Monday, January 16, 2017

Tour d'Ecosse Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne Friday 15th July 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 14 Loch Melfort to Loch Fyne and Tarbert 58km 811m ascent
Cumulative: 1 110 km 14 387m ascent Ferries 12 Islands 15 Bridge 1
Elevenses in a layby. It's pi**ing it down!

It rained, it poured. It slugged it down. You know there are over a 100 words for snow in Icelandic, there must be that many acronyms for rain in Scottish English/Gaelic Ohhh look, isn't google wonderful, take your pick from this blog. Scots: More words for rain than Eskimos have for snow

But slugging it down isn't in there. It was slugging it down this morning. Going out in it was hard. Not far to go but a lot of climbing in the distance. A "get on with it and get it over with" day. Which was terribly disappointing as tomorrow is our last day.

The breakfast at Melfort House was delicious, we lingered, chatted to the other guests that hadn't eaten in last night. Generally prevaricated and put off going out in the stair rods of rain lashing down cats and dogs. Nothing dreich about it at all!
I presume it's just foxgloves we can see
We are heading back to Tarbert, where we weren't supposed to go on our first night but needed food after Arran.

We plod up the big hill and are very relieved to find Kilmartin Museum and Café after the summit. It was a fabulous café, being warm and dry may have warped our opinion. However, it was clean, warm, dry with welcoming staff not a bit perturbed by the puddles forming around us, with excellent coffee and cake to boot. Other visitors in dry cars agree with us too so it wasn't a warped view!

Eventually we have to go back out, the rain hasn't eased off.
More weather
Unfortunately, the next bit of the day was almost the worst of the holiday. After the final climb, we were descending in torrential rain on the A816 towards Tarbert, Steve was behind me. I was being very careful and holding my line as it was a narrow A road and bendy. A lorry drew up behind, very close and started hooting and flashing me. I did not look back, I was on a bend and there was nowhere to go. As soon as a layby appeared I indicated, pulled over and carefully stopped.

..and I gave the lorry driver the one finger salute with plenty of gesticulation. I was quite shaken but I think he got my anger. Steve drew up alongside me, the lorry had passed him on a wider part so it was only a minute or so he was behind me being held up. Other than that incident we barely had another incident, except for incongruously highly polished white sports saloons of the Audi and Subaru variety on sections of the North Coast 500 route who all seemed to be inclined to be driving too fast/showing off. Local traffic was exemplary, battered farm pick ups, tractors, land rovers who must be sick to death of being held up always patient and smiling.
Tarbert - The Loch Fyne one
We roll down into Tarbert for our second visit. What a relief, a bit of a fraught day for such a short one, although still plenty of lumps. It was early afternoon.
Loch Fyne
Tarbert (the Loch Fyne one!)
Just off the high street we quickly found our accommodation for the night, over the acclaimed Starfish Bistro and rooms. I had made sure to reserve a table here when I booked the room as they book up weeks in advance for Friday/Saturday nights apparently! No cycling home this time unlike our previous visit to the chippy on the first night after our day on Arran.
A welcome spot of colour on a dank and dreich day
We chained our bikes to the railings under cover in the alley and were shown to our room. Freshly renovated with the all important convector heater. We were so wet and so cold. Guiltily we had very long hot showers, made tea and draped our stuff around half halfheartedly to dry. We had one dry set left for tomorrow so no stomping on lycra in the shower required. No hope that our shoes would dry. Ortilieb panniers are good, and Steve's ancient leaky ones were fine when everything is wrapped in bags for life inside anyway.
Starfish Bistro with rooms in Tarbert
We realised the rain had stopped and having warmed up a bit we went for a stroll to buy a picnic. Good old Co op, we actually sat on a bench on the harbourside and feasted on mini Scotch eggs, the ever popular falafel salad with houmous they do, and a very extravagant box of blueberries.
Tide's out!
We strolled along and admired the working harbour, not prettied up for tourists but a good and honest hard working place.
Not so sure about the oil film :(
Although there was a flotilla of yachts in town for a festival, so not just a working harbour.

The weatherbeaten colours on the boats in harbour are stunning.
The weather beaten paint on the fishing boats is beautiful
Scotia Star is obviously a hard working but beautiful fishing boat resting in her home harbour of Tarbert, Loch Fyne
We went back to our room, unfortunately no view but we read, and knitted and looked forward to dinner, our final night.

We changed into our evening gear, laughing at the novelty of the same outfit yet again for the 14th night in a row! It's a good job only we know that.

Dinner did not disappoint. Absolutely superb seafood as you would expect. We had three courses and after being good all holiday and rarely photographing our food, I did. The flash was off though!

My starter, it had to be Scallops with chilli, ginger and lime butter.
Loch Fyne Queen Scallops with chilli ginger and lime butter
I then had Seafood Stroganoff for main, it was delicious too. Fresh and smoked haddock and salmon, mussels and queenies in a white wine, cream and smoked paprika sauce
Seafood Stroganoff
Washed down with my favourite gin, Botanist from Islay. Oh and water from a recycled Botanist Gin bottle, isn't it just gorgeous?
Botanist Gin has water in it!
Can you get better than rhubarb and ginger crumble with proper home made creme anglaise. I almost couldn't eat it all. But I did.
Rhubarb and ginger crumble and creme anglaise
It was a lovely leisurely meal that made our day. Fortunately nobody was hurt in the hideous weather. Another turn round the harbour on foot after dinner to stretch and to work out where to go for the ferry in the morning. This is Scotland in July, still light at 10pm!

Touring Tips in Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter!

1 There are over a 100 English words and phrases relating to rain. Visit Scotland and you will no doubt encounter 96.3% of them in any fortnight. I put "slugging it down" on my Strava notes for the day, not in the list so that's 101!

2 Eat local food

3 As long as no one is hurt it is a good day.

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!

No comments:

Post a Comment