Scotland May 2013 - A Father and Son trip.

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Thijs_B, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    After I went to the Nordkapp last year, next on the list for me was Scotland. I asked my father to join me, so it would be a nice father & son trip. We ended up riding a little over 3000km in 13 days, going around the top of Scotland (including Dunnet Head, another 'Nordkapp':deal)

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    First some background info...

    Since the Nordkapp trip I did not ride my bike for a while. I was far from done with riding, but I felt I had outgrown it and wanted to move to a bike better suited to me. After looking around throughout the winter I found this '00 BMW R1150GS a couple of months ago, with just over 70.000km on the odometer.

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    The day of the trade-in. My first bike next to my second one.

    I installed pannier racks so I could use my own aluminum panniers, a Bagster tankcover, ring for my tankbag, power plug for my GPS and finally for the looks a very cool adventure beak. I was ready!

    My father Ben has been riding bikes for over 30 years, and for the last 15 years or so his beast is a '93 BMW K75. He bought it with around 50.000km on the counter, but right now it is almost at 210.000km.

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    Ben playing with his GPS, at Megget reservoir. Notice the shit on his engine, not just dirt but proper shit.:evil

    Almost two years exactly to the departure date (may 2011) Ben decided to have revenge for all the years of traffic jams he had to endure and created one of his own by crashing his bike during rush hour. In heavy rain he lost control of his front wheel on a patch of repaired asphalt, while overtaking a car at 120km/h. We don't know what did the most damage, the impact of him hitting the tarmac or the slide that was stopped by the roadside crash barrier, but he was lucky to be alive. He did crush his ankle bone into a thousand pieces, and doctors thought he would never walk normal again.

    After 7 weeks in hospital and multiple surgeries, he surprised everyone by walking without aid at the end of the summer, and rode his bike for the first time in the spring of 2012. He was and still is on pain medication but it is (for the circumstances) manageable. The bike had been ok, it had only lost a crash bar, an indicator and a broken windscreen, but the engine was without any serious damage.

    The mental aspect however was equally daunting. If it wasn't for my enthusiasm for bikes he might have never got on one again, and even after those first short rides he had a hard time getting over the fear of water or dirt on the road, especially in corners. This hardly changed throughout 2012, and he could hardly imagine crossing wet and cold mountain passes like I did in Norway last September.

    With all this in mind I still asked him to join me to Scotland, where he would have no choice but ride in the (guaranteed) rain and get over this trauma. To prepare, we got some advanced training from a professional and experienced riding instructor. This took place on what ended up to be the rainiest day in Dutch recorded history (27 hours of continuous rain), we were soaked but the training helped and convinced us we could handle anything Scotland could throw at us.

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    A week before departure, testing out the handling of the fully loaded bikes.

    So without further ado, we're off!
    #1
  2. Olorin_the_13th

    Olorin_the_13th Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Saxony
    Waaayyy!

    Came back to ADVrider to find some incitations of where to go to this summer - only to find this thread describing a route sharing a lot of my miles from last year :-D

    And what shall I say, yeah, the british rain did its thing for me, too.

    So - I'm looking forward to your report. Keep 'em coming!
    #2
  3. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    So the departure date finally came around but we could still sleep in, since the ferry to Newcastle Upon Tyne would depart at the end of the afternoon. Bonus is that the terminal is only a one hour ride from my parents house.

    We arrived right on schedule we found there were more bikers than we expected there to be. I think all in total there were around 150 of them on the ferry.

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    Waiting...

    We had to wait for a very long time for them to load all the cargo carriers and such. This gave us time to check out the 'competition', which consisted of moslty Germans with new-looking GS'es and other BMW's. There were Harleys as well, and the occasional japanese bike made up the last 5%.

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    This would be my office for the next two weeks, I'm not complaining.

    Finally we were able to board, ready to be ripped off at the buffet and bars. Seriously, bring your own food and drink on this ferry, you'll be able to affort an extra stay in a hotel somewhere later on. It would be ok if it was good enough to justify the price, but it was nowhere near that.

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    It was a bit chilly outside, even though the sun was out.


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    I took a similar pic last year on the Oslo - Kiel ferry. Even with all the hassle, I still kinda like ferries. You really feel like you're going somewhere.

