Mull, Ardnamurchan, Lismore - 2009
Oban to Mull (32 miles) - Tuesday, 14 April
The early morning drizzly dampness did little to dent my spirits as I departed Durham. With bike strapped to the back and equipment stowed, I was ready for the drive north via the A68, A69 and M6. I stopped about half way at Hamilton Services for petrol and Fruit n Nut and arrived in Oban at 12.30 pm in the sunshine.
The next Mull ferry was at 2.00 pm so I parked once more in the Central Car Park and paid £20 for five days. I soon loaded up the bike and wheeled round to the ferry terminal to buy a ticket. The Isle of Mull left on time for a smooth 45 minute crossing on a flat calm sea, just enough time to eat lasagne, chips, peas and carrots, washed down with fresh orange.
Craignure came into view and the boat docked alongside the jetty. I pushed the bike up the ramp and cycled left through the temporary throng and out of town towards the hills. A beautiful hot day, gorgeous scenery, a single track road, no traffic, perfect. I passed the turning for Duart Castle and continued over small climbs passing coastal views to die for. The road turned inland by Lock Spelve.
I stopped to see what two bus loads' of people were doing gazing skywards with telescopes and cameras. A woman standing by her camper van kindly lent me her binoculars to get a closer look at Sea Eagles up on the ridge, flying and wheeling in the up draft. Apparently they had been re-introduced into the area and there were now eight breeding pairs. They were a terrific sight set against a blue sky.
Then came the climb over Glen More which took some effort, but was worth every turn of the cranks for the long exhilarating run down the other side. I stopped to switch maps by a bus shelter at Kinloch crossroads where the B8035 goes off right.
Another cyclist was coming the other way and he stopped for a chat. He lived on Arran and was pleased to see a touring bike, he hadn't met another cyclist that day. He told me about his journey and that I was in for a real treat because some of the most beautiful scenery was coming up on my route. How right he turned out to be. He warned me though about the state of the tarmac and having set off again around Loch Beg, I began to understand what he'd meant. The road was a patchwork of filled-in pot holes with grass periodically breaking through the middle, loose gravel proved a real hazard especially on the descents.
After a straight steady ascent through a pine forest alongside a pretty valley, eventually the vista opened up as Loch Na Keal hove into view. I stopped several times to fully take in the magnificence of the stunning scenery, islets set like jewels in a shimmering sea glistening in the sunshine and rock cliffs towering improbably above the road.
The computer clocked up 30 miles so I decided to find a camping spot for the night as the sun dropped lower in the sky.
photograph - campsite
The light changed, casting an orange hue over the hills with the sun reflecting its rays across the sea. At 7.00 pm, the tent was up at a gorgeous loch side spot by Scarisdale Point. I watched as the sun set over the sea whilst listening to Radio 5 and drinking freshly brewed coffee.