Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Cycling the Hebridean Way and back down Skye

During our summer break in the UK, Simon went off on his lone cycle tour. Lin and Becky thought he was mad, but he had a great time! Here is his story. You can find an album of all his photos at https://goo.gl/photos/scxbzYdZmxUMbjXz6

Monday 7th August

I left home with my heavily laden bike to catch the 10.42 train to Glasgow Central, 
Coventry Station

Virgin Train to Glasgow

arriving at 15.17. I walked to Queen Street station, where I was booked on the 18.21 to Oban. I asked a customer service person where I could leave my bike and he asked to see my tickets. He saw that I was booked on the later train and said that he would ask the guard and see if he would let me on to the 16.37 train, even though I had a restricted Advance ticket. When the guard arrived, he agreed to let me on the train so I got to Oban at 19.43. 

The train journey was very picturesque, mostly single track, along the Clyde, up Loch Long, across to Loch Lomond and through the glens to Oban – though a lot of the time hemmed in by the trees.

Glasgow to Oban train
At Oban, I cycled across to the Corran House Hostel, where I had booked for the night. I had a spacious en-suite single room
My room

 with a sea view for £40. 

View from my room

The hostel had an excellent kitchen with free tea and coffee and a comfortable sitting room. I set off for dinner, only to find the two fish restaurants I had chosen were fully booked. With most restaurants closing at 9, I ended up having a biryani in an Indian restaurant and an early night.

Tuesday 8th August

On Tuesday the ferry to Castlebay on Barra did not leave until 1.30, so I spent the morning looking round the town and then cycled out, past the dog stone, 

The dog stone, where Finn the Fingal of MacPherson (of Fingal's Cave) supposedly used to tie his dog Bran.
 and Dunollie castle, on a site which has been fortified since at least the seventh century, though the present ruins mostly date back to the fourteenth century,
Dunollie Castle
 to Dunstaffnage Castle, built by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorn, in about 1220.
Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

Dunstaffnage Castle

There was a large Fred Olsen cruise ship anchored out in the bay, 
Calmac ferry coming in with cruise ship behind
with passengers being ferried ashore and put onto coaches for their excursions.

When I got back I had lunch at a wonderful fish shack on the quay. They had run out of half lobster, so I had a whole small lobster, which came with two langoustine, salad and three sauces for £13.
My lunch

Cooking the shellfish

My bike tied up on  the ferry

The ferry from Oban to Castlebay takes almost five hours, up the Sound of Mull then out into the Atlantic. We saw quite a lot of porpoises, but no Minke Whales.
Leaving Oban
Duart Castle, Mull, the 13th Century seat of the Clan MacLean

Tobermory, Mull

Leaving Mull behind

Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point of mainland Britain

I had dinner on the boat to save having to find somewhere when we arrived.
We docked in Castlebay on time at 6.15.

Kisimul Castle, Castlebay, seat of Clan MacNeil


I immediately cycled over to Vatersay, up and down a 12% hill and across a causeway, to find a place to camp for the night. I pitched my tent on a flat spot in the dunes that made up the isthmus in the middle of Vatersay, just by a community centre that had toilets and coin operated showers, though I discovered next morning that they would not take the new £1 coins.
Vatersay Community Centre and my little tent.

Having pitched my tent, I cycled back up the road to get mobile reception to phone home, then set off in search of the start of the Hebridean Way. My guide book told me that the sign was in the dunes where I had pitched my tent, though I could not see it. A gpx file that I had downloaded showed the start of the way further down the road through the village of Vattersay. I duly set off to the end of the road, which then became an increasingly indistinct track, rutted and potholed through the dunes, and then a meadow. 
Vatersay Village
 The gpx file showed the start a bit to the west so I cycled through the meadow, climbed over a gate, pushed my bike uphill through a meadow with knee deep grass, until it become clear that I was at the end of the island and there was no track here.
Floggaigh, Lingeigh and Sandray from the south of Vatersay

Rather than climb over another series of gates and fences I retraced my steps, looked around the village for another road, cycled to the end of another track and concluded that I must have been to the start of the Hebridean Way. Before going to bed I walked to the western beach. The sea looked very cold, though people were still surfing, in wetsuits, at 9 pm.
The beach on the west of the Vatersay isthmus, with swimmers and a surfer (in wet suits) at 9pm.
Sunset over the beach

I stopped at the memorial to the 350 emigrants who drowned when the Annie Gray sank in 1853. A storm had carried away the topmasts and the passengers pleaded with the captain to return to Liverpool. He refused, instead battening them below decks so that when the ship foundered they had no escape. 
Annie Gray memorial, Vatersay
Sunny intervals and a dry day. Total ride 16 miles 220 metres elevation gain

Wednesday 9th August

On Wednesday I got up at dawn, 5.30, packed everything away and left at 6.40. 
Vatersay Bay - I camped in the middle of the photo.

