On a cold and wet Thursday in July, the AWD team packed their bags, hung the "do not disturb" sign on the office door and raced for the Arran ferry. The mission, all 874m of it, was to reach the top of Goatfell together.
Last year on our Christmas night out we all agreed we needed to have a team outing during the year and we managed to squeeze a day in between individual holidays in July. We headed over on the lunchtime ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. On the boat, we tucked into a goody bag of sandwiches, crisps, and chocolate (only to increase the energy levels for the big walk ahead obviously).
The date of the event was nicely timed as Fiona, our Office Manager maternity cover and Robbie, our summer placement student were both in their final week with the team so it was a nice way of thanking them for their hard work during their temporary spells with AWD. In addition to Fiona and Robbie we had Malachy, myself (Euan), Ross, Mohammed and Chris.
When we arrived on Arran we were kindly greeted by a minibus from the Auchrannie Resort Hotel, where we were staying for the night, who saved us the walk from the ferry Terminal. We all checked in and rooms were chosen on a “who snores the loudest?” basis. Therefore, Malachy and I were both left individual rooms as the others paired off.
We set off from the hotel trusting Chris to take the lead with the navigation as we were confidently assured he had climbed Goatfell before. We were promised the start of the hill was only a 10minute walk away from the hotel and with spirits high we set off. Thirty minutes later and our trust in Chris’ navigation rapidly diminishing we started the ascent.
As we climbed through the steep trees the unspoken question “should we just give up and head back to Arran Brewery?” was on our minds. However, once we broke free from the treeline the slope shallowed slightly and we were rewarded with the first of many “refreshing” rain showers. Who checked the weather before we left!? The many showers did let us see Robbie’s well practised (almost pantomime-esque) wardrobe changes as he regularly put on and removed his waterproofs.
Eventually we reached a challenging scramble that was only passable with some mutual encouragement throughout the team. At this key point where the route steepened and as we hiked through the clouds, it was essential that we all stuck together as we ascended through the clouds. So naturally the young ones (and Chris) ran off ahead leaving the oldies behind. Forgetting the oldies at the back had the whisky for the top!
When we reached the summit, the views were breath-taking if not short-lived as we were enveloped almost immediately in clouds. Some of the team took this opportunity to celebrate our joint achievement and enjoy some of the local produce with a tipple of Arran Whisky. Certain members of staff enjoyed the flavour so much they made sure to finish the bottle off as we descended.
As we reached the bottom we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower then we enjoyed a meal and some drinks followed by an evening in the bar. Fiona and Robbie were presented with tokens of appreciation for their time at AWD and provided some rousing and emotive speeches to conclude the evening. We all really enjoyed the break spending some relaxing time together without the pressures of the office environment.