Loch Fyne to Crinan Harbour
We woke bright and early and had a fantastic breakfast of scrambled eggs and Loch Fyne smoked salmon – not the measly thin slices you get in London but whacking great slabs of salmon.
Mario looked a little worse for wear and I’m not sure the over portioned full English including black pudding helped. None the less, we fortified ourselves for the day ahead.
Again, the staff at the Stagecoach Inn couldn’t do enough for us and even helped bring out all the bikes and get us set up and ready for the off. Rob, as usual, was amazing and got the bikes and us ready for the day.
The weather wasn’t on our side and a light murky drizzle persisted for the first stint of the journey.
With Mario and Kajtaz dillydallying, Agron decided just to leave them and set off for Inveraray.
Faton and I exchanged a ‘how rude’ look … then I quickly grabbed my bike and he grabbed his phone!
Our first stop was the tea room at the beautifully enchanting Inveraray Castle. Even in the rain the castle was magical.
The tea room sadly was not. It’s difficult being in catering and going elsewhere as we can often be hyper critical however our order of 5 coffees, one hot chocolate and a cup of tea seemed to confuse the service team. In fact the barista left to get tea bags and never returned.
Despite the weather, we decided to use all our photography skill and prowess to capture the beauty of this fairytale castle.
I set off ahead of the guys, whose ‘go slow and enjoy the scenic countryside’ lasts for a full 2 minutes before they are again racing and challenging each other and leaving me behind.
This part of the journey takes you away from the stunning coast, up over the moors and past the outdoor homestead museum. After endless climbing the road appeared to offer a much welcomed descent. Don’t be fooled though … this was just a cruel optical illusion creating what is known as a gravity hill or ‘the hill that goes down but goes up’. So whilst the road ahead promised a fast descent, I was actually pedalling my heart out whilst hardly moving!
The lads were too fascinated by the sheep to notice!
Finally, I arrived at Lochgilphead aptly named as it is at the head of Loch Gilp. It’s a vibrant hub in Argyl and pretty much has a shop for everything – including bike parts and spares.
At this point, I was still on my own but watching over my shoulder for Agron who would be determined to catch me.
Our hotel for the evening was at Cairnbaan by the side of the Crinan Canal. We arrived one by one and in military fashion were directed to suitable seats for our socially distanced celebratory drinks.
The guys weren’t ready to throw up their clogs yet though so choreographed an XFactor worthy dance routine. PayPal me £50 and I will send it to you privately, as I have been warned, on pain of death, not to share it here!
The days journey didn’t end here though – a 10k cycle along the canal tow path takes you past Dunardy Locks and onto Crinan Harbour. We had tried to book into the magnificent Crinan Hotel but the COVID Pandemic had temporarily closed the hotel. If you are in the area though, this is the hotel to stay at. It will take your breath away.
We did manage to dine in the hotels Seafood and Oyster Bar. The manager, in highwayman style, pointed a temperature gun at each of our foreheads. To be honest, the food wasn’t that great so perhaps if he had said ‘your money or your life’ at that point it would have been a truer reflection of the evening.
Turns out he need not have worried about testing us for COVID symptoms. The temperature reading was 31 degrees so we were, in fact, all dead!
Still, nothing will take away from the magic of Crinan Harbour especially as the sun was setting. If you are ever in the area you must walk the path between the canal and the sea. It is one of life’s treasure box memories.
Slightly merry, we took the Robster taxi back to the Cairnbaan Hotel to finish the evening with a snifter of MacAllan 1926! (JK)
Additional Note if Visiting Argyl
We didn’t have sufficient time on this occasion to visit the Corryvrekkan whirlpool but having taken a tour with Venture Charters last year I can highly recommend the trip. It leaves from Crinan Harbour and Sandy, the Captain and Owner, has such a wealth of information about the area that it’s an excusrsion not to be missed. The Corryvrekkan is the 3rd largest whirlpool in the world!