    The next morning we got down to the bikes as soon as possible. We had to wait for more than one hour before we could get of the ship with trucks starting an revving their engines all around (seriously, why?! The hatch wasn't even open!). It was uncomfortably hot with all the riding gear on and we felt baked when we could finally get off, only to be greeted by another waitingline for the passport control. We didn't even have to take off our helmets, which was practical but makes me question the point of having passport checks at all.

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    Very crowded, but since we're all bikers conversation is always possible.

    Anyway we're in the UK! We followed the big A roads at first, but soon left them to visit Lindisfarne on Holy Island, with the legendary causeway which gets flooded two times a day by the ocean.

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    Riding over the ocean...

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    According the crossing table, this bridge would be submerged half an hour after this picture was taken. Hard to imagine...​


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    I guess this cabin is to be used if you get caught on the road by the tide, from all the names with hearts between them it gets used a lot to 'escape the tide':evil.


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    Lindisfarne Castle

    We had lunch at the local post-office, got the advice to visit the Drovers Inn at Loch Lomond later on (which we eventually did, more later), and generally enjoyed the plentifull sunshine. We didn't have too much time however, since the tide would come in not to long after that and we'd be stuck on the island until something like 19:30.

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    The castle on the Island. Click it for full view.

    After Holy Island we followed the A1 north, and stopped to get some UK currency in Berwick-upon-Tweed. From there we left the shore to ride some minor roads north. Eventually however the weather changed and we decided to head directly to Edinburgh and find somewhere to stay there. We navigated the beautiful old city streets and arrived at Ravensdown BnB, which I saved in my GPS beforehand. It is run by a Scot who is married to a Dutch gal, so he could speak dutch, and the bikes were parked in the yard behind a closed gate. What more could you ask for?

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    The weather cleared for a bit, so we went for a short walk to the Firth of Forth.

    All in all it was a good day, but we hoped the weather would clear a bit, it started raining again...

    Map for day 2:
    [​IMG].​
    #3
  4. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,384
    Location:
    round the world
    :lurk...looks like a good route, did you keep a gps file of it?
    #4
  5. 1world1life

    1world1life Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    I'm in...:lurk Nice report so far.

    Always like reading reports of my 'home' country. Nice to see it from a different perspective :thumb

    Craig
    #5
  6. Erik500

    Erik500 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I'm in :clap

    Cool to see you sharing your RR on the undisputed best RR-site ever : ADVrider !


    Thanks for putting the link on your FB.
    Just out of curiosity : is Peter (Plofkop) the instructor you mentioned ?

    Cheers,

    Erik
    #6
  7. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Southeast Lower Carolina
    Always nice to start with a nice ferry ride. Or even a poor one. Enjoying your trip.
    #7
  8. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    Yeah, the TomTom Rider has an option to record a gps track of a ride. I created one for each day, the very first map of the thread shows the combined result.

    Hey Erik! I do know Peter from motor-forum ride-outs, but it wasn't him. Nice to see you're also active here on ADV! Can't find any of your ride reports? :evil:deal
    #8
  9. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    After a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, mmm) we left with dry skies but wet tarmac and headed to Arthurs Seat. Suddenly you leave city traffic and are cruising on a hill/mountain, strange but nice:nod.

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    This was in the garden at Ravensdown, don't know what to think of it.​


    I think there was some runner's event around the hill, there were runners everywhere. Being a runner myself I could imagine Arthurs Seat being a nice training lap for the marathon that would take place the weekend after. We stopped on the top parking lot, and climbed the lowest peak. We could've gone for the higher one and see the old part of the city, but my father ankle will not allow for something like that so early in the day.

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    Panorama of the view over the new city, click on it for full size!

    We descended back into the city and made our way to the Forth river bridges. It was there my father found the room key of the BnB in his jacket pocket :doh

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    Some nice engineering here in Scotland, the bridge on the background is also nice.
    Being a civil engineer, my father mumbled something like 'could do with a lot less steel'.

    So after the ride back to the BnB we finally got to cross the Forth of Firth and immediately hit very, very bad weather. We made our way to some single lane roads and continued north. Luckily the weather cleared very soon, it changes all the time and is very unpredictable. Which is a good thing if you ask me.

