2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 10: Moffat to Loch Lomand

9th July 2013

We have unanimously rated Buchan B&B as our best so far. Can you believe our hosts Brenda & Chris both actually waved us off?  Can you also believe that Chris made a 20 mile journey to find us on the road, to return a couple of power cables one of our Group had left behind? These people are so utterly professional & make everyone so very welcome at their beautiful home.

Day 10 loomed large & lovely. Clear blue skies & the promise of a long day, with Glasgow as the prize & Loch Lomond as the end game. It was all to start with a long, slow climb out of Moffat , which we did with a very cheery heart & everyone up for the day ahead. When we reached the top, we then dipped down to join our ongoing road, the motorway & the railway line. The only problem was that in order to afford the motorway, the local council had clearly to make cuts elsewhere & our road was clearly on the hit list. For 30 miles we rattled & shook as we tried to navigate this impossible road. They charge at the gym for the vibration power plate & here we were getting an overdose for free. It was purgatory. We also got a puncture & there was little doubt that this was attributable to these terrible roads. The result was that we really didn’t take a great deal of notice on what was around us as you can hardly let your eyes wander when there are endless potholes looking to bring the bike down. At one point on this leg, I had the bike propped at the side of the road, surrounded by grass & wild flowers, so decided to take a photograph I thought would be interesting. I promptly knelt down in a bed of nettles. Not all bad, as the stinging in that knee (the left one) took my mind of the pain in the right knee & the penile numbness that I’d developed as a result of the last 30 miles of shaking. If the latter complaint persists, I’m going to sue Alex Salmonds & I suspect Judith will too. 

We did meet up on this leg with a couple of other cycling Groups who were also doing ‘End to End’. There was the Deveron CC who came from an area near Aberdeen & also a couple of young lads who were carrying their own equipment. The latter two we saw as we were having a ‘brew stop’ (as Tony calls our breaks) & offered them coffee & food which they happily accepted & it was good to share experiences with them. The Deveron group were moving at a pretty fast pace, doing the trip in 10 days, but like us were held up with a puncture a little further on in the day. The two ladies in their group were sleeping in the van & the men were in tents. Of these arrangements, we felt ours was still our preferred one. A trip of less than 14 days just doesn’t give you time to enjoy the scenery & the stops although I suppose the vast majority of people doing the trip are having to fit it into their family life & holiday allocation, so it can’t be easy.

Just before Glasgow, we ate lunch at Chatelherault Park which has a wonderful stately home & splendid grounds. On a day like yesterday, it was doing a great business in playing host to hundreds, who were looking to sunbathe, stroll & enjoy picnics & BBQ’s. We had an area set aside in the cafe where there was soup & sandwiches. Tony immediately struck up conversation with a couple of ladies who quickly got out their purses & made a donation to Macmillan. One of these ladies had honeymooned in Jersey many, many years ago (Rita Stewart, her husband is Archie). They have friends in Jersey called Jean & Jimmy Bowman who we will call, when we’re back in Jersey, to pass on Rita’s best wishes & share this experience. Another lady, Anne, also passed by the table & gave us £10 & quickly walked away. Later that night, in Ballock, we chatted with Ailish & Susan, who gave us £10.00 each. Susan is getting married in a couple of weeks, so if you read this ladies, thanks so very much & we hope your wedding day is wonderful Susan. People are just so kind & so very generous. Ken also had the pleasant surprise here of a visit from his Brother in law, Andrew, who came along with his son & grandson, to wish Ken well & send us all on our way with their best wishes

Had you asked me what I expected of an approach & ride through Glasgow, on a bike then I’m not sure how I would have answered but however I had, I would have been utterly wrong. It was just such an enjoyable experience. A full 6 miles before the City we were on a tow path/cycle path which runs for most of its length by the side of the mighty River Clyde. It had a good surface; it was beautifully shady, which was such a blessed relief on yet another heat wave day & it gave us dramatic views of the river, as we cycled along. Just before we reached the City, we passed the largest housing construction project most of us had ever seen. Apparently it is called part of the Tartan Tigers Awakening with 13 miles of the Clyde River corridor being developed, including the venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Over 10,000 houses are being built. As we got nearer to the City, the path widened, there were people doing what people do on a sunny day in a City, fine bridges, lawns & planted areas & an air of prosperity & contentment. Closer in still was some wonderful architecture, old & new & all the while we’re cycling along simply stunned with the beauty of it all & certainly, in my case, the awareness of my misconceptions of this stunning City. We found ourselves doing a loop of the stunning Maritime Museum, to look at the tall sailing ship Glen Lee, built in 1896 which was used for a while by the Spanish Navy. I’ve got a wonderful photograph of these two, great structures which I’ll try to get onto this page, if at all possible.

Not only does Glasgow welcome you, on a bike, in style, it also sends you on your way, similarly impressed. We proceeded from the City, all the way to Ballock on Loch Lomond, a distance of 18 miles, virtually all the way on cycle tracks. En route, we past tenements, harbours, & locks, much of it on the Forth Clyde canal network. What we also passed was dozens of walkers & cyclists & the vast majority of them gave us a wave or a smile. I don’t doubt that, like every City, Glasgow has its seamier side, but over a distance of around 30 miles, what we saw was a Glasgow that was welcoming, vibrant & friendly.

A long, long day but Ballock is a great place, loads of pleasure boats, people picnicking & enjoying the sunshine & even at 10.00 pm, still sitting on the river banks & enjoying the evening. We shall try & do likewise!

We’re told that tomorrow promises to be the best & possibly, easiest day of the trip. Ironically, Tony feels that we will not get the best view of the Moors, which he feels need to be seen in the more misty conditions to be truly representative of Scotland. I think we’ll struggle by!

Awards of the Day

Glasgow                                                              Exciting, Cycle friendly, People friendly & hugely interesting

Those lovely ladies mentioned above      Generous, warm & welcoming

Philosophical thought of the day

The vast majority of people in this world, whatever their shape, size, colour or circumstances, are kind, welcoming & interested only in going about their daily lives & caring for their families. How come we let the tiny majority have such a disproportionate influence?                   

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               81.19

Cumulative                       705.69

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   6 hours 56 minutes

Climbing                               3,202 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

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