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Ardrossan, Isle of Arran, Islay, Colonsay, Scotland.
(5 day bike ride)
Mon 23 - Fri 27 Jul 2012

Mon 23 Jul 2012

Mon 23 Jul 2012

Tue 24 Jul 2012

Wed 25 Jul 2012

Thu 26 Jul 2012

Fri 27 Jul 2012

I've been thinking of a bike camping trip across the Scottish Isles of Arran and Islay for some time. my calendar had a gap in it this week so I thought it would be a god idea to try it out. An easy morning drive north along the M6, M74 and A71 to Ardrossan was uneventful except for the weather. Moving north I reached the rain as I entered Scotland and it got worse as I approached Ardrossan on the Ayrshire coast. I got to the harbour about 11:30am and found the long stay car park without difficulty. I collected a card at the entrance and it will be used for calculating the payment on exit. The charge is 2 per day which is very reasonable compared to most other places.

I left the car and walked through the ran to the Caledonial Macbrain office to buy an 8 day rover ticket for 55. Then it was back to the car to assemble my bike and fix the panniers while the ferry arrived to unload. I wheeled my bike to the queue of cars waiting to get on and was waved down by the attendant to take my bike on board. The ship is MV Caledohian Isles and seemed similar to other Calmac ferries but this time the bike had to go in a small alcove amidships.

The ferry car deck

There were rails but no ropes to secure the bike with. We left on time at 12:30 for the hour crossing. There was nothing to see as there was constant rain and mist. It was a very miserable sight as we reached Brodick on Arran. As I wheeled my bike off the only other cyclist wheeled his off as well. He was heading for the isles further north, towards Mull, but would be spending a couple of days first with his parents who live on Arran. No such comforts for me. With full water proofs on I headed south in torrential rain. The mist was so low that I couldn't see anything. I decided to aim for about 10 miles and try to find somewhere to pitch the tent. After a climb there was a descent to Lamlash bay then another climb over to Whiting Bay. There were many flat grassy patches but all had houses close by so I pressed on.

Arriving in a very rainy Brodick

After the turn off for Kildonan I'd had enough of the rain and peered over a gate to a patch of scrub ground with an 'H' helicopter landing pad marked out on a concrete area. After pitching the tent I discovered thick thistles under the groundsheet whose spikes came through. That would have punctured my sleeping mat so I had to move the tent on to another concrete area. The rain continued relentlessly.