A marvellous week in Scotland.
You know, we have had some amazing holidays in Europe over the last two years, fantastic roads, beautiful scenery and generally memorable trips. This year, our ‘mega’ trip is going to be in September, so we decided we would gallivant around Scotland for a week.
As per my previous blog, we started off with the IAM skills night at Knockhill, the grin was massive. Little did I know that my grin could get bigger and wider. I think I have new smile wrinkles on my face after this week. Sadly, I was so busy enjoying myself, I didn’t take a single photo of the skills night. Pfft. Slacking. Too excited.
After the Knockhill experience, we stayed with some friends in Fife. After dinner, Ed and Kenny planned our route… well, Ed did, Kenny wasn’t familiar with riding in the Borders. So, the plan was, Kenny leads us out of Fife by the pretty roads, and Ed was going to lead with Fanny the sat nav in charge. Yes, she has a name other than ‘Emily’…. I named her when we were on a tour in Germany lots of years ago when she kept taking us into village centres. First name; Fcuking. I shouted that at her when we did our umpteenth u-turn. Given I was riding my SV650 and was seriously crap at slo-mo. My cornering involved meeting every side of a 50 pence piece. It was that bad.
So, we headed off, and very soon after getting rid of the Edinburgh by-pass, (“should have made it 3 lanes” is Ed’s favourite mantra) we hit the twisties. We rode on the most amazing roads, truly breathtaking. I know I was blown away by the choice of roads, as were Kenny and Fiona.
The way-points included:
We did have a wee coffee stop in Hawick. Not the most successful choice, however, the (eventual) coffee was good, and a wee bit of food fuel. Not worth mentioning where we went.
In the meantime, the boys were in front, leading the way. We got to a roundabout, I got held up by a car, entered the roundabout and had a ‘where the hell are they’ moment, as I went all the way round… there they were… Fanny strikes again, daft bint. I have to say, for a nano-second I thought that my powers of observation had failed and I had missed noticing them at the first exit. They could have wound me up…. 😉
Back on the correct road, we headed to more fabulous twisties…. what a grin. A fabulous day, riding roads that I certainly hadn’t ridden before, and can’t wait to go on again. A wee visit to see Scot, Kenny and Fiona’s eldest boy for a cuppa and some biscuits. Much needed!
The next day, it was a tour about Fife. There were some roads I had ridden before, however, not for many years. The lunch stop was, of course in Anstruther. Fish and Chips. Sorted. Some had ice cream to follow!
After an awesome day, we went our separate ways, we headed to Aberdeen by the back roads from the Tay Bridge, what a joy. We only went onto the main dual carriageway for a short stint, heading into Aberdeen via the Peterculter road. Great.
We had a great last minute dinner with the lovely Annie. The boys went to Tesco and came back with ingredients for a steak dinner, salad and tatties, topped off with a scrummy mushroom sauce. Other sauce was consumed too. Bed before midnight, our latest night of the holiday! (Lightweights!)
Fanny was loaded up – the sat nav, silly. Off we headed north, taking some spectacular roads. It took us 40 minutes to get 20 miles from Aberdeen, taking quiet twisty roads. Amazing. Then we went across the Cock Bridge to Tomintoul road. It was weird, to start with, there was a ‘road narrows’ sign, closely followed by a speed camera sign. Hmmm…. Then I got a view of the road and understood why there ‘may’ have been speed cameras. Boy. I am sure at some point I have driven this road, however, never on my wee bike. Did I say I got more smile wrinkles? Breathtaking riding, much scraping of boots followed by a much needed coffee stop in Tomintoul.
The stop was at the Whisky Castle, so Ed did some if his favourite retail therapy, buying Whisky for collection at a later date.
Onwards on some great roads, the only downer was having to go on the A9 to get round Inverness. Fanny strikes again; this time taking the back roads north to Bettyhill. My favourite road of the late afternoon was the Mervich road to Bettyhill, great line of sight with sweeping bends and Tarmac in excellent condition.
We arrived at Farr Cottage to the surprise of my best pal, Gayle who was cycling from Land’s End to John O Groats with Louise. Mad, yes. Fit? Definitely! Lesley, our hostess previously lived in Skye, running Coruisk House. Having sold the business, she set up a lovely B&B. very homely.
Sorry Gayle & Louise; you were expecting a nice quiet evening before your last leg of your journey!
A lovely dinner and blether. We all hit the hay before 10pm, must be getting old! Great sleep, woke in time to wave goodbye to the girls who wished they could have borrowed our bikes for the last stretch.
We had a blether with Lesley, then had to get our act together…. The girls had made excellent time and were ahead of schedule – bloody hell, on the bikes and zoomed to John O Groats. A bit windy. We made it on time though to cheer on the girls over their last few miles. It’s much easier on a motorbike! Photos and champagne to celebrate. A fantastic achievement – well done!
The stretch of road to Bettyhill ticking lots of boxes again, even though it was really windy. The rest of the afternoon we chilled and read our books. Nice.
