We all met up in John O'Groats, Scotland's most northerly town. To get to John O'Groats for me its a 300 mile blast up the A9, the main artery linking the north of the country to Edinburgh. If you were a visitor to Scotland you'd find the A9 to be awesome. From Edinburgh you cross Firth of Forth on the Forth Road Bridge, which gives awesome views of the Forth Bridge the trains use, before travelling up through the Cairngorms and up the Sutherland coast into Caithness. Most of the Massif now find it a bit of a pain in the arse though and we've all done it so often. We arrived at John O'Groats in dribs and drabs, got the tents up, had some beers and food on the campsite before heading up to the Seaview Hotel for more of the same. A grand first night to the tour was had by all. GHC provided the entertainment by showing us why he's called GHC and making Aidan spew his ring.
The Winton Massif from left to right. Aidan, Lynchie, Bob, Greaser, Helmet, Faither, Ben, GHC, bert and Myself.
the Bikes at John O'Groats
GHC lumbering up.
Aidan sorts out his rod.
The Forth Bridge
The next day we were headed for Durness, travelling across the very top of Scotland. The north coast road is one of my favourites but if the weather is bad its can be seriously hard going with heavy rain and fucking powerful winds. I've seen my GS being lifted off the side stand the wind is that strong! Luckily for us the weather was fine and after some bacon rolls from the wee van by Groats harbour we were off. We were joined by Ferg on his XT600, his brother Rob on his CG125 and Droo who was in the support vehicle with Ferg, Rob and his own camping gear. They all live in Caithness so they didn't bother camping at John O'Groats with us. We ate on the campsite at Durness and used the campers hut they have on site to shelter from the wind that had got up before hitting the pub beside the campsite. The pub was a great laugh, the older members of the Massif got their eat on in there while the rest of us played pool and got our drink on. There was this crazy drunk guy called Allan wearing glasses with the lenses missing. He kept buying us drinks before the bar staff took his wallet off him, we tried to return the favour but the staff wouldn't allow him any more booze on account of him being so fucked. What a legend. We also met a French guy called Commie, Commie was hitching his way around the country sleeping where ever he could, he turned out to be a good laugh and had a few beers with us in the campers hut , where he was planning on sleeping. Fucking mental bastard!
Good bacon roll van at Groats.
Bettyhill beach on the way to Durness.
Lynchie crosses the Kyle of Toungue
Droo gets his piss on.
Me on a beach near Durness.
Ben and lynchie using the campers hut to its full potential
The auld duffers tell Aidan about inlet tappet clearances or some other pish.
The crazy looking guy is Allan. Mental bastard.
Bob, Lynchie and Commie, another fucking mental bastard!
Day Three and Four
Today quite a few folk headed for home. Ferg, Rob and Droo were only there for the one night and the older bunch, Faither, GHC, Greaser, Helmet and Bert had only came up for the weekend. So we fuelled up before everyone headed off their seperate ways. Remember that fucking crazy drunk guy Allan? Well he worked at the wee petrol station in Durness, we were all calling him by name and he couldn't remember any of us! We reminded him that he'd bought us a rake of drink and that his wallet was behind the bar in the pub before heading off for Applecross. At this point Ben and Bob took the shorter, more direct route and Aidan, Lynchie and myself opted for the scenic route, following the super twisty singletrack road through Drumbeg and Lochinver then further south to cross the Bealach Na Ba, the highest road in Scotland, into Applecross where we'd be spending the next couple of nights.
The next day we all just chilled out. We done a wee bit fishing and caught quite a few mackerel which we handed in to the Applecross Inn. In return Judy the owner gave us a round of drinks and a wee discount off our meal, good stuff! The Applecross Inn is a real favorite of the Winton Massif's. I couldn't recommend it enough. Go there.
On the road to Drumbeg.
The obligatory sign post photo at the Bealach Na Ba
Lynchie on the Bealach Na Ba
Aidan on the Bealach Na Ba
The fish we caught.
Drambuie soaked Haggis. Tasty!
The Massif and the Applecross Inn staff.
