The 2021 Arran Mountain Festival programme will be uploaded soon, with booking lines due to open in early 2021.

Witch’s Step and Castles

This hillwalk is a circular route taking in Suidhe Fhearghas, Ceum na Caillich, Caisteal Abhail and Sail an Im. The crux of this route is Ceum na Caillich, the Witch’s Step. Seen from many miles away the deep ‘V’ of the Ceum na Caillich is one of the most distinctive features of the Arran hills. Up close it is an amazing and exposed place!

 | Overview


Highest Point Gained
859m - Caisteal Abhail  

Total Ascent

Walk Duration

Rough mountain paths, some steep sections, some hard scrambling  

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

Endurance Rating
Sustained steep ascents and descents, long-distance, stamina required, suitable for fit walkers. Have you had recent experience of walking for 6-8 hours? Have you recently walked up (and down) a mountain of over 1000m (3000ft) in height without physical distress? Do you regularly play an aerobic sport pretty much every week? 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.


Friday 15 May 2020
Saturday 16 May 2020
Monday 18 May 2020

Meeting Place
Apart from the Goatfell night walk, all walks/runs start and finish at Arran Adventure, located next to the Playbarn in the grounds of the Auchrannie Spa Resort in Brodick. Transport is provided from there. Click here for a map.

 | Photo Gallery

 | Walk description

This hillwalk is a circular route, which can be walked in both directions. This description runs clockwise, but it could be walked anti-clockwise depending on the leaders’ preference. This walk starts and finishes in North Glen Sannox and climbs steeply to the top of Suidhe Fhearghas with its lofty views down over the Clyde and Sannox.

The crux of this route is Ceum na Caillich, the Witch’s Step. The north side of the Step is rock climbing territory, this hillwalk avoids this coming into the bottom of the Step on safer ground. The scramble up and out of the Step and moving along the ridge that follows are the most demanding parts of this route, involving some exposed scrambling.

The Castles lie at the end of this steep ridge and this, for many, will be the highlight of the walk. Great turrets of natural rock mark the top of Caisteal Abhail (The Castles – 859m), looking like the remains of ancient castles that once guarded the heart of the Arran hills. Some of the best views to be seen on these hills are from here, with a panorama that takes in the whole island and beyond. North over Lochranza you can see up Loch Fyne, west out over to Jura, south-west looking down the massive Glen Iorsa with Spoon Island and Ireland visible, and to the south and east the high tops and dipping ridges of the Northern hills are visible. Cir Mhor stands to the south with the A’Chir Ridge stretching out to the south. Make sure you bring a camera! The final leg of this walk heads northwards down to the sweeping ridge of Sail an Im and back down to the start.

 | 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
  • For the Goat Fell night walk: Head torch and spare batteries

Other recommended kit

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

The 2021 Arran Mountain Festival programme will be uploaded soon, with booking lines due to open in early 2021.