The Loch Awe ride




July 1999
180 km




I did not have a camera back then, I am afraid. So no pictures from that tour. But click on the button below to open up Google Maps.
Enter "Loch Lomond" in the search field & Google Earth for xtra pictures





When I took up cycling again in Scotland after the relocation from Norway back in 1996, this was a tour I was looking at with the greatest possible interest. The length of the ride meant I used most of the summer training for it. And it was with trepidation I set off one rainy morning. I was hoping the rain was going to ease up, but it became worse when I reached the top of Rest And Be Thankful after a smooth ride up Loch Lomond. Just after the top of Rest And Be Thankful, I crashed out and my bike got some serious damages. As per usual, I got nothing besides of a sore elbow & concussion. The rest of the day and the next day was spent in a hospital. The bike ended up in a cycle repair shop where it got a good overhaul.

Take 2.

It was a very nice morning with some light skies but no rain when I set off an early morning two weeks later. I passed Balloch and continued up the cycle road past Loch Lomond golf course along Loch Lomond to Luss. After the campsite at Inverbeg, I switched to the main road over the small hill to Tarbert after observing next to no traffic here. I arrived at Tarbet where I took the road over the small hill to Arrochar
at Loch Long. The weather was perfect for cycling and I continued around the head of Loch Long to the beginning of the climbs up to Rest And Be Thankful at 280 meters above sea level. This is a hard, long climb and I took it easy up here. I arrived up here three hours after leaving home.

After the crash the forthnight before, I was not too happy when I descended down the valley to the sea again at Loch Fyne. I was scared and the descent was hairy. In particular the last bit past Cairndow. I was very glad when I was down at sea level again. I cycled around the head of Loch Fyne and the rather scenic, but twisty round out the loch to Inveraray, a small village at Loch Fyne. Just before arriving at Inveraray, the road took a small detour into another loch before I crossed over a small bridge and entered this small village. I took a small break down at the sea front here before the hill climbs over to Loch Awe.

I had done this road by car before and was expecting a hard climb. But after the first steep climb into a small valley, the rest of the climb was pretty easy until I was overtaken by another cyclist. He stopped at the top of the hill with a good overview over Loch Awe. I joined him some minutes later after a good ride up from Inveraray which was not that hard. My fellow cyclist was on his way from Manchester to John'O'Groats and was bypassing GlenCoe over Oban and Loch Linnhe. In my view and experiences, a route far harder than GlenCoe. But that was his problem. He was taking a long break so I continued down the hill to Loch Awe. This lake/loch is a very big inland lake. It is also scenic. I followed the rather undulating road up to Dalmally at the end of Loch Awe.
Dalmally is supposed to be a village, but I did not find any open shops there. I did not find much of a village either. I was just over halfway through this ride and I was hungry too. A mobile chippy van on a truck stop and some dubious looking hamburgers became my saviour just outside this village.

The twenty kilometers road over the flatlands and up the valley to Tyndrum is probably the most boring piece of road in Scotland. The road is flat for some kilometers before it rises up to the beginning of a valley up to Tyndrum. I was half a sleep up this climb and up the valley. The scenery was dulls as nothing else in life. I was very glad when I finally arrived at Tyndrum. This is a small village at the bottom of the hills from Glencoe and the top of the glen going up from Loch Awe. It is an important touristy crossroad too with shops and hotels. Not to mention two railway stations, serving Glasgow, Fort Williams and Oban.
I continued down the five kilometers down the valley to Crianlarich, a small pretty village & crossroad. A small climb took me up to a small moor and a long descent down to Loch Lomond again. I was really tired now on the narrow road past Ardlui and the climb past the old hydro station at Inveruglas. I was keeping an eye on Ben Lomond all the way past Tarbet and down Loch Lomond. This time, I chose the cycle path all the way past Luss to Balloch and my flat in Alexandria after 180 km and twelve hours on the bike.



Conclusion



A very long ride with some excellent scenery. The Dalmally to Tyndrum is boring. But the rest is a great bikeride. I actually recommend this bikeride. But there is a lot better and equally long bikerides in this area and I would rather chose them than this ride. But if you got sparetime, why not do this ride. I had a very nice bikeride.