Al & Moz’s Final (?) Tour of the Hebrides – part 3

Back at the campsite we had a nice quiet evening, then walked to the pub for a meal.

Now that beats traveling around the islands by bike.

Now that beats travelling around the islands by bike.

Scouting for birds.

Scouting for birds.

I'm not really sure what he's looking at though

I’m not really sure what he’s looking at though

A hooded crow!

A hooded crow!

I need a better camera. Although that would probably weigh more and take up more space.

I need a better camera. Although that would probably weigh more and take up more space.

The next morning turned out to be pretty dry (for the Hebrides). As we had a reasonably cycle ahead of us, we decided to take out time about getting packed up and start the morning properly with some coffee.

That's a damn fine cup of coffee

That’s a damn fine cup of coffee

After coffee, back to the familiar routine of rolling up the sleeping bags, packing up the tent, and trying to remember how to fit everything on the back of the bike 😉 Then, heading back along the road to Pennyghael, hopefully in time to miss the endless stream of tourist coach tours that run back and forth from Craignure to the Iona ferry.

This was certainly not a staged photo.

This was certainly not a staged photo.

I love the landscape of the Hebrides.

I love the landscape of the Hebrides.

The plan was to cycle up along the B road (avoiding the tourist coaches) and look into camping at the Killiechronan… Moz isn’t too sure about heading to Ulva. I suspect he’s still feeling pretty tired from Monday. I suppose fine dining in Italy, with only a bit of cricket for exercise isn’t great preparation for a cycling trip. I decide to just go with the flow: life at home has been somewhat stressful with job insecurity etc, so it’s nice just to spend the afternoon pedalling along the quiet roads in the sun.

No more tour buses!

No more tour buses!

The road nicely trundles along across the open landscape

Abandoned shed

Abandoned shed

We stop off again at Pennyghael, this time for a bacon roll, coffee and slice of lemon cake. You know, it’s important to eat well on trips like this.

Gurgling stream

Gurgling stream

Just after Pennyghael we turn west onto the quiet B-road. Very few cars, and the traffic is mainly made up of sheep.

Slow sheep

Slow sheep

The cycle up and over the peninsular took a while. We had a cheese and oatcake picnic near the top, and then up and over and a nice long downhill.

The view is that much better when matched with a downhill road

The view is that much better when matched with a downhill road

The weather has been surprisingly good… sunny enough that putting sun-cream on seems like a good idea!

We finally get to the campsite by the middle of the afternoon. It turns out to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with not much in the way of facilities, and it looks like there is going to be a group of kids staying there (working on their Duke of Edinburgh award). I suggest that we could just keep on cycling and get to the Ulva ferry by five pm. Moz doesn’t seem to sure but eventually decides its worth a shot. It’s not like we’d have much to do between now and sunset. So back on the bikes and off we go. It’s only another 7 miles or so anyway.

Of course, the downhills are somewhat scary with all that weight on the back of the bikes.

Rolling along the coastal road.

Turns out there’s a bit of hard work required to get up and over the final headland, and Moz comes close to running out of steam:

At least it's a nice afternoon.

At least it’s a nice afternoon.

We finally made it though, and just in time to wave the ferry man over to pick us up before he finished work for the day.

I think this sets a record for the smallest ferry we've been on.

I think this sets a record for the smallest ferry we’ve been on.

We’re a little apprehensive getting to Ulva as we arrive just after 5pm, and the Boathouse cafe. However in more good news, they’re happy to sell us some drinks and cake while they’re shutting up for the day.

After a pint, I think even Moz agrees that the effort was worthwhile. Ulva is very quiet and tranquil. Just what I need really. And they have beer from the micro-brewery on Colonsay!

Aaaah. That's better. It's a real shame the Machar and the Bobbin don't have a nice beer garden: I could get used to this.

Aaaah. That’s better. It’s a real shame the Machar and the Bobbin don’t have a nice beer garden: I could get used to this.

We stock up on supplies (as much beer as we can carry on the bikes) and head inland to find somewhere to camp. It turns out Ulva doesn’t have much in the way of roads.

Less of a road and more of a trail?

Less of a road and more of a trail?

Not exactly the best terrain for a tour bike. Not when we’ve already had a puncture. And, the road becomes more broken and rockier as we progress. Part of it is close to just walking up a steam – it’s a good thing it hasn’t been raining a lot recently. We end up dropping some of the bags off by the side of the road to pick up later.

If the sky stays clear, it's going to be a good night for stargazing.

If the sky stays clear, it’s going to be a good night for stargazing.

Looking back across to Mull

Looking back across to Mull

We find a nice quiet camping spot by the old church. We would have liked to have explored a little more, and maybe camped by the coast, but you’d need an off-road bike (or travel by foot) to explore properly.

Camping spot for the night

Camping spot for the night

It’s quite a melancholy building when you consider the size of it. I think it was built just before the clearances reached the island.

That's a lot of seats for an island with an adult population of ~6

That’s a lot of seats for an island with an adult population of ~6

The weather held, and we had a great evening cooking our camping food, drinking the beer (well worth the effort of carrying it up here) and watching the stars. I even saw a couple of shooting stars. Sadly, there’s no way my camera would do the starscape justice.

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