Our team at work..three of us.
One is whooping it up in Spain, one was doing family related stuff, me? I asked for a day off…
and what do I tend to do now with my days off? cycle……
It was not hard to choose my destination…the Isle of Bute.
I’d been promising myself a Giro of the island so a wee look at some You Tube videos and a long look at the OS map and the route memorised. I’d made sure the pannier had all the essentials, water bottle charged and an all over check of the bike. A good nights sleep and I’d be refreshed early morning.
I woke to blue skies, a light breeze and a quick breakfast then the usual double-check.
I thought I’d read the timetables correct but urged to quickly go get my ticket as the boat was ready to sail, the lads had held the boat until I walked down the slipway. It’s bad practice to cycle down plus if the tide is out, it is clear why they call it a ‘slipway’.
Once ‘Polly’ was settled in the bike rack, I headed up to comfy part of the boat and enjoyed a calm sail across the Firth and had a last-minute look at the OS map…
The call came for vehicle drivers and off down the car deck to get ready for today’s adventure.
I decided to head down the south side of the island so a left turn at the pier-head junction then along past the Victorian flatted buildings and soon I found the first geocache I had intended to bag…and it wasn’t there in the said hidey hole, I checked every ‘hole’ in the wall, nothing. Sod it, I’ll come back another day and just geocache ( any excuse)…
The breeze was a bit stronger as I pedaled toward Ascog and I was soon approaching what would be the biggest ascent I would meet on the island, a comforting thought to find everything else much easier (but I’d forgotten the last climb of the day). The hill I was ascending took me past the entrance to Mount Stuart House which I would recommend a visit. I reached the top and found that it was time to remove the lightweight jacket, it was sunny and hot, very hot.
I saw the War Memorial at Mount Stuart and remembered, a geocache.
I quickly found this one hidden in an ingenious spot and after all that checking, I’d forgotten a pencil so a quick photo of the said box…
Back on to the road and as I started to drop down, the view before me was simply amazing. I could see the Arran mountains, Holy Isle, Great Cumbrae, Wee Cumbrae and hilly area at Garroch Head. I continued down until I turned left at the junction which would lead me down to Kilchattan Bay. I spotted in Kingarth another geocache location and soon I was having another photo as proof. The telephone box is a well hunted cache but soon I was heading along the main street of the hamlet before reaching the end of this road. The tide was out and the red sand stretched out for a distance but on I headed back up to join the A844, turning right and as I passed a cemetery it was a quick left turn down the single track Plan Rd. I soon passed Bute Airfield, more later and a sharp climb later it was down towards the visit the ruins of St Blane‘s Church and Monastery.
I just wheeled the bike up the whin path and had a walk around the ruins which are interesting and I can see why this spot was chosen. The site has information boards and plaques around the ruins, I stopped to chat with a couple who told me that the island was such a wonderful place to have visited and only by chance they decided to reroute on their way back down south. I sat and spent some time in deep thought whilst enjoying the solitude. I now see what an intriguing island this is once you leave the urban area of Rothesay where I spent many a Fair holiday day visiting. I can remember getting my first tooth out in Rothesay and the dentist giving my mum money to buy me an ice-cream. The time spent out on rowing boats sharing the rowing duties with my dad, I sat and remembered what fun we had then…..
It was back along the road I’d come down and as I was approaching the airfield, I could hear the hum of a low flying aircraft swooping high above the treetops and sweeping down the length of the grass field but it carried on and I prepared the camera for its return but it headed N towards the Mull of Kintyre. Was it just having a quick look? Pity.
I carried on as I was starting to feel peckish and I knew the tea room at Ettrick Bay was not just around the corner so it was back on to the A844 again and still with the hills of Arran on my left hand side I passed along taking in the sights and sounds of the island, I looked quickly at the golf course which is laid out on the shore at Stravanann Bay, it would have been a good day out swinging the clubs..I passed some workers repairing electricity poles, what a workplace.
I soon headed back inland and carried on past Scalpsie Bay after seeing a lone angler fly fishing in Loch Quien, the road was up and down here but with no great ascents I was sure that my destination was not that far away but soon I reached the junction where I would head left towards Ettrick Bay, I soon reached the bay but the road headed inland before I turned left again down towards the tea room.
Polly was safely stored at the bike rack and off to get some scran.
I choose a burger with home fries and a cold drink and fully sated I headed back along the road I had come down but carried on to Kames Bay for my next choice, Rhubodach or Port Bannatyne..
In the interests of future planning, Rhubodach was next just to check where the ferry terminal was. I cycled out the 5 mile to the terminal where I stopped to watch the ferry take its short journey, 5 mins I think. A quick drink of water and back along the 9 miles to the pier-head at Rothesay. I made good time and reaching Port Bannatyne I took the shore road and continued along to Rothesay and as I was still a couple of mile from the pier-head, I decided to see if I could beat the ferry to the pier-head, I won, of course.
I cycled down and got told to wait in the bike rack area, the ferry unloaded and told ‘cyclist first’ so onboard and parked Polly in her rack and upstairs to enjoy the sun and the view from the observation deck at the stern of the ship.
A fine end to such an enjoyable day….
I hurried off the boat to find I had time to wait on the train, today the trains have areas for bikes but as this line is normally quiet, there are no problems..
I mentioned earlier no more steepish ascents….
there was the 430 ft rise to home in just over a mile.
Legs of lead as I started up the main hill but two stops before I finally made home without any more breaks.
A quick wash down of Polly as I’d passed through some areas with some coo poo.
Dried off she was put to rest after a 48 mile day.
Would i do it again? Yes….
Where next? I know..