I was in Oban for a hillwalking weekend with 3 munros on the agenda and a bike in planned for one of them. Unfortunately I found myself in Oban SYHA as the others left for Mull and Ben More but with a bike and “virgin territory” there is always something to do!
NCN 78 is a route in the throes of building and planning, partially complete the idea is to link Oban with Fort William so I set off from the hostel to see how far I could get without encountering traffic. The answer-Not very far!
I headed along the esplanade just as the Calmac ferry returned from Mull. On road then pavement with some amazing views back to Kerrera island and Oban Bay.
Past Dunollie castle and then along to Ganavan Sands which looked to be the sight of an orienteering comp. At Ganavan there is a large board erected by Sustrans with info on the route interesting but out of date/old unless there just has not been much movement. I headed up the path as indicated on the board onto a tarmaced section which headed away from the beach and into the country and through some woods a pleasent stretch indeed with some short testing climbs. The route then goes into the village of Dunbeg and wides a route through the streets of a village until it brings you out on the very busy A85.
I continued along the A85 looking for an unmarked road which would take me back in a loop to Oban. I found the entrance situated on a bend and crossed the road and headed up it. The road led to a farm and although there was a couple of gates to open was in good condition and quiet! I stayed on the track heading back to Oban and came out at the south end of the town near a golf course and picked up NCN 8 signs as I got closer to the town centre.
Dist 10.6 miles climb 770 ft in 1:22:22
The Four Abbeys cycle route is a 55 mile circular route in the Borders, with the Borders railway now in operation it is very accessible as a day trip.
I left Fife shortly after 8am and was at Tweedbank ready to pedal just over 2 hours later. Being a circular route the start point and direction of travel are both up to you. As I travelled by train to Tweedbank I started the route with Melrose Abbey about 2 miles from the station and elected to travel clockwise.
Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 for Cistercian Monks. It has a graveyard in the grounds and the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried here.
Next on the list is Dryburgh Abbey near Newton St Boswells two down two to go and you have only travelled 6 miles. Dryburgh abbey was built by Praemonstratensian monks in 1150.
The town and Abbey of Kelso are next on our trip on the way there you pass Smailholm Tower and Floors castle. Just two of the many attractions on this route.
Kelso Abbey was founded in 1128 by the Tironensian order and survived till 1545 when it was destroyed by the English.
Last on the list is Jedburgh. This Abbey is one of the finest remaining Medieval. Buildings in Scotland and was founded in 1138 for Augustinian canons from France.
Being in the Borders climbs are never far off the agenda but none of the Borders Classic climbs feature in this route there are a couple which mean you have to work a bit but nothing too challenging and then of course there are the descents. The first descent heading towards Dryburgh needs a bit of care as you come to a junction with the busy A68! Although this is called the Four Abbeys cycle route and you will ocassionally see a 4 next to a cycle sign the route is a bit of a mish mash with NCN 1 and the Tweed cycle route so you have to be alert for the signs. There is so much to see that I would recommend that this role is done over two days and savoured.
I had some business in Perth and decided to take Carol and our bikes up the A9 for a ride to Loch Tummel.
Carol had not done any riding since our return from France and I had not exercised since my L marathon on the preceding Sunday so it was with some trepidation that we got on our bikes and set off along the B8019 towards Queen’s View and our first stop.
We stopped for a cuppa and a home made scone, the day had dulled over but it was dry with very little wind and the odd glimpse of blue sky. We had been climbing for a while and now had a great wee descent followed again by another climb of course. But we were out in the fresh air on our bikes in Scotland in October with shorts on!! The sun had appeared again and gave us a chance to take some pics of Errochty Power Station a great looking building more like a Victorian workhouse or Asylum rather than a Power Station.
We continued past the power station to our turnaround point at Tummel Bridge a small village dominated by a large holiday park. After using the facilities we headed back the way we had come seeing the amazing views from the opposite direction.
The day had really brightened up now with a headwind to boot. The descents and ascents were now the opposite way but we knew what to expect and it was not long before we were turning into the car park.
Stats: 20.5 miles, 1500ft climbed in 2h 11m.
Bike Tour de Fer 20