This was billed as the day on which the weather would turn, with light rain afflicting our final day’s cycling. But would it? As I looked out of the window when I woke, the skies were still cloud free.
The bathroom window had unfortunately been left slightly ajar, admitting quite a few midgies! This was pretty minor compared to the clouds around our heads as we loaded our luggage back onto the tandem and prepared to roll off. The planned route was to cycle to the end of the loch, then cycle over Morvern to Lochaline (about 23.5 miles), catch the ferry to Fishnish on Mull, then cycle about 5 miles to catch the Craignure to Oban ferry. If we were able make the 11.55 Fishnish ferry, we’d probably make the 13.00 Oban ferry.
The ride along the loch was flat and easy going, with the water pretty smooth as there was no wind. The weather b this time was cloudy with sunny spells. However, the road was single track and motor traffic was quite disruptive to our progress. Eventually the road reared upwards. The climb itself isn’t spectacularly steep, bit it is quite long. And either it gets steeper nearer the top or we were flagging! Fortunately we didn’t encounter too much traffic on the way up, though we did have to stop twice to let vehicles past. Between the summit and Lochaline, there isn’t another major climb, and the road descends from pretty bare hillside through wooded valleys. It does undulate quite a bit and this, with passing motor vehicles made progress quite tiring. We did reach Lochaline in time for the 11.55 crossing. The ferry is quite small, and the provision for bikes seems a bit lacking – not a problem for solo bikes, which can be stashed anywhere, but finding a suitable spot for the tandem required some originality!
The crossing takes only 15 minutes, and even after waiting for the motor vehicles to disembark, we were off and riding by 12.15. The ride to Craignure is pretty straightforward, though pretty dull, as the road is lined with trees which cut out the views. We reached Craignure about 20 minutes before the ferry was to leave, and by the time we boarded (before motor vehicles), there were about a dozen cyclists of one kind or another. By this I mean some were clearly touring (like us) while others were merely using their bike as transport for themselves and quite a bit of baggage only short distances.
The crossing takes about 45 minutes, and motor traffic was unloaded first. Riding out into Oban after over a week on the Isles and west coast is always a shock to the system – Oban can be a surprisingly busy and bustling town. We quickly found ourselves negotiating traffic jams as we made our way back to the garage to pick up the car. By 14:15 we’d transferred our baggage to the car, mounted the bike on the rack and were driving home from Oban.
We had no rain at any point in our tour – we had 9 dry days cycling in Scotland! That’s unprecedented in our tours. As we approached the Forth Road Bridge, the rain began…