The Perfect Mountain

If you asked a child to draw a picture of a mountain it would probably end up looking something like the magical peak of Cir Mhor on the equally wonderful Isle of Arran.

Standing in splendid isolation at the head of Glen Rosa Cir Mhor’s renowned granite slabs rise to an impossibly sharp summit which only has enough room for four people (maybe five at a push) to sit comfortably and marvel at the breath-taking panorama that circles her walls. Cir Mhor sits amongst her bigger neighbours of Beinn Tarsuinn, Caisteal Abhail and Goat Fell and affords exceptional views of all three.

Translating from Gaelic as The Big Comb, it is the last few hundred feet of Cir Mhor that really sets it out against the competition. Her slopes are a mass of contorted columns of rock which twist and turn to the summit demonstrating quite clearly the immense pressure and movement within the earth that took place when this wonderful landscape was formed around 400 million years ago. The layers of rock, including Dalradian and Ordovician Schist’s, have made Arran a playground for geologists, walkers and mountaineers for decades.

For the average walker reaching the summit of Cir Mhor does not provide too many problems. The iconic Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry will transport you to Brodick from where an excellent bus service will drop you at Glen Rosa road end. A short walk passes the highly recommended Glen Rosa campsite (a beautiful spot to spend a night), and then a great path runs right along the wonderful, natural amphitheatre of Glen Rosa. A steep path then climbs onto a ridge and then second steep climb up a narrow path passes around and over beautiful cream coloured boulders to the top.

Cir Mhor’s position is crucial to its success as it sits centrally on Arran whilst Arran itself is beautifully positioned between the Scottish mainland and Ireland and the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland. On a clear day the flowing contours of the Paps of Jura emerge above the long leg of Kintyre which extends to Sanda Island and then onwards to the coastline of Northern Ireland. The rolling Galloway Hills rise conspicuously above the flatter plains of Scotland’s south west, as do the Pentlands to the east. Looking  north there is a myriad of illustrious mountains to choose from including the prominent outline of Ben More on Mull, the formidable peaks of Glencoe and, towering above them all, the vast summit plateau of Ben Nevis which, if you are really lucky, may for once be free of cloud. It is a truly exceptional vantage point.

Beinn Tarsuinn from Cir Mhor
Beinn Tarsuinn from Cir Mhor
Caisteal Abhail from Cir Mhor
Caisteal Abhail from Cir Mhor

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