A Travellerspoint blog

Glamping Scotland with Reggie - Part 1

To pod or not to pod?

The idea was originally to set off Friday morning and drive up to the Carlisle area for an overnight stop. Given the hassles and massive tailbacks that are associated with the Dartford Crossing, I added another overnight on Thursday to get part way along the road so that we would have a pretty easy day on Friday.

I chose a Days Inn near Baldock in Hertfordshire as it was cheap and dog friendly. We packed the car and when Claire came home there were a few bits to do and we set off. Luckily later in the evening the traffic wasn't too bad through the toll tunnel at Dartford. We made good time and were soon checking into the motel on the A1 service area at Baldock. Reggie was okay in the car and despite a bit of noise he wasn't too bad overnight. The odd bark and growl when people made noise in the hallways.

Friday we set off on the A1 route up to Scotch Corner where we would take the allegedly scenic and "biker friendly" A66 across from the east to west coasts of England. It is quite a narrow part of the country.

The run wasn't too bad until around Barnard Castle on the A66 where the road became two lanes of jammed cars. After 45 minutes inching along we checked the map and I set the TomTom for a country route via Barnard Castle and Middleton in Teesdale. Once we were free of the jams we purred along. At least we were moving and did see some nice scenery and villages.

Finally arriving at the next stop at Stobart's Motel. Stobart's are one of the biggest UK truck companies and the motel is on the northern side of Carlisle. It is dog friendly, in fact the staff made a fuss of Reggie, has a cafe and bar onsite.

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Once checked in we had a run into Carlisle to have a look about and take Reggie for a walk. We found our way to a free car-park near the castle. On the map it shows a park behind the castle that goes across to the river.

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The park had lots of these sculptures that were actually musical instruments. A kind of tubular bells.

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Saturday morning and we were packed and on the road again. The plan was to head north past Gretna to Glasgow and pick up the A82 and stay with it alongside Loch Lomond to Glencoe. We had crossed the border into Scotland and with more stops required for Reggie to stretch his legs and ablute, we pulled into a services on the M74. Had we seen the overhead signs and then heard the radio, we would have been able to plan a detour. Why? There was an accident on the A82 about halfway up the left side of Loch Lomond that had blocked the road.

I pulled off the motorway and looked for a right side of the Loch route. In this area there aren't too many roads! In the end we had it sussed and let TomTom lead us around Glasgow onto the A81 and A84, and we stopped in the touristy town of Callander for lunch, and my first haggis of the trip. It wouldn't be the last.

Callander

Callander

Another purchase was the Avon body spray that gets good write-ups as a midge deterrent. I have tried all kinds of mosquito/midge repellents and only Johnson's "Off!" bought in Finland years ago has ever worked,

From Callander there was heavy traffic in the opposite direction as people unable to get south on the A82 had to travel along the A84 and the way we had come up. The traffic for us wasn't too bad.

There's always a bit of frustration when you have had to make a quite long detour, and as we arrived at Crianlarich to rejoin the A82 and the original route, the road to the south was still closed. Adding to the frustration was the column we had joined had a guy that looks at a 60mph speed limit and does 45! Just before we entered Glencoe itself the guy turned into a hotel and we were let loose.

The scenery is superb despite the rain! Yes. It rains in Scotland. Frequently. In Callander it had been warm and sunny. There had been rain at some stage though as the "Fishery" car park was pretty well flooded in parts. TomTom took us through the glen and then right onto the small road with passing places across the River Coe to the Glencoe Youth Hostel. There are two on this road, the Independent, and ours, the Scottish Youth Hostel Association hostel. We checked in.

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Although they are testing the water with dog friendly hostels, dogs aren't allowed in the cafe/restaurant or the lounge. So basically they can go in the entrance hall and into the bedroom. Personally, this is a little restrictive and as long as the animals aren't where food is prepared then they could be allowed into the breakfast room or the lounge where it is comfortable to sit and maybe chat with other guests.

Once checked in we had a run to look for the visitor centre. We found it but it closed at 5pm. We did have a little walk in the rain and then back to the Hostel. We decided to eat at the Clachaig Inn that we had passed on the road after we turned off the main A82.

In contrast to the YH it had no restriction on the dog - obviously guests don't go in the kitchens! Oh. It was still raining! Hard. There is a no reservations policy at the Inn and no organisation for getting a table. It becomes a free for all!