We had a wee trip to view the scenery with Lesley. Gob-smackingly-stunning. On our way back to the cottage, there was a poor cyclist battling against the wind. I remembered passing him on the bike earlier. Lesley gained another hungry guest, and lost her dinner to Iain, who teaches photography in college in Glasgow. Great craic and I know Iain was relieved not to have to wild camp. It’s ok though, Lesley didn’t starve. For emergency purposes, there’s always wine!
Another awesome breakfast before heading off. Personally I can’t wait to go back to Farr Bay, beautiful, tranquil and good for the soul.
I needed fuel (again!) so we stopped off in Tongue. As Ed went to pay, he told me just to crack on, he would catch me up. This has been pretty normal practice over the years with us, going down the Stirling road for example, I know he normally catches me by Callander.
Off I went with what must have looked like a mental grin on my face. I had driven the road from Durness to Tongue many times in my Type R and also in wee George. I knew what to expect. Yeehah!!
There’s a lovely parking spot that I was heading for; one where a ton of photos have been taken over the years. Just before Durness, overlooking a lovely beach.
Where was Ed? Nowhere to be seen. I pulled in, got my phone out to take pictures and there he was, coming round the corner. He said ‘thank you for stopping’, I thought at first he was taking the piss, however, no. He was astounded that he hadn’t caught up with me! *snigger* riding’s improved a wee bit it seems!
Next stop; Durness. Coco Mountain was calling. Mocha to die for. Lesley had raved about the place, so it had to be done. Bought lots of homemade chocolates for pressies, and scoffed a luxury chocolate and coffee laden drink. Couldn’t have been many calories.
Back on the road. Durness to the Lairg / Bonar Bridge road. OH MY GOD. No traffic, lovely weather, stunning scenery, fantastic line of sight, and *ahem* progressive riding. Mega. Ed stopped after Bonar Bridge and gave me a ‘high 5’ – what for? We had just beaten Fanny the say nav by 3 minutes. That was going some!
We continued toward Inverness, stopping to have a ‘wild pee’ and a chat to a Dutch couple who had a rear puncture. Maybe a bit ironic that I would pick up a large fencing staple in my rear tyre as we got onto the dual carriageway before the city. Damn. Thank goodness for tyre pressure sensors. I rode as far as I could with air still in the tyre…. In the meantime, Ed was away, however, fairly quickly realised that something was not right. He turned around and found me.
Ed did a ‘phone a friend’ and I called MAG rescue. In the meantime, Donald arrived and we did a phone around Inverness to find a tyre. Nae chance. The only ‘possibility’ was a slightly wider tyre, however, great advice from Tony who said the bike would handle like a pig with castors. We debated the merits of plugging the hole, however, I took the decision to get transported home. It transpires that was a good plan, when I got my tyre fixed, Jim at Strathearn Tyres said I had made the correct decision. So, instead of Aberdeen for a steak & prawn fest, we stayed with Jayne & Donald in Inverness.
At half 6 the next morning I was on the road, accompanied by Colin the recovery guy. FFS, he got lost going from Culloden to the garage, totally ignored what his sat nav was saying then failing to use common sense, drove round in a 2 mile circle to get back to where we needed to turn off. I thought against saying, “why not just turn round,” after all, this man had to get me home and no-one likes a smart arse.
Eventually we were on our way, well after a fashion:
Colin was a pretty down to earth guy, and talked non-stop all the way from Inverness to Tyndrum, hardly stopping for breath. He’s a biker and owns a Harley and a Royal Enfield. Just as well he’s a mechanic then. His favourite word was ‘can’t’. It wasn’t until we were a wee way down the road that I realised ‘can’t’ was another 4 letter word. Loads of class, all third. Just as well we left early, top speed wind assisted / down hill, was a staggering 50mph. Considering the fleet of immaculate recovery vehicles at the garage, I was gob smacked that Colin was sent out in what was actually a piece of shite. A clapped out VW flatbed truck. I had Ed’s bag between my feet (he went to collect the whisky) and my helmet on my lap. I needed to get out at Fort William for a stretch and caffeine.
I could have been pissed off with being trailered home, but I wasn’t. Ed and I had a brilliant week, riding the hell out our bikes. It seems I have worn out another back tyre, (other than the obvious puncture) how did that happen then?! Front tyre ordered, it’s going to be needing replaced pretty soon too. Next, Smoggy’s second service of the year. Yikes!
So, to sum up; glorious weather, stunning scenery, great roads, great craic; fabulous Scotland. Going to the continent is superb, however, why not stay home and enjoy breathtaking Scotland at its best. A huge thank you to Lesley for amazing hospitality. Kenny and Fiona for putting up with us and being wonderful hosts. Annie, Donald and Jayne for accepting last minute guests; above and beyond the call of duty and really appreciated. Tony, at Motorad in Edinburgh who worked his ass off on the phone to try to solve my tyre problem. Sorry Annie, your Coco Mountain chocolates were given to Donald and Jayne! Also, a huge, mega thank you to those who have in their own way, helped me get my riding to where it is today.