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Home again

Travelling the length of Britain almost from end to end is the best way to appreciate the size of the country, which is considerably larger than it might appear on the page of an atlas. Doing it overnight by bus, nine hours in a cramped seat from London to Glasgow, is similar to flying long-haul across the Atlantic, the main difference being the mid-point stop at Charnock Richard Services for the driver to take a meal; you can’t just ‘pull over’ in an aeroplane. The seats are firm and upright so sleep is somewhere between difficult and impossible and with time hanging heavy the mind wanders off on its own flight of fancy.
Our journey back to Crinan was a complex one, even by our standards. A walk to Yeovil station (via a small country park thickly scented with wild garlic), train into London, then three successive buses, one of which travelled through the night and the last of which deposited us at the end of a narrow lane leading down to Crinan Harbour. Again the scent was of wild garlic but here the flowers, like golf balls when fully open. are still closed, it being further north. We recovered our dinghy from the shoreline for the short row back to the boat, ending our marathon journey. Our evening meal had been a sandwich in London, breakfast was a fry-up in Glasgow. By the time we were back home we were too tired to eat, sleep being the priority.

So why do we put ourselves through such a gruelling method of travel? Purely the cost, I’m afraid. At £25 return each for the London to Glasgow leg we just cannot turn it down.

After a deep overnight sleep we are raring to go again so despite the frequent rain showers we lug our folding bikes ashore and set off to explore Tayvallich and Achnamara, two very different villages on the Knapdale peninsula just to the south of us. The first is a holiday resort centred around a sheltered natural harbour which in the height of summer is thick with boats and holiday makers. The caravan/camping site here ensures its popularity and enables the place to have a pub and a cafe, both of which open all year.

Achnamara lies at the northern end of Loch Sween, one of the long fingers of water stretching out to the south-west towards Ireland. Rarely visited for its own sake it will be passed through by those visiting the ruins of Castle Sween further down the loch. It is a small settlement of houses, has no retail establishments of any sort but has a bus service which runs four or five times a day into Lochgilphead which keeps the place alive and in touch with the rest of the world.

We return completely exhausted, having cycled rather further than we envisaged but pleased with ourselves for having done it. We have ridden through some amazingly wild and beautiful countryside, just the sort of thing we like, so en route back to Crinan we treat ourselves (rather guiltily) to the British Waterways showers at Bellanoch, free to those who have a key to gain access.

And once again the sun gives us a treat at sunset.

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