RTW---The European leg---

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by bush pilot, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    This leg actually began last August in Indiana when I picked up a 2000 KLR650 from a fellow advrider. The bike turned out to be much better than expected and got a bunch of help setting off on the journey. I motored around the USA and left the bike in CA for some big tune up on the engine and suspension.
    The bike got the full stageII 705 massage and rebuilt forks and a rebuilt Moab shock. There was nothing wrong with engine but I'd been wanting to have a 705 built for some time. Anyway the performance is greatly improved.

    The plan was to airfreight from Vancouver to Glasgow, and be on the same flight and pick up the bike the day I arrived. This worked out very smoothly and I didn't have to deal with another US customs fiasco like what happened in Miami for the South America journey.



    I arrived Glasgow bright and early 07:30, have a full Scottish breakfast. I love them so I always forget to take a picture until I be halfway through.

    So after hanging at the terminal for 3 hours, a short taxi to the airfreight handlers.
    I picked up my baby.

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    In an hour I was on the road. I needed tyres right away and Meandered through Glasgow to the local Avon tyre fellow. Tyres ordered, to arrive the next afternoon.

    I hadn't booked a room yet, so I wandered around Glasgow not finding anything which looked good.
    Headed out into countryside to find what I could find. Striking out at a couple of hotels.
    Late in the day getting tired, the jet lag was rearing up, I stumble upon this 300 year old house which was lovely B&B.

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    Quite the lovely spot complete with a goofy Terrier.
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    He waged a serious battle with that broom.
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    Scottish moss too!
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    The next day had another fine Scottish breaky, and went a wandering the countryside while waiting for the tyres.
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    Doune castle
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    The local distillery, Burn Stewart and the bleary jet lagged eye.
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    And their water
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    Another distillery, forget the name, Glen something I reckon. I didn't tour because I was too cheap to spent 10 quid.

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    very pretty time of year and I love these old stone houses[​IMG]

    Around Glasgow.
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    Got the call the tyres arrived, had them mounted them right away,
    Stevie Breirton is The Guy in Glasgow for motorcycle service, he really is tiptop.

    Late afternoon I was on the very scenic A82 heading to Fort William.
    After considerable effort I finally find a B&B with a room available, seems I picked the beginning of some Scottish holiday to begin my trip.
    End of Day-2
    #1
  2. Steve1962AUS

    Steve1962AUS Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Newcastle Australia
    G'day Bush'
    Any chance of uploading a map of your proposed route?
    And do you have any idea of the horsepower and cost of the mods to the KLR?
    Cheers.
    #2
  3. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    I still don't know how to do the map thing. I may give it a try.
    The route for Scotland was simple. Head north and around the coast to Ullapool, then catch a ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, then ride the whole length of the Outer Hebrides, then another ferry from the Isle of Barra to Oban.

    The bike mods were not cheap. Including the suspension work it was slightly over $2500. I already had the rebuild Moab shock that had been damaged in Peru.
    Horsepower wise they say it's about a 15% increase over stock. But that doesn't really tell the story because the power curve is fatter, the engine runs smoother and revs easier with the lighter piston and flows better with bigger valves and KLE needle jet.
    I'm quite satisfied with the result, the bike has very good hit for passing trucks and busses. Fuel economy did suffer a bit; down about 10% on average. I might get that back with a 16 tooth sprocket.

    Sent from my SM-N900 using Tapatalk
    #3
  4. Steve1962AUS

    Steve1962AUS Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Newcastle Australia
    I just had a play with google maps and there is a navigate function which you can use. Then just grab a screen shot and upload it to your virtual photo album.I'll have a quick attempt.[​IMG]
    #4
  5. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Thailand
    From Fort Williams it was up to Inverness.

    pretty stone lodge along the way
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    fone of many castles
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    and stout looking farm animals
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    That night stayed with one the tent space fellows who fixed me some haggis and showed me around Inverness.

    the mythical Unicorn
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    The Inverness castle
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    Some biker from the Netherlands
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    Only whiskey sold in here.
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    I was very pretty day
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    the other side of the castle
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    #5
  6. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    Stopped for a beer in this lovely hotel lobby.
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    next day took a tour of the Muir of Ord distillery
    They were a bit touchy about taking pictures of the place,
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    lots houses like this one, note the nifty arboretum feature, you see this a lot.
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    more to come.
    #6
  7. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    445
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Cool trip, how much may I ask is air freight of the bike over there? Is it pretty cut and dry with the airlines or did you have to use a broker or something. Make your own box or do they pack it up

    Looking forward to the rest of the journey.
    #7
  8. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    The air freight was not cheap, I used a broker called motorcycle express. Freight, insurance and all the associated fees came almost $2500 usd.
    The big advantage was the bike traveled on the same flight with me to Glasgow. The flight arrived at 07:30 and I was riding into Glasgow by 11:30.


