Sunday, July 20, 2014

MotoGoLoco Sent Us On Holiday!!

So I'm pissfarting around on the internet, instead of chopping wood, washing the bike or doing anything else productive as usual.
Tapity tap tap.
Click click click.
I'm looking at facebook when I see someone has liked a page called MotoGoLoco. Whats this all about then?
I head to their website, www.motogoloco.com and have a look about. it's basically a tool to help plan routes and bike trips. There are recommended Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, Points of Interest. You can plan your route, picking the roads you want to take and avoiding the shite boring ones, then upload it straight to your GPS.
I never had my Garmin 550 back then, but I was still interested in seeing how it all worked and I wanted to know how far one of my local runs was. A few minutes later I got my answer. Finished.

But wait! it saus do you want to save your route?

Aye, OK.

Do you want to make your route public? If you do you will be entered into our "Pick A Route" competition.

Aye sure, why not.

And that's all I thought that was it.

A few days later I got a message from MotoGoLoco.

"Congratulations! You have one a nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the establishment of your choice." Followed by a list of hotels and B+Bs.

No fucking way! I couldn't believe it, I thought there was some sort of catch, but no! I'd won a competition!! Looking at my choices I opted for the Fernhill Hotel in Portpatrick

I phoned HB.

"I'VE FUCKING WON A NIGHT AWAY IN A FANCY HOTEL!!!"

I was quite excited. All we had to do was arrange the date we wanted to go. I figured we could combine out stay with a night camping somewhere. I kept an eye on MotoGoLoco's website, using it to plan possible routes to the Fernhill Hotel. I was on it one day when I seen they had a Great Biking Roads photo competition. My regular reader will know how passionate I am about riding my bike in Scotland and I have a couple of photos of bikes by the roadside so I entered these two photos.

GHC run

Winton Massif - Last Trip of 2013

I got another e mail. I'd won first and second place.

BRRRRRIIINGGG 

BRRRRRIIINGGG

I'VE WON ANOTHER NIGHT AWAY!!!!!!
YA FUCKIN DAAAAAAANCER!!!!

I was pretty happy. 

HB and I planned out trip for the end of June. My photo had won us a night at the Belted Will Inn, just outside Brampton, Cumbria in the foreign lands of England. We'd ride down a scenic route and stay there on Wednesday, head up to Balloch O Dee on Thursday, where we had hired the bothy, before spending our last night at the Fernhill Hotel, Portpatrick.

Wednesday arrived and we set off south, riding down past St Mary' Loch, stopping for a coffee at the Glen Cafe then through Moffat to Gretna, where HB "checked us in" on facebook, causing a few "You haven't... have you??" comments. My mate Paul sent multiple texts asking if I'd got married, caring soul that he is.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
HB at The Glen Cafe.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Folk getting married at Gretna. The guy driving looks the happiest person there!

We arrived at Brampton earlier than we though, so we looked around a few of the touristy sights along Hadrian's Wall, a big wall the Roman's built because they were shit scared of Scottish people.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Cumbria

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
MotoGoLoco prize holiday
MotoGoLoco prize holiday
MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Trying on helmets at Lanercost Priory

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Hadrian's Wall.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The GS and an untraditionally friendly cyclist.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
HB at Birdoswald.

When we got to the Belted Will they were just opening up for that evening's service. We were welcomed in by Alyson and the GS was given a nice secure parking space. We were shown to our room, which was pretty big with an extra bed where we dumped out stuff. We chilled out for a bit, got showered then wandered down to the bar. The bar and restaurant is quite olde worldy looking with the exposed beams in the roof, its a nice place to sit and relax. We were having a couple of beers, playing pool and speaking to the staff. Stephen, the owner used to ride bikes and we chatted away before he had to get to the kitchen. My phone was hooked onto the free WiFi and I was getting messages from Stelios, a Greek guy I knew through a GS forum who was on a big tour of Europe. He was heading up north and wanted to meet up to discuss routes. When I told him we weren't in Scotland and we were at the Belted Will he decided to join us. Stelios arrived just as we were trying to decide what to have from their tasty looking menu. 

