Travellers' Tales: From Ardossan to Oban in spring

Tim Rumley and his companion cycled from Ardrossan to Oban in early spring

Is April too early to cycle tour in Scotland? It may be cold but at least it is midge free. And despite the single digit temperatures, the sun shone for most of our trip.

We took the CalMac ferry from Ardrossan harbour to Arran. A short hilly ride ended in a wild camp outside Lochranza. We had decided to reverse the Sustrans Oban to Campbeltown route (NCN 78) to take advantage of prevailing south-westerlies.

Frustratingly, we had north-easterlies.

A second morning ferry took us to Claonaig on the Mull of Kintyre, where we set off for Campbeltown. There were some stiff climbs but splendid views across to Arran. We camped in the Machrihanish beach dunes.

We deviated from the Sustrans route and took the quiet A83 road up the western coast of the Mull of Kintyre, but the headwinds continued to blow. We formed a two-cyclist peloton and made good progress to Kennacraig. Camping north of Kilberry, the sunset between the Paps of Jura was a delight.

Our route then took us to Moine Mhor and the Dunadd hillfort, the birthplace of the Scottish nation, then onto the stone circles and cairns of Kilmartin. From here, we had a gravel detour to Carnasserie Castle. We found a spectacular wild campsite on the side of the aptly-named Loch Awe.

We found a spectacular wild campsite on the side of the aptly-named Loch Awe."

Tim Rumley

The morning sun melted the frost on the tents but our water bottles were frozen. Oban wasn’t far, which was just as well as the weather worsened.

Horizontal snow, hail, and rain hindered our progress for the last 12 miles, as did a herd of long-horned Highland cattle ambling on the road. Our warm beds in Oban were well deserved.