Forecast cloudy but a great sunny day instead. Pleasantly surprised. I am not complaining. Took the 940am ferry crossing to Skye. The 35 minute sail was smooth and spotted a few dolphins along the way. The sky begins to break into sunshine as the ferry approach the southern port in Skye. Energised by the great weather I zoomed off northwards along the coast towards the Kyle bridge where it connects Skye to the mainland. After that I cruised all the way to the campsite, stopping by a incredibly scenic castle called Eilean Donan Castle. Lots of tourist there. I left after taking a few photos.
After setting up my tent, I went for a short walk around the scenic area. I checked the forecast and it showed it will rain the whole day. Oh well. Let’s worry about that tomorrow.
It has been wet the past few days and my clothes are all damp and not really smelling great. The day was suppose to be rainy till 10am. I have a choice of making a dash of 13km to Malliag to catch a ferry to Syke and ride as far as I can and camp again or stay the night at Malliag in a nice BnB or Hostel.
In the morning, the wind was still brutal and it was bashing my tent violently. This lasted till 9am. Somewhere between 8am and 9am I decided to stay for the day T Malliag.
Started to decamp after the wind and rain died down. As I start my ride to Malliag, the weather cleared up and the sun begin to creep out from the cloudy sky. Some patches of blue give hopes that it will be a great day to be outside.
On reaching Malliag, I started to look around for a place to stay and saw a really quaint and centrally located bistro that offered accommodation. I asked about the price and it was reasonable so I went for it. The stay was hostel style but they have only 2 rooms and only for 10 pax. It’s not cheap at £21 but I get to share the room with one other person only and they have a huge well equipped kitchen, a very comfortable living room and big bathroom.
First thing was to dry my clothes. Just a place to hang near the heating was sufficient to dry all of them. Happy days ahead.
After that did a big of shopping for dinner and walk around town. The sun was already up and skies are blue so I decided to take a hike around the hills nearby. It was a short but spectacular hike.
I really enjoyed the day at Malliag and winded down the day with a few dram of my Jura single malt and finally crashed into a dry, comfy and cozy bed. Goodnight.
Basically rain the whole day. Waited for the rain to subside before decamping. I have heard that the landscape is dramatic along the coast to Arisaig. However the view is kinda dampened by the heavy fog and rain. Still with rain and heavy fog it offers a different kinda of dramatic landscape. Sometimes eerie sometimes mysterious but stunning no matter. Don’t be fooled by the photos. They are captured when Mother Nature takes a breather from her piss.
Not a nice day for riding I admit but must push on. Part of the experience. I was properly soaked wet arriving the campsite. I quickly set up my tent and had a quick dinner. Strong winds are expected tonight. Winds battered the tent basically the whole night. Oh well. Scotland.
All good things must come an end as they say. But for me all good things will be great memories waiting for it to continue the next time.
Roy offered to send me to the Oban ferry terminal on his camper van and I gladly accepted.
After saying goodbye to Liz, we headed off.
Rain is forecasted the whole day. Oh well just another day in Scotland.
The Ferry to Mull was uneventful and soon I was on the road again biking the east coast of Mull.
It started to rain and stayed pretty much grey. Despite this there were some great sceneries and vistas along the way.
It really started to poured and I was properly soaked. The wind also picked up and it was too dangerous to hide. So I took refuge in a cafe for awhile and warmed up with tea and scones before heading out again.
On reaching the ferry crossing back to the mainland and towards Kilchoan, the weather was turning nasty. I am told to better catch the earliest possible ferry as the later part of the day the weather will be worst and cancellations are possible.
So I hoped on the first ferry from Tobermory. Thankfully it was a short ferry ride. The sea was getting rough.
The campsite was scenic but I suspect too open for strong winds. So I found the most hidden spot to pitch my tent and hunkered down for the night.
Roy used to own a printing business and sold it and now is focusing on doing things that he wants and things that is meaningful and joyful. He keeps himself busy with volunteering for community projects in Oban and a tutor for the Social Enterprise Academy.
After a simple but wonderful breakfast, Roy and myself headed to town for our day out. First up is see the iconic McCraig Tower. Very unusual as you would thought that it was a structure built by the romans. But the Romans were never at Oban. McCaig was an admirer of Roman and Greekarchitecture, and had planned for an elaborate structure, based on the Colosseum in Rome. His plans allowed for a museum and art gallery with a central tower to be incorporated. Inside the central tower he planned to commission statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. His death brought an end to construction with only the outer walls completed.
After that Roy left to explore Oban town while he went to his office to catch up on some work. For a small town, there was incredibly at least 5 outdoor sports shops. I went to all them off course. Many shops have sale on and some great bargains. Before long I was to meet Roy for a simple lunch at the Atlantis Sports Center. This is one of the community project that Roy was involved. Basically the community took over the ailing swimming pool operations from the town council and developed it into a full blown community sports center from fund raising and some grants. What an inspiring project. It shows that when a community comes together magic happens.
