Monthly Archives: April 2013

Trip 2: Mull of Kintyre

Saturday 27 April 2013


View Trip 2: Mull of Kintyre in a larger map

Today’s destination was the Mull of Kintyre – Oh mists rolling in from the sea, my desire … but not today, oh no, sunshire, blue skies and light winds were the order of the day. And FREEZING wind-chill. My God, it was cold.

I headed up the A82 out of Glasgow, past Loch Lomond, and, for the first time ever, felt compelled to stop and take a picture of Ben Lomond, basking in the sun:

Ben Lomond from the A82

Ben Lomond from the A82

Up to Tarbet where the road splits, I took the A83 and followed it round to Arrochar. As I came over the brow of the hill as the road descends into the village, I got a crystal clear view of The Cobbler (aka Ben Arthur), so, again I stopped here for another photo:

The Cobbler from the A83 coming into Arrochar

The Cobbler from the A83 coming into Arrochar

Onwards to Inveraray and more photo opportunites – isn’t it amazing how a bit of sunshine brings out the photographer in me:

Inveraray

Inveraray

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

From here, the A83 continues to Lochgilphead then Tarbert (that’s TarbeRt, not to be confused with TarbEt, mentioned earlier):

Tarbert

Tarbert

Leaving Tarbert, the road crosses to the west coast of the penninsula and it’s an exposed ride down to Campbeltown. On the way there, I noticed the ferry from Islay coming in to Kennacraig, so yet more photos here:

The Islay Ferry

The Islay Ferry

Approaching Campbeltown, I saw a sign for Machrihanish where an old wartime airfield was located so I detoured off the main road to have a look. It turns out, it’s now the Campbeltown Airport, a vast international hub with multiple terminals and a dedicated rail link (not!):

Campbeltown Airport

Campbeltown Airport

I left Glasgow at 8.45 am, and as it was now 1 pm and I hadn’t even made it to Campbeltown yet, I pressed on. As I left the airport, I joined a different road into the town. With only 2 miles to go, I then saw a sign post for Southend, from where I’d get to the Mull of Kintyre. The only reason I was going to Campbeltown was to take the road to Southend, so it seemed daft to continue to the town, when I could turn here. So a right turn it was and within a few miles, I found another sign to the Mull of Kintyre. Apart from Paul McCartney’s song, I have to confess, I had no idea what the Mull of Kintyre was so I didn’t really know if I was looking for a beach, a promontary or what? Then, just before I got to the point where the land looked like it was going to run out, I saw it, a sign saying “Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse – 8 miles”. Would you believe it – this was becoming like hill-walking – every time you think you’ve reached the summit, another peak comes along. But I’d come this far and I wasn’t going to cheat myself now, so I made another right turn and followed the road west.

Ever since I’d seen the sign for Southend I’d been on single-track roads, but this has to be one of the worst ones I’ve ever been on. It rose steeply up a hillside and narrowed into a tight-rope of a passageway. It was strewn with potholes and broken edges. Just when I was thinking, “I don’t think this road has ever been resurfaced in its life”, I came round a bend to find a resurfacing truck blocking the road with the driver asleep behind the wheel. A quick toot of my horn woke him from his slumbers and he pulled over enough for me to squeeze past.

The road to the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse

The road to the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse

When I eventually made it to the end of the road, there was fence blocking access to an even smaller road which presumably took one round to the lighthouse on foot. But I was too cold and hungry by now to walk the indeterminate distance to the out of sight lighthouse, so turned around and headed back to Southend.

End of the road

End of the road

It was 2.30 pm before I found somewhere to have lunch. I only had soup and a sandwich, but when I remounted, there seemed to be considerable strain on my waistband and within a few miles of heading off, I had to stop and un-do the buttons on my riding trousers. They must have particularly fatty tuna in this part of the country.

I took a wrong turn out of Southend and ended up taking another beautiful, single-track road round to Campbeltown. But it took ages to cover the ground and when I eventually got to the town, it was 4 pm.

Island Davaar on the approach to Campbeltown

Island Davaar on the approach to Campbeltown

As if nearly losing my fingers to frostbite wasn’t enough for me, I decided to take another single-track road all the way back to Kennacraig from Campbeltown, instead of going straight up the A83. Although stunning, it took over an hour to cover the 30-odd miles. However, remarkably, I arrived back in Tarbert just in time to catch the 5.15 pm ferry to Portavadie on the Cowal Penninsula. This meant I wouldn’t have to go all the way back up to Inveraray, and would cut about 20 miles off my journey.

