Land's End to John O'Groats Cycletouring Trip Part 2

Day 8 - Irvine to Lochgilphead

I cycled out of the Cunninghamhead Estate campsite and back towards Irvine. I found myself in a shopping area which could have been in Irvine or Stephenson - following on from yesterday I was never sure exactly where I was until I got to Androssan later in the day.

Anyway, I was walking the bike through this shopping area and looking with interest at Tams Motor Factors and Bike Shop that I had drawn level with, when the owner came out to empty his bins. For the past few days I had been looking in every cycle shop I had come across to try and locate a spare rear derailleur. I had had no luck as the model I needed was a rather obscure one, and this shop didn't look big enough to have the part I needed so I was looking sheepishly at it.

He was a really friendly chap, and the conversation followed the now familiar pattern of: Where have you come from?, Where are you going?, Are you doing it for charity? and Are you really doing it alone? etc, and I casually mentioned that I was looking for a new derailleur. I was shocked to see him disappear confidently into his small shop and come out with the exact part I needed in his hands - a reverse pull, 7 speed Shimano Megarange rear derailleur. It was a little more expensive than the ones I had bought before but it looked much stronger, and I was happy to pay the £30 for the peace of mind of having a backup, as the one on the bike was in a questionable state.

Very happy with my star purchase I carried on to buy food and send another parcel of completely unnecessary items that I had brought with me on the trip back home to reduce weight. At Androssan, I bought my ferry tickets and met another cyclist, Dave from Northern Ireland at the terminal. He was on his way to Iona and had travelled from Belfast this morning on another ferry to Troon. We were going to be going in a similar direction for a few miles.

We were interested in knowing what the population of the Isle of Arran was so I spoke to the woman selling the ferry tickets. She told me that in the winter, the population of Arran is about 7000 people, but many of the homes on the Island are 2nd homes so in the Summer this rises to 10000 or so. She said that there were many school age and elderly residents but that there was a marked absence of middle aged people. Looks like people leave for college or University and then don't come back.

Image of my Isle of Arran ferry ticket

On the Isle of Arran, we arrived at the port of Brodick which was much busier than I had expected. It reminded me of how I felt at Bowness on Windermere last year - nice place but shame about all the tourists and commercialism.

I headed up the coast for the 15 mile journey to Lochranza where I would then get the Ferry to Claonaig on the Mull of Kintyre. This 15 miles was pretty flat with only some elevation in the last 2 miles or so. Just out of Brodick I was narrowly missed by a motorhome which carried on up the road despite my waving of limited numbers of fingers in his general direction. I caught up with him at the perfumery up the road where he had parked up and gave him an ear full.

Dave had initially decided to go the long way round but changed his mind and we met up about half way to Lochranza. We got the smaller ferry to Claonaig, and cycled up to Tarbet where Dave stopped for the night. I wanted to carry on to Lochgilphead where there was a campsite, so we agreed to meet up somewhere along the route the following day.

As I travelled out of Tarbet I sustained another puncture, the second one in 2 days, and also some damage to my derailleur from the trailer. After this initial uphill section it was mainly level all the way to Lochgilphead. The campsite was a good one, and cost £5 per night with free showers. However, there were a lot of midges flying around and it was impossible to cook and eat in peace. I used my insect repellent for the first time as until here I had only heard about these famous midges.

Later in the evening I dropped into a pub in the town and talked with some locals. I met a guy called Duncan who was travelling to the Isle of Skye the following day. Everyone was joking that I should tag a lift or catch hold of the back of him as he passed me tomorrow! - This was where I was heading in the next few days. He also joked about making fantastic progress and then joining the queue of traffic at Oban. He agreed to give me a hoot as he passed.

Other conversation in the evening was about Lochgilphead being the centre for the county services and also that people come here for the larger Spar shop than in the outlying regions.

I retired back to the campsite for the night. Distance today was 50 miles measured by a piece of string on the map.

Photograph of Tams Auto Spares and Cycle Repairs shop
Tams Auto Spares and Cycle Repairs

Photograph of the ferry at Androssan
The ferry at Androssan

Photograph of the lifeboat on the ferry, and a distant view of the Isle of Arran
Lifeboat and distant view of the Isle of Arran

Photograph of a woman and two children feeding seagulls in flight from the ferry
Feeding the seagulls

Photograph showing a mountainous part of the Isle of Arran
Mountainous part of the Isle of Arran

Photograph of a castle and a boat at Lochranza with a low tide
A castle and boat at Lochranza

Photograph of a beautiful bay at Lochranza
The beautiful bay at Lochranza

Photograph of the ferry at Lochranza
The ferry at Lochranza

© Copyright  Piers Pettman - This page last updated 08 July 2006
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