Chornaig Bay, Vatersay
Vatersay from Barra
I cycled over the causeway to Barra and up the west coast, past some fine beaches,
Halaman beach, Barra

Alathasdal Beach, Barra

Loch an Duin, Barra

to Ardmhor, via Barra airport, the only airport in the world that has scheduled flights landing on a beach. It was near high tide when I got there, so the landing strip was completely under water.

One problem cycling in the Hebrides is that there are very few cafes, restaurants or shops. An added problem leaving early in the morning is that most cafes do not open until 10, so I had nothing for breakfast before getting the ferry from Ardmhor to Eriskay. There was a drinks machine in the ferry terminal, but I was assured that the products were undrinkable. The ferry was due to leave at 9.25, but was full of cars well before 9 and actually left at 9. Some cyclists could be seen arriving as we sailed away.

Ferry to Eriskay
Vatersay to Ardhmor, via airport

Eriskay Ferry terminal
Prince Charlie’s Beach, where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed from France in 1745, is just by the Eriskay ferry terminal. 
Prince Charlie's Beach

A pub with food was signposted from the ferry terminal. After climbing a steep hill from the village, the road to the pub plunged down another steep side road. Of course, the pub was closed, so I had to haul up the hill again, past a little beach with a jetty 
Am Baile, Eriskay

and then across the causeway to South Uist.
Causeway from Eriskay to South Uist
Bagh Shaltabaigh, South Uist

South Uist, between Ludag and Kilbride on the South Coast
At last I came upon a café, attached to a campsite, at West Kilbride, alongside the remains of Kilbride House, where MacDonald of Boisdale received Bonnie Prince Charlie and told him to go home to France, though later he sheltered the Prince during his flight after Culloden. I had two large cups of coffee and a Scottish breakfast to see me on my way.

The ride up South Uist was pretty flat, up the west coast, mostly on the main road, with views of the big hills to the East, though there were ups and downs to keep the legs working. There was not too much traffic and nearly everyone was very accommodating. I made a detour to see Hallan, which was inhabited from around 3000BC to 1300AD. Three Bronze Age round houses can be seen by visitors. However, when I got to the imposing cemetery 
Hallan cemetery

I discovered that it involved a mile or so trecking through the sand dunes, so I turned back. Later, I stopped off at the Kildonan museum for a pot of tea and a piece of fruit cake. The museum provided a very interesting display of island life and, of course, a celebration of the flight of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Kildonan museum, South Uist

After the museum the Hebridean Way left the main road to meander through back roads along the coast.
Bornais, South Uist

Staonibrig South Uist

Loch Altabrug, South Uist

Howbeg, South Uist
Rejoining the main road we wound our way through the lochs, with a causeway taking us over Loch Bi.
Crossing Loch Bi, South Uist
Geirinnis, South Uist looking south

Crossing another causeway took me to Benbecula, 

Causeway to Benbecula
past Borve Castle, a ruined fourteenth century tower house. 
Borve Castle, Benbecula
The ride up Benbecula was not very interesting. It was fairly flat, which meant that I was exposed to the wind.
just south of Baile nan Cailleach, Benbecula

just south of Baile nan Cailleach, Benbecula

Gramsdale, Benbecula, at the end of the runway of Benbecula airport
Benbecula airport is now a civilian airport, but was the control centre for the Hebrides rocket range and still has the large, ugly, housing estate from those times.

At the top of Benbecula was another causeway to Grimsay, and then across to North Uist. By now I was ready for something more to eat. The guidebook showed a pub, the Westford Inn, at Claddach Kirkibost – the only pub on North Uist. I got there at 6pm, which was when it advertised dinner, but when they heard I did not have a reservation I was turned away, though I had a pint of the local beer before I set off again. By now I was increasingly tired and hungry, but ahead lay the Co-op at Solas. There I got myself a sandwich and a drink and some cold food to eat later, though I had no room to store it in my panniers, so I hooked the carrier bag over my front light and tried to keep it off the front wheel. I only had about eight miles to go to Berneray, where I planned to stay in the hostel, as rain was forecast for the night.
Berneray Hostel

Berneray Hostel Annex, with toilets and showers
I arrived at the Berneray hostel, which is in a restored black house, at about 9pm. I was told that the procedure was to find an empty bed and claim it. At first I could not find an empty bed, but then someone told me that there was one in the room next to the kitchen – I had not realised it was empty because it was piled high with unwanted pillows and blankets. I ate my dinner and collapsed into bed.

