Leaving the wonderful Arran port of Lochranza in the sunshine. Crossing the Sound of Bute to Claonaig and then rising North to Oban. 65 miles with 5,200′ of ascent in increasingly ‘humid’ conditions.
We had a lie in this morning as the first ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig is not until 09:30 on a Sunday. We used the remaining time to explore the Castle and shore at Lochranza and to enjoy the morning sunshine.
The Kintyre Peninsular was shrouded in mist as the ferry took us across. We were immediately struck by how much more remote this part of the Kintyre peninsula felt after Arran. The ride up and over to Kennacraig and the A83 gave us our first hill of the day. The road was empty with just an occasional isolated cottage and lots of sheep.Once we were on the A83 the standard of the road surface improved and we zipped along enjoying the wonderful countryside sights and smells. We had a great view back along West Loch Tarbert as we rode along the small stretch of marsh that separates it from East Loch Tarbert. We pressed on up out of East Loch Tarbert and hastened along the coastal road at the side of Loch Fyne. There was constant interest with the sea being by our side and we had many sightings of Eiderduck, Shellduck, swans and other stuff we didn’t recognise. The birds seem more numerous around the fish farms on the Loch. The road along the Loch was quite flat and we made good progress to Lochgilphead where we continued north on the A816.
We stopped for coffee and cake at Cairnbaan and put on our heavy duty waterproofs!
We made a short detour at this point and cycled along the Crinan canal. The canal was built to allow shipping to pass from the West coast into Loch Fyne and so to the Clyde without having to go right round the Mull of Kintyre. It is now kept busy, mainly with recreational yachts.
It was a scenic ride along the canal and we stopped to look at the locks and admire the old ‘puffing billy’ which reminded Steve of his childhood. We met another cyclist, David – who we had a nice chat to and he kindly took an excellent picture of us both.
The next section was the Argyll version of the Somerset Levels! There was an area of salt marshes to begin with after which followed some cultivated forest. Then followed the Moine Mhor Nature Reserve – the Great Moss. Bogland dominates this ancient landscape. It is a special place, rich in wildlife There was plenty of soft spongy bog moss alongside heather, cotton grass and bog myrtle.
After Moine Mhor we rejoined the A816. This can be a very busy road but today, being a bank holiday Sunday, there was no commercial traffic and few cars as it was now not a day you would choose to go out for a drive.
The majority of the 5,000′ of ascent was in the remaining 25 miles but we seem to have our cycling legs and the hills presented no problems going up. Coming down at 30+mph was more of a problem as the rain stung our faces like hundreds of little darts. The scenery was superb with subdued shades of green and brown on the moorland high points with regular returns to the shades of grey at the sea lochs with interesting coastal scenery.
After one last climb up we plunged down into the limits of Oban. Oban is the ferry terminal and gateway to the Western Isles and is a large town with all facilities. We stopped off to do some shopping on our way through and by the time we had checked in, I was very cold. The shower I had was the best ever, hot and high pressure. I watched my hands and feet change from blue/back to pink, my body re-warmed.
The scene out of the window over the sea front here is of mist, rain and a grey sea. Not very inviting at present so hopefully it will improve for our onward journey in the morning to Mull.