Just hang about and dash when one becomes free. Not good. The food was okay, but the "who runs faster" system was shit. We found a table that was in the hallway on its own and Claire and Reggie took residence whilst I queued at the bar to order drinks and food. It took fifteen minutes to get an order in and once seated it took a few minutes to be delivered. I guess at the pace they take orders that the kitchen is waiting for it to arrive and can concentrate on one at a time. Certainly not worth the Tripadvisor rating at all. In fact I rated the organisation as pretty poor.

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As we were staying only two nights at the YH, we had breakfast booked only for the first morning, and so once the group occupying most of the beds in the hostel had had theirs we went, we had ours, leaving Reggie to his own devices in the twin room we had. We had another trip to the visitor centre (where dogs aren't allowed in) and went on the longer run through the glen. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the time, and forestry work meant that most of the walk was of scrub and severed off tree trunks. But we all got a walk! Not a tourist attention grabber!

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Glencoe

Glencoe

Glencoe

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From the visitor centre we headed towards Fort William and decided to take the Corran Ferry across Loch Linhe. It's not cheap for such a short and fast crossing at £8. But it is always nice to be on a river ferry! Scenic but not as long as the ferries we have experienced in other countries, and especially the Rhine.

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

Corran Ferry

On the other side we followed the A861 along the loch's edge to where it meets the A830 main road from Fort William to Mallaig. Traffic was pretty light as it was Sunday, but I guess as Mallaig is a port on weekdays there might be a lot more heavy stuff on the road.

Glenfinnan, where Charles Edward Stewart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrived in Scotland and raised his banner. He left again from nearby after being beaten at battle at Culloden on 16th April 1746.

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

From Glenfinnan we set off along the main road for Fort William in the hope of getting some food. Although we found a dog friendly pub, food didn't happen, unless you count a packet of crisps and a pint....

Sadly, there was football (soccer American chums) and it featured my club, Arsenal losing 2-0 to London rivals West Ham United. The locals in the pub seemed to be honorary Arsenal fans judging by the colourful language. From here we got back in the car and headed back to the visitor centre for a coffee before it closed and then to the YH. Checking the dog friendly places, we chose the Glencoe Inn for dinner. We should have gone there the night before. Not too crowded, Reggie very welcome in the bar and they had food! What could be better? The staff were very friendly and to be honest it knocked the Clachaig Inn into a cocked hat. The next morning we would be packing up and heading about 75 miles to Drumnadrochit and the glamping site.

Posted by InvictaMoto 05:43 Archived in Scotland Tagged glencoe glenfinnan callander Comments (0)

Lee Wick Farm Glamping

Claire, Reggie and Me!

So Glamping Day arrived. The car was packed and we were off just after 10am.

The initial plan was to go to Saffron Walden and speak to Chris about the GT. TomTom estimated that we'd be there at 11.24am. In the we had to abort as it was way after that and we were still stuck in traffic some 60 miles away and we had the glampsite to go to.

I emailed Chris and as he was away today (Saturday) it will have to be another date.

We made a stop at the services at Thurrock to let Reggie go for a pee and stretch his legs, and then we set off again for the glampsite. Despite the actual roads not matching the Google map image, we arrived in good time and of the three pods, we were the first to arrive. The key is kept in a small key holder and we had the combination!

The pod is quite spacious inside, with the front half having the table and chairs on one side and the futon on the other. At the back is the kitchenette and the bed opposite, the en-suite at the back.

The shower facilities are catered for in Pod 1 by the addition of a "shower shed".

So darned clean and undamaged!

So darned clean and undamaged!

Our Pod

Our Pod

Once we had unpacked and settled in we needed lunch and so we headed back put to St Osyth itself and looked for the dog friendly pub that the information book in the pod mentioned. With internet being crap the info came in handy.

We parked opposite the Red Lion and Claire went to check. A pint of bitter and a plate of ham, eggs and chips later and we were ready to face the rest of the day. Claire had Diet Coke BTW.

Then we were back at the pod, it was getting like the car knew its way. Our next trip out was to St Osyth Beach. Once clear of the town we crossed some farm land and then entered "caravan world".

We parked up by the Sailor Boy complex and parked. Free parking by the seaside? Too amazing for words. The beach is a bit scabby but the sea wall provides a path that extends a long way either way from here.

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On the way back we needed cash and ended up driving to Tesco at Clacton to use the ATM, and buy batteries for the torch. They said we needed a torch as the site has no lights. Luckily, the Insignia does have lights fitted!.

