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.
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.
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…
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.