Cycling World Magazine July 2017 - Page 105

July 2017| 105 ROUTE 1 Bridgend – Mulindry – Storakaig Knocklearach – Ballygrant – Bridgend This first trail is a relatively short -mile km loop, or at least it is if you leave from Bridgend. Since this is to where you will return, it’s a practical place to leave the car if necessary. eading out from Bridgend towards Bowmore, turn first left up towards the piscopal church and effectively just keep following the road, because, until we get to Cluanach Cottage at Mulindry, there’s nowhere else to go. The first part gently takes you uphill for a while and since it’s all farm country round this way, just keep an eye out for tractors and the like. Always give way where practical, because they’re not on holiday like you are. Continue past the colourfully named ‘Puddle Hole’ cottage up towards The aw pronounced raa , at which point there’s a slight downhill, followed by an immediate upward movement past Ballitarsin Farm oad nd. This part of the route rolls round to the right, and then gently up and left after a few more wheel revolutions passing Neriby and Mulindry farms, before running down into what one of the local riders has referred to as the ‘village of weak bridge’ (you’ll see why when you get there . The field entrance to the left, ust before rolling over the bridge, leads to the unexcavated Iron Age fort of Dun Nosebridge (don’t ask). Now, as you approach Cluanach Cottage on the left corner, follow the road straight on, and not round to the right. This road will eventually take you up towards the village of Ballygrant. At Cattadale Farm, the road starts heading upwards slightly, levelling out shortly before Barr Farm (on the left) then rolling down towards a cattle grid. From this point, it’s all very much uphill. You are also likely to encounter cattle feeding in the middle of the road on this stretch – in such a situation, start talking loudly to them well in advance, asking them kindly to move out of the way. In most cases this works fine, but don t get too close if you can avoid it – they’re usually bigger than you are. At the top of the first climb Storakaig you can often see numbers of wild deer behind the fence on your right and you ll probably want to stop at this point anyway puff, pant). After the next cattle grid, the road heads upwards again before rolling onwards and downwards towards Knocklearach Farm and subsequently on down into Ballygrant village. This is quite a short, but steep downhill, incorporating a blind bend halfway, so make sure you check well enough ahead for oncoming traffic. Pass Ballygrant Hall on your right, then Ballygrant Quarry on the left, and give way at the junction before turning left onto the main Port Askaig to Bridgend road. Since this road gently slopes downhill pretty much all the way for the next four miles or so, you should have a pleasant ride all the way home. Unless of course, there’s a headwind. Total time depends on how good you are at cycling uphill, but it s do-able in under the hour if need be, though if you’re on holiday, who cares? In fact, if you’re on holiday you might care for a brief detour into Islay House Square, well signposted to the right on the approach to Bridgend village. I believe Bridgend Hotel serves a decent espresso or cappuccino along with perhaps much needed calorific sustenance. Happy days.