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The Belted Will

MotoGoLoco prize holiday


MotoGoLoco prize holiday

I had a huge t-bone steak, HB had a ribeye and Stelios had chicken. The food was tasty and the portions were huge. We had though about having a pudding but we were stuffed. We spent the rest of the evening discussing bike trips, looking at Stelios's map of Scotland and chatting with the staff and other punters at the bar. There was a poster up for an event held by the Leek Club. I'd never heard of a Leek Club before but apparently they are pretty popular in northern England, with people competing to see who can grow the biggest leek. There must be something in the water down there....
The next morning we headed down for breakfast. This is where the Belted Will really stood out. their breakfast was awesome. We both had a full english breakfast with one of the best sausages I've ever tasted. 
Bellies full, we chucked our stuff in the bike said our goodbyes to Stelios and the Belted Will family and headed off. 

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Me, HB and Stelios

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Go here, here, here, here and here, Here's good too, and here, here.....

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
My GS and Stelios's K1600

Stephen and Alyson had recommended going over the Hartside Pass the night before, so we rode over there to Penrith before carrying back up to Scotland. Now the Hartside Pass was pretty good and there's a nice cafe at the top which is known as a local bike meet but, and this is a big but, the AA have it down as one of the top ten drives in the world. Yep, in the world. It's good, but its not that fucking good.
We followed the same route as I rode with Ben a few weeks before through Dumfries and along the A712 New Galloway Forest road. 
Instead of lugging our tent around HB and I had hired the Bothy. The bothy is a single room building that can sleep seven people. There's a wood burning stove for heating and cooking on. Pots, pans, plates and utensils are all supplied. All you need is bedding. For £45 a night it's a bargain. We spent the evening chilling out, feeding the chickens, particularly a greedy guy called George, and eating burgers cooked on the stove. Later on we joined the owners Dad around his fire.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The AA need to get out more.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The Bothy

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Inside the Bothy.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
George

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The Roundhouse. That's £40 per night.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Wee horse eating the flowers.

After a breakfast of fresh eggs on rolls we set off for Portpatrick. Portpatrick was only a 40 mile or so ride if we went the direct route so instead we headed up the A714 then over the B734 which ends with nice views of Ailsa Craig a big rock island in the Firth of Clyde. We stopped for a photo and a pee then carried on down the surprisingly fun A77 to Stranraer then on to Portpatrick.
Riding into Portpatrick we found the Fernhill Hotel easily, we parked the bike up in the car park and walked into the reception.
WOW!
The view overlooking the town from the huge window in reception blows you away. We were welcomed by a member of staff who gave us a complimentary sherry then showed us to our room, which also had an incredible view over the town, a big bathroom and a massive bed. We got the bike unpacked, arranged a time for our dinner then headed down to have a look around Portpatrick. It was still quite early so we got lunch from a chippy van at the harbour, looked round the shops and had a beer in a few of the seafront pubs.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Ailsa Craig.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
At the Fernhill Hotel

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The view from our room. The photo doesn't do it justice.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Chippy van ran by a crazy woman.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
The Fernhill Hotel is just above the green building.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

MotoGoLoco prize holiday
Portpatrick.

MotoGoLoco prize holiday

At around half six we headed back up to the Fernhill for dinner. The restaurant is in the conservatory of the hotel. Everything about it was really impressive. Fergus, our waiter, was friendly, chatting about mountain biking with us. We treated our selves to a bottle of Sancerre to accompany the stunning food. It really was seriously enjoyable sitting in the conservatory. HB ordered a fish dish and I had chicken, which was perfectly cooked. 
After our meal we headed back down into the town to watch a band in one of the pubs on the way there I stopped to climb in a big barrel in the park. HB took my photo and we wandered on to the pub. We'd just arrived when I realised that I'd left my blue jumper beside the barrel. I nipped back over to get it only to find that someone had pinched it!! No more blue jumper! I must be more of a fashion icon than I thought. 
After a great sleep in the gigantic bed we tucked into a great breakfast before loading the bike up and heading off. We both really enjoyed the Fernhill Hotel, it gets a full five chainsaws.
We decided to just follow the sat nav home. I thought it would take us a boring route but we ended up going along the A702, also known as the Dalveen Pass, an incredible road, really worth doing if you are heading to Portpatrick or Balloch O'Dee.

