The combination of a triumvirate of snorers in the room, of whom a large German photographer was the outright winner, and plywood bed bases that creaked any time any one moved on them, ensured that a peaceful night’s sleep was not had by all. To my retort of “Ah, les gonfleurs” (“Ah, the snorers”), the French chap in the room replied “All night long!”. We were together in our misery.
My mood was lightened somewhat by looking out of the window and finding that although there had been some rain during the night, it was not as foggy as the previous day had been. I wandered down to the ferry dock and asked a likely looking individual (in fact the only one in the vicinity), and he said that the ferry was indeed running. On the way back to the hostel I bumped into a ginger cat, a rather famous cat it turns out. For it was none other than the Tobermory cat! I had seen a postcard the day before with a picture of it on and the caption “Famous for being famous”. You can’t argue with logic like that. In true celebrity style, the cat refused to look at the camera, and the result below is the best of a few I took. I spotted a book about the cat in a shop window not far from the creature itself.
During breakfast, I buttered the other scones that I had bought the previous day, as the one I had consumed had been rather dry without. I made the ferry with a few minutes to spare, and we set off on the dot of 9.30 am for the mainland. The day was a cool one, and I donned arm warmers and my windproof gilet on the trip over. I started the GPS tracker on my phone once we made land, and I was off. I had turned the data service off, to save the battery life, and it seemed to help.
After a climb as the road turned inland, there was a good view of Loch Mudle, a hill loch, before the road dropped down again to Loch Sunart, which I was to follow for the next 20 miles. On the descent, I stopped for a car, and the driver halted as he went past and, with his arm with its full tattoo sleeve leaning on the window, told me of a herd of about 35 deer he had seen just round the corner. Another lesson learned in not always going by appearances.
As I rounded the corner, I stopped pedalling, and the freewheel of my back wheel seemed to startle a few of the deer that were apart from the rest. I came to a halt while still pedalling, to silence the freewheel, and was able to get a shot of the deer on the hillside before they ran away down the hill.
A few miles further on I came to a place called Glenborrodale, which boasted a Victorian Gothic castle, along with signs that trespassers did so at their own risk. I thought that a cut out image of someone with their head being blown off might have reinforced the idea, but on reflection it may just be the needful thing in our blame culture. Anyhow, the castle once belonged to, if indeed it was not built for, Jesse Boot, who founded a well known chain of chemist shops.
Not long after passing the castle, I turned a corner, and came face to face with a deer. I think that I was more startled than it, as it looked on as I took its photo, before disappearing into the woodland. What a special moment that was!
The road, while generally following the side of the loch, did venture up and down. The ups were never too steep or too long, and gave the double benefit of a good view up the Loch and a fun descent afterwards. The road was almost without exception single track with passing places, and all drivers I encountered were courteous.
I stopped for a banana at 11.30, and again at 12.00 when I reached Salen, where I read about Jesse Boot, amongst other things. The final miles along Loch Sunart got me to Strontian, where I had a BLT roll and a bottle of coke, while surreptitiously charging my phone, whose charge was holding up better than the day before but which nonetheless would benefit from a boost. There were several other titanium touring bikes around, but all seemed to have mountain bike gearing on them. I talked to the owner of one of them, a Scottish lady who was doing a bit of touring with her friend. She agreed that I was going to be in for some lovely roads on my trip, but also plenty of hills. She also mentioned that the road I need to take to get to Bealach na Ba had been closed due to a landslip. I will have to find out if this is still the case when I get to Broadford tomorrow. While at the cafe, I spotted a poster advertising a concert by the wind and brass of the SCO, happening there tonight!
As I left Loch Sunart, the landscape changed, and then Loch Linnhe came into view, with high mountain scenery behind. The sun also came out, so I dispensed with my armwarmers, the gilet having gone at lunchtime. I was soon in Ardgour, where I got the 10 minute Corran ferry to the other side of Loch Linnhe. Four other cycle tourists got on as well, but it was only when we were about to disembark that I realised that one of them had a Jack Russell on his back rack!
I was now very close to my destination near Fort William, so I stopped at a picnic spot to relax and admire the view. I thought I would take a photo of myself using an empty cassette case I had brought to hold the phone up. On my first attempt I went much too far back, and was getting set up for a second attempt when a woman came over and asked if I would like her to take a photo of me. I must have looked as though I was struggling!
While in Fort William I bought some food in Morrisons, and got to the Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis around 4.00 pm. I have now done my laundry, checked and cleaned the bike, and am sitting in a comfortable sofa writing this. The only issue is that I can’t e-mail the GPS data to myself, as the data connection is so poor, and without doing that, I can’t get it on the netbook to upload it. (now sorted 14/7/2013)
Day 4 Statistics
Miles ridden: 57
Famous cats seen: 1
Cycle touring dogs seen: 1
Deer seen: about 35