The Arran Ferry

Added on Tuesday 5 Jun 2007

The May Holiday weekend - Our Cycle to Arran

Since our Trees for Life work week, it has been full on at my real work and I was beginning to wilt for the lack of fresh air and exercise. (Although I had taken part in the Glasgow Women's 10k in May). The May holiday weekend was an ideal opportunity to get some time out and about. Davy and I decided to chance a poor weather forecast and head for Arran on the Friday.

Needless to say we took our bikes and planned to cycle from Brodick round to Blackwaterfoot then back over the String Road. We have done it before. The last time however, I was super anxious the whole time that we would miss the last ferry back to Ardrossan as I had an important work meeting the next day. (As it turned out we made in Ferry in good time) This trip I had no such anxiety and was looking forward to the day.

Photo: boat to arran. We left the car at Ardrossan pier and cycled onto the Ferry.£2.25. per bike is a bit steep (when we were wee bikes went free!). Davy and I always like to be on deck to watch the boat leave the Harbour, there is normally always someone running at the last minute very dramatic. Not this morning though so we headed for our breakfast on the boat, (rolls and tattie scone with scrambled eggs not bad). A wee tip for you, buy the coffee from the caf? on the Boat not the self-service, as it is a million times better.

Fifty-five minutes later we were in Arran and ready for our cycle. I am far from fit and have done very little cycling this year but I was so psychologically up for it that didn't seem to matter.

Of course, there is always a hill!! And there it was straight off the ferry uphill in the rain out of Brodick to Lamlash. However once we got to the top of the hill it is a free wheel all the way into Lamlash. The weather was picking up by this time. The rain had stopped but there was still a strong headwind. From Lamlash we cycled onto Whiting Bay. Davy and I always get a laugh when we see the Whiting Bay Hotel now turned into a home for Senior Citizens. The Whiting Bay Hotel was our hang out in the summers of our youth. We would lie out on the front lawn with pals, have light refreshments, play guitars and sing (not me as I can't do either). A home for Senior Citizens ? we should get our names down now!!

Photo: cyclist. Onto Lagg where we stopped at the Lagg Hotel for lunch. I have discovered that a big lunch when you are out cycling for the day is not a good idea as it is impossible to cycle if you are trying to digest food. Davy calls Lagg Scotland's "Shangri-la" as it is so tranquil and lush with all sorts of trees and plants.

We got talking to the owner of the Hotel for ages. He was obviously an avid cyclist like Davy and they spoke about bicycle frames and stars of the "Tour" for ages. We never got his name but would highly recommend the lunch it was an excellent menu. We also wish him well for his charity cycle the same as the first stage of this year's Tour de France in England no less!

Of course, another huge hill out of Lagg and onto Blackwaterfoot. The scenery is breathtaking and the sun is out by now, (although still got that headwind). Huge skies and sea. The hedgerows were full of wildflowers and we saw Cormorants, sandpipers, Heron, House Martins and Seals. We also thought we saw an otter but couldn't be sure.

Photo: paddy's mile stane. Paddy's Mile Stane

At Blackwaterfoot we stopped and Davy picked out the old cottage at "Port na lochain" where he used to go with his Granny as a wee boy. In those days there was only a pipe in the field for water and no electricity, now the cottage has had a full makeover and looks very opulent.

We stopped at the tearoom at the Golf course for coffee and cakes before going on to tackle the String Road. It is easy to see why Arran is called "Scotland in Miniature". Having passed the farming areas we turned and started our long hill up the string road through the high hills. (Not quite Goat Fell; I don't want to exaggerate). I was determined to get to the top without walking. Last year I got as far as the second sign for "Z"bends. At this point the road is very steep and I have great difficulty in making the pedals go round. I was up for the challenge!! No luck as at the same sign I had to fall off my bike and push it up a steep bit and over a wee bridge. There is a lay-by just past the bridge so once I got my breath back I was back on that bike and cycled to the top. Next time it will not beat me.

Top of the String Road (phew!)

Of course, I now realise that we only go this gruelling route as Davy is a speed freak and descends about 60mls an hour. Me I have my breaks on so tight that my fingers go numb. At the bottom of the hill it is a right turn into Brodick and head for the boat. This year we did not go for a drink in the Ormidale (another haunt of our youth) as last year it was too depressing. It so needs a makeover!!
A coffee and rest on the boat and then back up the road to Glasgow.

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