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2620 Squadron's Exercise ARRAN GRIFFIN

2620 SQUADRON’S EXERCISE ARRAN GRIFFIN

(Photo one: Taken just above the pass at Bealach an Fhir-bhogha. From left: SAC Sait, SAC Waite, Cpl Brown, WO Copeland, SAC Tudor)

Day One: A young team of Reservists from 2620 Squadron that included Cpl Mark Brown and SACs Pete Tudor, Alex Sait and Tom Waite, took part in Exercise Arran Griffin organised by their not so young expedition leader, WO Chris Copeland. After making the long trip from Norfolk, the team took the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry to arrive on the wet and windy Isle of Arran.

Day 2: Breakfast was eaten in the conservatory of the Blackwaterfoot Lodge but fears were already growing that the weather would spoil play. The team left for the mountains at 8:30, reaching the start point at Glen Rosa in drizzly conditions with the midges biting. With no time to waste, the team climbed to the summit of Ben Nuis at 792M and then onto the ridge up to Ben Tarsuinn at 826M. There then followed a steep descent to the pass at Bealach an Fhir-bhogha and thankfully both the weather and Mark Brown’s digestive system had already improved considerably! However, with a poor weather forecast for the following day we decided to extend our route and make the best of what was turning into a fantastic mountain experience, despite Pete Tudor suffering with monster blisters!

The next phase of our route took us on a gentle descent North below the magnificent slabs West of A Chir where we encountered two Red Deer stags who looked far more surprised at seeing us than we did them. After a short lunch break, we pressed on to our main objective, the Goatfell peak. To reach this, the team climbed a steep path onto the top of Rosa Pinnacle and then descended some 400M along a narrow path to the Saddle below. It was at this point, with another steep climb up to North Goatfell at 818M, that I fully expected the Team’s collective sense of humour to fail but, despite Alex skinning his knuckles on the sharp grit stone rock, the lads pushed on with dogged determination. Reaching the top, we traversed towards our final goal and, having crossed some final steep rocky outcrops, we found ourselves standing on the top of Goatfell at a height of 874M.

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(Photo 2: The Goatfell mountain range as viewed from Ben Nuis)

Our final descent back to the start point seemed to take no time at all until, with just 500M to go, our progress was halted by a herd of feisty cows that blocked our path. Taking a hasty detour, we climbed a barbed wire fence and crossed a river before finally reaching the safety of our van!

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(Photo 3: The group at the Trig Point on Goatfell)

Day 3: After looking at the wear and tear to the team caused by the epic 25Km route of day one, and with the weather as predicted, we had no option but to change our plans to suit the conditions. Keeping off the high ground, the team completed the four mile round-trip up to the mountain lake Coire-Fhoinn Lochan with its amazing sandy shoreline. Having beaten the rain back to the van, the group took a final opportunity to explore the Island and even managed to photo some of the resident seal population on the beach before heading back to the Lodge.

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(Photo 4: The group on the shoreline of the mountain lake, 330M above sea level)

Day 4: We departed at 0700 for the mainland and the long drive back to RAF Marham, with everyone looking forward to the ferry duty free and the familiar flatlands of Norfolk! Thanks to Ann and her staff at Blackwaterfoot Lodge for looking after us.

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