Peter Cocker tweeted me whilst I was on Gigha to ask if the café was called the ‘Gigha-byte’ – ha! ha! – so before I go any further I ought to point out that it’s pronounced ‘Gee-ya’. So if the island had a Job Centre (which it doesn’t) it would be called ‘Gee-yaz a job’. Enough of this…
Before we set off I looked out of my bathroom window and looked straight into the eyes of a Roe Deer. Very pretty, I thought, but Suse was not so happy as it has recently eaten lots of her garden plants which she reckons add up to about 250 quids’ worth – ouch!! It was still bery pretty though.
Fabulous view towards Jura
The 15-mile stretch of road from Whitehouse to Tayinloan was hillier than I remembered (I did this stretch last year on my coastal ride), but the great descent into Clachan village is worth it. Then there is a very scenic stretch along the shore, with dramatic long-distance views to the Isle of Jura, and there were more Great Northern Divers, Shelduck, Red-breasted Mergansers, whilst in the scrub at the side of the road Sedge Warblers were singing their wonderful scratchy, yet tuneful song.
Another Great Northern Diver
The ferry terminal at Tayinloan is like a bomb-site: major reconstruction is underway, for two reasons, we were told. Firstly so that articulated lorries can be accommodated on the ferry – which seems daft, as I can’t see that there is any room for them on the island! And secondly, the new ferry is going to be solar powered. Not with panels on the roof – no, the ferry will have a huge several-ton battery which will be recharged whilst it is berthed at night. Now I don’t know what you think, but I can see a bit of a problem with using solar power to recharge the batteries at night… I’m sure they know what they’re doing!
The weather looked so good first thing that I put on shorts and short-sleeves, starting with arm- and leg-warmers. I was beginning to regret this, as it was perishing cold and seemed to be getting colder. The warmers were not to come off all day. In fact, when we disembarked on the island I put on full waterproofs, just to keep the wind out!
Ancient standing stone on Gigha called 'The Giant's Tooth'
Gigha is quite small – about five miles end-to-end, but is quite green and pretty. Towards the north, which is the way we went at first, there are a few farms, then a narrow isthmus with a beach on each side, before a rocky point with stunning views towards the Paps of Jura.
At the north of the island, looking out to Jura
After returning to the village, where we met two couples on holiday from Rossendale (one was a recently-retired policeman who knows my nephew, also a Rossendale bobby), we had lunch in the only hotel/pub before cycling all the way (!!) to the southern tip of the island, past the famous Achamore Gardens. Lots of huge arum plants by the roadside here have presumably escaped.
The Hebridean Princess
We reached the alternative pier, where the ferry berths overnight, then cycled back to catch the next service back to the mainland. The luxury small liner, the Hebridean Princess, formerly the Caledonian MacBrayne ‘Columba’, was just offshore. This is the ship that the Queen has chartered following the sad demise of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Why don’t we buy her another one? – It would only cost about 20p each!
Back on dry land we turned south – the ‘wrong’ way – because I wanted to do a detour to see Alison Clements from the Muasdale Caravan Site who kindly let us stay for free on last year’s ride AND baked me a cake! Today there was a warm welcome, a cup of tea and… some cake! Hooray!
Alison at the Muasdale Holiday Park
On the way back we had a great piece of luck. The wind, which was behind us this morning, had changed direction and was behind us again. I can assure you that this only normally happens the other way around – i.e. when it’s a headwind. It was very welcome, especially as that long descent into Clachan was now a long ascent out of the village.
We just managed to see Suse and John on the way back to the house as they were setting off for an evening’s kayaking, but of course they had left us a lovely meal. So that was one more island in the bag, and we prepared to head off for the Island of Distilleries – Islay – in the morning.