Ride no. 37 – Tarbert to Rothesay, Kintyre cycle tour Day 5

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Well, last day of our mini-holiday began with a bitchin’ ‘Full-Scottish’ Breakfast with a view over the bay – in the sunshine, woot! Our breakfast company was the other B&B patrons, a couple of Scottish folks and some friendly Yanks. All of them were whiskey and golf tourists – it’s the main attraction (supposedly) in these parts. I much prefer the mountains, beaches, and quiet lanes to the whiskey and golf courses, thank-you-very-much. Apparently the area is such a big deal for golfers and Whiskey drinkers, that people fly from all over the world into the ‘international airport’ at Campbelton (a town that definitely isn’t big enough to warrant an airport!). I find it really strange… as the locals we talked to in both Campbelton and Tarbert say that people just drive through on their way to connect to the golf course or the whiskey distilleries on the Islands. Almost no one, it seems, comes to Kintyre to see Kintyre…. Which is really sad, because it is really beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyhoos, so we headed out to our third ferry of the trip, a little 10 minute ferry across an inlet. Headed through Gorse-lined, amazingly tiny roads towards Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The roads were really beautiful and perfect for cycle touring – ended up ascending a little mountain pass (unknowningly… we almost always don’t scrutinize OS maps enough before we set off!). At the top of the pass was a viewpoint and a little sign announcing ‘Argylls Secret Coast’ – won’t be a secret much longer with signs like that around! Hehe. Had an amazingly fun cycle down the other side, onto some flats, around the inlet, and back up the other side. It started to rain pretty heavily again (shoot!), but we were having a great time. Putting the miles in, singing, finding endless hilarity in the town name ‘Dunoon’ – it was brilliant.

We reached our fourth ferry of the trip, possibly the shortest ferry ride with the biggest bloody ferry you’ve ever seen.  It literally takes 2 minutes to cross, but it’s a massive ferry – big enough for a good number of vans and cars and lots of cycle tourists like us. We arrived on the other side on the Isle of Bute, ‘The Unexplored Isle’, which I thought was a bit of a funny slogan. What about ‘The lonely isle’, ‘the forgotten isle’, ‘the bitter, misunderstood isle’? Oh dear. It’s a pleasant enough Island to be sure – brilliant from our point of view as the route we took to Rothesay was flat, woo! It was still raining by this point, we were cold and sick of being wet, so we just hammered out Bute’s flat miles and were at Rothesay before we knew it. Hung out in a little hip and happening vegetarian café, Musicker, which definitely had some atmosphere about it. Instruments on the walls, super busy with interesting characters, and some impromptu live music even started up. Very cool. Had some nice coffees and a spot of lunch, changed out of our horribly scquelchy clothing and felt human again. One more ferry, a train ride, and a wee drive, and we were home.

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