A long day, riding into a brisk north wind all day, with patches of blue sky and sunny intervals. Maybe just because I was tired, I found Benbecula and North Uist rather boring after Barra and South Uist.
Eriskay to Berneray
Total ride 95 miles 1168 metres elevation gain

Thursday 10th

On Thursday I got up at about 5 am, had a shower, packed up and cycled down to get the ferry to Leverburgh on Harris that was due to leave at 7.15. After my experience on Wednesday I made sure to get there well before 7. 
Leaving Berneray
 The ferry takes a circuitous route round the shallows and little islands in the Sound of Harris.
   Of course, nothing was open for breakfast, so I set off on the road round the west coast of Harris, with its fabulous beaches and views across to Taransay and the ocean.
Sgarasta Beach, West Harris

Taransay from Horgabost, West Harris
I passed the remains of the Clach Mhic-Leoid Standing Stones, from about 3000 BC

Taransay fromTraigh Lar Beach

Losgaintir across estuary

 I eventually managed to stop at an art gallery that had a café, at Ardhasaig, soon after Tarbert, though they only had coffee and cakes, in my case another piece of fruit cake.

Soon I climbed the 620-foot pass between Clisham (the highest mountain in the Hebrides at 779m) and Sgaoth Aird. The first part was about half a mile at 12%, which was the only time on the ride that I got off and walked (about a quarter of a mile). The top was an undulating road past a series of lochs before the long descent to Lewis (the dividing line between Harris and Lewis seems arbitrary).
Loch Lacasdail

Ceann an Ora

Loch a Mhorghain
Loch Maraig

Above Maraig

Caisteal Ard
Just before Scaladal

The mountains gave some shelter from the wind, until the descent, when there was a horrendous katabatic wind coming down from the mountains which threatened to blow me off the road. 

Loch Shiphoirt
 At the bottom, a mile down to the right, on the road to the Pairc peninsular, was the Loch Erisort Inn, the only pub between Tarbert and Stornaway, where I was at first the only customer. I had an excellent lunch of smoked haddock and mussel chowder, followed by a crab sandwich. A couple of locals came in and I heard one say that he worked in Chengdu, China, where I had been on an ILO mission fifteen years ago. I got talking to him and it turned out that he had first been to Chengdu while spending three years cycling round the world and he now worked there as a high school teacher of English. I set off with renewed energy.
Loch Erisort

 The Hebridean Way turned off the main road to Stornaway to go over the moors and up the west coast. The moors were pretty bleak, with a headwind and occasional rain.

Loch Thobhta Bridein

Loch Acha Mor

Loch Acha Mor

The next stop was Callanish. I turned off at a sign to the Standing Stones, down a lane to a field with a few rather unimpressive stones, which I later discovered were Callanish 3. 

Callanish 3

Ruined Farmhouse at Callanish

Callanish 3

A little way down the road was the turn-off to the real stones, where I had an early and rather disappointing dinner in the Visitor Centre and then looked at the stones, the most important stone circle after Stonehenge. 
Callanish Standing Stones

Callanish Standing Stones

Callanish Standing Stones

Callanish Standing Stones

I then only had another few miles to get to Gearrannan, where I had phoned to book in to the hostel a couple of days before because torrential rain was forecast overnight. The hostel was in one of the restored black houses in the village, which had been abandoned in 1974 when the remaining inhabitants were provided with council houses. Now the houses have been restored on the outside and beautifully fitted out inside, one as a hostel (http://www.gearrannan.com/hostel.html ), four more as self-catering cottages, one as a museum and one as a café. 
Gearranen Black House Village bunkhouse

Gearranen Black House Village bunkhouse

Gearranen Black House Village bunkhouse

Gearranen Black House Village bunkhouse

Gearranen Black House Village

Gearranen Black House Village

After a walk around the village, a cup of tea and a shower I had an early night, ready for the last leg of the Highland Way in the morning.

Grey with occasional bits of drizzle but south wind getting up in the evening. 
84 miles 1550m elevation gain

Friday 11th

I woke on Friday to heavy rain and strong winds, so I hung around for a while before I set off, leaving my bags in the hostel, for the Butt of Ness and the end of the Hebridean Way. The wind was very strong, a near gale if not a gale, but it was behind me so I shot along, free-wheeling about half the way. I stopped off at the Arnol Blackhouse, which is a museum and a black house that had been built around 1880 and lived in until 1966. Unlike Gearranen, the black house had not been renovated so one could get some idea of how people lived. There were stalls for the animals in one room, a sitting room with a peat fire burning in the middle, but no chimney, a bed room with box beds made from drift wood. 

 There was also a ruined black house and a small white house, furnished as in the 1950s.

I stopped off at the museum of the Ness Historical Society, which contained a bizarre collection of disparate objects and displays and a genealogical/historical library, but an interesting representation of the traditional farming year. I had a nourishing, but otherwise rather ordinary, lunch in the museum café and then set off for the Butt of Lewis, reputedly the windiest place in Britain, a few miles further on. The wind had not relented, but the rain had eased and there were patches of blue sky and even sun. The Butt of Lewis was a memorable and dramatic place, with the tall lighthouse and the sea crashing on the rocks below. 

After the photos I set off for Port of Ness, where I had tea and a piece of fruitcake in a café on the harbour. The menu was wonderful and I really regretted having had a mediocre lunch at the museum. Still, I could look forward to finding a shop where I could buy some tasty local produce to cook for my dinner.
Port of Ness

Port of Ness

The ride back to Gearranen was the most miserable bike ride of my life. The wind was blowing a gale straight at me, with driving rain (someone at the hostel was told in Stornaway that this was the worst storm since the winter, and unusual for the summer). I clawed my way back over the bleak and windswept moors towards Gearranen, thinking at times that I would never get there. At Borve I stopped at the mini-market to buy the dinner of my dreams. The shop had almost nothing in it, apart from alcohol and tobacco. The best I could do for dinner was a Birds Eye frozen chicken curry – the only way you would know it was a curry was because it said so on the box. 
North Lewis Moors

North Lewis Moors

Loch Urghag near Arnol

Fortunately the rain eased and the wind began to drop over the last few miles to Gearranen and it turned into a lovely evening, the sunset over the beach making up for the disappointing dinner.
Gearannen Black House Village

Gearannen Black House Village

Gearannen Black House Village

Gearannen Black House Village

Gearannen Black House Village

Gale force winds and driving rain. 62 miles 1186 metres ascent

Saturday 12th

I had intended to go to Tarbert on Saturday, stay overnight in the backpackers’ hostel and take the morning ferry to Skye on Sunday. However, I discovered that there was no morning ferry on Sunday in July and August and I did not want to get to Uig in the evening because I wanted time to find somewhere to stay, so I decided to get up early and ride to Tarbert to catch the 11.30 ferry. I didn’t know exactly how far it was to Tarbert or how long it would take me to get over the pass, so I decided to get up at 4 and leave at 5am, but I misread my watch and later discovered that I had got up at 1 and left at 2.15. I set off in pitch darkness and wondered why there was no sign of dawn. It didn’t even start to get light until what I thought was 8 am. 
Stathabhal from the pass on the way to Tarbert

Loch a Morghain

I reached the top of the pass in good time and arrived in Tarbert at what I thought was 10.20. I couldn’t understand why everywhere was closed, except for the posh Hotel Hebrides by the ferry quay. I went in to the hotel restaurant, but they told me that it was fully booked for residents and they were not serving people from the street. I pleaded for a cup of tea and they put me in a corner and gave me one. There was only one couple in the dining room and, still thinking it was 10.30, I remarked to the waitress that everyone seemed to be getting up very late – had they had a wild night? I made my excuses, used the toilet and left and they refused to take any money for my tea – they must have thought a madman had been let loose on the streets of Tarbert. It was only when I met a couple of people waiting for the ferry ticket office to open that I discovered that it was still only 8.10. I hung around, reading the paper on my Kindle Fire, until the café above the harbour opened at 10, where I had a wonderful Scottish breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee before getting on the ferry at 11.30 for the crossing to Uig.


Leaving Tarbert

Approaching Uig

We got in to Uig at 1.30. I had seen a campsite marked on the OS map right by the ferry terminal and there was indeed a small basic campsite. I checked in for two nights at £7.50 a night. 

Having pitched the tent I did all my washing in the hope that it would not rain, then cycled up to the Ferry Inn, just outside town, for a pint and to book a table for dinner. They could fit me in at 6 as long as I was out by 7. 
I discovered that I had pitched my tent on a robin's territory.