Back at the pod we dug into the crisps and coffee whilst Reggie had his dinner, then we were off again, this time to the Chinese takeaway in St Osyth.

Dinner was taken reading kindles and magazines whilst the England football (soccer to my US friends) played on the DAB radio.

Once we'd chilled we took Reggie out for his walk. It was dark and although we thought the road through the farm and stable yard was just a drive way, it appears to be a road judging by the mopeds and cars speeding along it. So our walk wasn't as good as we would have liked.

Come Saturday morning we'd had a reasonable night sleep, Reggie barking a few times and a few of him on the bed with us. The owners don't want dogs on the beds or the futon, but we had loads of throws with us to ensure that if he did climb up there would be no marks or muddy feet.

Saturday morning we had a lay in, and then breakfast, pack the car up, quick tidy around, and then we were off to Claire's sister via another trip to Sailor Boy and walk the other way to wards the Martello Tower. The beach at Jaywick is a little better than St Osyth itself, and Reggie enjoyed the walk and the sand between his toes.

TomTom then decided that although it was working perfectly with routes planned and imported, it locked out when trying to plan a route from scratch on the unit. Luckily, once clear of the area, Google maps on Claire's Android phone started to work and apart from a wrong turn by Colchester football ground where the A134 is signposted but doesn't exist, we arrived okay.

Sally and Ian have a Labrador called Paddy, and he and Reggie made friends in seconds, running around the garden at rocket pace, tumbling and playing that wore them both out.

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All in all, it was a great early weekend! The pod was really cool and it is enthused us for the holiday in Scotland later in the year.

Posted by InvictaMoto 06:14 Archived in England Comments (0)

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour was conceived following our Mother's death and cremation by my brother Neill and myself. She has, maybe in jest, said that she would like her Ashes scattered at her "ancestral home" in Scotland. Her family name was Shaw. Clan Shaw had a castle and lands at Loch an Eilein near Aviemore.

  • This blog is a joint one written by Neill and me. My entries are appended PD.
  • The photos were taken by both of us.
  • The route was created in the route planning software - Tyre.

Ashes Tour Route

Ashes Tour Route

Day 1

Fuelled up, on bacon rolls, we set off around 10:30. First stop 8 miles up the road to fuel the bikes. Then we started the slog up towards Manchester. With a coffee stop to break the journey at Northampton services on the M1, we arrived at our first stop, Paul's ex and mum's friend Audrey, in Congleton, just after 3pm . A cuppa, chat and cakes and it was a short hop to fuel up the bikes once more, before heading towards Manchester, to stay with Auntie Linda, mum's sister, in Northenden. We were there around 6pm.

Before the "off" at Neill's in Chatham, Kent

Before the "off" at Neill's in Chatham, Kent

Sprint had returned over 63mpg on the trip to Congleton, best ever.

Plan is to set off on Day 2 around 9am. We have about 300 miles to do, including visiting mum's old homes in Oldham, so we can't afford to hang about.

Wally of the day - Smart car driver who managed to make his car as wide as a truck when we were trying to filter on the M25!

Neill

Day 2, Northenden to Glenfarg

Up and sorted and on the road before 9am. First stop 32 Bargap Road, Oldham, the Shaw family home, about 30 mins away. Quick photoshoot outside.

32 Bargap Road, Oldham, Lancashire - home to our Gran Hilda.

32 Bargap Road, Oldham, Lancashire - home to our Gran Hilda.

Then on our way to Boundary Park, home of Oldham Athletic. Paul and our Dad, Claud use to go here regularly from the late 1950's up until me moved to Surrey.

Oldham Athletic FC

Oldham Athletic FC

Next stop, about a mile away, Laburnham Avenue, the family home till 1965. I was born there. Another photo shoot (pic to follow) then we hit the road again.

Our next stop the Ribblehead Viaduct. No connection for mum here but as our route was running nearby, we decided we may as well pay a visit. We had an early lunch in the Station Inn. Pork and black pudding pies and pork and chilli jam pies, washed down with a pot of coffee. I can honestly say, these were the best pork pies I have ever eaten.

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

After a walk to the viaduct we headed off in the direction of the M6 and Penrith, for our next fuel stop. Penrith junction was manic, absolutely rammed but fuelled up we headed up the Hartside Pass. I had the go-pro fitted, so there'll be some footage to view at some point. The run up the pass was spoilt by the inevitable tin boxes but still enjoyable. This route cross country is great.

