2012 Summer Tour – Day 8 (Mallaig to Strontian)
The weather forecast didn’t bode well for today’s ride – it was predicted to become overcast with light rain. In the end, the weather improved as the day went on, and as it turned out, evening in Strontian saw completely clear blue skies. We’d phoned ahead to arrange the accommodation in a B&B near Strontian.
After another fine breakfast, we rolled out of Mallaig along the main road. This isn’t very busy first thing in the morning, particularly on a bank holiday. Nevertheless, we always get abuse from at least one driver who thinks we should be riding on an entirely inadequate cycle path (this is really the only place this ever happens!). This path is about a metre wide and is shared by cyclists and pedestrians in BOTH directions. Anyway, we ignored the abuse and kept to the road, and soon traversed the ups and downs of the road, reaching Lochailort in quick time.
The Skye ferry arriving at Mallaig just before we rode out of town
Looking over to Skye
Loch Ailort is a lovely sea loch, and there are numerous opportunities to stop and admire the view (in common with much of the country we cycled through, Loch Ailort is seeing quite a lot of housebuilding). Indeed, we dawdled along until Glenuig, where another of my favourite road signs is to be seen (watch out for elephants). From Glenuig, the road goes up and up, until it descends to Loch Moidart. We stopped beside the road to heat up some lunch. Here we were much amused by watching seagulls stamping on patches of seaweed, presumably to scare tasty morsels out. From Kinlochmoidart (at the end of the sea loch), the road climbs once again – this is the section being worked on and about which we were warned about. Fortunately (as we’d figured out with the aid of Google) no work was going on due to it being a bank holiday.
The tide was out in Loch Moidart
Once over the newly rebuilt road, we descended into Acharacle, where we stopped for ice creams at the village shop, before once again climbing over to Salen and Loch Sunart. The road from there is delightful, with mixed broadleaf woodland, and stunning views. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of a whole succession of switchback climbs and descents on singletrack. At one point we stopped to look at some seals basking on a rock.
Eventually, we reached the turnoff for our B&B for the night, Heatherbank. This is a really nice B&B about 2 miles up a lane. The landlady was a bit apologetic about the solvent smell – it sounded as though she’d had a difficult family who’s kids had felt-penned on the carpet. As it turned out, the TV remote was dripping wet (presumably the handiwork of the same kids) and we had to dry it off before it would work properly. Heatherbank is quite a way up the hill from the Strontian Hotel. Fortunately, there’s a Tearoom/restaurant about halfway up the hill: after getting cleaned up, we walked down for dinner (we had venison). Returning to the B&B exposed us to midgies (the first of our trip), but walking briskly left them behind. Checking the weather forecast suggested the weather might be about to turn.
Heatherbank B&B. In a super location up the hillside from Strontian, this is another excellent B&B, very friendly, well-appointed and with another great breakfast. WiFi was available.