Strontian-Kingairloch Loop Cycle Ride

This is a great 35 mile circular road ride.

With more visitors coming to our area, many bringing road bikes, I thought I'd share some local knowledge including accommodation options.

I start in Strontian and tackle the trickiest single-track road section first. That's the main A884 between the Corran and Lochaline ferries.

Mid-week this can be very busy and potentially dangerous. Before 11am or earlier on a Sunday is best. Most cars can pass you in either direction, but drivers unfamiliar with such narrow roads might not appreciate this. Big lorries cannot get past bikes, so please use passing places like other road users.

A killer climb up from Loch Sunart goes on for ever. It makes me glad of my triple chain-ring every time I do it.

It's actually a tricky descent, putting great strain on wrists and especially brake blocks, so it's best done this way arund. A much nicer descent, still on the main road, and you're down to the B8043 Kingairloch turning.

From this point you'll start to noctice these old mileage posts. Before that whacking great hill road was built, this little road was the main route between the ferries.

Today, it's is relatively quiet. It is emphatically not suitable for lorries or caravans, but it is not without hazards, such as finding a tourists car coming around a blind bend on the wrong side of the narrow road. Believe me, it happens.

This section of road is one of the highlights.

You're on relatively smooth tarmac, compared to many of the roads around here, but it's quiet and travels through stunning scenery down to the loch itself.

You can see a good enough distance ahead to gain some speed which carries you up and over the small rises in the road.

You don't ride it, you swoop down it. It gives me tingles every time. And there's great food waiting.

The Boathouse restaurant lies down to the right in Kingairloch Estate (not the village). This has become a regular eating place for us and is sign- posted from this road. Be warned though, you might find the last climb of the day a little tricky if you over indulge.

Kingairloch Estate owns the restaurant and lots of holiday cottages for which they charge reasonable rates. the locations are absolutely stunning.

If you fancied staying in a genuine Scottish Estate this place has a great atmosphere.

I always make a point of diverting from the main road and cycling 100 yards into the tiny hamlet of Kingairloch.

It's an estate-owned village, but there's a lovely church.

Liz and I always break our journey here, sitting outside on the grass looking at the view.

Yesterday I shared that view with a group of visiting bird watchers, 'twitchers', who had set up their scopes and were peering out to the tideline.

I wasn't sure whether I should mention the Golden Eagle I'd seen from the road behind them.

I decided against it and returned to the view.

Last Monday Liz and I kayaked past this spot on an equally perfect day. She's in London for ten days and I miss her, especially when I'm visitng our usual haunts.

If all this has you interested in paying a visit to this patch, you don't have to rent a cottage.

Over the last year or so, on our occasional visits to this area, we've seen a team of builders engaged in rennovation work. Now we discover the out-buildings have been turned into 'The Steadings' B&B.

It has the eminently sensible charging policy of reducing the price if you stay for more than one night, reflecting the marginal costs.

A double or twin room drops form £40 each for the first night, to £35 for the second and £30 for the third. Singles are £5 more.

The cycle route continues past these buildings and along the coast. A narrow section on very rough road has the compensation of stunning views across Loch Linnhe.

Ride past the Abernethy Outdoor Leadership School, and then start sniffing. Chances are you'll smell the wild goats before you see them. They usually hang out in the trees around here.

Also keep your eyes peeled for a sea eagle which visits this area from his home on Mull. We usually spot him from the kayak.

Eventually, hit the main A861 and start the last climb of the day. It's long, but it's not so steep from this side of Glen Tarbet.

Whizz down the other side, and you're back where you began.

It should take about three hours including stopping in Kingairloch.


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