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8 Days, 1955 Miles, Scotland Bike Trip (V.Pic Heavy)



Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
So we're all stuck at home bored, and I've been meaning to do this for some time. I saw something from @Daniel about wanting to do this journey in the v8's with his friends, so I thought I'd post this up so he could have a good look.

The plan was simple, ride the bike to the top of Scotland and back, using big chunks of the NC500, other good roads and generally having a good time along the way.

The trip was actually planned far more by @Cookie than it was myself, and was basically a bike trip with a bunch of guys from Pistonheads in lieu of a proper European road trip. I just ended up tagging along.

The attendance list was actually hilariously varied:

  • Myself: 32 years old, on a BMW R NineT
  • Terry: 30 something years old, on a BMW K1300S
  • Dickie: 50 (iirc) loved a beer, on a Triumph Trophy
  • Alistair: late 40's maybe? On a bloody Honda Fireblade!
  • Willie: late 50's maybe? On an Indian Chief with a big bore kit etc
The route, (I didn't take a pic of this at the time, but do have saved places), was something like this:

Overall.png


So, my plan was a little different to Terry's, mostly in that I didn't fancy riding all the way to Scotland in one hit on a bike with no fairings, so I took this chance to a) pop by my bosses house for a look at a planned extension for him, and b) pop and see @Knuckles and have a good beer and stay the night (free accommodation FTW). Thanks for that mate.

Day 1: Sidcup > Ellesmere Port

So, bright and early I set off, leaving London about 0700, and unfortunately by 0820 it had decided it was just going to piss with rain, torrentially. So for day 1, it was one photo and nothing else. To make matters worse, day one identified two things:
  1. My rain suit wasn't long enough to keep the water out of my chelsea style boots.
  2. My rain suit wasn't waterproof. Absolute litres of water was making it in at the bottom of the zip.
By the time I made it to Scotts, everything was soaked, I was not a happy human.

Mileage update for the day: 239 miles.

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Day 2: Ellesmere Port > Aberdour

So, I set of from Scott's pretty early, and met Terry and Alistair at some dodgy beefeater type thing, we headed straight off, and for today, the weather was on our side! The riding was great, we made a quick lunch stop around Corbridge, just below northumberland national park.

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Cracking sandwich, can of coke, and away we go. Worth noting at this point, I wasn't too impressed with my brand new lid. but thought nothing of it.

So on we cracked again, until we pulled into Jedbrugh, just over the border. Annoyingly, none of us stopped as we crossed the border to take the obligatory photo...

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On we went, heading for Aberdour, where Willie lived. The weather held out, and it was generally a great ride. I took this photo because at this point, on day 2, my brand new comms device gave up working. s**t. Seems day 1 insane rain TOTALLY killed it.

2E.JPG
 
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Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 2, Continued:

After fuelling up, we carried on riding until we hit Aberdour. The plan here was to check into our hotel, then drop the bikes at Willie's house, as this hotel had no good parking. Then go out for some food etc.

Upon arriving at Willie's, all my worries about space being available for bikes disappeared, and what a view. Dickie also turned up on his Triumph, armed with his luggage... a black sack and a bungee strap...

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All the bikes loaded into the garage:

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Well deserved

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Then we set out to sort out important things, the obligatory comms setup, which would have been great if mine didn't die...

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Mileage update, another 318 miles today.

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Day 3: Aberdour > Tobermory


Arriving at Willie's bright and early, we sorted the bikes and got underway, quick stop for few pics also:

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A very unusual set of bikes...

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Unfortunately, the weather after this point decided it was going to ruin our day, and that's where the pictures ended.. until we got to the ferry entrance to take us to Tobermory:

3D.JPG


Ferry was a little windy too:

3E.JPG
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 3, Continued:

Fortunately, upon arrival on Tobermory, the weather held up a lot better, light dusting of rain, but we had a great ride across the Isle of Mull. What a beautiful place:

Few pics upon arrival:
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Typically, as the evening went on, the weather got even better. Once I'd been in, checked out my (worlds tiniest) room and found a hair drier for my boots....

