Tuesday 19th June – Day Eight

We started from Kilmarnock fairly early today, although the day was a bit shorter it was still 80 miles and rain was forecast for the afternoon. It was warm in the Car Park of the Park Hotel (very spiffy hotel next to the footy ground) but I was not fooled, was going to be a chilly day.

We had haggis on toast for breakfast which was great – very lovely!l

As I said I had looked at the temperatures for today (which were decidedly cool) and went for long trousers, undershirt, thermal winter shirt, gilet and full finger gloves…and I was not wrong, it was decidedly chilly once you you’ll out of the shelter of the car park and rode into the wind towards the coast.

Some of the more optimistic brethren were riding shorts and shirts with no under layers – brrrr! Not for me!

Almost immediately we rode through the 600 miles milestone! Some clever artwork was called for…

Joe had been promised ice cream yesterday and had been bitterly disappointed by the fact that the water stop was billed as an ice cream parlour but actually was on the A76 in a lay-by with views across the field of the ice cream place!

The first rest stop today was next to a famous ice cream parlour which hopefully allowed her to scratch that itch!

After a bit of riding we reached the coast at Ardrossan and we turned up the road to Lairgs with the sea to our right and the wind a manageable cross wind – much more preferable to yesterday.

The ride up the coast was great! We had lovely views of Arran to our left, although it was a bit misty you had a real sense the landscape was finally changing to the spectacular.

We regrouped at Lairgs, the ferry terminal was apparently windswept and cold and not a good place to wait! (Mind you Phil the organiser was dressed in t shirt shorts and flip flops, no wonder he was cold! Get some clothes on!)

There were some jolly photo ops at Lairgs…

Phil eventually allowed the first group of ten cyclists to head up to the ferry terminal, we had to cross in groups of about ten, and we all enjoyed the Callimac experience.

Simon Fisher is on our ride and we believe this is just a pseudonym – he’s clearly Phill Tuffnall!

I took the opportunity to have a couple of protein shots…

Then a few pics while we crossed the loch…

Mark Haggerty is too tall!

We rolled off the other side and the change in pace and scenery was fantastic! Quiet roads, beautiful tree lined riding on sheltered roads – all was amazing, suddenly we felt like we were in Scotland!

Sadly we didn’t get to see Dunoon, it’s a well known place for most Glaswegians and has a memorial to the Dunoon Massacre that I would have liked to see (it was unfortunately a three mile detour and we were close to lunch).

The history of Dunoon is dominated by two Clans – Clan Campbell and Clan Lamont. The Earls of Argyll (Campbells) were hereditary keepers of Dunoon Castle paying the exorbitant rent of a single red rose to the sovereign annually.

In 1646 Clan Campbell massacred members of Clan Lamont in the Dunoon massacre.

The Campbells seem to make a habit of massacring people and I’m not sure I approve – we will pass Glencoe in a few days and that is another shameful family incident!  Will have to keep my head down and my identity quiet.

Dunoon used to be a destination of the Clyde steamers which brought Glaswegian holidaymakers to Dunoon – a journey known as going:

“doon the watter”

Billy Connolly once said:

“…there was a competition in a Glasgow newspaper, the first prize was a week in Dunoon, and the second prize was a fortnight in Dunoon.”

The Rev Dr Donald Currie Caskie was a notable Dunoon denizen.  During WWII he helped an estimated 2,000 Allied sailor’s soldiers and airmen escape from Occupied France.  He became known as the Tartan Pimpernel (what a top fellow).

All I know was that the riding was good, the weather clement and everyone relaxed after the previous stressful day.

Lunch (as usual very awesome, tomato soup and munificent spread provided by Ed and Larcen) was great and served in a barn in the Botanical gardens. Forecast was threatening rain but all kept dry and we rolled along the banks of Loch Fyne with stunning views over the water.

Interestingly at one point we were two kilometres from our hotel however this would have involved swimming the Loch! It was a 32km ride around the loch to get there…we chalked this fact on the road to advise the others!

James and I had promised ourselves we would have some oysters when we arrived at Inveraray, so we stopped at Loch Fyne where, with views of the Loch, a half doz n each was the order of the day…

They were awesome!!! Delicious, I know oysters generally only taste of what you pop on them but they were really nice. We were going to have a glass of fizzy wine with them but sadly eating oysters in the restaurant, which was licensed, was a lot more…so a glass of lemonade and oysters in the deli was what happened…it’s two feet from the posh bit!

He is enjoying them honest!

We then finished the last 8 miles into Inveraray, rain was due and we timed it perfectly arriving just as the rain started.

Inveraray means the ‘Mouth of the Aray’ (imaginative!). It’s the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyl who is the head of Clan Campbell. I’d normally be delighted about this but having read up about the Dunoon and Glencoe Massacres I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable with the Campbell Clan history.

The town’s motto is (bizarrely):

 ‘May a herring always hang to thee’.

The castles a bit special, it’s really a big Georgian Mansion House and played host to Queen Victoria and other Royalty.  It looks just like a Scottish castle should with the beautiful circular turrets topped with conical slate roofs. There is a fabulous view of it as you cycle over the bridge before you arrive in town.

The Duke rebuilt the town too, some of which (Inveraray Inn and the Argyll hotel amongst others) was designed by John Adam. The town, to the Campbells credit, became an attractive and prosperous place with accommodation for estate workers, a woollen mill and a pier to export herring.

Loch Fyne means Loch of the Wine (they must have known I was coming) is the longest of the sea lochs and is a sight to be seen in fine weather.  Loch Fyne kippers are big deal so we will look out for them at breakfast…

All in all a great day! Really made up for the horrid day previously…looking forward to the Great Glen and Fort William tomorrow. First climb is a horror though!

A fabulous dip in the pool and jacuzzi in the (rather posh) Loch Fyne Hotel finished the day before dinner. Dinner was very special -smoked mackerel, fish bouillabaisse and cheese! Score!

Mark won the spectacles of awesomeness for taking a dip in the Loch (he wasn’t about so Phil, who also swam, took them in his absence).

The Outil D’Or was taken home by Joe who carefully filled her water bottles then popped them in her rucksack which promptly disappeared off to lunch!

Enjoying the blog?  Please take time out and sponsor us!  Maurice and I are riding in support of Fresh Start – new beginnings, a treatment service for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  My just giving page can be found here and all donations go straight to the charity (my ride is 100% self funded).


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