South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 22 July 1988Weekend ride: Dartington / Start Bay Youth Hostels Day 1Wet
8 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Moxham
This was to be a special weekend, visiting hostels that are too close to be considered under normal circumstances. Indeed none of us had ever stayed at either Dartington or Start Bay.

Such was the rain on the Friday evening that several took cars to Dartington, arriving just in time to enjoy one of those excellent meals that are often served at the simpler hostels. Having spent the remainder of the evening playing games in the cosy common room we ended the day with a trek across the pitch black courtyard and its various concealed lakes of rainwater, to the annexe which was, in true simple hostel style, our dormitory.

Saturday 23 July 1988Weekend ride: Dartington / Start Bay Youth Hostels Day 2Wet
8 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Moxham
Next morning we were down to six when Richard went home to look after Toby (who had not been well enough to stay with us the previous evening). The small size of our group made it easier for us to chat with other hostellers, like the two German boys who were cycling with their parents to Bellever and whose English left a lot to be desired.

The rain was still with us, and when we had spent the morning looking over the Tridias toy shop and enjoying coffee in Cranks restaurant, we had to make a move. Riding through Totnes we got as far as Tuckenhay before the rain set in again in earnest. In the end we just rode through it by the quickest route to Strete and the Torcross Cafe, and then of course the sun came out.

Start Bay hostel is situated in the village hall, during the summer months only. As we entered we could clearly see where the partitions had been erected. But what was this? A huge plate of scones with cream and jam, together with a large pot of piping hot tea. The warden liked cyclists, and wanted to give us a warm welcome.

We shared the hostel with just three others, all from Australia and New Zealand. One of them discovered an important fact about the electric wall heater in our dormitory by leaving his shirt on it to dry out. A short time later there was a strange smell of burning, and closer inspection revealed that the shirt had turned brown. Mark was so worried about one of his blankets touching the heater during the night that he moved to a different bunk. Seriously though, the heater was obviously getting too hot and could well have been a fire hazard, so we suggest that the YHA investigate the matter with some urgency.

Sunday 24 July 1988Weekend ride: Dartington / Start Bay Youth Hostels Day 3Sunny
8 present: Michael Banks, Richard Burge, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Moxham
Next morning the sun was out. There was time for a few silly poses from the new Freewheel catalogue before we set off for our favourite cafe in Dartmouth. The sea and coastline looked smashing today, and everyone felt refreshed after that last two days of misery.

Turning inland, some steep lanes brought us eventually to Dittisham where a very lazy hour was spent by the river in the sunshine. I don't remember when we last had such a peaceful lunchtime. Return was via Corky and Bow Bridge, completing an interesting weekend break.

Friday 29 July 1988Evening ride: Woolston GreenDry
9 present: Simon Barnes, Ashley Freeman, Paul Hamlyn-White, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Julian Juste, Paul Ledingham
Simon suggested exploration of the public bridleway from Lower Combe, behind High Beara. It turned out to be a delightful enclosed lane, opening out at the top into rolling fields with new views of our familiar scenery in a all directions. Such was the enthusiasm that everyone voted for more tracks. And so it was that we tried the shorter bridleway towards Barkingdon Manor. This was our mistake. Or rather Simon's mistake.

The vegetation encroached from both sides and met in the middle, with brambles and nettles waiting to add additional pleasure to our journey. Well, it was an adventure, but that is all that can be said about it.

We were relieved to continue the ride on surfaced roads, even if one of them was Colston Road.

Sunday 31 July 1988Day ride: Posbury ClumpShowery
4 present: Nick Buchanan, Richard Burge, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones
The prospect of rain (again) in the afternoon was enough to make us change our route to a more circular one, keeping within close dashing distance of home. It was pure coincidence, of course, that the route passed through Lustleigh. Voting for the Cream Tea award at the Primrose cafe was "enthusiastic", but I am not allowed to reveal any more until the results are announced in September.

The recent tropical rains had given rise to a prolific growth of vegetation everywhere, most notably along the track to the reservoirs which became more like a thicket with every turn of the pedals. Emerging scratched and stung at the end, Nick was not especially amused.

A fast climb through Lustleigh Cleave and Manaton brought us to Bowerman's nose for an early return across the moor. Our rides aren't usually this energetic, but it certainly made a pleasant change.

Tuesday 2 August 1988Evening ride: Chalk FordSunny
14 present: Chris Bailey, Matthew Bartlett, Ashley Freeman, Paul Hamlyn-White, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Nathan Ireland (10, Buckfastleigh), Michael Jones, Paul Ledingham, James Miller, Craig Nichols, Darren Nichols, Luke Rake, Mark Slater (14, Totnes)
Climbing to Cross Furzes is never especially popular with the newer recruits, but the rapid descent across the moor to Chalk Ford did have its compensations.