3J.JPG

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We went out and found some seafood, and had a few pints in the local:

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Mileage update, another 200 miles down:

3M.jpg
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 4: Tobermory > Ullapool

Without a doubt (other than maybe day 1 where I was on my own), this was the worst day weather wise so far. From the moment we left the hotel, it just battered it down. So, here we have a real lack of pictures, and this is very sad, because there was some magical roads to be seen (at least I think there was).

Dickie, on the Triumph decided that he would go the shortest possible way, get straight to the hotel and have a skin full, and about half way through this day, at the base of Ben Nevis, Terry decided he'd well and truly had enough, and decided to head home.

The below picture was our first "scenic stop" and the first time I dare take my phone off the dashboard and try to take a photo. Water ingress into the charging port is a real issue with iPhones, even if they work "underwater" they don't like being on charge with rain lashing down, I assure you.

4A.jpg


At this point, I was so wet I'd just had enough, there was a slightly shorter route available, but the other two wanted to do the whole damn thing, so we parted ways. Ironically, about 30 minutes into parting ways, I found sunshine. I actually got off the bike and just laid by the side of the road for a minute. Bloody lovely.

4B.jpg


Then, after an utterly amazing road into Ullapool, (which I didn't dare get off the bike to take a photo because I could see the rain coming in), I finally arrived.

4C.JPG


I know very little about Scotland, but I think I'm right in saying Ullapool is quite famous for bikers. And our hotel was the big one there, absolutely full of bikes, doors had holes in them that had been boarded up, my bath was cracked, I'm pretty sure the place had seen a load of brawls, what a dump. But I definitely did the right thing cutting my ride short, the other two got DRENCHED and I got shitfaced with Dickie (with the Triumph)

Mileage Update, 231 more.

4M.jpg


Day 5: Ullapool > Nairn

This was to be a scenic day, and the day when the trouble started... it seems the BMW finally got upset with the amount of water I had thrown at it. I replaced the battery a few days before setting off with @TheEvilGiraffe , but I now now I didn't re-seat the ignition barrel plug properly, and it got wet. So the ignition stopped switching the bike off. Kill switch it was. Thankfully it still started!!

The chap with the triumph was also having problems, the bike had apparently always been riddled with them. Chewing through batteries etc. He decided with the issues, he was once again going to take the short route (more on that later).

I'll let the photos do the talking for now.

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5C.jpg
5D.jpg
5E.JPG


Finally made it to Dunnet Head

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Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 5, Continued:

And then, onto John O'Groats. It was at this point I knew for sure there was something REALLY REALLY not right with this new helmet. The acoustics were worse than anything I'd ever ridden with, even cheap £50 units. By the time I got to the top of Scotland, my ears were, to put it politely, fucked. I still haven't written to Shoei, but I have seen one review where similar was said.

5H.JPG
5I.jpg


Oh, and getting to this point was quite satisfying knowing I'd been at the opposite end 4 years previous:

5G.jpg


Anyway, from here, we moved onto what I can only describe as heaven after Ullapool. Nairn, and amazing guesthouse I fell in love with, so much so I'm planning on flying up and taking the mrs, beautiful place.

View out of the hotel back door:

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Coast at the bottom of the hotel garden:

5L.JPG


Mileage update, another 306 done!

5M.jpg


Oh and then we get to Dickie on the Triumph, I did say more on this later....

He never made it to Nairn. He got about 30 miles away and his bike totally locked up in the middle of the road. Gearbox seized. The road had to be closed, recovery waited for, and then a huge bunch of blokes used to lift it onto the trailer, it was immovable. And that was the end of Dickie. 2 down, 3 remain. He was so fed up with the bike, he actually gave it to the AA man on the condition he signed off a hire care so he could drive home!
 
