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1Back to top Go down   Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Empty Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 on Mon May 27, 2019 5:31 pm

Born Again Eccentric

Born Again Eccentric
Life time member
Life time member
Warning...coming to a forum blog near you in the next week or so.

I've just got back from my Scotland tour and will be trying to put maps, photos and a "few" words into a post to describe my experiences. It will take a while (about 300Gbytes of video footage and many photos to sift through), but it likely to be a long one! Those that know me, will know that brevity is not my style!

I had 9 days on the road in Scotland, but actually the adventure started the weekend before when I took a ride the long way home on Sunday 12 May and found myself at Lands End (Southwesterly extreme of mainland UK). It was a cracking day and just seemed to make sense as, a week later I knew I would be at John O'Groats (claimed to be the North Easterly extreme of mainland UK - but it isn't really) and it was probably the only chance I would get to claim doing the "Lands End - John O'Groats" trip, albeit by a less than direct route.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Lejog10
There were some long days in the saddle - mileage (to be confirmed when I have deciphered the GPS log) ~ 4000 miles (including the Lands End outing) and Heidi never let me down once. 

To be continued...


__________________________________________________
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Uk-log10 Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Sco-lo15Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Eu-log10
                              Paul  Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 905546712

"Heidi" K100LT 1991 (Grey) (VIN 0190172 Engine No. 104EB 2590 2213) - 5th owner. January 2014 (34,000 - 61,000 miles and counting....)
"Gretel" K100LT 1989 (Silver Grey) (VIN 0177324 Engine No. 104EA 2789 2211) - 4th+ owner. September 2015 (58,500miles and counting....). Cat C Insurance write-off rebuild Feb 17
"Donor" K100LT 1990 (Red)  (VIN 0178091 Engine No. 4489 2024) - 6th & final owner (crash write-off now donor bike).   June 2012 (73,000 miles) to November 2013 (89,500 miles)
    

2Back to top Go down   Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Empty Grand Tour - Scotland May 2019 on Mon May 27, 2019 6:05 pm

Tom FKR

Tom FKR
Life time member
Life time member
Paul, bring it on. Always enjoy your travel blogs. Looking forward to it.
 Cheers
Tom


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1993 K75 Slightly Modified
2010 BMW F650GS Twin
1992 R100R
    

3Back to top Go down   Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Empty Out and about on Tue May 28, 2019 12:50 am

caveman

caveman
Silver member
Silver member
BAE Paul, 
If you could please don't do a great job on your write up and maybe I'll do a write up on my resend trip out to the western US.
No really let us know how it all went down for you!
Looking forward to reading about it.

    

4Back to top Go down   Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Empty Re: Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 on Tue May 28, 2019 11:16 am

td5

td5
Silver member
Silver member
looking forward to the blog, there are some fantastic roads in Scotland, and bugger all traffic.


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Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 K_engi10
1988 / K100RS
2013 / R1200GS
2015 / K1300R
    

5Back to top Go down   Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Empty Re: Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 on Tue May 28, 2019 6:04 pm

Stan

Stan
Life time member
Life time member
Bring it on Paul.


__________________________________________________
1983 K100 basic vin 0003960 colour red  GONE
1987 K100RT vin 0094685 colour, orange peel, sorry, pearl..GONE
F800R black
    

Born Again Eccentric

Born Again Eccentric
Life time member
Life time member
Time off from work booked and I was really looking forward to the upcoming adventure to Scotland. The camping and fishing gear had been dragged out from the darkest recesses of the garage and checked over. A quick visit to the local camping shop to buy some last minute essentials (light weight trousers, micro fibre bath towel, some instant meal packs and a folding shovel...well I was planning on wild camping and hotel facilities were certainly not guaranteed and I was limited on luggage space).  A trial loading of Heidi satisfied me that I remembered how I loaded her up last time I took her camping - crikey when was that - Ireland & the Wild Atlantic Way in Aug 15, I think. 

