and the showers looked a bit unhygienic. The rooms were also mixed gender (which I'd avoid if travelling alone).

Before we left the owner informed us that we would be sharing our room with 'missionaries': which led us to jokingly speculate whether our room mates would be missionaries of the holy evangelical bible-bashing sort or violent satanic anti-missionaries.

At the bus stop we found out that we'd be waiting more than an hour for the next bus, so I suggested we start walking towards Kildonan. The road was more dangerous than we imagined with plenty of blind corners and no pavement. Turning a bend we came across a crashed car, upside down, in the middle of the road. Next to the car were a group of young touristy-looking people on phones - luckily everyone had managed to escape unscathed. This convinced us to get off the road as soon as possible and at Largymore we were able to follow a path to the shore.

Shortly after this, whilst walking through a shoreside field, we were chased by a large horse: an incident both terrifying and hilarious in equal measure.
The beach was a scree of boulders backing onto a cliff and proved difficult and time-consuming terrain to cross.

We briefly stopped at Port na Gaillin, where the beach flattened out. The boulders here were profusely covered with a variety of wildflowers including Larger Bindweed (Calystegia sepium), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) and Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)
Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)

It was late evening by the time we reached Kildonan and we soon found out that we had misread the bus timetable and had missed the last bus. The only option was to walk via the main road to Whiting Bay and then catch a bus to Lamlash.

Ailsa Craig
By the time we got back we were absolutely knackered and too tired to eat anything, so we made a pot of tea. One of our room mates had arrived back: a beefy, skin-headed man who looked exactly like Chewin' the Fat's 'The Big Man'. We made the mistake of offering him a cup of tea. Once the man opened his mouth he wouldn't shut up.

It was impossible to find a breathing gap in the conversation to politely announce that we were going to bed. The conversation began to take a sinister turn: our room mate Dave began calmly to tell us about the people he had severely beaten up, his youth spent in borstals and mental homes and how religion had changed him (despite this he planned to smuggle a gun in order to kill someone). The 'missionaries' turned out to be an Orange Order group :(
We were afraid to cut off the conversation with dave in case he got angry but we were so tired that our eyelids were closing involuntarily.

Then, during the night Dave woke up Richard to tell him that the toilet was broken (something that could really have waited to the next day *sigh*).

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