Day 12: Kendour YHA to Lochranza (Isle of Arran)

Total mileage: 78
Terrain: Flat on mainland but steep end of day climb on Arran with heavy rain

Another long day in the saddle after the previous day.  However, we had a glorious view in the morning at the YHA hostel.  The guys there were all really friendly and sent us off with a hot cup of tea and toast.

The weather was pretty foul again but not the same level of rainfall as the previous day.  We cycled for a few miles on the small B7000 the hostel was sited off, until we came to the A713 main road to Ayr at Carpshaim.  This road was fantastic as there was a long downhill through some incredible countryside.  I think in all, we must have had the slope in our favour for about 4 miles.

We stopped off at a superstore in Ayr to stock up after the previous night’s food shortages.  None of us wanted to be stuck in that position again in a hurry.  Ayr is a very industrialised town and not particularly pleasant.  Although the cycle route was well marked, the parts that took us through the urban areas, up through Prestwick and Troon, were particularly forgettable.

Fortunately, the route through the forests close to Kilwinning and Stevenston were really pretty and well maintained.  We hardly saw another soul.  The well kept cycle route made the ever worsening weather more bearable.  Indeed, with 5 miles to Androssan where we intended to catch a ferry to Arran, the skies opened.

By the time we made it to Androssan, we were all completely soaked and the level of motivation was dropping almost as fast as our body temperatures.  We timed the ferry perfectly, arriving with just enough time to buy our tickets and board the ferry.  As you can see from the first picture, our bikes were fastened with a single bungee to the side of the boat.  This, however, was sufficient as the crossing was relatively calm.

Arran looked incredible at first sight.  The heavy, opalescent skies looming threateningly overhead as the ferry drew into the harbour.  It was getting cold and our kit had not dried on the brief crossing.  Mary was feeling the worst, suffering from knee problems.  The harbour town of Brodlick was sufficiently congenial but very small.  We soon pushed past the town limits as we headed northwards, towards the other ferry port town on the island of Lochranza.

Our route clung to the coastline, affording us the opportunity to see a sea lion as we rode along.  The absence of traffic was also noted, something that made the final 16 mile push all the more bearable in the rain storm.  The second leg of the Arran ride took us inland, into the mountains.  The drama of the landscape was incredible, a real highlight of the trip as we forced the bikes up an ever steeper climb.  The lashing rain only seemed to heighten the moment, making the scenery foreboding and menacing.  It truly felt as though we were adventurers in parts unknown.

The hostel in Lochranza was great but considering that we had hardly passed a soul on the roads, strangely busy!

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