Friday 5 August 1988Evening ride: Holiday SpecialDry
13 present: Richard Burge, Ashley Freeman, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Simon Hopper, Michael Jones, Paul Ledingham, Craig Nichols, Darren Nichols, Luke Rake, Alan Skinner, Mark Slater
For those who attended Tuesday's superb ride, a special holiday treat took place this evening in the form of an additional ride, making the most of the sunshine. The route took us up to Chuley Cross transmitter and homewards via the many scenic lanes near Landscove.

Sunday 7 August 1988Day ride: 100km Reliability RideHot / sunny
8 present: Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Steven Hills, Philip Humphreys, John Iles, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Jeremy Weston
We don't often organise strenuous rides like this one, but a few of our members seemed to want something a little more testing than our usual activities. So here it was, the South Dartmoor Explorer route, taking members right over the top of the moor and back around Ermington. As the name suggests, the route completely encircles the South Moor, thereby taking in some fabulous scenery.

But there is a price to pay, particularly when the weather is as hot as it was today. After a 10am start at Buckfastleigh and a few problems with Mike G's derailleur, we managed to make Whitchurch Common, just past Merrivale, for a well-earned lunch. We then followed the devious route along our one track of the day (near Walkhampton) to Yelverton, enjoying further liquid refreshment at the cafe there as we pondered over how on earth we could have taken so long over the first half of the ride.

Four riders decided that the last loop through Ermington and Totnes would have just been a little too energetic considering the fact that it was already nearly 5pm. The remaining stalwarts completed the ride after a lengthy stop at Erme Mill cafe, grateful that the last section of the ride was a good deal easier than the first.

Overall reaction to the ride was very favourable - clearly we had met our objectives in finding a scenic and interesting route of a suitably demanding length. Oh yes, the successful participants: Philip H, Mike G, Michael J and Jeremy W - congratulations.

Sunday 7 August 1988Afternoon ride: TorbryanSunny / hot
3 present: Richard Hopper, Paul Ledingham, Alan Skinner
The unaccustomed heat was almost oppressive, but Alan, Paul and Richard made good time to Torbryan. We returned via various tracks, Alan's puncture being slow enough for us to get home without repairing it.

Friday 12 August 1988Evening ride: SpitchwickSunny
8 present: Richard Burge, Ashley Freeman, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones, Paul Ledingham, Alan Skinner
A pleasant little ride, the outward route being via Hembury Woods. The only people to be seen at Spitchwick were a father and his two sons, who were busy cooking a meal on their portable barbecue. They were pleased to chat with us, but the swarming gnats soon persuaded us to set off for home.

Sunday 14 August 1988Day ride: Lannacombe BeachWet
7 present: Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Nonie McKenzie, Graham Moates, Mark Slater
It was still raining at Totnes, and surprisingly Philip didn't want to continue with the ride, preferring instead to take up Nonie and Mike's offer of coffee in Totnes. We returned in continuing rain at lunchtime for a game of the inevitable Risk at Crofters.

Tuesday 16 August 1988Evening ride: Playground SpecialSunny
10 present: Nathan Arecco (11, Buckfastleigh), Chris Bailey, Simon Barnes, Jeremy Ford, Ashley Freeman, Margaret Hopper, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Michael Jones
Having taken the usual route along Colston lane and now finding ourselves at Staverton Bridge, questions were voiced about the local playground. These were best answered by visiting the said playground, our arrival coinciding exactly with the completion of a women's football match. The swings and fort were thus fully available for the use of our members.

The ride then continued to Landscove playground, contained safely within a gated paddock. In view of the descending dusk, it was felt that no more playgrounds could be visited on this particular evening, but there was time to try a new return route through Lower Combe and the steep climb to High Beara.

Thursday 18 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 1 Devon to Loch Lomond (2 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Perhaps it would be pessimistic to suggest that the tour started in a bad way, but it certainly looked that way as Michael arrived literally with seconds to spare at Newton Abbot station. A quick sprint down the platform as the whistle blew got us into the guard's van just as the train pulled away.

The train journey was uninterrupted until Graham Beever joined the group at Bristol Temple Meads and produced a bunch of grapes (surely an inappropriate setting). These were, of course, duly consumed by everyone else.