After showing me around Atlantis , we headed to the Phoenix Cinema, another community project. The community took over this only cinema in town that was about to close down. The cinema now is thriving and the community now have a cinema to continue to go to.
Roy has an ambitious and interesting project called Healthy Town. He is going to pitch this project to the Board of Directors of Atlantis Sports center as they are a major stakeholder in this project. Roy invited me to attend with him this board meeting! Wow ! It was a great experience for me. Thanks Roy.
After the meeting we headed back to Roy’s place to pick up Liz to go for a fantastic seafood dinner. The dinner place was unusually busy so we manage to get a later slot at 815pm. With some time to spare, we watched the World Championship of Stone Skipping. Yes it is thing and it was on yesterday around Oban in a place called Easedale.
Dinner was fantastic and so was the company. With stomachs filled we went home and had an early night. Tomorrow, I plan toreach Kilchoan via Mull
As usual it rained in the morning. However it cleared up after awhile and looked like it’s going to be a great day of riding. That does not mean it will not rain. And it did. The rain and sun tango the whole day long each trying to show who’s boss. Me, crazing putting on and off the rain jacket.
The route started with a nice dedicated cycling lane via the canal and then back to country roads with fast cars and lorries.
I must have passed by at least 5 or 6 bodies of water. I am not sure if they are sea lochs or fresh water lochs. They all look the same to me. Spectacular and beautiful no matter.
Finally I arrived at Kilmore but google maps does not show Roy’s location so I had to call him to get directions.
Kilmore is a beautiful and scenic enclave housing estate next to a hill. Roys house was top of the hill. Was lost but decided to ask a couple of ladies if they knew Roy. They did and gave me directions to his house.
Roy and Liz welcomed me warmly, fed me and gave me nice comfy room to stay. Had a good chat with them and decided with Roy that I should stay on tomorrow so that he can show me around Oban and also the community projects there. Wow what a fantastic opportunity. I thank you Roy and Liz for that.
The cancellation continues. On arriving port Askig from Jura I was told the ferry to Oban was cancelled. Adoi. Not again. Anyway the next ferry out will be back to the main land the ferry back to Kenacraig is at 330pm. I had about 4 hours wait and the weather looked great, so I decided to leave my panniers at the ferry terminal office and rode off to explore more of Islay.
It was a fantastic opportunity to see more of Islay. I rode all the way to Bowmore and back with a quick visit to Caol Ila distillery and then back to the Ferry terminal to wait for the ferry back to Kenacraig. And then onwards to Tarbert again enroute to Oban by bike.
I am back to Tarbert again this time to quick shop for provision at
Coop and proceeded to search for a suitable site for wild camping.
Finally found a great spot north of Tarbert. Picked a wonderful spot with a fantastic view over the Tarbert bay.
The ground area was small and surrounded by thorny wild plants. To get there I had to walk over a rocky field but it was worth it. Had. Quick dinner with a nice sunset view and tucked in early as it was getting cooler by the minute.
Tomorrow will attempt to ride to Kilmore near Oban.
Roy whom I met at the SEA hub meeting has so generously offered to host me at his home in Kilmore.
It will be a longish 80km ride to Kilmore but I am so looking forward to it.
I came across this beautiful poem and thought I share it as it really speaks to me about Jura as I see it too. Here it goes
No Excuses But Honestly- Liz Lochhead
Hard to draw
Jura’s beauty –
foxgloves and fuchsia far too flashy for just black and white
hard to write –
the mountains with their purple passages
the long curve of empty road
the wide swathe of empty moor
the too-blue-for-Scotland sky
this intricacy of thistles
far too intent on being emblematic
The weather app I used called Meteo is a great app. Fairly accurate so far in Europe. I am not sure if it is as accurate in Malaysia or other places. Try in and let me know.
From the looks of the forecast, it’s going to be a great day of riding. Mostly cloudy but with sunshine most of the day. Rain ? Of course, after all this is Scotland. Rain was forecasted to be minimal.
I decided to push off around 9am as it started to rain in the morning. It was moody and cloudy as I started out but it cleared up after awhile and the Jura started to show it’s amazing scenery. Sparse, barren and rugged, it’s beautiful. It seem like I have the whole island to enjoy for myself. The ride was wonderful mix of undulating climbs and descends and some mini dragon backs here and there. All adding to the drama of the ride but nothing extreme.
The iconic triple mounds named affectionately by the locals as the Paps is so prominent in the land so barren. So much so for the longest time I was riding along it, me staring at it and it staring back at me. There were of course other native inhabitants like the
Jura cows, sheeps, deers and occasional flapping pheasants being spooked.