I had had a few mechanical issues with Heidi in the run up to the adventure (replaced front fork seals, replaced blown rear shock and replaced a broken clutch cable) and, as I hadn't been putting many miles on her recently (walking to work) I was keen to give her a decent run before the big trip, just to make sure that everything was good to go. As it happened, I was planning on attending a decommissioning dinner at the Submarine Escape Training Tank in Gosport on 11 May, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to take Heidi for the run rather than travelling there and back in the tin box. So this is where my adventure starts...
Day 1 minus 7: Saturday 11 May 2019: Bristol to Gosport (121 miles)
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 11may110
I set off from home, just after lunch on dry roads. Heidi was lightly loaded and having filled the tank at the local servo, she cruised effortlessly east along the M4 motorway, south down the A34 and east again on the M27. Traffic was moving steadily, the sun was shining and it felt real good to open the throttle and blow the cobwebs away. It was an easy 2 hour ride and I felt a small wave of nostalgia as I rode Heidi through the once very familiar streets of one of my old stomping grounds. Once a bustling operational submarine base, Fort Blockhouse over the years had all but become a ghost town. I parked up at the escape tank and went for a self guided tour of the facility where I used to work. Now a grade 2 listed building and a conspicuous part of the Gosport skyline, the 30m deep tank was streaked with rust, the water was cold to the touch and the whole place looked shabby and neglected. Feeling rather sad, I rode Heidi to the mess accommodation - reflecting that it was probably the last time I would ever stay there. I had a small room overlooking the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. However, the dinner was well attended, the food was tasty and it was good to reminisce about the "good old days" with old colleagues.
Day 1 minus 6: Sunday 12 May 2019 Gosport to Bristol...the long way home via Lands End (475 miles)
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 12may110

My room had been so hot, I had had to leave my window wide open overnight and I was awoken early by the tumultuous throbbing of diesel engines and bellow of safety announcements over the ship's PA system from the cross channel ferries navigating the narrow harbour entrance. I opened my curtains and was welcomed by a glorious, windless day with the sun, rising over the Round Tower, sparkling on the calm green waters. Now, originally, I was simply going to go straight home, but weather like this was just too good to waste and I rapidly started planning a more interesting ride. I quickly decided that I would go to Swanage in Dorset for an ice-cream - what could be more perfect than a ride to the seaside on a sunny Sunday?  I would take the back roads there as I wasn't in any rush and they would be more enjoyable than slogging along the motorway and main A roads. Decision made, Heidi was soon loaded and I was on my way. I rode along the quiet early morning roads, hugging the coast as I swept through Alverstoke, Stokes Bay and Lee on Solent. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Lee on Solent - I noted that the town hadn't changed much, perhaps just sprawled a little more. I paused briefly outside my old family home, so many memories, but I rode on before the current owners could be worried about a weird biker checking out their home!

Sticking to the coastal road, I rode through Hillhead, Warsash, on to Southampton and then a blast along the A31 through the New Forest. Beautiful heathland stretched out on either side of the road as Heidi and I flew effortlessly along in the clear morning air. At Ringwood, I turned off towards Bournemouth and made my way along the sea front - breathing in the thick, salty smells of the sea and the patches of rotting seaweed on the sandy beach. Perhaps I even got a whiff of gin and formaldehyde - well, it is a popular retirement area after all. My route took me to the chain ferry at Sandbanks and across the entrance of Poole Harbour and on to my destination at Swanage, a few miles further west. 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Lands_10
Surprisingly, Swanage was fairly quiet and I rolled to a stop in the motorcycle parking bay - the hoards of day trippers and gangs of bikers would almost certainly be flocking there later, once they realised what a cracking day it was. I was glad of the peace and quiet though and enjoyed my ice cream as I looked out over the bay chuckling at the lunatics who thought it was warm enough to go for a swim in the sea.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9619
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9620Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9622
Ice cream done and I was all set to head for home - only it was still quite early and I had the whole day ahead of me...and it was a great riding day. In a moment of madness, perhaps due to some mind bending chemical in the ice-cream, I thought "this time next week, I'll be in John O'Groats (reputed to be the furthest North East part of mainland UK)" and an idea germinated in my sun-baked brain. Ride on to Lands End, the furthest South West part of mainland UK. I convinced myself that it's not really that far from Swanage...only about 200 miles, I could be there in 4 hours, or less, and I had to be sure that Heidi was running well for the upcoming Scotland tour. Besides, I would be able to tick the ride from Lands End to John O'Groats off my bucket list. So that was it another decision made - this one of the great things about riding alone, there is nobody to disagree with!

