We rendezvous at Glasgow coach station with all our luggage for a few days of cycling. We are heading to Campbeltown, a small town on the south east end of Kintyre and then on by bike to Arran. The coach takes just over 4 hours and passes through some spectacular countryside via Loch Lomond. As much as I love the Lake District and our other national parks in England, you really cannot compete with the sheer scale and rich colours of Scotland’s rugged landscape. As we travelled down the Kintyre Peninsula the mixture of mountains and lochs became more dominated by the sea.
The coach arrives into Campbeltown at midday and we make our way over to the hostel. Campbeltown Backpackers is situated smack bang in the middle of the town in an 18th century school which has recently been renovated and now boasts a very modern and comfortable interior. Light wells in the ceiling create a fantastic bright and airy communal kitchen and seating area. The kitchen is big and has all the equipment you need to cook your favorite food!
As we enter our dormitory we are met by two fellow guests, Bob and Bob (yes they really were both called Bob). Both travelled by motorbike all the way to the Kintyre Peninsula from Bournemouth! We exchange a few words with the ‘two Bobs’ over a cup of tea and then decide to leave them be and head out to collect for a pint! The next morning we grab some breakfast, collect our bikes from the bike hire and head out for day 1 of our trip, cycling down the east coast of the Kintyre Peninsula to the Arran Ferry.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Blue skies and a cool breeze! We cycle along the coastal road from Campbeltown all the way to the ferry port at Claonaig which I must say was one of the hardest roads I’ve ever tackled on a bike! Rarely flat, the road is constantly twisting and turning and takes you along some hellish steep sections, some roads offering us a delightful 16% gradient to pedal. Greg, the more accomplished cyclist out of the 2 of us handled the ride like any other day. I on the other hand, struggled from start to finish. If I knew the road was going to be like that I’d have stayed at the pub…
We eventually make it to the ferry port just as the ferry is docking, we cycle onto it, lock up the bikes, and head into the passenger cabin to eat lunch! We were on the ferry from the tip of the Kintyre Peninsula to Lochranza on Arran. After 30 minutes of eating everything we brought with us, we successfully refuel our tanks and cycle off the ferry into Lochranza to start the next leg of the journey. We cycle down the west coast of Arran all the way down to Blackwaterfoot, a small village overlooking Drumadoon Bay. Thankfully this side of Arran is relatively flat and offered us no real challenges which meant we could enjoy the view the whole way! We arrive into Blackwaterfoot at around 4pm and begin a search for a place to set up camp. We pass a man walking his dog and ask him for suggestions and as luck would have it he offers us his back garden to camp in. We pitch the tent and then head to the beach to cook up a well deserved BBQ before heading to the pub!
The next morning we are greeted by 9 million starving midges as we frantically try to take down the tent. If you thought packing away a tent was tedious, try doing it while half of planet’s midges are trying to bite you. Not fun. Our neighbours invite us in for a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. We explain to them our plan to cycle around the Island and they help us plan our next stage of our route to Broddick on the east side of the Island. We finish our bacon sandwiches, say our goodbyes to our friendly hosts and hop back on our bikes. This leg of the journey offered some amazing views of the ocean and neighbouring landscapes, which were made even more enjoyable due to the blues skies and hot weather! The road took us around the bottom end of Arran with some great views of Holy Island and the small uninhabited Ailsa Craig, a tiny island formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano.
We make it into Broddick at around midday and find a little cafe close to the ferry port for a bite to eat. The Little Rock cafe is set back from the main road and offers breakfast, brunch and lunch options. We smash down 2 chicken burgers in a matter of minutes and settle in for the inevitable food coma… With the chicken burgers settled, we jump back on the bikes to tackle the final stage of the journey – back to Lochranza. This journey offered us some challenging yet rewarding climbs out of Broddick along the east coast of Arran and takes us through some very pretty villages along the way including Lamlash and Corrie.
We eventually make it back to Lochranza for 5pm and drag ourselves back onto the last ferry of the day, taking us back to Campbeltown for a midge free night in comfy beds at the hostel. Job Done!