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April 4, 2018
Off season cycling: Our intrepid cyclist guest Marianne left us this morning, heading back to Craignure. She arrived two days ago, having first completed two sections of the “Wild About Argyll” bikepacking trail, with some family members, around 570K in total. Finding herself in Oban with a couple of days to spare, she decided to head to Mull and cycle the length of the south of the island from west to east; Craignure to Fionnphort. It was her first time on the Oban to Craignure ferry with her bike and she was pleased to discover that you dont have to book in advance, the bike was free and cyclists were first on, giving her the best choice of seat on the ferry. Marianne mentioned its worth noting that if cyclists are in a group of six or more they have to book ahead for the ferry.With the cycle securely stowed on the car deck, she enjoyed the stunning scenery of the crossing. Arriving at Craignure, cyclists were last off the ferry and her tip is not to go down to the car deck too early to avoid the fumes once engines are started up. A bonus in being last off of course was that all the traffic had cleared by the time she wheeled her bike onto the pier, avoiding cars trying to overtake her on the first stage of the journey on a single track road.
With 35 miles to go to Fionnphort, Marianne was delighted to find she had a steady tail wind from the east and reckoned it was the fastest she has every travelled by bike. En route she met cyclists coming in the opposite direction who assured her she was the lucky one. The first part of the route is the scenic Glen Road which goes through the foothills of the Ben More mountain range which were looking very pretty with their snowy tops. This is the only fairly steep uphill gradient but Marianne felt it was quite comfortable in terms of effort. Soon she was on the downhill straight where she could see for miles as the landscape flattened out and the tip of magnificent Loch Scridain came into view. A herd of highland cows was picturesquely set with the backdrop of Ben More as she reached the village of Pennygael, whcih is around the half way point. The Post Office was offering soup, sandwiches and coffee/tea – this sort of pit stop is essential for cyclists in rural areas.
The rest of the route was very picturesque with Ben More Mountain reflected in the waters of the loch as the view to the west opened out to the sea with the Treshnish Isles and Staffa on the horizon.
In only 2.5 hours, Marianne sped past the Ross of Mull Bunkhouse to reach Fionnphort so that she could say she had cycled coast to coast. Luckily it was less than a mile back from Fionnphort to the Bunkhouse in the face of the wind.
Marianne appreciated the facilities for cyclists at the Bunkhouse, especially the cycle shed and the tap and hose for her bike and the lovely new bathroom with lots of hot water, the drying room and laundry facilities for herself, as she had been on the road for many days.
As Marianne set off this morning, the Glen Road was barely passable with snow and ice – we are looking forward to hearing she got through OK. Hopefully this will be the last snow of the year – the forecast for the next week is very promising!