… And relax

Rothesay to Ardrossan

Distance: 19.31 miles
Average speed: 9.9 mph
Total distance: 585.27 miles
Maximum speed: 28.9 mph

We enjoyed our final evening in Rothesay, we strolled along the waterside down to the ‘Waterfront’ restaurant as recommended by our friendly hosts, feeling much revived after a long bath. It was a great meal, and we even managed whisky, Jura Origin, light and refreshing, lightly peated. Not especially local, but there’s no distillery on Bute.

Lots of rain overnight, and even a thunderstorm, but by the time we surfaced it had all passed over. We had only to cycle nineteen miles today after taking the ferry to Wemyss (pronounced Weems), back down to Ardrossan where we began two weeks ago. So we applied all the usual cycling unguents and creamyss, and stuffed everything into the panniers for the last time. Slightly bursting at the seamyss after a big breakfast, we set off in the direction of the harbour, accompanied by the screamyss of the seagulls. [OK, enough now, you are taking this to extremyss. Ed]

We’d spotted a few back roads we could take to avoid the busy A78 towards Ardrossan, and it was a lovely route, quite up and down, but very quiet and good views of the water. It turned out that our back roads route was known as the Argyll Coastal Path, and was quite well sign-posted. In fact at one point there was a rather wonderful set of signs showing the junction between ‘the High road’ and ‘the Low road’ to Largs – no, really! Of course on a tandem it’s not really possibly that ‘you take the high road while I take the low road’, unless we reduce it to two unicycles, so we opted for the high road and pushed on.

After Largs we found a cycle path, in a wooded area beside the road, and later a fully metalled track for cyclists and pedestrians, and before long we were pulling into the harbour area in Ardrossan. A quick check with the car-park attendant confirmed that we were going to have to nip back to Asda to get some cash, as they didn’t take cards and the Captain had been carefully spending up all his Scottish bank notes. They are perfectly legal tender in England, but it’s surprising how often they will be refused when you try to pay for something with one.

So we cycled back to Asda and got exactly the right amount of Scottish money (!), then back at the car we broke down the tandem into its constituent parts, put it in the boot, paid the man with the Asda cash, and left.

It had been a great trip, lots of incredible scenery, especially Glencoe in the sunshine.

And not a single visit from the puncture fairy. Remarkable.

Click here for today’s track.

One final island

Dunoon to Rothesay

Distance: 30.51 miles
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Total distance: 565.96 miles
Maximum speed: 30.9 mph

After two “high mountain” stages and then our second longest day in the saddle yesterday we were practically falling asleep into our pizzas at the restaurant in Dunoon last night. For the second night running we failed to make it through to the whisky course – apologies, dear reader.

Dunoon seems to be the favoured overnight stop for coach parties. Despite its natural advantages (in particular a spectacular location overlooking the widest part of the Clyde) and the proximity to some remarkably beautiful mountains and lochs, it seems to be a fairly down-at-heel sort of place. Fast vehicle ferries ply their trade over the Clyde to Gourock from two different harbours. Our hotel, too, had seen better days, although the service was friendly and the attached Italian restaurant was very good.

We rescued the tandem from the basement this morning after a leisurely breakfast – no rush this morning as we only had thirty miles to complete today. Clouds were scudding from west to east, with sunshine interspersed with small showers, all of which we managed to avoid. With stiff legs we warmed up gradually around the sea front for three or four miles past Hunter’s Quay and Sandbank before striking inland and turning due west on a beautifully quiet B road onto our first climb of the day. It was stepped and gentle, on newly re-surfaced roads – just what we needed for an easy start to the day.

We have been very impressed by the state of Scotland’s roads. They seem to be thoroughly well maintained and often extremely smooth, and the maintenance is often accompanied by a sign pointing out that the work is the result of strong cooperation between Scotland and the European Union. Methinks someone is making a subtle political point – would that Yorkshire had an equally strong relationship with the EU!

A long and gentle descent towards the head of Loch Striven was the result of our striving. We’d been chatting during the descent and had worked out that we only really had one remaining climb for the rest of our trip, after which the profile of our route would be pretty much flat. What a climb, though! Almost all of the climbing we’ve done in Scotland has been at a gentle 8 to 10 percent. This is rarely the case in our native Yorkshire Dales, where the standard response of a road-builder when presented with a steep hillside is to plot a route straight up! So we launched ourselves into this climb in the expectation that it would be quite easy, only to find ourselves scrambling for the smallest gear we could find. The gradient was reminiscent of that we tackle regularly at home on the twenty percent Laund Oak hill in Strid Wood, Bolton Abbey. We’re not normally carrying panniers up there, though!