Jura is the place where George Orwell wrote the famous 1984. The house which he wrote this novel was at the northern most top and the most remote part of the island.
I rode as far north as I can until the tarred road runs out. I ran out of time and had to turn back to Jura ‘town’ before dark. So unfortunately was not able to reach George Orwell’s cottage.
The reverse direction riding back gave a completely different perspective of the landscape and just as stunning. However it started raining slightly and then more so. The multiple short intervals of start rain and stop rain really feels as if Mother Nature is having in continence and having to pee fain every 5 mins. This frustrated me as I had to put on and off my rain jacket so many times. After awhile I just kept it on. Upon arriving base camp Jura, I had a light leftover packed dinner and then had a quick shower before joining the locals for their barn yard concert of traditional music. After the concert, I returned to my tent to call it the night. It started to rain again. It was a great day of riding. I enjoyed Jura very much. So far it is my favorite.
Tomorrow off to catch the ferry to Oban and continue northwards. In Oban I am fortunate to have a Social Enterprise Academy fellow tutor host me. I am looking forward to meet Roy again and learn more about the Social and community projects in Oban.
I must say today was the best day of touring Scotland so far. Great weather and stunning vistas. Great weather does not mean no rain. It rains all the time so far everyday. Its about how often it rains and how heavy. Overall the rain today was minimal and a welcome change. There is truly beauty in not knowing. Well I thought this might ring true in daily life wouldn’t it ? Some of the greatest surprises and delights come from the unplanned. Share your story at the comments section below. What was the unplanned delight you have experienced so far.
Back to my trip. The initial plan got wrecked because after cycling furiously 17 km from Claonaig to Kennacraig ferry terminal, I was told the ferry to Port Ellen was cancelled. What! Anyway the next ferry to Islay ( Land of peaty single malts) was 1pm to Port Askig instead. Port Askig is around 30km north of Port Ellen. Oops. Change of plan. So decided to ride off to explore the area a bit since I had about 3 hours to spare.
I headed for the next town called Tarbert. Delight no. 1, what a quaint little town. Walk around it for awhile and decided to go into a bistro for brunch and bumped into a lady tourer from UK called Linda. I meet her on the big climb to Lochranza a couple days ago. So I join her for a great chat while trying to finish of the humungous serving of Scottish breakfast. I only manage half and the other half I kept for dinner.
We parted ways, she heading to Oban up north on the mainland and me back to Kennacraig to catch the ferry to Port Askig.
This time the ferry was even larger and very comfortable for the 2 hour plus journey. I spent the time mainly updating my blog and catching up on social media while plugged in to power up all my devices.
While on board, I was thinking what should I do for 2 days. My ferry to Oban from Port Askig is scheduled to leave at 12 noon on Saturday.
I finally decided to head for the Isle of Jura. Big reason is at heart of Jura in Craighouse, there is a campsite that cost only £5. Also I am told there is a music festival starting on Friday.
So on checking there is a short 5 minute ferry ride from Port Askig to
Feolin. From there it’s around 13km ride to Craighouse where the campsite is.
I am told that Jura is rugged and barren and the least populated of the Hebrides. And it looks like it.
On reaching Craighouse which have one hotel, one pub and one post office cum grocery and that’s that. Oh it helps that the Jura Whisky distillery is next door as well.
Paid the camping fee. I decided to stay for 2 nights since it’s value for money. Also there is a music festival starting tomorrow so a chance to join the festivities. Tomorrow my plan is to explore Jura further by riding as far north as possible before the road runs out and double back.
You might have read about it. Yes a big storm just ripped through North UK which includes Scotland. We were not spared. The storm already brewing last time as strong winds was battering my tent the whole night. I am told earlier that gale winds of up to 90kmh will hit us and likely ferry would be disrupted. I am told that I could take the 815 am and might miss the storm which is suppose to hit after 10am.
My plan was to take the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig and ride 17km to Kennacraig and take another ferry to Port Ellen in Islay ( you know, where the famous peaty single malts come from). It’s probably foolish to try to make a run for it so I decided to stay put for another night at Lochranza camp.
It started to rain in the early morning and I was glad I decided not to decamp. Over at breakfast some guy told me I should take down my tent as the winds are going to pick up to 100kmh. So I panicked and decided to quickly take it down. The winds already are slamming hard which made the taking down difficult. But I managed finally and stored all my stuff in the common day room. This is where most of us hang out during the storm.
The storm comes and goes and finally late afternoon the intensity was reduced significantly and it was safe to walk. Still a bit gusty but safe.
I decided to spend the time by visiting the Arran Distillery next door. After that I went for a walk to the ferry terminal and visited the castle nearby.
Had a simple dinner and call it the night. Tomorrow is reported to be great weather.