Docking in Portavadie

Docking in Portavadie

The road up the Cowal Penninsula has a fabulous viewpoint which overlooks Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute so a final photostop before making the last push home.

Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute from the Tighnabruaich viewpoint

Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute from the Tighnabruaich viewpoint

By the time I got back to Glasgow it was 8 pm. I’d spent almost twelve hours on the road with not much more than an hour off the bike for photo-stops and lunch. But what a day – it may have been freezing but God, Scotland is beautiful!

For full photo gallery:
Trip 2 – Mull of Kintyre

The position so far:

Miles Km £
Overall Target 3,107 5,000 £5,000.00
Total this Trip 295 474.8
Total to Date 440 708.1 £99.85
Left to Go 2,667 4,291.9 £4,900.15

Remember, you can find out more about my “5K for £5K Challenge” here or make a donation by clicking the image below. Thank you.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Trip 1: Falls of Dochart

Saturday 13 April 2013


View Trip 1 – Falls of Dochart in a larger map

My 5K for £5K Challenge is underway and this is my first trip (woohoo!).

Last weekend the weathermen forecast a heatwave for this weekend. By Friday, the prediction had changed to strong winds and heavy rain. As I lay in bed yesterday morning thinking I really must get my 5K for £5K Challenge underway, it was low cloud and drizzly. However, a challenge is a challenge, so I dragged myself out of my cosy nest and headed over to my friend’s to pick up the bike.

What should have been a quick stop at the petrol station turned into a ridiculous fiasco. As I walked into the shop to pay for my fuel, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. The man behind the counter was very understanding but still made me fill in an “Inability to Pay” form. Jumping on the bike I rode home only to discover I’d left my house keys in my other jacket back at my friend’s house. So then I had to ride back to her’s, get the keys, ride back to mine, pick up my wallet, ride back to the petrol station again and pay. Fourteen miles and forty minutes later, I was ready to go.

As this was the first ride of the season and I was starting quite late in the day, I decided to make it a shortish trip to the Falls of Dochart. I followed the A81 from Milngavie up to Aberfoyle. A quick stop for a cup of tea and a cheeseburger in the car park there, and I headed over the Duke’s Pass towards Callander where I picked up the A84 up to Killin.

Duke's Pass

Duke’s Pass

The clouds had lifted by this stage and I was surrounded by stunning, snow-clad peaks but by Balquidder it was starting to get very cold. Fortunately, Killin was only a few miles further north so I was able to warm up when I stopped there to see the Falls of Dochart.

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Falls of Dochart, Killin

Coming back the temperature really dropped so I made a quick detour north to the Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum for a cup of tea before heading back along the A82 down the side of Loch Lomond.

View south from Tyndrum

View south from Tyndrum

Loch Lomond from Tarbet

Loch Lomond from Tarbet

Brilliant day!

For full photo gallery:
Trip 1 – Falls of Dochart

The position so far:

  Miles Km £
Overall Target 3,107 5,000 £5,000.00
Total this Trip 145 233.4  
Total to Date     £37.04
Left to Go 2,962 4,766.6 £4,962.96

Remember, you can find out more about my “5K for £5K Challenge” here or make a donation by clicking the image below. Thank you.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Book Release – “Excess Baggage”

It’s finally out! My book, Excess Baggage: One woman, one motorbike and a huge amount of luggage ride across Australia, is out today.

What’s it about?

In 2010, after the closure of my dream business, I set off to tour Australia – alone on a motorbike. Weighed down by seven stone of luggage and a crushing sense of failure, my riding skills rapidly deteriorated. Freezing weather, violent winds and treacherous road surfaces all added to my fright.

I almost decided to give up and buy a car. But the need to overcome my fears pushed me on. Testing my resolve, Australia threw everything it had at me: the worst floods in living memory, extreme heat, plagues of insects, torrential downpours, hurricanes, isolation and my ultimate nightmare, gravel roads. But turning back was not an option.

What resulted was an exciting and heart-warming adventure through a vast, staggeringly beautiful but unforgiving landscape.

I really hope you enjoy reading it, and if you’d like to see the Photo Gallery of the trip, click here.

Where can I buy it?

To buy the book, please click the image above or you can go to any of Amazon’s international websites, including:

www.amazon.co.uk
www.amazon.com
www.amazon.fr
www.amazon.it
www.amazon.de
www.amazon.es

A Kindle version is coming soon too.