Red-faced and thirsty we finally emerged at the top, stopped for a drink and then headed down a fairly steep descent to the head of Loch Riddon. Shortly after joining the main road we dropped onto a tiny loch-side road, barely metalled but otherwise great fun, which took us for most of the six remaining miles towards our ferry. We emerged near the sign for a Sculpture Park, to find some very confused Lancastrians (no obvious comment to be made here) looking for said Sculpture Park. We couldn’t really help, as we hadn’t passed anything remotely resembling a sculpture park, although we may have mentioned in passing that there’s a very good one in Yorkshire.

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The ferry was waiting at the quay when we arrived at Colintraive, so we marched the tandem on board and secured it to the railings with stout cord, before looking across to Bute and realising that the journey was going to take all of five minutes, and that the stout cord was probably therefore surplus to requirements.

Bute is relatively low-lying, compared to its neighbours, and the flat loch-side road made for easy cycling, despite a stiff breeze. We soon reached Port Bannatyne, a massive three miles from our ultimate destination today, and stopped for lunch in a water-side café.

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After that we cycled through Ardbeg (not the whisky-producing Ardbeg, of course) to Rothesay, a most attractive looking place with some fine stone-built houses, a harbour glinting in the sunlight, and a rather fine-looking castle. As we cycled toward the castle we realised we were inadvertently about to cycle the wrong way down a one-way street, so we dismounted and walked. It was a good job we did, too, as a moment later a police car came the other way down the same road.

We spent about an hour in the castle (a fine one, with a real moat), and learned much about the overthrow of the Norwegian ownership of many of the Western Isles from an informative video.

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Then we climbed back on the tandem and cycled the final mile towards the Ardyne Guest House, where we received a very warm welcome and were shown to a room with an outstanding one hundred and eighty degree view over the loch to the north, and, even more importantly, with a bath (showers just don’t cut it when tired muscles are in need of soothing warmth). Rothesay looks to be an excellent place in which to spend our final night of the tour.

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Tomorrow we plan to catch an early ferry from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay, north of Largs. This will leave us with an easy eighteen mile coastal cycle to Ardrossan, where we hope our car will still be waiting for us. Assuming it is, we then have a four hour drive back home.

Click here for today’s track.

By Eck

Tyndrum to Dunoon

Distance: 67.62 miles
Average speed: 12.6 mph
Total distance: 535.45 miles
Maximum speed: 35.5 mph

Like Campbeltown early in our trip, Tyndrum could be described as a “funny wee place”. It’s on the West Highland Way long distance walking path, and on one of the two main routes for people doing the Land’s End to John O’Groats trip (or vice versa), so loads of people pass through, but there’s little accommodation and practically nowhere to eat. Since last we passed through, the Real Food Cafe has opened up and gets great reviews for its fish and chips, so we decided to avoid the horrors reported on TripAdvisor for the other establishments in town and give it a try.

It was great! Just a short walk from our B&B, where we’d been welcomed with much needed cups of tea and coffee, and scones. At the Real Food Cafe there were other choices, but we went for the fish and chips and it was really good, very fresh. Along with a bottle of local ale, we were all done by 8:15, and practically asleep already after our long afternoon battling the headwind into Tyndrum. We even forgot to have any whisky!

We headed back to our room and watched a bit of the Scottish Independence debate – a bit shouty, but quite interesting. The audience were mostly worried about the currency issue, even those planning to vote Yes, and it did seem that the SNP didn’t really have a Plan B if they couldn’t achieve a currency union with the remainder of the UK.

After early lights out and a good sleep, we were ready to go early this morning, knowing that we had over 65 miles to Dunoon today. At breakfast we met a lovely Australian lady who was walking the West Highland Way, headed to the King’s House Hotel today, where we had lunch yesterday. We were all a little surprised that it wasn’t already raining, as the forecast had been a bit dire, but dry it was, and we set off out of Tyndrum before 9am onto the much quieter Oban road.

Of course any journey out of the Highlands into the Lowlands is going to be generally downwards, hurrah, and we enjoyed over ten miles of gentle descending, swooping down through the glens with barely a pedal turned. Before Inveraray we had a climb back up to get into the next glen, then another long descent into Inveraray where we heard the unmistakable sound of a piper.

