Took a few days off to visit Islay but in a roundabout way
Which meant lots of ferries, which made it all feel more of an adventure somehow
First off from home up the A5 via Betws y Coed to Holyhead for the 8:55 am ferry for Dublin.
Travelling on the Irish side through a seeming waterfall of a shower that forced us into a McDonalds until it ended, before carrying on to the lovely Ballymascanlon Hotel, where we made use of the swimming pool before hitting the bar and the restaurant. It's a gorgeous hotel, not the cheapest but very classy.
Next morning onwards to Belfast for the next ferry over to Cairnryan, Scotland
Very pleasant facilities on both the Stena crossings, with free cinema and reasonable food.
From Cairnryan we rode north up the lovely coast road to Ardrossan. The road is covered in average speed cameras but being fair it's an NSL road and quite twisty so were happy enough to take in the views.
Arrived in Ardrossan and bought the CalMac "Hopscotch" tickets which are a cheaper way of making multiple crossings, we chose their option 16 which allowed crossing to Arran>Mull of Kintyre>Islay>Mull of Kintyre.
It started light drizzling while we waited the few minutes for the ferry, I was a little concerned that it also started to get a bit choppy but thankfully didn't get too bad.
Well strapped down
a good crossing with some lovely views of Arran as we approached
Once disembarked it was a ride through the pleasant town of Brodick to the road that crosses the island called "the String" ....
Arran is described as Scotland in miniature as it has a little of all of the scenery.
The stop for the night on Arran was the Lagg Hotel, very pretty little place, bumpy rutted old road on the last couple of miles to get to it, very pleasant place next to a tumbling peaty burn.
After a great nights sleep, aided by a couple of Arran malts
it's back around the west coast road to Lochranza for the ferry over to the Mull of Kintyre. Again lovely views, we arrive early so sit and have a coffee outside the little shack nearby. Even had a friendly robin pop onto the table to take a look at us
Lochranza is a very pretty little place
we didn't have to wait too long for the ferry and boarded with some German bikers on a Suzuki Bandit, Yamaha Diversion and a Ducati Monster
The crossing was like a millpond, once on the other side at Cloanig it's a short 15 mile hop to the next one at Kennacraig for Port Askaig, Islay. However, the road linking the two is a single track road so we had to trundle along at the pace of the camper van in front.
Once at Kennacraig we were a bit concerned as it was the only one we couldn't book as it was full, but the lady who sold me the tickets at Ardrossan promised that there was a very good chance they'd be able to squeeze us on. Sure to her words the staff at Kennacraig found us a slot for the two bikes when the ferry came in.
It's quite a long crossing and the weather started closing in which meant we'd arrive at Port Askaig on Islay in the rain and drizzle.
First order on arrival was to ride past our hotel for the night and go the two miles up the road to the Lagavulin distillery, passing Laphroaig as we did so.
We arrived 2 minutes after the last tour had started but they let us join it, and didn't charge us either
The 4 stills at Lagavulin
At the end of the tour there was a free glass and a small measure of Lagavulin, despite riding I did have the one small one
Chose the "Distillers Edition" 16 year old, which is only available from the distillery and is finished in sherry casks which adds a bit of sweetness to the smokiness of the standard 16. It was so good I decided to treat myself to a bottle
From there it was the two miles back to the lovely Islay Hotel, Port Ellen. Highly recommended.
Dinner that night was gorgeous starting with fresh oysters
Followed by a whole lobster with garlic butter
washed down with a nice chilled Pinot Grigio
I loved that they had an entire menu of rare Islay Malts so bypassed pud for a special treat, a triple matured Lagavulin that's no longer produced ... at an eye watering £28 a measure (hey I'm on holiday)
.... gorgeous simply gorgeous
A quick walk down to see where the ferry is for the next morning (about 100 yards away)
After a great nights kip, and a lovely breakfast of local produce with Stornaway black pudding and haggis we almost felt guilty starting the engines for 100 yards
On the crossing back we could see a few of the distilleries from the sea.
While crossing over we rode towards Loch Lomond and decided to ride home down the tedious M6 which was 355 miles with only fuel stops.
Because of the ferries and islands the whole trip was quite low mileage, of 688 miles .... of which most was the 355 miles home, far less than our normal 1300+ miles when up in the Highlands.
The RT averaged 58 MPG