Route plan for day’s cycling:
The day started wet and windy. I was intending to catch the 7:30 ferry to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan, and head for Mallaig in time for the last ferry to Rum at 2:25pm. I missed the early ferry, so had breakfast and spent some time pondering what to do. Since the ferry to Rum did not run on Sunday, I had to choose between spending another day on Mull and spending a day at Mallaig. I opted to stay on Mull. The cyclists from my dormitory asked if I would like to join them for a short circuit of the northern half of the island. I said I would like to, but I took too long getting ready to go and they needed to head off before me. I started cycling about twenty minutes later but decided to do the circuit in the opposite direction. A singletrack road wound its way upwards with switchback bends to the top of a hill near Dervaig, where I stopped briefly at the viewpoint to photograph the misty panorama. Shortly afterwards I reached Calgary Bay, where there is a fine beach, although it would have been more inviting in sunny weather – it was feeling quite chilly. A few miles on, I met the cyclists from earlier coming in the opposite direction. We stopped to talk a while and remarked that the weather was finally beginning to brighten – a welcome sign.
I took a small detour to Ulva ferry, where a boat takes foot passengers to the Isle of Ulva. Unfortunately the ferry does not run on Saturdays, but I was nevertheless able to see clearly across the narrow Sound of Ulva. I was enjoying the cycle so much that I decided to extend the ride considerably, by adding on a circuit of the southern part of Mull. I retraced the previous day’s ride through Killiechronan, and along Loch na Keal towards the Ben More footpath.
I then continued along the coast. The narrow road wound its way beneath spectacular sheer cliffs, with amazing sea and island views.
The weather was improving considerably and it became sunny. After a few more miles of coastal cycling, the road moved inland through Glen More, taking a beautiful route through the dramatic mountains of Mull. In the sunshine, I was able to fully appreciate the scenery!
Once through the mountains, I decided to take another detour to the village of Lochbuie, which I thought looked appealing on my map, with a castle, loch and stone circle beneath high mountains. The extra 16 miles of cycling were worth it, because the views were stunning. I took a short walk past the castle (which was in the process of being restored) and the tiny church of St Kilda, to an expansive and almost empty beach called Laggan Sands on the shores of Loch Buie. I had a late picnic before getting into the sea, but only up to my knees; it was very cold and I hadn’t brought swimwear.
The cycle back to Tobermory was very pleasant with picturesque coastal views all the way. Since it was much drier, I decided to camp at a site near Tobermory rather than stay in the youth hostel, but first went to the town to grab a takeaway. At the campsite I met two touring cyclists from Belgium who had been exploring Scotland. They had been heading south from Tongue and Durness, and told me that their favourite stretch of road was in the Assynt area, where prominent peaks stand isolated in dramatic surroundings. Their enthusiasm for the region made me think about extending my tour a few days to include it, although I was originally planning to turn back once I reached Torridon.
In the calm weather the midges were a problem, and I wore my midge hat for the first time. I was also given an incense stick which seemed to work wonders for deterring the vile creatures! My tent thankfully kept the insects out and I enjoyed the first dry night’s camping in a while.