Thursday, October 31, 2013

Winton Massif - Wrong Way round 2009

Back at the end of August, 2009 the Massif were heading north once more. Now, I'm writing this from memory, so I may be a wee bit out, but from what I remember the I met up with everyone in Applecross, having ridden up the road with Hammy, Bob and Bert while the other guys had left the day before and spent the night in Glencoe.

GHC and Liam Build a fire.
GHC and Liam build a fire.

The Massif at The Red Squirrel, Glencoe.
Aidan, Ben Liam and Lynchie. Photo by GHC.

Hammy, Bert and Bob.

Andy and Lynchie
Andy and Lynchie arriveing at Applecross.




Winton Massif at Applecross.



Applecross was the usual good night. Fed and watered in the Applecross Inn we hit the tents, I'm sure I remember me waking myself up with some pretty mental snoring, but that aside, I still slept great in my tent.
Our destination after Applecross was Ullapool. We headed up the coast road via Gairloch with the bad weather joining us as we rode around the Applecross Peninsula. Myself, Aidan, Bob and GHC rode in a group with the rest of the guys going off ahead. The weather got increasingly wetter. When Aidan stopped to put his waterproofs on it was like a timed record attempt due to the midgies, the wee fuckers were hungry that day. We rode on at a steady pace untill we rounded a corner to find Ben's SV on its side on the wrong side of the road with a car parked in front of it.


Ben was standing up, so he seemed to be ok. He had lost the front going into a corner, the guy with the car had parked it there to stop anyone else running into Ben's bike. We were all up to ninety but GHC quickly calmed us all down and assessed the damage. Ben was relatively ok and there was minimum damage to the Suzuki, the snapped gear lever being the only thing Ben was going to have to ride around. 
We carrried on to Ullapool as did the rain. A gear lever was bodged up for Ben's bike with a bracket from the hardware store and some cable ties and we got some coffees and juice in the Seaforth. The plan had been to camp, but with the rain still pishing doon and the Youth Hostel only costing a few quid more the majority of us booked the Hostel. Most Youth Hostels are closed during the day from 11ish till 4 or 5 so we hung around The Seaforth for a while till the hostel opened. With our kit drying in the rooms we took turns between showering and trying to take on GHC, clean and battered we headed back out for a curry at the Essence of India, Ullapool's excellent Indian Restaurant where we met Hammy's mate (I cannae remember the guy's name)




Seaforth, Ullapool


Winton Massif at Ullapool youth hostel.
Outside the hostel.

Mist at Ullapool
View from the hostel.

The Massif at Essence of India, Ullapool
Curry. That's Hammy's mate opposite me. Fuck knows what his name is though.

Post crash SV.
Post crash SV.
Post crash SV.
Ben's SV post crash.

The Seaforth, Ullapool.
In The Seaforth, Ullapool.

You can take the man out of Glasgow.....

The north west of Scotland isn't as bad as folk say it is for weather. Everyone thinks it's always pishing doon and freezing but its usually pretty warm and sunny, with rain only lasting a day or so. Our luck was out on this trip though, it was still raining when we woke up, but fear not, we had a plan. 
We had checked the weather out while we were out for our curry, the East Coast was sunny so we cut across country on the A837/A839 through Lairg to Dunbeath. The further east we got the better the weather was. Braw.
The campsite at Dunbeath was really nice and just up the road from the pub. Sorted. We set out tents up and Lynchie and I headed to the shop for some beers and food. Not long after we got back we seen a guy riding past on a mental looking trike. The guy was called Robbie Miller and he had built his trike himself. The engine and gearbox was a turbo diesel out of a Peugeot 405 and kept the car style gear stick and foot clutch. The forks were off an RD250 with spring from an old chair or a bed or something. I asked Robbie for a shot and he said aye! It was a bit strange getting used to a hand shift and handlebars but a cool thing to ride. Robbie shot the shit with us for a while along with an Austrailian couple who were driving round the world in their Land Rover. The Landy had been kitted out with a full on kitchen in the back and a roof tent. 
That night Robbie joined us at the Inver, the local pub, where we had a fucking great time. The barmaid even made us cocktails and didn't seem to mind when Andy and GHC got up on the bar and started dancing. Robbie headed off with the turbo on his trike whistling well into the distance and we headed back to campsite where Liam made everyone bacon rolls. At one point the one other person in the campsite cam over and asked us to keep the noise down, but we gave him a beer and a bacon roll and he ended up staying with us for the rest of the night. 



