The title of this installment reminds me of Southwark bells: tough but rewarding. Our plan is to make them less tough but just as rewarding.
I had a good night’s sleep despite the rain showers. Awoke and arose at 7.15, showered, admired the fantastic view, cooked breakfast, washed up, packed my panniers and was about to take the tent down when the first heavy shower happened. So I dived into the tent, and my departure was delayed for a quarter of an hour.
Then I visited Kilchoan’s shop which doubles as a Post Office and has a petrol pump also. This is the most Westerly Post Office on the mainland, so I was pleased to get my form stamped here. I got my provisions, including some emergency socks – I had noticed when getting dressed that I only had one more pair of clean socks and underwear left, and I was not at all sure when I would be able to do any washing. Unfortunately the Kilchoan stores didn’t stretch to emergency pants!
Then I set off on some of the hardest but most rewarding cycling so far. Not quite as tough as the road to Ardnamurchan Point yesterday, but far longer. I run out of superlatives to use to describe the views, first looking up the Sound of Mull, across to Morven and the closer Ben Hiant. The road partially ascends the latter, and then skirts the North side of the mountain with fantastic views north to the Small Isles. Then once again back to the South coast of Ardnamurchan and Loch Sunart, with some intimate bays including the one at Glenborrodale.
As you leave the extreme remoteness of Ardnamurchan and head past Salen and Acharacle and continue Northward towards Mallaig, the roads gradually get wider and easier in the main, though still with some fairly steep and prolonged hills. The coastal scenery stays as good as ever, with views of the islands.
I stopped for lunch at the Blue Parrot Cafe in Acharacle. Delicious home made food, and a pot of tea for one pound fifty which I managed to pour six cups from! There was an internet cafe attached, so I was hoping to upload more photos. My phone battery has not been up to it with the poor weather preventing a decent charge from the solar panels. However, I couldn’t read my memory card on the computer, so you will have to wait longer for photos.
I was hoping to make it to Mallaig for the last ferry to Skye at six o’clock, but the terrain had been too tough for that so I stopped about six miles short of Mallaig at Back of Keppoch at the Invercaimbe Camp Site, which is situated right next to a white sandy beach. The pegs go into the sand very easily. Let’s hope the strong wind doesn’t pull them out. One big plus point is that the site has laundry facilities and I’m writing this while waiting for the drier to do its stuff. So thank goodness I no longer have to contemplate turning my pants inside out to go another day!
So only 53 miles covered today and I’m falling a bit behind schedule. I will have to put some big days in if I am to make it for my train next week. At least my legs seem much better now so they shouldn’t hold me back any more. I must be out of here by 9.30 tomorrow to get the 10.30 ferry. At least I should be able to get an early night for once.