Arran comes out tops

By Alice Maxwell

My Mum first climbed Goatfell at the age of 16 in 1957, and since then she has made the ascent (and descent) at least ten times over the years. This year was her 80th birthday and her dearest wish was to climb her favourite mountain with her family on her birthday. Ferry tickets were booked, and a holiday house commandeered, while anxious eyes remained glued to the weather forecast – a trip up Goatfell in searing heat would be impossible.

Partners, sisters and brothers, grandsons and nephews all started arriving from the distant climes of Herefordshire, Surrey and Gloucestershire. Miraculously there were no disruptions, and the cousins were even allowed on an earlier ferry.

Even though my mother protested that at 80 she is too old to wear pink, we took her to Chameleon and somehow persuaded her into a pair of bright pink shorts – perfect for the Goat Fell walk.

The great day arrived and amazingly the searing heat receded – a moderate temperature and a gentle wind provided perfect walking conditions. Our party of twelve arrived at the top of Goatfell for lunch and champagne and pretty much everyone who happened to be at the top joined in with a gutsy rendering of Happy Birthday. The walk was completed, and we arrived home in high spirits ready for some birthday cake.

Elie (Elie’s Delight Cakes) made a deliciously artistic cake which sported an iced picture of Goat Fell. And for supper we ordered a tasty takeaway vegetarian meal from Robin Gray’s Island Gourmet which included lots of fresh veg from his farm.


The 80th birthday girl

Mum is a keen ceilidh dancer so after a day’s recovery, our band, Shindig Pladda provided a ceilidh for the assembled company in our living room. They tried their feet at traditional dances, including the Flying Scotsman, the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant. The youngsters admitted that they had been dreading the evening, and were amazed that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Arran provided plenty to do for the rest of the week; swimming on Blackwaterfoot beach, crazy golf, putting, leaping into pools at Glen Rosa, cycling, tennis and discovering local walks.

The holiday was wonderfully concluded with a meal at The Brodick Bar .

Mum said it was her best birthday ever.