What’s the story, Tobermory?

Tobermory to Acharacle

Distance: 21.74 miles
Average speed: 9.6 mph
Total distance: 212.56 miles
Maximum speed: 32 mph

So far on this trip everyone seems to eat very early, and you pretty much always have to be seated and ordered by 8 to 8:30. Having only landed at the Harbour Guest House after 7pm (and it did feel like landing, what a steep hill down into Tobermory!) it had to be a quick bath and change, but it was very reviving after such a long hard day, and the fluffiest towels so far!

We trotted along to the Galleon Grill, and managed to get through our delicious steaks without nodding off into our food. A small dram of whisky from the Tobermory distillery not 50 metres away (mildly peaty / fruity, with a pleasant toffee note), and so to bed, really happy to be back on track.

Well, more or less. Originally we’d planned a cycle around the northern part of the island for today, before ferrying over to Ardnamurchan, but having seen the hills, and with yesterday’s long miles having taken their toll, we decided to have a lazy morning mooching around Tobermory instead. It’s lovely, the harbour fringed by colourful houses, a bit like Burano just outside Venice. We had a late breakfast, wandered around taking photos, then a look in the Mull Museum, an excellent place, tiny, but brilliantly laid out with sections about the geology of the island, its history, maps of the sunken U-boats and other shipwrecks, the wildlife… Johnson and Boswell came to Mull, and Felix Mendelssohn of course when he visited Fingal’s Cave on Staffa. Sounded like a fairly hairy trip, but it was obviously very inspiring.

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In fact the museum was so good that we didn’t leave quite enough time to eat lunch, only enough time to order it, and had to wrap the sandwiches in napkins, run back to collect the tandem and our luggage, and hot-foot it (hot-pedal?) to the ferry terminal to catch our boat to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

Landing on the other side we set off up the first hill of the day, through lovely craggy scenery with only a few sheep for company. Nearing the top the road rounded a bend and suddenly there was the sea and the island of Rum, quickly followed by Eigg and finally the Cuillins of Skye, just a misty outline in the far distance. We turned inland, and won’t see the islands again until we hit the coast tomorrow on our way up to Glenfinnan.

After the climb, the reward, a long gentle descent followed by a long section where the road hugged the hillside, still high, with views of beaches far below. Once we were finally back to sea-level there was an up and down section with cabling alongside the road and lots of huge empty fibre cable bobbins in the lay-bys – Ardnamurchan peninsula is getting superfast fibre broadband!

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We weren’t trying particularly hard today, knowing we only had just over 20 miles to do, and it was a glorious road, bimbling alongside the water through the trees. The surfaces are all smooth new jet-black tarmac, courtesy of the European Union according to the signs. We passed a building that looked like a distillery and smelled like a distillery, although there was no sign. Later research indicates that it’s very new, no product yet, not even a name for the whisky it will produce. Have to keep an eye on that one!

20 miles was plenty today, though, and we were happy to turn into Ardshealach Lodge where we were welcomed by about seven dogs – no need for a doorbell! Our room has a lovely view of the waters of Loch Shiel and the craggy hills beyond. We’ll be staying in Glenfinnan tomorrow, and plan to take a trip on a boat at the other end of Loch Shiel tomorrow afternoon.

Click here for today’s track.