Crinan Canal to Colintraive
The Nodgester and I set off early to cycle along the canal to Aidrishaig Lighthouse whilst the boys had another dance off!
A short, sharp, shock of a hill with a 17% incline guarded the entrance to Tabert making it only suitable for those with strength of heart and legs. I wimped out half way up only to be scolded by a lorry driver.
The sun was shining and the castle ruins cast shadows down onto the fishing village below. Despite several volunteers to watch the bikes from within our team, I managed to chain them together and frog marched the whole team to the top of the hill.
The views were stunning and the guys set about composing creative insta photos using Nodge as a prop.
From our vantage point we could see the ferry which reminded us that it was time to scoot down the hicontinue our journey.
A really helpful elderly gentleman, who was also a fellow cyclist, informed us that we had missed the current ferry but could catch the next one in 40 mins. He also went on to describe a coastal route worth exploring on the Isle of Bute.
With time to kill Mario, Kajtas and Faton returned to the village in search of pies.
The ferry that had been but barely visible in the distance was now growing in size as it approached the dock.
The car boarded and we loaded our bikes but there was still no sign of the boys.
As the horn signalled final boarding, the boys, cycling at top speed, came flying down the hill and onto the ramp. Agron was disappointed! He was hoping to leave them on the dock whilst smugly waving farewell.
It transpired that the problem had been Faton’s soup which he had struggled to carry whilst on the bike, spilling most of it along the way. As we sat upstairs on the boat, Faton prepared to sip his well earned soup. However, a gust of wind slopped it on the deck. It was minestrone soup and set the captain and crew into a tizz as they believed Faton to be suffering from sea sickness!
I’m sure they thought we were terribly callous as we all stood around and roared with laughter.
The brilliant sunshine and brisk sea breeze touched our beaming faces as the salty spray stung our cheeks. We all sat looking out at the over the sea fully content and surrounded by nature.
20 minutes later we arrived at Portavadie which is a strange place – like a modern holiday resort but totally desserted and abandoned. No sooner were we on our bikes than we hit a 12% incline followed rapidly by a 15%!
If you had to live till eternity with one view – this would be it. Of course the moment was somewhat spoilt for me as I approached (last as usually) only to be presented with the boys taking a pit stop – or piss stop to be more accurate. At least two of them were … Kajtaz appeared to have lost something? Ah – the joys of being the only girl on the team trip!
This was the first occasion on the trip when a steep incline offered an equally steep downhill.
Mario earned Strava’s King of the Mountain on this downhill with the fastest time ever although his video feature a heavy breathing shadow, empty road and whizzing hedgerows. – for 7mins!
Directly at the bottom of the hill was a crossroads and obviously Bute don’t believe in speed bump warnings so Kajtas, unable to brake hard due to his broken wrist, went at break neck speed across the junction just seconds before a car. Someone was certainly watching over him!
Tignabruiach, is a coastal town still visited by cruise liners although no where near as many as in it’s hey day. The instruction was to avoid entering the village as the road out was a long 9k 17% incline. My life – this was a killer and a half. I had to stop half way up as my lung threatened to burst through my chest in an alien like recreation.
Thinking the boys were ahead and wouldn’t see me having a little rest stop I started to walk reminding my legs that there were in fact made of muscle and not jelly.
At that point all the boys sneaked up behind me cheering and guffawing at the same time. I was caught red handed!
As they continued to cycle strongly up the hill I was suitably shamed and got back on my bike! Faton waited for me (or the boys left him – not sure which!). It wasn’t until I saw the photos later that I realised the lads had all stopped further down the hill for their breather!
As we started the heady descent I saw a view point sign next to a lay-by. Screaming – I pulled over and am so glad for here were the famous Kyles of Bute!
We could see the Colintrave Ferry zipping back and forth at our destination below and knew we we had almost completed another day!
With the promise of a long down hill from this point, Agron and Mario decided to race. There is still some dispute about times with Agron believing he beat everyone by at least thirty minutes (and one bowl of Cullen skink) compared to Mario who feels it was only 7 mins.
It’s a hard one to call – Agron is fast but also hungry?
3km from the Colintraive Hotel, Faton got his third puncture of the trip! I left him walking and taking photos, promising to cycle at top speed to the hotel to get help.
Stupidly, I took the scenic coastal route, suggested by the gent at Tarbert. Any other time this would have been lovely, but with the sun setting, midges rising and gravelly pot hole riddled road I couldn’t get any speed up at all.
I finally arrived at the hotel where everyone was eating bowl after bowl of Cullen Skink! Reluctantly, Mario and Rob left to rescue Faton.
We were so surprised by the quality of the wine and food that we had to ask and it turns out that the Colintrave was a husband and wife team from London. She had worked as a buyer for one of the most prestigious wine companies and he was a chef for Gordon Ramsey.
It was incredibly satisfying to hear how the skills learned in London paired with the fresh local produce created one of the best meals we have ever had.
We really can’t rate the hotel highly enough and will be returning for a weekend break at the first opoortunity. opportunity!