Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My first bike trip. By Mike aged 24 and a half.

With winter on its way and salt on the roads its unlikely I'll be heading on many big bike trips on the GS so I thought I'd post up some of my trips I've done over the past few years.
Here's the write up I posted on ADVrider from my first proper bike trip I done way back in 2005. 2 weeks around Scotland, fucking awesome time. I've copied it straight from ADVrider so some of the photos and stuff might be a bit big.
Here's my photos and what I wrote.

For a while now I've been wanting to do a tour of Scotland. I believe there is no point in touring someone else's country untill you have done your own, so on the 14th of August I set off.
Day one.
After loads of fannying about making sure I hadn't forgotten anything I set off. I headed over the Forth Road Bridge heading for Perth. I then headed up the Blairgowrie road heading for my first nights camping at the Lazy Duck hostel in Nethy Bridge.

The weather was great. I stopped in Braemar to meet my parents who had been away for a few nights on my Dad's Pan Euro. I was going to grab a bite to eat at the Hungry Highlander but its shut on a monday, never mind though, the old ones pulled through and bought me my lunch at the hotel.

The road to Braemar.

After lunch I headed north again. I stopped to take a pic and a piss near the Lecht and two beemers went past, at 1200GS and a 650, was it you?

2 BMs heading to the lecht.

I arrived at the Lazy Duck after a bit of searching due to a bunch of folk giving me wrong directions. I must have seemed a bit of an arse cos every time I but the bike on the stand, the bars would swing round and the horn would hit of the tankbag, what a goat.

The Lazy Duck is a pretty sweet little place. Theres a chimnea fire to sit around, and there is a cool hammock. David, the guy who owns it, and the girls that worked there were all pretty sound, making me feel welcome and inviting me round their fire. my tea on the other hand was shite. a chicken dopiaza boil in the bag affair. Rank.
Day Two 
The next day I packed up early (for me) and headed north again. Over the Tain Bridge I headed for Wick where I was staying with Droo and Katy for the night.

Tain Bridge

The road to Wick is pretty good. I always stop at Capaldi's for an ice cream before heading over the Berrydale's. This time I got a couple of sausage rolls and a coffee cos I was fucking freezing.


I put the GS in Droo's parents garage and we went over the bay to Droo's flat where Katy had made excellent bacon rolls and chips. We then headed out to the local Weatherspoons pub for some super cheap drinks.
Day 3 
Droo woke me up and gave me a lift over to his folks house where I used the facilities and collected the GS. Then it was back to Weatherspoons for the bargain of the trip, a full fry up for £1.99. Bonus!
After breakfast I headed north in the drizzle to John O' Groats where I was the total tourist and got my photo taken beside the signpost. (look whats written on it)

If you head east of John O' Groats you'll come to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head. From there you can take a walk to the Duncansby Stacks, its well worth it.

I then headed west along the coast to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point in Scotland. 

Little Clett, on the way to Dunnet Head.

The lighthouse at Dunnet Head.

Dunnet Head cliffs.

a comedy sign at Dunnet Head

Apparently the big red fog horn you can see on the building in the last picture has been replaced three times because all the other ones have corroded and fallen to the bottom of the cliffs below.
Leaving Dunnet Head behind I headed to Reay along the north coast road. I got a little wet, but by the time I arrived at Reay I was dry. This could have something to do with riding past Dounreay though.
Me and Pete fitted the seat box back into Pete's Landy, then Hammy arrived on his VTR1000 and we had many beers.

Day Four 
Woke up feeling a bit worse for wear quite late on and headed off after having a massive breakfast cooked by Hammy. The weather was really nice, it seemed to get better the further west I headed. Hammy came with me for the first few miles, but he headed south just before Melvich as he was starting his new job the next day.

The view from Melvich 
The north coast road really is amazing. I was lucky with the weather, but there are some really impressive sights. It doesn't always run right beside the sea but that doesn't make the views any worse.

Beach at Bettyhill 

The north coast road 
At Tongue i got my "I love Tongue" sticker for my pannier then hit the road again heading for Scourie, where I planned to camp for the night.

A beach on the road to Durness 

View of Tongue from the Kyle Of Tongue 

The Kyle of Tongue 

The Kyle of Tongue 
Between Tongue and Durness I stopped to get a photo of Loch Eriboll when a busload of tourists pulled up beside me.
"We are from Germany!" roared one of them at me as he pointed at the BM. I tried to talk to him, but I think that was all he could say.

Loch Eriboll 

Thats the German BM fan in the red top. 

More of the north coast, seen from Loch Eriboll 

Another of the north coast road. I was actually heading west, the opposite way from whitch the bike is facing. 
After Durness the road cuts through the top left hand corner of Scotland. This cut of area is called Cape Wrath, and most of it is used as target practice by the armed forces. I think there is a ferry you can take from Durness if you want to go there, but keep in mind, they drop live bombs.

