The wind had settled overnight, which meant more midges in the morning (but not as bad as Glentrool which as midge central) so we did not hang about in the campsite but pedalled down to the ruined castle. The small ruins date from the 13th century but there was enough there to get a feel of the place protecting the harbour and the glens behind from marauders.
Then on to the short ferry ride over to Claonaig on the Mull of Kintyre. We met a group of cyclists doing the ‘5 ferries’ route from Ardrossen, Arran, Islay, Jura, Bute and back to Ardrossan. One to do another time when we are not loaded wih paniers. They told us that, on a good weather weekend in the summer, there can be up to 150 cyclists on the ferries and that bikes out-number cars on the ferries. That is a sign of how cycling has taken off as a passion for men and women here – something that was a marginal activity a decade ago. We also saw far more touring cyclists weighed down by kit – again showing the growth of this activity in this part of Scotland. The economic impact that so many cyclists have on the local economy must be significant, and it partly goes to explain why buying a new bike is so difficult at the moment.
Cloanaig is in the middle of nowhere so once the cyclists and handful of cars had disappeared, we pretty much had the road to ourselves as we climbed away from the sea. The occasional cars we did meet were all very tolerant, pulling into the passing places to allow us to pass rather than the other way round.
Once we were over the hill and heading towards Tarbert the road was busier but soon we were having delicious coffee and second breakfast overlooking the pretty harbour at Tarbert. We were now on the route that we did in Scotland in 2017 and think we were in the same cafe! We discovered that we were not too complimentary about Tarbet then, but we were wrong.
One more headland to cross coming out of Tarbert then the road hugged the shores of Loch Fyne. Flat and with a tail wind, we motored along to Lochgilpead at the end of the loch.
We had our picnic lunch by the Crinan canal, then ambled along the tow path all the way to Crinan – stretching out and enjoying the last section of this adventure.
At Crinan we reached our resting place with our good friends Richard and Sally on their amazing island in Crinan harbour. Loading all our bikes and kit into their little boat was fun!
As always their welcome was warm and generous, the setting spectacular, a fitting end to this journey. We had been here in 2017 when they first moved; but the house has been transformed into a fanastic open space since then, overcoming all the challenges of building on an island.
We both agreed this trip had exceeded all our expectations. We had discovered and rediscovered so many parts of our own country, had met up with many family and friends after the long drought of the pandemic. We also discovered that we still loved this form of travel, could still manage it (with perhaps some slight modifications to recognise our advancing age) and, perhaps most surprising of all, still enjoyed the rough and tumble of camping. There were experiences that we would not have got without camping, including seeing the unbelievable beauty of the sun falling into the sea north of St Davids and early mornings that were so peaceful that we wanted to bottle the atmosphere and re-experience it at a later date. So that’s the end of this blog but we are already planning our next trip…….watch this space.
Thanks for being with us for the last month, and for all your ‘likes’ and thought provoking comments. They are mostly from people we know and they mean a lot to us. Having family and friends ‘virtually’ with us as we tackle yet another 10km of climbing and knowing that they will share the view from the top by a photo somehow keeps us closer to you all.