We had a great few days away. Big thanks to Faithir for letting me borrow his camera as I still hadn't got my new one through since I knackered it on the Bealach Na Ba.

Thanks also to the following people/organisations. 

MotoGoLoco for giving us the prize! www.motogoloco.com

Stephen and Alyson and the rest of the team at The Belted Will Inn. http://www.beltedwill.co.uk/

Hazel at Balloch O'Dee. http://www.ballochodee.com/

All the staff at the Fernhill Hotel, Portpatrick. http://www.mcmillanhotels.co.uk/fernhill-hotel/index.html


Mike.


MotoGoLoco prize holiday


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Winton Massif 2014 - Close to the Edge tour.

Close to the edge. To the edge of what we've yet to establish, our sanity perhaps? Our alcohol tolerance levels maybe? Who knows, but Stage 2 is still to come maybe we'll find out then...

The official first night was to be Glenlivit on Tuesday night but Brian, Bob and myself left a couple of days early. Kinloch Hourn was a place that had caught my eye after looking for interesting places on the map I've not been to yet. Kinloch Hourn can be found at the end of twenty two or so miles of single track road. It's a dead end road. No one will ever get to Kinloch Hourn who doesn't want to be there. When I told Bob and Bri about it they were up for it, despite it being a "wild camping" destination. For those not in the know, wild camping is just camping wherever you want, which is legal in Scotland as long as you don't fuck anything up or scare any wildlife. Wild camping allows people to access and stay at some of the most beautiful places in Scotland in the comforts of their tents. The downsides is that you have to shite outside, something I do not rejoice in.
Sunday morning we arranged to meet at The Janet's. Mrs GHC was making breakfasts for anyone leaving for the trip and Brian, Bob and I were joined by Auld Brian and Route Captain. Every year someone takes on the roll of Route Captain. It's their job to try and organise the trip and anything else they want to (t shirts etc) but the also have to take a rake of slagging from the rest of us. Route Captain this year was Smillie, he'd come up with the main route and some fucking cracking t shirts but don't tell him I said that.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Breakfast at the Janets.

Bacon rolls tanned and coffees and teas drunk we were ready to go, but there was one problem, Bob was missing!
We waited..


and waited...


Fuck sake I'm getting worried now...


Will we go and find him?



brrrrrrraaaaaaa

braaaaaaa
BRAAAAAAA
BRA BRA BRA

Thank fuck, here he is.
Bob had unfortunately dropped his bike in his garage. Anyone who has dropped a GS in the past will know how much of a cunt they are to pick up, especially if you can't get proper access to lift them if you've dropped the bike in an enclosed space, like a fucking garage. Bastard.
Bob's GS was fine apart from a slightly bent crash bar, but he was sweating like a pregnant nun. As he cooled down he thundered a couple of rolls into himself and tanned some coffee.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
RC Smillie and Auld Brian seeing us off.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

We headed up towards Glencoe, somewhere around Stirling Bob pulled over to get his waterproofs on as we could see rain up ahead. It was a heavy shower, but it only lasted about 40 seconds. More sweaty baws for Bob. The further north we rode the better the weather got. We stopped off at the Glen Etive turnoff for a wee break before stopping again at Spean Bridge for some lunch in the cafe and to stock up on supplies for later on. We even managed to fit in a load of peat for a fire that evening.


Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

A few miles after Invergarry you'll find the turn off to Kinloch Hourn. It starts out as a nice single track road. there's not much of a view as there's lots of Rhododendron at each side of the road, but this soon opens out and you get a good view along the side of the lochs. There's a big fuck off dam and a few miles after that the road goes mental. It swoops between rocks and up and over wee bridges and blind corners. At the end of it there is the loch, Loch Hourn (surprise, surprise) a farm building and the wee camping area. The Gamekeeper comes and collects £1 from each person camping. I tried to offer him a wee dram, but he couldn't be tempted.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

