86 miles and 3,349 feet ascent.
Today we crossed the remainder of Dumfries and Galloway into Ayrshire and headed up the coast to take the ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick, on Arran. There was one fairly sharp ascent and descent along the north coast of Arran before reaching our base for the night, Lochranza Youth Hostel.
Today’s journey in three words: uneven road surfaces, ferry, headwind.
What actually happened:
This morning was a real slog. We had to climb 20 miles up and over the Galloway hills into a headwind. These weren’t the short, sharp hills of Devon, Cornwall or Cumbria but the long, grinding hills of Scotland. We thought they’d never end. The did of course and the effort was quickly forgotten at the next cafe stop.
We have a routine each day which normally begins: “you know what I could really do with right now ?” or “guess what my body’s craving at the moment ?” The body has an amazing capacity to transmit to the brain exactly the right nutrients or vitamins it needs. Usually, we’ve managed to find exactly what we’ve wanted, be it fresh orange, soup or a panini. Now this morning, we both agreed that a fry up was in order. Not the healthiest perhaps but maybe there is some goodness in pork sausages or baked beans. Being back in Scotland of course we also had fried tattie scone and flat sausage. Strangely, we noticed, this little cafe in Dalmellington also did a good trade in mince. Mince in a roll, mince and chips …. you name it, they served mince alongside. Obviously an Ayrshire thing.
Anyway, back to the story … Dalmellington marked the start of the 14 mile ‘downhill’ to Ayr beach. I’m calling it a ‘downhill’ since, as you’ll recall, we had a headwind to cope with. The prize for the most uneven road surfaces in the UK also goes to East Ayrshire Council. Well, when combined, it meant that we did rather a lot of pedalling on this supposed downhill section.
Once back down at sea level it was safe for me to take my winter gloves off (Duncan had been in shorts ever since Land’s End of course). At this point we decided to put a spurt on. If we made good time, largely by deferring lunch until later (we’d had a fry up, remember), we could make the 3.15pm ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick. We did in fact make it with 10 minutes to spare, even with a quick diversion to a bike shop to get our chains cleaned up. The sun was out and Arran looked inviting across the water.
However, the CalMac girl kindly informed us that the 3.15 ferry had “blown a gasket” and was cancelled. The next ferry would be leaving at 4.40pm. We kindly informed her that we had each also blown a gasket cycling 63 miles to get there on time. Luckily we all saw the funny side.
So, what to do in a Ardrossan with 90 minutes to kill …? Ho hum … Find a cafe of course ! This one – Cassandra’s – served up homemade soup and rather lovely ice cream sundaes. Just what the doctor ordered on a sunny day on the Ayrshire Coast.
The final leg of today’s journey was a 14 mile cycle anticlockwise up to Lochranza on the northwest tip of Arran, where we were booked into the youth hostel. Being 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday everyone else was leaving the island or going in for their tea. It was therefore a quiet and very pleasant ride up the coast. With my tinted sunglasses on it almost looked like the Med. (No, really !).
I was proud to say that I cycled the whole way up the steep hill from Sannox over to Lochranza. Not so much of a wimp after all. That was Day 9 done; just to cook tea, wash some dirty clothes and retire to the pub for a well-earned drink. Ah, the simple pleasures of a long distance cyclist.
- An ice cream sundae in Ardrossan
- The ferry crossing
- A sunny afternoon beside the Ayrshire and Arran beaches
And the low points:
- The ferry cancellation
- The morning’s slog over the Galloway hills
- 78 miles cycled
- 11.1 mph average speed
- 1 ice cream sundae and 2 fry ups consumed (but neither was served with mince)