Lucy: What a day, what an amazing, sore, exhausting and ultimately uplifting day. We were truly blessed with the weather, and with generous helpers who all played their part in getting us through our Arran 700s trek.
Kirstie's partner Mark was up all night on a lifeboat shout, but still managed to drive us to Pirnmill for our dawn start. Kirstie's wee search dog Caileag joined us and we headed for the Western Hills, still swathed in clag from the previous day's weather. The first few summits came thick and fast, ticking off the Beinn Bharrain ridge, serenaded by Golden Plover. These "peeper squeakers" as we called them accompanied us all the way around the top of Glen Iorsa and up on the the Leac an Tobair of Caisteal Abhail. The mist cleared and it was super exciting to get our first glimpse of the eastern part of the island.
Getting up on to Caisteal Abhail was a monster, and was the point at which I began to doubt myself, but Kirstie kept the banter going and after some food we both felt better. Cir Mhor was a doddle and we were given an extra bounce by four gentlemen who kindly emptied their wallets in support of the cause. Things got mentally tougher as we traversed under A'chir, for an out and back to Beinn Nuis via Beinn Tarsuin (so good we climbed it twice). It was a bit grim to pass A'Chir twice and not climb it. Even wee Caileag started to lose her enthusiasm and it began to rain.
Morale was saved by dropping in to Glen Rosa to meet Mark and Wally. The rain stopped and Caileag had the chance for a nap with Mark while Wally made himself in to a human boulder problem, physically getting us on to the summit block of A'chir. This was the bit that had been daunting both of us thoughout our preparation and with that over, it was as if a weight was lifted from our shoulders. The four of us and Caileag skipped under Cir Mhor and up to the Saddle to meet Arran MRT Team Leader Alan McNichol, waiting with a huge flask of tea, biscuits, Jelly babies etc. We cooked a bit of scran, and were ready for the last three not insignificant summits. Caileag, bless her, was done in and returned down the Glen with Mark and Alan.
I'd always known that the climb out of the saddle would be hard, but Wally stayed with us and helped to pace us up the ridge. It was great to have his company as we ticked off North Goatfell and Mullach Buidhe (the second summit of this name of the day). Finally, before we knew it, we were on Goatfell. Absolutely punch drunk but over the moon.
So its a huge thanks to everyone involved, especially our Arran MRT colleagues who were out on a shout late on Saturday night but didn't call us, thereby not jeopardising our attempt. Of couse we'd have turned out if asked, and postponed the challenge, but they saved us from this fate as well as successfully finding a missing person on a dark, damp night in a remote part of the island. This is what MRTs do, made up of volunteers who unquestioningly put themselves forward to help those in need. I've met some of the finest people on the planet through MR and if you ever need them, they will do their best to help you.
We enjoyed the challenge despite the hard graft, and the biggest thrill is seeing the amount of money we have raised so far for our own Arran and Mulanje MRT in Malawi, a team with very few resources, who not only save lives in the mountains but support vulnerable people in their community, a place with little or no safety net.
We both love being part of an MR team, the teamwork and camararderie are a big part of the reason why we do it, as well as wanting to help those in need in the hills that we love. MR work is expensive, and rightly free in the UK at the point of access. MR teams depend on public donations to do their work. Thank you for your support (and to Kirstie and Wally for these great pics)! Please keep the cash rolling in. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Arran700s