Beach near Durness 

This part of the road cuts off Cape Wrath. 
The last part of the road into Scourie is really fast, with big sweeping bends, and you can tell by the scenery that you are appoaching the west coast.
Scourie itself is a nice little place. The campsite is great. Its run by this really old guy who couldn't be more helpfull. He told me the best fishing spots like he was giving away the best kept secret on earth. 
Just as I was setting the tent up a massive truck-camper van thing rolled into the campsite, the old guy told the driver all the same secrets he told me, hilarious!

Big truck thing. Must have a massive fuel bill. 
I spent most of the evening on the pier reading my book and losing lures. After a cracking sunset I went to the pub, which is right beside the campsite. Sweet.

Scourie campsite. 

Scourie campsite, seen from the pier at the other side of the bay. 

Scourie sunset. 

Scourie sunset. 

Sunset at Scourie 

Scourie sunset. 
Day Five 
After another long lie I grabbed a bite to eat from the pub and headed down the west coast, planning on staying in either Achiltibuie or Ullapool.
I took a bit of a wrong tun just after Kylesku, but that turned out to be pretty good.

Kylesku Bridge. 
Rather than take the main road to Lockinver I had taken the coastal route through Drumbeg, one of the narrowest, twisty roads I have ever done, which probably explains the state of one of the cars I passed.

Coast road to Lochinver. 

Coast road to Lochinver. 

Crashed car. 

A REALLY steep part of the road to Lochinver
Just after I went thought Lochinver I decided I would spend the night camping in Ullapool. So I headed there passing Suilven and Stac Pollaidh, two of the best looking hills in Scotland.

Suilven in the distance. 

Stac Pollaidh 
I had a really good time in Ullapool. I have a chippie for tea and had a couple of beers on the beach at the campsite with Richard, a Canadian barrister who was cycling round Scotland. I then met Sophie (French) Nick (Italian) and Toby (German) and the four of us had a crazy night out in Ullapool. Top Laugh.

Stornaway ferry coming into ullapool. 

Ullapool campsite. 

Ullapool harbour 

Sophie, Nick, Toby and Me. 

Sun just starting to set at Ullapool. 

The Captains Cabin, Ullapool. 
Day Six 
Got woken up this morning by Sophie who had a biscut and some juice for me. I was heading back along the road past Stac Pollaidh today to meet my parents, who were staying at Achiltibuie for a week, and Aiden who was riding up to join me for some of the trip on Dignity, his Kawasaki ER5.
I arrived a few hours before everyone else in Achiltibuie, so I headed to the pier for some fishing. While I was there a guy turned up on a boat to take a family to Tanera Mor, one of the Summer Isle, and I managed to get a run there and back. It turned out the guy owned the whole island!

To Tanera Mor. 

On Tanera Mor looking back to Achiltibuie. 
Aiden and I decided to spend two nights at Achiltibuie, there was many fish caught, Aiden catching his first ever. We risked life limb and licence riding around the Coigach with no lids then visited both pubs. What we rebellin' against? What ya got?
Achiltibuie really is, in my opinion, the best part of Scotland, I cant get enough of the scenery, the camera really doesn't do it justice.

Achiltibuie Pier 

GS and Dignity 

The Summer Isle 

Anchors at Achiltibuie 

Gun on the wall of the Fuaran Bar. 

Sunset at Achiltibuie. 
Day eight 
Aiden and I headed for Applecross today going through Gairloch and the Torridon area. The weather was crap which got Aiden down a bit but everything brightened up as we approached Gairloch.


One of the great views heading to the Bealach na Ba 
There are to roads into Applecross. One is the coast road from Sheildaig, the other is the Bealach na Ba, or Pass of the Cattle.
This road rises to 2053 feet and is a must on a tour of Scotland, the camera again cannot do it justice, go there and you'll see what I mean.
Applecross itself is tiny, made up of not much more than the Applecross Inn and a few buildings. The campsite in at the back of The Flower Tunnel and is pretty good, the Flower Tunnel has a bar and serves food but the place to go is the Applecross Inn. There is a huge menu, a great atmosphere and a decent jukebox.

Sign at the start of the Bealach na Ba 

on the Bealach na Ba 

Nearly at the top of the Bealach na Ba 

view from the top looking over Raasay. I think you can see Skye aswell. 

One of the many cairns on the top of the Bealach na Ba 

An old Ariel in the Flower Tunnel, Applecross 

Day nine. 
I woke up curled up in a ball at the bottom of my tent this morning due to myself and Aiden pitching our tents on a hill in the campsite. Doh!
We grabbed a bite to eat in the Flower Tunnel then set of back along the Bealach na Ba aiming for Portree on Skye.

Heading back down the Bealach na Ba 

We crossed the Skye bridge and flew up the road to a campsite a couple of miles north of Portree. The road to Portree is super quick, with long sweeping bends one after the other. We were really lucky to get good weather so we had amazing scenery too.