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We found him in the garden of the coffee shop playing all the Scottish classics, plus Mull of Kintyre, weirdly! He was disconcertingly a dead ringer for Spike Milligan… We had some cake and coffee to fuel us for the next leg, and just as we left the heavens opened.

We could actually see our lunch destination, Creggans, across Loch Fyne from Inveraray, but there is no ferry across, so the only option is to go north to the end of the loch, then head south again, a trip of around twenty miles. It was mostly flat, though, so we were keeping up a good pace, especially now we were full of cake.

Creggans Inn finally came up on the left, and we bundled in for lunch. It was a popular spot, and the food was good. As we sat and ate, rain jackets drying on the wings of the dartboard, the skies cleared and the sun even emerged. Now we could see right back to Inveraray.

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Under twenty miles to Dunoon now, largely flat, and no need for the rain jackets. After covering 48 miles in the morning it was difficult to get the legs turning again, but we gradually accelerated to race speed and reached the end of Loch Eck. So if you’ve read this far, now you understand the title…!

It was really pretty, not very wide with steep hills on either side, and lovely reflections in the calm water. It was very long though, far longer than our capacity for making ‘by Eck’ jokes, of which, really, there’s only the one if we’re honest…

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There were lots of lodges alongside the loch, and we spotted various groups of kayakers, mostly groups of young people under instruction, it seemed. One unfortunate young man had got his kayak stuck under a low tree branch and was on the point of being tipped out, to the guffaws of the other paddlers. And of we pedallers too, I’m afraid, as we passed by.

After Eck we passed the top of Holy Loch, and then took the road around the coast to Dunoon. It was really sunny now, and the boats bobbing around in the low tide water looked really attractive. Everywhere we’ve arrived, it has seemed to be low tide!

So we’re settled into the Argyll Hotel now, and looking forward to a later start tomorrow, and a short day onto Bute for our last night. Confusingly, all the hotels everywhere in Argyll are named ‘Argyll Hotel’. All of them. We have passed countless Argyll Hotels in our travels. Before the days of sat-nav, there must have been a terrible risk of booking the Argyll Hotel, then turning up to find that you had actually navigated your way to completely the wrong one.

Maybe all the hotels on Bute are named ‘Bute Hotel’. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Click here for today’s track.

The Great Glen and Glencoe revisited

Spean Bridge to Tyndrum

Distance: 56.92 miles
Average speed: 10.8 mph
Total distance: 467.83 miles
Maximum speed: 29.1 mph

Originally, when booking accommodation for this trip, we’d hoped to stay in Spean Lodge, where we were very well looked after on our Land’s End to John O’Groats trip. It was, however, fully booked, so we booked into the Smiddy House instead. Now we’re really glad we did, everything about our stay was excellent. Robert brought us tea, coffee, home-made shortbread and whisky fruit cake on our arrival (not sure of the provenance of the whisky, sorry!) and made us very welcome. Our evening meal was spectacularly good, definitely the best of the trip so far. We strongly recommend a visit if you are ever passing through Spean Bridge.

Interestingly, on more than one evening of our trip we’ve worked out that the nearest distillery is Ben Nevis, but nobody ever seems to have any. This proved to be true last night as well – we’re beginning to wonder if it is really poor (surely not). On the recommendation of the serving staff we chose instead a Balvenie Doublewood – a Speyside whisky, reminiscent of a Macallan but with a spicy kick to it. It was delicious.

Our good experiences at the Smiddy House continued with an excellent breakfast this morning. We fuelled up, mindful of the twelve hundred foot climb we would be tackling up Glencoe. On stepping outside to load the panniers on to the tandem we noticed an unfamiliar golden orb in the sky – at last, a sunny day. We headed off in a westerly direction towards Fort William, on the busy A82 (in fact we spent the entire day on the busy A82, come to think of it). A few miles before Fort William we found a road-side cycle path, which made for slightly more relaxed cycling while it lasted. It delivered us past the Ben Nevis Distillery (which looked fine!) to Inverlochy and then Fort William. The traffic thinned out for a while thereafter as we kept up a decent pace in the direction of the Ballachulish Bridge. This crossed, we turned south towards Glencoe Village, again taking advantage of a cycle path for a few short miles.

We soon arrived at the foot of Glencoe and started to climb. The last time we were here the weather was dire and we were unable to see anything of our surroundings. Today’s sunshine was much more helpful.

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The climb was long but shallow, though we kept having to stop to take photographs of the dramatic scenery. Some temporary traffic lights halfway up meant that for long periods we were cycling on empty roads. This was much quieter and more pleasant; we were able to enjoy looking around as we ascended.

