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Scotland, North Coast 500

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Peter Burridge, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    I've been quiet on the forum the past year but the RS has been as busy as ever and is proving a favourite. My wife passed her bike test last year aged 59 and we planned to do the North Coast 500 this summer even before she had her full license.

    We set off last Friday with a friend Dick who was on his 1200GS with wife Sharon in a Vee Dub camper van. We headed up from Kendal in the Lakes to Loch Doon in Ayreshire. Our wives like to wild swim and that was the plan. We journeyed via the A6, Penrith, Carlisle, Gretna and the A712/3. Roads for biking as opposed to merely travelling. The weather wasn't good, rain was a theme throughout the holiday with most days being showery and some being very, very wet. Midges were also a major theme of Loch Doon where we camped and our friends stayed in their van.


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    Having packed away a wet tent we travelled up to the Gourock/Dunoon ferry to avoid the Glasgow/Stirling and motorway madness and then up to Tyndrum where we had booked a hostel for the night. The next day saw us travel up the Great Glen to Inverness and on up the A9 to Sleeperzz at Rogart. I stopped off and took a photo at the Spean Bridge Commando memorial. Sleeperzz is self catering accommodation in old railway sleeper carriages shunted into sidings. I've stayed there a few times, fun, cheap and friendly people. We stayed here 3 nights and managed to dry the tent.
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    My mate Dick had gone down to Lands End the week before and was making this his 'end to end' trip before they left us to it. I'd already done my 'end to end, (52 hours cycling in 1992) so wasn't so bothered :).
    We went with them to John o Groats and then carried on to Tongue before heading back inland to Rogart. My wife decided that she needed a rest day so we spent the next day taking the train to Helmsdale where we mooched, she swam and we had lunch in a chippy voted as in the top 6 in Britain. La Mirage. I've been before a couple of times (I've previously done the NC 500 several times in bits) and I've not eaten better despite trying, many many times :).
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    To be continued...... watch this space....
     
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  2. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    And onwards....

    Waiting for the swimmer....
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    The emigrants memorial, crofters forced to emigrate in the 'clearances'.
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    The next day saw us back to Tongue on some cracking roads. Scotland has superb biking roads in abundance. Rogart to Lairg is just one such example, good grippy surfaces, sweeping bends and next to no traffic. We continued on through stunning scenery through Durness and camped at Clactoll Beach. A superb stop and another swim. Very friendly people running the site. We even stayed dry!
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    The next day saw us setting off to Applecross before heading down the 'Pass of the Cattle'. This was the bit that Anita was dreading having watched Top Gear's Richard Hammond talking about it on YouTube. As usual he overplayed it a bit. Some more stunning scenery on the way.

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    tbc....
     
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  3. paulb64

    paulb64 Member

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    Great write up and lovely pictures in some of my favourite places, I must look up Rogart though as that's a new one to me. looking forward to the next installment!
     
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  4. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Applecross is a great stop with a decent campsite, a good pub, beer and food a plenty. We made the most of it. When we set off down the pass early the next day it was raining and the heights sent us into the cloud so visibility was poor. I shepherded Anita along using the intercom to read the road ahead and offer her reassurance. She found it very stressful. It wasn't helped when a bullish 4x4 driver pushed on past a passing place forcing Anita to stop in a tricky spot and taking all her turning space into a hairpin. Some folk simply have no idea :mad:
    We had a cracking' breakfast though in Loch Tarron and we headed on down through Fort William and Oban. With a day of torrential rain, a soaked tent and a broken visor courtesy of dropping my lid we aborted the camping idea and found a great hostel in Torren Bay on Lock Awe. The road south from Oban was superb and now I can see where Moto3 star John McPhee gets it from :)
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    tbc....
     
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  5. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    So the final day. We decided en route that rather than doing the Dunoon/Gourock ferry thing to avoid the conurbations we would 'do' Arran. Two ferries and a nice 14 mile potter around the top of the Island. It worked very well but it was a shame not to have time to stay a while in Tarbet. We then headed on down via the A713/2, A75, Gretna and home on the A6. At 220 miles it was Anita's longest trip and she was entirely shattered when we arrived home about 6.30pm. We had lunch on the Brodick/Ardrossen ferry and as usual showered kept us damp.

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    The trip was superb. Anita and I have a fairly solid relationship and it is just as well. We've done a couple of shorter trips in preparation but not on fast motorcycling roads. Anita is content to 'potter'. What this means in reality is that a steady 55 mph is her maximum. That's on a motorway :eek: Add in rain and it drops, wind, stress and tiredness and it drops still further. There were times when I was following and I was going into fast sweepers that I know and I was 20 to 30 mph below my usual speed of negotiation and then I was braking to avoid my wife's slowing bike! It was tough, frustrating and almost painful. Too slow for 4th most of the time I was changing up only to change down again. Overtakes by Anita could be numbered on one hand during the whole trip (mainly tractors) and we were getting overtaken by even trucks. My sighs over the intercom gave it away and after a little 'friction' we adopted a regime of me doing my own thing before stopping and taking the odd photo, having a pee and waiting. We kept closer company when there was navigating to be done or when difficult roads made close reassuring company needed. This kept me sane. It also gave me a huge tank range. Anita has said that she enjoys pottering and she feels that the whole thing has been a huge achievement, which indeed it has. I'm proud of her. It's an achievement that won't be repeated. She'll ride to work occasionally and we'll have to odd day out but she realises that serious biking in my vein isn't for her. I've been riding for 47 years and to me it's near an art form. It was always going to be difficult but the diversity in our riding is huge. But that is fine :)

    Edited to add, my wife read this and I'm in trouble :D She says there's no way she went below 55pmh on the motorway. Perhaps her speedo is more optimistic than the RS's :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
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  6. James Bagley

    James Bagley Well-Known Member

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    Rain or no, that is a beautiful location. Finding a way to share it with a partner makes it even nicer. Great post...
     
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  7. boxerboy

    boxerboy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing Peter - always an interesting read and great photo's as usual.
    Which fender extender have you fitted? Satisfied with it?
     
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  8. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    It might be a Pyramid one I think. It fits externally. I've reinforced underneath my guard with fibreglass too, at the point where it flexes. It's been good for over 5k miles.
     
  9. GordonH

    GordonH Well-Known Member

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    Great write up Peter.

    I'm very jealous - I had a quick 4 day trip to Applecross earlier in the year (with typically Scottish weather to match!) and vowed to return for a more relaxed tour.
     
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  10. Fisher

    Fisher New Member

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    The NC500 is something I've always wanted to do! But to travel up from the South means it's a considerable distance just to get to the start point!
     
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  11. Peter Burridge

    Peter Burridge Well-Known Member Contributor

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    The Dales and Borders are ace too. Make it a longer trip and include the bits between.
     
  12. Fisher

    Fisher New Member

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    I think I'd need to work my way up to it - I've not done more than about a 4 day tour or so. I hope to change that soon, although relies on my Partner getting the time off work for such a long period of time.
     
  13. vat

    vat Active Member

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    Peter thanks for the great ride report. I was looking at Scotland on goggle maps the other night, dreaming about how nice it would be to spend sometime riding around there. Another thank you for the pictures. Looks like you folks had a great trip. Be smart if she says she didn't ride below 55 just smile and say "Yes Dear" I'm sure your right and I'm mistaken. More pictures please
     
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  14. JasonQ

    JasonQ Member

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    Peter
    Thank you for writing about your trip and your photos, both brought back some recent memories for me. I recognised a lot of the places too; Scotland does has some fantastic roads in some spectacular scenery doesn't it, shame the weather isn't as predictable.
    Jason.
     
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