We took a comfort break at Brunton Turret, part of Hadrians Wall and then a coffee stop as we crossed the border into Scotland.

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

It was gone 3pm and we still had almost 100 miles to go. The going has been slow, due to traffic and speed cameras but we soon hit Edinburgh and the Forth Road Bridge. The rail bridge looks pretty good from this close up.

Brunton Turret

Brunton Turret

Brunton Turret

Brunton Turret

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

With a quick blast up M9, before we knew it, we had arrived at the Bein Inn, Glenfarg. We pulled up about 18:30, quite chilly and thoroughly fed up with the ride. 305 miles is just a little too much for one day and we were both glad it was over. At least we didn't need waterproofs today, though we did have a few spots of rain on occasions. Fingers crossed for tomorrow but forecast looks a bit iffy.

IMG_0111.JPGThe Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

The Ashes Tour

Fed, watered (read beered), including gratis liqueurs, we are now ready for kip. We have spent almost 10 hours on the road today, so sleep will come quite quickly I should imagine.

Tomorrow is the big day. We have a 95 mile ride to Loch an Eilein and the final farewell for Ma. After that we'll head across to Spean Bridge and the Commando Monument, to Fort William, through Glen Coe and to our bed for the night, on the east bank of Loch Lomond.

Day 3, Glenfarg to the drop zone

We were up at 7am again and ready for our brekkie at 8. A healthy bowl of fruit and fibre was followed up with a not so healthy, full Scottish cooked brekkie. Plan was to leave by 9am. In the event, we are five minutes early. First stop was just 10 miles up the road, a fuel stop. One good thing about this trip thus far, we aren't using a much fuel as I thought we would.

As we made our way along the A9, it wasn't long before some nasty black clouds appeared on the near horizon. I could tell they were rain bearing and tried to attract Paul's attention, he was leading, to pull over. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to pull over before we ended up in a contraflow system, where the laybys were all closed and the inevitable happened. A short heavy shower engulfed us. As the contraflow ended, a bright patch appeared up ahead, so I made the decision to push on through. The decision proved to be a good one, as we ended up in sunshine once again. It wasn't long though before the same menacing clouds appeared up ahead once more. I knew there was a stop (from my tour last year) just up ahead. In the event the heavens opened again just before we got the the rest area/cafe, so we were already quite damp before donning the waterproofs. This was to be the pattern for the rest of the ride up and indeed, the rest of the day.

We finally arrived at Loch an Eilein around about 11am. Once again, the sun was shining. As we rode towards the Loch, I felt quite emotional. Maybe it was the wind in my eyes, I did have the visor up, maybe not. We explained to the chap at the car park what we were there to do and he kindly told us to park the bikes and he'd show us where to go. By the man's hut were some bird feeders, servicing finches, tits, etc, and to our surprise and joy, a red squirrel! He soon scampered off though, no doubt scared by the swishing of our waterproof bottoms as we walked! There's no pictorial evidence, I'm afraid.

The chap gave us directions of where to go to find a suitable 'resting' place and I carried Ma as we made our way along the loch side. We settled on a spot close to the island and the castle, a large patch of ferns, set back from the bank, 20 or 30 feet, distinguishable by a group of trees close by.

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Paul did the honours, being eldest son and we said our final goodbye. We took some photos of those trees by the ferns, so should anyone else from the family ever venture up that way, they should have some chance of finding Ma's final resting place.

That was it. The task that had first been discussed many, many years ago and maybe in jest, had been fulfilled. We had done as our mother had requested be done when she died and scattered her ashes at Loch an Eilein. We had ridden the best part of 600 miles to do it but do it we did. We made our way back to the bikes.

Day - PD View

And so day 3 began.

When we got up for breakfast the weather looked bright and the sky was blue. By the time breakfast was finished it looked dodgy but dry and we knew rain was going to feature somehow.

It did. The Perth petrol stop showed Döra was keeping above 50mpg despite the higher speeds although these were tempered with some country lanes across the country. The figure was 53.78 mpg.

As we slogged up the A9 towards Aviemore it looked darker and then sunny but in the roadworks before Dalwhinnie we were in waterproofs and that was pretty much it for the day.

We arrived at Loch an Eilean slightly differently by TomTom to the mapped idea!

We told the steward what we had come to do and he was most helpful.

But first a chance to spot one of the rare red squirrels. Until relatively recently our only squirrel until some fool brought grey squirrels from Canada and let them loose. Now the red is found in a few pockets in England and of course in Scotland.

