Friday, 6 April 2012

The Actual Trip: Day 7

Hello from Fort William! Can't believe I'm over half way through my journey now. Had a really good day today, though the weather could have been better. For the first time I can report that the journey was shorter than expected today, only took 6 hours rather than 6 and a half. Roads were very quite in places though, but lots of holiday traffic on the main routes.

Dumbarton. There were signs up suggesting the place
 I had parked flooded at high tide. Thankfully it wasn't high tide.
Started the day by heading north out of Ayr. The route involved a lot of faffing on and off the A78 through places like Irvine and Androssan. The highlight of this bit of the journey was probably the sign for Bogside. Stopped just after Largs to take some photos looking across to Bute, weather was still a bit iffy. Round through Gourock and Greenock it was somewhat obvious there's an election on from all the SNP signs attached to the lamposts. Next up was the Erskine Bridge, not the easiest to get to without using a motorway. It's pretty huge though, so not hard to miss and certainly isn't one for those afraid of heights.

First break of the day was at Dumbarton, which was very nice. I seemed to making depressingly slow progress by this point; not sure what I was worrying about really though. It was then on up through Helensburgh and passed HMNB Clyde, the home of the UK's nuclear deterrent. Needless to say, it had some very unfriendly looking fencing around it and I thought it best not to stop and ask where they keep the nuclear wessels. Alongside Loch Long and the road quality really deteriorated. I commented the other day on how impressed I was with some of the road engineering in Wales. Well, the A814 alongside Loch Long wasn't so much engineered as someone just laid some tarmac on top of whatever was there before. It was like a mad rollercoaster, even at 35mph. And the loch lived up to it's name.

Lochgilphead. Weather here was typical of most the day.
Eventually I turned onto the A83 and Cicelia's suspension let out a sigh of relief. The route headed away from shore through Argyll Forest Park and over the mountains. The views would have been epic, but it was poring with rain and the hills were all hiding behind the clouds. It was then a long run down Loch Fyne with the weather gradually improving. Spent a lot of time behind a couple of horse boxes before finding a suitable place to pass them. Stopped at Lochgilphead for lunch.

Best bit of the day by far was just after lunch. The 2 cars ahead of me as I headed off up the A816 both turned off fairly soon and then I had the whole road to myself pretty much from there to Oban. 35 miles of unadulterated road and spectacular scenery. Was great. There was a lot more traffic in Oban itself. Not sure where it all suddenly appeared from and it all promptly disappeared again as I left Oban on the A85. Made me wonder if a bunch of people were just driving round the one-way system for the hell of it really. Again the road was very quiet, especially when I crossed the bridge at Connel onto the A828. Was another good drive up to the A82. Pulled onto the A82 behind a queue of traffic that was behind a caravanette and 2 caravans. Oh well, all good things and all that. Trundled into Fort William about half 3.

Across the Loch at Fort William
Weather has really cheered up now, hope it stays that way for tomorrow. It's the bit I've most been looking forward too: round the top of Scotland!

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