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Rolf Rae-Hansen

Rolf's a freelance copywriter based in Edinburgh

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Scotland

Travel Review: Unique Home Stays’ Little Eden

I’d stayed by Loch Lomond before, in a soulless hotel squeezed between the western shores and a ridiculously busy main road.

This time was different. Part of the Unique Home Stays¬†collection, Luxury self-catering cottage, Little Eden, is a former grain mill nestled in a woodland clearing within sight of the Loch’s eastern edge. The burn (which presumably once powered the mill) rushes by at the foot of the cottage’s immaculately tended, Titchmarsh-shaming garden.

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Cycling – Gravel-Riding The Isle of Arran

At the start of this year I swapped my old skinny-tyred Scott CR1 for a fat-ish tyred Jamis gravel bike. If my Twitter feed is anything to go by, a lot of folk see the gravel trend as marketing bollocks designed to sell more bikes. In all honesty, mine has proved something of a revelation. Over the last couple of years I’d begun to get a little tired of tackling the same old, routine road rides in my local patch. Owning a bike that can take the rough with the smooth has allowed me to explore tracks, paths, old drove roads and the like to expand my route itinerary without the hassle of moving house.

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Scotland’s Best Cycling Climbs: Cairn o’ Mount

I’ve been making a belated effort to tackle some of Scotland’s toughest/best (depending on your penchant for uphill) cycling climbs. Towards the end of the winter I sampled the Mennock Pass (nice but by no means nasty), a few weeks ago the Bealach na Ba (nice and nasty, thanks to hideous weather) and, just the other day, the Cairn o’ Mount (read on).

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Cycling Bealach na Ba – Britain’s Hardest Climb

Thanks mostly to The Breakaway, when it comes to big-climb bragging among fellow cyclists I can usually hold my own. Ventoux? Not nearly as hard as I expected. Alpe D? It’s fun, like an uphill roller coaster. The Stelvio, Gavia, Mortirolo? Si, si, si.

However, one name kept cropping up that didn’t feature on my ‘palmares’, and its lacking left me a little ashamed. Sure, I’d ridden loads of the French and Italian climbs, but what about the big one in my own backyard?

Er, which one is that? The Bea-what now? I’d sheepishly admit to not having a clue.

Bealach na Ba, they repeated. Toughest in Scotland, they said, pleased to have caught me out, pleased at themselves for having completed that particular Caledonian challenge.

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