Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Old Guys Go To Scotland.

We decided to go to Scotland. The idea was spurred on by the opportunity to meet up with a Luxembourger buddy from a previous motorbike trip. The rendezvous would be on Monday 6th September 2010 at the Rua Reidh Lighthouse which is in Wester Ross north of Melvaig.

Dr AM and I set off on Friday 3rd September for a gentle ride to Edinburgh via a night stop in Newcastle. AM had joined me on a trip to South Africa earlier this year and therefore had earned credit as an honorary Old Guy  - for S.A. Ride Reports just click here or go to 'February' 2010 in Blog Archive at the right and then progress by clicking 'Newer Post' at the end of each day's report. 
Dr AM, not being retired like the rest of us, would have to be back at his dental practice on Monday 6th, so he would be leaving me at Edinburgh for his return journey to the midlands.

We had a very pleasant ride via Newark, Gainsborough and Beverley (pic above) to Middlesbrough and then Newcastle.

Here we are waiting for the famous Transporter Bridge crossing of the river Tees. Very few of this type of bridge remain in service anywhere.

Here we are crossing the River Tees - confirmed on the Garmin.

Soon we reached Newcastle and found the Northumbria Hotel easily after crossing the River Tyne on the famous road bridge. The hotel was good and teeming with young people enjoying a few Friday night drinks. We joined in for some beers and then went to China Town by taxi for an excellent Chinese Meal.  Mental Note: Must take camera with me at night in future. Sorry that there are no photos of Newcastle.

The next Morning, Saturday 4th September, was a beautiful day. We departed in bright sunshine and headed for Edinburgh via the scenic route. We stopped after about 45 minutes to check our route. We decided to have a look at Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and then head northwest agin from there.

Here is AM with his MapNav system. Note the high tec attachment device. 

Yep .... we are on course for Holy Island.

We crossed the causeway but had little time at Lindisfarne because the tide was coming in fast. So we made a quick turnaround and made a sharp exit. My bike was making a bow wave on the return crossing.

Next stop was Berwick-upon-Tweed. I think Berwick is still in England at this time, but possibly still at war with Russia due to an omission in a peace treaty at some point in our history. Berwick is very pretty, but spoilt by pay-and-display everywhere. We didn't pay so we were not able to stay. Shame. Another beautiful town spoilt by bureaucracy and greed.

So we crossed the border into Scotland a few minutes after leaving Berwick. This is my happy face. We rode some beautiful roads to Edinburgh. At Duns we stopped for lunch at a delightful little pub. Duns is also the home to The Jim Clark Rooms.

The nightstop in Edinburgh was good. This whole Friday to Sunday ride was AM's plan and he was the leader. I followed with interest and he showed me some interesting places. Edinburgh is a particularly beautiful and interesting city. We left our motorcycles at our B&B and used the fine bus service - topped up where necessary with taxis. Edinburgh is now definitely on my list for another visit. AND next time I will take my camera with me at night!!
The pic above was taken the following morning, Sunday 5th September at North Queensferry. The bridges are amazing. It seems that the older rail bridge may outlast the newer road bridge.
Andrew had to wiz back home from here. The time was about 11:30 am. He texted me at 17:30, "Home safe". Good.

I had an easy day and had only to ride to Glasgow, the rendezvous with the true Old Guys. I reached the Premier Inn at Steppes at 14:30 and had a lie down. GW and MF arrived at 16:30 and Dr JK and CE arrived at 23:06 - as planned. After a few beers and a good meal (not JK and CE obviously) and a brilliant night's sleep, we assembled in the car park the next day for the ride to Rua Reidh Lighthouse.

GW and JM ready and raring to go. I am happy, honest. My crash helmet squeezes my face into a permanent frown - that's my excuse anyway. Both bikes have clocked about 26,000 miles, but GW's recently completed 18,500 miles on the Pan American Highway. He went with Nick Sanders in order to boost the Nick Sanders Pension Fund. 

I took this pic of MF and GW. Cool helmet GW. I am very happy with my BMW System 6 Helmet, but would consider an Arai like GW's next time maybe.

We stopped for a cup of coffee at Bonnie Brae next to Loch Lomond. MF, GW, JK, JM & CE. See how happy I am (JM) with the helmet off? A young lady offered to take this pic. MF decided to take a pic of the young lady!

Onwards and upwards. JK has a great bike. It must be so comfortable for touring. I envy his adjustable windscreen.

But I am happy with my Massey-Ferguson.

This is MF but I clicked a couple of seconds too early. More practise required.

This one of JK is better. 

GW and I pulled in for a quick leg stretch. This is the bike he really wanted! Only joking.

This is Megan. Fancy a bacon sandwich anyone?

We didn't throw any rubbish over - honest.

Another stop for a leg-stretch. The roads were good with very little traffic.

MF decided to go blackberrying.

We are making good progress for our scheduled arrival at Rua Reidh Lighthouse. This is Eilean Donan Castle. It doesn't get much more Scottish than THIS!

This is the final stretch to the lighthouse. We stopped in Gairloch to pick up a few beers at the liquor store and then took this narrow road to Melvaig. After Melvaig there was 3 miles of winding, dipping, climbing, gravelly track. It was great.

Soon after our arrival at 17:00 at the lighthouse, FW and 5 companions from Luxembourg arrived as advertised. Cool helmet FW.

Here is FW and 3 of his compatriots. FW is on the right of the pic. I believe he is now known as McF!

We had a good nightstop here. Chris and Fran, who run the hotel/hostel, looked after us very well. They made us a superb dinner.  Breakfast was also excellent. Thank you Chris and Fran. I got up early to photograph the lighthouse just after dawn. There are 11 motorbikes parked. 8 BMWs, 1 Honda, 1 Aprilia and 1 Kawasaki.

We decided to ride to Ullapool today, Tuesday 7th September. This is the track from the lighthouse to Melvaig and Gairloch. I could live in a place like this.

Single track road with passing places. Put your main light on mate!

There you go.

Ullapool is an interesting place. The ferry to Stornaway goes from here. The harbour is in the background.

After lunch at Ullapool we returned via a different route to Gairloch and the Millcroft Hotel. We had a brilliant night - a few beers and a good meal. I slept very well. Soon it was time to get up and ride for home. The day was bright and sunny.

Goodbye Millcroft Hotel. Thanks for a good nightstop.

The group kind of made their way home by separate routes. MF and I nightstopped at The Braemar Lodge Hotel - they gave us a good deal. Then we headed south and crossed the River Tay. We rode via Edinburgh, Galashiels, Jedburgh back to England. We stopped only for fuel and an ice-cream and a chain lube (note the RSA flag) ......

....... before making it back to the fields of England.

It was a good trip.

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