I rested for the afternoon, reading the papers, and in the evening had an excellent dinner at last: mussels followed by a delicious slow-cooked belly pork.
I went to bed about 9 and slept well until I was woken at 1.30 by a French woman in the next tent, very close to mine, ranting and screaming, with her friend and then other campers trying to quieten her. I don’t know if she was drunk or mentally ill, but eventually peace was restored and I got back to sleep.

47 miles 903 m elevation gain

Hebrides observations. The Hebrides are very sparsely populated, not too busy, generally easy cycling. Eating was a big problem, very few shops, with very little in them, and few restaurants or cafes, like the population all concentrated in Stornaway. Too wet and windy for midges. Worth spending more time for visiting historical and ancient sites, for walking and for nature study.

Sunday 13th

Sunday started as a beautiful sunny day. I set off about 6.30 to cycle round the northern Skye peninsular and back over the Quiraing, leaving my bags in the campsite.  There were good views from the road over to the Outer Hebrides. 

I stopped off at the reconstructed souterrain at Kilmuir. This is an iron age construction, like a tunnel, which it is presumed people used as a storehouse.  The entrance was far too small for me to crawl through, so I just admired it.

A bit further on I looked in at the Skye Museum of Island Life, which was closed on Sunday,

Sgurr Mor, North Skye
then across the north of Skye 
Sgurr Mor range, North Skye from the north

before I detoured down to the sea and up towards The Aird. 
Kilmaluag Bay, North Skye
The Aird

The path was very muddy so I decided not to walk to the top. I then cycled down to Brogaig.
The Quiraing from the north

north-east Skye on the road to Dunans

The Quiraing from the north-east
Eilean Flodigarry
Staffin Island

At Brogaig a minor road to Uig climbed up to a pass by the Quiraing. A sign at the bottom warned of a 15% gradient. It was steep, but only briefly 15%. 
The Trotternish range from the road up to the Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Trotternish range from the road up to the Quiraing

The Trotternish range from the road up to the Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

Trotternish from the Quiraing pass

The Quiraing

Fortunately, I managed the climb without meeting any cars, because the road is very narrow and if you stop on a steep hill it is almost impossible to get started again. By the time I got to the top the tourists were out. The car parks and grass verges were littered with cars and the road blocked by cars trying to find somewhere to park. The Quiraing and the Trotternish mountain range running south were very spectacular and the ride back down the glen to Uig was a relief after the climbing.

The Trotternish from the Quiraing

Down the glen from the Quiraing

 I got back to Uig about 12 in time for a shower and change before lunch at the Ferry Inn, where I had mussels again and a langoustine open sandwich. The Ferry Inn was not open for dinner, so after wandering around for the afternoon I had dinner at the Harbour Restaurant. The Trip Advisor headline ominously said ‘any port in a storm’.  I had a soup and Cajun salmon, which was edible. I went to bed about 9 and an hour later was woken by a grieving stomach. I quickly dressed, rushed to the loo and had a violent attack of diahorrea. Fortunately, that one bout was enough to clean me out and I had a good night’s sleep.

27 miles 700 metres ascent.

Monday 14th

I got up early, packed my things and left at 5.30, to clear the Quiraing before the tourist traffic arrived. The rain started just as I packed my last bag. The ride up from the west was much gentler than yesterday’s ride up from the east, through two glens to the top. The descent was fast, but controlled! The ride down the coast was beautiful, even in the rain, with the mountains shrouded by cloud. 
The Storr

Coir Scamadal On the A855 from Staffin to Portree

The old man of Storr

Loch Leathan

I had breakfast (two cups of coffee, a croissant and a bacon roll) in an expensive café in Portree, went to look at the harbour and found that the fish shop was closed on Mondays and bought some food for dinner in the Portree co-op.

Portree Harbour
 I continued on the road in the pouring rain to Sligachan, at the foot of the Cuillins, but could see very little through the rain, mist and cloud.
Varragill River and Loch Portree

Towards the Cuillins

Towards the Cuillins

Towards the Cuillins

Towards the Cuillins

Towards the Cuillins

Sligachan from the bunkhouse
I had a mediocre lunch of soup and chilli at the Sligachan hotel and then rode up to the bunkhouse. I realised that I did not have the key code for the door (in fact I had it on a piece of paper in one of my bags, which I found when I got home), so I had to cycle three miles down the road to get a mobile signal to call the owner to get the code. When I got back I had a shower, dressed and settled down to read for the afternoon – it was too wet to go out for a walk! The bunkhouse was fantastic – comfortable beds, hot showers, a large dining room, sitting room and very well-equipped kitchen. Other residents drifted in through the afternoon – all French, Spanish and Italian car tourists. I cooked my tortellini for dinner and got to bed early.