We got the tents up and started gathering some fire wood. I was pretty surprised when a car turned up and an older couple started setting up camp. I hadn't expected to see anyone else while we were there. We got speaking to them and the lady asked me if we'd ever stayed there before and what we thought of the place. I told her it was our first time here and I thought the place was great, the only down side was that I wasn't looking forwards to having to shite outside. "Oh, don't worry about that. There's a toilet in the outbuilding by the farmhouse. It's open all the time. Just remember some loo roll."
RESULT!! Al fresco shiting avoided!
We got a fire going to get rid of the midges, got some beers open and shot the shit till bedtime.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Kinloch Hourn

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014


Opening my tent the next morning showed another nice day. We ate breakfast and each took turns in taking the bikes round to the farmhouse to make a deposit in their toilet. There's also a wee cafe that runs out the farmhouse but I was unsure if it was open.
We packed all our shit up and got going. I had my gopro on and took a wee video to show how mental the road is. We came across a couple of cars on some of the tightest bits. The first guy seemed a bit unsure of reversing back to a passing place and I think he twatted his car of a rock. 

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Kinloch Hourn morning

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Bob goes for a shite.



The road from Kinloch Hourn.

We headed back to Invergarry then up the side of Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit where we turned off for Cannich, tonight's destination. The section of the A82 that runs up the side of Loch Ness can be a stonking road but more often than not it's congested with caravans and big fuck off tour buses. Today was no different although, thanks to the traffic being stopped, we managed to get a short twisty section where we could open the taps a wee bit. The only other hold up was the locks at Fort Augustus which get boats up and down the Caledonian Canal. We stopped in Fort Augustus for a few bits and bobs too. I had forgotten my toothbrush and deodorant and I didn't want to risk the shop at Cannich not having either. 
Cannich Campsite is a nice place, quite family orientated but we weren't put off by any over zealous warden types. There's a cafe on site and a wee campers room in case the weather goes bad. We walked round to the shop and got some supplies then sat about the site. Ben and Faithir were joining us today and just as we were getting some lunch they arrived.  

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Bob and Brian on the Kinloch Hourn road.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Invergarry

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Fort Augustus lock.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
You can see the difference in the water level between each side.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Ben and Faithir arrive at Cannich.

It was warm at Cannich but it started to shower. We spent time dodging the rain under the trees or under Ben's tarp shelter he'd brought with him. After a while we all ended up in the pub where we had food and then watched David Beckham ride a bobbed Triumph around on television over a few beers. Then it was back to the camping room for a few more beers.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
The wee room in the campsite.

I had pitched my tent by a tree, so when I woke up the next day I didn't realise how warm it was. It was fucking roasting! I had ordered breakfast and a coffee from the on site cafe. I sat at one of the tables outside reading Chickenhawk on the kindle, but I had to go inside. I could feel myself getting burnt!
After breakfast we discussed which way we were going. Bob decided to go straight to that night's destination, Glenlivit Public Hall, while Faithir wanted to go for a look at Chanonry Point, a well known dolphin spotting area. Ben, Brian and I chose to go with Faithir, following the single track A831 to Beauly then on to Chanonry Point.
There was no dolphins to be seen that day, but there were plenty people looking.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Fort George in the background.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

As we headed south and up into the Cairngorms the sky got cloudier. I stopped in Carrbridge for a photo of the old packhorse bridge, the oldest stone bridge in the Highlands, then caught up with everyone else at Grantown On Spey. We got beers and food from the shop and shovelled chips from the chippy down our throats. Much to Ben's delight Faithir and I also shared some chips with the birds, Ben fucking loves that.
From there we headed up the last few miles to Glenlivit Public Hall. The roads in the area are nice but quite busy with lorries no doubt taking stuff to and from the many Distilleries in the area.
By the time we got to the hall most of the other guys were all ready there. The five of us met up with Smillie, Euan, Andy and the Massif's newest member Chris. Andy, Euan and Chris had pitched their tents round the back of the hall but the rest of us opted to just crash out inside.
The hall was really good. Smillie had a wee stereo set up blasting out old rave music and there was a big kitchen with a huge fridge in it for all the beer. Smillie, Ben and Euan went to the distillery for a look around while the rest of us chilled oot at the hall. About an hour later Andy cooked up a load of spicy pasta for everyone who wanted some. Chris gave me one of his cigars to try, a Filthy Hooligan. It was braw! We were all relaxing on the wee porch bit when we heard another bike coming. It was Auld Brian (I'm sure he loves that handle) on his Suzuki Bandit. Now there was ten of us. With Brian on the Bandit and Chris on his Triumph Explorer, thankfully, the BMW GS fest was slightly diluted, we were beginning to look like the BMW owners club!
The night was spent chilling out and getting the crack (craic). When it got a bit later we moved into the hall. Brian, Bob and I told the other guys about Kinloch Hourn and wee inspected the damage the midges had done to Brian's legs. Ooya!
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Carrbridge
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014



