75 miles and 5,049 feet ascent.
Day 10 started with another ferry, the third of our trip (but not our last). We took the short CalMac crossing from Lochranza to Claonaig on Kintyre before climbing over the hill to pick up the A83 north. This was a day of flattish terrain interrupted by some fairly steep hills, giving the second hilliest day of our journey after Day 2 in Cornwall/Devon. Today’s route took us past Lochgilphead and Loch Melfort, bypassing Oban to go north across the bridge at Connel at the entrance to Loch Etive. This was the only day where we didn’t have accommodation booked. We have a couple of possible campsites we can stay at north of Connel but Plan A is to look for a good wild camping spot near Appin on Loch Linnhe.
Today’s journey in three words: bluebells, sea lochs, seafood.
What actually happened:
After a disrupted night’s sleep (the bed was too short for Duncan; my neighbour was a premier-league snorer) we took the Lochranza to Claonaig ferry over to Kintyre. The clouds looked ominous, and we donned waterproofs for a while, but it stayed dry until late evening.
We reached Tarbert for a second breakfast at 10am then past Lochgilphead and Kilmartin in time for a nice lunch at the Loch Melfort Hotel (good seafood). While there were four sizeable hills on today’s route it was fairly flat in between, and the hills were manageable. It was good to get good views of the sea lochs and the islands beyond.
The bluebells were still in bloom, carpeting shady forest floors everywhere. The gorse was also still bright yellow whereas both were pretty much finished in England. It’s interesting travelling the length of the country over a short period, comparing the flora and fauna. I’ll have lots of memories of the smell of wild garlic beside the roadside in Cornwall and the Lake District, with elderflower common in Devon. We’ve been treated to the dawn chorus every morning at 5am, and the hedgerows and trees have been full with birdsong. I’ve also heard many cuckoos the length of the country. All you need to do is to get on to quiet lanes, get out of your vehicles, slow down and listen.
For the final stretch we took a supposedly quiet road bypassing Oban (although Oban clearly does have a rush hour ?!) past Loch Nell. By this point our legs were getting decidedly weary after almost 5,000 feet of ascent. We found our campsite just near the beach at Benderloch and pitched up just before the drizzly west coast rain started – the precursor to the poor weather forecast for the next two days. Seaview Campsite and the nearby Hawthorn Restaurant are both highly recommended; welcoming, good location and facilities; and it’s great to find a good restaurant just a stone’s throw from a great campsite.
The high points:
- Good campsite
- Yellow gorse
- Nice restaurants
And the low points:
- A hilly day
- A strong headwind in places
- 70 miles cycled
- 10.9 mph average speed
- 30.4mph top speed