I left the seaside behind and headed inland a little. I passed through the ancient town of Corfe Castle, with its majestic remains of a Saxon castle standing derelict in its once commanding hill top position. Built over a 1000 years ago, this mighty fortress stood firm though many conflicts until the English Civil war when, following the defeat of the Royalists, an act of parliament ordered it's destruction. It doesn't pay to pick the wrong side in a fight!
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Lands_11
 By now, the rest of the south coast population had woken up to the summer-like day and the roads were steadily getting busier. I started to wonder if heading into Cornwall was really such a good idea on such a nice day. Evenso, onward I rode, through towns and villages, through Honiton and Exeter and onto the A30. This road is a fast, mostly dual carriage way route that cuts through the heart of Devon & Cornwall, arcing to the North of Dartmoor, charging through the wilds of Bodmin Moor, chilling out past the surf capital of Newquay and on all the way down to Penzance. It was a fun ride and, save a few short sections, I wasn't unduly impeded by the other traffic. I finally rolled into the carpark at Lands End, near Sennan, at about 15:00 and wandered down to the touristy sign post photo booth. I asked if I could bring my bike down for a photo but was told that I would have to wait until 16:00 as vehicles were banned until that time due to the proximity of a children's play ground (an empty playground, as it happened, but rules are rules). There was nothing for it but to wait and how better to wait than to order a cream tea, with fresh baked scones, cornish clotted cream and thick strawberry jam from the local hotel and then sit outside in the warm sunshine and gaze out over the clear, shimmering blue sea. The Isles of Scilly were just visible to the naked eye, some 26 miles away to the South West
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9623
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_0011
Tea drunk, scones scoffed and a short (hot) walk later and it was time to roll Heidi down to the sign post for her photo shoot. It was a little warmer than the last time I was here on 6 Dec 2014 and Heidi has a few more miles on her clock.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_0010
Cheesy photo complete and I was finally headed towards home, a mere 207 miles away (about twice the distance from home as I was at the start of the journey that morning!). The trip home was eventless, the traffic light and amenable and Heidi ate up the miles easily. It would have been nicer to take the north Devon coastal road back, but I think I had done enough detours and scenic routes for one day, besides it would be much slower and I would run out of day light before I was home. Instead, I took the reverse route along the A30 to Exeter and then plugged up the M5 back to Bristol and home. I arrived home about 20:30, having travelled 475 miles over a 12 hour period. It had been a grand day out, Heidi had performed superbly and I was so glad I had made the effort and had taken the long way home.
Day 1 minus 4: Tuesday 14 May 19: Bristol to Derby (136 mostly boring motorway miles)
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 14may110
What is it about work? Always seems to get in the way of great schemes and cunning plans, despite my best efforts to avoid it. In this case, it wasn't too inconvenient as the 3 days of meetings in Derby were sort of on my route. However, that meant I had to be even more careful about what I took. Fortunately, the light weight trousers and walking shoes i had recently bought from the camping shop (you can't live in bike boots for ever) where pseudo-smart casual, so would do for the meetings and avoid me having to take even more clobber with me. It did mean I needed to take an extra back pack though, which was not part of the load plan. As it turned out, it proved to a very convenient add on - especially once I started replacing food with bottles of whisky - more of that later.

