Saturday, November 7, 2015

Roots 2015 Part 3

Part 2 here.

So were were back in The Pantry trying to figure out a plan. We'd spoke to the folk at Calmac and the ferry was back on, but it had a long delay. If we got on it when it came in we wouldn't get to Islay till midnight, then we would have to find the campsite and get the tents up.
We all liked Colonsay, so much so that when we though we were stuck on the island we saw it as a positive.
"What if we skip Islay, stay an extra night on Colonsay then get the late ferry back tomorrow? There's hostels or campsites near Oban we could stay at." It went down well.
A quick call to HB, Bob and Nicki on the mainland and the plan was sorted. the got return tickets to Colonsay and I phoned around and found a well priced Hostel in Oban called Backpackers Plus and booked us all a bed each. Plan sorted all we had to do was find a place to pitch the tents. There was a few grassy areas around the pier and the Panrty. This would give us access to the public toilets by the pier for the girls and would mean we were close to the shop and the Community Centre. This was great because there was a Ceilidh on that evening and a few of the locals had been swinging past asking if we were going. We waited for the ferry to come in over a few beers from the Colonsay Brewery, done a spot of fishing and spoke with the locals. Walter came down to see us and we had a good laugh with him while the weather got better and better.






The Album Cover shot. Posing bastards.


Walter tries on Aidan's daft hat.



The ferry arrives.

The ferry arrived just as the sun was going. HB, Bob and Nicki arrived. HB had got a battery from Motorrad Central and brought it over. Ferg fitted the battery, we had some food, Bob and Nicki pitched their tent and we wandered over to the Ceilidh, but not before Ferg fired his bike up.




Well that rules out the battery. Shite. It could be the starter motor. There's a lot online written about the starter motors on 1150GS's failing. Looks like we'll be pushing for a while longer.
Still, it was a great atmosphere in the hall. Bike problems didn't dampen our spirits and we joined in the dancing and drinking. A great night.





Feeling slightly worse for wear we got breakfast in the Pantry before taking the tents down. While we were getting sorted Faithir and Aidan were approached by a snooty woman who tried to tell us we weren't allowed to camp where we were, as we would spoil the tourist trade for the island because we should be out of sight! Faithir explained that we had been staying in the Backpackers Hostel but due to the ferry being delayed we had chosen to stay another night. He explained that when travelling by motorcycle we have to support the local economy, as unlike people who travel by car we cannot bring food and supplies with us. Faithir explained how I had spoke with the Colonsay Estate about camping when planning the trip. Faithir pointed out that the lady had told us where we shouldn't camp but hadn't told us where we could. She didn't have an answer to that one and left. The woman was from the Colonsay Estate. It was really disappointing to be treated like they didn't want us being there. Especially when she started the conversation with this.
"Oh, is that you packing up to leave?"
"Yes, that us leaving today."
Luckily the real  people of Colonsay did not share her opinion and that was the only negative experience we had on the island. Being there, we felt that we were part of the solution, not creating a problem. Being told that tents being visible will ruin the island's tourist trade is hardly constructive.
There was no problems with the ferry this time. We got aboard about eight and got into Oban a couple of hours later. The Backpackers Plus Hostel we had booked was found and we bundled all our stuff in to our room, which we were sharing with a few other folk. We had a couple of beers that we'd brought over with us from the Colonsay Brewery, charged our phones and stuff and chilled out.
It was up early the next day, the bikes were parked in a pay and display area and we didn't want to get a ticket. It was also Ferg's birthday so we sang him Happy Birthday, got breakfast of Colonsay Duck eggs from Walter and toast and cereal which is the complimentary Plus part of Backpackers Plus.



Sad to be leaving Colonsay.

Roots 2015

We retraced our steps to the Corran Ferry. We were heading back to Strontian where we'd planned to meet up with Ben, Euan, Smillie, Egor and Lynne. By pure chance we caught up with Egor at the Corran Ferry and all headed in to Sunart Campsite in Strontian together.

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On the Ferry to Oban. I never got any photos in Oban itself.

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Ferg crossing the bridge at Ballachulish.

Egor on the Corran Ferry.
Egor on the ferry.

Strontian was a fair bit dryer than it had been when we were there a few days back. The sun was out which was great. Smillie had booked one of Tim's huts so a lot of the guys piled in there. Bob and Nicki, Ferg and Lynne and HB and I were all in tents as was Egor. Just as we had finished pitching out up a guy rolled up in a camper van with three classic bikes on a trailer. They'd come up from North Wales to ride their bikes about the place. We got speaking to the guys about bikes and they fired up his flat tank Norton. The good weather gave a good opportunity to strip Ferg's starter motor off the 1150 and make sure the bendix gear on the starter wasn't gunked up with shite. 
Tim's BBQ was fired up and we all got cooking, taking turns to man the BBQ, make salad and butter rolls.