Robbie's Trike
Robbie's trike. Great piece of kit.




Me on a trike.


Bob on Robbie's trike.

Robbie's trike


Another west coaster.







The Flying Carpet.



GHC "dancing"

The barmaid loved it.

At The Inver, Dunbeath



We awoke with dull heads. Duller than fucking dishwater for some, but, we never had far to ride today as the destination for most of us was Stromness on Orkney, so we could afford long lies as the ferry wasn't till half one and the ferry was only around forty miles up the road. Slowly we got our shit together. Bert, Bob and Liam were heading down the road so we said our goodbyes as we split north one by one. Bert taking a long a wee friend he had picked up along the way.*
On the way to the ferry I stopped in to get Ferg. Regular readers to my blog will recognise the face and the name, but this was to be Young Ferg's first proper trip away with the Massif, I think there was a slightly nervous look on that sexy face and he was maybe even a wee bit shy!
When we arrived at the ferry terminal at Gill's bay Faithir and GHC were speaking to another guy on a 1200 Adventure over some crossiants and a coffee they had made. The guy was called Wolfgang and had travelled over from Germany. As we waited for the ferry to turn up Wolfgang told us that he was planning on camping at Stromness on Orkney, just as we were. So Wolfgang ended up joining us, we gave him a Winton Massif sticker for his bike and he was in.

Post your captions for this one below....

Bert and his new friend.

Collecting young Ferg.


Winton Massif at Gills Bay

The Winton Massif's bikes from left to right. Ferg's XT, some guy's Harley, My 1150GS, Lynchie's bandit 1200 behind Andy's R1100S, Aidan's ER5 infront of Ben's SV1000, Wolfgang's 1200GSA infront of Hammy's KTM Adventure, Faithirs 1200GSA and GHC's 1200RT




Dunno what the guy's from the ferry are saying about Ferg's XT.


Ferry to Orkney
Ben and Lynchie

A confused looking Andy and an aprehensive looking Ferg (back when he was still sexy)


Ferry to Orkney
Big Wolfgang with Andy feeling seasick on the seat behind him.


We landed on Orkney at St Margret's Hope and headed up the road to Stromness, over the Churchhill barriers and past some famous Orkadian landmarks like the Italian Chapel, Maeshowe and the Stones of Stenness. It was my first time on Orkney and I remember really enjoying the run up from St Margrets Hope and into Stromness where you ride along the really narrow streets to the campsite right beside the sea. The weather was great as we got our tents up, got supplies (beer) in and made our plans for the next day. Wolfgang's English is excellent but he did struggle at time to understand the constant flow of pish we speak. Andy is pretty much fluent in German though and chatted away to Wolfgang in his native toungue.

Churchill Barriers, Orkney.
At The Churchill Barriers.

At the Sones of Stenness.
the Stones of Stenness

Stones of Stenness

Big Wolfgang at Stromness

Ben at Stromness Campsite.

Aidan, Hammy, Wolfgang, Andy and Faithir.

Stromness Campsite
Stromness Campsite

A Street in Stromness.

