Monday 9th April
Again the day began shrouded in thick mist giving the loch a mysterious and eerie presence. We sat and watched out over the water whilst we ate an enormous breakfast laid on by our Air BnB hosts which consisted of cheese, meats, bread, fruit, jams, cereal and the most amazing freshly squeezed orange juice.
We hit the road and soon came across a local shop where we stocked up on supplies for the day ahead. Today’s route would be roughly 50 miles with 2500ft of climbing, but the roads for the first 20 around Lock Eck were almost entirely flat …… giving us cause for concern as to what was to come later in the day.
The loch had a glass like appearance due to the low winds and reflected the landscape perfectly, we stopped to capture the moment before pedalling on.
Last night I had forgot to charge the Di2 electric gears on my trike and my display screen was now showing one bar. Danny said not to worry as the front derailleur would give up first which would be the warning sign we needed to stop and charge everything. This happened sooner than expected and was quickly followed by the rear derailleur giving up which meant I had an uncomfortable four miles to a nearby hotel where we would stop to recharge (us and my trike). For those who are wondering: having a single speed trike is not something I would recommend!
Once we’d left the Creggans Inn it was uphill, gradual at first but getting steeper by the mile. We had planned this part of the route specifically to do the Rest and be Thankful pass – one of the top 100 climbs from the book of the same name – however from reading the description and looking up at the increasingly darkening clouds I was beginning to have my doubts as to whether it was a good decision. I must have asked Danny four or five times whether we should stay on the main road and skip it, to which he replied “we won’t be back here for a long time so it’s now or never!” – so we pressed on upwards and towards the infamous pass.
There was a rather significant “warm up” hill which preceded the main event – a serious climb in its own right and one which would grab the headlines were it not for its famous sibling at the foot of its decent. It must have averaged 7% with ramps of up to 14%.
Now at the foot of the Rest and be Thankful pass we prepared ourselves for the next 30 minutes of constant climbing. It was 4400m in length with an average gradient of 6% and prolonged periods of 16% – made all the more difficult by the poorly timed rainfall and the weight of our luggage. Danny stayed with me for the lower slopes but when the gradient worsened he had to push on and met me at the top. We were treated to some truly stunning views atop the pass and I always believe they are more worthwhile by reaching the top under your own steam, rather than simply driving up.
The plan was to descend the main road and make a pit stop in a pub at the bottom, however the burger van at the top of the climb smelt so tempting we decided to save a bit of money and eat there. Knowing we still had nearly 20 miles to go I didn’t like the idea of eating inside and warming up – there’s always the danger I will seize up and not want to continue!
We stopped for a quick photo at the stone which bears the Rest and be Thankful name before starting the long downhill to Loch Fyne.
It felt amazing to shoot downhill at up to 35mph on the straight and smooth road after all the climbing that had come previously. I am a lot more used to descending fully loaded than Danny is and I had to remember to restrain myself in order to keep us together to allow cars to pass safely.
Back on the A road which circumnavigates Loch Fyne we spied a tempting sign for Fyne Ales Brewery, we thought we’d earned a drink so made the slight detour. Here we assessed our sleeping arrangements for the night and decided on a local hostel in Inveraray.
We left the brewery and only had a leisurely four miles to Inveraray where we had dinner and checked into the hostel. Unfortunately the only double room had been booked so we were left with a rather tiny two person room complete with bunk beds! I wonder how many other recently married couples spend their nights in bunk beds?!
Tomorrow we cycle north west to Oban where we will island hop to Mull, somewhere I have always wanted to visit.