And so leaving Lochranza behind with her deer and pretty castle I was off on the Calmac to Kintyre. Some other cycle tourists caught the ferry with me..a brother and sister who loved cycle touring though their bags were awffy heavy and they were tired after a hilly 45 mile route round Arran the day before. I was also feeling the weight a bit after the climb up to Lochranza. It’s been a while since I’ve hardly been able to sit down on the bike!
A wee short ferry trip and then a dash over the hills to Kennacraig for the Islay ferry to Port Askaig – my fav point of arrival up the little bit of water between Islay and Jura. We shared cycle stories on the boat over and drank lots of tea and ate toast. I’m usually proud of my lightweight packing though on this occasion it did have the downside of me no having maps!!!! It couldnae be that hard I reckoned…there aren’t too many roads on Islay and Jura after all! It was brill to chat through our routes right enough and compare cycle stories. The only bother with these conversations is I end up adding even more “routes” to my list of “musts”! One life, many adventures I guess!
It was a bit grey when we arrived in Port Askaig…even the paps of Jura were hidden in the greyness.
And I really felt the climb out of Port Askaig…up, up and up some more…from a sitting start! Thank goodness Orbit had it in her to get me to the top….and then it was off…well kind of..it started to rain..and it was that cunning rain…the kind that you hardly feel until you’re soaked through and know that later your legs will resemble corned beef! So a stop for my rain trousers which flap in the wind! I never seem to have quite the right stuff but try not to let it stop me. It was a bit of a damp and characterless cycle until I got to Bridgend where, mapless of course, I took the turn to Bowmore instead of Port Charlotte. It was only a few miles and I got to cycle round the lovely bay…my first real “glimpse” of “Islay”.
Bowmore gave me my first whiff of whisky and it was so nice! A perfectly intoxicating wind. I wandered around Bowmore a bit. It’s the biggest place on Islay and has a nice little round church at the top of the hill..round so the devil has no place to hide!
I got some provisions from the local coop and spoke for ages to the nice lady in the tourist info asking her where I might find the geese! She said “just look up”. She had that warm Scottish accent that takes the corners off harsh words and just makes you feel welcome and good. I met Colin and Julie in the tourist info. They were car camping and seemed like a laugh. They were looking for some live music and the warm accent advised that the Port Charlotte Hotel had live music from half eight.
After walking up and down the little streets, admiring a garden with a stream coming right through it and passing loads of folks on the way to the local baths (heated from the distillery) I got back on Orbit and headed to Port Charlotte.
I saw some geese on the way over. How clever are these guys? Each autumn they leave Greenland via Iceland and come to Islay for the hotter climes. Awesome…and we think we’re clever…I pondered whether they liked the whiffs of whisky too?