I had a great night sleep in the hall that night, and was raring to go in the morning. Ben and I had talked about heading straight to Applecross and spending two nights there, instead of going to Scourie with everyone else, but this idea was quickly kicked up the arse by Route Captain Smillie. I'm glad we stuck to the plan, cos we got to ride a couple of great roads on the way to Scourie.
As usual we left in dribs and drabs. Faithir went to ride around the whisky trail and photograph some of the distilleries, some went for coffee and rolls at another distillery and the rest of us battered up to Inverness. From there we carried on up the A9 untill we turned off onto the B9176, a fucking stonking road. It was great fun on the GS, swinging into the bends and switchbacks. The B9176 joins the A836, opens out into a bunch of fast sweepers and into Bonar Bridge. Carry on to Lairg and then take the sharp left onto the A838 which takes you up the side of Loch Shin. Myself and Bob made a slight cunt of things here and battered straight past the turn off and everyone else, spirited riding taking preference over navigation and observation. 
Scottish roads can be confusing for non Scots. The B9176 is a B road but it is still a dual lane road folk are used to. Whereas the A838 is mostly a singletrack road with passing places, so you have to keep in mind that if you're battering on, you might meet another daft cunt doing the same thing but coming the other way. Despite this some of us were holding a fair old pace, but no one could match the guy in the jet fighter plane who went screaming past a hundred meters or so above us, causing the majority of us to shite our breeks!
Eventually we got to Laxford Bridge where we took a left onto the A894, the last wee bit of the north coast road that takes you into Scourie.
The usual ritual of pitching tents and going to the shop for beers and stuff took place as always. Some folk opted to eat in the pub but I joined the folk cooking on the campsite. Sausages on rolls was my three star Michelin meal, Bob had soup and Smillie and Euan attempted chilli. Hammy and Claire turned up for a visit and joined the folk eating in the pub. When they said their goodbyes we headed along to the Scourie Hotel where somehow I ended up playing darts with Smillie, Andy, Ben and Brian, or was it Bob? Fuck knows. the one sure thing was I was a fair bit more pissed up than everyone else. This didn't impede my newly found dart skills and in a torrent of foul language I won the game, and then done it again!!

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Bonar Bridge. Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Scourie Views

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Euan arrives at Scourie

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Smillie arrives.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Brian greets Smillie.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

The following morning I was a burst couch. "Coach" is the term we have in the Massif for the fuckwit who takes fucking ages to get their shit together before we move on from somewhere. That day the fuckwit was me. I was pretty hungover. It seemed I was moving through setting cement as I fed myself and packed my tent and shit away. Some of the guys chose to wait behind and give me shouts of "encouragement" while I tidied my shit up.
"For fuck sake, what the fuck are you playing at?!?!"
"Hurry the fuck up!"
"Fucking coach"
"Slooooooow bastard"
Etc etc. On top of that, I'd lost my fucking hat. So once I'd finally got the bike loaded we had to ride back to the Scourie Hotel. No sign of said hat in the bar or around the darts board where I had been so prolific the previous evening. I had given up hope when I spotted my precious hat lying outside on a picnic table, exactly where I left it the previous evening. Fuckwit.
We set off heading south on one of my favourite roads. The A894/A837 from Scourie to Ullapool is one of my favourites, but due to my wits dulled from the night before, I was more riding dog than riding god. The preceding nights festivities however had no impact on the scenery, which was fucking incredible, as always. MobyDick (what I call the GS these days) proved to be a worthy companion, hurtling my rough arse swooping and twisting into Ullapool. I might have felt a bit shite, but the bike was planted, it's forgiving handling masking my dodgy lines and mid corner braking into swoopy, pendulum swinging smiles.
We regrouped at Ullapool. The cake and coffee I bought at the cafe overlooking the harbour blasted away the cobwebs from the night before and I was back "on it" as the young team say.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Scourie to Ullapool. Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Exploder to Ullapool. Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Bandit and Brian. Photo by Faithir.

