DAY 01, 24th July - North Argyll & Lismore

On day 1 of Mark Beaumont's Wild About Argyll adventure he explored north Argyll and the island of Lismore. He cycled the Caledonia Way from Oban to Portnacroish to Port Appin, passing the iconic Castle Stalker on the way. He then headed to Lismore for some more cycling, visiting an iron-age broch. Then it was back to the mainland to cycle to Shian Wood Reserve, back across Loch Creran and into Sutherland's Grove, up over Glen Sallach and round by Loch Etive.

'The surreal and the calm: I sat, having a cuppa tea and slice of homemade bread and jam, whilst 'Snowy' the lamb ate the potted flowers nearby on the sleepy station platform at Dalmally, waiting for the 12.14 train to Oban. Liz runs the 'Heartfelt' craft shop and gave me a momento, a purple felt heart to take on this 12-day adventure throughout Argyll & the Isles. I could certainly get used to this slower pace of life!

But by 8pm I had cycled a stunning section of route 78, the Caledonia Way, all the way to Castle Stalker, accompanied by Mike Dennison and colleagues from SUSTRANS. Hugging the coastline and making use of old railway routes, this is a route that can take you over 200 miles from Campbeltown to Inverness.

A five-minute boat trip took me to the first island of the journey, Lismore, to explore the Iron Age broch and try out the new cyclocross bike across the narrow tracks and trails. Back on the mainland on the final leg back to Oban and the heavens opened, but by then I was probably needing a shower anyway! Regardless of the rain I loved discovering the beautiful string road over Glen Salladh back to Connell Bridge. A cracking first day to warm the legs up, before day 2 starts with a wee half marathon around Tiree!’