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    A waterfall at a leg-stretching stop, somewhere near... some place... or somewhere in that area.​


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    After a lunch break in Auchterarder (the barmaid said something like "You'll probably see more of Scotland than I have") we headed for the old military road to Braemar, which is so nice it is a reason in itself to visit Scotland.

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    Yup, could do with this.​


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    Cruising towards Braemar.​


    Since the weather was so good we decided to look for a place to camp, and quickly found a spot between Braemar and Balmoral Castle, at a fishermans cabin next to the river.

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    The shed was locked, it was filled with chairs.

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    Plenty of fresh water, far from warm enough to take a swim...
    We suspected the fence on the other side was to mark the edge of the hunting grounds of Balmoral Castle, but we don't know for sure.

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    Ben was excited for his first ever wildcamp!


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    The temperature had been ok during the day, but dropped early in the evening. Reading an (e-)book at camp.

    After dinner (camp food, hmmm :dg) we went for a walk along the road. I have no problems riding on the left hand side, but walking was almost scary. Cars would come up behind us but we half expected them to hit us...

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    Spooky... The weather had turned a bit, but it was still (mostly) dry.​


    Map for the day:
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    Up next, Loch Ness!
    #9
    dixiethedog likes this.
  10. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    370
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Great pic's and narrative! Would love to go to Scotland sometime. Keep it coming, Thanks
    #10
  11. Thunder Pig

    Thunder Pig Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    258
    Location:
    Niceville, Fl
    I went on a tour in Scotland once, it was so amazing! The best bike tour ever. We almost stayed afterwards we loved it so much. Want to go again, thanks for bringing the memories back.
    #11
  12. catundaseskin

    catundaseskin Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Kelso Scotland
    After you left Berwick you passed within 25kms of where I live, If I had known you could Have stayed with us. See you got typical Scottish weather.
    #12
  13. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    Sleeping next to a river certainly has its advantages, if you can get over the noise of the thing. There is however the noise, and it drops the temperature a couple of degrees, and during the night. Ben kinda froze in his summer sleeping bag and cheap air mattress. I didn't really have any trouble with the temperature, but when I got out I found him sitting in his tent with his biking gear on completely shivering. Poor guy =D.

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    The only drive-by vid I made during this trip...

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    We were at Balmoral before 10:00, so it wasn't open to the public yet.

    Via Carrbridge we went towards Loch Ness.

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    Carrbridge, build in 1717. The oldest stone bridge in the highlands.

    Just before the Loch we came to a very small road, the state of which kept getting worse and worse. While planning beforehand I found it would lead us to Loch Ness, and the GPS said it was ok, so when we got to a fence with a lot of cows behind them we opted to go through since we didn't want to take the entire road back.

    The following screenshots are very low in quality, since I bodged the lighting settings on my camera just prior to the trip. Every helm-cam video I made turned out over-exposed :baldy

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    They looked like they didn't give a crap about us, but actually did that before we got there. The road was covered in shit :lol3.

    If I knew the state of this road before we got there I would have probably avoided it, my father being on a K75 and not used to riding like this, but it was fun altogether.

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    The road ended in this switchback going down, very steep but a lot of fun.

    We had some lunch in Foyers, where a big waterfall is just below the restaurant. We went down the steps a bit, but the waterfall seemed to be mostly dry and we didn't go down any further.

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    Very nice trail going down.​


    We rode around the Loch and back up via the north-western shore. It was nice to see the Loch in all its glory. It's an understatement to say I liked dinosaurs as a kid, and I was always fascinated watching documentaries about the Loch Ness monster, so I was excited to be there and actually see the monster! It was just there for a few moments and I managed to get my camera out in time! :eek1

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    This was the best pic I was able to get of it... I swear on everything I love that it's no fake!​


    Eventually we reached Urquhart Castle, which was our first castle visit of Scotland!

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    Panorama of the Loch!​


    Visiting these castles felt very touristy, but provided context with the lands we were traveling through. Learning about everyday life throughout the ages also gives something to think and wonder about while riding through stunning scenery.

    On the last stretch towards the castle, Ben had started hearing a whining noise from his bike at around 80km/h. It didn't come from the engine, and appeared to originate from the rear, possibly the final drive. I did a little test-drive, but didn't hear anything. Ofcourse, my father did 150.000km+ on that thing, so he'll probably hear it instantly if something's wrong. This reminded me of all the final drive horror stories I read online, and we were both worried about how this would affect the trip later on, should we go to the 'real' north.

