Travel StoriesBute And Kintyre 2019
It's Time To Go Home
Ride Date 18 & 19 May 2019
By Ren Withnell
I have a cunning and devious plan Baldrick. I might be (like to think of myself as) the great wild adventurer but there is a certain comfort to be found in knowing what to expect when you get somewhere. I know there's a chippy that does kebabs near the campsite in Ayr. I'm going to treat myself to a doner dripping in fat and chilli sauce. In the interest of being healthy I'll be sure to ask for lettuce too.
This morning is damp with a light mizzle and a forecast for rain. The wee beasties are present but their numbers are low so I'll be fine as long as this one doesn't - dammit!! That's gonna itch. We use as much of the electricity in the camper's kitchen as we can, we don't need a repeat of yesterday's folly.
My mood is fine. I know we're only heading homewards now and there is a little rain yet I don't mind. We have been so so SO lucky with this trip I feel blessed and thankful for what we have already enjoyed.
We're going to cross the Clyde Estuary at Hunter's Quay just outside Dunoon, as we have before although this will be the first time in the homeward direction. We could take the B836, a distance of 16 miles. Using the WiFi at the site Google maps shows this is mostly single track. Or we could take the A886 and A815 which is twin lane and 32 miles. Sharon agrees, we've done enough single track and this weather will only make it harder.
I'm glad we make that choice. The A886 as previously described is a pleasure to ride with lovely scenery. We've travelled the A815 on previous trips too but as always it is easy to forget just how the steep mountain plunges into Loch Eck, how the scenery pops out between the trees, how the road gracefully carries the bike's momentum along it's length and how the light rain only adds to the theatre unfolding one contour at a time.
If I weren't so manly and butch I would cry in wonder at it all. Obviously I'm not, I'm not crying at all. I think a blob of rain has made it's way under the visor that's all.
Aaaahhh the last bit of The Highlands. Till next time.
Sandbank comes to my rescue with houses and industry in the harbour. The waters of Holy Loch are almost glass flat save for the ripples from the light rain. The still air means the wee beasties are here too when we stop to take a snap, and there's no trees nearby. Does my midge and tree theory still make sense? They're here, but the air is not thick with them. Hmmmmm.
The edge of civilisation with all it's pros and cons.
I'm sure going to miss this.
We don't pay for the ferry, how cool is that! I can hear your mind rapidly planning to turn me in for fare dodging but we didn't. My friend Rob was up this way a couple of years back and he block purchased some tickets, it's cheaper that way. He had some left over so today we travel for free. Thanks Rob, top fella. That's four ferries on this trip, no wonder I'm happy.
It does rather come as a cultural shock to be back among the buildings, the traffic, the endless signposts and lights and wayward pedestrians and dogs pulling on leads and roundabouts and junctions. I want to spin the bike around, catch that ferry again and vanish back into the hills. As I swerve another car poking it's nose out from a side road I wonder if I have enough money yet to retire to a cave in The Highlands.
Speaking of food it's way past dinner time (1200-1300 for you suvverners). I spot Morrisons in Largs so I lead us in. I'm "feur clempt" (Wiganese for really hungry) so I order sausage, egg, chips and beans. We are merely slightly damp today yet it is good to be out the rain and stuffing our faces.
All I need to do to get to the site is follow the coast. I get us through Prestwick successfully but the easy route north through Ayr cannot be followed southbound. No. No. No you can't go back the way you came. No. No you have to go around the one way system. I really hate one way systems. I really do. Why can I not just go back the way I bloody came?!
I know why. Because I must, absolutely, totally, utterly must get lost on my way to the Heads Of Ayr. Well HA! The last laugh is on, on, on... oh I don't know. I am lost then I suddenly realise I'm at a place I've been lost before. HA! With a swagger in my riding I lead my self and my trusty sidekick (Sharon) straight to the site. Ner, stuff you Ayrshire Council and your confusing one way system. Ner. That'll learn em. Ner.
Perhaps I'm not as smart as I thought. You see eating a large meal at dinnertime means I ought not to eat a kebab for tea. I'm not that hungry and middle aged spread is already starting to take hold, I have love handles and muffin tops. With great superhuman effort I don't buy a kebab for tea. Instead we share crisps and chocolate and biscuits.
