Lochgilphead to Tobermory
Distance: 58.11 miles
Average speed: 11.0 mph
Total distance: 190.82 miles
Maximum speed: 34.5 mph
The Galley of Lorne hotel was excellent: situated in a small side-loch of Loch Craignish and surrounded by low green hills, it seems to be a popular spot with the yachting fraternity, and is now also popular with this off-shoot of the cycling fraternity too. We had an excellent meal, finished off with a glass of Oban 10 year old. All I can remember of it some hours later is that it had a pleasant “figgy” taste. Not being a “super taster” my powers of description are limited at best – whatever, it was most enjoyable.
After breakfast we checked out and headed to the bus stop to catch the 423 back to Lochgilphead, dressed (optimistically) in our cycling togs and carrying all our panniers. As we approached the town both of us became nervous – we really hoped for a positive outcome after yesterday’s travails.
We walked through the door of Crinan Cycles. Kevin’s face was set gloomily.
“Disaster”, he said – “The part arrived but it doesn’t fit”.
…and then he grinned!
“Just kidding, you’re all set to go!”
The stoker had to be physically restrained from kissing him. We took a quick spin around the block to check everything was behaving well, then loaded the panniers onto the tandem and set off. Plan A then, head for Tobermory and catch up with our original schedule.
The weather today was very mixed: (very) occasional sunny spells with fairly frequent heavy showers and a nasty headwind. We set off knowing we had nearly sixty miles to complete, together with four sizeable climbs, each topping out at over five hundred feet. The first of these climbs took us over to our previous night’s destination: Ardfern, past some particularly important archeological sites at Kilmartin (including the hill on which Scottish kings were crowned). There was plenty to see at the side of the road, and given more time we would have stopped to take a more detailed look, but we had some serious catching up to do.
We descended the long hill towards Ardfern, then struck out towards Oban, aiming to catch the four p.m. ferry across to Mull. The tandem was performing well and we made good headway, climbing frequently away from sea level. The roads were smooth though, and the traffic fairly light. Eventually we surmounted the final climb before Oban, then enjoyed a long descent into the town centre, where we had to weave our way through the first traffic jams of our tour.
There was just time to grab some delicious haddock and chips before boarding the ferry. Once aboard we were able to relax for a while and enjoy the rest, as we still had twenty-one miles to complete and two serious hills to climb en-route to Tobermory.
Our aching legs took some warming up once we restarted, and, to be honest, the first few miles were fairly dull. We were following the Sound of Mull, but a barrier of trees meant we couldn’t really see the sea, and the moors to our left were impressive rather than beautiful. After a while though we started to see the Ardnamurchan peninsula across the water, and the views improved.
After seventeen miles of hard work we overtopped the final summit of the day and caught sight of picturesque Tobermory in the distance. A long, gentle descent took us down towards the harbour, and was succeeded by a very steep descent to sea level, passing the Tobermory distillery, to our destination, the Harbour Guest House, where we received a warm welcome.
So we’re tired, tonight, after a long day, but importantly we’re back on track, thanks to the impressive support of J.D Tandems (Gargrave) and Crinan Cycles (Lochgilphead). Tomorrow we catch a ferry across to Ardnamurchan for what we hope will be an easier day, finishing at Acharacle.