    Anyway back to the travelogue;

    It was raining as I left Inverness, I headed north alon the coast to the far north east corner, place called John o'Groats, then followed the coastal road A838.

    Typical Scottish weather.

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    Sunday the distillery was closed
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    Fancy Castle
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    Great place to warm up and dry out some
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    Highland cattle
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    Stayed that night in a nice B&B near Durness.
    #8
  9. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    The next day was down to Ullapool and the ferry.

    The weather got better.
    The scenery too got better.
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    A friendly group of Irish riders stopped also.
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    really lovely road
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    And stout looking churches
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  10. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    On the way to Ullapool made a wrong turn and found myself 50kms down the wrong road, beautiful road it was.
    But near ran out of fuel, made it into Ullapool with one liter left in the tank.
    Turns out it was holiday time in Scotland and all the B&Bs were full, as I was looking for a room it began to pour down rain. Ended up taking refuge in a fancy hotel for 50 quid a night.

    Next day was lovey and met a cheery group of Bentley motorists while waiting to board the ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

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    the Bentleys even had a stuffed doggy!

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    The Irish riders also showed up for the ferry
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    Cruise ship were all around Stornoway
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    Stornoway was packed with cruise ship people, I got out and headed north looking for a camp site.
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    Plenty of healthy looking sheep
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    Interesting war memorial

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    Made it to the Butt of Lewis, which is the northernmost point on the Isle of Lewis.
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    Found a spectacular camp site
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    #10
  11. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    The next headed south back to Stornoway for breakfast.

    The churches looked stern. I gathered that they take their religion serious there in outer Hebrides, sundays every thing closes. Fortunately it was a Wednesday.

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    there are several prehistoric sites
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    Back in Stornoway
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    I ate a hearty Scottish breakfast here. I keep for geting to take food pics, these were fantastic breakfasts.
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    mining peat
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    And some more sheep
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    Bumped into the Bentleys again.
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    This was another interesting prehistoric site.
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    #11
  12. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,526
    Location:
    Thailand
    Another prehistoric stone placement
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    So I meandered south to the Isle of Harris, getting lost once and taking pictures of sheep and stuff.
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    My campsite at the southern tip of the Isle of Harris
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    The Maestro led a hard life
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    Met a German couple on a pair of Harleys and a Dutch couple on an 1150gs, and the Bentley's were back on the Ferry to the Isle of Uist
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    It was kind of a dreary day on this island so I just kept heading south where the weather looked better

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    The got on the small ferry for the Isle of Barra
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    #12
  13. Essex of Essex

    Essex of Essex Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Essex.
    Your pictures bring back many happy memories of touring the Scottish islands if you are still on Barra, the airline service lands on the beach it's worth a ride up to watch.
    #13
  14. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    ^yes that airport was very interesting.

    My first night on the Isle of Barra was on a pretty grassy bluff over the beach, nestled nicely out of sight in this little hollow, there was toilet and running water facility for the bird watchers and beach walkers 100 meters away.
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    The day before I had my first minor breakdown with the bike; the nuts on the header pipe came loose and one of the them lost, while waiting for the ferry to Barra I got directions to local salvage yard where I'd likely find an 8mm nut.
    The next day found the yard, but no one there, I knocked on the house door and the lady of the house was in, I told her who I was and what I wanted. So she very graciously opens the shop for me and lets me peruse the nut and bolt box which invariably exists in a mechanic shop. Found exactly what I needed and was on my way. Stellar folks there in Barra.

    While ridding in to my camp I notice signs indicating an airport, control tower, wind sock support buildings, but no runway! I figured it was hidden or something.
    Turned out to be the something!
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    They land and takeoff from the beach. I was intrigued because this is a De Havilland Twin Otter, one of the truly magnificent bush airplanes. I never got a chance to fly one....

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    The Otter's arrival drew a fair crowd.
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    Taking off
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    then a little Cessna 172 arrived.
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    I proceeded on to Castlebay the main village on the Isle of Barra.
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    I spent three nights on the Isle of Barra. I was graced with some lovely weather.
    The island isn't big the road around it is only 14kms long, I explored it in both directions including most of the side alleys as well.
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    The next two nights I camped at this great RV facility with hot showers, fridge, microwave, electric hot water kettle, and a nice view.
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    There where some interesting fellow campers.
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    He is British but riding and American bike.
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    This is the golf course, look closely and you will see golfers.
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    I found these local habitations interesting.
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    Hung out here and drank an couple of cold crisp Bullmers ciders.
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    back in Castlebay
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    That night the weather turned and began to rain in earnest. The next morn had to break camp in the rain to catch the once a week ferry to Oban on the mainland...
    It was a lovely 4 hour ride to Oban great food wifi and comfortable chairs to snooze on.
    Upon arriving in Oban I was greeted with flat battery. Too many starts and stops, GPS and cell phone charging on Barra!
    Mournfully I watched everyone exit, this was a big ferry, said bye bye to the Bentley's.