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Eventually the gradient slackened off and we were delivered to the edge of Rannoch Moor. Feeling hungry after thirty-five miles of hard pedalling we were glad to reach the King’s House Hotel. As we cycled down the driveway we noticed that the garden of the hotel was full of red deer – seven of them in fact, four adults and three juveniles. They were astonishingly tame and clearly happy to pose for photographs.

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Lunch followed, washed down (at least for the Captain) with a couple of pints of refreshing pale ale. Afterwards we cycled past the deer (they ignored us completely) and back onto the main road, to climb the final two hundred feet or so to Rannoch Moor Summit, past the ski chairlift on our right, which was still clearly working in the summer months. Our arrival at the top was marked with the emergence of a strong head-wind, which curtailed our speed for the rest of the day (and made it much harder work). The traffic, too, was heavier now, with coaches and logging lorries making regular appearances.

A long descent (at remarkably slow speed, because of the headwind) brought us down from the top of the moor. Rannoch Moor which, on our previous visit, had looked spooky and moon-like in the mist and rain, looked much more benign in the sunshine. We continued to descend past Bridge of Orchy, knowing that another five hundred foot climb separated us from our destination. This climb was a long, long drag, made longer and draggier by the wind, and it seemed to take a long time before we were on a downward gradient for the last couple of miles into Tyndrum.

We stayed here too on our previous visit to the area, and, if recollections are correct, we don’t expect Michelin quality food this evening – it was something of a culinary desert. We’ve been told however that good fish and chips are obtainable, so here’s hoping.

Tomorrow we continue south through Inverary, finishing in Dunoon on the River Clyde.

Click here for today’s track.

Our first mountain stage

Glenshiel to Spean Bridge

Distance: 49.8 miles
Average speed: 11.1 mph
Total distance: 410.91 miles
Maximum speed: 38.1 mph

Kintail Lodge was really lovely, a spectacular position right on the shore of Loch Duich, and our room looked out over it. We ate in the conservatory dining room, including some excellent langoustine which were enormous and really tasty. Our waitress confirmed that our nearest distillery was still Talisker, so no new tasting notes to report, although we did try it again just to confirm it was still nice. Which it was.

Opening the curtains this morning we found leaden skies again, and a heavy downpour, and we steeled ourselves not to be as lucky as yesterday, when the rain cleared so quickly. The breakfast room was full of enormous hung-over belching Geordies (and that was just the women!) which was rather unpleasant, and might have contributed to our prompt start at 9:15…

When we set off it was spitting only mildly, and we pootled gently along the first five miles, knowing there was a big hill coming. We were also keeping an eye out for the feral goats indicated by a warning sign just as we came in to Kintail last night. They sounded rather terrifying, but nothing came hurtling out of the bracken to head-butt us, which was both a disappointment and a relief!

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The big hill came and went, a really gentle ascent to around 900 feet over a number of miles, winding through the craggy highland landscape. Apart from the road the surroundings were wild and natural, and somehow the low cloud and mistiness was exactly right. There was the odd break in the cloud where blue sky and sunbeams were doing their best, and the sky looked generally brighter in the direction we were travelling.

We passed the site of the Battle of Glenshiel of 1715 on the way up, in a tiny bowl. It raged for only three hours before government forces prevailed, having previously captured Eilean Donan castle, where we were yesterday. The terrain looked far too enclosed for battle, with the river on one side and a steep hillside on the other.

After the climbing we rode along the side of Loch Cluanie for many miles, flat or gently descending, before turning due south for the second big hill of the day. This was a proper hill, though, none of this gentle ascent that you don’t really notice. There was even some puffing and panting… Just before the top we stopped to have a look at a weird field of tiny cairns. There was no explanation, although one or two had ‘In memory of’ stones with them, and we speculated that it was some spontaneous thing that had started with one and just grown and grown. They were quite striking, and lots of people had stopped to have a look.

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After the cairns there was just a last effort up the the top at 1200 feet, then about eight miles of glorious descending along the side of Loch Garry, to find the Invergarry Hotel for lunch. The people there didn’t know the origin of the tiny cairns either, although they said lots of people had asked. We’d had an almost dry morning, which was a bonus given the early drizzle.

