Pitter patter pitter

Tainuilt, Loch Etive to Fort William

After a prompt early breakfast served in a beautiful room with a wood fire and fresh newspapers (it smelt and felt like Christmas)  we were promptly on our way, only for Keith to have a puncture within 10 minutes of leaving. 

But what a beautiful place: This was the view across the road. 

In fact he had a weakness in his tyre and pressure from a stone punctured the tube. Whilst he repaired tyre and replaced tube I administered midge repellent and enjoyed the view. Leaving this spot 40 minutes or so later, we cycled less than 300 m down the road to be passed by last night’s proprietor. He must have wondered what all the fuss about early breakfast was. 

As we wound round the lochs to Fort William we met some ferocious head winds, some side winds that even tipped Keith of his bike, watched raging currents at the neck of the lochs as the tide went down and battled with torrential rain. 

But it was a most marvellous day. Significant parts were on a cycle path following the old railway line, with story boards, beautiful views, and good surfaces (a great boon). 

This castle was built in the 1400s by a man who improved on the design of the Viking long boat (moving the sideboard round to establish a kind of rudder) and in so doing conquered and established a kingdom lasting over 400 years. 

We stopped to arrange a new tyre for Keith, pausing at Benderloch to phone through to a cycle shop in Fort William – pay by card, they delivered tyre to guest house. Simples!!!!!

This was on the village shop window: I. E. Shop local, I guess. 

At one stage there were five different orchid types along with hundreds of tiny seedling Christmas trees. The Ragged Robin of yesterday has ceded to two different strains of Red Campion, one of which is puce. 

A Hooded Crow appeared (much more interesting than you might think, a large Black and Tan bird quite local to the west and to Ireland) and sea birds included oyster catchers and terns. 

No place to stop for lunch, so a picnic by the Loch: then the rain came down, in exceedingly good measure, with such puddles that one car managed to get the water over the heads and down the front of both of us. But the guesthouse proprietress had our bikes wiped down, our boots in the drier and coats in the hot room within minutes. The world looked like a better place. So glad we’re not camping. 

So glad we’re not doing this either: this chap is, at around 9.15, returning from doing the West Highlands Way, a 95 mile run he started at 1 o clock this morning! 

Why! Why? Like why were those people cycling 100 miles in intense heat last Sunday? And why have we cycled almost 800 miles? I’ll never know. Because we can, I guess. 

This man, Phil, did the run four years ago and was wearing the t-shirt tonight (under a jumper and raincoat ) and it gives the statistics: must be mad. Aparrently  there’s some kind of super version of this run available for those who find it indufficientky challenging….Jan? Jo? Abi? Gill??

And finally some common sense in the guesthouse, where normally we find bottled water: 

Mileage: 48 (cumulative 798.5)

Ascents: 2175

Mechanical issues: the puncture. The tyre was delivered safe and sound. Tantrums: 0. A lovely day. 

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