Scotland's islands are fantastic places to take your bicycle. They are the ultimate escape where the pace of life is always more relaxed, the roads are quiet and the scenery breathtaking. Travelling to them is always exciting because of the sea voyage. The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry timetable is something I love to pour over and plan island adventures.
The contents page lists the islands, their magical names (Gigha, Tiree, Skye...), enticing you to turn the pages and find out how to visit them.
The timetable for each island provides you with lots of information, such as ticket prices and connections with trains.
Every fare table has a bicycle symbol with the words "pedal cycles FREE" next to it, so you only ever pay the price of a passenger to take your bike on a ferry.
As you make your way through the pages you can tell how remote an island is by the infrequency of the services. These islands excite me the most as they require a lot more planning to work out how to get there and how to get back.
Each timetable has a collection of symbols that indicate what facilities are available on the ferry. On the longer ferry journeys the most important symbol to look for is the knife and fork because this means that there is a "Mariner's Restaurant" on the boat where you will be able to buy a hot meal.
Calmac favourites include fish and chips, curry of the day and macaroni cheese. This is tasty and filling fuel if you have been on the bike all day. Calmac are proud that they source the best of Scottish food, so there is fish caught from the shores of the island of Barra, venison from Argyll, and Rannoch Moor smoked chicken.
So, there is plenty to look forward to when planning a trip to Scotland's islands. The Calmac ferry timetable provides plenty of inspiration and is always worth having in your bag. A true icon of travel.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.