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Old 04-29-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
whereisgibson OP
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Tour of the British North

Prelude:
So one day on a Monday I found myself reflecting on some life challenges and this trip report is the outcome. I recalled a friend mentioning an idea of one day riding around the North, and at that moment decided that there's nothing like the present. This ride is unplanned and I'm not sure of the end date, though it will be when I want to stop. I take comfort in exploring and photography, so I hope you enjoy this trip report as much as it's helping me find clarity. If you have any suggestions of places to see on the way, I'd love to hear them.
Martin

--

Day 1 - Oxford to Matlock


Bike packed and ready... and then not ready!


Having never been to the Peak District, it stuck out as an area to stop off at for the first evening.


As a fan of the Youth Hostel organisation, you may spot a theme...


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Old 04-29-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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Day 2 - Matlock to Grasmere


Escaping the Peak District via the Snake Pass and others.


After realising that I also hadn't ridden the Lake District, a route was thrown together to take it in too.


Motorways had been avoided so far, so it seemed fitting to make the decision that all motorways will be banned for this trip!




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Old 04-29-2013, 12:42 PM   #3
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Day 3: Grasmere to Glasgow


The weather got in the way today, from start to early finish


Took a friend's suggestion despite the weather...




Had aimed to take more photos but it was too wet!


I had planned to stop at Loch Lomond, but after being utterly wet through abandoned the day 30 miles early in Glasgow. Reason: probably stuck for a few days, and Glasgow has internet!

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Old 04-29-2013, 12:43 PM   #4
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Day 4: Glasgow

Waking up to a brick building shaking from the wind was my first clue that today would not be the best day for riding along the coast.




A day off for washing, and being a tourist around Glasgow.

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Old 04-29-2013, 12:45 PM   #5
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Day 5: Glasgow to Ratagan


Today was an epic day - some of the best riding I've done in years. Every biker in the UK needs to pay this part of the world a visit.







Plockton





Applecross












After a few miles of the military road some hikers (the only other people using the path) asked me if I was lost! At 15mph I didn't have the time to see it through :(







Other than the cold, it was perfect weather. The extra day waiting in Glasgow paid off.



















View from the hostel



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Old 04-29-2013, 12:47 PM   #6
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Day 6: Ratagan to Berneray


Woke up, and the riding gods were making up for giving me such fantastic conditions the day before.



Took a wee ferry over to Skye



The smaller roads up to Uig





And then over to Uist to get to Eriskay




Before then heading up in the bad weather to the hostel.




The next day...















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Old 04-29-2013, 12:50 PM   #7
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Day 7-8-9: Berneray

So I stayed on the island of Berneray for four nights. On my last full day I set myself a challenge to go explore Valley island - access is tidal for two miles across the sand/shallows, and there are no roads once there. Just some derelict houses.















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Old 04-29-2013, 12:53 PM   #8
Lars1974
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Nice one mate! I too have been to most of the place on your pics and its fanatastic.
thanks for taking me back...
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:53 PM   #9
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Day 10 - Berneray to Inverness


Made the trip from North Uist to Harris and Lewis.


Took the eastern 'golden' road along the coast to Tarbert





Did a check of the bike... and noticed the gravel roads were taking their toll on my balding tyre far faster than I had planned


A quick run up to the Butt of Lewis to think about my options




I rode back down to Stornaway and got on the phone, and found a tyre in Inverness. Instead of exploring Lewis for a day as planned, I would cut short my stay in the Outer Hebrides and leave that day - a ferry to the mainland was available, and I would ride to Inverness to get a tyre ASAP.






From bald rubber to metal canvas in just 200 miles. No option other than to replace it ASAP, meaning missing out on all of north Scotland :(

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Old 04-29-2013, 12:56 PM   #10
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Day 11: Inverness to Kirkwall


Explored Inverness, waiting for the noon tyre delivery




At 11am good news arrived




And by 12 I was on the road again, with enough time to cut to Durness and Thurso as originally planned :)
















Before running out of road at John O Groats



Inspiration break required



In for a penny










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Old 04-29-2013, 12:59 PM   #11
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Day 12-13: Kirkwall, Orkney


Two days to explore Orkney.


































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Old 04-29-2013, 01:04 PM   #12
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Day 14: Kirkwall to Lerwick



So whilst here I wanted to find the most Northerly point... I should add that I did no research before I undertook this, other than having an OS map and some general knowledge of a lighthouse called Muggle Fugger or somesuch.



The most Northerly road looked to be in Unst - two ferries away. Fresh from the couch of the Orkney ferry, at 8am with no time like the present, the hunt began.




Didn't stop in Yell and it was raining, so no photos.



Attempt #1. Follow the OS map to what looks like the road.

Rules are there to be... ahem but really the road was fenced off and falling away. Humph. Possible target visible in the distance too.

Next stop was another little road that ended up at RAF Skaw.




But still no sight of this lighthouse, was this really it? Turned back and followed my nose further.


With a park to walk across, perhaps this was as far north as I could go? I'd take a quick stroll that ended up being four miles of hiking in MX boots :

Finally! Muckle Flugga and the Out Stack, the most northerly points






So now I've personally been as far North as I can go, what about the poor KTM? The road to the military installation was the only unexplored route left (not on my map).


The bike with Muckle Flugga in the far distance.

(no further progress permitted)

GPS check time. I thought there was one more possible option, back past RAF Skaw. And after checking this through, here is The Most Northerly Road in the British Isles:



Ok so a little underwhelming. Everyone in the British Isles lives down this road:

I'm pretty sure that military road is the furthest Northerly one, however it's not open to the public. So the road to the beach at Skaw gets it.

Back to Lerwick





By definition I'm now on the way back down South.

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Old 04-29-2013, 01:17 PM   #13
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Day 15: Lerwick (day off)

Not much to report, spent the day cleaning my camera of road crap and catching up on email (yawn!)






Next stop is Aberdeen. Route ideas very welcome!

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Old 04-29-2013, 02:57 PM   #14
Saso
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Fantastic RR!! This area has always been near the top of my dream ride list - now for sure at the top.
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Old 04-29-2013, 03:15 PM   #15
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great report, i'm hoping to do the roads around Fort William this summer.
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