Falkirk to Glasgow, via Loch Lomond

View over Loch Arklet

Loitering via Loch Arklet, just before starting the climb over to Inversnaid and Loch Lomond.

Satisfying ride yesterday.  Not quite feeling up to the Nippie Sweetie audax, but also having a day spare, I decided to trundle round one of the rides from ‘Bike Scotland – Book One’, which had been sitting unloved since Christmas.  This was a (heavy…) modification of ride four from the Stirling section.  I changed the start point to Falkirk to work better with the Glasgow trains, adjusted the route across to take advantage of some quiet country roads, and changed the finish from a short hop up from the west bank of Loch Lomond to an 85km ride home via some fairly vicious climbs.

So the book was probably more an inspiration than a guide…

If you’re planning on doing the same thing, a few notes:

  • The east-west leg on the A811 was a bit of a slog into a headwind, and the busiest road on the route (although not busy busy).
  • The climb to loch Arklet wasn’t as bad as it looked when I was planning.  The end is in sight once you reach a long, straight climb on good tarmac.  Watch the subsequent descent to Inversnaid.  Steep with some gravelly hairpins.
  • The ferry from Inversnaid to Tarbet only runs during the ‘summer’ months and even then only three times a day.  Check @CruiseLL.  No need to book the bike in advance, although you’ll be charged an extra £1, which was a bit odd (as I’m guessing the enormous pram next to me avoided this charge).  Still, an enjoyable half hour crossing.  If you end up with a long wait, the hotel at Inversnaid overlooks the jetty and sells a big pot of tea for the very reasonable sum of £1.50.
  • You’ve got much more choice after Loch Lomond.  The A82 is pretty grim and full of caravans.  Following the east coast of Loch Long on the A814 is much more pleasant, but leaves you the steep climb up to the Green Kettle Inn.  High speed descent (70.2kph, if you want a target), then another long slog up the Glen Fruin road.  Right at the beginning, watch the gravel/cattle grid/narrow bridge/sharp left combination.
  • Great views are mainly behind you, looking down over Faslane submarine base and across the Argyll Forest Park.  Once you get to the top, lovely long rolling section, devoid of traffic.  Watch for sheep strike…
  • There’s a (rubbish) cycle path alongside the short leg of the A82, where I picked up my first p*ncture for months.
  • The rest of the ride is pretty uneventful (or tunnel vision was setting in).  As a final caution, be aware that the A803 back into Glasgow looks a bit like a motorway for a while – stick a decent rear light on in advance.  And don’t follow the slip road off left unless you fancy mixing it up on the M8.

Right, I’m off to fix a hole-y tube.

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