This morning I overslept and awoke at 7.45. So a quick shower before breakfast… except that it then started to rain, so breakfast was skipped, or at least was changed to an apple. For the third day in a row I took down and packed a wet tent, and went off to Oban in search of a bike shop.
Actually by now the sun had come out and there were some lovely views coming into Oban. That was to set the tone for the day’s weather – sunny spells with the occasional, and usually quite heavy, shower.
After getting my lejog transit form (the official form for those attempting the Land’s End to John O’Groats) stamped at the post office, I asked directions to a bicycle shop. The shop had the right size spoke for my back wheel, and the owner fitted it and trued the wheel very quickly and efficiently and provided two spares against future breakages. He also advised me that the road to Cape Wrath might be too rough for my bike when fully laden. I will have to cross that bridge when I get there.
Then to find some meths for my stove. Homebase didn’t have any, and the assistant told me that this is because a special license is required to sell it in Scotland. Is this because the scots are likely to drink it? The second shop only had gallon cans of the stuff, but the third and final hardware store had what I was after, and since it had been so difficult, I decided to get two – I don’t want to risk not having a hot supper in the remote West Highlands.
All this meant that I did not get to the ferry terminal until 11.30, and caught the 11.55 ferry to Craignure on Mull. I had my lunch on the ferry: steak and ale pie. I had intended to take a detour around the dramatic cliffs and mountains of the West coast of Mull, but I was conscious of the need to make progress if I wanted to be on time for my train home next week. Consequently, I made the tough decision to head straight up the East coast for Tobermory, vowing to come back to Mull for a cycling and hill walking holiday in the not too distant future.
Tobermory is a very pretty place, and I made it there in time for the 16:00 ferry to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan. There was one heavy shower on the way to Tobermory, and another just before the ferry arrived.
Once across I headed straight for Ardnamurchan Point. The road is narrow and single track with passing places. It weaves to and fro, and goes up and down quite alarmingly and is very hard work to cycle, especially as there is a lot of gravel so it is tricky to carry any downhill momentum into the next uphill. Nevertheless it is very pretty, in the way that the remote West coast and Islands can be.
Ardnamurchan itself was thrilling. A real sense of remoteness and some lovely coastal scenery with distant views of the mountains of Mull, and the nearer and less dramatic ones on Ardnamurchan itself.
Returning to Kilchoan at about 6.30pm I had to decide whether to camp here or carry on for another hour or so and camp rough. I decided on the former course of action, and found the delightfully situated Ardnamurchan Camp Site, and camped near the sea with stunning views across to Mull.
I’m slightly disappointed to have done the lowest milage so far on a full day, but there are good reasons for this. It’s good to have the Westerly point ticked off, and now be looking forward to Cape Wrath and the NW point. Another good thing is that my knee and leg seem a lot better today, so hopefully I will be able to make better progress from now on despite the terrain inevitably getting tougher up the West coast of the Highlands. Now for a good rest before hopefully pushing on to Mallaig and catching the ferry to Skye tomorrow.