And after a short ceremony, Mum is in her final resting place where her spirit can see the castle and join the Shaw clan ancestors.

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Once we were done we set of on another TomTom route on another slightly different route westwards to Kingussie and the marvellous A86 all the way to Spean Bridge where it meets the A82 to Fort William.

After a coffee stop at the Wild Flower in Newtonmore we set off. The A86 is about 35 miles of the most perfectly surfaced road imaginable. Smooth and on the corners they have thoughtfully laid a non slip surface. The road passes several lochs; Laggan and Moy.

In fact it was an anticlimax to arrive at Spean Bridge with traffic jams! We turned right to go up the A82 to see the Commando Monument.

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I went there as a bit of a tribute to Claire's Dad, Victor Stevenson, who will be 90 this year and one of those trained here and who went on to serve in the Commandos on Burma.

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From there it was all southwards in some pretty miserable weather to the hotel at Balmaha on Loch Lomond.

Day 3, Loch an Eilein to Loch Lomond

We left the Loch and started the return leg and the 'holiday' part of our trip. Sweeping round a narrow back road, we came across an old ruined barracks, Ruthven. A quick stop for some photos and back on the road we went. It was time for a coffee stop and we pulled up in a little village just south of Kingussie, Newtonmore. The 'coffee' shop was a combination of gift shop with a tea room in the rear but also some small tables in the shop window. We sat in the shop front, so as not to frighten any of the other customers ;-)

Ruthven Barracks

Ruthven Barracks

We set off once more, heading for the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge. This meant taking the A86 across the highlands. That's a really nice run, with some superb sweeping bends and is particularly nice where it runs alongside Loch Laggan. Not easy to look at the view and watch for the next bend though! Soon though we got on the end of the inevitable tin box train and were very shortly in Spean Bridge. Ultimately we would be going south but for now we ran a couple of miles back north, to the monument. I was only there last year, so as Paul went off to take some photos, I polished off some shortcake from the hotel hospitality tray. It was very grey up there and I could see the clouds getting lower and closer. Within minutes it was raining again and by the time we had made it the short distance back to Spean Bridge it was tipping down. Don't you just love a Scottish summer?

It wasn't too long before we pulled into the fuel stop in Fort William, which sits opposite the Ben Nevis Distillery. There was one car in the car park! The petrol station, however, was rammed but we were lucky enough to both get on a pump as we arrived, saving us sitting in the rain waiting for one to become free. Fuelled up and toileted, we set off again. The rain was still hammering down. I had thought I would put the GoPro on for the ride through Glen Coe but not in that weather!

I've seen some cracking scenery just recently, on my US tour but Glen Coe still ranks as one of the best places to ride through. Superb in the dry and sunshine, you'd think with the rain beating down it would be one of the most awful places to be. Sure, it's not nice riding through the rain but somehow, Glen Coe still manages to remain spectacular, maybe more so, as there is the added 'attraction' of the waterfalls cascading down the cliff faces. Magnificent!

Our next coffee stop, a lay-by along the A82 overlooking Loch Tulla, turned out to be closed, so we pressed on, finally settling on a Best Western hotel in Crianlarich. The rain had stopped by the time we arrived but started again as we left. I was beginning to know how a cat that gets stuck in a washing machine during a wash must feel like. Rinse after rinse after rinse!

Leaving the A82, we headed east again on the A85, then south on the A84. My knowledge from last year had allowed me to plan a route along a superb, tight and twisty road, skirting Loch Venachar, before heading towards the south eastern corner of Loch Lomond. Luckily, that road, the A821 in case you are interested, was dryish and the rain had abated, so we could have a bit of fun. The downside is the road surface, pretty bumpy, especially mid corner and the inevitable moving road blocks. Still, if you are ever up that way, it's a road not to be missed. Again GoPro would have been brilliant here. Never mind.

As the A821 became the more civilised A81, we were soon at Drymen and only a few miles from our hotel. Once again the rain had arrived, caught us up or maybe headed us off, either way, as we pulled up outside the Oak Tree Inn at Balmaha, on the east bank of Loch Lomond, it was still tipping down.

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Besides the rooms in the main hotel/inn, the Oak Tree also has bunk rooms, so it caters for all types and their requirements. We were the only bikers but there were quite a few walkers. It's bad enough riding in the rain, let alone walking! After unpacking our gear, in our modest room, we took a walk along the shoreline to a small marina. It wasn't long before the rain started to spot again though, so we took ourselves back and into the bar. We ordered a pint a perused the menu, awaiting a table in the restaurant. Soon seated, we chose the special to start, Haggis Pakora and the house special burger, The Clansman. If you like haggis you'd not be disappointed with either of these.