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014
Andy, Bob, Ben and I stopped to look at Stac Pollaidh and discuss and arsehole in a van who tried to kill us. You can probably tell by Andy's face that he wanted to kick the guys head in. And rightly so.
Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Another one of the hazards of riding up north. Deer! A herd of deer near Inchnadamph. Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Massif at Ullapool. Photo by Faithir

Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014

From Ullapool we had to routes to out destination. We could follow the coast to Applecross via Gairloch, or just batter down the A835 to Garve. For some reason everyone but Faithir chose the route via Garve, despite us all knowing that the Gairloch road is the more enjoyable. We convinced ourselves we'd made the right choice, as it was the quickest route there. And while it was far from unenjoyable, it wasn't the five star route I knew my Old Man had taken. It was a great run down through Achnasheen and into Lochcarron., but it was a road I've ridden bings of times. Maybe Faithir was speaking sense... 
Never mind, we'd be pitched for ages before that old fud had turned up.... 
Well, not really. Faithir rolled in about half an hour behind me. I should have taken the Gairloch road. 
Anyways, routes aside, we'd all made it to Applecross hassle free....................ish.
After we'd stopped for supplies in Lochcarron I'd said I would like to get photos of folk riding up the Bealach Na Ba. So off I sped, followed closely by Ben. At the famous Bealach Na Ba sign I stopped. It's a Winton Massif tradition to apply our stickers wherever possible and I wanted another one on the sign. 
Stopping at the sign I jumped off the bike and whipped open the top box looking for a sticker. 
Where the fuck is it??
Fucking sticker.
I pulled my camera out and searched around. 
Fucking hell!! Fucking beers in the way!!
I took the beers I'd bought in Lochcarron out and searched more. 
Where the fuck are these stickers?!?!
Into my pocket I go and whip out a pile of stickers. Fuck sake. Sticker on the sign, beer back in the top box and off I go. 
BRRAAAAAAAAAP
BRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Navigating the Bealach I'm thinking I was the first up, but no, there's Smillie on one of the hairpins, camera in hand. 
I go a few turns up, quickly jump of the bike, open the top box, and



















no camera.













Eh?

















What the fu....?














Fuck














FUCK!!!!!!



Now if you read back that last wee bit, or you're equipped with a better brain than me, you'll have realised that after I took my camera out to find the stickers, I never put the thing back in the topbox.

WHAT A FUCKING ARSEHOLE!!!!

FUCK SAKE!

Next up the hill was Andy. He had been following Ben who had come across my trusty Nikon D80 lying in the middle of the road looking fucked. Ben had given it to Andy. When he passed it to me I battered hopefully on a few buttons, but it wouldn't focus. It was fucked.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

To be fair to the guys they were pretty supportive. My SLR was really expensive but I used it all the time. There was a chance it could get damaged at some point.

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

I was pretty thankful that Ben and Andy had found it. At least I hadn't lost the photos from the trip so far. I really would have been fucking gutted if I'd lost them.

PPPPPPPPPPPIIIIIIIIIIIIDCCCCCUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNTTTTTTT

These things happen. But I was fucking annoyed with myself . What a fucking halfwit.

Anyways, I rode down into Applecross where I headed straight for the Inn. The pub is in such a great location that as long as the weather is fine I like to have a beer before I head up and sort the tent out. Euan joined me. We shot the shit and spoke to the staff while we sipped our beer and Euan sampled a pint of prawns.
We got our tents up just and I got my arse in the shower. I'd skipped a wash due to my slow start that morning and I felt like I was cultivating mushrooms around my crotch. 
I emerged feeling like The Dalai Lama. My camera was fucked, but I hadn't lost my photos, and at least it was insured. Hopefully...
The rain came in the form of brief but heavy showers as we hid in the Flower Tunnel, that is now being used as a campers refuge. We all had a couple of beers then headed down to the Applecross Inn for some food. As always, it was fucking good.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Views from the Gairloch route. Photo by Faithir.