The route deviation got me thinking again. Now that I was pausing in Derby during the week, I was effectively about 120 miles into my first leg of the journey, which in turn meant I could either leave 2 hours later on the Saturday morning or, more appealingly, take a more scenic route up to the borders. My original plan had been to hit the M5/M6 motorways from Bristol to Carlisle and then cut cross country on the "Borders Historic" route aka the A7 from Carlisle to Edinburgh. My newly devised route would now take me from Derby, through the Derbyshire Peak District, across the Yorkshire Dales and through the Northumberland National Park passing Kielder reservoir, crossing the Cheviot Hills and then pick up the Borders Historic Route at Langholm. Yes - a much more appealing route than a motorway slog. Waypoints were soon loaded and the reality hit - the new route would take much longer but I would still get to Inverness and the start point of the North Coast 500 before dark (fortunately, it gets darker later in those higher latitudes). It would be a long day in the saddle though, but what they hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained and I could always bale out on route, if needed.

I had loaded Heidi up the night before and only had the final bits and bobs to strap on. I had made a small modification to the left rear indicator to make carrying my telescopic beachcaster type fishing rod easier. A simple enough solution - drill a 8mm hole though the casing of the indicator, passing a stainless steel round head bolt through the hole, added a touch of silicon sealant to the bolt threads to ensure that the indicator housing remained weather tight and then secured in position with a stainless nut and washer. I also drilled an 8mm hole in the rubber cap on the butt of the fishing rod. It then only took a matter of seconds to slide the fishing rod onto the spigot and tuck the free end in the small recess by the left knee pad. Actually, the  fishing rod was about 15mm too long for a perfect fit - a hacksaw soon had the rod cut to size and the end cap was reaffixed with strong epoxy glue. Perfect - well they do say that necessity is the mother of invention! 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9628
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9626 
Clothes, sleeping bag and wash gear in one pannier; tackle box, camping odds & sods, chargers, shoes in the other; tent & camp chair (RIP) on pillion seat; camp table, stoves, spare gas, kitchenware and food sachets stored in the table bag on top; and compact sleep mat on top of the lot. Backpack on back. Final pre-ride checks were completed, tyres kicked, lights re-checked, helmet visor cleaned and I was ready for the off. I was carrying 2 litres of drinking water (along with water purification tablets, just in case) in my camelback. Obviously, I couldn't wear that as well as the backpack, so the camelback was sashed inside the back pack. 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Img_9629
I set off at 15:00 for the typical 2.5 - 3 hour trip. First though, a stop at the local servo to fill the tank for the first leg of the journey. Always nice to start with full tank. I quickly realised that the back pack was going to be a pain as it butted against the tent on the pillion seat. I could shuffle around a bit so that it sat on top of the tent/table bag but it wasn't particularly comfortable. Still, I only had about 136 miles to my destination, so suffered in silence and resolved to find a better arrangement before the next leg (including posting the surplus work related stuff home to myself, at the end of the week). The weather and roads were dry, the riding easy and the route well known to me. I stuck to the speed limits (of course) and made steady progress in the pre-rush hour traffic. By the time I was on the M42 skirting around the South East of Birmingham, the traffic had become heavy and very slow moving - absolutely typical for the time & place. The variable speed limits (camera controlled) dropped to 60 then 50 then 40mph. I slowed down to an appropriate speed and split lanes carefully, every wary of the denizens of the tin boxes making careless lane changes. Most drivers were courteous enough to leave a decent gap or move over to create a bigger gap and let me though. Others of course are less attentive or, occasionally, deliberately awkward. I treated them with the respect they deserved. Despite the load, Heidi was handling well. In a busy part of the country at a busy time of day, there was little pleasure in the ride (albeit always satisfying to be able to keep moving rather than be stuck in the nose to tail jam of cars, buses and trucks) but I made it though unscathed and soon rolled up to my hotel accommodation for the next few nights. Having checked in, I then had the rigmarole of unloading Heidi and putting all my stuff in my room. Luckily they had put me in the furthest room away from the carpark!!
Day 1 minus 3, 2 & 1: Wednesday 14 May 19 to Friday 17 May: In & around Derby (total of 27 daily commuting miles)
