Wet and Wild.
Avro Anson DJ472 on Caistael Abhail
(Distance covered =
7.5 mile/Ascent =+831 m)
Day 5 of my 2017 walking holiday to Arran and Kintyre. On day 4 my run of good luck with the weather had run out and I had been chased off Goatfell by very strong winds of the 'knock you off balance' variety and driving rain.
I'd relocated the car to a carpark near the top of Arran so I could ascend Caistael Abhail, or 'the castles' as it's sometimes referred to, by its North West Ridge. The walk in along North Glen Sannox was quite pleasant and the weather although overcast wasn't too bad and it wasn't raining.
Carpark at North Sannox Bridge.
Once through to the top end of a plantation I again had to leave a nicely constructed footpath and head off up the side of 'Sail an Im' which is the first hill on Caistael Abhail's north west ridge, but first I had to cross the North Sannox Burn which was a bit swollen because of the previous days rain.
The North Sannox burn.
Caistael Abhail just right of centre on the skyline, the Witches Step over to the left. Caistael Abhail translates loosely to 'The Castles in the sky'
When I was first planning my walking holiday I had originally planned on doing the crashsite on Caistael Abhail on the same day as the Goatfell wrecks, by walking along the ridge between Goatfell and 'The Castles'. I had been put off that idea after reading about the difficulties that could be experienced while traversing the Witches Step, especially if the viz was poor. Later events would suggest I had made the right decision.
Above and below:- Making my way up the north west ridge.
Above and below:-Passing Creag Dhubh, apart from the low cloud the weather isn't too bad.
Approaching the top of The Castles.
OK!, time to come clean. All the photos so far on this page were taken on the way down from the summit of Caistael Abhail. The weather on the way up was a wee bit wet and a wee bit wild, it was as bad if not worse than the previous day, with gale force winds and driving rain. Unlike the day before I had a 10 digit grid reference for where the Anson crashed, so I was still confident I would find it, and after experiencing such bad weather the day before I was better prepared.
above and next six photos:-Photos taken on the way up and on the summit with my waterproof gopro type camera.
Navigating up Caistael Abhail in the driving rain and zero visibility was surprisingly easy as basically I couldn't go wrong, if I went too far left I would fall off a cliff and if I went too far right I would start going steeply downhill, so all I could do was either go up the ridge or down the ridge. At least until I reached the summit where there was several options to go the wrong way!
Above and below:-Scar on top of Caistael Abhail where the Anson crashed, it would appear the scar is more to do with the scouring action of the wind than the crash of the Anson.
The Anson crashsite was right beside the path to the summit, between two massive torrs. At first I thought it was going to be one for my failures list but after a bit searching around in the wind scoured crater I found a few scraps of the Anson. The area between the Torrs was a bit of a wind tunnel which suggested the possibility there would be windswept panels down the steep slope to the north, because of the weather conditions I didn't investigate this theory.
I did have to check my navigation on leaving the summit to make sure I didn't head off down the wrong ridge but apart from that it was downhill all the way. About halfway down the ridge between Caistael Abhail and Sail an Im the weather started to clear and by the time I reached the North Sannox burn it was sunny. I was tempted to turn around and go back up again but I doubt I would have made it before it started to get dark so common sense prevailed. I also had the problem of getting back over the North Sannox burn which, thanks to all the rain, was now twice as wide, twice as deep and seemingly twice as fast as when I struggled to cross it on the way up.
This is where I crossed on the way up, not an option now!
This proved to be the only safe way to cross, I say safe!
Almost back to the carpark.
Click this link for more information about the crash
Avro Anson DJ472 on Caistael Abhail