    Our morale took a hit thinking over what this could mean for the rest of the trip, and since Ben was not in the mood to try out some BnB (having only slept 2-3 hours in the tent the previous night), we ended up in the Premier Inn of Inverness. We found there was a BMW Motorrad dealership only 10 minutes from the Inn and decided to go there first thing in the morning.

    After dinner, I went for a walk in the general direction of Inverness to get some air and came back with some nice impressions from the city.

    Inverness:
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    Map for day 4:
    [​IMG]

    The nest morning would start with a trip to the BMW dealership... :hmmmmm
    #13
  14. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    GO THERE, it's worth it :evil

    Maybe I'll go back one day, I'll keep this in mind if I do :wave
    #14
  15. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    450
    Location:
    The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
    Enjoying the start of another great RR.

    Great pics, as always.

    :thumb

    Thanks,

    JM.
    #15
  16. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,816
    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    I have had the pleasure of going to Scotland 8 times but never on a motorcycle. I need to change that. The Isle of Skye is high on my list of places to ride. So is the Road to Applecross.
    #16
  17. lefteris

    lefteris fat daddy

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    283
    Location:
    Athens, Hellas (Greece)
    Great photography and report!

    Keep it up.


    Lefteris
    #17
  18. pip_muenster

    pip_muenster curious

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    This photo hurts my eyes. I first thought it's blurry, but then I realized everything seems sharp except for the 1st bridge span. It's not falling over, is it?:lol3

    Anyway, nice report! It makes me think about a short trip this summer.
    #18
  19. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    We started of with finding the BMW Motorrad dealership in Inverness. The lead mechanic turned out to be a German, and was kind enough to drop whatever he was working on to have a look at my fathers bike.

    He started of by trying to feel any play on the rear wheel. Apparantly there wasn't any and all was ok, the only thing he said he could do other than taking the thing apart was to replace the final drive oil.

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    The mechanic doing his thing.

    It had been years, and tens of thousands kilometers since my father had done this, and the oil looked foul and there was not much of it left in the final drive. After topping it with new oil we were done and on our way!

    Ben said the sound had very much faded after the oil change, and at the end of the day it was almost gone. We guess the unusual forces on the final drive while descending some very steep switchbacks the day before (braking hard on the engine) rubbed something the wrong way, and the final drive needed more lubrication for that. Anyway, the sound would remain absent for the rest of the entire trip. :clap

    We went down along Loch Ness again, back to the Nessie Centre were we had a quick look at a exhibition on the monster. In the souvenir shop I scored some stickers for my panniers. :D

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    Riding along the Loch, with perfect weather.​


    After this we left the Loch and headed north, riding the A833 through some stunning scenery. The weather was absolutely amazing, but a bit chilly on the high roads.

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    Good times.

    We avoided the A9 as long as possible, using the B9176 via Bonar Bridge (:evil) and the A839 to Golspie where we had some lunch at the lovely Poppy's coffee shop.

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    Bonar Bridge in the distance to the left. Amazing views, but overexposed due to shitty camera settings.​


    From there we kept to the A9, which curves along the coast with quite some elevation difference in places, cliffs and ocean on one side. After transitioning to flat country road, we arrived at John o' Groats!

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    John o' Groats was named after dutchman Jan de Groote (John the Great). I just wanted to get there since the Long Way Down started here.

    The weather had turned crap ever since we left he A9. It was cold, windy and it started to rain as well. To get warm we had a coffee at the nearby bar, which was recommended to us by a couple of Dutch tourists passing by.

    It was getting a bit late, so we decided to stay in the Seaview Hotel just a few hundred meters from the John O' Groats point itself.

    Map for day 5:
    [​IMG]


    Not much photography done that day, will make up for it in the next post :evil
    #19
  20. Thijs_B

    Thijs_B Keeps on dreaming

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    That floaty bit just north of France
    Now you point it out, I can see it too. Thanks for that :evil. I don't really know how to fix it, if I blur it it doesn't look right and if I sharpen it pulls to the front too much.

    I think it's partially caused by the HDR, I used HDRtist for this.

    This is the original, unedited version (converted to jpg for smugmug, and low-res), and it still hurts :twitch

    I'll play around with it if I have some time later.
    #20