DAY 17 - Lochranza to Edinburgh

This was our last day – by midnight we should be back in Edinburgh, well, as it turned out I was nearly right. The intention was that this last day was to be a highlight and we were not disappointed. Our grand finish was to be on the paddle steamer, Waverley and to cruise all the way into the centre of Glasgow. The boat was to leave at 1pm so there was time for a quick tour on the east side of Arran. This we did on peaceful DRY Sunday morning and I have got to say it was a nice journey. One of our stopping points was Catacol this is a delightful group of houses, all spotlessly, white and looking across the sound to the Kintyre Peninsula.

The row of houses in front are affectionately named the Twelve Apostles. We did get as far as Pirmill and there had an intake of sugars and carbohydrates however on the way back the clouds came over and yet again the dominate feature of this tour came to the fore – it started to rain. So yet again we sat in the Arran Distillery nursing a whisky watching the rain stream down the windows. Eventually, though, we were at the pier watching Waverley coming through the mist and it was a sight to stir the most hardened Scotsman; not only was there the Waverley in its full paddle-steamer glory, there was a full pipe band on the pier playing us on board. We drew quite a bit of attention as we wheeled our fully-loaded bikes up the gangplank and were given special treatment as to where they were to be stored.

Everything would have been just perfect if weren’t for the bloody rain. As a photographic opportunity it was not to be missed - there must have been hundreds of photos of the scene being taken. There were special bus tours up from Brodick to see this spectacle, including the usual far-eastern contingent. To be fair it was not just the Japanese taking photographs, but these Japanese were taking photographs of themselves taking photographs. The sail to Glasgow was not by direct route and we again saw the west side of Arran. This time though there was a lone piper on every headland as we steamed down the coast before turning round at the exact same village as we did that morning on our bikes and headed back to Lochranza.

The journey up the Clyde estuary was excellent. There was a marvellous sunset just out of Largs. The run up the river to the centre of Glasgow, in the dark, was stunning. I never realised just how much Glasgow had changed from what was once heavy industrial areas to very extensive looking executive flats.
We were again ‘piped off’ the boat and headed for the short ride through the centre of Glasgow on a Sunday night. Chris stuck to me like glue. This was definitely not the place to get separated.
Did the people of Glasgow not know it was a Sunday? The city centre was packed. Because of the late arrival of the Waverley we had missed our expected train and knew the next train didn’t leave until 1.00am, so we hung about the station for an hour. The train was relatively full with good-natured drunks. On arrival at Edinburgh I found that Princes Street was still barriered-off from the festival fireworks earlier, not wishing to miss this opportunity, we zigzagged along a totally traffic-free Princes Street (apart from the street cleaners). So it was about 3am before we finally got to bed – the end of a long day and, despite the crap weather, it was a great adventure - for us both.


Epilogue

One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began
Though the voices around you
Kept shouting
Their bad advice -
Though the whole house
Began to tremble
And you felt the old tug
At your ankles "Mend my life!"
Each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
Though the wind pried
With its stiff fingers
At the very foundations,
Though their melancholy
Was terrible.
It was already late
Enough, and a wild night,
And the road full of fallen stones.

But little by little,
As you left their voices behind,
The stars began to burn
Through the sheets of clouds,
And there was a new voice,
Which you slowly recognized as your own,
That kept you company
As you strode deeper and deeper
Into the world,
Determined to do
The only thing you could do -
Determined to save
The only life you could save.
Your own.
By: Mary Oliver

THE END