The pakora was/were really very nice. The Indian spices mixed with the spicy haggis, complimenting each other beautifully. I could have eaten a lot more than the four per portion, that's for sure. Another beer was ordered to wash down the burger, which is a single beef patty with a large slab of haggis on top. A few chips and some spicy dips finished it off nicely.

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We retired to the bar for another pint, rather quickly as it happened, to prevent the loud blokes on the table next to us, getting there first. As they entered the bar, we sat at a 5/6 seater table by ourselves, a little smirk on our faces. They were forced to stand!

By the window sat a young couple, not an item, though the very forward young lady very openly suggested that some coupling could take place, if he was willing. To our amusement, he blustered and made excuses galore, including his desire to watch the meteor shower that evening. I think she soon realised, as we did, that he must be a virgin, making out that she'd been joking, just to see how he would react. I very much doubt he'll get the offer again.

With the entertainment pretty much over, it was time for bed.

Neill

Day 3 Pt 2 - Paul's View

The hotel for the night was at Balmaha on the south-eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

The journey from Spean Bridge took us a lot longer than expected as we caught on the back of a tin box queue stacked up behind a red van that was unable to exceed 30mph. The 8 miles seemed interminable!

We broke cover and went into the petrol station as we entered Fort William.

The rain that started at at Spean continued to lash down ad we set off southwards through the city heading for Glencoe. The first part of the trip is alongside Loch Linnhe. A pretty nice 8 miles!

Then across the bridge across the neck of Loch Leven and into Glencoe.

This is one of the most scenic places in the UK. In the dry and sunny it would be perfect, but even in the wet it is still fantastic. At least the rain managed to fuel the waterfalls.

We had intended to stop for a coffee at the tea bar at the southern end but it was closed.

In the end we continued to Crianlarich on the A82. I've stopped here before and the railway station buffet is something of a "must visit", except it was closed.

So we headed back to the A82/A85 junction and The Crianlarich Hotel. They didn't bat an eyelid when we walked in wearing our over trousers. Wet over trousers.

DSC05442.JPGCrianlarich Hotel

Crianlarich Hotel

From there we took a roundabout route to Loch Lomond. Crianlarich is merely 6 miles from the top of the loch but we chose a (longer) scenic route to the east to go south.

The western route would have been a little shorter but less scenic. Not far after the stop we said that if we saw any highland cattle we'd stop. And here they are.

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The A85/A84 route took us to Loch Venachar and into the Trossachs through the crazily named of Brig O'Turk and southwards towards Glasgow and then to Balmaha.

The Oak Tree Hotel is right alongside the loch and a marina.

We had a room at the back. The bikes parked out back in the mostly gravel car-park on a small bit of hard standing.

Once cleaned up we went for a walk and then to the bar to try a few local pints. We tried three different ones in the evening.

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Dinner turned out a little strange. Slimming World was already out if the window despite the previous evenings chicken salad.

We'd not had any haggis so far and this was about to end. The starter was the strangest thing, haggis pakora. A ball of spicy batter encasing a centre of haggis!!

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(Excuse the lo-res and and blurred iPhone pictures!)

For main, I was going to have another salad but in the end had the Clansman Burger. A half pound burger, topped with haggis in a large bun and topped with a cherry tomato and an onion ring. Lovely.

Adjoining us was a huge table with a large family group. Noisy. The women playing cards and the blokes talking loudly. Irritating.

When the Dad sent one of the lads to look for a table in the bar my ears pricked up. In the noise I heard the yoof say there were tables. "We're off" I say and set off for the bar. There is a table. A nice big one with five chairs. We sat.

Minutes later Dad arrives with entourage. Oh dear. How sad.

By about 10pm the bar started to empty as the walkers started to head off to their hostels and hotels. We joined them. A marginally later start as Day 4 would be shorter on the road.

Paul

Day 4, Balmaha to Northenden

Mishap this morning, which delayed us somewhat. I discovered the 12v plug for the Tomtom power lead had come apart, depositing the pieces and the fuse into the socket, located unhandily, under the handlebars. After quite a few minutes fiddling and more than a few choice words, I managed to get the pieces out, all except the spring that sits behind the fuse. That, had sprung and was nowhere to be seen, so that meant no power to my TT. I'd have to hope that the charge it had from the day before would last the journey back to Manchester, though if not Paul's was OK. In the event, with power save mode on, it did.

