Have I been lazy?
No blog posts, radio or otherwise..
I’ve certainly been putting in the miles but I haven’t been venturing afar.
Midweek, I get a text ‘Three Ferries Sunday?’
Saturday, I get a text ‘Three Ferries tomorrow?’
Only one answer, ‘Yep!’
I’d preplanned this one by ‘borrowing’ a GPX route from Map My Ride..quickly loaded into the Etrex but folks, no geocaches this time..
Pannier bag packed with the usual paraphernalia, a quick check of all moving parts, me first, of course then the bike with tyres then inflated to correct pressure. Everything was ready, scran and liquid would be ready early the following morning…
An early rise with Katie preparing sandwiches, Camelbak and bidon filled.
The padded shorts etc all on, it was to be a longish ‘oot’ ..
Time to leave, GPS on and off downhill towards the train station..
The first train to Wemyss Bay and a few stops down the line, I could see the flou yellow jacket of my travelling companion, Roddy appearing in the next carriage.
With my flou orange jacket as well were going to be noticed but more on this later.
It was the usual rush to get a ticket and get on to the boat, two trips across this year and only 6 mins to rush and buy a ticket, why not be able to buy online?
Directed to the front of the car deck, it was to park our bikes and head up to the comfort of the lounge, Roddy dined on the breakfast fare available onboard. I looked at the menu but saw no sign of a brekkie, memories of how we had dined well on our Goat Fell trip by having an early morning breakfast on the ferry that day.
We sat and planned other days out (as you do) as the ferry sailed across a near ripple free Firth. The Cowal hills were under mist to low-level but the forecast said it would lift later in the morning.
Soon we were heading off the ferry into Rothesay and a right turn had us cycling towards Port Bannatyne which was built in the 19th century to rival nearby Rothesay where we followed the shore route, amid talk of the excellent ‘home fries’ available at the Ettrick Bay Tea Room (it wasn’t that far away!) but I resisted the temptation and started out towards the ferry terminal at Rhubodach. It wasn’t before long we were waiting on the ferry on what is a short sea journey across the Kyles of Bute. More than a few yachts were making their way down past the ferry terminal in the mid morning. The shortest ferry crossing in the UK apparently.
It was on and off within minutes…
We had to pay our fare as we left the boat…..
A quick resume of GPS devices of which my Endomondo unexpectedly stopped just after we headed out of Colintraive. The choice was to take the lower shore road along the banks of Loch Riddon (B866) before rejoining the main road to Glendaruel but our route today would take us over the rollercoaster B836 (Route 75 of cycle track network).
It was steady uphill from the turn, an average 5% rise in gradient, it doesn’t sound much but on a bike? it is, believe me.
Slowly but surely we made our way upwards and after meeting the odd motorist on the single track sections who kindly waited, one woman rolled down her window and laughingly said ‘Its good I’m patient’, I resisted the ‘I wasn’t stopping anyhoo, dear’, we soon reached the summit of the first climb and just off the road, we parked the bikes against a gate then Roddy produced the Jetboil and a cuppa that was most welcome. The sun had decided to fleetingly appear and the autumnal hues of the surrounding countryside stood out. The browns mixed with the greenery of odd forestry sections still left standing amidst the scarring of recent felling.
The next bit?
Downhill and fast…. not before long we swept round to the bridge over the Balliemoor Burn at top of Loch Striven and up past the power station at the bottom of the next long slow climb towards the west end of Loch Tarsan, everywhere in this area we could see pheasants and at one point, about 30 young birds crossed the road in front of us and scattered in all directions as we passed. Onwards and upwards on what was an excellent surface, tbh most of it has been recently relaid. A stop to take on some liquid then it was off downhill (again), there is a pattern here as it really is a rollercoaster road, sweeping downhill it took through Glen Lean then slipping past the hamlet of Clachaig, Roddy took the opportunity to head off and fill his water bottle whilst yer man kept heading on and soon we were at the top of the Holy Loch.
A discussion on ‘Where next?’ and Roddy suggested the Glen Masson road, ‘Has it any hills? I asked, I never got an answer so I fell for it….
The single track rises very slowly through the glen and the River Masson follows the road and although the water was low, I thought ‘Must be an excellent spate river’. We stopped to look at the ‘Golden Gates’ of the Younger Botanical Gardens, this looked totally out of character with the local countryside, there looks as if there is ongoing landscaping work and fence work at this entrance. The gates do look surreal in their locale. We cycled past the Arboretum looking at the various trees on the hillside.
Heading toward the end of the tarmac track, I met a short, steep ramp (it was steep to me) but not before long we reached the point where we would turn and head back down the Glen, it was my first time in this area and I enjoyed it especially the run back down. A just under 10 miles run.
Time to head to Dunoon and the ferry home riding past what was once the USN housing estate in the 70s, ‘Eagle Court’ then and now Sandhaven…
It was down the shore road to Ardnadam, can you see a pattern here?
A stop at Ardnadam Pier, the longest on the Clyde (a sign says so) before heading down past Hunter’s Quay and our intended ferry was approaching Dunoon Pier, a quick confab and a return to the Western Ferries terminal where we would catch the ‘Sound of Soay’ which would take us to McInroy Point in Gourock. This would add to my intended journey home but an hours wait in Dunoon? no, it was off up towards home using the shared pavement (Route 75) and with a short stretch of road then a quick walk through Gourock station, Roddy decided to head to the east end of Greenock Esplanade so I had company part of the way.
We said goodbye and I headed home, I reached the Victoria Harbour and it was an almost 500 ft climb to home vis the same Route 75 but gradual thankfully, the only blip is a 40% ramp out of Devol Glen but this meant I just over a mile from home.
I was just over 46 mile road work for the day, an excellent run with tough uphill sections but an enjoyable day…
My queries of ‘Are we there yet?’ ‘Are we there yet?’ ‘Are we there yet?’ and ‘Are there any hills?’ funnily got no response…..
I’ve mentioned the nearby lochs Riddon and Striven which we passed enroute, these lochs were the scene of top secret naval testing during the Second World War, it was here that the midget submarines(X Craft)would train which would later take part in the sinking of the Tirpitz, more on these HERE
Bouncing Bomb test(Dambusters) HERE
The Holy Loch?
A well kent US Navy base during the 60s until the early 90s more HERE
I’m sure there is much more info around the web.
First thing was to freshen up, I heard my son coming in the front door with Alison…
‘Were you on the Western Ferry not long ago? Did your pal have on a flou yellow jacket?’….remember my comment earlier on being ‘noticed’ ?.
They had been passing as we were leaving the ferry…they never stopped.
‘You would have only wanted a lift’…..my son said…
Thanks go to Roddy for bearing with me, my granny gear hill climbs, my rotten pun jokes and anything else.
Cal Mac and Western Ferries for not making me swim..
and Katie for the excellent scran.
Thanksgo to Wikipedia, Secret Scotland and the other websites I have linked to.
To embiggen an image, just click for full size.
Where next? watch this space, folks.