Work, work and more work. I used Heidi to commute between the hotel and the workplace. It was only a short ride each way but mostly in busy commuter traffic. The weather was glorious - I began to think I had picked the wrong week to go to Scotland. From my time working in Scotland, I knew from personal experience that the month of May is summer in Scotland (July & August are invariable doomed from a weather perspective) - the skill comes in knowing which day in May is actually summer. However, the long range forecast did not look promising - cloud, rain and more rain. Still, if you go to Scotland expecting Mediterranean weather, you will be disappointed. I'd far rather go, expecting rain, and be pleasantly surprised by the odd glimpse of sunshine than be disappointed by unreasonable expectations. During the week, I solved my backpack issue - a simple matter of redistributing stuff which gave me enough space to put the compact sleep mat in the backpack and then strap the backpack on top of the camp table bag where the sleep mat had been. I could then wear the camelback, which was much slimmer and more comfortable. On my last commute back to the hotel, I stopped off at a servo and filled the tank for the day ahead. On Friday night, I ate like a king - perhaps my last decent meal for the next 9 days and slept soundly in the king sized bed - perhaps my last comfortable night's sleep for a while too!
Day 1: Saturday 18 May 19: Derby to Inverness (574 scenic miles)
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 18may110
Part 1: Derby to Northumberland via Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 18may111
I was up early, too early for the hotel breakfast, especially with their weekend hours. I loaded up Heidi, it took several trips from my room to the carpark to accomplish the task, and then checked out. It was a grey, damp start to the day, a gentle drizzle was falling - enough to wet the roads and mist the visor, but nothing that I couldn't handle. At 05:46, I pressed the green starter button and Heidi immediately responded. I pulled out onto the empty, damp street a little wary of possibly slippery, greasy patches. I would not be good to drop the bike in her fully laden state! I followed the GPS northwards and was on my way, excited at the prospect of what lay ahead.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla10
I soon cleared Derby and trudged up the A6, though Matlock and into the Peak District. This was a part of the country that I was completely unfamiliar with. To one side lay the urban sprawl of Sheffield, to the other the mighty metropolis of Manchester and nestled conveniently in the middle was the Peak District. My route took me through the town of Bakewell, I'm rather partial to a Bakewell Tart, but sadly at 06:30 in the morning, there were no tarts to be seen on the quiet streets.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla13
Turning off the A6, I followed a muddle of roads until eventually emerging onto the A57 by the Ladybower reservoir. At some point in time, a series of dams had been built across the river Derwent and the valleys upstream had been allowed to flood. I wouldn't want to be living downstream of those dams, especially when you consider that the WW2 Dambusters used these reservoirs to practice their dambusting art before unleashing their havoc on the heart of industrial Germany. However, I wasn't here on a military history tour, I was here to ride the renown "Snake Pass" as it twists and turns its way North West up and  across "High Peak" and down into the town of Glossop. 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla14
I suppose the Snake Pass is one of the roads that need to be ridden, about 9 miles long, it is not especially challenging, but maybe sticking to the 50 mph speed limit, I wasn't going fast enough to be challenged by some of the corners. The presence of a few stray sheep at the roadside was enough of a deterrent to going faster - wasn't it hereabouts that Snodblatter rearended Becky (after she stopped suddenly for a sheep in the road and he didn't? Maybe that was somewhere else?). The cheerful "To Die for?" roadside warning signs, liberally scattered along the route also had some subliminal psychological effect! The combination of signs was interesting too. "Big Boobs - To Die For?" - Hell yes!! I didn't see any big boobs though and just hung onto the handlebars as I rode over the bumpy road surface. It reminded me of an ancient joke...two nuns riding down a cobble street. One turns to the other and says "I've never come this way before". 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla15
It was scenic stretch of hilly moorland road though, rising steadily to about 512m (1679 feet) above sea level, crossing the Pennie Way long distance footpath at the high point before dropping steeply into Glossop. The early morning drizzle had stopped (or been left miles behind), the road surface was mostly dry and there was even patches of blue sky and shafts of brilliant sunshine ahead.

In terms of iconic biking roads, I would rate it a fair to middling, but having experienced some fantastic roads in Ireland, Wales and NSW, perhaps I have been spoilt and am getting too critical? Heidi rolled through the corners and the odd car that got in my way, was easily passed as soon as the road allowed.

