(written by Nancy)
No dripping noises outside the window this morning – just the lovely sound of silence, which meant it wasn’t raining! We took our time getting ready to go this morning, enjoying our porridge (Scottish, of course) and chatting with the other hostel guests and the hostel manager Jill, who was the kind woman who let us in early in our rain soaked state the other day. Jill had a great adventure riding a motorcycle around Australia last year (see her blog at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/maden/2010_09.php) so we lots of travel-related things to talk about.
The route today was very picturesque as we rode north to the end of Loch Fynes and then turned south to head toward Dunoon. There are bodies of water everywhere in this area of Scotland and very few bridges so making progress usually means looping around one loch or another. We rode 30k around Loch Fynes and could see Inveraray about 2k across the water from us. It wasn’t raining but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a ‘fine’ morning as the weatherman had predicted. Perhaps our understanding of ‘fine’ weather is a bit warped from living in Australia but I think ‘fine’ would usually mean some sun.
There were only a few small hamlets around the lake and when we came upon the Creggans Inn we decided to stop for morning tea. This was a lovely old hotel and the signs out front noted that it had won the 2012 Scottish Inn of year. Dave was having some trouble with the hub on his front wheel so while he worked on it outside I went inside to check out the hotel and order our coffee. Dave took longer than expected so I was ‘forced’ to relax in the great lounge area, drinking my coffee and eating my half (but not more than my half) of the homemade shortbread cookie and fruit bread (the not-more than-half part was a bit hard but I think I mostly succeeded). It would be a great place to stay if you are thinking about a trip to Scotland – see their website (http://www.creggans-inn.co.uk/).
After several cups of coffee we continued on our way as the sky began to spit a little. After going over a little hump the road came down and went right along Loch Eck almost all the way to Dunoon. We stopped several times to put on or take off the rain jackets as the sprinkles got harder then lightened up. We saw an occasional flash of blue sky
As we neared Dunoon we came upon a small restaurant with a crowded parking lot. Sheila’s Diner seemed to be ‘the’ spot to have Sunday lunch so of course we had to stop. Dave’s hub seemed to be getting worse, with lots of crunching noises, so once again he tried to do a bit of work on it while I went in and got a table and ordered. I debated getting the Sunday roast plate, which seemed to be the pick of the crowd, but not sure of how much further we had to ride I stuck to the tried and true egg and bacon rolls – tasty.
We continued on into Hunter’s Quay, the northern suburb of Dunoon. We knew from our research that there were several B&Bs in this area and that the ferry across to the Glasgow region left from this area. We pulled up at the Undercliff B&B, which had some cycle friendly signs and a great position looking out over the Firth of Clyde. Dave’s hub was really making some noise despite his repair attempts, so while he checked the web for nearby bike shops I went in to look at the rooms. This is a great old house with lovely rooms and since there is not really any camping nearby we ended up taking a room.
The great proprietors called a local bicycle mechanic, Duncan MacLeod, who actually came over, picked up the wheel and took it back to his shop to work on it! He tore it apart and repacked it and then brought it back here. He didn’t find anything seriously wrong with it, which is good news, so hopefully it will see us through the next couple of months. After all that service Duncan wouldn’t even take any money for his efforts – Scottish hospitality at its best! So, if you’re ever in this area and need some bike assistance keep his details handing – here is his website http://www.dmclcs.com/. Thanks Duncan, we feel so lucky to have found you.
We had dinner at the pub just 300m or so down the road and are now back ensconced in our comfy room with the TV on – wow, English TV! Tomorrow we are headed further south, to somewhere near Ayr.
Oh yeah, we finished today with exactly 20,000ks on the trip to date. So far so good. We are certainly lucky to have been able to make this trip and even luckier to have been safe and sound throughout. We are sticking with the safe and sound option going forward!