Trip to Scotland july 28 - aug. 5 2001.

Looking for the Monster

A rest at Loch Ness

We, that's cousin Hans and me, left home on saturday to arrive two hours later at the ferry in Rotterdam. Amazing numbers of motorcycles were waiting to cross to Hull, we had no idea why. We boarded, tied the bikes to the ship and started looking for the bar.
After a couple of beers, a meal and yet more beers we headed for bed to wake up in Hull. We left the ferry at eight and headed for the A1 which we followed up to Scotch corner. Then the A66 to the M6, and 5.5 hours later we arrived in Aberfoyle, just in time to watch the Supersport 600 race and race#2 of the World Superbikes.

Monday we were up before eight, had breakfast and started crossing the Trossachs. What a beautiful area this is! Like most of what we saw in Scotland it was a great hiking area as well. Taking the A84 north we arrived at Loch Earn, where we took the small southern road. Nice road, and fine weather all the time. A lot of fishing and camping was going on here.

Along Loch Earn

Along Loch Earn

The A822 north, Glen Cochill, Aberfeldy and further north to Tummel Bridge, then east to Pitlochry. There we visited the Blair Athol distillery. A funny Scotsman was our guide; the tour ended with a taste of 8 year old single malt.
Going south, east and then north brought us on the A93 thru Glen Shee, it was pretty high up here and only 11 degrees(C). Apparently some skiing is possible here in winter, but now it was pretty quiet. After 160 miles we arrived in Braemar, where we found a place to sleep in a youth hostel. We had dinner in the village, and spend the night chatting with an attractive French girl...

View over the river Dee

View over the river Dee

Tuesday, up early again and on our way to the east, following the river Dee. A lovely wide valley, woods, meandering roads: isn't it wonderful to be in Scotland! In Banchory we had a small lunch in the restaurant of the local golfclub. We had a good view of the boxes where people amused theirselves by hitting the balls as far as they could. The A980 we took northwest was nice and scenic, as was the A944 that followed. As we came further north, the roads became more suitable for fastish riding, which I did from time to time, but the scenery was gradually getting less impressive. Hans started complaining about the road behavior of his GTR1000, so we slowed down and followed the coast from Banff to Inverness. There we found another youth hostel and walked to the centre where we visited the cathedral and walked along the borders of the Ness. This is quite a nice city. We had dinner and found two addresses of mc shops where we wanted to bring the Kawa the next day. The night was less than quiet as two japanese blokes came in late, started chatting, messed with their luggage, woke everybody up and snored all night.

Wednesday, grey skies. First to the MC shop in Grant street, as we found out one of the front wheel bearings had died. Lots of coffee and amusement were supplied, and the bike was treated well in the process. It had started to rain now. We took the A9-A835-A832 and A890 to the west. Even though it rained a lot, we were impressed by the scenery and enjoyed the ride. Glen Carron and later Loch Duich and Loch Cluanie were fantastic. At Loch Duich we had lunch in an overcrowded pub; it was here we met the first other tourists 'in the wild'. The nearby castle looked spooky. Instead of heading directly to our destination Fort Williams, we took a little detour via the A887 (Glen Moriston) to see Loch Ness. You cannot ride Scotland without looking for the monster...
Much to our surprise it was hard to find shelter in Fort Williams, but in the end we found a fine B&B. The night found us in the pub, chatting with Tim and Graham, two teachers who, like ourselves, were freed from their families for a week.

As on Thursday the rain hadn't gone yet, we decided to go, that is, leave Scotland, and look for better weather. We followed the A82 up to Glasgow, a fine ride despite the circumstances. Then the A737, Irvine, Kilmarnock and Dumfries. By now the sun was shining, and the temp had gone up about 10 degrees. Taking the A6071 north of Carlisle, we headed for the A689, one of the best roads I've seen in that part of GB. We ended the day in Alston, a village which reminded us of Dickens. The food in the local pub was great as were the people in there. The area was very quiet as many tourists come here to hike, and F&M caused the footpaths to be closed. We were only able to walk the Pennine Way LD footpath for 100 yards...

On Friday we wanted to find a bed in the Hawnby hotel, where we had lunched last january, so the village of Hawnby in the North York Moors was our destination.. The B6277 we started with was even better than the A689, what a scenery! We never rode faster than 25mph, enjoying the sights.

Hans waiting for his morning coffee.

the companions.

As the trip was short, we arrived in time for lunch. In the afternoon we visited Helmsley, had a walk from there to Rievaulx and back, bought icecream... hey, it was as if we were on holidays! Dinner was delicious, and the night was spend talking with Dave, the hotel owner, and an older couple Carol and Chuck. Chuck had been a jockey and was still very much involved in the wonderful world of horses, owning several racehorses himself. We drank too much but managed to find our way to bed.

Saturday morning, the weather still lovely. Nice breakfast, a frightening hotel bill and then on our way to Hull. A little detour thru the Dalby Great Yorkshire Forest. We had no idea why toll had to be paid; the scenery was nice but after Scotland and the Pennines we were used to 'incredible'. Taking the coastal route all the way to Withernsea, again meeting some rain, we were in Hull two hours early. As we saw signs 'old centre' and never realized Hull was more than harbors we decided to pay a visit. The sun had come out again, a band was playing in front of the old church and the pint tasted OK. We enjoyed our last moments on British soil and then headed for the ferry.

Sunday at around 11.00am we were home again, having covered just under 2400km. Except for the first day we had been in quiet touring mode all week, which much to my surprise was very pleasant. We met some nice people, rode great roads and were relatively lucky with the weather. Not bad at all!

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