Making short work of the remainder of the Peak District, I skirted by the grey, industrial, northern towns of Huddersfield, Halifax and Skipton born out of the industrial revolution and the demand for cotton mills, but more recently spawning a more lucrative business of banks and building societies. The rain caught up with me in Huddersfield, but I was soon onto the Yorkshire Dales and the rain stopped again. I was off the A roads and onto more scenic B roads as they threaded their way though the valleys alongside the rivers and streams. I guess that's why they are called the "Dales"! Often hemmed in on one of both sides by miles of dry stone walls, the narrow road wended its way through the lush green undulating countryside with barely any traffic for company. What a difference a few miles make! Blue sky would be nicer though, the omnipresent grey clouds constantly threatened me with the prospect of more rain.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla16
It was approaching 10:30 when I reached the north of the Yorkshire Dales and decided that a tactical stop at Kirby Stephen, Cumbria, for a coffee and a bite to eat would be wise. I found somewhere to park on the town square where a bit of a town gathering was going on. After a quick visit to the local public conveniences, I ordered freshly made donuts and a strong cup of black coffee from a street vendor, stretched my legs and had a brief natter to a couple of police women doing their bit for comment relations while my coffee cooled. Suitably refreshed, I climbed back on the bike and whilst not very low on fuel, decided that it would be wise to refuel now rather than hope to find another garage in the next 50 miles. Fuelled up and it was onward, northwards, across the North Pennines. The landscape was very similar to the Yorkshire Dales, but the dry stone walls were gone and the ribribbon of black tarmac stretched out as far as I could see ahead across the imposing, desolate and barren moorland. I was now in Country Durham, the land of the prince bishops according to a roadside sign. I guess prince bishops were more concerned with tending their human flock than building stone walls to keep their sheep off the road.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla17
As I rode further north, the sky progressively darkened and as I emerged onto the busy A69, near Hexham, in Northumberland, the rain was upon me. I turned off the A69 and onto the A6079, passing through the unimaginatively named village of "Wall" and over the remains of Hadrians Wall. The Romans had decided that this was far enough for the empire to expand and, in a move that Donald Trump would be proud of, built a wall from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle to keep the marauding Scots at bey. I was not so easily deterred. Crossing the North Tyne river, I was back onto B roads, but what a superb B road it was and it got even better after Bellingham when I turned off onto a C road towards Kielder! All but deserted it was a fast, sweeping ride, with the roads criss crossing the river and then followed the south west bank of the reservoir through the Kielder forest up to the village of Kielder at the head of the reservoir. Unfortunately, the rain kept pace with me, giving occasionally heavy showers along the way. Before I knew it, I was at the England Scotland border. A camper van was parked up at the side of the road - I was to see a lot of those wretched plastic boxes over the next week or so and come to loathe the sight of them! 

As borders between countries go, it was pretty insignificant. If the Scottish National Party ever get their way and gain independence from the rest of the UK, it'll be time to rebuild Hadrian's wall again. Not liking the outcome of the last referendum on the subject, where the Scottish electorate voted to remain, the good old SNP want another go - another fine example of arrogance versus democracy in action. Seems to be a common theme in UK politics at the moment.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla18
Hooray - at 13:45, after 8 hours on the road, I had just made it into Scotland! Trouble was, I was still only about half way to my destination and still had another 285 miles ride (another 7 hours) ahead of me! It had been a good detour route, but had cost me dearly in time. Maybe I should have planned this leg over two days, not one!

Day 1 Part 2: Scottish Borders to Blairgowrie via the Borders Historic Route to Edinburgh.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 18may112
I had planned quite a big dogleg into my route so that I could join the Borders Historic route (the A7) at Langholm and rode almost parallel to the border, bizarrely travelling away from my destination. As it turned out the historic route was not exactly impressive. If I hadn't read it on a map, then the historic nature of it would have been lost on me. Actually, it still is and I need to go an look in a history book to find out what was so special about it. The road was a standard A road and on a damp afternoon, was absolutely nothing to write home about. I made reasonable progress through the rain as the road wiggled past Hawick, Selkirk and Galashields. The bike camera stopped recording just past Selkirk, memory card full. I didn't bother pulling over to put a new memory card in as the rain and spray wee not making for video footage that I would want to keep. 