Next to embark were Darrel Gough and Andrew Brush at Gloucester, and later Philip Mills at Cheltenham Spa. However, by this time it became obvious that Michael was beginning to apply class distinctions in the group as several supposedly superior members of the group were given the honour of sitting in a first class compartment, which brought much dispute amongst the "inferiors" in the second class coach (complete with non-existent ventilation). Then Michael and Chris Hall were soon to arrive in a rainy Preston, with the final member Stephen Wilson joining at Glasgow Central.

A quick sprint through wet Glasgow led us to Queen Street, where the bikes were expertly placed onto the train (albeit in different carriages) despite some obvious glances from Glasgow commuters.

Arriving at Balloch Central, we departed for Loch Lomond Youth Hostel, but didn't proceed very far before the tour's first mechanical mishap occurred, when Graham's gear lever snapped. Once at the hostel, it was almost immediately time for our prepared meal - complete with Michael's suspect vegetarian meal, and Jeremy's levitating peas (in the soup).

Endless amusement was provided by the hoist to take washing up to the warden's kitchen (one floor below). Cultural discussion was provided in the games room by two girls "from up north" about musical taste, and comedy by Michael's dramatized fall off his bunk bed in the top floor dormitory, which resulted in a good deal more pain than originally envisaged.

Friday 19 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 2 Loch Lomond to Loch Ossian (22 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
The warden of Loch Ossian hostel, running around the lake in an hour!
The ****** left the Youth Hostel in obligatory rain (or so it seemed), heading for Arrochar to catch the train which was eventually to take us to Fort William, with the overnight stop at Loch Ossian hostel. The road was unfortunately littered with roadworks, which had strewn grit and mud, mixed with rain, in many places. Arriving at Arrochar the group voiced their discontent at Michael passing several shops near to the station and proceeding down a long hill to a shop at the bottom. Provisions were duly bought for that night and next morning at Loch Ossian.

On returning to the station, the bane of all visitors to the Highlands were sighted for the first time - the notorious Scottish midge. However, the train arrived conveniently before they could do us much harm. The subsequent journey, thought to be one of this country's most scenic, was marred by the permanent rain.

On arriving at the station at Corrour the rain had not really receded, and so a quick sprint was necessitated to the spartan Loch Ossian hostel. After the location of the dormitory (easy for all but the most idiotic imbecile in a hostel this size), some of the group proceeded to cycle around the Loch's 7-mile track, whilst the more foolhardy attempted a climb of the nearby hill, through midge-infested heather, deer fences and bog. Hence everyone later arrived at the hostel wet (the rain was as persistent as ever). Meanwhile Jason, Andrew and Philip Mills had gone to their supposed luxury accommodation near the station (a small building between the two railway lines although no-one warned them about the 23:50 train).

Michael, using his (debatable) charm, thought he was on to a winner when two young German females asked him to swap their large carton of pasteurised milk for two of the group's smaller cartons. Michael was aghast to discover that they had cruelly deceived him into accepting a two litre carton of UHT milk! Perhaps this was the reason for his dubious "ghost" story in the dormitory.

Saturday 20 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 3 Loch Ossian to Glen Nevis (4 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Refreshment stop on Ben Nevis
The misty heights of Ben Nevis, just over half way up - time to head back
Despite the enthusiasm of many of the group to participate in the Loch Ossian run the previous night, only two from the hostel left with Tom the warden, a speedy Dutchman and couple of German athletes, that is to say on foot. Most of the group followed on bikes. Unfortunately Jason and Andrew arrived at the hostel late, and so did not benefit from Tom's pacemaking (the 7-mile run is to be completed in under an hour - Tom, the warden, does it in around 59 minutes every day) and regular time/distance checks. The run was eventually completed in time by Jeremy, with Daryl, Andrew and Jason just missing out.

The train was duly caught from Corrour to take us to Fort William, and despite Jeremy's brief bout of illness, the trip was quickly over.

Passing the concrete bin that damaged Michael's bike's top tube on a previous tour the group stopped in Fort William for a while to look around, buy Graham a new pair of levers (he's been hobbling around in third gear) and provisions.

Following a quick ride to Glen Nevis, we looked in, found our dormitory, and prepared for our assault on Ben Nevis.

Having stocked up with chocolate at the hostel store the "assault" began. It was eventually curtailed about halfway up, as we met more and more walkers descending, and telling us how awful it was at the summit. Thus our only consolation was Michael telling us how good it would have been if the weather had been kinder. Unfortunately for the members of the party who arrived back last at the hostel, the showers had been used by quite a few people, and hence turned out to be very cold. Nevertheless, as Michael cooked his meal that evening, you couldn't help noticing the smile on his face, as he realised that the German hostellers from Loch Ossian were also staying here.