We started today with another favourite of the Massif, a full Challenge Breakfast from the Waterside Cafe in Lochcarron. My regular reader will recognise this, a fucking monster fry up that comes on a tray. Its not called a challenge for nothing, but if you finish it you get a certificate to put on your fridge at home.
Bob gettin his sweat on.
Its fucking challenging.
Bellys full we headed into the drizzle to the Isle of Skye, stopping for a wee look at Plockton. We crossed the Skye Bridge and followed the awesome fast and twisty roast to Portree, Skye's biggest town. We were glad to get there, Lynchie had been having some real trouble with a sore leg and was in alot of pain, but when we arrived at the campsite the guy turned us away saying "No large groups of males!" We explained that one of us was hurting and that we just wanted a quiet night, pointing out that we were hardly daft teenagers anymore with no joy. So we headed back into the centre of Portree looking at the Youth Hostel, which wasn't going to be open for ages. After a quick scan of the map and Lynchie saying he'd be up for pushing on we decided fuck Portree and headed for our new destination, Dunvegan. Dunvegan is a wee seaside Village on the north west of Skye, its famous for Dunvegan Castle and more recently Danny MacAskill, the bicycle trials genius. We arrived at the campsite to be greeted by a Russ Abbot lookalike who was very surprised at the attitude of the guy at Portree. After we got the tents up, farted about a bit and Lynchie rested his leg we headed into the village. We got some food in a wee pub before heading on to the Dunvegan Hotel for a game of snooker. For a while we were the only folk in the place but as time went on more and more folk arrived. We got talking to a bunch of locals who were a great laugh, some of them kept on going on about another local lad who lives in Edinburgh, Danny MacAskill, saying he's going to be big one day, they weren't fucking wrong. We were having a great time, and when the crabbit looking guy in the Nine Inch Nails T Shirt who worked behind the bar rang for last orders one of the locals ordered 30 sambucas and told everyone to help themselves. A quality night.
30 sambucas and a dark rum and coke please.
With a bit of a fuzzy head we set off. The weather had improved a fair bit. Ben and Lynchie headed to the ferry at Armadale a different way from Bob and myself. We headed across the front of the Cullins to ride down the east side of Skye. Back on the mainland we headed for Lochaline to get another ferry to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull. After the short ferry crossing we rode down the east of Mull to Fionnphort, overlooking Iona, where we camped. On the way down we bought two massive bags of coal which we strapped to the top of the panniers on my GS. To say it made it handle a bit funny would be a fucking understatement. There's a campside at Fidden, but the guy said we could just camp by the beach for free. So we kicked all the sheep shit out the way, threw the tents up, Lynchie took a shit on a rock, we got a fire going and cooked some food. It was good but after a while a really damp, drizzly mist came in so we chucked the rest of the coal on the fire and went into our tents for an early night.
Aidan fucking loves ferrys.
I dunno what Ben thinks.
We got up early and cooked up breakfast. We were covered in sheep shit. There was shit all over our tents and kit. We had booked a room in the Tobermory youth hostel and we were all looking forward to getting a shower and hitting the pubs in Tobermory. We rode back the way we came and got our room in the hostel. The room had three bunks and because there was only five of us some poor bastard called Bruno had been put in the room with us. Nae luck Bruno.
We had a good night out in Tobermory. We done a wee bit fishing before getting a bite to eat and a game of pool in MacGochans before heading to the famous Mishnish for a beer. The Mishnish was a bit weird. Not long after we arrived a big choir arrived and started belting out some songs. So we went back to MacGochans.
Playing pool in MacGochans
Choons in the Mishnish
Tobermory at night.
For our final night we were heading to the Red Squirrel campsite in Glencoe. Another ferry and some awesome roads later and we were there to meet up with Hammy and Claire. The Massif visit the Red Squirrel quite a bit, its pretty good because you can have a fire there, but its pretty rocky and lumpy and don't use the showers if you don't like daddy longlegs. The other big attraction is that the campsite is a ten minute walk from the Clachaig Inn, which can often be an awesome night out, with a good selection of beer, good food and live music. A great way to finish a great trip.
Hammy and Claire on Hammy's KTM.
Got our fire on.
Lynchie gets his hair on.
and his dug on.
In the Clachaig