We're here again, homeward bound.
The rain remains steady into the evening. Sharon and I retire to the bar and this being a Saturday night there's more than a handful of regulars present. I want to use the word locals but judging by the conversations these are static caravan owners who may not be local but spend a lot of time here. They know each other well, but not extremely well.
Home tomorrow. The forecast looks a little better although not entirely dry. I must be getting better at this travelling thing. I admit I am looking forward to a proper bed, convenient toilet facilities, a kettle and most of all a proper chair. I don't want to go home though. I'd rather be riding Scotland than enjoying a comfy chair.
Tomorrow is here. I admit I'm thankful this will be the last time I have to pack the tent and load the bike. Sharon on the other hand really really does not want to go home. But we must because Sharon is not a millionaire. There are a few things I like about Sharon I just wish she was richer. A lot richer. A lot lot lot richer. Dagnammit.
I am studying hard while Sharon continues to do whatever it is she does that takes so long in the morning. I am studying the map on my phone. I want to get to the A713 without getting lost in and around south Ayr. Again. Straight on at the Co-op. Right at the next roundabout. Left at the end. Right after the river and presumably bridge. Straight on. Left onto the main road. Right at the roundabout. Got it. I think.
Once I have cleared the last roundabout clearly signposted A713 I punch the air in joyous victory!
There is a dampness in the air today with patches of wet road and the occasional fading puddle. The tent came down mostly dry and we are presently dry so we can't complain. Yet again the A713 is a joy to ride and I raise my heartbeat a little on the A712. We stop at Morrisons for refreshments and fuel then it's time to hit the motorways.
This is transport. This is the movement of people and things from one place to another. It can be pleasurable but generally this is something that must be done to achieve pleasurable things. A stretch and a brew at Tebay services. Another stretch and a pasty at Lancaster services. And now we're back on familiar territory.
Sometimes a man has to pasty himself.
As Sharon and I don't live together we must part company at some point. It feels most peculiar to merely wave goodbye to her as she carries on to Liverpool and I peel off at Standish heading for mother's and a brew. We have shared yet another epic tour of beauty and wonder, we have seen such things, we've been through highs and lows, we've triumphed over adversity and we have survived against all odds. Yet it all ends with a fleeting wave at 65mph.
I'm being overly dramatic. Still, it's been a blooming good trip.
If you'd like to share your blooming good trip then click here.
Bute And Kintyre - But Why?
Ren is trying to justify why he's not taking Sharon abroad to exotic places. He blames Brexit but we all know the real reason is because he's mean and miserly.
Getting Mentally And Physically Ready
Before Sharon leaves for Scotland she's both excited and yet pensive? She's normally a chilled out traveller so what is different this time?
Ayr For The Third time
Familiar roads to familiar places, theoretically, if Sharon can work out which way is up.
Air Head To Ayr
Sharon is having one of those days. Still, she's keeping positive and her motorcycle upright.
Boating To Bute
An easy and leisurely ride up the coast of Ayrshire and an evening on the Isle of Bute.
Sharon would like a lazy, laid back and chilled day. Unfortunately she has brought a Ren with her. He's not so bad when he stops flapping.
The Beauty of Bute
Is Bute a Beaut? It's a most peculiar day to find out though. There's no rain and a big yellow thing in the sky.
The Long Way To Machrihanish
Using ferries to get from Bute to Machrihanish ought to be a most pleasant and easy ride. So how do Sharon and Ren manage to turn it into an epic exploit?
Exploring The Mull Of Kintyre
A little look around The Mull Of Kintyre on two wheels and a short walk that Ren makes a big thing of.
Of Batteries and Glendaruel
A bit of an issue this morning. Can Ren pull himself out the poop or will Sharon simply tear him limb from limb? Serves him right for being an idiot.
It's Time To Go Home
It's the saddest part of any adventure, the return home. All good things must come to an end. Fear not Ren is more than man enough to cope...?
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Travel StoriesBute And Kintyre 2019