Mid-summer solstice meets don't get much better than this. Arran was bathed in sunshine with just enough breeze to keep the dreaded midges at bay.
Unusually the midges were the least of our worries. Instead we had to put up with alcohol fuelled Hawick neds and a young Glaswegian ned couple who got so drunk that the guy fell onto his tent in the wee small hours of Saturday morning . . . but more of that later.
In all seven of us turned up: Diane, her hubby Robin, Rob/Rab from Edinburgh, Danny and me, and Marshall and Louise who brought their Collie/Labrador cross dog over called Baxter in their campervan.
Danny and I took our bicycles over and met Marshall and Louise on the mid-afternoon Friday ferry. Marshall very kindly offered to take our rucksacks in to Glen Rosa campsite which was much appreciated.
Danny decided to camp higher up in Glen Rosa, but I opted for the campsite as I was meeting the other guys there. After setting up camp, I headed up to meet Danny and was going to climb Sou'wester Slabs (Vdiff), but by the time we met up it was 7.30pm. Even with the long daylight evening and the sun setting at 10pm-ish, we decided it was too late to start the climb.
Back at the campsite I met up with Diane and Robin, who had just pitched their tents. We decided to retreat to the pub as the wind had dropped and midges were out in full force. After a hunt about we found a hotel that served lovely fish and chips and on the walk back to the campsite stopped off at Brodick's finest pub, Fiddlers, for a night cap.
The main group of neds were surprising subdued back at camp, but the Glaswegian couple were in full swing. Robin advised me not to use my headtorch on the way to to the toilet block as it seemed to attract the ned couples' attention, "GARY YOOS FALLEN INTO THE TENT GARY," followed by language I've never heard before. Apparently GARY was asking to borrow gaffer tape off other campers at midnight. Other than that it was very uneventful night.
I was up early on Saturday morning, and unknown to me Rab had come over on the last Friday night ferry and had pitched his tent near to mine and the others. The midges were horrendous so after a quick introduction, Rab and I headed up to meet Danny for our climb. Diane and Robin very sensible stayed in their tent away from the clouds of midges, only venturing out around 9ish when they were not so bad.
Danny had camped high up on the ridge, but had to move his tent to lower ground because it was so windy in the night. When we me him he apologized for not being ready. He said he couldn't get rid of some guy from the campsite, who had walked up before us and was complaining to him for more than half-an-hour about a couple who had had a real humdinger of an argument the previous night.
The climb: Danny and I have done So'wester Slabs before with Helen Moore, but it was Rab's first time. Because we only had a 50m rope - and we were climbing as a three - Danny free climbed the first pitch, with me leading it and Rab coming up last.
There was a bit of jiggery pokery up to the overhanging wall and beyond, but Rab, despite not doing much multi-pitch outdoor stuff, was more than able to deal with this route. It was a lot colder higher up than expected and the wind was strong. Danny was climbing like a demon, and at the top of the route, we decided to continue climbing up what I think was South Sou'wester Slabs (90m Severe) and up to the top of Rosa Pinnacle. Basically Danny just picked the line of least resistance.
Back at the campsite there were balloons tied to the main group of neds' cars. Apparently it was one of the knuckle-draggers birthdays. On the plus side there was a nice breeze to keep the midges down which allowed me to eat my Co-op re-heated curry in peace. But on the minus side it meant looking at a bollock-naked drunk ned trying to wash himself under a tap next to the toilet block.
Danny decided to pitch his tent on the beach at Brodick and there was a loose plan to meet all the guys in Fiddlers for food and some live music around nine that night. It was a lovely end to a lovely day and nice to catch up with Diane and Robin.
I didn't find the Hawick neds too bad that night, although I was woken up once by shouts that they needed to get a fire going because the midges were really bad. I never thought midges had a purpose, but now I can see they do. The Glaswegian neds seemed to have nedded themselves out the previous night, although they did excel themselves in neddery on Sunday morning by leaving an absolute mess around their broken crumpled tent, which they dumped in the dust bin with all it's poles sticking out.
We all had a lazy lie-in that morning and sort of all did our own thing. A light breeze kept the midges down and the sun was very warming. Rab went for an off-road cycle, Danny sat on the beach and read his book, Diane and Robin met up with some friends and went out for a boat trip, Marshal and Louise did some sight-seeing and I went for a road cycle down to Whiting Bay.
A top notch LMC meet - except for the neds.