Monday, 4 May 2009

Onwards to Arran, another 'blustery' and wet day

Frances, my host at Newark Farm at Sanquhar was a truly wonderul person. She cooked a mean breakfast at 7:30 and spoke lovingly of her late mother and how she coped with her blindness. The house was just like I remember my grandmother's, plenty of dark furniture and hairbrushes neatly arranged on the fireplace. I made use of the huge shower to wash a few things and watched then steam in front of a superb electric heater.

By 8:00 it was raining again so donned full waterproofs as l headed NW up the lanes. The wind had moved to a westerly but it was still hard going. I need to complete the 50 miles to Ardrossan by 14:45 to catch the ferry. I had planned to avoid the A76 but stayed on it to Cummock as it was easier and less hilly than the allternative.

I was obviously in Rabbie Burns country at his picture appeared on most village signs, I was intreged at the signpost to the Bachelor's Club, but never discovered what it was.

Even with Frances huge breakfast in me I struggled against the ferocious wind stopping for a coffee and photo at Dondonald Castle. Here I met up with Bill who was end to ending on his bike - camping- I didn't envy him. We cycled up the cycle paths to Ardrossan harbour guided by the maps on my GPS. Just as I was extolling its virtues we got to a dead-end - Ooops. The main cycle route followed a meandering river through Irvine, we had plenty of time to make the 3:15p.m. Ferry and it was a better option than the dual-carriageway. As we entered Ardrossan the path followed the sea-weed strewn promonade, testament to the severity of the westerly gale. Reached the ferry and the nearby ASDA, brought food for 2 days. Tomorrow's 60 mile ride to Oban to catch the 4p.m. Ferry will be impossible in this weather so I want to make sure I have all the food I need.

On the ferry's observation deck I could not see the mountains on Arran but when I arrived I recognised that these are the Arran's selling point-.that and the wind.

Cycling up the 700ft pass to Lochranza must qualify as my toughest hill climb ever, it was cycling in a wind tunnel. Walking would have been just as quick but I was cycling end-to-end so I ground up the long hill in my lowest gear. On a few occasions the wind across the road, so I turned my back sideways to try and catch some forwards component- just like a sailing boat's!

EVENTUALLY reached the summit and free-wheeled into Lochranza passed the closed distillery - unfortunately.

Vicki at the B&B (Castle Kirran) was a star and the shower was to die for. Joined some wonderful Scottish cyclists for a meal tonight at a hotel just round the coast. Talking with Alan, Shona and Moira (sisters) it seems to be a pedalling whisky tour, I'm very envious. Returned to B&B to discover a small donation from Gean in the room next door. The view from the B&B was breathtaking - castle and wild deer nibbling the grass - another long and very hard day - oh and its started to rain again.

Stats (excluding ferry!) 66 miles , climbed 5,692 ft on the road 7 hours.

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