Where: Caisteal Abhail, Isle of Arran
When: July 2014
Who: I Parker
Why: Good weather so a day out
Distance: about 8 miles
The image below is of the Arran ferry
Isle of Arran arriving at Ardrossan.
This image was taken from the ferry booking
office. It costs about £7 per person a
day return, and about £30 per return per
car, so many people park here for a couple of
pounds per day, rather than travel by car. If
you are traveling by car at weekends or on
school holidays, best to pre-book, as the
ferry is often fully booked then.
Ardrossan Train Station is situated under
half of a mile south of the ferry terminal.
You can buy train/ferry tickets with a
The first large ferry departs Ardrossan at
about 07.00 and the next at 09.45. Afternoon
ferriesdeparting Brodick are about 16.40 and
19.20. There is also a smaller ferry that
runs in summer, doubling the number of
crossings available. This is the small ferry
arriving for the 08.20 crossing. The first
crossing of the large ferry was fully booked.
Price checks and timetables for the ferry can
be found at the ferry website:
The image below is from the ferry as it
was close to Brodick, about 50 minutes
crossing time. Had the full breakfast on the
ferry, so was ready for a tough hike.
The bus station is situatedat the ferry
terminal. Bus scheduals north to Cladach,
Corrie, Sannox, Lochranza, and round to
Blackwaterfoot are about 10:55 . 13:40 .
16:20 . 19:05. Check times Tel - 0141 332
6811. These buses normally depart about 5
minutes after the large ferry has docked. It
seems there are no buses for the first ferry
In summer, an Open Top Bus runs between
Brodick Pier and Brodick Castle just over 2
miles north. Also other tours around the
Bay Garage at the terminal offers low cost
car hire, phone 01770 302 839. Bay Garage
also offer up to 8 seat mini buses for Hiking
Parties, Golf Parties, or Island Tours. For
more information, call George on Mob: 07967
587 481 or Day: 01770 700 345 or Evening:
01770 820 286.
A.R.C. Private Hire are based in Brodick
with a price guide for up to 4 people of
ABOUT £5 between Brodick and Cladach,
£10 between Brodick and Corrie, and
£15 between Brodick and Sannox. Tel:
0777 608 2752.
The large brown building across from the
terminal is the Douglas Hotel with a
nice beer garden, ideal when waiting on the
ferry back. The white building on the right
of the douglas, is another hotel with a beer
garden and bouncy castle for kids.
The image below is of the Caisteal Abhail
Car Park, at North Glen Sannox, about 9 miles
north of Brodick. The sign here states it is
4 miles to Caisteal Abhail. There is a bus
stop at this car park.
The steady, safer hiking trail is out to
the right there, up the northwest ridge, past
a number of waterfalls and pools, that in hot
weather, is a popular place to cool down.
That is the start of the ridge just past the
The trail out to the left goes up the
northeast ridge. That trail includes a number
of scrambling and rock climbing sections, so
is only hiked by a few real experienced
hikers. You can hire a local guide for that
route, to show you the best ways over the
famous Witches Step.
Road Map .
The image below is of the safer northwest
ridge route up past the waterfalls. Take the
path to the left at the bridge, then it is a
nice steady hike up through the woodland
following the burn.
This is North Glen Sannox. Note the white
lines on the hill at the start of the ridge.
There is a good steady trail all the way from
there to the summit of Caisteal Abhail.
The image below is of the Caisteal Abhail
trail as it reaches the end of the woodland
path. That is the summit up to the left, and
the trail onto the northwest ridge heads
right as soon as you get to the end of the
There are a number of stepping stone
places to cross the burn there. From the
burn, you will see a narrow trail run up to
the northwest ridge, where the white lines
You can also follow the trail up beside
the the burn for about another half mile,
then cross the burn up where two burns merge.
That crossing is more difficult though, then
you have to make your way up onto the
northwest ridge from there, following a trail
so far, then up through the granite
The image below is of the northwest ridge
route to Caisteal Abhail. As soon as you get
onto the top here, you get great views north,
all the way to the village of Lochranza.
That is the summit of Caisteal Abhail up
there, the highest part that looks like a
castle. Many hikers refer to this mountain as
the Castle, or Castles.
The image below is from one of a few spots
you get views like this, between rocks,
across to Caisteal Abhail, and the Witches
Step on the northeast ridge.
Large Image .
The image below is of the final section up
to the top of Caisteal Abhail. This part is
fairly steep, but straight forward enough.
This is a top winter hiking route in snow and
ice. Only attempt those condition with
crampons and an ice axe though, and know how
to use them.
The image below is of Caisteal Abhail
summit. I hiked to the top of this rocky
point thinking it was the top, only to see
this view, of the summit a fair bit higher,
with two hikers sitting enjoying the
You cannot hike to the top from this side,
have to follow the trail round to the left
there, then up from the east side. There is a
little rock climbing to get to the top, that
is really easy.
The image below is from the summit of
Caisteal Abhail, looking south to the highest
mountain on Arran named Goat Fell. That is an
interesting trail across there via Cir Mhor,
the Saddle and North Goat Fell.
Trails like those should only be crossed
in groups with experienced hikers in the
There were quite a few hikers going out to
Cir Mhor and back from this side, as this
side of Cir Mhor is not as steep as the other
side, down into the Saddle.
The image below is from the top of
Caisteal Abhail, looking east over the rocky
Witches Step, and on to the Scottish
mainland. The sun was shinning right down
that ridge, enticing me to go back down that
I took a number of photos, then decided to
head back down the northwest ridge, the way I
May try hiking up the Witches Step route
one day, when with other hikers, or with the
The image below is from hiking back down
the northwest ridge, same route as I took up.
The main trail runs straight down and off the
end of the ridge, then over to the burn.
There is another route up or down, from
the lower section of the ridge, down the
granite slopes to a narrow trail that leads
to stepping stones, where two burns merge.
There is a fairly good trail from there down
to the main trail through the woodland. This
is a good route if you want to get off a path
for a bit.
The image below is of the main trail that
leads down off the end of the northwest
ridge, with the narrow path down there
running across to the burn and trail back to
the car park..
The Caisteal Abhail Map below shows the
two main routes onto the mountain from the
North Glen Sannox car park. The Green and
Yellow dots show the fairly safe northwest
ridge route. The Green and Brown, and Green
and Red dots, show the dangerous northeast
ridge route. The Witches Step is normally
regarded as the most dangerous section of all
the mountain trails on the Island of
Range OS Map.
The hike to Caisteal Abhail was enjoyable
and fairly steady most of the way. The views
from the top may be the best on the island.
Many hikers use the buses up this way, so
they can go up one trail, and back down any
other they fancy.
I could not find any good photo tours for
this mountain, and the OS Map didn't show a
trail all the way, so didn't know what to
The trail from the burn across to the
start of the ridge is quite narrow, and there
is no bridge across the burn. If there had
been a bridge, and the lower trail was more
defined, it would have been classed as a
Caisteal Abhail is a real rugged mountain,
so I was surprised there was such a straight
forward route to the top. The Witches Step
and Cir Mhor routes look amazing, may get
round to trying them one day.
See also the Goat Fell Photo Tour.
For information on Corrie, Sannox and
Lochranza, visit the Tour of Arran