Mostly, this is random stories from my various trips as I collect them, but I've a wee backlog to get through too and those will pop up occasionally.

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Tuesday 24 July 2012

Coasting around the West - Day 4 and Summary

Suitably re-invigorated by my epiphany of the previous afternoon and the pleasant surroundings, I was, once again, heading off from my campsite in a good mood. The only cloud on the horizon was the knowledge that the tailwind I'd enjoyed most of my trip would be working against me all the way to the ferry at Craignure. Cooler than it had been, the sun was playing a bit of a waiting game too. 

I did remember to stop for a photo at a sign I'd seen yesterday...
Basic facilities

...I'm not sure if that best reflected my state of mind or if it was directions to the local amenities.

The roller coaster road I'd travelled down on the day before unwound in the other direction and seemed equally hilly, but it was certainly a lot quieter. Before long, I was back at the head of Loch Scridain and starting the climb up Glen More. This was pretty sheltered in amongst the high hills on each side and it was fascinating to see the much older road/track taking an often more direct line up and over the col. It would certainly make a good off-road alternative for a coast-to-coast..... 

The descent down to the sea at Loch Spelve proved to be absolutely fantastic. The anticipated headwind had failed to show up and with a good road surface, easy corners and no traffic,I made some of the best speeds of the whole trip. What's more, the sun was popping out and everywhere just seemed so fresh. Before I knew it, I had arrived at Craignure and I could have caught an earlier ferry than I'd planned. However, I opted to chill for a while in the sunshine and had a leisurely full breakfast courtesy of the Craignure Inn.

Missed the boat?
Missed the boat
Soon enough, and after a relaxing sit in the sun, the ferry was back and I was off to Oban where Mim was picking me up. Another great trip completed.

Overall, this proved to be an excellent route. The Hebrides end-to-end is often touted as one of the great road tours in Europe - and rightly so - but I seriously think that this trip rivals it. Perhaps not so many sandy beaches (though there are still loads) but the combination of mountain and sea is unrivalled and the roads are mainly just as quiet. People I spoke to en route were very friendly and it has the advantage of easy access by rail at both start and finish. I'll certainly be recommending it in future. 

West Coast Route
Complete Route - 336km / 4613m of ascent

Kit-wise, everything worked out pretty well. I'm still finding the Scarp tent to be very well thought out and spacious. The stove, sleeping bag and mat (which are all recent acquisitions) all worked flawlessly. Carrying the camping gear turned out to be less of a burden than I'd anticipated although it helped that I'd cut right down on clothing. Having the flexibility of carrying my accommodation with me meant that I could change my plans as I went and this helped me stay a little ahead of schedule each day, even though I didn't wild camp at any time. 

The Amazon just carried on working the way it does. After some previous high-speed instability, I'd been worried that putting even more weight on the rack (the camping gear) would exacerbate this but the Woodchipper bars, and a bit of me shifting my weight forward on fast descents, seem to have calmed that down. I might investigate alternative forks with either rack or "Anything Cage" mounts to let me spread the weight a bit more evenly.

Food-wise, I decided to forego the energy products. Normally, I'd take some bars and some Torq powder for a drinks bottle each day but that just means carrying more stuff from the very start. I didn't feel I lacked power at any point though I could do with being a bit more disciplined about eating as I go rather than waiting and bingeing!

I do feel there's not much needs changing now, so it's just a question of sitting down with the maps and working out more routes - not that ideas are hard to come by!

More photos can be found here:

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