Lynchie, Ben and GHC


After a relatively calm night we all awoke pretty fresh and headed out to see things. There's loads of things to visit on Orkney and we had arranged ourselves into wee groups visiting the various thing we wanted to see and usually bumping into everyone else at different attractions. Ben, Ferg, Hammy and myself visited Skara Brae, The Orkney Brewery, The Ring of Brodgar and hunted down the Twatt sign, Twatt being a wee Orkadian village. That evening we all piled into a taxi and headed through to Kirkwall, Orkney's biggest town. Wolfgang had ended up in the front of the taxi beside the driver, who has one of the strongest Orkadian accents we had heard. When we got out the taxi Wolfgang remarked to Faithir "I couldn't understand one word that man said." Neither could we Wolfgang!
Kirkwall went in a shower of beer, pool and Chinese food with the occasional soaking in the rain in between. We ended up in a motor theme pub with a great jukebox and a great atmosphere. It was a fucking great night.


Andy gets it while Wolfgang chats to Hammy.

Callanish Stones.

Callanish Stones.

Ring of Brodgar.

Skara Brae
Skara Brae.

Ferg on the back wheel.

Ferg's wheelie 2.
Ferg's a hooligan.


Orkney Brewery 2009. Looks a lot different now.


Mike the Twatt.

Oot in Orkney
Wolfgang, Ferg and me.

Ugly bastards.
Fucking heid on those cunts eh?

In a pub in Kirkwall.
Andy, Wolfgang, Aidan and Faithir.

Oot in Kirkwall
Post your caption in the comments section....

Good pub in Kirkwall.


Kirkwall Jukebox

It was back to the mainland the following day after a long lie. I think Ferg and I must have spent more time in our (seperate) tents than everyone else as I remember us having a mad dash back down to St Margret's Hope and being the last folk to make the ferry. All the rest of the Massif were waiting to wave us goodbye as they sailed away. Bastards!
This was the last night of our trip and the destination was John O'Groats, a favourite stop of the Massif. 
We got the tents up and farted around the campsite for a few hours, cooking food, sleeping and having a beer or two or a crate of Becks in GHC's case!
That evening we hit the Seaview Hotel in Groats for some food and a few beers. Wolfgang joined us for our last night. He had been great company over the past few days and had grown close to the Massif. In the following years Wolfgang would return to Scotland and visit us again, and we would go to Germany, but that's another story.....

Orkney ferry
Ferg and I just make the Ferry.



GHC and Wolfgang take in the scenery. Andy feels better than the journey over.


Wolfgang and Bobby
Wolfgang and GHC

In The Seaview

Ben and Wolfgang.
Ben teaching Wolfgang the two finger salute.



In the Seaview, John O Groats.

We left in dribs and drabs, most of us having a roll from the van by the harbour. Wolfgang carried on his trip down the west coast and I was the second last to leave, Hammy being the only one still snoozing in his tent.
Just outside Reiss there was a line of cars sitting with their hazard warning lights on.
Lynchie had came off his Bandit. 
The road is pretty much straight and the people in the cars said he wasn't speeding.
When I arrived he was still conscious. Lynchie removed his helmet himself and asked me to help him get his gloves off as he couldn't do it himself as one of his wrists was completely shattered.
The ambulance and air ambulance turned up.
Lynchie was whisked off to Wick hospital. I followed on the bike.
While I was waiting in the hospital, Hammy arrived very concerned, he had seen Lynchie's bike at the side of the road.
A short while later we were invited in to see Lynchie before he was flown to Aberdeen. 
The doctor told us Lynchie had fractured his skull in three places. He said that usually only family would have been asked in to see someone, but Lynchie might not make it to Aberdeen.

Hearing news like that about one of your mates is fucked. Completely fucked.

Lynchie flew to Aberdeen and Hammy and I carried on the long, long ride down the road. We had phoned everyone else to let them know. 

Lynchie stayed in Aberdeen for several months. He was eventually transferred to Edinburgh.
We all visited him when we could  at both hospitals. One day I went in to the hospital and heard this.

"There he is. ALL RIGHT YA PRICK?!?!"

That'll be Lynchie back then.

Lynchie made a full recovery, he even got back on a bike.

Thank fuck.

*Bert's pal made it back to Dunbeath along with its holiday photos from a trip to Ireland.