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View from the window, third day

If the weather on our second day of our tour had disappointed then on the third day it was back to the glorious sunshine of the first. There was still a stiff breeze and it was cold, but everything looked wonderful in the sun. And of course the previous day’s rain had washed the air completely clear.

The plan was to leave Arran’s west coast and take the small ferry over to Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula, and doing so meant that the day started with a drive round the north of the island to Lochranza. We had time here to visit the ruined castle and explore the small harbour and anchorage, but it was so windy and cold that after exploring the castle ruins most people headed for the ferry dock about a quarter of a mile away where we found a sheltered spot to drink a takeaway cup of tea from a local stall. Then it was onto the ferry for the short crossing to Claonaig. I went up on deck to get some images but it was very windy and cold out on the open sea.

After landing in Claonaig we drove north to Tarbert, a very pretty spot with a sheltered harbour and – yes – yet another ruined castle. (I gather that the west of Scotland was a pretty warlike place in the past.) And yes, given that we were on the Kintyre peninsula Pete our tour guide did give us a quick blast of That Song by Wings….

Then it was on again, to Inverary. Once again we had the chance to walk around. We’ve been to Inverary before and had visited the castle (this one being of the stately home variety rather than ruinous). In fact the visit wasn’t very long, but we had time to explore the small town and┬áhave some lunch as well.

View from the Rest and Be Thankful car park

Back in the bus we went onto the next stop – the top of the Rest and Be Thankful pass, which is route from the west side of Argyll to the more south-facing area at the top of Loch Long. Apparently it was given this name by soldiers in the 18th century who had climbed the steep military road out of Glen Croe and were on their way over to Inverary. This was the end of the climb, and it became the practice for the soldiers to take a break – to truly ‘rest, and be thankful’ that the climb was over.

View across Loch Lomond from Tarbet pier

Then there was just one more stop to make. The official itinerary called for a stop at Luss in the central part of Loch Lomond, but Pete suggested a change so we called at the small landing stage at Tarbet, in the northern part of the Loch instead. Again, very pretty and more photos were taken.

After that was the drive down the length of Loch Lomond which was over far too quickly. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on the M8 going past Glasgow airport, and heading into Glasgow to drop Ilona off. Then we headed back to Edinburgh, and we were outside the Rabbies Cafe-bar not long after 6 o’clock. And that was the end of our Rabbies tour to Arran.

But our day hadn’t ended…. we walked round to the Crowne Plaza hotel, checked in, and found that this time we’d hit the jackpot. We’d been upgraded. I need to explain that this hotel is situated in several houses along Royal Terrace, which was laid out in the 1820s as an eastern extension of Edinburgh New Town – here’s a link to a Wikipedia article about it. Obviously most of the rooms in the houses have been subdivided, but a few – just three, I think – have kept their original full width and full height, and we had one of these for the next two nights. Fantastic!

Room 110, Crown Plaza Hotel, Edinburgh

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