20 Years since Julie accepted an offer for me to escort her over the Aonach Eagach. We use the event as our anniversary date, and each year we spend the days around the spring bank holiday to go to the Highlands. This year we spent a few days at The Pierhouse Hotel, Port Appin.
We had last stayed at The Pierhouse Hotel for my 60th birthday in 2017. Port Appin is very well placed for a few days cycling, and that’s mostly what we did. On our arrival, and for the first full day at Port Appin, the weather was showery. After a couple of days the weather improved enormously and we had a great time cycling!
It was raining for most of our drive north. And when we arrived at Port Appin it was just drizzling.
Here’s the view from our room window.
Taken a few days later, after the weather improved, here’s The Pierhouse Hotel: very picturesque!
The first day was cold and showery, not conducive to nice cycling; therefore we drove south to Easdale. Only just an island, it is connected to the mainland by the Bridge over the Atlantic.
A little difficult to see on the left-hand image, the bridge is covered by Fairy Foxgloves – right-hand image. These alpine plants are only to be found on the bridge and in domestic gardens, from where the bridge was likely populated by these beautiful little plants.
Driving further south-west, from the bridge, we go by ferry to the Island of Easdale.
The small Island of Easdale is pockmarked by numerous deep excavations of slate. Up to 90-metres deep, these pits were always difficult to keep free of water, however a great storm surge in 1850 flooded the pits and brought and abrupt end slate production on the island.
After returning by ferry we walked to the nearby open garden An Cala. This is for me the most beautiful private small garden I’ve ever seen!
In only 5-acres the owners of An Cala have created an incredible mixture of garden types and spaces. These few photos do little justice to the garden: if you’re in the area this garden is a must-see!
In the evening, back at The Pierhouse Hotel, we saw the predicted break in the weather. The next few days were to be fabulous.
The Pierhouse is renowned for its seafood, and we did eat rather a lot.
Seeing clearly, now the rain has gone.
Day two: no rain, but still a little chilly for the time of year.
From Port Appin we cycled over the Victoria Bridge to pick-up national cycle route 78.
The bridge is too narrow for my handlebars – Julie’s bike, however, was just able to allow cycling.
Cycling (and walking) is made possible through the estuary via duckboards.
From the estuary you get good views of Castle Stalker; best known for being Castle Aughhhh in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
On joining national cycle route 78, we headed east and along Glen Creran. We had our first wildlife experience of the trip: some distance away from the road, we saw an animal with a strange bounding run across a field. After a few moments intently staring at the scene, we realised it was an otter!
Back at the ranch the weather continued to improve. The following days were both dry and warm!
Much nicer weather at Port Appin: the ferry to Lismore just returning with a few happy punters.
A lovely cycling day was followed by pre-dinner drinks and more seafood, and a;
Beautiful sunset from our hotel.
Next day was our anniversary and, you guessed, another cycle ride – perhaps the best of the trip – along Glen Lonan.
Glen Lonan is a great place to cycle: although a ‘normal’ road, we saw no cars in this glen.
Very steep in places, the effort is rewarded with great views and;
Neolithic sites, of which there are many in Glen Lonan.
The locals do, of course, get right-of-way.
Our turn-around point: Loch Nell, a round-trip of approximately 26-miles, an average-B(64W) in our grading.
A glass of Champaign to celebrate, whilst Julie (sporting her porcelain jewellery – 20-years is a China anniversary) decides what to choose.
The following day is gorgeous weather: the wee ferry is back-and-forth continuously taking punters to Lismore Island.
We didn’t take the ferry on this holiday – we had done the trip during my 60th birthday visit: it’s very popular with tourists.
Today we cycled over the Victoria Bridge, back on to national cycle route 78, and headed north.
The Sound of Shuna
This part of route 78 is superbly well maintained. Although at times cycling immediately adjacent to the A828 road, most of the time you’re well away from the traffic.
Great cycling on excellent track
A slow-worm almost got cycled over – another wildlife experience!
Our turn-around, a little south of Ballachulish
Back at the ranch, it was genuinely hot – we just had to celebrate!
The evening was stunning:
The following day, our last day of the holiday, we cycled around Loch Leven from Ballachulish.
A lovely sunny day for our last ride of the holiday
Our last evening at Port Appin: the ferry moored-up, the high tide completely submerges the jetty.