The pedalling photographer

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TO THE CYCLE TOURING FESTIVAL AND BEYOND (continued)

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 AFTER THE FESTIVAL

We left the festival feeling excited and eager to get on with our tour of the Outer Hebrides. Everyone we had spoken to had told us that the islands were beautiful, wonderful, a magical place, that we would love them. No one said anything about bad weather – some had had a couple of days of rain, but nothing really awful. They were all so enthusiastic about it; we were really looking forward to it.

The drive up there was good – the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the traffic was good, the scenery was beautiful, there was even snow on top of the mountains. All was well with the world. We were on our way at last to visit these beautiful islands, something we’d longed to do for years and we were now going to cross it off our bucket list.

Loch Lomond with snowy Ben Lomond (and squished flies on the windscreen!)

Loch Lomond with snowy Ben Lomond (and squished flies on the windscreen!)

Whoa, hang on a minute! We were getting carried away with the euphoria of talking to like-minded people at the festival and forgetting our usual holiday luck – BAD WEATHER. The joke in our family is never to take a holiday at the same time as us. It has even been suggested that we visit dry, arid places in order to end their drought and bring them rain! Everyone finds it amusing, but after years and years of soggy, waterlogged holidays, the joke is wearing a bit thin for us!!!

We pitched up at the campsite just outside Oban and, ominously, the skies were beginning to darken. It started raining in the night, and it continued to rain and rain and rain – solidly for the next 24 hours or so. The next morning the ferry to Barra was cancelled due to the adverse weather (we’d signed up to receive text alerts on the sailings) and we spent the morning sitting it out in the tent. The ground outside was beginning to squelch and large puddles were forming around the tent. In the afternoon, we went into Oban and visited the CalMac ferry office. We had planned to buy a hopscotch ticket but, in view of the weather, we decided the best bet was to purchase the ferry tickets as we went along, just in case we had to bail out and backtrack.

Sitting out the rain

Sitting out the rain

Oban campsite - we're surrounded by tin tents!

Oban campsite – we’re surrounded by tin tents!

We spent the evening sat in the car, pouring over all the weather apps we could get our hands on. It wasn’t looking good. The forecast up to the weekend was for heavy rain every day, but even worse were the strong winds, with gusts over 46 mph predicted. Not exactly safe cycling weather!

What should we do? We discussed and deliberated. We had been planning this trip for several months and were really looking forward to it. Should we chance it, pack up camp, put the car in storage and go for the ferry, only to find it cancelled at the last minute? Should we be sensible – and safe – and pull the plug on the whole trip? Are the forecasts really reliable? Suppose we don’t go and then, a few days later, we see the weather has perked up? We would be absolutely kicking ourselves and cursing our caution. We decided to go to bed and sleep on it.

The following morning, the ferry was still on amber alert. We had to make a decision. In the end, our sensible heads won and we decided to bail out. We were both absolutely gutted, so disappointed, feeling utterly miserable. We reluctantly packed up the tent. Where to now? We could stay in Scotland, do static camps and go out for day rides. But the forecast for the week ahead was heavy rain and very strong winds. In the end, we knew that we would just be killing time. Why not save the money and put it towards the longer trip we plan to do later in the year to sunnier climes? Decision made, and home we headed 😦 😦

Author: Mike McEnnerney Photographer PhotoLink Images

I've had a passion for photography for as long as I can remember and have been running my own photographic business for many years (www.photolinkimages.co.uk). This also carries over into my personal interests: I love the great outdoors and enjoy nothing better than to be outside taking photos and combining this with my hobbies of cycle touring, camping, backpacking, canoeing and just being out in the wilds, or as the Australians say "beyond the black stump" farther into the outback than the city lights.

4 thoughts on “TO THE CYCLE TOURING FESTIVAL AND BEYOND (continued)

  1. I can’t bring myself to ‘like’ this post. Gutted for you.

  2. gutted for you. its wonderful up there but we have had that sort of weather and you probably did the best thing. lucky you weren’t sea kayaking.

  3. How sad 😦 So frustrating when that kind of thing happens.

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