The Journey Home

Up early – porridge for breakfast, salmon sandwiches made and we were off. The weather was cool and very windy indeed! We were buffeted from all directions but we just got on with it and soon the highlands were behind us and we cruised smoothly down into England and finally back to Darwen. A really tiring ride as a result of the wind and lovely to get back to home (almost).

The last day

Our last ride today before we head home. The morning did not look promising. It was snowing and only just above freezing. Ambitious plans to ride to Mallaig were abandoned and instead we headed towards Oban. It was three degrees Celsius when we left Tyndrum and nine degrees in Oban. But it was also blowing a gale! I needed a torx driver to tighten a screw on Helga Too so we explored Oban in search  of one with eventual success.

On arrival we had our best cup of coffee at Julies pantry and then we found the best sea food too on the quay -hot smoked salmon, scallops, and prawns. So then we sought out carrot cake before leaving Oban and heading towards LochAwe for smoked salmon supplies.  Our final part of the ride was through the Glen of Orchy – a very narrow road indeed!

Back in Tyndrum we descended on the Real Food cafe where I demolished a venison burger.

Return to Pitlochry

Forty three years ago a pub refused to serve me – presumably because I was a biker in biking gear. The pub was in Pitlochry. When I returned to my bike my waterproof trousers had been stolen. This was the year of the Inverness floods, through which I rode on my way to John O Groats. This left a deep and negative impression on me which has lasted till today.

This morning the weather was clear and bright and after fuelling up at the Green Welly we set off to Pitlochry. I had 633 squadron playing through the headphones which promoted lively acceleration and cornering.

The ride along Loch Tay was gorgeous and we made Pitlochry in time for lunch. Initially my prejudices were not allayed by the total lack of dedicated bike parking and the “no motorbikes” sign on the camp site gate but we parked in the free car park (well free for us anyway) and found an excellent lunch at the Old Mill Inn. we also got a bargain in the charity shop and the outdoor shop. We then visited Graham’s favourite hardware shop and almost bought it. So I left Pitlochry in a more positive frame of mind. We returned the way we came but stopped off at the Cranoch centre which was fascinating. James had a go at making fire with a drill and almost succeeded and Graham got on very well with the lady guide! For some reason the other lady guide thought I was an archaeologist.

As we approached Killen the sky darkened and it started to to hail and snow. Luckily there was a pub serving coffee and cakes so we sat it out and emerged to a clear blue sky! The rest of the run back to Tyndrum was straight forward and we arrived back to explore our new accommodation in the hostel – sheer luxury! The weather has now set in again and there is no mobile phone signal. Not an uncommon experience round here apparently.

Loch Ness

The riding just gets better!  This morning we headed over Rannoch moor and through Glencoe to Fort William where we found the road to Fort Augustus. The weather looked like it might get iffy but as we left FW it cleared and once again we were blessed with sunshine and dry roads. As usual we stopped to take lots of photos, including some at the Commando Memorial where we happened to get chatting to one of the original commandos! Now 87!  We also met a load of Belgians on Harleys who were very cheerful and a German couple – she was on a 1975 BMW R90/6. Graham wanted it………

Fort Augustus was our lunch stop where we had a  haggis apiece. Best one I’ve had for a while and certainly miles better than the one that gave me the runs last year! We pressed on to Urquhart Castle which charges a fortune to get in so we didn’t but instead took photos through their hedge. Harrumph.

We returned to Fort William via a detour on the A887 which was superb, both from the point of view of tarmac and of the views! We also found an excellent cafe in the middle of nowhere for our regular carrot cake fix.

By the time we reached FW we were getting a bit tired but the road through Glencoe was sunlit and tempting. I confess I may exceeded the speed limit once or twice, just a little bit. We finally rolled back into our base at about 7pm, completely cream crackered but again totally sated with a wonderful days riding.

A fabulous ride

This morning we rolled out of bed and after ablutions and coffee we went up the road to the Green Welly cafe for a bacon roll and thence off on our way. The rule today was slow and steady and stopping for photo opportunities. Relatively slow anyway. We arrived in Oban in time for a coffee break and then we strolled round the town and took in the sights, checking out various food outlets and charity shops. After Graham scoffed a hot smoked salmon sandwich we went on to the chippy and had a delicious cod and chips -Graham and I shared one and James had a haggis and chips. We then rode up to the Craig monument which looks like the Colosseum and has incredible views over the harbour and islands. By now it was getting really warm so we shed some layers and headed out along the coast towards Fort William. We stopped to admire a castle and to eat some carrot cake but mainly we just enjoyed bend swinging our way to Ballhuish. Here we took the road to Kinlochleven, reprising my ride of last year only in the dry and the sunshine. Fantastic bends – I never got beyond 4th gear! Finally we reached the highlight of the day – Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. This is just a superb ride with incredible scenery and pretty good tarmac and not too much traffic. The weather too remained perfect. At a  layby on Rannoch Moor we made friends with some Chinese ladies who thought we were policemen. We will probably be appearing on a twitter site in Shanghai soon. At last, still in glowing sunlight we arrived back at our wee hut where we are now resting up, knackered but delighted with a glorious days riding.

Tyndrum By The Way

Well here we are in Haggis land at last and what a brilliant ride it’s been! We stayed off motorways as far as possible and went A6, A75, A77, A82. There was very little traffic and the weather was bearable until we got to Loch Lomond when the sun came out and it  was superb. Graham is riding Bluey, his Tmax scooter and I was extremely impressed by the way he cleared off into the distance. I have also been able to watch James developing his cornering and overtaking skills as the journey proceeded and there were some points on the route where I just whooped with delight in my helmet at the joy of flowing through bends and whizzing down dead straight empty roads with nothing but glorious Scottish scenery to distract me.

Our trekker hut is very cosy with a heater and bunks. We have made ourselves at home and cooked dinner and now I am watching the evening mist roll down the hillsides and listening to the bird song from a variety of critters in the woods surrounding our camp site.