Al & Moz’s Final (?) Tour of the Hebrides – part 1

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So the good news is that in-between attending CVSS in the Black Forest, Germany, and ECVP in Liverpool, England, I just about have enough time to head off to the islands again this summer! And, even better, Moz is back from Italy and has just enough time to go on an adventure before he’s due back at school. My plan is to get the train down from Aberdeen to Linlithgow on the Monday, while Moz drives north from Manchester. We then have time to get packed and have some lunch at Linlithgow before heading up to Oban to catch the last ferry to Mull.

A bright sunny start to the day. Let's hope it will be like this over in Mull. All week. We can but dream, right?

A bright sunny start to the day. Let’s hope it will be like this over in Mull. All week. We can but dream, right?

The drive up to Oban turns out to be longer, and wetter, than we were hoping for. Some heavy rain and long delays due to road accidents means that we don’t get to Oban until well after the last ferry had sailed. I suppose the upside of camping is that it’s usually easy enough to find somewhere to stay when these things happen, and we pitch up in a very muddy, water logged campsite. Still, beer and a pizza are an ok way to round off a long day travelling.

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Tuesday morning and the weather is ok, and we’re off to a reasonably early start. We drive a little way into town, find a safe parking space, and load up the bikes.

Trying to remember how we fit everything on the back of the bike.

Trying to remember how we fit everything on the back of the bike.

The crossing over to Mull went pretty smoothly, and we even saw a dolphin. Although I failed to take a photo in time, so here’s a lighthouse and a castle instead.

As promised, a lighthouse...

As promised, a lighthouse…

and a castle.

and a castle.

We get in mid morning and head off! The first leg of our journey is should be 37 miles to a campsite at Fidden, by the ferry port for Iona. And then, mini-disaster! Not being used to the weight of the pannier bags, I clip a parked trailer with the left bag and break the clip. Crap.

Although, luckily, it turns out I’m super organised and great. And I have two spare bungie chords with me! Job done. Right, onwards!

Judging from the cycle out of Craignure, Mull is a lot more fertile and forested than some of the other islands we’ve been to.

Moz now has a cycling top!

Moz now has a cycling top!

However, after a little while, the trees disappear and we’ve back to the lovely, slightly bleak Scottish landscape.

with plenty of pretty waterfalls

with plenty of pretty waterfalls

And disaster strikes. Just as we’re getting into the swing of things, and it’s sunny, and generally great, I suddenly notice that my back tyre appears to be pretty flat. After pulling over at a convenient passing place, I confirm it really is a flat tyre, sit down, and scatch me head. Good thing I packed spare inner tubes. I wonder if I packed the RIGHT spare inner tubes, as I still have some from my old bike, and I’m on not entirely sure which is which. Well, we’ll try anyway right? Not as if there’s anything else to do for the time being.

Well, at least it isn't raining

Well, at least it isn’t raining

Turns out getting a road tyre off a bike wheel is difficult. Eventually I manage it, and after an equal amount of time faffing trying to get the tyre back on the wheel with the new tube, we’re eventually good to go. I have to say, I’m quite impressed with myself. Roadside repair done, job’s a good un. Onwards! To Lunch!

Not to mention, rotting boats.

There’s something sad about these boats left high and dry.

 

We stop off at Pennyghael for lunch (Isle of Mull cheese and oatcakes!), admire the scarecrow, spot what is possibly a golden eagle, and set off for the second half of today’s leg.

We think those black pixels floating in the sky are an eagle.

We think those black pixels floating in the sky are an eagle.

I should be able to use this in a talk sometime... the otter roadsign came in useful as an example of visual salience

I should be able to use this in a talk sometime… the otter road sign came in useful as an example of visual salience

The afternoon’s cycle is pretty uneventful. We arrive in Phionphort for 6pm, in good time for a pub meal. Then it’s only another mile to the campsite. All in all, a good day.

I like camping by the coast.

I like camping by the coast.

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