A long time being talked about, finally got the ferry booked to go to Arran. It didn’t disappoint, it turned our to be a nice sunny day, and because it was during the week, it was pretty quiet too. Once off the ferry we headed south to Lamlash, a small village that has beautiful views of Holy Isle. On the south of the Island everywhere you look has spectacular views like (above) the lighthouse on the island of Pladda looking onto Aisla Craig. We could have stopped everywhere for photos, but we didn’t have all day, so we battered on to Blackwaterfoot for a spot of lunch by the sea. On to the North of the Island where the Isle of Arran distillery is situated. But that’s for another time, when I don’t have the motorbike with me. Heading south from Lochranza gives you amazing views of Goatfell, and Brodick Castle. Before getting back to the ferry, a must stop location, the Arran Brewery, to pick up some beers for “feet up time” later. Can’t wait to go back.
It’s coming into winter time, long gone are the long sunny days and dry roads, now comes the cold dark nights and hazardous mother nature, here are some things to look out for.
Ice on shaded roads
It might feel like the sun has heated the day up to an acceptable level, but the nights are a lot colder and brings frost. With the short days and low sun, some parts of the road don’t see light at all, so the frosty parts stay there.
Leaves on corners
All the lovely colours on the trees, eventually they fall off and cover the roads, and they are slippy too.
Yeah, it’s still warm enough, just take the bike out, but it’s cold enough to freeze you fingers off at 70 mph, get the winter gloves looked out again, your fingers will thank you.
Low sun glare
Shorter days come with low sun, this makes it hard to see but also makes it harder to be seen.
A wee late night run to Arrochar, decided to avoid the Loch Lomond route and headed up through Cardross, Helensburgh and Rhu. The road leads up the side of the “infamous” Faslane, where the subs dock with the trident missiles, but you don’t see much except lots of fence and barbed wire. Lucky that this road leads to the newly resurfaced road that follows the loch Long shore line, a twisty, hilly road that makes you think your racing, but not too fast, its a two way…. once you have done your best Rossi impression, you arrive at Arrochar, where you can enjoy the beautiful sights, whatever the weather. Here is the map
After hitting the beaches on previous journeys, I thought I’d head for the Loch’s this time. Starting, by crossing the River Clyde, over the Erskine Bridge and heading for Dumbarton, Cutting up North on the West side of Loch Lomond. I don’t mind keeping in with the slow traffic on this road, as the views are stunning, but after Luss the trees take over, so overtaking on the wide roads is easy. Before you know it your at the Tarbet Hotel and heading left to Arrochar, that sits on the banks of Loch Long. Arrochar has a biker friendly cafe called the pit stop, but no time to stop here. I follow the road west, passing the rest and be thankful, another beauty spot where you have a choice of hot food and drinks curtsey of the burger van (well, it is Scotland). Keeping on the road you get to Loch Fyne, which has the amazing Fyne Ales brewery at the top end of the Loch. Further round and I arrive at Inverary. It’s a nice day, so I grab something to drink and look out on the Loch for a while, before starting my journey back. Heading back the same was is something I try to avoid, so I take the same road back…. Only until I reach Arrochar, where I take the cut off that goes down the side of Loch Long. The twisty single track road takes you down to Faslane and along the side of Gare Loch until it joins the Clyde estuary, through Helensburgh and onto the town centre of Dumbarton. A good 2 hours on the bike with amazing scenery and a good view of what Scotland has to offer. Here is the map.
