Climb a mountain, Cir Mhor, Isle of Arran

Climbing a mountain needn't be as daunting as you might think - and the views from the top will be worth it

Published: December 13th, 2012 at 12:23 pm


If you haven’t climbed a mountain before, make 2013 the year that you try it. Reaching the summit of a mountain is a rewarding experience, and so long as the weather is clear, you’ll be treated to some spectacular views, too.

For most of Britain’s peaks, you don’t need crampons, rope and technical equipment. There are often good paths, where all you will need is good boots
and a head for heights.

So why not make that mountain a special one? You could begin with ‘modest’ peaks such as Cats Bells or Scafell Pike and Helvellyn in the Lake District, which are enduringly popular, with spectacular views as far as
the eye can see.

The magnificent Cir Mhor, on the Isle of Arran in Ayrshire, is a particularly spectacular first mountain to climb.

Arran, sitting in the Firth of Clyde, is 19 miles long by 10 miles wide, with a rugged interior. A cluster of mountains rub craggy shoulders here, including four Corbetts, between 762m (2,500ft) and 914m (3,000ft), such as Goat Fell and Caisteal Abhail.

Asking for Mhor

Sitting at the head of the gorgeous Glen Rosa valley, Cir Mhor’s steep sides may seem impenetrable at first.

But a superb path runs right along the length of the glen to the base of the mountain, from where the steep but accessible path climbs on to its compact 798m (2,621ft) summit.

Its central position among Arran’s other mountains, combined with the island’s position along Scotland’s famed west coast, means the views
are extraordinary.

On a clear morning the panorama extends for around 300 miles, taking in much of southern Scotland, the Kintyre Peninsula, the Northern Ireland coast, Ben More on Mull, Glencoe’s iconic mountains, and, rising above them all, the muscular flanks of Ben Nevis.

To really appreciate the variety and beauty of the British landscape, reaching
the pinnacle of a mountain
is hard to beat – and the
earlier you can reach the summit, the better. Morning light picks out the folds and textures of the surrounding landscape, while cool air allows unparalleled clarity
of light, perfect for enjoying
the breathtaking views.

As with many walks, a little planning is required to scale a mountain. But if you can stick to a route with good paths, have good knowledge of navigation (or walk with someone who does), study maps beforehand and know your own limitations, then a mountain foray is attainable for most walkers.

Up and away

One way to meet this challenge head on would be with an overnight stay at the Glen Rosa campsite – so you’re ready to set off come first light. From here, an excellent broad track heads north-west, following the crystal clear Glen Rosa Water upstream, and soon crosses a footbridge over the Garbh Allt, a tributary of the Machrie Water.

Rising slopes

An obvious path continues north into Glen Rosa, with Cir Mhor standing in splendid isolation at the head of the glen. Follow the path as it climbs gently underneath the steep slopes of Goat Fell (the highest point on Arran) and Coire Daingean to reach the base of Fionn Choire.

Worth the effort

The path then climbs steeply north-west, zigzagging beneath the incredible granite slopes of Cir Mhor to reach a col, or pathway, in-between A’Chir and Cir Mhor. Turn right and ascend north-east along a narrow path to get to Cir Mhor’s compact summit. As the sun rises over the mainland, this beautiful spot grants remarkable views of Beinn Tarsuinn, Goat Fell, and beyond.

Back down again

From the summit, once the sun has risen and perhaps following a well-deserved spot of breakfast, carefully retrace steps back down through Fionn Choire and then through Glen Rosa back to the campsite.

Useful Information



Arran lies 15 miles across the Firth of Clyde from the mainland. Several ferries run daily between Ardrossan and Brodick on Arran. Stagecoach West Scotland Service 324 stops at the end of Glen Rosa road, leaving a one-mile walk to Glen Rosa Campsite.



The Ormidale Hotel

Brodick KA27 8BQ

01770 302293

This hotel serves superb,
hearty food in a great location – perfect after a day walking the hills.


Glen Rosa Campsite

Glen Rosa,
Brodick KA27 8DF

01770 302380

Although basic, this campsite is situated in the heart of Arran’s mountains, where peace, quiet and dramatic views are guaranteed.

Auchrannie Resort

Auchrannie Road,
KA27 8BZ

01770 302234

For a more luxurious stay, this resort offers beautiful rooms, superb food and a variety of spa treatments.


Lochranza Distillery, Lochranza KA27 8HJ

01770 830264

Hill-walking and whisky go hand-in-hand, so the visitor centre here is a must.



OS Landranger Map 69
Grid ref: NS 001 377


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