For our main holiday in 2015, my wife and I decided on a CTC organised tour of the Inner Hebrides. Here's how it went. Day 1 A long drive from Nottingham to Ardrossan. We left the car at the ferry terminal, unloaded the bikes and joined up with the rest of the 18 strong group, ready to get the ferry to Campbelltown on the Kintyre peninsular. We learned that there was a problem with the boat and that we might not be able to sail that evening. A contingency plan was quickly hatched and it was decided that we would catch the ferry to Arran instead, staying overnight in Brodick, then cycle up to Locharnza to catch the ferry to Kintyre. Day 2 Brodick-Islay After a short but eventful ride up to Lochranza (one guy in our party snapped his chain on the climb, I lent him my chain tool to fix it). After catching the ferry we crossed the Kyntyre peninsular and caught another ferry from Kennacraig to the island of Islay. On Islay, there was a steep climb away from the harbour and we were on rolling roads towards the west coast of the island. It was raining horizontally, blowing in straight off the Atlantic. I was in shorts but it would be the last time I wore them for the whole holiday. It was mid-May but the temperature was in single figures. We followed the coast road round to Port Charlotte and our digs at Bruchladdich. We were next to the whisky distillery and you could smell and almost taste the whisky. This is the famous Angel's Share, due to the whisky evaporating from the oak barrels. Day 3 Islay We explored the western end of Islay making our way over to Portnahaven on the far west coast. Over some tough hills and into a fresh wind. We had Elevenses outside the Post Office and were able to watch grey seals basking in the harbour, Back to Port Charlotte for lunch, we did an afternoon loop inland, stopping to do some birdwatching at an inland bird sanctuary near Gruinart. Day 4 Islay-Jura-Lochgilphead We set off in the rain to ride around the bay to Bowmore for elevenses. After the rain stopped we set off via the wild interior of the island, back over to the east coast, stopping for a late lunch at Ballygrant. We caught the ferry to Jura, making our way over a long climb to Craighouse on the eastern side of the island. The ferry here is a small rib boat that can only take 12 passengers and there were 18 of us. The tour organiser had supposedly arranged for an extra boat to be laid on, to take the rest of us, but the ferryman knew nothing about this. So the ferry departed at 5.30pm with only half our party aboard. The rest of us would have to wait 2 hours for him to cross over to the mainland and return. To save time, we rode 10 miles further up the coast, so that he wouldn't have to travel so far back. Inevitably, as soon as we set off, it started raining again. Whilst waiting for the boat, we sheltered in an old barn, full of sets of antlers, which was somewhat spooky. We eventually caught the ferry at 7.15, didn't land on the mainland until 8.15 and still had a 20 mile ride to the hotel. It was raining again and starting to get dark. Luckily, a few of us had lights, so we stayed together as a group and arrived at the hotel at 9.30. The hotel restaurant had stayed open especially for us and cooked our food whilst we were showering. Day 5 Lochgilphead to Oban We retraced our route of the previous evening following the Crinnan canal, then turned off along a minor road towards Kilmartin. We then followed an NCN route along the side of Loch Awe, but this involved several 25% gradients, where we had trouble keeping front wheels on the ground. After a gruelling ride, we emerged for afternoon tea at the Robin's Nest cafe in Taynuilt. Another killer climb over the hills to Oban to drop down and catch the 5.30 ferry to Mull. Day 6 Craignure- Fionnport-Iona We made our way over a long climb from Criagnure to Pennyghael, where we found a cafe selling hot scones and coffee. We tended to split up into small groups on the road and re-assemble at stopping points. We set off again heading west, but kept having to pull over to let coaches through, as it was a single-track road. We came across the home and workshop of a local silversmith, stopping to buy a few presents, then dropped down for a late lunch at Fionnport. We caught the ferry to the holy island of Iona, where we were supposed to be staying at the youth hostel, but we found it full of American students. the hostel manager had got his dates mixed up and we were double-booked. A couple of hours of frantic phone calls and my wife and I managed to secure a room at a Catholic Pilgrims Retreat, as we were one of only 2 married couples in the group. Some of the older members of our party managed to get in at the Monastery, but everyone else had to camp with no washing or cooking facilities. We counted ourselves as very lucky. Day 7 Mull This was probably the best day of the trip. a dry and sunny day for the most part. We caught the morning ferry from Iona back to Mull, returned to Pennyghael for more hot scones, then climbed over the Ross of Mull and on to the much quieter north coast. This road was an absolute delight, very little traffic and stunning scenery. We stopped for lunch at Salen then turned north for Tobermory. This is a pretty seaside town, where the houses on the sea front are all painted in different colours. It's been made famous by the children's TV programme Balamory, which is filmed here. Day 8 Tobermory-Ardnamurchan We caught the early morning ferry to Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsular. We were due to visit the lighthouse, which is the most westerly point on the British mainland. This was 10 miles west of our landing point, but it was raining again, so we set off eastwards, not wanting to do an extra 20 miles in appalling weather. The scenery was wild and desolate. We stopped for Elevenses at the Nadurra Visitor Centre and for lunch at the Salen Jetty tearoom. It rained for the rest of the day and we were glad to get to our overnight stop at Glenuig. Day 9 Today we were supposed to be riding up to Mallaig, over to Skye then finishing the tour at Plockton. However, it was another wet and windy day and I noticed that there was a station 10 miles up the road at Lochailort. So we caught the train back to Glasgow via Fort William. We'd just had enough of the wet and cold. The train ride is quite spectacular, crossing Glennfinnan viaduct ( which is in the Harry Potter films) and climbing up to 1500 feet over Rannoch Moor. We were back in Glasgow by mid afternoon, in Ardrossan by tea time to collect the car and we drove straight back to arrive home at 1am. It had been one of the most scenic tours I'd been on, but the weather was not good. The problem is that if you go later in the year, the west coast is blighted by midges. I'd recommend a CTC tour, in spite of the problems we had. It's nice to have all your accommodation taken care of, and to meet and ride with like-minded cyclists.