Cycling and Sailing in Scotland – Tobermory

Cycling and Sailing in Scotland – Tobermory

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ouch…it is only about 5a.m. now, but ouch, how am I going to make it out of my top bunk bed with these leg cramps going on? And why did I lock my door last night? Well, I have an hour and a half more to sleep before this is going to become an urgent problem to resolve…maybe I am lucky?

Two hours later and the cramps have at least lost some intensity so that I am able to get out of my bed and get the day started. I am glad that I do not have to share my cabin with anybody. It is a tiny space. Opening the doors of my wardrobe means that I cannot open the cabin or bathroom door…
Yesterday I wondered if I would fall out of my bed as it was short and narrow. But I did sleep well indeed and without any accidents.

Breakfast is served at 8a.m., and afterward, we will start our day by sailing toward Craignure. From there our first bike ride should start. The ship’s chef is spoiling us for breakfast. There is everything, granola, eggs, bacon, cheese, bread…he even got some dark bread.

The weather is not entirely in our favor; it is a grey and dull day, but hey this is Scotland, so what else did I expect. As long as it is not pouring down all day long, I cannot complain.
Soon we are setting sail…well turning on the engine as the sailing day is still a few days ahead. We are starting our tour toward Craignure.

But before we leave the harbor area of Oban the ships bell summons us all again. It is time for the safety instructions. As with flight accidents, every ship accident in the past has led to safety improvements. Since the Titanic sank in 1912, safety rules have improved. Now every boat has to have more places in rescue boats than for passengers. The latest changes came with the Italian captain sinking the cruise boat. Now safety lessons are taught while the vessel is still in the harbor. It is a short lesson, but who knows if it comes in handy on this tour to know about it all…

We are close to Craignure now. The tiny skerry on our backboard side is called Lady’s Rock. Of course, even this skerry has its part in history. Lachlan Cattenach, the only chief of the Maclean Clan to be entitled “the bad chief,” was married to Lady Kathrine Campell. A political marriage of little happiness, as the story goes that Kathrine tried to poison her husband. When, by 1527, the union was still heirless, Lachlan Cattenach decided to row out to the skerry at night to abandon his wife there. Hoping she would drown with the incoming tide. As expected the little island was empty the next morning. Lachlan decided to visit the family of his deceased wife to bring the news and his condolences to them. There he found Lady Katherine sitting at the family’s table. Her cries on the skerry had been answered that fateful night by a fisherman passing by in his boat. The Campells did not seek immediate revenge, and Lachlan Cattenach was allowed to escape. He was later murdered in bed when visiting Lady Katherine’s brother, Sir John Campbell of Cawdor in Edinburgh.

The ship’s bell summons it again to yet another, unexpected, briefing. It turns out that we cannot cycle from Craignure today. During last weeks high winds the ferry damaged the pier so we cannot anchor in the harbor. Instead, we will cycle the route of the third day on our first day. Therefore we have to sail to Salen, a small village a few miles north of Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Due to this change, we will also not be visiting Duart Castle today for lunch – we’ll take it on board after all. The second feast of the day. But now we have the hardest bike ride of the entire tour ahead of us on the very first day…

Instead of cycling toward Lochbuie we are now going to cycle from Sales to Tobermory via Calgary beach. Calgary beach actually turns out to be a detour, those that don’t feel strong enough will be skipping it. But I am actually feeling pretty good; so I will do the entire 70km today. Immigrants from Calgary Beach in Scotland founded Calgary in Canada. Though in Canada they are lacking the beach.

After a short break, we turn back and now are going to Tobermory. This means I will finally have to conquer a hill range that I did not make during my first visit to Scotland back in 2010. But for that one, I still blame the not working gears, and not a lack of fitness. This time I am doing good. A few stops here and there to enjoy the view.

I refuse to push my bike. I am going to conquer this mountain cycling! After overcoming what turns out to be the last of the ascents one of our e-bikes-riders has a tire explosion. Rental bike problems again…it starts off the same way as it did back in 2013 in New Zealand. After a short break, our guide sends us off to make our way toward Tobermory alone. He will be waiting for the second guide to come from Tobermory with a spare tire before joining us again.

The downhill into the small fishing village, the only town on the Island of Mull, is demanding to say the least. Taking the decent too fast and you are sure to hit the wall or make an unplanned flight trip on your own. Soon I arrive at the harbor of Tobermory with its picturesque, colorful houses. The town is not only known for its Whiskey distillery but for a children’s TV show called Ballamory on BBC from the late 1990s. We are going to anchor here overnight, and tomorrow we’ll see where our journey is going to take us. Maybe there are options if the pier in Craignure has been fixed today…

If you liked this post, you might also like the other stories from my Cycling and sailing in Scotland adventure:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: