Monday, 20 July 2009

Tour d'ecosse - stage 2, Oban to Ratagan

I awoke this morning to a down pour. The wind had picked up during the night as well.
After a good breakfast of porridge with honey, I packed then set off for the ferry to Mull. Due to the size of my bike it had to go on last and then be strapped down. Up on deck I watched as Oban started to recede intothe distance and disappear into the dark grey rain clouds, as hue Calmac ferry Isle Of Skye ploughed the straight toward Mull. About half way across the wind dropped and the rain went off, and then to everyone's shock . . . the sun came out!

The run to Tobermory was great, along some single track and two-way roads. I had lunch in the harbour after refuelling then caught the 1pm, tiny, ferry from Tobermory across the sound of Mull to Kilchoan on the Arnamurchan Peninsula.

I've been to Alton Towers many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed being scared on the rides, but nothing prepared me for his crossing. Did someone say swell! Half way across this tiny 8- car ferry started to pitch and roll, ant the engines started to rev, but things seemed fine.
Then I heard it.

Until this point I'd never heard a large motorbike hit a metal deck! The noise was sickening. One of the ships mates rushed up to me and took me down to the car deck. The bike had been tossed over like it weighed nothing more than a push bike! We righted the machine and I had to hold onto it until we docked on the other side. Closer inspection revealed a fair bit of damage, with the front brake lever, right roll-bar and both exhausts taking the brunt of the impact. Not just that but there was a stench of fuel and it wouldn't start. After keeping the returning cars waiting for what seemed an age, she eventually fired ip and we were off again, if not a little bruised.

I had only been going about 10 minutes along the winding single track roads when this 30-something guy in a sports BMW came flying over a blind summit doing god knows what speed, with his blonde girlfriend laughing and smiling in the seat as she possibly thought his penis was in fact bigger than she had imagined. Those that know me will know that I am a reasonably good driver and always drive defensively, and on this occasion it was a life saver. I chose a, thankfully close, passing place while he had no choice but to stick two of his wheels in the verge to get past.

Myself and the bike, which is called Trigger by the way, were certainly starting to bond.

The heavens now opened and the dueluge was so heavy that it was bouncing off the road. I had intended to visit caslt Tioram, but I was concentrating so hard that I missed the turning and ended up at the Corran ferry. However, rather than take the ferry I continued on toward Loch Eil, eventually arriving at the Glenfinnan viaduct and monument by 5pm. I was surprised to see how late it was, so aftr a quick pee stop it was off toward Fort William, where I bought a few provisions and topped up thefuel, then north and the road to the isles.

This route is fast and takes you through some stunning scenery, forest lined roads and views down to beautiful lochs that form part of Glengarry.

From here the road bends gently and sweeps along at a good pace, the machine gliding effortlessly through the corners. Dark clouds were gathering so my trusty steed Trigger and I throttled up and swept past the mountains called the Five Sisters of Kintail, and sped ahead of the rain band to arrive in the picturesque youth hostel Ratagan by 7.30pm.

I'm now fed and watered and sitting soaking in the glorious view of the mountains. The wind has dropped, the sky has cleared, and all is good. The bike alarm has suddenly gone off for no reason, no doubt seeking some attention for all its hard work today, enduring injury and still getting me here safely and quickly.

Tomorrow I will be reunited with the Glenachulish turntable ferry from my youth, over in Glenelg, a mere 10 miles from here. For those who don't know the significance of this ferry in my trip, read an earlier blog below called Over the sea to Skye.

Tomorrow we will make that journey together.

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