Contrasts 2-3 June 2017

From lush green countryside and empty roads, to built up cityscapes and jammed motorways / lochside A roads. Our 560 mile journey home was full of variety.  Stopping off at Inveraray Castle, a pile dating back to the 1740s , you have to admire the sheer wealth and ambition (arrogance of nobility?) on show to construct such gems and gardens.  Avoiding the soup on offer, we pushed on to Bill Neil Charlie and Sam’s welcome hospitality in Cartmel.

An evening walk up the limestone pavement of Hampsfell gave glorious views over Morecambe Bay.  The wee building at the top is well worth looking out for.  ” The Hospice was built in 1834 (or 1846) by the Reverend Thomas Remington, Vicar of Cartmel from 1835-1854 . He built it as a shelter for wanderers over the fell, and as a thank offering for all the beauty he had seen there on his daily climb up to the summit from his home at Aynsome in the Cartmel Valley.”

Before leaving to join the traffic jammed M6, Holker Hall showed off the wealth of the Cavendish family.  Built about the same period as Inveraray Castle, there were similarities in both ambition and interior designs. Still owned and lived in by descendants of the original family, ( good finances there to minimise death duties) both places feel less stuffy and restricted than many National Trust properties. The trees at Holker are worth a hug, and the see-saw is a must.

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Glenachulish ahoy! 1 June 17

“Ah, you’ll be the two Mr McConnell phoned about last night. You’ll be fine”.  Said the man outside the shop in Glen Elg as we set off. And there he was 2 miles later helping to set up the ferry. Billed as the last turntable ferry in the world. The vessel was originally built in 1969 for the Ballachulish crossing, we were informed by another rather posh speaking person who has arrived. He was wearing unused working gloves. Ignoring the greeting from the two workers of “well isn’t it nice to se

e you, we don’t see you often”, he introduced himself as one of the Directors of the community trust behind the venture. I was more focused on a) the dog who was barking at the seals who were teasing him; b) the thought that I must have been on the ferry in its original setting before the bridge was built. It is rather special and here’s hoping it continues to succeed.

The next distraction was going up the other side on Skye. 300m up in 3 miles helped the breakfast digest quickly. Luckily it was only gently raining, the strong breeze waiting for the main road to Armadale.

More relaxed in the knowledge we’d time for a tea stop, we pulled into a rather swish country house on the off chance they’d indulge two cyclists. Half expecting to be shown the door, we were welcomed in, and replenished calories with scones, cream and jam. Meantime they phoned to check the ferry was running ok for us. Pleasantly surprised with the bill, we left picking up a leaflet for future reference. Reference only: it’s £450 pppn.

Waiting to get off the ferry we exchanged pleasantries with a German couple. They were admiring their engineering of our Rohloff hubs: I was admiring our engineering of their E-type Jag. We’re going to miss the common market!

Soon the second leg of the train journey to Oban: just got to pay attention and not get on the half that goes to Fort William. The first leg, on the last mainland line built in the UK is just a stunning ride as it cuts its way across the hills. The Glenfinnan viaduct is the most well known bit of this line: the rest is none too bad neither.