Sunday 21 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 4 Glen Nevis to Garramore (44 mi)Sunny
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Loch Eil
Loch Eil
Crofters Kitchen at Arisaig - is this where Michael got the idea for naming his house?
Loch Eilt, shortly after lunch
Michael Hall helps make a very special photograph on the beach near Garramore
Scenery near Garramore
Michael Hall prepares to eat his meal at Garramore YH
Silver sand, crystal waters and sand dunes on the beach near Garramore
Today was the first day of decent weather on the tour. However, before leaving the hostel, Jeremy had another brief bout of illness, as did Stephen. However, the group proceeded to cycle through Fort William, where Steve decided to stay with his Aunt and Uncle for an indefinite period. The group then, having stopped for further provisions, cycling towards Glenfinnan for lunch.

To add a cultural note, Glenfinnan was the site at which Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the standard to begin the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. It now boasts the famous tower with the statue on the top, and a visitors' centre, both of which cost 20p to visit. It was a pleasant lunch stop, though some of the group became upset at the prospect of being forced by Michael to pay up. However, this was soon sorted out, and the group set off for Garramore Youth Hostel, pausing on the way only to sort out minor mechanical mishaps on Brett's bike and for a cafe stop at Arisaig, just outside of which was the seemingly unpublicised "Prince's Cairn" - the supposed spot from which the Prince left for France after the Jacobite Rebellion had failed. Following many idyllic descents, we finally arrived at the pleasant hostel of Garramore, complete with shower and washbasin in each dormitory (plus optional German guests who don't stop talking).

A pleasant evening was spent dune-hopping - the timeless custom of this tour of jumping down the large drop down to the sandy dunes of the beach below. The scene that evolved was so picturesque that it could have been taken from a calendar, the evening being spent talking, or being threatened with a shotgun in Andrew's case.

Sunday 21 August 1988Day ride: Mamhead ObeliskDry / dull
3 present: Richard Burge, John Iles, Mark Moxham
Nobody else waiting at the station when Gnome popped in to check, so straight off to meet Budgie by his favourite RAC box, then on to Gappah for the rendezvous. Only Max out from the seaside megalopolis, so, pleasantries having been exchanged, off again towards the destination, smirking at oil in a jam.

Early lunch, followed by prolonged perusal of the panoramic vista and a chance meeting with Masters senior, then over towards Lawrence Castle and down to the Teign Valley via Trusham. Nice homeward route via Teigngrace and Seale Hayne college and back lanes to Ashburton. Road closed due to Bed Race (s'truth!) so back to the reserve via Holne. And nobody got a puncture.

Monday 22 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 5 Garramore to Glenbrittle (49 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Arriving at Armadale on the Isle of Skye
On the road from Garramore to Mallaig
Surprisingly, we were again treated to a sunny start and set off to catch the Skye ferry at Mallaig, where we stocked up with provisions. Then we waited, watching the ferry load up with its complicated side-loading system. Being one of the first groups on we sat waiting, as the ferry loaded, in the lounge.

The crossing was surprisingly quick, and the group all managed to get off quickly. Stopping at a "grockle shop" next to the quay where the ferry had docked, we set off to then stop at the Post Office, virtually a tin shed. Then a few miles later the lunch stop was reached, albeit isolated. The next stop was to be the main town of Broadford where provisions were bought at the co-op. Jeremy was somewhat bemused at the lady in front of him in the checkout queue talking to the assistant in Gaelic. Unfortunately Andrew had a brief bout of illness (of which he had complained during the day). Thus it was decided to visit the local hospital, both for Andrew's and Graham's sake, the latter of which had shut his finger in a window at Garramore.

Whilst sitting in the waiting area a certain literary masterpiece was soon found by the group, namely Ladybird's very own version of the "Gingerbread Man". It was this that was to inspire Andrew's modernised version later in the tour.

As Michael waited for Andrew and Graham to be seen to, the rest of the group set off to a cafe further along the route to Glenbrittle.

The rain had become heavier, and coupled with the road running along the coast, it was to dampen almost everyone's spirit. When the cafe was reached a further blow came with the proprietor telling the group that all the space in the (small) cafe was booked for a coach party, and so popcorn had to do. However, the group stood bemused as a horse casually wandered down the road, turning into the cafe as if it were a normal occurrence. Perhaps it's not so unusual on Dartmoor to see horses wandering along roads, but nevertheless it seemed strangely out of place here. Packets of popcorn were consumed by the horse, as Philip jokingly led it (with popcorn bait) towards the door of the cafe.

