Ardrossan to Bruichladdich and back (with Whisky)
|Date:||21st -23rd October 2022|
|Distance||44 miles out, 16 miles around and 40 miles back|
|Lighthouses||none….but plenty of Whisky|
|Riders||Mike, Helen, Cindi, Chris, Paddy, Tim, Jane, Chris & me|
Eleven years ago. On a wonderful holiday cycling around the Inner Hebrides, whilst wild camping on empty beaches, catching sea trout for tea, celebrating Brys big birthday and removing ticks from tricky places, we happened to buy a cask of whisky from Bruichladdich. We had pedalled around the islands to make the ‘investment’ so it was only fitting that we returned, on two wheels, to pick up our bounty.
An early Friday finish, Pick up Pads and a stop off in Settle for fish and chips. It all went well until we had to unpick our journey across the wilds of Ayrshire, flipping roadworks. We finally parked the van on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Pads swapped vans, we shared a beer and then sleep.
We all met up in the ferry car park and learnt that the first sailing was cancelled. It was looking like a late finish before we had started!
Rolling off the ferry, through Brodick, up and over the String, a lovely mountain pass that dissects the island. The road on the west coast is a cracker, gently undulating and winding around the coastline, our progress only interrupted for steaming bowls of Cullen Skink and Tims spoke going twang. It was a wet old ride and beautiful for it, lots of mist and glimpses. Our first whisky’s were taken at the Arran distillery whilst we tried to dry out before our ferry across the sound. Up and over the peninsula, onto the ferry and more peaty water to help us acclimatise. We arrived into Port Askaig, picked up Paddys lights (kindly left by Chris and Cindi) and headed over the moor in search of our tea. The Bridgend Hotel did us proud. They did not flinch at the sight of six soaking cyclists. The food, the welcome, the warmth was just the ticket…..that would have been a great finish if it wasn’t for the last six miles around the head of Loch Indaal. A second great finish awaited us with big cups of tea and a roaring fire supplied by Chris and Cindi who had arrived earlier in the day.
Im not sure the distillery had seen anyone pick up 32 bottles of Whisky by bike. After more whisky tasting Jane and I loaded up the trailers and headed back to the house…the load felt ok, but only if we cycled on the flat and in a straight line. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Whilst on Islay it seemed sensible to go in search of more whisky. We detached our trailers and Chris unfolded his Brompton and we set out to Machrie Bay and the Kilchoman Distillery. We returned by pedalling under the cliffs, over the moor and on to Port Charlotte…its amazing how much quieter the roads are when there isn’t a Whisky location to be bagged.
We returned to Port Charlotte that evening for food, brilliant live music and whisky. It felt like a real send off for our return journey.
With all the whisky cocooned inside wooly socks and packed tightly into the trailers we headed for home in the dark, still, early hours. Every rise was amplified by the weight of the bottles, it was looking like a long hard day until I realised Chris and Cindi car was parked on the mainland. We pedalled 19miles with 32 bottles of whisky across a moor whilst the sun rose. We ate kippers by the harbour in celebration and took the ferry back to Kennacriag. The whisky was offloaded before cycling over Kintyre and Arran to the sound of more of Tims spokes going ping.
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