Goat Fell

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					Alex Graham                                                             24/04/2010

                                  Goat Fell

1st August 2007

It was a wet day, so we’ll start with that and end with it, for now anyway as it
pissed down. So back to camp and bed for an hour at least, Oh Yeah! I
thought, that’ll do for me.

Back in the van and off to the Broddick Brewery, are we going for Goat Fell
this time I wonder, after arseing around with unneeded and unwanted maps
and compasses, plus the sky was clear. Eventually we get the green light
“sweet” we can go! After refusing walkie talkies, we head off in the knowledge
that we cannot be unnecessarily be harassed by an over cautious Mountain or
Scout Leader. The boys are happy about this as they are keen to establish
their independence and let the scouts know that they operate on a higher
level, in the knowledge that I Alex Graham (Zero Explorer Scout Leader) am
an experienced hill walker that climbed the mountain only a few weeks earlier
with Corin (my son) and that I would not let them down or put them in a
situation they can’t handle, also I had my own map and compass packed.

Packs on and off we go quickly and efficiently, choosing to use the formation
favoured from a few days earlier with Corin leading the charge, Owen close
behind followed by myself and tailed by Sean our “camp” photographer in
more ways than one. Corin sets the pace and the guys follow suit knowing we
can ascend quickly with minimum stoppages. On our journey we soon pass
fellow hikers, with ease we stride out onwards and upwards. We take in the
natural beauty of the surroundings, pointing out any wildlife or things of
interest on route. I gee the lads up with a few words of encouragement and
anything witty that comes to mind. Team spirit and attitude are first class; they
all know why they are here, what they have to do and what is expected of
them. After 2 days hiking over different terrains around Lochranza earlier in
the week the boys are getting good. I am confident of their abilities and I am
impressed, they have learned to improvise, adapt and overcome all obstacles
in their paths. As I walk along I find myself chin wagging with Sean more than
the other 2, we appear to have more in common. I make an effort to converse
with Owen and Corin, but it is hard work as Corin seems to be in a world of
his own reciting dialogue from frequently watched Disney movies. He is
immature for his age and prefers to be in his own company most of the time,
excluding everyone else. Owen is a funny bird, I don’t know whether he hears
what is going on or is lacking in social skills, as he has to wear a pair of
hearing aids. It does concern me that we are unable to socialise as group, but
we are able to walk in harmony at least.

Alex Graham                                                             24/04/2010

After an hours hiking we take our first of 2 stops at a gate on a perimeter
fence that leads us out of the woods. Walking so far has been straight forward
on a pre-made path, though it did get steep on occasion, wild raspberries
grew at either side of the path, but even though they were ripe, they did not
look very inviting, so we left them alone. “A quick drink of water” I say, “then
we’re off”, I warn them not to drink to much as it may cause stomach cramps.
A look to the rear, reveals walkers we previously had overtaken gaining on us
and I was not about to let that happen. Socks on and away, Owen looks a
little tired, but he’d be alright, I was certain. Corin scuttles off in front as
expected and we retain the shape previously employed with Sean the joker in
the pack bringing up the rear and taking happy snaps as we ascend toward
the mountain unobstructed from view by trees at last. We can now see clearly
where we have to go and we are setting a good pace, a Stag is spotted to our
right, what a beauty I thought a fine example of a male Red Deer, with an
impressive set of antlers, an eight pointer was counted, but we couldn’t stand
around in awe forever, we had to get moving again. We are blessed by the
sun’s presence as we near the ridge leading on to the final climb, by now we
are all feeling the pace and are sweating a bit more profusely. At this point we
take what will prove to be our final drink/rest stop prior to summiting.

2 minutes max and we go for it our final ascent, I look round the troops and
they are raring to go, I am impressed. The going is tougher now as we find
ourselves rock climbing more than path walking, a welcome breeze perks us
up a bit and we horse on to the top, with Corin sprinting the last 50m or so
and reaching the Triangulation Point about 30m in front of the rest of us.

Corin is delighted at his accomplishment and is looking to be rewarded with
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on DVD format for his efforts. I tell
him he has no chance, but he is well aware that I’m a soft touch and he’ll get it
anyway. Sean dawns his Borat mankini (male one piece bathing costume with
straps over the shoulders like a wrestler’s leotard and like a thong at the back)
and climbs upon the Trig Point to pose for some more than amusing photos,
most people on the top (including us) think this is hilarious, but some of the
older more serious walkers look away in disgust. I don’t know if they believe
this to belittle their own efforts in climbing the mountain or if they just lack a
sense of humour. To be honest we didn’t care we were having a laugh except
Corin who was embarrassed and screamed at him to get it off. I thought to
myself that it must be uncomfortable as the mankini appeared to be cutting
him in half from the crotch upwards. Whilst still in a joyous mood from
summiting we ask a girl on the top to take a group photo for our Zero’s
collection and then we phoned the Scouts to enquire about their progress only
to hear they are about an hour behind and could we wait for a photo with
them, which I reluctantly accept as Sean would like a happy snap with his
younger brother Connor (Simon for camp) anyway. We find a sheltered spot
from the driving wind and set about our nose bags. I notice Corin is getting
hyper after devouring his fourth mars bar of the day, he is running around
talking to himself, with frequent vocal outbursts. “Aw naw! Calm down Corin” I

Alex Graham                                                             24/04/2010

say “get a grip on yourself”, he then wanders off to a large rock curls up like a
baby, at least he’s calm now I think to myself. As I am wandering around the
top of the hill looking for any sign of the Scouts I can see Owen bouncing
around off the rocks in some strange poses, at least he is happy, but I still
have to warn him to keep away from the edge of the bigger rocks and to stop
jumping from heights in case he injures himself and has to be carried off the

We can now see the Scouts climbing the last section of Goat Fell and we are
shouting words of encouragement to them such as, this is some hour behind
and where the hell of you been we’ve been waiting ages you waarmers!. It is
still a full half hour till the last man reaches the top. Sean keeps everyone
amused running around with his Borat suit on still snapping away with the
camera, the rest of us are keeping warm with our jackets on and sheltering
just below the hill top.

At last everyone is on the top, I talk briefly with the others about weather
conditions and the welfare of the boys with the other leaders, there are no
major problems so we do the photo shoot and arrange to meet the Scouts in
Broddick. The Scouts have now seen what they have to live up to in terms of
fitness, strength and stamina and the explorers can be very proud of their
efforts here today.

We bid the scouts farewell with the word ZEEROS! droning from our lips, in a
fashion that lets them know we are the 18th Ayrshire’s elite, or at least as far
as we are concerned. Back in marching formation we are heading down and
going to town. I make it very clear to the guys I don’t want them hanging
around, dragging their heels, I tell them it is not about running down the hill
like “Maddies”, but taking big steps and coming down as fast as we can
safely. I also tell them that it is harder to come down than go up, but they think
I’m kidding, I assure them I’m not and to be aware of fatigue setting in,
causing them to misjudge their steps and fall. “We all have to look out for
each other” I remind them “we don’t want any casualties” and “I am not getting
my suit dry cleaned for their funerals; they laugh, but they know where I am
coming from. We descend rapid, the ground is giving way underfoot, but
everyone is comfortable and dealing with it accordingly.

We arrive at the gate leading us back through the woods, “take a break team,
this is our last stop before the brewery” I shout “a slurp of water and we can
head for the finishing post, the Brewery”. The boys are looking a wee bit tired
again, but know we are on the last leg of our adventure and there is a path
taking us in.

Alex Graham                                                            24/04/2010

Water bottles away, we are now looking a bit fresher for the stop and we’re
off, strangely Owen heads off first, putting about 50m between himself and
Corin who is now second in line. I wonder what he is up to, running on the
path and jumping down the few steps on route home. He seems happy
enough just now, so I let him be for the time being as long as he doesn’t go to
far in front, which he doesn’t. About 20 minutes later Owen is still in front
when he stumbles and falls, before I can check if he is alright he bounces
straight back up swears at himself for falling and carries on. 5 minutes later he
has lost some ground on us (down to about 20m), falls again and jumps back
up cursing, this time I do take action, “come here Owen, are you okay?” I ask.
He assures me he is and he appears to be fine, we are 5 minutes from the
Brewery, but I am taking no chances and put Corin back in front as we regain
our shape. Back as a unit again, we are pounding the miles with speed and
ease, I now believe we should have kept to our formation and we would
probably have got back incident free, minor though it was.

We are all in a celebratory mood as we are now back at the picnic bench at
the Brewery where we had started from and I’m convinced that had Goat Fell
been twice as high we could cope with it, our fitness levels had gone up
significantly from all the walking we have done in the Isle of Arran already and
we knew it. The boys overcame the mountain in a canter and I am proud of
them, I feel we could take any of Scotland’s hills right now and not be found
wanting. We dive into what is left of our nose bags, reflecting on our triumph
over Arran’s highest mountain which is around 20 feet short of being a Munro
(a mountain over 3000ft) and joke about building a large Cairn to relieve it of
it’s Corbett (a mountain between 2500 and 2999ft) status, got to be worth a
thought, I think so anyway.

Having finished the last of our stickies from our packs we set off for Broddick
wondering when we will see the Scouts again after there performance on the
way up the mountain. We take a short cut on an official path through Broddick
Golf Course back to town, this time Corin has moved into super hyper mode
as he sprints along the paths making really loud outbursts as he goes, the
golfers aren’t impressed as they line up their putts on the green, but we can’t
help but laugh much to dismay of the Pringle crew, but we don’t care we are


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