Isle of Arran Open Gold Qualifying Expeditions – 2018

We will be running two Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Gold Qualifying Expeditions to the Isle of Arran in 2018:

  • 6th to 10th of August 2018
  • 5th to 8th of October 2018

This webpage provides an outline of the expedition week, what’s involved and what’s included. More detailed information  on the expedition will be set out in our ‘Participant’s Pack’ to participants.  To book on to the expedition  click here.

If you are interested in a practice expedition please click here.

Getting to the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran is a close to the Ayrshire coast and about an hour by train from Glasgow Central. The ferry departs from Ardrossan on the Scottish mainland and goes to Brodick, the main town on Arran. All participants are to meet on the morning of the first day at Ardrossan ferry terminal. Ardrossan Harbour train station is a short walk from the ferry terminal building. There are three train stations in Ardrossan, make sure you get out at Ardrossan Harbour!

What’s involved

Day 1 – On the day 1 we’ll meet at the ferry terminal at Ardrossan Harbour at 12:10 ready to catch the 12:30 ferry to Brodick (55min crossing). Once we arrive on Arran we’ll take a bus to Shiskine on the west side of Arran and go to Bridge end campsite (a serviced campsite). After that we’ll have the rest of the day to check equipment, organise group kit and food and go over the route. The expedition assessor will also meet the young people and undertake a pre-expedition meeting.

Day 2 to 5 – On the morning of the second day, we will take a bus to Thundergay in the northwest of Arran. There the expedition begins. Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions are 4 days and three nights. The minimum amount of planned activity for each day is 8 hours, 4 hours of which must be traveling.

Starting from Thundergay the expedition route will go past Coire Fhionn Lochan, then to Glen Catecol and then around the coast to Lochranza. The first night’s camp will be at Lochranza campsite (a serviced camp site). The second day of the expedition will take us along the coast to Sannox (wild camping). The third day will go up Glen Sannox and over the Saddle to Glen Rosa and Glen Rosa campsite (serviced camp site). The last day of the expedition will go south to Glen Cloy, then east over the Clauchland Hills and then north to Brodick to the ferry terminal to catch the 16:40 ferry back to Ardrossan. We will arrive back in Ardrossan at 17:35.

The expedition week ends in Ardrossan and participants should arrange to be picked up from there. Connecting trains go to Glasgow, departing Ardrossan Harbour train station at 18:07.

The amount of distance walked each day ranges from 14 to 17km. The hardest day involves 450m height gain and the terrain underfoot varies from: pavements; short sections of road walking; tracks; and footpaths. Footpaths can be muddy and rocky so participants must come prepared with good walking boots.

Throughout the expedition the participants will be assessed by the expedition assessor and at the end of the expedition will be given feedback on how they’ve done.

What to bring

Participants should bring enough food for the five days, that’s four breakfasts, five lunches and four evening meals. Participants can buy an evening meal on the ferry to Ardrossan on the last day. Ideas and suggestions on what food to bring will be contained in the ‘Participant Pack’, to help participants prepare. The Participant Pack will also list all the expedition clothing, personal equipment and group kit they should bring.

Tents and stoves are available to borrow. Gas canisters or meths will be provided and is included in the cost.

Participants should bring some spending money (£30) for the ferry and any additonal items of food they may want to buy on day 1, before the expedition starts.

Preparation before the expedition week

At least a month before the expedition week, participants will be organised into expedition groups so that they can plan together.  They will be required to plan the expedition route by completing a route card, based on maps and instructions provided. Participants will also be required to plan their meals and make decisions about their expedition aim and project work. The Participant Pack will make suggestions on how participants can plan together online before the expedition week.


The total cost of the expedition week is £200 per participant. This includes:

  • Ferry and buses used during the expedition week;
  • Fuel for stoves;
  • Campsite fees;
  • Expedition supervision;
  • Expedition assessment;
  • Maps and route cards.
  • Tents and stoves are available to borrow on request.

The following isn’t included:

  • Food for the entire expedition week (all five days);
  • Spending money for the ferry or other purchases before the 4 day expedition begins;
  • Expedition equipment and clothing (apart from tents and stoves, which can be borrowed).

A bit about the Island

Arran is a beautiful island, mountainous in the north with hilly, rolling countryside in the south. It is about 30km long and 15km wide and has a population of 4,600. The geology of Arran is very interesting with granite in the north, forming the mountain chain of which Goatfell is the highest hill (873m), and sedimentary rocks in the south. Arran is famous for the geological discoveries made by James Hutton in 1789, including the ‘Hutton unconformity’, providing evidence that the earth was much older than people had previously thought. The island also has a rich history, fokelore and a lots of interesting wildlife and flora. The island offers lots of subject matter for expedition group’s aim and project work.

The weather on Arran can vary a great deal so participants should be prepared for hot sunny weather (where a sun hat and sun-cream are needed) and rainy windy weather (where waterproof clothing, hat and gloves are needed).

Like most of Scotland midges are common in the summer so a midge hood is recommended.