Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Tour d'Ecosse Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Loch Melfort via Isle of Mull and Oban Thursday 14th July 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Loch Melfort via Isle of Mull and Oban 64km 950m ascent
Cumulative: 1052km 13576m ascent Ferries 12 Islands 15 Bridge 1
A two part ride today, skirting down Mull, ferry to Oban and back down to Loch Melfort.
We slept so well at Meall Mo Chridhe in Kilchoan and enjoyed a fabulous breakfast. Complete with more Stornoway black pudding, home made compote and home made sourdough and lovely service from David and Stella. A marvellous place to come for a few days. As ever we have a ferry to catch. no time to visit Ardnamurchan point and lighthouse Thankfully not an early ferry!

Ferry #11 is Kilchoan - Tobermory on Mull. We already have our CalMac Hopscotch #7 ticket
Ardnamurchan is formed from volcanic rock rings, a geologist's paradise.
We rolled down the steep drive and down to the port and waited for the ferry, with lots of others today. Bikes loaded first and off we sail on a beautiful calm day to Tobermory on Mull.
Kilchoan to Tobermory
We spot Tobermory's lighthouse coming into town.
Tobermory Lighthouse
On disembarkation it is feeling like the Caribbean, but much nicer. Blue skies, the famous brightly painted fisherman's cottages. We're on Mull Time!
Mull Time
What a lovely town and what a lovely spot for a coffee. I had to fight to be allowed to have a coffee given we had a big breakfast and have done no cycling yet. You can't rush through Tobermory!
Painted Fisherman's Cottages Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Imagine all those yummy lobsters in those lobster pots

Eventually we had to face it, no more delaying the inevitable, the flipping horrible hill out of Tobermory. It's always up from sea level innit!
We made it up the huge hill out of Tobermory, so cruel as the first miles of the day. The reward was a lingering view back to Tobermory.

We follow the road alongside the Sound of Mull, undulating and very pleasant in the dappled sunshine. Yachts' sails glinting like a washing powder ad in the sunshine.
Until we come to Salen. This confused me as there is a Salen on Ardnamurchan too, there are two also Tarberts, the Loch Fyne one and the Isle of Harris one. All quite close together. The famous fishing boat wrecks are a sight to see. The beautiful craftsmanship in traditional clinker boats all on display. We paused a while to take it all in, with the yachts scurrying along in Mull Sound..
Wrecked fishing boats at Salen, Isle of Mull
I wonder where they have been, how many tons of fish they have landed, the stories of the hard working fishermen and storms survived before their demise?

We were quite sad that we couldn't head off towards Iona,  where we spent a family holiday in the early 90s camping when our 2 eldest children were very small. It would have been amazing to have had time to explore Mull properly too.
Salen fishing boats resting in peace, on a calm day anyway.
Cal Mac Ferry #12 Craignure, I know because it says so on the sign ;)
The roll into Craignure was a bit pedestrian, but the sunshine is so welcome, just warm enough to shed arm-warmers, almost a first for Steve. We were going to make the 13.40 CalMac ferry #12 Craignure to Oban and brace ourselves for Part 2, Oban to Kilmelford, back on the mainland.

This is odd, we have been here before. If it's Oban it must mean the Seafood Shack again for a late lunch, woo hoo! It's only 10 days since we were last in Oban but it seems a lifetime of adventure since. The downside is we know we have a long long hill to grind up that we remember descending and not wanting to ride back up. That's the danger of your head. Better to have never seen than work yourself into a tizz about a hill. We've done a few hills since then, and chug our way out of Oban (having stopped off at Tesco to buy snacks and a bottle of wine for dinner) on the busier road towards Loch Melfort. We gird our loins, and various other bodily parts and chug up the 12km lump without too much bother at all. Moral of the tale, don't overthink things!

A bit of a whoosh down the other side and we turn off at the top end of Loch Melfort towards Kilmelford and have the customary bit of fannying around trying to find Melfort House B&B. Another luxurious country house style B&B with a chef owner doing fabulous evening meals. The weather had closed in and we didn't sit outside for afternoon tea, that had been extensively advertised on the website, we had made sure we got here in time to enjoy it. Freshly baked scones or pancakes or Victoria sponge and copious tea. We knew we had earnt it. Unfortunately Matthew had been charging about in Oban on appointments and thought a bright red gelatinous Tesco cupcake would fit the bill. Um no. it was a lovely B&B and had the inclusive afternoon tea not been advertised I would not have been disappointed. There, what an ungrateful cow I am! We had the Garden Room (£100 a night B&B), and very nice it was too. Steve liked Melfort House the best. There was complimentary whisky in the bedroom, so it just shows which small details appeal to different guests and tip the scales.

We ate in for a 4 course dinner, and Matthew certainly could cook. There were 4 other guests from the adjacent timeshare complex, so lots of stories and conversations. We can get used to this Laird of the Scottish Barronial House thing!

Quite a tame day compared to yesterday. just a little bit morose that it's nearly all over. Penultimate day tomorrow.
View of Loch Melfort from Melfort House B&B
The laird

Loch Melfort from Melfort House
Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Try and book more time off work to properly explore

2 Don't build up big hills in your head that you have either descended or ridden in a car before, they're rarely as bad as you anticipate

3 Take photos....take some more.

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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