Just got home after an awesome weekend in the Highlands, did 1296.6 miles home to home. The weather has been awesome!
Day one was the tedious slog up the motorway to Glasgow, as usual we turned off into the Lake District for lunch at the Kirkstone Pass Inn
then down the pass towards Ullswater and on to pick the motorway up at Penrith
Then onwards to the Erskine Bridge Hotel, park the bikes up and a quick change out of bike gear and down to their swimming pool/jacuzzi/steam room which is the perfect way to relax after a long ride.
Then hit the bar, decided not to eat in the restaurant as there was a large coach party in there so had a few pints and a cheese burger in the bar.
Day two and we're off to Brora via Aberfoyle and the excellent Duke's Pass (lots of series of continuous s bends made for fantastic challenging fun) ... Stopped at a little village called Brig O'Turk at the tearooms.
Where the pretty Hungarian blonde owner talked us into some lemon and poppy seed drizzle cake to go along with one of the best cups of coffee I've ever tasted!
We got chatting with the fishmonger who was delivering to the cafe, he popped to his van to get his phone to show us a pic of his GSXR600 ... sadly he put his keys on the drivers seat as he got his phone, and while talking to us the van automatically locked ... oops ... luckily he'd left the window an inch open so we left him "fishing" with a coat hanger.
Carried on through the usual lovely scenery to the Green Welly at Tyndrum and stopped for a sandwich for lunch. There was some supercar trip on and about 40 Astons, Lambo's, Ferarris, Porsches etc etc all drove out of there in convoy (I overtook the lot of them later on Glencoe as they were stuck in traffic
) ... riding over Glencoe is a pleasure every time! I bought a copy of MCN at Tyndrum as I received a text message to say I was in it this week
. sadly Ian put it in his top box and accidently left the lid open so he ended up being an 80mph litter bug (sorry Scotland).
From there we made our way towards Fort William and on up the great glen towards Inverness. We stopped at Drumnadrochit (next to Loch Ness) to see the local highland games but they were sadly ending so no real photo ops.
Before Inverness we cut around it and picked up the A9 on the north side, we arrived at The Sutherland Inn, Brora http://www.sutherlandinn.co.uk/
quite late. The accomodation was basic but clean and at £35 for B&B cheap enough, and of course being an inn food and drink was convenient
Day 3 (Sunday) is the day I was looking forward to most as we were going up to John O'Groats and on to the A836/A838 to Ullapool. It started off very foggy up the A9, this part of the A9 is a lot more pleasant than the dual carraigeway bits below Inverness. There were a few hairpins on the route that made the coast road a challenge in the fog
Filled up at Tesco in Wick. Bit by bit the roads were getting steadily quieter, and the scenery more bleak and dramatic in places.
Did the photo op thing at John O'Groats
22 years ago I visited Lands End, so I guess it's taken me 22 years get to the other end
Then along the A836 and A838 on Scotlands northern coast to Ullapool. All I can say is wow. There are excellent driving roads, and there are excellent driving routes both merge bits of one another. The Northern Trail is an awesome route, in no way a fast drive, but one of the best (if not the best) route with achingly gorgeous scenery I've ever ridden in the UK. 130 odd miles of scenery that just kept getting better and better, almost no other traffic, well surfaced single track mostly hugging the coast and climbing up and down the hillsides. I was stunned
Lunch was here
and was a large steaming bowl of Cullen Skink .... yum!
We stopped for coffee in a place called Laid in a cafe that had a Bike Magazine approval
Nice guy who owned it, moved there in 1970 from Yorkshire to hand dive for scallops, and never returned to Yorkshire !
The beaches looked so inviting and the water crystal clear
Watched some guys doing some amazing stuff up the hillside here on proper trials bikes (you can just see one of them)
eventually it came to an end and we dropped into Ullapool for fuel
Then on to the overnight stop at The Aultguish Inn, Garve. Really is in the middle of nowhere but did a nice room and good food.
Next morning, day 4 (Monday) this was rush hour on the road from Ullapool
We rode south and turned onto the A832 to Loch Torridon / Lochcarron and down to Eilean Donan castle
From there we made our way towards Glencoe again via Fort William and lunch of another bowl of Cullen Skink at the Green Welly.
This was parked next to me and looked a very useful bit of kit
We decided over lunch that as we'd had so much fun on the Duke's Pass from Aberfoyle that we'd go that route back (rather than the tedious Loch Lomond route) to the Erskine Bridge.
It was even more fun the other way
Finally arrived at the Erskine Bridge for the normal pool>bar>dinner routine last night before riding home the next day (today)
Absolutely shattered but stunned. It's the first time I've seen Scotland without rain
As I said we did 1296 miles, the K12GT averaged 58.8mpg (UK gallons) over the journey which I think's pretty good. It was brilliant for the entire trip. Allowing comfort on the motorway and thanks to the ESA excellent handling when treading on on some of the faster highland roads!