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Guest blog: A weekend of Scottish adventure

Written by Fiona August 16 2010

I know Romy Beard from the Glasgow Triathlon Club. Romy and I were chatting on Facebook recently about her aims to do more outdoor activities at weekends and to explore Scotland. You all know how much I love Scotland’s outdoors! Romy is originally from Luxembourg and although she’s been living in Scotland on and off for 10 years she is making it her mission to see a lot more of this country than she’s done before.

Here Romy guest blogs for me and tells us about one of her recent adventure weekends:

SATURDAY 14TH AUGUST: The alarm goes off at 8am as I have decided to do the 5k Park Run in Pollok Park, Glasgow. I started running about 10 years ago when I first moved to Glasgow but despite having done various cross country and road races around the city, I hadn’t heard of the Park Runs until a few months ago. The 5k was a perfect distance for me because I was injured all last year and I’m only just getting back to running.

The Park Runs are free. All you have to do is register on their website – and print off your barcode. It’s a mass start, and they scan your barcode at the end of the race so you know your individual finish time and can track your progress.

I am lucky enough to live close to Pollok Park, so I hop on the bike at 9.05 and still arrive at the race start way too early. It’s a small event of about 250 people, across a wide age range, with some club runners but mostly casual runners. The route consists of two loops around the park, on tarmac roads and mainly in the shade of the trees. There’s a hill in each loop.

I haven’t races for 20 months so I’m a little excited when the gun goes off and I spped away from the start line. I quickly realise I’ll need to slow a little and  go at my own pace. It’s tough and I push myself and although my time is a lot slower than when I last raced, it’s not a disaster. It turns out that I am  5th female on the day!

After a quick stretch I get back on the bike – it’s a nice cool down – and I’m home and in the shower at 10.30am. Quite often I’m not even up by this time on a Saturday!

Loch Venachar

A quick change and I’m back on the road, this time in the car, for a friend’s surprise 30th party at Loch Venachar café near Callander in the stunning Trossachs area. The café is right by the loch and it’s a gorgeous view. After lunch we wander around the loch. It’s very marshy, so I’d recommend waterproof boots for anyone who wants to walk around the whole loch. It’s definitely doable, just not in trainers!

On the way home we take the scenic route via the Duke’s Pass and Aberfoyle and enjoy some fabulous views of various lochs. We stop at a farm shop before we get into Milngavie  to buy a steak pie and lamb for dinner – sorted!

SUNDAY 15TH AUGUST: This morning the alarm doesn’t go off but I wake up just after 9am and my legs feel a little achy. Today we’re going to Cumbrae Island, off the west coast. Popping the bikes in the car, we’re in Largs in less than 50 minutes. We park the car and take the bikes on the ferry – and 10 minutes later we’re on the famous little island. To top it all the sun is shining!

View of Millport

Heading off for the infamous cycling circuit of the island we discover how smooth the road is – and I’m a little annoyed I didn’t bring my road bike! But then, when we go off the main road on to a small coastal path I realsie that I did make the right choice of bike in the first place! Decisions, decisions!

Coming into the “capital” of Cumbrae, actually a small town called Millport, we see a beautiful beautiful beach and lots of activities. But we want to find a quiet spot for lunch and so we continue on the road until we reach the southern edge of the island. The scenery here is amazing. To our left is the island of Little Cumbrae. To our right is Bute, while the impressive mountains of Arran are in front. Awesome!

After a snooze in the sun, we get back on the bikes and cycle around the outside of the island, still looking at Arran. The road goes right along the coast so on our left we have the sea, with lots of options to stop and have a picnic or just a drink, and on the right are the green hills of Cumbrae.

Looking out towards Arran

View of Arran with boats

As it’s a sunny day, lots of people are out and about. Some have come with their bikes from home, others take the bus from the ferry to Millport, and hire bikes there. There’s also a small number of people on rollerblades, which I would be keen to try some day as the surface of the road is so good.

Finishing the loop back at the port it’s still only 3.15pm so we decide to head back into Millport. This time we don’t take the coastal route but go up and over the hill. Well, we deserve an ice-cream after all the cycling! There are ferries every 15 minutes between the island and Largs and so at 5.15pm we find ourselves heading back across the water to our car.

It was an exhausting weekend but also really rewarding. I’m looking forward to a trip to Arran next.

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