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Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 6: Nairn > Aberdour

This was supposed to be the penultimate day for me, but the weather had other ideas (more on that later). Anyway, we packed up and jumped on the bikes, the weather was somewhat 50/50, but it looked like it wanted to hold out, so we hopped on the bikes and off we went: Via a ski resort this time (another bit of great road) and once again, I'll let the pics do the talking:

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The roads were immense, exactly what I'd hope to find, and apart from getting VERY cold at a couple of points, the weather held out just fine.

I headed into Aberdour to hear news of a storm arriving in the night. I was staying in a little hotel/pub, and thankfully they had a marquee out the back. They said I could basically park by bike in the beer garden. Great of them!

6F.jpg


Bike safe, I headed for a walk around Aberdour town, which I didn't have the time to do on day two. Nice little place, quite badly affected by flooding.

6G.jpg
6H.JPG


Then headed out for a last evening dinner with two of the guys, in Willie's completely insane Jeep Trackhawk:

6I.JPG


To put things into perspective, Willie is an older gent, but he definitely doesn't drive like one! Over 700hp in this thing, using launch control on the local NSL's was a right laugh!

Finally, mileage update, another 193 on the clock.

6M.jpg
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Day 7: Aberdour to Home Harrogate


So, the storm definitely did blow in. Horrific is the right word. So horrific infact that I decided there was no way I was going to do the near 400 miles home. Thank god I didn't. I booked myself into a hotel about halfway, Harrogate. There's no photos of this part of the trip, for obvious reasons.

So, I made some preparations and went for it...

Breakfast (internal prep is key)
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I couldn’t deal with having feet as wet as I had, so I asked the cleaning staff and created these bad boys, god send!

7B.JPG


I arrived in Harrogate, I really wish I had an apple watch for this, as I would have loved to see my heart rate. This was a national storm, I can’t remember which one now, but I literally couldn’t keep the bike in lane. The slower I went the worse it got, but the faster I went, the less I could see. There was a couple of points on the A66 when I genuinely thought I may have been a goner and a couple of times when I considered throwing myself off because at least the ambulance would be warm and dry.

Anyway, mileage update, penultimate 237.

7C.jpg


Day 8: Harrogate > Home

After abusing every last bit of drying capability in the posh Harrogate hotel, I suited up and headed off for a massively eventless journey home. Stopping only at a services for a McDonalds and some fuel.

Home at last

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Final mileage update, 228 and done.

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In summary, Scotland is awesome. British weather sucks. Bad. European road trips in the summer are a lot more pleasurable with the constant sunshine. Trying to stay cool is infinitely nicer than trying to stay warm/dry.

If you actually made it to the end. Brave. Thanks.

Oh and @JoePeps you told me to write this so you'd better bloody read it.
 
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Louis

ClioSport Club Member
Great write up Rob. Reckon you'll try to do it again sometime when the weather isnt absolute arse? 😂

Bet the room stank with the hairdryer on your boots.
 

MarcB

ClioSport Club Member
  Too Many
Scotland is awesome

When we head up to the cottage towards Ullapool its amazing. (Part of the NC500)
You should have stopped off at Corrieshalloch Gorge

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Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Great write up Rob. Reckon you'll try to do it again sometime when the weather isnt absolute arse? 😂

Bet the room stank with the hairdryer on your boots.
Well this was the end of August, so I don’t think I could have gone for a better time. Being honest, no, I wouldn’t do it again on a bike.

I’ve done two into Europe, and the weather has been superb. The real joy of being in Europe, is as long as you’ve booked with cancellations, if weather comes in bad to the east, just change your route and head west etc. You don’t really have that here, as well as generally worse weather anyway.

As for the boots, they were brand new, so thank god didn’t smell of anything but wet hot leather (Oi Oi)
 

Djw John

Scotland - South
ClioSport Area Rep
If I knew anyone with a cottage up there, I would have left the bike and flew home! Balls
You know I'm just outside Edinburgh ffs!

