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Sailing Charity's Five Ferries Challenge

On what must have seemed like the hottest day on record, Saturday 31st May, 26 cyclists took part in a Five Ferries Challenge to raise funds for Ocean Youth Trust Scotland.

The five ferries in question are those linking the mainland to Arran, Kintyre, Cowal and Bute and the challenge is to link them all up in one day by completing the 52 land miles in between by bike.

OYT Scotland's four sail training vessels are well-kent in these local waters and sailed regularly by some 150 staff and volunteers to provide adventure under sail for hundreds of young people, some of whom jumped up in the saddle for Saturday's fundraiser.

The event began with the 9.45am crossing from Ardrossan to Arran. With the gang plank down, they were straight off to tackle the first 14 miles cycling to Lochranza.

Quite literally, the high point of was reaching the view point beyond Tighnabruaich where many of the team stopped for water and a well-deserved souvenir photo over-looking the Kyles of Bute.

Among them was OYT Chief Executive and skipper, Nick Fleming. Originally from London Nick joined OYT Scotland in 1996 and joked, "It took me a long while to learn the Scottish place names and pronunciation on the charts. But for sure, after a whole day in the saddle, one that comes to mind now is Buttock Point on the north end of Bute."

Nick and the others were cheered on by locals as they went and even met in Colintraive by a herd of cows on the shore road. After a warm welcome and light meal at the Isle of Bute Sailing Club on Rothesay the group embarked on the final ferry arriving in Wemyss Bay at 8.20pm.

Volunteer Ross Ritchie, driving a support vehicle loaned by his company George Leslie Ltd, admitted, "I never reckoned on there being cattle on the road when I wrote the hazard operations plan for today. I'll know better for next year."

The Five Ferries Challenge is expected to raise £5,000 but money is still rolling in. Nick, who himself raised £500, added, "It's one of a series of events to fund sailing opportunities for young people. I'd like to thank my fellow cyclists, all the volunteers, local communities and sponsors - CalMac, George Leslie Ltd and A G Barr – for making the day such a success."

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