Thought I’d abandon the obligatory bag of chips for this run. Apart from the fact it was warm, it was only 10 in the morning, so I went all continental and got myself a coffee. Drinking my coffee and sitting on a bench in Largs, watching the ferry leave and take people across to Great Cumbrae. I got on my bike and headed south along the coast. Although, most of the road is not coastal, some of it is, and it was such a nice Sunday, that it didn’t matter. The road takes you through the wee towns of Fairlie, West Kilbride, Saltcoats and Irvine before ending in Troon. This run can be done in 45 mins. This was where I stopped for some ice cream and admired the Mediterranean looking beach. It was a sight to behold, everyone had their summer clothes and i was sitting in my thick biker denims and a motorbike jacket…. Here is the map
The end of a (not so) wee run. Woke up to the sound of silence, typical, this was the last day. I’d had fun in the highlands, and seen places I’d wanted to see. Today wasn’t just heading home though, we had tickets to go on the “funicular railway” at the Cairngorm Mountains. So, it was load up the bikes and head South, through Inverness and into the Cairngorms, which has some spectacular roads… but we would miss them… as we where heading down the A9 to Aviemore. By the time we got to the funicular railway, the clouds had come to meet us, and we couldn’t see the beautiful sights on the way up to the top. In the restaurant at the top the view was minimal, well, it looked like they had frosted glass instead of windows, but an overpriced coffee and a look round the gift shop later, it was enough to want to get back on the bikes.
The journey was now at it’s end, the weather started to break, by the time we hit Perth, it was sunny and warm, and by the time we hit Glasgow, it was sunny, warm and rush hour. Time to practice some filtering… Now the most difficult part of the journey was here, planning where to go next year. Here’s the map.
Day three started the same as day two, with the rain hitting off the roof of the caravan, but it didn’t last, and when I looked up at the sky, I could see a strange blue colour behind the grey that had followed us around the day before. Today we were heading for John O’Groats, which is as fan North East as you can go on the mainland of Britain. The road was up the east coast with amazing views and some sharp hair-pin bends. We stopped off in Wick for some coffee and then headed up to John O’Groats.
After taking in the sights, we were back on the road to Thurso, still finding it hard to keep an eye on the road with the beautiful scenery, large cliffs and beaches that look like they belong in a Spanish sea-side resort. Once I managed to get my eyes back on the road again we had reached Thurso, Time was once again against us so we headed back down the A9. Here’s the map.
Day two started with me waking up to the sound of heavy rain hitting off the caravan roof, not the best sound to wake up to when you have a day of motorbiking ahead of you. A quick look at the weather report suggested that we change the trip from the North East to the North West, as the rain seemed to be hanging around the North East for the day. So we set out to head for Durness, passing Bonar Bridge and up to Lairg, only having a slight drizzle to deal with. Passing Loch Naver and Loch Loyal on our way to Tongue, the heavens opened up, and it was that “fine” rain that soaks everything, by the time we stopped at Tongue, a decision was made to have a hot lunch in the Tongue hotel and hopefully dry off slightly before we hit the road again.
Fed and watered, we got back on the bikes and headed to Durness. A few minutes on the road and we stopped on the road at Kyle of Tongue. The weather seemed to have took pity on us as it had stopped raining.
Further along the road we stopped at a nice beach, and Smoo Caves.
After passing through Durness, we headed south and stopped for a coffee in some scenic locations.
The day was getting on, so we headed south, down the side of Loch Shin, on to Lairg, then back to the caravan, for some more coffee and to dry out some clothing for tomorrows adventure. Heres the map.
Paisley to Embo
The journey starts from Paisley and we head north to Loch Lomond, the weather is overcast, which is a lot better than the predicted showers that BBC Weather app has informed us. Just as we hit the Erskine bridge, I remember that I have left the maps sitting in the kitchen, annoying, as I had carefully put “x’s” at every potential petrol station. I thought was fully prepared before I set off. The only traffic was up the side of Loch Lomond, after Tarbet, but apart from that, it was great all the way up, just past Fort William where we stopped for some petrol. After the re-fuel, we stopped at a place called “Letter Finlay” which is on the banks of Loch Lochy.
From the lay-by where we had some lunch, we continued heading north up the side of Loch Ness, and then managed to miss the rush hour in Inverness. Further north we crossed the beautiful Moray Firth, Cromarty Firth and Dornoch Firth, before we arrived safely at the Caravan Park “Grannie’s Heilan Hame”. Time for a cold refreshment and sit with the feet up before two days in the Highlands. Here is the map.
At the end of August, I will be exploring the north of Scotland for four days. Based in Dornoch, the Highlands will be on my door step, so I’ll have a few routes planned out. Hoping to visit places like, Wick, John O’groats, Thurso, Durness and many more. So, to help me on my run up north, I made this sticker, in the hope it keeps the weather good.