With many geocaches along (groan) the way….
Sitting with work holidays to be taken, I thought that I’d use them if the weather was looking like cycling weather.
Two days earlier I’d a dental appointment early afternoon so it wasn’t being wasted as I then headed afterwards eastwards towards Bishopton where I had a wee go at improving my time for heading up Hatton Brae, I later found out I’d dropped the time to below 7 mins, very happy with that. I did the usual route to the Red Smiddy roundabout then the return journey via Houston, cycle track to home. A good leg stretch.
As I spend my life working outside, I keep an eagle eye on the weather forecast and Thursday was looking good so a holiday booked.
Wednesday evening was busy between printing off maps, note taking of geocaches along the route BUT I’d extended the original route as I’d planned a run up to Garelochhead then along the Glen Fruin Haul Road where I got dropped off over the last five years to climb up ‘Beinns a’Mhanaich and Chaorach. It just appealed to me.
The original route would see me heading downhill to catch a train to Gourock then the ferry to Kilcreggan but now to my new destination Arrochar.
I’d rose early as I normally do and checked everything (again) then sat and played radio, conditions were just improving as not long before I left I worked JA. Dang !
First thing that morning was giving my bike a check over, I topped up the back tyre.
All packed, I set off a bit earlier and this was to prove a good idea as the trains were running late. It was my first time on the train with a bike so it was a case of just standing along the shortish journey. It was then off at Gourock and a quick cycle to the Kilcreggan ferry landing. The ferry was arriving and it was on and the lad used a rope to secure my bike for the journey. I forgot a bungee…Doh!
A short trip across the river brought some happy memories of my first ever holiday, my dad had bought a tent and off we’d headed to the beach between Kilcreggan and Portkil Bay where we spent a glorious fortnight eating spuds and various canned meats, heaven.. I fished and picked shellfish each low tide and we feasted on mussels, whelks and the odd ‘clabbydoo’. Who needs foreign holidays…back to today, it was not long before the boat tied up and I headed off KIlcreggan Pier to find the first geocache.
I know these roads well so the first mile is an uphill stretch, I did debate turning towards Cove and heading out then over the Peaton road with a quick visit to Coulport beach where I spent my 21st birthday fishing in the pouring rain, one lousy undersized cod for my troubles but instead of a big party, we had taken a boot load of drink with us, split between four, sorry three (John the driver that day had no luck). This area holds some good memories.
I dropped down the other side into Roseneath and yes, another geocache, I apologize to the female I startled as I appeared from under a bridge in Clachan Glen, the words ‘I’m geocaching’ probably meant nothing, earlier I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up walking along the beach. The cache was at the last part of the bridge I looked.
Out to the main road, I headed to Garelochhead and I kept getting sprayed from traffic as there was plenty water on the road. My next ‘visit’ was to the ‘Isabella Campbell Memorial’ on the outskirts of the village. It was well signposted as I turned up a rough drive and chained my bike to a gate and I walked up to a small gate and there is a stone inscribed ‘Here Isabella Campbell was wont to pray’. Further reading on this HERE. I sat on the nearby bench and took in the surroundings after I found the cache. A quiet place to contemplate. I can see why she chose this place.
It was now into the village and I took the B872 to Whistlefield and soon I saw the road sign , 15% hill….not for me so I cycled up so far and I walked the rest up to the viewpoint where a select felling of trees would certainly help the views but yes, you’ve guessed I had an ulterior motive, a scramble through the ferns and brambles and a sodden cache was found and replaced.
I had found as I researched this area a website extolling the Three Lochs Way…HERE.
This certainly appeals more than the cycle trip I was to take riding above the steep banks along Loch Long. I think it will be visited soon than later as it can be done section by section and not over the recommended 3 or 4 days.
I joined the road again and straight through the roundabout at where I originally planned to head along the Haul Rd and soon I was heading swiftly down the brae past the Finnart refinery, a sweet smell of oil pervading the air as I started heading towards the Glen Mallon MOD jetty along what I’d describe as a rollercoaster of a road. The road towards the lochside is an almost blanket of trees with only the occasional glimpse of the high points of the Cowal hills.
It was the thought of some scran at Arrochar which kept the wheels rolling at the normal 12mph, I soon arrived and not long after I was sitting in the drizzle looking across the loch hoping that the Cobbler would show in its glory but not today. A slice roll and coffee which was most excellent was soon downed (it should be as it cost enough).