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Just fifteen miles remaining now, and little bits of up and down, before we climbed the last hill onto the plateau above Spean Bridge, and passed the Commando Memorial on the hillside just outside the town. We stopped at the memorial in 2008 during our Land’s End to John O’Groats trip, on our way out of Spean Bridge. It was very popular today, lots of visitors, but we rode on past and down the hill into Spean Bridge, to the Smiddy House hotel and restaurant. A warm welcome from Robert, who was very keen to sit on the tandem, just to see what it was like – never been asked that before!

So, another big day in the hills tomorrow – Glencoe beckons!

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I only record the soggy hours…

Portree to Glenshiel

Distance: 49.06 miles
Average speed: 12.4 mph
Total distance: 361.11 miles
Maximum speed: 37.0 mph

Our day off in Portree was relaxing – we enjoyed wandering around the town square and harbour (which featured a few houses coloured in a similar manner to Tobermory). We did some laundry – that was exciting. We had the bike adjusted at the very helpful Island Cycles. Oh, and we ate some very good pizzas and a not very good curry – Lamb Passanda and Butter Chicken arrived with the exact same sauce – very poor…

The featured whisky, of course, was Talisker, Skye’s only single malt, which is strong, rich and peppery, and delicious to boot. It’s curious that Skye, the largest of the islands, boasts only a single distillery yet Islay has eight in a much smaller space.

Our host at the Givendale Guest House, an affable Dutchman named Jurriaan, looked after us well. Last night, on the walk back from the Indian restaurant it started to rain heavily and persistently. We were particularly aware of this as our room had three velux windows, and each time one of us woke up in the night we could hear the rain pounding against them. We awoke to gloomy skies and more rain, and at breakfast were amused to hear Jurrian relate that his father, when he complained about having to cycle in such weather, used to say:

“What is your problem – are you made of sugar?”

As we’re most definitely not made of sugar we too had no good reason to remain indoors, so we put on all our wet weather gear and set off in a southerly direction away from Portree and back to Broadford. All the serious climbs today were in the first twenty miles, and by the time we reached the bottom of the first climb we were drenched. The climb was fairly gentle, though, and the rest day seemed to have given us new strength, as we ascended easily to a plateau for a while before dropping down to the Sligachan Hotel, the departure point for most outdoor activities in Skye.

At this point, encouragingly, the clouds began to clear; there was the odd patch of blue sky visible. The long, steeper, second climb began, and by the time we reached about half-way up we were regretting that we were still wearing our rain jackets – all the effort we were expending resulted in an unfortunate “boil in the bag” effect inside our jackets! Unfortunately there were no lay-bys until the top of the climb, so we had to stop at the very top to release clouds of steam, and to cool off.

This was encouraging, though, as we hadn’t expected anything but rain all day. As we descended again to sea level the weather improved yet further. At the same time the traffic levels diminished, and we were able to enjoy the rolling coast road to Broadford, and then, beyond, to Kyleakin, at the Skye end of the Skye road bridge.

The bridge, sadly, is an ugly concrete construction, though it provided fine views to both north and south.

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We were directed onto a cycle path over the bridge – a good idea, except that nobody had bothered to trim the path-side gorse and brambles, making for an uncomfortable transit. Soon, though, we were in Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland side of the bridge where, with thirty-five miles already under our belts, we stopped for a good lunch at Hector’s Bothy.

With only another fourteen miles to go, and most of the afternoon available, we were looking forward to taking a look at Eilean Donan Castle, en-route to our destination of Glenshiel. After a few easy miles along the side of Loch Alsh it suddenly came into view, and we stopped at the roadside to take some photographs.

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Simultaneously the heavens decided to open, and we raced to don our jackets. Within a minute or so we were soaked again, by a shower that probably only lasted five minutes or so. It was definitely time to take a break, so we parked the tandem outside the Eilean Donan visitor centre and headed in.

We took hot drinks first, jackets dripping gently onto the café floor. Then, leaving our bags and helmets with the visitor centre receptionist (“Ugh – these are soaking!”) we crossed the bridge to the castle and spent a diverting hour therein. It was completely ruined after the Jacobite rebellion (a spot of English revenge, and possibly another reason for the current drive towards Scottish independence!), and only really restored in the twentieth century by the Macrae family. They did a fine job, and the result was that large numbers of visitors from many nations (chiefly Italy, for some reason) were there enjoying it too. We were particularly amused to hear an exclamation of “Porca Maria!” as one of the female Italian visitors came across a striking room in the castle. Italy has an interesting range of available expletives: this one, curiously, translates to “Pig Mary”!

