There are loads of Scottish Islands but if you are a Munro bagger only two are of any interest-Skye with the Cuillins inc the infamous Inpin and Mull with Ben more which was my sole remaining island Munro.
This was my third attempt at Ben More the first, 9 years ago was cancelled due to the early appearance of my first grandchild, the second attempt last year ended at Oban and now here I was sitting on the ferry to Mull bike down with the cars ready to bag it at my third attempt.
The ferry docked and I headed on the Salen road and then to Knock leaving the bike at the “Munro” car park by Loch Na Keal. I had elected to do the out and back route rather than a longer circuit and set off up the well worn path to a cloud shrouded summit in the wake of the occupants of the three cars that had all passed me from the same ferry.
There was hardly a need for maps as the path wound it’s obvious way towards the top and even when I entered the low cloud visibility was still good enough to follow the track up onto the plateau and along to the shelter cairn. I had passed two pairs of walkers on the way up and the third pair was at the summit cairn just getting ready to depart as I sat down for a spot of lunch sheltered from the wind. I looked at my watch and had made the 3 mile 966m climb in 2 hours consulting the ferry timetable I realised that I might be able to catch a ferry at 15:30 rather than nearer 1700!
I made the descent in 90 minutes and without much ado climbed on the Giant for the 19 miles back to Craignure which I covered in 1:25 and made the ferry.
A tiring but exciting microadventure.
Caledonia blared out from my IPhone 04:30 on Friday where had the week gone?
I had made sure of an easy week with the only runs an interval set a cooper test and my Jog Scotland session and the only biking I had done had been to deliver Mums on the run flyers to local nurseries. Weds I had spent with Carol and we had finally managed to get around most of the tapestry in Kirkcaldy museum before closing time.
Back to 04:30! After a wash and breakfast I gathered everything together and set off with my heavily laden Giant for Kirkcaldy station and the first of three trains in my journey to Ardrossan Harbour for the first ferry. The 05:53 was on time and I arrived in Edinburgh with 15 mins to spare before the train for Glasgow Queen Street alighting at GQS I made my way to Glasgow Central for the Ardrossan Harbour train.
So far so good my timetable had been fine and all the trains had been on time too. Now to get tickets and board the ferry. The ferry was very busy with at least 30 cyclists waiting to board behind the cars. Most of the cyclists were doing the 5 Ferries cycle route a very popular 1 day ride with Scottish club cyclists and one which I had done twice. However today I got off the ferry after a very pleasent crossing and turned right heading north for a lumpy 14 miles to the hamlet and ferryport of Lochranza. On the 5 ferries and indeed on my trip this is where things can go terribly wrong if you miss a ferry or if the ferry does not run. However I got to Lochranza with enough time to relax in the sun with a smoked venison sanwich from the sandwich shack. The Lochranza to Cloanaig ferry docked and this time cyclists were on first about 8 of us this time. Once docked I headed across the peninsula to Kennacraig and my third and final ferry first I had to cycle 5 miles a nice easy pace with over an hour to cover the distance. There isn’t much to see on this stretch of road so I did not hang around thinking it would be better to wait in the sunshine at the ferryport rather than on the bike! This trip was over 2 hours to Port Ellen a significant portion of which I spent on the deck in the sunshine. Scotland is an amazing country and I was seeing some of the best sights it had to offer.
The ferry arrived at Port Ellen we all disembarked and I headed off on :”the high road” to Port Charlotte YH my home for the next 3 nights. This was the longest cycle of the day about 19 miles and with the sun starting to go down the sky was an amazing colour. The route I was following was almost the whole of the marathon route so that let me know the kind of run I was in for!
I arrived at the YH at almost 8pm 14 hours, 3 train rides, 3 ferries and 3 bike sections after I left Kirkcaldy. Sunday’s marathon doesn’t seem like a bad proposition after that!!
The hostel was an old distillery building and it had been converted by the SYHA into an amazing hostel. It had everything one needs, comfy bunks, hot showers and large teapots. When I booked in I was told that there was another 3 cyclists there from Fife and lo and behold there were 3 members of the Fife and Kinross CTC on Islay for a wee cycle break. After spending some time with them I headed for bed and a good nights sleep. Luckily my room mates were also early bedders so a good nights rest was had. I took advantage of the breakfast on offer at the hostel and then headed out to registration in Bowmore.
After registration I had time for a cuppa and a scone and a walk round Bowmore. At 5:30 there was a pasta party in the High school unfortunately it was not very well attended but the food was excellent and I ate more than my fill so much so that when a lift was offered I took it!
The race report is covered in A-Z of marathons.
On the return trip I was able to have a bit of a long lie as I did not have to start cycling until 07:15 on Monday to cover the miles to Port Ellen and get aboard the first ferry. Much duller and cooler than Friday the rain, which had been forecast to hit at 09:30 had obv not seen the forecast and the heavens opened at 8. By the time I reached Port Ellen I was soaked through and cold and stiff. On the ferry from Port Ellen there were another 3 cyclists headed to Kennacraig with 2 travelling onwards to Ardrossan. I arrived at Claonaig just as the ferry was raising its ramp luckily it was the ferry earlier than I had planned to get so I spent an hour relaxing in the sun with my book till the rain returned and forced me to take shelter! The ferry returned right on time but had difficulty unloading a bus and in the end the passengers had to get out so the bus could get away from the water lapping at its wheels and power up the landing ramp.
This all meant that the ferry left 30 mins late! There was however contingency in my travel plans so although I did had to get a move on to Brodick I made the ferry ok and connected with an earlier train this continued all the way home and I made it back to Kirkcaldy about 50 mins earlier than I had planned. Time for a bath and bed!!
Posted in Living it!
Tagged arran, bike, bowmore, caledonian mcbrayne, calmac, edinburgh, ferry, Glasgow, islay, kennacraig, train, venison