It wasn't a bad road and on a decent day could offer a spirited ride, but today wasn't that day. Maybe I had already had my fill of hilly, wind swept moorland? That didn't bode well - there would be an awful lot more of that scenery to come!! It took me about 2 hours to ride the 82 miles to the Forth bridge, bypassing Edinburgh on the ring road and I stopping for fuel at a convenient supermarket servo just to the south of the city. The weather was miserable and the traffic was building up as the rush hour commuters started heading for home. As I approached the bridge over the River Forth, the traffic was moving slowly, I think was just the volume rather than anything serious, but I was in no mood for being held up, so exercise my bikers right to split lanes. It used to be a toll bridge, but this looked like a new bridge and I didn't see any sign of toll booths (I hope it was free - and not one of those camera controlled ones where you are supposed to pay on line within 3 nanoseconds of crossing - well I haven't had a bill yet, if it was!). Once on the bridge, the traffic started moving again. maybe it was just tourists slowing down to try and see the iconic Forth rail bridge though the mist and murk - I just caught a glimpse of it, but my attention was on getting through the traffic and not gawping.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla19
I was then the turn of my GPS to get confused. I had put a waypoint in for the old Forth Road bridge and had just successfully crossed the river on the new bridge. As soon as I reached the other side, instead of keeping me on the M90 towards Perth, it turned me off. I thought it odd, but couldn't remember if I had planned a route away from the M90 motorway. Fortunately, I quickly realised that the GPS was trying to get me to the old river crossing waypoint still. I exercised my right to "skip next waypoint" and the GPS promptly re-routed me back onto the motorway, heading north again. I stayed on the M90 until reaching Perth where I headed off on the A93 towards Blairgowrie. 

Day 1 Pt 3: Blairgowrie to Inverness via Cairnie and Culloden Moor.
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 18may113
If I had really wanted to get to Inverness quicker, I could have jumped on the A9 at Perth and ridden the final 112 miles via Aviemore (and lots of average speed cameras) but where would be the fun in that?  The route I had planned took me through the Cairngorms and into the heart of Aberdeenshire. I had a special reason for going that way - a visit to the place where my mothers ashes were scattered on her family plot.

Passing through Blairgowrie, and Braemar I turned onto the B976 at Balmoral. I thought briefly about the reception I might get if I decided to wild camp in the grounds of that Royal residence! Besides, I was not ready to stop quite yet. The ride through the Cairngorms was excellent, the road twisted and turned as it carved its way between the hills and mountains. It was still wet underfoot and overcast above, but I enjoyed the emptiness of the wilderness and the long, clear stretches of road snaking ahead. I encountered a little traffic, but most of it was easy to pass as I thundered along. After the jams and slog of the M90, this felt like freedom again and Heidi responded smoothly to every twist of the throttle and every (occasional) touch of the brake. It would be a tremendous ride on a clear day. 
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Scotla20
I arrived at Huntley, Aberdeenshire, at 1845 and it had finally stopped raining. This was the nearest town to the village of Cairnie and where my mother had been born. I quickly located a convenient supermarket for a quick stop for fuel, a visit to the loo and a place to buy a bunch of flowers for the grave stone. I wasn't hungry, but having not eaten anything all day, apart from the coffee and couple of donuts I had at Kirby Stephen, Cumbria, back at 10:30, I grabbed a snack to keep me going.

I rode on the few miles to Cairnie and parked the bike in front of the small village church. I carefully arranged the flowers at the headstone and kneeled in quiet remembrance for several minutes. It was nearly 17 years since my mother had died, so much had happened in that time - my daughters (her youngest grandchildren) were now grown up and at University - she would have been so proud of them, I know that I am. In that time I had also had discovered the K100 and met & made new friends all around the world through this forum - she would have liked that too!
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Cairni10
Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Macphe10
 Next time I'm back, I must bring something to clean that stone!

