Biking to Castle Stalker and beyond

For the past few days the weather has been wet and windy and we spent time in the ‘van catching up on emails and chores and visiting Oban where we managed to get internet connection at the CalMac Ferry Terminal. As we mentioned connectivity can be a bit sporadic here – and we have to grab it when we can!

Cameron's bike sporting new panniers

We “wild camped” again on Wednesday night. In true form it rained and was very windy during the night so I was glad the steadies were in situ. We checked the mountain weather forecast for today and it stated there were high gales (up to storm force) and a high probability of heavy snow falls in the early afternoon in the West Highland region.  Looking to Friday and the weekend it appears the weather is slightly better so I subtly suggested that we did a bike ride today!

After doing a few domestic ‘van chores we headed out on the bikes from the banks of Loch Creran to Duror just a few miles past Appin.  Even through the rain the colours of the surrounding area were spectacular – burnt orange and ruby red leaves, dark caramel of the withering fern, and the silver green of the fir trees. We managed to join part of the Fort William to Oban cycle path, which is still under development. En route we passed Castle Stalker, which we had never seen from this viewpoint. This is the great advantage of using a bike, as there are sights you see which you often don’t experience by car.

Castle Stalker - from the cycle track

For those of you who know Cameron and me well, we are not ones to pass a café without a visit, and there is a superb café near the Castle called “Castle Stalker View”. I have to rate this as one of my favourite cafés as it is fabulously designed, with a large octagonal “conservatory” providing some excellent views (of Castle Stalker of course, as well as right down Loch Linnhe and over the top of the Isle of Lismore), it uses local produce, and makes the best scones I have ever had! What more could you ask for.

Castle Stalker View - Cafe & Gift Shop

From the Café we headed towards Appin along the main road for a few hundred yards and then joined the cycle path again. En route the path ended (obviously more development to be undertaken) and we cycled for many miles on the main road. By this time the rain had returned and the wind had increased with a vengeance, which made it very challenging. Once we reached Duror we cycled to the end of the road through Cuil (a small hamlet) where we saw some beautiful, big houses (Victoria, you would love it here as there is loads of land for Hazel Horse!). We turned tail (ha, ha!) and fought our way back through the vicious wind stopping to put on our super bright bike lights. It was certainly entertaining when we cycled the bridge over Loch Creran as the wind had not decided what direction it was blowing and I was struggling to keep control of my bike. As we turned onto the road running alongside Loch Creran we were “hit” by a wind tunnel, which literally blew me to a standstill. I could see Cameron struggling to stay on and at one point we both had to dismount and walk with the bikes. This year out is certainly giving me new experiences! Total of 32 miles cycled today.

Inside Castle Stalker View Cafe

About Elaine Speirs

Elaine comes from Hamilton near Glasgow and her interests in the outdoor scene began at University. She is a keen mountaineer, climber, cyclist and skier. Her first mountaineering exploit was going up the North Face of Ben Nevis after which she was “hooked” on the mountains. She has also climbed outside of the UK, particularly in the Dolomites, Chamonix and Majorca.
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