Isle of Arran Open Gold Qualifying Expeditions – 2020


The dates for our Open Gold Qualifying Expedition to the Isle of Arran in 2020 are:

  • 3-6 of August 2020

Note that participants will be expected to travel to Arran the day before – on 2 August 2020. Participants should meet up at 15:05 at Ardrossan Ferry terminal on 2 August ready to catch the 15:20 ferry to Arran. You can choose to make your own way to Ardrossan or get a lift in our minibus from Glasgow.

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

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 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. Ardrossan Harbour train station is a short walk from the ferry terminal building.

What’s involved

2 August – We will travel to Arran on 2 August on the 15:20 ferry from Ardrossan. You can make your own way to the ferry terminal or get a lift with us in our minibus from Glasgow. Once we arrive on Arran we’ll drive north to a campsite near the village of Sannox. 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.

3-6 August  – On the morning of 3 August, we will drive 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 15:15 ferry back to Ardrossan. We will arrive back in Ardrossan at 16:10.

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

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

Click here for the full kit list including a video offering advice on packing a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition rucksack. We will provide you with tents, stoves, gas cannisters, map cases and rucksack liners.

Participants should bring the following food:

  • Enough food for the 4 day qualifying expedition: that’s three breakfasts; four lunches and three evening meals.
  • An evening meal for 2 August and breakfast on 3 August.


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

  • Ferry and buses used during the expedition week
  • Tents
  • Stoves
  • Gas Cannisters

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).