This year was a little different for our group as a couple from Indianapolis, who'd seen last years pics on the K1200GT page on Facebook asked to join us and hired a Honda 1200 Crosstourer.
We rode up from North Wales, stopping in the Lake district for lunch at the Kirkstone Pass Inn before moving on to Moffat for an afternoon coffee. First nights overnight stop was the Erskine Bridge hotel in Glasgow.
Next morning, in glorious sunshine (unusual for Scotland) we made our way to Aberfoyle and over the awesome Dukes Pass, if you Google it you'll see it's a highly rated bike route. It's the type of road where a good RD400 would rule, with bends that flick left and right in instant succession for about 12 miles, and best of all with little traffic.
Eventually stopping at the Brig o Turk tearooms for coffee and cake.
Brig O'Turk Tearoom | In the Heart of the Trossachs
Then onwards up The Cairnwell to lunch at the Glenshee ski centre, achingly sexy ribbon of tarmac draped over stunning scenery, with no traffic.
After lunch we went over the 2nd pass in that link, The Lecht, breathtaking scenery continued, with stunning vistas at every curve and rise.
Dropped into the old fire station cafť in Tomintoul for the afternoon break before dropping down to Inverness in blistering sunshine to head down the Great Glen for the overnight stop in the very civilised Loch Ness Inn in Drumnadrochit.
Loch Ness Inn Holiday Hotel Accommodation Restaurant & Bar Scottish Highlands near Inverness
Next morning after a quick photo op at Urqhart Castle, we headed to the Glen Ord distillery for a whisky tour. Then on the isolated sinuous route towards Ullapool stopping at the Aultguish Inn for lunch, haggis, cheese and chilli toasted sandwiches
Headed off towards the afternoon stop at Poolewe along increasingly smaller, single track roads with incredible curves, views and a roller coaster of rises and falls along the coast road. Once at Poolewe we stopped at the cute Bridge Cafť for afternoon tea and scones
From there we continued on the Wester Ross Coastal trail. Words cannot describe how the scenery gets better and better, in our U.S. travelling companions words ".... this continues not to suck
Traversing the single track road with the sea loch on the right, threading through the wandering sheep and highland cattle eventually brought us to the awesome Applecross inn. The inn is a traditional highland pub, with rooms and serving the freshest most gorgeous seafood right next to the sea loch.
Applecross Inn, Applecross Peninsula - North West Scotland - Dining, Bar & Accommodation - Applecross Inn
my go at an arty pic with my 16 year old Lagavulin single malt in the foreground and my K12GT in the background framed by the coastline
After an awesome evening of food, banter, beer and single malts we slept like babes in lovely rooms before waking to another day of stunning sunshine and a fantastic breakfast with the worlds finest Stornoway Black Pudding. The bane of the highlands, midgies made packing a quick affair before getting on the bikes for the Applecross Pass, the Bealach na Ba, in the link above.
Although I've traversed the pass on a few occasions it never fails to impress.
From there we rode over to Lochcarron and dropped down to visit Eilean Donan castle for coffee and a photo stop.
Welcome to Eilean Donan Castle | Eilean Donan
When leaving an RAF C130 Hercules came roaring up Loch in a fantastic display of low level flight at the same height as the castle before banking hard to the right and vanishing up the glen.
From there it was over to the Isle of Skye on the Skye bridge, riding across Skye for a quick lunch while waiting for the ferry to Mallaig.
From Mallaig we headed down the old coast road to Ardgour via Strontian to get the flatbed Corran Ferry.
From there it was a fantastic run over Glencoe and the desolate Ranoch Moor before dropping down to The Green Welly cafť.
Whisky Shop and Gift Shop from The Green Welly Stop, Tyndrum, Scotland
After a quick break we headed for the Erskine Bridge Hotel in Glasgow via Loch Lomond.
Next morning we packed reluctantly for the trip home, the weather matching the mood, broke from the previous four sunny days turning to rain. I escorted my American friends to the rental bike company to get them to replace a worn rear tyre, before heading home. shattered but having had an unforgettable trip.