Wednesday, 8 June 2011

40 days and 40 nights... the wilderness? Well, on occasions, yes. The storms at Durness and Sligachan spring to mind. But it's not so much the wild nature of some parts of Scotland that have impacted on me, but the sheer diversity of Britain's coastline. From the tawdriness of Mablethorpe to the stunning setting of Seacliff; from the manic Middlesbrough to the remoteness of Skye's Neist Point; from the flatlands of The Wash to the 25% hills at Drumbeg.

It's difficult to believe that I've been cycling for 40 days (with the one exception when I was storm-bound). Each day has been very distinct and different; there's no question of the days blurring into each other. I've been pleased to find that I continue to get up early, excited about the day ahead and the new places I'll be visiting. I'll admit that when it's raining in the morning, it's harder to get going, but the feeling doesn't last long; as soon as I hit the road I'm looking forward to the next milestone, usually a harbour or a village.

Recently I've enjoyed a succession of quite short days, and today was no exception. It began with an excursion to Lismore, an island I've often wanted to explore. As with every island, it has its own 'feel', in this case one of tranquillity and simple beauty. Whilst fairly low-lying and lacking in the stunning scenery of the Highlands, Lismore has a peacefulness of its own, an unhurried haven away from the throbbing traffic and thrill-seeking tourists.

After Lismore it was a straightforward run to Oban, where I needed to get my rear brake fixed. The Oban Cycles shop (where we've hired bikes before) had closed down a couple of years ago, but I found another shop where they quickly made the necessary adjustments. Hooray, I can now ride safely downhill without worrying about tipping over the handlebars.

Tomorrow will be interesting, visiting lots of islands as well as a rather risky sortie across moorland on not much more than a farm track. I may have to push the bike for a while.

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