29.07.2011 - 02.08.2011
I camped near Annan and on getting going I decided I had 100 miles in my legs. The ride was beside the Solway Firth, which is beautiful on both sides, but the Scottish side reminded me of Devon where I grew up. I stopped in Kilcudbright for food in the afternoon at the Harbour Cafe, lovely food, good art on the walls, good jokes in the male toilet (See below) and the best chocolate fudge cake I've ever had. The waiter said it had 1,200 calories and my only regret is that I only had one slice.
I still had over 30 miles to go to do the hundred miles and I pushed on to Newton Stewart, made it as the sun was setting and passed the mark for the first time on a bicycle. Had to ride a further three miles to find somewhere to camp, with a real sense of achievement.
I woke up early and got going, soon broke the other pannier rack, not impressed with Blackburn low riders. Stopped in Wigtown for food and I had totally forgotten about lorne (square sausage), it cooks easier and fits straight into a sandwich, lovely. They gave me directions to Kirkcowan where there is a cycle repair shop. Brian was very helpful in servicing my brakes and cleaning out my drive train, but he could not weld the pannier rack. Thanks Brian, it was nice to have brakes again, he also gave me a few parts like brake and gear cables, because if they broke in the North of Scotland he told me there was no cycle shops.
I missed a slight bit of the coast by getting the bike fixed,but then headed up towards Stranraer and onto Turnberry, This has to be one of the grandest club house of any golf course. I slept in the woods nearby and heard a bird screeching as it got dark, thinking it was a chick that had fallen from the nest, I assumed it would be killed by a wild animal soon. On reflection I think it was a young owl, as it carried on all night, apart from a few times when I assume the parent came back to feed it. It stopped at first light, so I could get some uninterrupted sleep.
I cycled up to Ardrossan and then took the ferry to Brodick on Arran, this was a bit of a cheat but it saved me a couple of hundred miles. It was only about fifteen miles on Arran and I shared that with a patent clerk from Leeds (sorry forgot the name), he was touring around Scotland on his bike, but staying in B&B's so travelling much lighter than me. I made it over to the Mull of Kintyre that day and headed towards Cambeltown. They say that Kintyre is the most beautiful part of Scotland, but I just couldn't see it myself.
I camped in a forest near Carradale, when it is wet a forest give some protection from the elements, this forest had a thick carpet of moss of about six inches. Along with my thermorest it was as comfortable as my bed at home.
The weather was slightly better the following day, visibility was better but still wet. After a meal in Campbeltown I headed up to Lochgilphead. I was visiting my ex-wifes parents, Jane and Simon Powell, where they were staying with friends of theirs, Ali and Dino Wright. On asking someone for directions he looked at me and said "You'd better be fit." By this time I had done about 1,150 miles, so I was getting there. I hadn't had a rest day so far in 17 days. Time for a break. All I did was eat, sleep and play with Shenzi the Jack Russell. Shenzi is Swahili for uncivilised or uncouth. As a Jack Russell owner myself, it couldn't be more apt.