Monday, July 04, 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 1 Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre Sat 2nd July 2016

Day 1 Arran 95km 1200m ascent Ferries 2 Islands 1

Grand Depart at Ardrossan on CalMac
After a whistle stop visit with my parents in Penrith last night, arriving 11.30pm and departing at 7.30am, we drove for 2 1/2 hours to Ardrossan to abandon the car, wobble round the car park with panniers on road bikes for the first time. Very worryingly the 11.05am departures on were on amber alert for wind.

We purchased our first CalMac Hopscotch Ticket #5 Arran and Kintyre (covering today's two ferries Ardrossan-Brodick and Lochranza - Claonaig) and our bikes are lashed down and we're first in the coffee queue.

Arran looms up shrouded in black cloud.

The strong wind is supposed to be westerly but a bit West by Nor West. Route finding was easy, signs out of the port were 'North' or 'South'! South we headed on our three quarters of the island tour, straight uphill. Ooph. All I can say was I was a snail all day. Our panniers are around 10kg , 5 in each.This is our plan, a moderate warm up day in miles and lumpiness.

Brief respite from rain for Nakd Bar number 1 of the holiday.

We brought down the tone of Blackwaterfoot Golf Club but they had great cake and a sign saying 'open to all'.

We pushed on and the terrain was flatter but the north westerly kept our speed right down, but the views were great.

Finally the road turned towards Lochranza and we had a tailwind at last. The last ferry was 18.30 so we thought fish and chips first, but there is no chippy in Lochranza! We joined the throngs in the only pub so to keep us going we ordered cheesy chips which we would abandon if too slow. The one portion did arrive in plenty of time and kept us going, we could have eaten there.

The crossing Lochranza-Claonaig was 30 mins. Not far now...
Up n over the Mull of Kintyre 10km to our B&B Bluebell Cottage which looked ropey from the outside but perfect as a one night stay. Very clean and contemporary as built specifically for business.
After dumping our panniers at B&B we then had to go to Tarbert for food, it was 8pm and we hadn't eaten properly all day. Tarbert has a good chippy, so good. Hauled our weary bones back to Bluebell Cottage knowing Kennacraig ferry terminal was 500m downhill in the morning.

Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Plan meals/food We added 15km to our day through bad planning

2 Arm and leg warmers are essential, to keep warm and to cover up against midges!

3 Golf clubs seem to often welcome passers by, great home cooked cakes.

Tour d'Ecosse quick links:

Day 1 Isle of Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre
Day 2 Inner Hebrides: Isles of Islay and Jura
Day 3 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Jura-Tayvallich to Oban
Day 4 Oban to Outer Hebrides: Barra and Vatersay
Day 5 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Barra Eriskay South Uist Benbecula Grimsay North Uist Beneray and Harris
Day 6 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Harris and Lewis to Callanish Stones
Day 7 Outer Hebrides: Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool
Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch
Day 9 Gairloch to Shieldaig - Applecross Peninsula
Day 10 Bealach na Bà from Applecross to Plockton
Day 11 Plockton to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale
Day 12 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale to Ardnamurchan
Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Mull to Oban to Loch Melfort
Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Day 15 Tarbert Loch Fyne to Ardrossan THE END!

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