Ardnamurchan and Mull
August 2011 saw three of us head off for a loop around Ardnamurchan and Mull. There was, of course, the obligatory stop at the Green Welly Shop in Tyndrum to buy a midge hood that one of us had forgotten to bring...
It was late afternoon when we set off from our start at Corran Ferry for the shortish first leg to Strontian. It's a fairly leisurely hurl along the road, but punctuated by 'pulses' of traffic every time the ferry comes in.
No matter, it's reasonably dry and we're in good time for the B&B and a meal at the pub. No sign of The Midge as yet.
The road along Loch Sunart is anything but flat; frustratingly so at times. But the sun is out and we're enjoying the views. We find a visitor centre just past Glenborrodale and have a seat outside while indulging in clotted cream and scones. Well someone has to...
There's a long haul inland and uphill before rolling down to Kilchoan. It's a day of contrasts and just as we arrive the rain comes on. Added to which, Iain has just pinged a spoke. It's on the back wheel, of course - they always are - and on the cassette side - ditto - so not easy to repair on the hoof.
Strangely enough, all three of us had been on a wheel-building course in Edinburgh earlier in the year. We know all about inbound and outbound spokes. We know why the ones on the drive side of of the wheel are most likely to ping. We know why, but it doesn't make them any easier to fix...;-(
It's funny how some things stick in your mind and one of the (very) few Latin phrases I remember is quae cum ita sint - 'these things being so'...
...and quae cum ita sint we decide to go for a beer and mull (no pun) over the options...
The wheel looks OK for a while and we're not going to find anything before Tobermory so there isn't much we can do about it until then. We're booked in at the bunkhouse attached to the Sonochan Hotel just two or three miles up the road. The rain stops and we make our way up there.
Before getting the ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory, we thought we'd take a quick run out to Ardnamurchan Point. It's a glorious day and the views to Canna, Rum, Eigg and Skye from the lighthouse are just superb.
Back over the hill and roll down to catch the ferry, arriving in Tobermory shortly after midday. We're in the Youth Hostel tonight so we dump the bags there.
It seems that there's a guy in Salen who should be able to fix Iain's wheel so he heads off down the road on a bus to get the job done. In the meantime we have a stroll around the harbour and get a bite to eat.
Well after yesterday, the rain this morning isn't welcome. Bacon rolls from the deli are, however, more than welcome. It's a steep haul up the hill out of town.
We're aiming for Dervaig today and intending go via a scenic route. This rain isn't about to give up, though, and we take some wet forest trails to Ardmore Bay. More trails lead round to Glengorm Castle where there's a visitor centre and tearoom. Time for a bowl of soup and some shelter.
Dervaig has a newly-built village hall and part of the building includes a couple of bunkrooms which are let out on a self-catering basis. We'd have to say that the accommodation here is just fabulous and not at all expensive. Thoroughly recommended and a great facility for the village.
Just a few yards from the village hall is the Bellachroy, reputed to be the oldest pub in Mull. Well it'd be churlish not to venture in for an evening meal and a few beers...
More rain today as we set off towards Calgary Bay. It's eased by the time we get there and patches of blue sky start to appear. It's quite a pull now as we head uphill before rolling down to Kilninian. If you venture around the back of the small church there you'll come across some medieval carved gravestones on show in the vestry. Some of the stones are carved with patterns; others with effigies. Unfortunately there's little information about their origin...
Pressing on down the road, we can't resist a trip on the small ferry across to Ulva, leaving the bikes on the 'mainland', though you could take them across if you wish. Ulva is actually quite an extensive island and we decided to take a stroll on one of the marked trails around the coast.
There's also a small Heritage Centre in the shape of Sheila's Cottage and The Boathouse has a good selection of food and drinks.
Back on the coast road now and there's one more hill to get over before a more leisurely cruise along to Salen where we're booked in at a B&B. Of course, Iain was here yesterday to get his wheel fixed...
Head for the ferry at Mishnish which goes across the Sound of Mull to Lochaline. There's a frustratingly pointless climb out of the village before dropping right back down to sea level. Well 'pointless' in the sense that it doesn't add anything positive to the experience...
This is in contrast to the long haul up Gleann Geal to the col at over 200m. It's a slog but every cloud has a silver lining - to coin a phrase - because the reward for your efforts comes in the delightful skoosh all the way down to Kingairloch.
From here it's an easy jaunt along the coast road back to Corran.
john b, galashiels