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Witch’s Step, Castles & Sail an Im

This horseshoe takes in Suidhe Fhearghas (Fergus’s Seat), Ceum na Caillich (Witch’s Step), Caisteal Abhail (Castles) and the sweeping ridge of Sail an Im. The crux of this route is the Witch’s Step scramble. Visible from many miles away this deep ‘V’ in the ridgeline is one of the most distinctive features of the Arran hills. Up close it is an exhilarating and exposed place!

 | Overview

Distance
13.5km

Highest Point Gained
859m - Caisteal Abhail

Total Ascent
1165m

Walk Duration
9hrs

Terrain
Rough mountain paths, some pathless moorland, some steep sections, hands-on scrambling and exposed ridge. Head for heights and sure-footedness required.

Technical Rating
Challenging  
Exposed scrambling, head for heights required, rough terrain.

Endurance Rating
4  
Sustained steep ascents and descents, stamina and perseverance essential to cover long distances. Have you recently walked up (and down) a mountain of over 1000m (3000ft) in height within 8 hours without physical distress! Are you generally fitter than the majority of your peers? If your answer is "No", we'd guess you'd be happier doing a walk rated a level lower than the one you’ve just read! As noted previously, we're into FUN so we don't want you to miss out by overdoing it.

Cost
£25

Date
Friday 13 May 2022
Saturday 14 May 2022

Meeting Time
8.00am

Meeting Place

 | Photo Gallery

 | Walk description

The route starts from Glen Sannox with a steep walk over open moorland up to the summit of Suidhe Fhearghas, with dramatic views along the ridge over the Clyde and Glen Sannox. The crux of the route is Ceum na Caillich, the Witch’s Step. The north side of the step is rock climbing territory, this route avoids this, coming round to the bottom of the step on safer ground. The steep scramble up from the bottom of the step and the gnarled ridge that follows are the most demanding part of the route, requiring a head for heights and hands-on rock clambering.

After traversing the ridge, the plateau-like top of the Castles is reached. A final clamber onto the large summit tor is rewarded with unsurpassable panoramic views, taking in the whole island and beyond. North beyond Lochranza stretches Loch Fyne, west lie Kintyre and Jura, south-west down the grand Glen Iorsa with Ireland in the distance, and to the south-east are the high tops and steep-sided ridges in the heart of Arran’s northern hills. To the south stands Cir Mhor with the high rocky ridge of A’Chir beyond.

The descent route follows the sweeping ridge of Sail an Im, down into North Glen Sannox towards the plantation and finish of the walk, with more spectacular views to take in along the way.

This circular walk can be tackled in either direction depending on the leader’s preference.


Route Profile


 | Advised Kit List

Essential hill gear

  • NO jeans – anyone wearing jeans will not be allowed to start the walk, and no refund will be possible
  • Stout hill walking boots
  • Appropriate walking trousers, top layers and fleece – preferably no cotton layers
  • Waterproof (not showerproof) trousers
  • Waterproof (not showerproof) jacket
  • Spare layers
  • Woollen or fleece hat
  • Gloves
  • Packed lunch and drink - please consider the use of re-useable water bottles and food wrapping.
  • Any personal medicines

Other recommended kit

  • Sun cream and insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Spare socks
  • Blister plasters


Bookings for the 2022 Arran Mountain Festival will open soon. Please sign up to our newsletter for updates.