To Ardnamurchan and beyond

A long, narrow, no through road leads to Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point on the British mainland.  Fortunately, a ferry from Tobermory to Kilchoan makes an out and back ride unnecessary, apart from the last six miles.  I left the Glen Nevis camp site with a new tent in the panniers and headed for the ferry across Loch Linnhe to Camusnagaul.  In the following days, headwinds led to exhaustion.  Clearly unready for Bealach na Ba, I decided on a half time break at Kyle of Lochalsh and took the train home.

Diary quotes explain what happened.

Saturday 16 April

Odd sort of a day, weatherwise, but great cycling. Ferry across Loch Linnhe also held Austin from Washington, a Cascades walker, who was starting the Cape Wrath Trail. I talked too much but he didn’t seem to mind.

Big Ben from across the loch
The Ben

Lovely pedalling down the quiet road but no leaves and few wild flowers this time. Sunny and cold in the main with an occasional cloud and some spits of cold precipitation. The main road stretch after Corran wasn’t nice because of aggressive drivers passing very close. Turning uphill on the narrow road to Kilmalieu was a relief.

Very nice, open country near a loch, an adventure centre and then a road squeezed between the sea and cliffs. I passed a female cyclist and saw great crested grebes. Kingairloch was gorgeous. I took photos of it and from it. The female cyclist was there before me, having a snack. It was her day off from the Abernethy Centre. She told me that Elastic Cottage got its name from a family which grew and grew but never outgrew the cottage.

Kingairloch
Kingairloch

The church is  neat little thing with a bell rope dangling down the front, which must tempt all children who visit. The climb up the big hill went quite easily despite the headwind and soon I was hammering down the single track main road to Lochaline. Quite a bit of traffic and a nastyish final rise before Lochaline, which I just can’t bring myself to like, even on a second visit. Over to Fishnish on the ferry then easily down to Craignure for the eccentric campsite. Quite breezy and still fairly cold.

Sunday 17 April

Lazy day of showers. I became engrossed in Chris McDougall’s book, Natural Born Heroes, and didn’t move till lunch, which I took at the Inn. The burger was pretty good but the beer was way overpriced. Good evening in the common room with Sylvain and Thomas from France, who were determined firemakers. They won over damp kindling in the end.

Monday 18 April

The predicted headwind arrived. It was going to be a hard day. In the end I decided to go straight up the main road to Tobermory, arriving just in time for the 1300hrs ferry. But I needed food so had to get the next one. The ferry ride was entertaining. In mid channel, sea water came in through the scuppers on to the car dark, wetting much of it then returning through the scuppers.

Not the best day on Mull
Looking downwind on Mull
Ardnamurchan lighthouse
Ardnamurchan lighthouse

On landing, I became aware of changes to the area since my last visit. Many new buildings. I battled out to the lighthouse, took some pictures and then set off back along the peninsula. It was hard going, up and down, past Ben Hiant, where the camping didn’t look great, to Glenborrowdale’s excellent bunkhouse. It’s good to be clean, dry and warm after such a hard day.

View east from ther lighthouse
View from near the lighthouse
Roadside vegetation
Glenborrowdale roadside vegetation

Tuesday 19 April

Despite an excellent evening in the Ardnamurchan Bunkhouse, my legs felt weak this morning so I dawdled along to Salen and then dawdled some more to Loch Ailort. It was lovely riding till the big road, which wasn’t all that bad, really. Sunny weather and light winds helped a lot. Very hungry, which I attribute to recovery from yesterday. Back on the Invercaimbe site after a two year gap. Big dog now ashes as is the owner’s horse and brother. She said the horse got by far the best urn.

To promote recovery, I made myself eat a packet of noodles I’d been carrying, off and on, for a year. The result was a troubling dose of heart palpitations. MSG is not good for an exhausted body. Full recovery being unlikely overnight, a rest day seemed destined.

Eigg from the campsite
Eigg from Invercaimbe campsite

Camping

Rum from the campsite
Rum from the campsite

Wednesday 20 April

Laundry done, I wandered into Arisaig to shop. Back at the campsite, I read and ate the gloriously sunny afternoon and evening away. Skye tomorrow.

Thursday 21 April

Tough day. Fabulous evening. A repeat of a ride I hadn’t enjoyed 2 years ago made worse by a stiff headwind as far as Broadford. Hills needed cycling down. Just making the ferry at Mallaig was the day’s first bit of luck but it meant buying overpriced, none too pleasant food at a little shop near Armadale. And I then didn’t eat enough which made the traditional accommodation problem in Kyle seem like a disaster. Tried cycling to Strathcarron via Plocton but the traffic was not good. Headed over a stiff hill for a campsite at Balmacarra only to discover it wasn’t open. So, evening train out to somewhere.

Morar
Morar
Red Cuillins
Red Cuillin

Eating put everything into perspective. Achnasheen bunkhouse! So I enjoyed the stunning scenery of Loch Carron with its many reefs, coves and islets and then relished the open glen above Achnashellach with its plethora of camping possibilities. No worries though as the bunkhouse is open so I’m showered and enjoying tea. Just a shame so many people spoke to me when I was hypo. They can’t have been impressed.

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