Smillie's pics. WM2014
Smillie's pics. WM2014
Me winging it up the Bealach sans camera. Photo by Smillie.

Smillie's pics
Photo by Smillie.

Smillie's pics
Photo by Smillie.

Smillie's pics. WM2014
Photo by Smillie

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Setting up the tents in Applecross. Photos by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Faithir, Brian and Smillie stayed in a Wigwam. Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Cosy. Photo by Faithir.

Smillie's pics. WM2014
Fuck knows whats been going on here. Answers on a postcard.....
Photo by Smillie.

It wasn't raining the following morning but it looked like it might start any time. We whipped the tents down and got cleaned up then rode up the Bealach Na Ba and into the clouds. That's not an exaggeration, it was misty as fuck. I literally had a couple of meters visibility. After ages crawling along I got to the top, I was heading down, when at one of the hairpins a big yellow truck appeared and then disappeared back into the mist, it was pretty freaky. I popped out of the clouds halfway down and headed on to Lochcarron. There was only one thing on everyone's mind. Breakfast.
When we've been at Applecross breakfast means only one place, The Waterside Cafe in Lochcarron, home of the Challenge Breakfast. Because it was Chris's first trip he decided he'd step up to the very large plate.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
The Waterside Cafe

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
"What the fuck was I thinking...."

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Another pass certificate for Smillie and I.

It was a valiant effort from Chris, but those last couple of slices of fried bread had him beat. He lay down his sword. Well, he lay down his knife and fork. I though it was going to beat me too but I forced those that few beans down. Fuck Shreddies, the Challenge Breakfast will keep hunger locked up till dinner time.
We left Lochcarron heading to Skye. The plan was to get the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. Skye is known as the Misty Isle and it lived up to it's name today. Not long after crossing the bridge and getting on to the relatively new, upgraded A851 we were plunged back into the pea soup. It was quite alarming when old coffin dodgers would appear out the fog like ghosts in silver hatchbacks, only to disappear again seconds later. Put yer fucking lights on folks.
I arrived to the busy ferry, it was just getting ready to go. "We can fit you on" said the ferry guy. 
"There's ten of us, the rest of them will be here just now."
"Ah. You'll be wanting to wait for the next ferry then"
This wasn't much an of an issue. Smillie had to make a pit stop to drop of some of his breakfast is some poor bastards shite house, so there was no danger we would have made it on the earlier ferry. 
We killed time drinking coffee in the wee cafe, slagging each other off and reading. The ferry was back in no time. The crossing only takes a wee while and as we crossed we formulated the next wee bit of our route. While this was going on I saw some dolphins jumping not far from the boat. It's a pretty awesome thing to see.
Off the ferry, we battered down the A830, another stonking road that get occasionally clogged with tour buses and caravans, all heading to Arisaig. Our destination was Glenfinnan. Not many of us had stopped there before, so we slipped the bikes between the tour buses and foreign cars. We had a look at the viaduct and the monument to where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the start of the Jacobite rebellion. Not long after we had arrived we were ready to go. Bob, Brian and I opted to head back the way we'd come and take the single track A861 to our final nights destination, Strontian.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Massif crossing the Skye Bridge. Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Ferry terminal. Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Titanic threeway. Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir.

Smillie's pics. WM2014
Glenfinnan. photo by Smillie.

Sunart Camping is the campsite at Strontian. It's a cracked. Tim, the owner, has made camping huts himself. Smillie, Faithir, Bob, Ben and Brian all stayed in the biggest one. It was pretty impressive, it even had its own shower, toilet and cooker. All that for £65! The rest of us got our tents up and had a couple of beers. We all ate out in the pub that night. It was quality.
Homewards bound the next day. I packed my tent away for one last time. We ate in the cafe in Strontian then headed to the Corran ferry. I rode home with Smillie, Ben and Andy along the side of Loch Earn and into fife, Smillie showing us some of his old stomping ground.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Sunart Camping. That's the hut the guys hired. Photo by Faithir.

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir

WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Photo by Faithir.



WM 2014 - Dad's photo's.
Corran Ferry. Photo by Faithir.




Great trip.


Mike.


Winton Massif Close to the Edge 2014