During our visit the rain, thankfully, had ceased, and we only had half a dozen miles to complete down the side of Loch Duich, with lovely reflections on the water of the hills opposite. Our legs were still strong, and before long we arrived at our loch-side hotel just short of Glenshiel. It’s a lovely spot.

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Tomorrow (and the day after) we have some “Hors categorie” hills to climb, the first within four miles of here on the way to tomorrow’s destination of Spean Bridge.

Click here for today’s track.

Over the sea to Skye

Glenfinnan to Portree

Distance: 70.53 miles
Average speed: 11.2 mph
Total distance: 312.05 miles
Maximum speed: 37.5 mph

Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing, and all that… Just the small matter of 27 miles to the ferry terminal first though!

We ate fairly early last night, a lovely meal in the Prince’s House restaurant, very friendly service from Ina, with husband Kieron cooking in the kitchen. They kindly arranged to lay out breakfast for us at 7am so we could get an early start on our long day, and we trekked down blearily (and we hope quietly, although every floorboard seemed to creak at huge volume…) to find it all waiting for us, even including milk and juice in a cool box, marvellous service.

A quick pump of the tyres whilst trying to avoid the early midges, and we were off by 7:45, no warm up before the hill out of Glenfinnan back the way we came in yesterday. We seemed to fly up it though, perhaps distracted by scratching for the first mile after the midge attack. We were soon back at Lochailort where we had joined the main road yesterday, and making good time towards Mallaig. We hit the coast, and enjoyed misty early morning views of Eigg, and the lovely coastline, calm waters reflecting all the little islands in the bays.

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There’s been a lot of work on this road from Fort William to Mallaig since our stoker’s visits here 25 years ago, there’s even a cycle path now – the signs indicate that it’s once again a European funded project. Once we reached Arisaig we turned off the main road and rode down through the village – this is where parts of the film “Local Hero” were filmed. It seems to have changed very little in 25 years, still beautiful, although perhaps a little spruced up now, but not spoiled by any hideous modernisation, thankfully. On leaving the village we decided to take the ‘old’ road to Mallaig, superseded by the new (we think) main road, and now signed as the bicycle route to Mallaig. It’s a lovely road, winding around by the coast, past all the white sand beaches used in the film.

We arrived in Mallaig in good time for the ferry to Skye. Phew – first leg of the day done. It’s a mental challenge when you know you have 70 miles to do, but breaking it into sections really helps. We treated ourselves to a chocolate muffin each on the ferry, to keep us fuelled for the next leg to Broadford.

As we left the boat the sun came out, and we cycled along, around the coast to start with, enjoying the views and the easy roads. Jim had told us yesterday on the loch cruise that the best conditions for spotting golden eagles around these parts was dry, no rain and a little wind, and given that all these conditions were fulfilled we reckon that the huge bird circling up in a thermal above us was probably an eagle – its wingspan was enormous.

Almost before we knew it we were gliding down into Broadford, and we stopped at the Claymore restaurant for lunch with leg two complete, and just 26 miles to go. The restaurant was full of French families, pure coincidence as they clearly didn’t know each other. The daughter of one family was reading aloud from their guidebook, in French of course, but interspersed with the odd English word, like ‘shortbread’ (predictably) and ‘parsnips’ (less predictably?).

Still sunny after lunch, and we left around 2pm for our last leg. Two big climbs to come in this leg, and it did seem to take us a while to get back up to warp speed again. The road followed the coast, then turned in at an inlet, where we cycled into the wind for a while. There was a fair amount of traffic, and so we could see where the road turned uphill across the end of the inlet. It seemed like a tough climb with fifty miles already in our legs, but we made it, and then had the benefit of a long descent on the other side. The same pattern was repeated for the second climb, a push against the wind down the side of the second inlet, followed by a climb over the ridge to get into the next glen. We saw a couple on heavily laden solo bikes coming up the other side – that’ll be us on Sunday when we return to Broadford and then leave Skye via the ‘new’ bridge crossing at the start of our return south.

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We could see Portree, our destination, for a while as we rode down towards the sea, and soon enough we were arriving in the town. There’s a very good bike shop here, so we’re going to treat the tandem to a mid-tour tune-up tomorrow, whilst we’re doing laundry and exploring the town on our rest day.

So we’re half-way now, in many senses. We’re at our most northerly point, we’re on day eight of fifteen, and we’re over half-way in mileage terms.

No entry tomorrow, as we’re having a rest day, before heading south on Sunday to Glen Shiel.

Click here for today’s track.