The Oban to Helensburgh ride




July 2000
145 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 "Oban" in the search field & Google Earth for xtra pictures





Isle Of Mull is one of the great islands on the west coast of Scotland and an obvious goal. I cannot remember why and when I decided to go for this tour. I took the train over to Oban and cycled the Northern Loop around the island down to Salen again. I spent the night in Salen on a B & B there and started the tour early that morning from Salen.



The weather was nice when I set off that Sunday morning from Salen down the coast at Sound Of Mull to the ferry at Craignure. The road was flat throughout these 15 km or so and I reached the ferry with time to spare. After some time waiting for the ferry, it arrived and I embarked on this 45 minutes long ferry journey back to the mainland at Oban. I disembarked from the ferry in Oban, a very pretty little town and one of the main towns on the west coast of Scotland. I got some cash from a bank and started this 130 km long bikeride back to Helensburgh again.

I had done this tour in cars many times and on train the day before. So I knew the road pretty well. But experiencing a road in a car and on a bike is two very different things. Normally, that is. I cracked on over a small hill on the A85 to the sea again at Loch Etive which I followed through the small Connel Ferry village and under the bridge which took most traffic up the road to Fort Williams. I was following the road alongside the loch. The road was a bit undulating and not that interesting to Taynult.
I did expect a pretty big climb from Taynult up to Pass Of Brander at Loch Awe. But for a change, this climb was almost nothing. A moderate climb up from a petrol station was the only climb on the way up to Loch Awe. The road was very narrow in this very narrow gorge alongside Loch Awe and the traffic was becoming pretty big too. I was pretty relieved when I arrived at a small village called Lochawe. I had some food and a long break in a small cafeteria here and admired the very beautiful scenery. After this half an hour break, I continued alongside the north shore of Loch Awe to Dalmally. This is a crossroad where I found out I that my intended route to Helensburgh over Loch Lomond was as long as the road over Loch Fyne. I briefly considered Loch Fyne, but climbing Rest And Be Thankful had no appeal to me. To this day, I am not sure what is the best road. Scenery wise, Loch Fyne is probably a better bet. The scenery at Dalmally was wonderful with Loch Awe in the south and the mountains in the north. I cracked on through Dalmally and up the valley towards Tyndrum.
The road from Dalmally to Tyndrum is good in a car, but very boring on a bike. It opens with a climb into a valley and then goes up the valley. The bikeride is dull and without any interest whatsoever. I was overjoyed when I arrived in Tyndrum at the end of this mindnumbing dull bikeride. The few kilometers down the valley to Crianlarich followed. At this village, I took the road over a small hill and the descent down to Loch Lomond. The road down alongside the loch to Tarbet was an easy ride. A ride I knew well by now. The small hillclimb at Inveruglas was a good respite from this flat road and an excuse to take a small break. The rest of the road to Tarbet was easy.

For some reason I do not remember, I now switched over from Loch Lomond to Loch Long. A small climb over to Arrochar followed before I took the road alongside Loch Long. A moderate undulating road. I was starting to get really tired by now. I reached the bottom of the climbs taking me up vertically to the hill above Garelochhead. A very steep hill. It felt like a vertical rockface and it looks like it too. I was cracking on up the hill and was on the top some time later. The road over to the descent down to Garelochhead was very undulating and not particular good to me. The descent to the loch followed. The ride out the loch to Helensburgh is flat, but seemed to go on forever. I was seriously fed up by now and very relieved when reaching my flat in Helensburgh after a not too interesting bikeride.

Conclusion



This is by no means an interesting bikeride. But it is OK with the best parts along Loch Awe. Most of this route is flat and only moderate undulating. It is a good choice if hours on flat roads in a very beautiful scenery is your thing. I was not impressed by this bikeride. But I may do it again as a part of a bigger ride. Recommended ? Not by me, I am afraid.