West coast islands
I am very lucky, I live on the Clyde Coast over looking Arran
within easy cycling distance of the ferry.
I was looking for an objective post Munro bagging and came up
with the bright idea of reaching the highest points on each of the
islands and using the bicycle to get to the bottom of them. This
little project has provided me with much entertainment over a
number of years and is still not completed.
Late May or early June in my opinion present
an fair chance of some settled weather
in Scotland and I have I have frequently used
the Arran access route to get a quick
start into the Highlands and Islands.
Taking the 50 minute crossing means I can be
in the highlands without the necessity
of the long tedious drive up Loch Lomond
After the mini rush as the ferry
passengers and vehicles disembark at Brodick things quickly quiet down and off I go
round the island or along the 15 miles to Lochranza to catch the CalMac ferry to Claonaig.
Six miles across the Kintyre peninsula is
Kennacraig, the pier from which the ferry to Islay
can be caught either to Port Ellen or Port Askaig.
I noticed on my first trip to Islay that the
Wednesday ferry to Oban calls in at Colonsay on
the outward run and again on the inward run
giving four hours or so on the island. More than
enough time for a circular tour, a walk to the
highest point, a picnic at Garvard and a snooze in
On Islay I recommend the B8016 out of Port Ellen as it has more variety than the A road and
some protection from the elements. The highest point on Islay is Beinn Bheigier. It is 491m
high and easily ascended from Claggain Bay. Along the road from Port Ellen to Claggain Bay is
Laphroaig Distillery, I was tempted but time was pressing as I had a hill to climb, Bowmore to
visit and a camping spot near Port Askaig to find.
To give myself an easier time on the Paps of
Jura I cycled to near the base of Beinn a
Chaolais to start the walk over the three peaks.
If you venture this way on a hot sunny sweaty
day like me, keep your eyes pealed for a
beautifully cool fresh spring on the south east
side of Beinn an Oir. It is not big but the extra
green around it gives it away. Lovely..
Back on the mainland I found the A83 from
Kennacraig to Lochgilphead a bit busier that I would
have liked, but at the start of the Crinan canal at
Lochgilphead thing got much quieter. The road over
the Knapdale peninsula to Kintraw I remember as
hard work and again up and over to Kilninvar
involves another climb. I enjoyed a diversion here
over the “Bridge over the Atlantic” to Easdale on Seil
and over to Luing’s highest point, which presents an
exceptional view over the Firth of Lorn to Mull.
Mull is a wonderful island, I certainly feel it is worth
lingering there while on route to Ardnamurchan.
When my wife and I were cycling round Mull some
years ago we caught the bus to Iona as we felt the
double cycling distance was just a bit much to add
to the trip.
Iona is such a restful place and we were lucky to have a lovely sunny day. We chose to walk
off the beaten track and spent some time at the north end of the island on a lovely white
beach. I also recall the pink granite rock in the sunlight as we made the short crossing ferry.
Some years later I ascended Ben More as my 200th Munro and later again I cycled through
Mull on route to Mallaig and Rhum.