Once more we were in our waterproofs and once again it was a mixture of sunshine and showers, as we made our way south, through Glasgow, under the Clyde and towards our next fuel stop at the Lockerbie services on the M74. Motorway riding is pretty boring, as even car drivers will recognise but I have to say, the road surface of the M74 made it almost a pleasure to ride. Very smooth indeed!

Lockerbie was just a fuel stop, as Paul suggested we might like to stop off at Gretna Green for a coffee. I'd never been, I'd had no reason to go (and still don't Cath!), so agreed that would make a suitable stop. I'd imagined it was a tiny wee town, what I saw was a huge tourist complex (The Blacksmiths) overrun with scores of foreign tourists off loads of coaches. Somewhat disappointing I have to say. Whilst coffee was taken, we decided that instead of the boring M6 all the way to Manchester, that we'd detour down through the Lake District, to Keswick and along Windermere. Par for the course, the heavens opened as we were about to leave, so waterproofs went on again and we set off for England. We rode from shower to shower. It's clear to see why they call it the Lake District, not so clear why so many people go all that way to get wet!

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The rain had stopped by the time we pulled into the Windermere visitor centre, just outside of Ambleside, for a comfort break. The loo, it has to be said, left a lot to be desired. Why can't people flush when they have finished?

Back on the bikes we were soon on the M6 again and before long we had arrived at Auntie Linda's again. Our cousin (Ma's niece) Caroline had just dropped in on her parents on her way back from visiting her sister in Ipswich. We spent a few minutes chatting before she headed off, leaving us to put the bikes in the garage. Friday we rode in, bosh, door shut, job done. Today, we faffed about, toing and froing and in the process managing to scratch my pannier on Paul's spot light, before finally getting the door closed. Uncle Roger offered some t-cut but though only a smallish scratch. the paint has chipped off, so it might be best to just leave it or at least try and get a proper Triumph touch up pen for it. Shit happens!

Once again we had a very nice cooked dinner on the table, washed down with some Grolsch. They are good hosts, Auntie & Uncle. After dinner I broke out the laptop and we showed the photos we had taken since we set off Friday morning. They brought back some good memories for all of us. A chat and another beer and once more it was time for bed. Our final day of the tour will see us visit the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, breaking up the long ride back home. It's another place I've not been to before, so I'm looking forward to it. Weather forecast looks similar to the last couple of days, so there'll be no packing the waterproofs.

Day 4 - Paul's View

Once again we were up early and down for breakfast for 8am when the restaurant opened. This time it was a serve yourself buffet and I guess had we wanted to, we could have gone mad. In the end a couple of pieces of toast and some bacon and eggs sufficed. Did I mention the third and final haggis of the trip?

As we had a relatively short run down to Manchester again and so we thought about a side trip to see a little of the country. After the planned fuel stop near Lockerbie, we set Gretna Green as the next port of call.

I thought it would be about the right time for a coffee break and something of a tourist trap. And we were right. I had imagined it to be a town, but it seemed more like a complex built around the Blacksmith's Forge where people eloped to get married.

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

There was a wedding party there, but we didn't stop to look. As was par for the course the weather was intermittent rain and a little dry.

After coffee and then we were off, this time via Windermere. We should have stopped in Ambleside as Windermere itself seemed to have nothing going for it. Loads of traffic and holidaymakers. Terrible.

We then headed across to the M6 and the remainder of the journey to Auntie's house. On arrival we met favourite cousin equal number one, Caroline, and then she was off home

Another day had ended. Just one more left.

Day 5, the run back home

A light brekkie at Auntie's this morning, waterproofs donned (of course) and we set off. Destination, The National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. The route had planned for us to do a fuel stop on the M6 but with the diversion into the Lakes, that looked as though it might now be a bit of a stretch for Dora, Paul's Explorer. I hadn't been able to id a non services fuel stop, so presumed we would just stop a bit earlier, though still on the M6.

Within minutes of setting off, we were once again being peed on from a great height. It's not just the rain itself, it's also the spray thrown up by the cars and lorries. We were in sight of the M6, on the A556 actually, when I saw a BP garage up ahead, so we dived in there to top the tanks up once more.