It was on the road again to follow the route in which the Vikings once took as they headed to Loch Lomond to pillage and whatever else they did. They moved their boats across the two miles to Tarbet I would imagine rolling the boats on logs (my theory), I had two stops on the way looking suspicious once again as I cached. Two caches soon bagged, I took the main road as the pavement path looked as if it had been recently pruned in places, this is not a good idea to cycle through if hawthorn is present.
I soon was cycling through Tarbet, one of the many Tarbets throughout Scotland and if you see that Arrochar’s gaelic name is ‘An Tairbeart Iar‘, walkers among us also know of ‘Cruach Tairbeirt’, a hill that is dwarfed by the higher hills in the Arrochar area. Tarbet at Loch Lomond is ‘Tairbeart Loch Laomainn’ , soon I took what is the ‘West Side Lomond Cycle Path’ and this is an excellent alternative to the main A82. I knew of a cycle path but never knew it started as far up the loch as this but soon I was moving S and picking up geocaches on the way, the path follows a line sometimes running down the lochside and then reverts to the roadside on occasions.
Passing the Rubra’s Ban, Dubh and Mor and in between a ride round the oddly named Firkin Point where I met three dog walkers who stubbornly stood their ground as I approached now I realise I have to give way to pedestrians at times but this threesome and accompanying mutts looked at me with blank expressions, I know I’m eccentric but I wished them a cheery ‘Good afternoon, Ladies’ as I slowly passed, I wonder what the only male among them would have thought. Yer a rascal Bob.
The journey S took a break at Rubra Mor for some water and a quick look at the loch, the path is in excellent condition although on the leaf strewn path areas I took care. I soon passed through Inverbeg still bagging the odd cache, eleven in total for the journey. I met one cyclist just outside Luss at Culag on what was now a mild sunny afternoon although the Ben wasn’t showing its face at this moment. There are one or two points on the path where you have to slow for vehicular traffic and sod’s law, I met a car at one who threw me a dirty look as I gave way as she entered her lochside home, I guess not a liker of cyclists…
I dropped down into the village of Luss once famous as Glendarroch in the STV soap opera ‘Take the High Road‘, I half expected to bump into Inverdarroch, Isabel, Morag or the infamous Mrs Mack….LOL. Even worse I remember the forerunner to it ‘Garnock Way’, enough said.
The next cache was ‘The Boy in the Loch’ placed near a statue of ‘Wee Peter’ as you expect at Ardochly just south of Luss, more on ‘Wee Peter’ HERE, other theories abound but I’ll use this one.
Soon it was off to pick up the last cache whilst passing the Loch Lomond Golf course at Intavannach View. It was getting on timewise so I thought no more and head straight home which was still a long way off. I swept past Duck Bay Marina before heading into Balloch where I joined a familiar track along the River Leven which was busy and met some eejit who harangued me for having my dog off its lead..red rag to a Bob, my reply ? not printable after I explained the dog was not mine…aye you meet them.
I was soon turning off at Dalreogh Station, choo choo home? nah, carry on.
Cutting through the back streets of Dumbarton I was soon on the cycle path taking me towards Bowling and the Erskine Bridge. I took a quick water break before I headed over the bridge and I put on my lights as it was now twilight. I came off the bridge and took the Bishopton road but I rode the path on the N side of the road. It was out of Bishopton and on to a regular stretch to Houston then on to Bridge of Weir and the cycle track. It was dark now and as I cycled along the track I knew I will have upgrade my lights as the headlight although useful in an urban lit area is lacking on an unlit track.
I was halfway between BoW and Kilmacolm , I saw figures ahead and slowed, two women with prams….oh well, ‘Evening ladies’ and off again. I passed through the village and soon was in the dark confines of the track still turning 6 min miles which after a long journey wasn’t too bad. I swooped down the last hill and had only 3/4 mile to go. I took the usual last short rises with aplomb and arrived at my back door with Katie waiting to carry me in. My youngest had followed me on Endomondo and my tea was ready in the oven. Ideal timing…
A good soak, a bottle of chilled cider…..an excellent end to a fantastic if wearying day.
PS I was glad I had on my padded cycle shorts *wink*
I’ve included this 360Cities of Firkin Point HERE
My thanks as usual to Wikipedia and other sites I have linked to.