    Thankfully the crew are prepared to deal with a flat battery. They had a battery pack, still I had to unpack everything to get to my battery and figure out what the previous owner had done to modify the battery. The terminals were not where you'd expect on a stock KLR.
    So after some sweating, and some excellent help from ship's engineers I was on me way
    #14
  15. Essex of Essex

    Essex of Essex Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Essex.
    It's a pretty airport, I regularly fly with a young lady who operated that aircraft into Barra.
    #15
  16. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Thailand
    From Oban the plan was to head for Troon and catch the ferry to Larne in Northern Ireland.

    Got a mixture of rain, castles and a spectacular campsite along the way.

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    And of course little lambs
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    Then it was late in the day and looking for a place to camp. The whole countryside was wire up shut. I followed a likely road that put me right in in the middle of a ranch headquarters. They wanted to know what I was doing. I politely said I was looking for a likely place to to pitch my tent for the night.
    The lady in charge informed me she had highland cattle up there and If I was brave enough to go on. I said highland cattle didn't bother me. So she said if anyone ask's "Patty sent ya".
    Permission granted I head into the estate and subsequently find an ancient grove of trees.
    Turned out to the perfect campsite.

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    That fresh cut up the mountain is were they're installing wind turbines.
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    Port of Glasgow and a roadside burger
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    #16
  17. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Much of the way down to Troon was uninteresting super slab.

    Troon itself not terribly endearing, and I had to stay in a terribly expensive yet rather crappy hotel, in order to catch the morning ferry to Larne.

    I only took three pics in Troon, it wasn't inspiring.
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    Anyway the ferry ride to Larne was great, a big fast one, clipped right along at 30kts.
    Arrived in Larne about midday and didn't doddle in Northern Ireland. I was told the pretty bits are along the coast in Ireland the Republic.
    Londonderry was a traffic nightmare. There is a spectacular cathedral there but it was mobbed with tourist plague.

    So I pushed on and wound up finding another beautiful campsite near Carrigart on the north eastern coast.

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    Up on the hillside and all over Ireland were many newish homes which for the most part seemed unoccupied vacation homes. I was told Ireland went through a period of easy credit and these fancy new homes popped up every where. Many of them in default to the banks.
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    Impressive church
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    Lots of these newish unattractive places, this was vacant too. Made for a good pee stop.
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    That night I camped on a curious peninsula due west of Ballina called Belmullet, great spot!
    And got the full rainbow treat. Is is moments like this one which make this kind of travel a true joy.
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    The next morning an insect hatch occurred and left their spent body casings all over bike and helmet.
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    My usual simple breakfast on the road, porridge with honey and oolong tea.
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    Then I passed through a series of cutesy towns like this. Some were mobbed with tourist plague.
    This one was fairly quiet. Newport I believe.
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    I was headed for Galway, which was my main reason to visit Ireland. (a former roommate always waxed poetic about his homeland; Galway)
    The countryside changes a bit to being kinda rugged like this.
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    Then in the middle of it all was a cute new neo-home. This one was occupied.
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    And no picture/rest stop is complete without a gratuitous KLR shot.
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    Now I this this is actually in Galway the area.
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    Also this area didn't spare the Gaelic. I observed it was spoken quite a lot.
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    This a really beautiful road. Saw a lot of other motorcycles coming up from the south.
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    An Irish peat mining operation.
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    This is some fancy 5 star hotel outside of Galway city. (I think I accidentally pasted in the Scottish section)
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    And the cute dinning car, I like the gargoyle.
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    #17
  18. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    The campsite prior to arriving in Galway city was a bust. I scoped out a great prospect and staked it out. But a plethora of ambivalent locals and a van of dutch pikeys got me packing up to look for another spot.
    I found one but I quit taking pictures for a spell.

    I stayed two nights at a great campground in Galway, replete with fabulous FM radio out of Limerick. But it was cold windy and rainy the whole two days and whenever I ventured into the city it was bus loads of tourist plague.

    I didn't take anymore pics till France. Curious how the spirit moves one.
    #18
  19. Irishrover63

    Irishrover63 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Scotland
    It's a great pity that you missed Donegal and the wild atlantic way and yes there is not much to write home about Troon. Enjoying the R.R. and your pics.
    #19
  20. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

    Joined:
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    Good to know, I figure I'll have to return at some point to do the country justice, I feel bad not taking a single picture while in Galway city. Seems I'm kind of a fair weather photographer. Good all around photographers push it.
    I'll do better.
    #20