Tag Archives: ferry

Boat, bike and Ben More.

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.


Islay Marathon week and road trip.

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!!



Islay marathon week.

One week to go till Islay and the excitement builds.  I am really looking forward to the race and am making sure that I am prepared for it.  I   Idecided to try a weekly diary of this trip rather than the normal road trip blog and see how I get on with it.

Monday:  A nice long lie with no running at all.  I did do some cycling but only around the North of Kirkcaldy delivering flyers.  I went to yoga in the evening and had an early bed.

Tuesday:  Early rise and a fartlek session on the beach.  It was a great morning.  After the run I headed to Pete West for a massage.  This man has a knack of finding knots!! I spent most of the afternoon painting my summerhouse and starting to get things together for the weekend.  I headed out for a tri club meeting then to Carols where I spent the night.

Wednesday:  Another long lie. Spent the day with Carol we had a test drive of a Fiesta, visited Toni and went for a look at the tapestry in the museum.  I then headed to the track where I met GTC or 1 of them and we did a cooper test.  I was pleased with the result as I was 370 m up on my last test!

Thursday: Packing stretches and Jog Scotland.  Hardly slept a wink.

Goodbye France hello UK and rail chaos.

Mon 16th. Early rise this morning with surprisingly good feeling legs! Got the bike onto the ferry shuttle and headed for the port. An uneventful, though busy crossing in what appeared to be a fairly new vessel called the MV Mont Saint Michel! I met another cyclist onboard a 70 year old guy who had been cycle camping for 14 days and was headed home to Reading. There was also a Dutch couple on a tandem who were heading to Lands End then just pedalling north to see how far they could get before having to turn back.
I got to the train station in Pompey just in time to hear a London train being announced so I headed for the platform and managed to get a space amongst piles of folks heading back from the IoW festival, only to be asked to leave the train as it was South Eastern rail and I had a Southern ticket! I alighted at Hilsea and waited 30 mins for a train to Havant where I had to change again. The train then stopped altogether and was emptied due to a gas leak near Victoria and everyone had to cross the station and board a train for London Bridge!
The first thing you see when coming out of the station is the Shard an amazing new addition to the London skyline. I negotiated the London traffic safely and found the hotel without much problem, The Howard Winchester about 200 yds from KX!
My original plan had been to catch a show when I was in town but of course limited funds put a stop to that so I just took a wander to St Pancras for some food and headed back to the hotel.
The room was to be vacated at 110 and with my train at 1200 and breakfast at 7-9 this gave me a little time to visit the Brit Lib and see their exhibitions.
then time for the train and home.

Doing the Caen Caen

Left Bayeux early this morning with a wet tent packed away in my bag. Headed for Courcelles Sur Mer, Juno Beach, Oustreheim and Caen. Pleasent cycle on quiet roads and cycle routes, the first part was through lush farmland with the latter part along the coast taking in some of the route I shall be running on Sunday. The cycle route went through a lot of small villages and it seemed every one had a memorial or a vehicle or a gun all well cared for.
Checked out the port on my way past just to get my bearings for Mondays sailing.
Got into Caen and found hotel no problem about 500m from the end of the bike path!
Marathon expo tomorrow and a visit to Caen memorial.

France cycle touring trip day one.

5th June-After a late night last night getting everything?? packed and loaded onto my Giant I made it to bed just after midnight and was awoken at 0700.
Shower, food, a pot of tea and a glance outside to check the weather saw me heading for Octavia street at 0800 for a meeting with the joiner before he starts work on the floors and doors of the flat.
The train to London KX was at 0940 as the platform was too short I could not get the bike on the proper carriage till Edinburgh. The trip was uneventful although a smile came over me as we passed the bike paths that Muff and I had cycled just 2 days ago. Sat next to me for part of the journey was an old lady with a West Highland Terrier and although I am not a fan of that breed it was better behaved than some humans!
Arrd in the smoke on time and headed to Victoria stn for the train to Portsmouth harbour. Navigated the London traffic without incident and boarded train on time arriving in Pompey some 2 hours later. After having a quick look at the harbour I cycled to the B n B which is about 500 yds from the ferry port.
Walked into the centre looking for food and ended up at a Wetherspoons where there was a wedding in full swing! Managed to resist the curry and had a pasta and veg salad followed by a fruit n yoghurt dessert. Then ruined it with a half pint of Punters ale.
On the way back I stopped at a morrisons and stocked up with food for tomorrows ten hour ferry trip. Checked out the ferry port as well. Day 5 of ab challenge and bed. Oh for the stats hounds biked 9.45 miles av spd 7.3 mph with 142 ft of climb.