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YHA Day 12: Ardrossan B&B to Lochgilphead Camping
    28/06/2013 08:52

Day 12: Ardrossan B&B to Lochgilphead Camping

A ferry from Ardrossan to the town of Brodick on the Isle of Arran was our first port of call. The latter 'B' of our B&B was whipped up Scottish-style by Moira, our host. Food devoured, lycra on, our Brooks leather saddles — now a home from home - between our legs, and we were off. A one hour ferry later and we were on the Isle of Arran.

Day 12 Route: Ardrossan B&B to Lochgilphead Camping
Mileage: 74 miles
Song of the Day: Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell
Phrase of the Day: Where did you put the midge spray?

We started off heading north along the coastal road, weaving past the seaside cottages, craft shops and small villages before the road took a turn for the vertical. Coastal road no more, we were heading into the rugged and mountainous interior. It had a mild feel of the island from Jurassic Park about it. I half expected a Pterodactyl to swoop down, screeching Scottish over our heads at any minute... well I didn't really, but you get the idea.

After a long climb up, the expression 'what goes up, must come down.' came into full force with a spectacular 20 minute, downhill, wiggly-windy road. To top it off, Arran Distillery is conveniently located just as the road flattens out - it would have been rude not to pop in for a dram.

Our time on Arran was soon up and we were boarding another ferry from the northern Isle town of Lochranza to the mainland at Claonaig. A couple of hours’ cycle up to Tarbert saw the return of almost Cornwall-like climbs — oh how the mild masochist within us had missed them. From Tarbert we followed the road Loch-side all the way to our final stop for the evening, Lochgilphead.

On entering the campsite, we were amazed at the apparent lack of the infamous Scottish midges. This amazement was extremely short lived as within seconds they had sniffed out our fresh Southern scent and we were surrounded.

"On with the nets!" we bellowed for some reason, and soon we were looking resplendent in our full-head midge nets... when I say 'resplendent', we looked more like a trio of tights-on-head bank robbers, but at least we were bite free and soon the tent was up.

When presented with a choice of an Indian restaurant which also does Chinese, affectionately called the 'ChIndian' by the locals, or an Indian restaurant which only does Indian, I think most would agree go with the latter. Latter we did, delicious it was. The ChIndian will have to wait for our next LEJOG.

Our final stop was The Comm, the oldest pub in town run by the characterful, linguistically colourful Steve. Conversation was struck up with one of the regulars, Duncan, who was a line man for the county — well, the whole of Southern Scotland. His work took him to wildernesses that usually only power lines dare stray, to check the condition of overhead electricity pylons. Machetes, trekking through neck-height Scottish bracken, and unfortunately located ticks in the nether-regions - as unfortunate for the tick as it was for Duncan I'm sure - were all anecdotes of the evening.

With one last stiff half, we manoeuvred our knackered heads tent-wards and a string of Z's were soon pouring out of our mouths. Good night.

By Harry Hosteller

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