Another superb day cycling north towards John O’ Groats. The weather was kind to us and stayed dry. We rode 67 miles with 5,500 feet of ascent along quiet, often remote roads and constantly returned to the sea on the West Coast. The route was very scenic and varied with some tough ascents and some very long, rapid descents.
View from the hostel this morning
We left the Flora MacDonald Hostel at Kilmore at about 07:15. The small group of Eriskay ponies with their one week old black foal were standing on a small hill silhouetted by the morning sun. Continue reading
Mull to Skye today. 63 miles with 6000 feet of ascent. Sun, sea, sublime scenery, shadows, shorts and ultimately Skye.
The weather forecast promised a better day and it delivered a beauty. Blue skies, sunshine, soaring temperatures and even a wind that was sometimes behind us.
We left Tobermory on Mull on the 07:20 ferry heading for Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan.
On the ferry from Tobermory
Ardnamurchan is the most Westerly point on mainland Britain.
That flag again! Ardnamurchan
The minor lane steeply wound its way up and down over the remote moorland with its deer grids. We had a great view back across the Sound of Mull from Ardslignish to Tobermory. The sky was blue and in turn the sea – flat calm – was bright blue.
The view back to Mull
We eventually dropped down to Glen Borrodale where there were several houses and some evidence of commercial fishing The Ardnamurchan Estate are building a whisky distillery from scratch here. Continue reading
Today we only had to ride 25 miles on Mull but we chose to extend this by taking a tour around the North West of Mull making a trip of 45 miles but with 4,500 feet of ascent in the last 25 miles.
The weather was misty and damp with occasional periods of heavy rain.
The day dawned grey and wet and frankly quite uninviting. The first ferry to Craignure on Mull was at 09:50 so we had a slow gentle start to the day at the rather plush Oban YHA.
Boarding the ferry at Oban
We boarded the Calmac ferry via the car deck where we left our bikes. Steve enjoyed a bacon sandwich onboard and after a 40 minute crossing we disembarked at Craignure.
The road north had a little traffic at first including some logging trucks. We saw a buzzard sitting on a tree by the road who seemed quite unperturbed by our passing. No engine!
Arran…looking back over the hills we climbed yesterday
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 Bat and Lochranza Castle
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. Continue reading
The Scottish scenery that we have been looking forward to.
A fabulous start to the day riding deserted, moorland lanes to the headwaters of the Nith then down through Aryshire to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan. 65 miles before lunch. Excitement at being back on the coast after not smelling the sea for a whole week. Then our first Island. We are loving being on Arran.
We left Moniaive at 0745 after Tim the owner of the Craindarroch Hotel obligingly got up to cook us an early breakfast.
The rain from yesterday had cleared leaving a bright sunny morning.
Moniaive nestles in a scenic valley on the River Nith surrounded by low rounded hills. We began a gentle climb straight away and enjoyed the quietness of the morning. In the first hour we saw 1 curlew, 2 cars, we crossed 3 cattle grids, saw 4 deer, 5 hares and 600 sheep.
Today we left England behind and crossed to border into Scotland. We also got rained on for the first time since we left Lands End. We cycled a gentle 73 miles with only 2,800 feet of ascent to Moniaive. It was a day of many changes of scenery, land use and culture. The ride was full of interest and even the rain didn’t spoil our fun.
The weather forecast promised rain from 13:00 so we had an early start and left Penrith at 07:15. We left Penrith behind and headed North on a minor road alongside the M6. We were in Northern Lakeland and still in the foothills with dry stone walls and open pasture grazed by sheep and lambs. This changed over a few miles to a smoother landscape where the soil is more fertile. The walls changed from grey to red sandstone. The enclosed fields become smaller, with more frequent farms and as the fertility of the soil improved sheep gave way to arable and dairy.
We have had a brilliant memorable day. 75 miles with 4,500 feet of ascent from the centre of Preston to the Lakeland market town of Penrith. The sun has shone all day and the light wind has been behind us. After an urban start the scenery unfolding as we headed north was constantly varied and interesting, encouraging us on our way North.
We left Preston Travel Lodge at 0700. It was bright and sunny but very cold with a frost on the cars. We headed out of the town on the A6 and made good progress through the light early morning traffic and we soon left Preston behind. It remained urban for a further 10 miles until we passed Garstang and then we left the A6 and headed east onto minor roads. After a short climb we could see why we had been hearing Oyster Catchers. We were only a few miles from Morcambe Bay. The distant view gave us our first glimpse of the mountains ahead. We both found this exciting – especially after the last 70 miles which had been largely urban. We were now getting close to some really good countryside. Continue reading