Bonnie Scotland..

Posted by on 14, Sep 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK

Bonnie Scotland..
A day out with team Matilda..
Prosecco Picnic
‘Cathedral of the Isles’
The smallest Cathedral…
Team Matilda
The Two Tillys
Largs sunset…End of a great day

We arrived in Largs a day ahead of schedule so had a very pleasant day off, with sunshine and no rain (what!!) And time for a quiet wander around and meander from bench to bench. We really are incredibly lazy when we don’t have any plans and oddly feel more exhausted doing nothing than we do cycling. It must be all the cake and ice creams…

The next day we met up with Colin and Diane and got introduced to their new pride and joy e-Matilda, a sparkling new electric tandem and caught the ferry over to the island of Cumbrae, where they took us on a a lovely guided tour around the island and we indulged in their famous Prosecco Picnic™ at the beautiful spot where they held their beach Civil Partnership ceremony last year. A perfect place for such a special event. There’s only one road around the island which is gorgeous with fabulous views in every direction, very quiet with lots of walkers and cyclists who outnumbered the cars..perfect!

After our Prosecco Picnic™ and island lap, we visited the ‘Cathedral of the Isles’ in the only island town of Millport, where we all promptly got told off by one of the staff for virtually everything we did. It wasn’t the normal Christian welcome, more the kind of welcome you’d get back in your school days if you turned up late for a lesson, whilst out of school uniform, smoking a cigar with a beer in hand.

We did manage to get our stamp and even a guided tour from Mr Grumpy of one of the smallest Cathedrals we’ve ever been in. We’d tried to decline the tour as the he kept telling us how busy he was and how he was constantly being disturbed but he wouldn’t let us decline it and insisted, in that way that strongly suggested that things could turn very nasty if you didn’t do as he said, and if you did, it may involve Reverend Green with the Lead Piping in the Vestry…

Next up on the Island tour was for e-Matilda to take off on her race against herself, with Colin & Di wanting to beat their all time record of a loop around the island ..sensibly we opted out of this and went for the local gin tasting instead. This wasn’t paid for by an anonymous donation from Colin and Di’s tandem friends and race rivals – John and Jane who we believe currently hold the record time for the circuit and it certainly was just coincidence that we just happened to be holding the traffic up swaying around on Tilly after our Gin tipple when we went to meet the racers on their return, which resulted in team e-Matilda being seconds off beating their record……oops..????

So after consolation milkshakes all round, we took the ferry back to Largs and had a fun evening with Colin and Di before they headed off for their journey home and we headed off to bed after a great day.

Our plans from Largs involved an island hopping route to Oban using the Calmac ferries, which have a reputation for being unreliable. However the weather forecast was awful after our couple of days of summer with very high winds and rain, particularly on the islands so we decided we’d cycle up to Garelochead to catch the tandem train to Oban instead and miss the weather. Good decision! As we arrived in Oban the weather was yukky to say the least with lots of rain and wind… just what we’ve now come to expect of this summer’s normal weather.

We decided to have another day off as our brakes were playing up again. On arrival at Oban the bike shop had sold me a universal bleed kit which obviously wasn’t universal so didn’t fit our brake bleed points and only let more air into the system. They did however then lend me their own tools to take back to our hotel and bleed the brakes properly which I did. The extra day was because this still didn’t cure the problem so we took Tilly in for them to look at.

They said the brakes had been bled correctly and diagnosed that our brand new brake pads had glazed over, making them slippery which they felt was due to the brake rotor being worn away and which was now very smooth. Once they said this and showed me, it was obvious that we’d worn down the rotor quite considerably and it would benefit from replacement.

Naturally they didn’t have a Rohloff rotor but did get the brakes working fine using a different kind of brake pad, but we have a rotor on order and will catch up with it on the other coast.

Our plans suffered further set backs due to more cycle route closures. We had planned to cycle up to Fort Augustus which is a lovely cycle and then get a taxi to the top of the pass there as we are wimps and didn’t fancy pushing Tilly up the ridiculously steep 6km hill.

But the cycle route around Loch Loche was closed and the diversion was either on the hiking trail – which other cyclists told us would be a nightmare with Tilly, or the main road, which was very busy and we didn’t fancy.

So, after a fab nights camping near Castle Stalker, we cycled on to Fort William to feed the midges for another nights camping, probably the coldest we’ve ever camped at. 5°C (which still didn’t put the bloomin midges off) and we slept in trousers, our fleeces, put the carpet (!)out of the tent porch that over us with our towels on top. Linda,who in addition had thermal on, was still cold!

In the morning, after packing up, demidging and defrosting with a hot drink we got Tilly packed into a taxi, up the hill to the top of the pass from the campsite reception… Result.

We obviously got dropped at the top of the pass so we could benefit from a fab cycle down into Inverness with dozens of the lycra brigade looking at us gobsmacked thinking we were coming from Fort Augustus with a fully loaded tandem and got numerous thumbs up and ‘good job’, ‘well done’ comments as we passed… We didn’t mention the taxi…

Inverness was our most northernmost cathedral stop and the first that’s tried to charge us for entry! We usually get in free with our Pilgrims Passport and we always donate a fiver for each cathedral. As the entrance fee was £2.00 I gave them the choice of a donation or their entrance fee. They waived the entrance fee!

We had a great chat with one of the staff about cycle routes and afterwards he got a huge stamp out and put a microscopilly small stamp in our passport, easily the smallest we’ve had.

Last time we cycled here we didn’t think much of the place, but again sunshine and a different route got us to see what a nice place it is, with a lovely high street, riverside and castle.

We’d booked another campsite for the night, but had opted for a cabin, we’re too old for 3 nights camping in a row and found that the campsite was at an elevation of 120m just outside the town and we were currently at sea level in the town…Oh dear… Bad planning that one. Still, we slowly cycled up to our site and were rewarded by a pizza in the cafe and a lovely cosy warm cabin for the night….


  1. So collusion and sabotage to stop us breaking our round the island record! I might have known!!!!

  2. We really don’t think that you should have mentioned “ our little secret” ????

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