The M6 was busy, as usual and the going a little slower as a result and of course because of the conditions. Even so, we arrived at the museum around 11:30 ish. We took a couple of photos outside, then went in, now thankfully minus our waterproofs. Quite surprised to find nowhere to 'park' a crash helmet. You'd think the National Motorcycle Museum would cater for bikers, eh? So Paul locked them on his bike.

Me at the National Motorcycle Museum

Me at the National Motorcycle Museum

First thing we did was head up to the café for a coffee and flapjack. I was pleasantly surprised by the cost. We'd paid more for just coffees earlier on the tour. The place was devoid of bikers but instead there were about half a dozen guys with laptops in there, presumably on some sort of course at the museum's conference rooms. All too geeky for a day off work for bro' and I, so we drank up and went back down to the museum.

This is definitely not the place to be if you don't like motorcycles. The museum consists of about 5/6 halls all rammed full of every make and type of British motorcycle you can think of and many, many more you will never even heard of. In one corner of one hall, I counted, before I gave up, in excess of 30 different manufacturers. Un-Be-liveable! From basic pedal cycles with an engine attached, racing bikes through the ages, dragsters, land speed record holders, beautiful chrome tanked Brough Superiors, to modern day Triumphs, this place is both a feast and overload on the eyes. If you have never been, I'd thoroughly recommend a visit. We both took loads of photos and when the batteries went on my camera, I just switched to the phone!

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We left the museum just after 2pm. Next stop, just five miles away and the site, now a housing estate, of the Triumph factory at Meriden. We decided against the waterproofs, as this was only a short ride and it stayed dry. Besides a couple of roads named after Triumph marques, Daytona Drive, Bonneville Close, all that marks the historic site is a rock and plaque by the side of the main road. We parked up and took some photos. Our Triumphs have no links to this place, save the name on the tank, the modern day Triumphs being built in Hinckley, Leicestershire but our father used to ride (with mum as pillion) a 1951 Thunderbird, that had rolled off the assembly line at this very spot!

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The skies didn't look too threatening as we left Meriden, so we braved it again. We headed south to get onto the M40. This was an intentional route plan, as we'd done the M1 on the way up. Motorway riding is boring, so may a swell spice it up a bit by riding on a different one! We hadn't been going too long before the skies started to look ominous once more, so we pulled into a service area. Whilst we were there, we decided we may as well take a comfort/coffee and as it turned out, late lunch break. We were ready to hit the road again around 4pm and still had over 100 miles to go. The skies were still threatening and waterproofs were donned once again. Good call, for as we returned to the bikes it started to rain. We used this as our final fuel stop. Just as well we only needed a few litres, at £146.9 per gallon!

Into the rain once more we ticked off the miles, the M40 became the M25 and we hit the inevitable jams around Heathrow. I think I mentioned earlier, Paul is able to filter easier than I, Dora not being quite so wide with the luggage on, as my Sprint. As he disappeared between the lines of traffic, that would be the last I would see of him. It was slow going trying to pick my way through the cars whose drivers either just don't want to let you through, just don't use their mirrors or are too busy doing other things (read: texting), to drive straight. Very frustrating but I didn't want to risk another scratch on the panniers for the sake of a few minutes. When I reached Walderslade, I went to fill up so eventually pulled up outside home around 6:35pm. I think Paul made it home about 10 minutes later, with an extra 40 miles to go, so you can see the difference his being able to filter made.

Unpacked, I wheeled the bike into the garage. I had covered 1,327 in the five days, spent £154 on fuel and the Sprint had averaged 61.6mpg for the entire trip, with a best of 69mpg on the trip from Northenden to the M40 services on the last day.

We had completed what we set out to do and had some fun (despite the weather) on the trip too, so all in all, not a bad tour.

Rest in Peace, Ma.

Neill
xx

Mildred Devall 1929-2013 RIP.

Mildred Devall 1929-2013 RIP.

Day 5 - Paul's View

The return home via the National Motorcycle Museum was pretty straight forward. A mix of sunshine and showers. In the end we had done what we intended to do. We had taken Mum's ashes and scattered them where she wanted them, or at least jokes she had wanted them.

The stop by the old Meriden factory location before we hit the A45/M45/A5/M1/M25/M2 and then A2/M20 for me broke up the day a little more.

Some photos:

By the Meriden Stone

By the Meriden Stone

By the Meriden Stone

By the Meriden Stone

By the Meriden Stone

By the Meriden Stone

Photos from the National Motorcycle Museum can be seen from the links on the right ------>

Posted by InvictaMoto 08:57 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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