Uig to Sligachan                49 miles               764 metres ascent

Tuesday 15th

I set off early for the ride to Armadale to catch the 10.30 ferry to Mallaig, riding through pouring rain. At one point the rain was so heavy that I could see nothing and had to stop. 

Glamaig - on the road from Sconser to Broadford

Druim nan Cleochd - looking south on the road from Sconser to Broadford

Meall a Mhaoil looking north from the same spot on the road from Sconser to Broadford

Blackhill waterfall, on the road from Sconser to Broadford

Loch Ainort. On the road from Sconser to Broadford
Loch Ainort. On the road from Sconser to Broadford
Loch Ainort. On the road from Sconser to Broadford
Loch Ainort. On the road from Sconser to Broadford
Loch na Cairidh. On the road from Sconser to Broadford
On the road from Sconser to Broadford. Scalpay in distance.
I stopped at a cafe in Broadford for a bacon batch and a very weak coffee - unusually this cafe opened at 6.30 am. I then turned off the A87 at last to take the less busy A851 to Armadale. The rain did not relent, though now coming in heavy bursts rather than constant drizzle.
Kinloch. On the road from Broadford to Armadale.
Kinloch. On the road from Broadford to Armadale.

Teangue.  On the road from Broadford to Armadale.



I got to Armadale in good time for the ferry.  I was wet, cold and my legs were like jelly. The ferry people assured us that it was not raining on the other side.

On the ferry
Leaving Armadale
Looking back to Skye from the ferry

Sligachan to Armadale    33 miles              540 metres ascent

Total ride: 7 days; 400 miles; 23,000 feet ascent; 21000 calories burnt; overall average 10.55 miles per hour.

Mallaig Bay

Mallaig Harbour

I checked in to the Mallaig Backpackers Lodge, right by the ferry quay and station, had a shower, changed and had a look around Mallaig. I went for lunch at the Cornerstone Restaurant, which claimed to be the North Scotland Restaurant of the Year 2016. I had an excellent lunch of scallops with cauliflower puree and crispy cauliflower florets, followed by a small fish and chips.
I spent the afternoon wandering around the town, once the rain had stopped. 
Mallaig marina

Lochboisdale ferry passing Skye

Loch Nevis from Mallaig Vaig Road

The steam train, which takes tourists from Fort William to Mallaig and back, was in the station.   
Steam engine in Mallaig Station

For dinner I had mussels (not as good as Uig) and a Thai monkfish curry at the Cornerstone and went early to bed, ready to get the 6.03 train to Glasgow next morning.

Wednesday 16th

I got up at 5, to see a spectacular dawn, 

Mallaig harbour at dawn

and got to the station in good time. The train journey was even more spectacular than that to Oban. 

Loch nam Uam from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow

Loch Shiel from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow


Glenfinnan Viaduct (as seen in Harry Potter films)

Loch Eil from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow
Loch Eil from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow

Loch Eil from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow

Loch Eil from the train from Mallaig to Glasgow

I got to Glasgow on time at 11.30 and walked over to Glasgow Central Station to get my 4pm train to Coventry.

I went to the ticket office to get my bike ticket for the train to Coventry, but they could not find my reservation and all bike spaces were booked. They told me to phone Virgin, but their systems were down. Then a very nice man booked me onto the 2 o'clock train with no extra charge. I went off happily for lunch, having locked my bike in the racks. I had an excellent lunch of tomato and pepper soup, followed by a fillet steak at The Grill on the Corner. I came back to the station at 1.40 to find all my bags gone, including the bar bag in which I keep the padlock combination. I rushed over to an official and told him all my bags had been nicked. He got on his radio and told me that they were in lost property because you are not allowed to leave bags on bikes. I ran to the other end of the station to get my bags and the combination, ran back to get my bike, ran back with the bike and fitted the bags, went through the wrong gate and back out to get onto the right platform. Four minutes to go. I ran down the platform to the front of the train to load my bike. The door was locked. I banged on the door and someone appeared to tell me bikes go at the back. I cycled back down the platform and got my bike on the train with seconds to spare! I got home at 4.30 pm.