Kyle of Lochalsh looking towards the Skye Bridge 

Amazing views heading towards Portree 
We had a great time in Portree. We visited many pubs, got the craic with many different people and ate loads of chips. A pipe band even appeared in the street and started playing! I think this may have been a show for the tourists rather than a general practice. We also had a wee chat with Donnie Munro, the former lead vocalist from Runrig. He has a shop in Portree and is also the rector of the Gaelic school.

Dignity and my GS at Portree campsite. 


Donnie's shop. 
Day ten 
After a great night out in Portree Aiden, myself and Our Hangovers set of for Uig on the north west of Skye. Donnie had told us that the road to Uig was really nice, and he was not wrong.

The Storr on the way to Uig 

On the way to Uig. 

The GS, Dignity and a fishing boat on the way to Uig 

On the way to Uig 

On the way to Uig 

I really enjoyed Uig. Aiden tried fishing of the rocks along from the campsite with no luck. Hopefully Big Phil, an old guy we met while fishing had better luck than Aiden.
After fishing we went for a bite to eat in the pub. If you have never tried scallops fried in garlic butter nows the time, they are super tasty. After tea we spent the night in the bar chatting to another bunch of guys touring on their bike. One of them had a Yellow GS. Did you see us heading to the ferry?

Aiden and Big Phil fishing of the rocks at Uig 

Big Phil on the rocks at Uig. 

Ferry leaving Uig. 
Day 11 
Today Aiden and I left Skye, taking the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. We met a couple who had been touring on their 1150ADV and shot the shit with them as we sailed to Mallaig.

Dignity, my GS and the guys 1150ADV 

On the ferry to Mallaig 
Aiden and I had decided to camp in Glencoe tonight so we headed through Fort William to the Red Squirrel Campsite as we left Fort William I noticed a SV1000 thundering up in my mirrors. Ben had arrived.
Tonight was Aiden's last night of the trip so we had a BBQ then went to the Clachaig Inn for a few beers. The BBQ was the biggest mistake of Aidens life. Thats all I'm saying about that.

Ben's SV, Dignity and my GS at the Red Squirrel. 

View from my tent. 
Day twelve. 
After Aiden left me and Ben decided to spend another night in Glencoe as there was a live band on in the Clachaig that night. There was much beer drunk.

Ben in Glencoe 
Day thirteen 
Ben and I woke up late (surprise surprise) and packed the bikes up in the rain. I had always planned to finish the trip at the Inversnaid Bunkhouse. I really is the top place to finish a trip. Scott, the owner, is a biker himself and is good craic, but the best thing is the outdoor hot tub, which warms you up as you wet kit drys off in the drying room. Superb.

Inversnaid Bunkhouse and our tents. 
Day fourteen. 
Back home!
I can't really say much about my tour of Scotland apart from It was probably one of the best things I have ever done. I met some really cool people and had a top laugh on the way. 
If you have never toured your own country you should go and do it, it gives you a great feeling. 
Anyway the weather was pretty good for the road home. It was really weird being back in traffic and on dual carrigeway again, but good to get home. Still, I'm thinking about heading back up this weekend, as long as I can get a new rear Tourance in time.
Total Miles - 1240.5
Bike - BMW R1150GS with BMW System panniers, K + N filter, remus exhaust and Y piece, ADV screen and crash bars.
Camping Kit - Vango Tempest 200 tent, Vango Nitestar 350 sleeping bag, Thermalite sleepin mat, vango cookset, coleman F1 lamp, colman stove, mini maglite, fork, knife and spoon, compass, sparkstick (think Ray Mears) Gas, dry bag.
Other stuff - Midgie coils, insect repellant (useless) other shoes, Fladen fishing rod, reel, fishing knife, spinners, tripod, chargers for stuff, motorcycle touring maps from Lidl.
Food - 3 wayfearer meals, just in case. (chicken dopiaza is shite)
Books - The Beach, Treasure Island, Reaper Man
Toilet Bag - Shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor.
Camera - Kodak DX6440, 1 gig card.
Camcorder - canon MV730i, extra tapes.

It was an awesome trip.


  1. Awesome trip log. Thanks for sharing this with those of us that haven't made it to Scotland yet. It is on the bucket list though - hubby's family history is there.

    Great photos too by the way.

  2. Yep...I said it on FB and I will say it a again, really enjoyed this blog. I love biking adventures....had me looking at tickets to Scotland there for a while!!!! that would be interesting.

    Good shit big fella.

  3. Fucking brilliant! Dead Jealous.

  4. Mike, that's the best thing I've seen in quite a while. I've always heard that Scotland is quite awesome to see.... If I ever make it across the Atlantic, I'll be contacting you for a guided tour!
    I gotta go, Carlo