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More work on the 1150.

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We had a few beers on the campsite and as the BBQ coals cooled so did the weather. We headed to the pub for the rest of the night and on our return to the site the bad weather had returned and it was pretty wet and windy. We weren't too concerned, we all had pretty good camping equipment and out tents could handle bad weather. Or so I thought....
When I opened our tent my headtorch picked out the inside flapping around like a plastic bag in the wind.
"Shit. This isn't good."
Luckily all that had happened is the peg had come out of the sodden ground. I battered it back in and all was well once more.
The tent stayed up all night with no problems and was nearly dry by the time we woke up. The rain had disappeared over night and the strong winds had blow dried the tent for us. Applecross was our destination this evening. It's a popular place among the Massif and on our way there we were taking in some of my favourite roads, the A87 from Invergarry, through Glen Garry and Glen Sheil to Kyle of Lochalsh. This road is amazing wet or dry. I rode most of the way with Aidan, we both enjoyed sweeping along, managing to dodge the rain while being battered a bit by the wind. Just before Kyle of Lochalsh we turned on to the A890 and went over the hill to Lochcarron. While stopped at Lochcarron getting some supplies we caught up with Egor. This was his first visit to Applecross and he was a wee bit nervous about riding the Bealach Na Ba. We assured him he'd be fine and there was nothing to worry about, it's just a road and there are plenty steeper and twistier roads about. Egor fuelled up his R1100s and off the three of us went.
Due to is popularity the Bealach Na Ba had gain a bit of a reputation as a crazy road. It's the longest climb in Scotland and often mistaken for the country's highest road too. Being the holidays there would be a bit more traffic than usual but we weren't out to set any records and took a steady pace up the pass. I could see the road snaking up and disappearing into the cloud at the top of the hill. This isn't uncommon on the Bealach but it managed to catch out a couple of folk in their cars who forgot to use their fog lights. The wind really began to pick up at the top of the pass and by the time we were coming down the west side it was nearly blowing the bikes off the road. My method to combat the gusts was to use the bikes power and braking to try and keep it straight, while other folk took its easy and kept a foot out just in case. While being battered about I was hoping Egor was OK. This had to be the worst I'd seen on the Bealach but we all made it down and headed to the pub for a pint before getting to the campsite. We were joined by other bikers and a wide eyed guy on a pushbike who had been blown all over the place. A poor guy on a Suzuki Bandit had faced the same treatment and him, his girlfriend and his bike had been blown into one of the wee lochans at the side of the road! Nothing was too badly damaged to he dragged it out and made it down the hill. I had my gopro on, the video gives some sort of idea what it was like.

I had hired one of the wigwams and Smillie had done the same. My wigwam was supposed to be just for HB and I but with the weather not letting up we were joined by Ferg and Lynne, with Egor, Ben, Aidan and Smillie in the othe wigwam and Euan in his tent. The night was spent in the pub having a nice meal, a few beers and trying to figure out our plan for the last night. We got it down to two suggestions; stay at Applecross for another night or head over to Cannich. We put it to a vote and a second night in Applecross came out on top. 
The next morning was spent trying to find the least swamplike part of the campsite to pitch our tents on and transferring stuff out the wigwams and into the tents. The sun was out so we all took advantage of the good weather, going for a spin about on the bikes or a wander to the shop and the Walled Garden. the drizzle returned so we chucked a tarp up over a picnic bench and chilled out for a few hours before heading back to the pub for another great meal.

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Ben likes the pub.

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Dunno what this pair are looking at.

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Where to go?

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In the pub.

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This Stag is a regular visitor on Applecross campsite.

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Yes. Ferg's drinking wine and cider.

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The good, the bad and the ugly? You decide.

And that was that. We all headed home in dribs and drabs. Ferg and I stopped in Lochcarron for a Challenge Breakfast (which we failed this time) in the Waterside Cafe and to brim Ferg's tank. We figured he could make it home to Caithness on one tank of fuel which was good, as there would be no one around to give a shove bump starting his bike. We nearly thought it was game over in Lochcarron anyway as we really toiled to get the bike going. Thanks to the two guys who helped shove!
So the trip didn't go entirely to plan and the weather wasn't as good as usual but we still had an awesome time. We'll definitely be revisiting Colonsay too, but more about that in the future. 
Now where did I leave my C90.........

Awesome trip.

GS on Colonsay.



  1. Good blog bud , Almost makes me want to buy a Moto - thrapper. I may buy a scooter and a parka instead. Can I still come on your shin digs.

  2. Great report, nice pics!
    I'm planning a motorcycle trip for april in Scotland. I'm enjoying doing the 'homework' right now. Finding campsites, spots for wildcamping, hostels, sorting out maps and POI for the gps.
    Looking forward to it!


    1. Thanks for the comment Arne, there's a fair amount of info on here from some of our past trips. If you need any more info just give me a shout.