Saturday, June 18, 2011

To Arran / On the Road Again

The Isle of Arran has been tempting us for two months. So even though it took us way out of the way, and probably added two days to our journey, we decided to cycle a part of it on our way east. We rode the now very familiar route over to Portavadie, stopping to say goodbye to Sophie at The Barn at Millcroft. Then the ferry which we had now traveled on a number of times, and the ride from Tarbert to Kennacraig, where we'd taken the ferry to Islay. Twice.

No round trip tickets for us anymore.

After Kennacraig we didn't know what to expect, which is part of what is fun and exciting about touring. Sure, it was five miles to another ferry. But what kind of hill(s)? We don't exactly use survey maps. And we didn't have a map at all, in fact.

And those five miles turned out to be a little tough. The Scottish roads don't wind slowly up hills - they go straight up. Then again, they often go straight down, too, and we rolled up to the Cloanaig ferry with a few minutes to spare.

On Arran, the town of Lochranza has both a castle and a distillery.

Joshua visited the prison. A dark space in a now ceiling-less castle.

And there are many deer. This one we had to slow down for as it was hanging out in the road.

The detour to Arran was well worth it. The island is just beautiful, the distillery makes a selection of very lovely, slightly briny Scotches. Our favorite was the one aged in a Sauterne cask. Yummmm. Also, the Robert Burns.

Then to some more climbing.

Perhaps you can see the line of the road in the distance? This was a slow meandering climb. With vast, green vistas. Complimented by a long descent on the other side.

We went off that way...

And the rest of the way was along the east coast of Arran, mostly green and lush with some small towns. This is looking back towards the mainland, where we can almost make out Tighnabruaich again.

In Broddick we had a meal, and possibly one of the best meals we had in Scotland, at A Plate of Arran. Joshua had the kid curry and I had an amazing pumpkin risotto with a poached egg on top. Dessert was a chocolate something gooey with pistachios and a scoop of pistachio ice cream. Wow. Truly fine dining. Oh, and fine drinking, too.

For our third ferry of the day, we joined the many drunken hooligans on their way back to Ardrossan. A sign of things to come, unfortunately.

- rolling post

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