Glad to see you looked as happy as ever at Dunnet Head.
Loved my trip round there but the car was 100% the way to go for the weather.
 

Cookie

ClioSport Club Member
Great write up

My disappearance on day err don't know, my third your fourth?, from the top of Ben Nevis mountain bike place was the start of a mental breakdown that hasn't gone away yet 😂 (further away I went from home the worse my anxiety got). I did around 650 miles in the day trying to get home (and the storm was biblical, I still don't know how I got home in one piece) and got back just after midnight, think we'd set off about 9ish (I live 10 miles from Brighton). I was falling asleep on the bike the last hour or so

f**king Scottish weather!

I'll do the trip again at some point, or I'll just carry on doing bike tours to places where it doesn't rain 400 days a year
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
You know I'm just outside Edinburgh ffs!

Glad to see you looked as happy as ever at Dunnet Head.
Loved my trip round there but the car was 100% the way to go for the weather.
Look how jolly I am at John O’Groats! What more do you want man?

And for the record, I had no idea where you were.. just ‘Scotland’. :giggle:
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Great write up

My disappearance on day err don't know, my third your fourth?, from the top of Ben Nevis mountain bike place was the start of a mental breakdown that hasn't gone away yet 😂 (further away I went from home the worse my anxiety got). I did around 650 miles in the day trying to get home (and the storm was biblical, I still don't know how I got home in one piece) and got back just after midnight, think we'd set off about 9ish (I live 10 miles from Brighton). I was falling asleep on the bike the last hour or so

f**king Scottish weather!

I'll do the trip again at some point, or I'll just carry on doing bike tours to places where it doesn't rain 400 days a year
Thanks Terrance, I didn’t want to go too far into it! We should do another at some point, to somewhere it’s sunny. I don’t care if the roads are dead straight and flat, just as long as it’s sunny.
 

JoePeps

ClioSport Club Member
  M2,XJS,S1000RR
Great trip!

My mate actually text me earlier about doing this on the bikes so I blocked and deleted him. Love the idea of it but I couldn’t stick with it like you in that weather, especially on my bike!

Id consider coming to Europe for a spin out in the sun though!
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Great trip!

My mate actually text me earlier about doing this on the bikes so I blocked and deleted him. Love the idea of it but I couldn’t stick with it like you in that weather, especially on my bike!

Id consider coming to Europe for a spin out in the sun though!
I’d do the trip again, in a car (maybe). The thing that would do my head in is some of the smaller roads with passing points. On the bikes you can make progress, get past and crack on. In a car it can be ruined a couple of w*****s in campers.
 

JoePeps

ClioSport Club Member
  M2,XJS,S1000RR
I’d do the trip again, in a car (maybe). The thing that would do my head in is some of the smaller roads with passing points. On the bikes you can make progress, get past and crack on. In a car it can be ruined a couple of w*****s in campers.

Yeah would be the car or nothing for me I think up there. I’m jealous of your commitment either way!
 

Rob G

ClioSport Club Member
  172 Cup
Nice write up! Planning on doing a similar trip to do the snowdon 360 later in the year!
Fair play for doing it on a naked, shows you don’t necessarily need a big tourer for these sort of trips!
 

Moonshot

ClioSport Club Member
  A4 S Line & Impreza
Looks great that. Well, the weather looks f**king s**t, but it looked like good fun.
 

-Jamie-

ClioSport Club Member
Good write up, We done it a few weeks later and had glorious sunshine


Ullapool>Nairn is a fair slog as well, good effort!


Just started planning our trip for this year again, hopefully get lucky with the weather again
 
  Twingo 133 Cup,
Great write up. I love the idea of a bike but I hate riding them, I am thinking of a can-am spider when I have done more rallying.
At least you went to Mull as so many people miss it out. We go to Mull as much as possible and I do the rally in October that they close the public roads for. Them roads are epic at 100+ in the dark lol.
 

italian job

ClioSport Club Member
  182 FF
Loved reading that thanks...bike looks ace...what was the name of the guesthouse in Nairn, it looked spot on.
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Second that. Always like Robs reads.