About 19:30, I was back on the bike again and on the final leg to my intended campsite near Culloden Moor battlefield. Here I encountered my first camping issue. In Scotland, wild camping is permitted anywhere (within reason - obviously camping in someone's garden or on agricultural crops is not encouraged!), which is great if you are hiking over open moorland etc., but if you've got a heavy old bike, I discovered that it is not quite so easy to find somewhere with off road parking. It would have be nice to camp on Culloden Moor itself, but I thought that might be considered disrespectful and the place that I had identified on google maps as a possibility turned out to have a locked 5 bar gate across the entrance and was inaccessible. 

I had had a long day in the saddle and it was getting late in the day. The closer I got to Inverness, the less the opportunities for wild camping became. I then decided that finding a B&B or cheap hotel would actually be preferable to pitching camp for the night and set about finding somewhere using the miracle of the inter web (booking.com). Unsurprisingly, most hotels were ridiculously priced, but I did find a room in a house for £40. Salutary lesson time - don't believe all you read on line. The description sounded OK, with free parking and use of shared facilities (including kitchen) and reception manned 24h/day. I followed the GPS directions into the heart of a council-esque housing estate in a rather grotty part of Inverness. I located the house number, but thought it couldn't be the right place - a small 3 bed house in total darkness. After several attempts to contact the owner via email, I finally resorted to calling the telephone number. It turned out that I was in the right place but the owner didn't realise that I had even made a booking (the wonders of an automated system). He gave me the code to the key lockbox by the front door and I was in. Being a less than salubrious neighbourhood and only on street parking, I then had to decant all my stuff off the bike and into to my tiny single bedroom upstairs. I secured the bike with my heavy security chain and hoped for the best. As it turned out, the house had 3 individual bedrooms and was well equipped and clean and tidy - there was only me and another resident staying that night, but there was no sign of the other resident at that time. Tea & coffee, milk and cereals were provided in the kitchen, unfortunately the other resident had used up all the milk, so that was not so good. 

By now it was 22:00 and I was tired after my long day riding. It had been a great day, but I had been on the go for over 15 hours, had covered 574 (mostly) amazing miles and was in dire need of a decent rest. With hindsight, I really should have done that ride over 2 days. My room, fortunately, was at the front of the house and overlooked where the bike was parked. I opened my window so I could hear if any ne'r-do-wells were not passing as quickly as they should be on their way back home from the clubs, pubs and whisky dens. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night as every sound jerked me awake. At 04:00, my fitful sleep was disturbed for the final time as a drunken sot, cussing and cursing took on the challenge of getting his key into the front door lock and navigating the steep stairs to his room. My fellow resident had returned! He continued to cuss and curse in his room, oblivious to the fact that anyone else may have been in the house or what time it was. That was the last straw for me. I dressed, humped all my stuff back down the stairs, unchained Heidi and loaded her up again and left the property, almost as tired as I was when I got there. By 04:35 I was on the road and continuing my adventure...

To be continued in "The Grand Tour: Scotland May 2019 - Part 2" - coming soon...


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Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Uk-log10 Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Sco-lo15Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 Eu-log10
                              Paul  Grand tour - Scotland May 2019 905546712

"Heidi" K100LT 1991 (Grey) (VIN 0190172 Engine No. 104EB 2590 2213) - 5th owner. January 2014 (34,000 - 61,000 miles and counting....)
"Gretel" K100LT 1989 (Silver Grey) (VIN 0177324 Engine No. 104EA 2789 2211) - 4th+ owner. September 2015 (58,500miles and counting....). Cat C Insurance write-off rebuild Feb 17
"Donor" K100LT 1990 (Red)  (VIN 0178091 Engine No. 4489 2024) - 6th & final owner (crash write-off now donor bike).   June 2012 (73,000 miles) to November 2013 (89,500 miles)
    

Stan

Stan
Life time member
Life time member
What a start...weather ,dubious room for the night and the feeling that your bike may be taken. But all of this is certainly counter balanced by the trip and the various stops (including seeing mum). Looking forward to part 2.


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1983 K100 basic vin 0003960 colour red  GONE
1987 K100RT vin 0094685 colour, orange peel, sorry, pearl..GONE
F800R black
    

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