Christine’s ankle was still swollen but not so sore. Sunday breakfast wasn’t served until 08:30, after which we solicited Rimo’s advice on the best route to Gourock and pedalled north along the coast into a strong headwind which eased as the morning progressed. The route was along a combination of cycle paths, a single track road and the A78, which wasn’t too busy. Along the coast we enjoyed the foaming waves of the Clyde estuary and views of the mountains on the opposite shore. We stopped at Largs to try out the famous Nardini’s ice cream, then on through Wemyss Bay. We’d been advised of a track along the coast from Inverkip marina but the access appeared to have been ploughed over by extensive building work so we gave up and returned to the main road, which was fairly quiet. This fruitless search caused us to again miss the ferry by a few minutes but we had plenty of time so we sat on the jetty steps, ate our picnic and waited for the next one, at 14:25 Sunday’s last crossing.
It was a lovely relaxing ride across the river on the small passenger boat, a bargain at only £5.40 for the three of us with no charge for the bikes. This was so much nicer than the city suburbs and I was feeling exceptionally pleased with myself for spotting this alternative. We landed at the pleasant town of Helensburgh, turned off the main road to shop at the Tesco Metro and continued up the hill and on towards Balloch in the afternoon sunshine. The Youth Hostel was formerly Auchendennan House, built in 1866 on the site of Robert the Bruce’s hunting lodge in a magnificent setting overlooking Loch Lomond, and bought by the SYHA in 1946. A trio of “hooray henries” completed the scene, sitting on a wall in the rain under their umbrellas while smoking and swigging whisky from the bottle.