03.08.2011 - 06.08.2011
Once back on the road I realised how important rest days were. My legs felt very good, with good weather and beautiful scenery the road to Oban was very enjoyable, even met some Lands End to John O' Groats cyclists. They had van travelling in front with all their kit and food being sorted out for them. Seems like cheating to me.
I arrived in Oban and had just missed the 2.30 ferry to Mull, so I had an hour and a half to kill. Therefore I partook in my favourite activity, eating. I looked around Oban and found it to be a pleasant town. Went back to the ferry to find out it was delayed, this was going to leave me no time to cycle the fifteen miles to Tobermory to make the 6pm ferry to Kilchoan. I could have caught the bus to make the ferry, but that would have been cheating.
On making it to Tobermory I was about 20 minutes too late for the ferry, if you have ever been, the town is at the bottom of a steep hill. After eating and having a couple of pints I found out there was nowhere to stay so I had to go to the camp-site. At the top of the hill!!!
The following day I caught the ferry which is about eight miles from Ardnamurchan point, the furthest Western point of the UK mainland, this was my first extremity and I had cycled about 1,260 miles. The lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point is not the actual furthest West point although all the tourists (and even the girl who worked in the shop) think it is. It is actually at Carrachadh Mor, which is very close, just go back the road a bit then walk a mile and a half over the bog. I walked around the lighthouse and felt that seeing as I had cycled all this distance to go to the furthest West point I had to make the extra effort. Sometimes ignorance is bliss as the weather was very wet and so were my feet.
I left Carrachadh Mor and carried on in the drizzle, the type that soaks you right through, eventually made it to Loch Ailort and found the inn where I took my shoes off and stuffed them full of newspaper and asked if they had any rooms. there was no room left and I had five minutes to order food. After eating my steak I was contemplating having to sleep in my already wet tent with very wet clothes, the barmaid took pity on me and asked the landlady if there was anything they could do. Aileen let me have a bed in the bunkhouse, it is normally used for staff and was not to the usual standard for guest. It was luxury for me, I had a shower and could dry my clothes.
I rode on with dry feet and through some stunning scenery, rode to Mallaig and caught the ferry to Skye. Loch Carron was a highlight and I reached a speed of 52 mph down one of the hills. I climbed over the moor towards Sheidaig and received a phone call in a very remote area, after about fifteen seconds I looked down to see a cloud of midges. They feel like pins and needles being pricked into your skin. I hung up and jumped back on the bike, wiping the midges off my skin. It would really test a Buddhist monk to not kill one midge if they were to visit Scotland in the summer.
On reaching Sheildaig I realised there was something going on, it turned out that I had just missed a raft race around the island, but this was the start of their annual fete. There was live music and DJ's at an event called the Sheidaig sheepshed shuffle, because it was held in a sheepshed. In Devon it would be called a barn dance, I like their name better.
The locals were so friendly and on finding out what I was doing many of them insisted that I have a drink on them, with my rubber arm being so easy to twist, I ended up very very drunk. There was a very large bonfire, even though it was warm, to keep the midges away and I was amazed that the sky to the North never really got totally dark. I eventually made it back to my tent which was pitched right outside the pub in the centre of the village.
The following day was an unscheduled recovery day. I enjoyed the events that they had to part people from their money and the Ceilidh (Scottish music and dance) was the highlight of the Saturday night. I had to decline the offers of alcoholic drinks to the disgust of some of the locals and had an early night.