I will be heading North from Cairnryan, hopping across Arran to reach the Mull of Kintyre, before heading to Mull via Oban. I then hop back onto the mainland and visit Fort William before taking the road to Mallaig and over to Skye, where I will be based for three days.
I hope to cycle the climb at Bealach Mór, but will have to see how my legs are doing that day, as it would form part of a 115 mile circular route from Broadford, the climb coming at around 50 miles.
From Skye I head over to Harris and Lewis before coming back to the mainland at Ullapool. I will be heading all the way to the top of Scotland before cutting across diagonally to Inverness, and onward into the Cairngorms. From there I may visit Guthrie en route to Perth, and will return to Cairnryan via New Lanark, by which time I will have covered around 1,100 miles, and climbed almost 80,000 feet.
A relatively easy day after an early start to catch the ferry over from Belfast. Hugging the coast up to Ardrossan, I then catch the first of many Caledonian MacBrayne ferries on this trip over to Brodick on Arran. A further 15 miles will bring me to Lochranza and my first night’s accommodation.
One of the shortest days, and I’ll probably be glad of that, as the second day was my worst last year in terms of feeling weak. Over on the ferry from Lochranza to the Kyle of Lochalsh, and northwards to Oban, where I will be staying at the youth hostel.
Another shortish day as I head onto my second Scottish Isle. Mull this time, and I am taking a circuitous route to Tobermory to take in as much of the island as I can in one day. The few hills that I go over should afford great views, weather permitting.
Lots of little ups and downs as I follow the shoreline of Lochs Sunart and Linnhe, en route to Glen Nevis, near Fort William. More commonly used as a launching pad for an ascent of Ben Nevis, I am simply staying here as the youth hostel in Broadford was full today!
I was last along the road from Fort William to Mallaig as a student, and remember it as a single track with passing places, quite narrow for as ‘A’ road! As it is Sunday, I am wondering if the steam train will be running. Across to Skye at Arnadale before heading to Broadford, my home for two nights.
The first of my big days, and what a day! I have heard about the climb over Bealach Mór, and hope to try it for myself. If the weather is bad, there isn’t too much point in trying this route, and I will do something else, but if it is fine, the views of Raasay and Skye should take away whatever breath I have left following the climb. At least I won’t have to drag my panniers up there, as I return to Broadford.
Although not the most direct route between the two towns, today’s trip should give me a real flavour of the Isle of Skye and the Cuillins. I should get views over to North and South Uist, as well as Harris and Lewis, my next destination.
Virtually a rest day, which will be no bad thing after a couple of ‘big mile’ days. The ferry does not leave Uig until the early afternoon, so I can relax and enjoy the sunshine! I have been told not to miss the beach at Losgaintir on Harris, so I won’t! I am staying in a community hostel on the south side of Loch Eireasort.
I will have a few hours in the morning to see some of Lewis before getting to Stornaway for the afternoon ferry which will take me back to the mainland at Ullapool. It was specifically suggested that I take the Pentland Road, and if I get up early I will have time to take in the Callenish standing stones and Carloway Broch.
I had planned a more circuitous route for today, which went East to Lairg before following Loch Shin back Northwestwards, but when I saw a relief map of the North of Scotland, I just had to take this more direct route through remote, mountainous landscapes.
The most daunting day of the two week tour, as there is no alternative route for this trip. For my efforts, I should be rewarded with some stunning highland scenery as I skirt Loch Eriboll on my way to Tongue and then head southwards. It will be with tired legs that I reach Inverness.
I head out towards Nairn today before starting the serious climbing of the day, into the Cairngorms. I am hopeful of some stunning mountain views as I climb to over 2,000 feet on my way to Braemar youth hostel.
One climb early on today, and then it is downhill all the way to Perth. If I have any strength in my legs after two long days, I have the option of heading east to visit Guthrie near Forfar before making for Perth, where I will be staying at the youth hostel in University accommodation.
This route reverses the one that I did last year during my ‘end 2 end’ challenge. During part of it I had very pleasant company in the form of three local cyclists. I am hoping for a still day for my crossing of the Forth road bridge, as I still remember the bridge shaking as I went over it! I stay at the wonderful youth hostel in New Lanark.
I cut south-westwards today to reach the west coast at Girvan, passing near the town of Mauchline, of Mauchline Belles fame. From there it is not far to catch the evening ferry from Cairnryan back to Belfast.