The good weather lately has been amazing, in an effort to take advantage we decided on a break to the Islands of Islay and Jura off Scotland's West coast, it was a welcome break from work in Fionas case and workshop building in mines. Wednesday Lunchtime we set off for Oban, up past Loch Earn, looking stunning in the sun, the temperatures had dropped a bit and dropped steadily as we headed west, no complaints though (although I did have to contend with a soft tyre before Crieff). A fuel stop just outside Oban then into the Caledonian McBraynes ticket office, we had booked as being the tourist season you never know, boats aren't that frequent for the 4 hour crossing to Islay so best to think ahead. Caley Mcbrains are often the brunt of jokes, the staff are friendly and helpful but sometimes I think the timetables are just a guide, not neccesarily to be adhered to! As it happened our boat was 45 minutes late in coming in so we assumed that meant at least an hour late into Islay, originally we were to have landed at 8.30pm and we had hoped to find a campsite and be pitched by 9.30, the delay meant it might be well after 10 before we pitched, the wind was getting up and there was a threat of rain so we took the easy way out and booked a B&B, cheapest we could find available was £135 for the night, bloody ridiculous and although it was very nice it was just a bed we needed, we made sure we made breakfast the following day! The landlady informed us it was normally £170 but she reduced the price as she'd had a party cancelled, probably couldn't get a mortgage for the stay! On the Thursday we headed to Jura, the short ferry trip was exciting to say the least, holding onto the bike and anchoring myself to a post office van as the little boat rolled in the choppy sea, one of the longest 15 minutes on a boat ever.
We camped at the front of the Jura Hotel which is next to the Jura distillery (£5 per tent and nice toilets) after a bit of wandering around we went to the bar and passed time in the normal fashion. I had a bit of an incident with a retarded local (who seemingly has mental health issues) and that soured my stay on Jura a bit, a bit of advice to bartenders, if you know someone is mental, don't serve then drink! If I return (which is doubtful) I'd head to Jura in the morning and get back off to Islay in the evening.
Friday a tour of Islay passing the myriad of top malt whisky distilleries but not going in for the tour, it was a bit like riding along the top shelf of a well stocked whisky bar. The locals were friendly and I heard from more than one that the prices on the Island meant the locals are being priced out, if they want to go out for a meal for example they pay the highly inflated tourist prices, one hotel we passed had rooms for £280 a night, although it looked ok I'd suggest £100 was a reasonable price, eventually greed will be Scotland's tourist industry's downfall.
We found a great campsite near Port Ellen overlooking the sea, a tad windy but stunning with great facilities as well. We left the Island on Saturday and stayed in a hotel (more reasoanbly priced) near Kennacraig and on Sunday got the ferry from Tarbet to Portavadie, a short run around the peninsula on a stunning day, it was quiet and peaceful, it seems its a bit off the tourist trail so for me its perfect. I was taking in the view at the side of the road overlooking the Island of Bute when a car stopped, a short conversation ensued and I found out I was speaking to Jim Currie, former TT racer and British 125 champion, He had been giving a talk at the Glasgow Triumph owners club meeting and was having a day out sight seeing, small world indeed.
The ride home on Monday was excellent until the main road at the Rest and be Thankful, hell from Tarbet to Crainlarich mainly thanks to a German tour bus that really is far too big for this road, Crainlarich back to Perth was excellent despite the plague of motorhomes and caravans!
Pictures as always tell the story.
|Pumping up the back tyre (I know now I have a slow puncture)|
|The ship coming in (late)|
|Passing distilleries in the late sun|
|The paps of Jura (I think)|
|getting ready to disembark|
|Islay airport and sheep sanctuary it would seem|
|Church in Bowmore|
|Pretty town Bowmore|
|Idyllic to ride in this scenery|
|It looked like this guy was walking on water until we got closer|
|The name says it|
|with a nice view|
|preparing food time|
|Swans looking after their young|
|I wonder what the story is behind this wheel|
|We spoke to a few yacht guys, interesting|
|Still not that warm|
|Guess where this bar is?|
|Heading back to the ferry|
|Setting camp near Port Ellen|
|Just like reading a whisky menu|
|makeshift shelter worked well|
|studying the map|
|Night time, as dark as it gets|
|awaiting the ferry to the mainland|
|Look, Bowmore, Ardbeg|
|Short ferry from Tarbet|
|Lunch, not too unpleasant|
|The view to Bute |
|2 ex TT riders on a hill looking at a view|
|Another excellent adventure|