‘Take an in­spi­ra­tional ride down to Loch Awe’

MCN - - Riding - by Justin Hayzelden

Some of Europe’s best mo­tor­cy­cling roads can be found in Scot­land, with each re­gion of­fer­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent in terms of scenery and sense of ad­ven­ture. This spe­cial ride takes in the wilds of Ar­gyll, start­ing and fin­ish­ing at the self pro­claimed ‘Gateway to the High­lands’, Cri­an­larich. Be­gin with a short trun­dle west on the A82 to Tyn­drum where you’ll find the Green Welly Stop, a suit­able spot for both bike and rider to top up – fuel and food will be few and far be­tween on this route so you may wish to make the most of this long es­tab­lished stag­ing post. Keep left at the fork as you roll out of town (head­ing for Oban on the A85) and you’ll be re­warded with a glo­ri­ous strip of as­phalt that weaves gen­tly along a fir-lined river val­ley. The road runs par­al­lel with the main­line rail, flat grey and cold steel in con­trast to the vi­brant sparkle of the River Lochy; fun­nelled by steep slopes, this me­an­der­ing wa­ter­course leads you on to its con­flu­ence with the Orchy, which you’ll cross to ride down the north­ern shore of Loch Awe. A spec­tac­u­lar vista is re­vealed be­fore the tar­mac takes a turn to fol­low the River Awe, dip­ping along the wa­ter’s edge to dive through a nat­u­ral groove be­tween the hills. Be­yond this crevice the land­scape lev­els out and the road sweeps away from the river be­fore reach­ing Loch Etive and rolling on­ward to Oban. From Oban take the A816 – fuel up on the way out of town if needs be as the next op­por­tu­nity is some 40 miles on. This next sec­tion has an en­tirely dif­fer­ent charm as the black­top trans­forms from a smooth rolling cruise to a rib­bon of chal­leng­ing twisties; it’s a sen­sa­tional ride that corkscrews through the heather, hug­ging the ter­rain as it crests and falls through re­lent­less rip­pling un­du­la­tions. Even­tu­ally you’ll reach Lochgilp­head, whose fill­ing sta­tion may well prove a wel­come sight. If you’re hun­gry try the Ar­gyll Café – their tra­di­tional home cooked food is sure to make you ‘bide a wee’ be­fore push­ing on up the A83. A flow­ing flit along Loch Fyne comes next, where you can race your re­flec­tion north to the rugged moun­tains of the Ar­rochar Alps and a steady climb to the Rest and be Thank­ful. Take a mo­ment at the sum­mit to do just that be­fore mak­ing a dra­matic de­scent through Glen Croe and a spin around the head of pic­turesque Loch Long. At Tar­bet turn left and head for home on the A82.

‘It’s a sen­sa­tional ride that corkscrews through the heather, hug­ging the ter­rain’

OBAN

LOCHGILP­HEAD

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