Thanks chap, been a while since I’ve done one of these, the 10 picture per post limit made it far more complicated! 😂

Good write up, We done it a few weeks later and had glorious sunshine


Ullapool>Nairn is a fair slog as well, good effort!


Just started planning our trip for this year again, hopefully get lucky with the weather again

You sir, can bugger right off 🙄

We did some fairly long days in terms of time even if the miles don’t look that crazy. Progress can be slow on some of the tiny roads as I’m sure you know! How was it in the car? aught behind much?

Great write up. I love the idea of a bike but I hate riding them, I am thinking of a can-am spider when I have done more rallying.
At least you went to Mull as so many people miss it out. We go to Mull as much as possible and I do the rally in October that they close the public roads for. Them roads are epic at 100+ in the dark lol.

I can’t take any credit for the route, Willie lived up at Aberdour so he suggested it. I was properly glad he did. Cool place, and the ferries add to the excitement (whilst watching the bike try its best to tip over).

I bet it’s great for a rally, roads were awesome.

Loved reading that thanks...bike looks ace...what was the name of the guesthouse in Nairn, it looked spot on.
Thanks. I’ll look it up and get back to you mate.
 

-Jamie-

ClioSport Club Member
You sir, can bugger right off

We did some fairly long days in terms of time even if the miles don’t look that crazy. Progress can be slow on some of the tiny roads as I’m sure you know! How was it in the car? aught behind much?



I did a write up/report on here and on PH about it.

Was a good trip, Got lucky traffic wise as well, mid week definitely helped there, little slow up the Applecross pass as to be expected but pretty much clear everywhere else and the odd camper or slow car we caught always let us past. Done the run up from Lairg right up the middle, all single track and I think we seen 2 other cars even with it being a bit busier than normal due to the Staycation nonsense that was being peddled.

Know what you mean about progress on the smaller roads though, what looks like should be a 10/15min journey mile wise generally ends up taking an hour

Wouldn't mind doing it at a bit of a slower pace next time on parts as we just blasted from point to point mainly.

I'd definitely say April/Early May or September are the months to go. Still fairly decent weather (for Scotland) and the roads are generally a lot quieter due to it not being peak season. Heading back up in September again but gonna do a loop over to Skye for our first day instead of stopping at Ft William. Sacked off the idea of JOG and down the east as that's a bit meh
 

Chuckles

ClioSport Moderator
Looks tip top old bean. Good work.

Although next time, a car may prevent the weather issues. 🤣
For the record, this is the fourth ‘tour’ I’ve done, the other three I had no more than 4 hours rain across the whole.

When the weather is good, there is NOTHING like covering ground on the bike. No traffic to contend with, no being stuck behind slow stuff, stop anywhere you want, it’s just amazing. You kind of have to take the rough with the smooth.

The other side of the coin, up in the alps:

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But yeah, on this one there was times I’d rather have been a 1 litre fiesta. 😂
 

davo172

ClioSport Club Member
  TCR'd 172
Cracking write up Rob great read and photos👍
Makes you realise how you miss stuff like this!!
 

Gally

ClioSport Club Member
Awesome write up bunnet heid. Thanks for taking the time to do it. We have a gorgeously country and proper north can’t be like another continent at times. Especially Lewis etc.

The one at the rail bridge isn’t far from us. Great trip, I like comfort too much to bike that distance especially knowing our weather.
 
  320d
Brilliant write up that. It makes me want another bike.

I laughed at throwing yourself off, I know the feeling of being in weather so bad you genuinely think you are going to die on the bike.

Me and my mate did a great trip a few years ago (me on a Triumph Street Triple and him a GSXR 600) to mid wales. Only about 450 miles over the weekend but we had ten pints of Estrella on the Saturday night and wasn’t well enough to ride home until about 16:00 on the Sunday which took the edge off the return leg...
 


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