By now the group was becoming a little concerned as to why this horse was where it was, but reassurance came from the cafe owner who informed us that "Starsky" (the horse) was a regular visitor. Once Michael, Graham and Andrew arrived (and the coach party left) drinks were consumed in the cafe and then the group reluctantly proceeded to ride to Glenbrittle, gazing at hoards of rabbits running up and down the hillside as they passed.

The rain seemed more persistent as we neared the hostel, only having to negotiate a steep downhill with hairpin bends before the hostel was reached. Andrew B had the misfortune to discover that his bike's brakes were not as good as he thought, and illustrated the fact by veering off the road at an alarming speed. However, he stopped (ruining his expensive Sidi shoes and overshoes in the process), and the hostel was finally reached. Having placed bikes in the bike shed and wet clothes in the vastly overstocked drying room the group settled down for the evening, with the only action being Michael cutting his finger whilst preparing his meal.

Tuesday 23 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 6 Glenbrittle to Raasay (20 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Views of the Cuillin mountains on Skye, from near Glenbrittle YH
Preparing to leave Glenbrittle YH
Lunch at Carbost, Isle of Skye, overlooking Loch Harport
Setting off in mixed sunshine and rain, and retracing our steps to take us to the ferry for Raasay, the group found it very amusing watching a young lady in her Capri being chased by a red Astra with blue flashing light. It wasn't quite so funny when the Astra stopped abruptly in front of the group, and the driver told us of our supposed crime of bunching at the traffic lights a little way back along the road. Thus the group proceeded carefully along the route to a tin hut / shop for provisions, despite some guilt at realising that we had bought much of the stock, much to some locals' displeasure. A little way up the road, the group stopped for lunch, overlooking a picturesque inlet. Jason, Mark and Philip M rode on to sit opposite the local Primary school for their lunch, and despite some intimidation from the local schoolchildren, the matter was settled fairly amicably.

It was not far to the docking point for the Raasay ferry, and so the group had time to relax on the shingle beach. Once the short crossing was over, the group stocked up with their evening meal in another tin hut shop on Raasay, and following a short ride through some plantations, arrived at Raasay Youth Hostel.

After the evening meal, a few hardy members of the group climbed the local "volcano", Dun Caan, and arrived back just in time for the warden's sing-song, complete with backing vocals from the German guests (who seemed present at every hostel). It meant a lazy remainder of the evening, warm in front of the Aga-type cooker.

Wednesday 24 August 1988Tour: Scotland Day 7 Raasay to Applecross (72 mi)
14 present: Graham Beever (14, Eastbourne), Andrew Brush (14, Malvern), Darrel Gough (14, Malvern), Chris Hall, Michael Hall, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Michael Jones, Philip Mills, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston, Stephen Wilson (13, Berwick-Upon-Tweed)
Wet and windy weather heralded the hardest day of the tour. Leaving late from the hostel (with Michael who had waited for him), Jeremy proceeded to turn left instead of right in his panic to get to the ferry, and rode up a steep hill before realising his mistake. Speeding back to the ferry it was humiliating to see it a hundred yards out from Raasay. An annoyed Michael (and Jeremy) caught the next ferry, which in fact arrived soon after, as the ferry had returned to Raasay straight after docking on Skye. A badly planned joke awaited them on Skye, as the driver of an immaculate Aston Martin greeted the duo with the question "Is one of you Michael?", and told them that the group had ridden on. Unfortunately several bikes were obviously visible, leaned against a telephone box, and so the joke backfired. The group proceeded in better weather to the Kyleakin-Kyle of Lochalsh ferry.

The very short crossing took the group to the meeting point where Steve Wilson rejoined the tour, and the group proceeded onwards to stop for lunch at Plockton, a picturesque village with a Mediterranean type climate because of a current that comes in by it from the ocean.

Several miles were pedalled away as the group neared their formidable hurdle before Applecross - Bealach na ba (the Pass of the Cattle). Rising from sea level to 2053 feet in about four miles, the sign at its beginning stated "Not advised for learner drivers or caravans". The plan was for everybody to climb at their own pace, and this was what happened, although the first arrivals soon realised that it was no fun standing around at the cold, wet and darkening summit.

Once all the group arrived the exhilarating descent began complete with frost-bitten fingers, and it only remained for groups to be assigned to their respective b&bs for a night of luxury. It seemed ridiculous that a 72-mile round trip could have been substituted by a two-mile boat trip to get from Raasay to Applecross - if only there had been a ferry.

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