Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TravisGill, Oct 28, 2018.
Thank you for taking us along on a great ride. Great photos.
Day 18 - Mon, 10 Sep:
200 km of riding today as we make our way east to the promise of better weather. Highlights include Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, and the city of Elgin.
We abandoned our plans to see the Northern Highlands of Scotland because of the poor weather forecast over the next five days. This was a decision we did not make lightly; I knew we would be missing out on some of the best scenery of our entire three-week trip.
Although I was a bit bummed, there was also a concession plan to see a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since my childhood back in the USA. A mysterious place called Loch Ness and the dinosaur creature that lived within its depths – The elusive Loch Ness Monster!
The morning was already calling for rain. I hate loading my mule in the rain - Even more than actually riding in the rain. Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for us to pack the mules. Unfortunately, as soon as we clicked our shift lever into first gear, the rain started once again and didn’t let up until late in the morning.
Leaving Isle of Skye to head east where better weather is promised by the weather guessers.
Curse you gray clouds with your cold and joy crushing rain!
Side rant: Our gear keeps us pretty dry until it rains hard or rains for more than a few hours. My “waterproof” boots start taking on water from all the spray that is kicked up the pavement and the front tire. Once the waterproof liner of my pants is saturated, it too starts leaking. Fortunately, we have heated jackets, gloves, and handlebar grips. Without the heated gear we would be downright miserable.
There was one particular section of the narrow, curved road where we had to follow a large RV. I imagined they were inside wearing flannel pajamas, listening to relaxing jazz, the passenger feeding cheese slices and grapes to the driver, all while they drove through rain that was isolated from them in their temperature controlled, cocooned, glass and steel, wheeled RV. Yes, I was admittedly jealous of the RVers. Riding for extended periods in moderate to heavy rain is no joy.
Moving on… First stop of the day was to Urquhart Castle located on the shores of Loch Ness. What, another castle? It turns out Scotland has over 115 castles! Yes, that’s A LOT of castles! No, we didn’t see them all.
Raining all morning was a bit of a bummer but not bad enough that our spirits couldn’t be lifted with a fresh baked raspberry and white chocolate muffin.
The visitors center at Urquhart Castle had this life-size statue of a deer.
The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though it was built on the site of an early medieval fortification.
Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle.
Lighting is used to show where the large fire pit was used for the kitchen area of the castle.
The Loch Ness. A bit bummed that we didn’t see even one monster!
The Scottish flag waves proudly overhead the castle ruins.
The castle was abandoned by the middle of the 17th century.
A ferry takes passengers to other piers located around the Lock Ness. Still no Nessie sightings!
If someone has what you want, and they think they can get it, then conflict will follow. The MacDonalds Clan raided the castle numerous times over a two-hundred-year period. Apparently, they also had a very accurate accountant who kept great records like there.
Moss covered tree near the banks of the Loch Ness.
The visitors center has a small museum showing a typical wooden shield covered in leather and studs from the Wars of Scottish Independence.
What the castle may have looked like during it most fortified and productive times.
Just a short ride from Urquhart Castle to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition…
Along the road, Chantil heard a sudden pop sound and then something metallic falling and skipping along the pavement. We pulled over and I noticed she was missing the chain tension adjustment plate that fits on the back of the swingarm. The adjusting bolt ended up snapping in half. Unfortunately, the aluminum support plate, an $18 part, was missing.
We rode back and ended up finding the plate on the side of the road. Lucky us! Replacing a standard sized bolt will be much easier than finding a replacement for the BMW manufactured plate. Also, the broken part is only important for adjusting the chain; something we adjusted just a few days ago. If we’re lucky, we won’t have to mess with the adjustment for the rest of the trip.
Onward to Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition…
Our BMW G650GS mules parked next to BMW R1200GS clydesdales. Yikes they look heavy! I’ve never ridden on such a behemoth, but I hear they are like hippos in the water – heavy on the eyes but actually quite graceful once on the move.
The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition is a great looking building...
...with stone headed statues!
The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition takes you on a journey of discovery and ultimately lets you determine, for yourself, if the Loch Ness Monsters exists.
A Scottish design of the Loch Ness Monster.
This famous picture, known as the “Surgeon’s Photograph” inspired thousands of people to flock to Loch Ness. It was later determined to be a hoax.
A few, high profile, studies were done in the 1970s and 80s but nothing conclusive was found.
Many of the sightings, although real to the observes, were probably just water and wind effecting sticks, logs, animals or birds.
Does the Loch Ness Monster exist?...
...It clearly does!! Here is a plastic one…
…and an isle of stuffed ones! Yea, I’d say Nessie lives; even if he’s manufactured in China.
We continued along our planned route and made good time along the A96.
This was found on the side of a petrol (gas) station! Seriously, is gas theft that much of a problem that you need four cameras?
We made it to Elgin! This is where my mother-in-law served part of her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Riding through the streets of Elgin. Chantil is right behind me in the mirror!
German bikes next to a British jet. We’ve come a long way since the 1950s!
The Blackburn Buccaneer was used in the 60’s and 70’s as a carrier-based attack aircraft. Fly Navy!
These old jets have a history to tell, I’m sure.
We finished the day at the, nearby and nearly abandoned, Silver Sands Camping & Caravan Holidays. Tomorrow we continue our clockwise trip around Scotland…
We did feel pretty lucky with the weather - it would have been unreasonable of us to expect sunny days everyday in September. Glad you are enjoying the report!
We'll have to plan a more favorable time of the year for our next visit to Scotland. Perhaps May 2020? Thanks for the info on some great places to stay and eat.
Thanks so much! You live in a beautiful part of the world.
Nuvi question: I had a Nuvi before the Montana so it just feels comfortable to me. Is there a better setup?
Guess: Nope, I'm just an amateur photographer and someone who likes architecture. I took a year of photography in college and have dabbled ever since. These ride reports are a way for me to improve my photography and writing so that I may be able to submit articles to future publishers. Do you think anyone would read them?
For sure! Glad you are enjoying the trip and photos!
There will be a break in the ride report until after Christmas. Happy holidays to you all!
Bump. My wife & I are off to the UK in July 19, Keep going, our mouths are watering
It's my next project after I mount bar risers to my mule and give him an oil change.
Lovely RR! Great detail! Ride I woud love to do!
Day 19 - Tue, 11 Sep:
250 km of riding today as we continued around Scotland on the east side from Elgin, to Dunnottar Castle, and ending the day at St. Andrews Holiday Park. BTW, the weather is much nicer here than in the Highlands.
Covesea Skerries Lighthouse overlooks the campground.
Covesea Skerries Lighthouse was built in 1846 and deactivated in 2012.
We enjoyed a good breakfast as the campground. The hostess was so nice we decided to leave a small tip. Does leaving two pounds as a tip negate the two pounds of breakfast we just ate?
Since the Scottish invented golf in the 15th century we decided it would be fitting to play a round of golf. Does mini-golf count?
Got to hit it through the yellow mountain. By the way, I boogered a hole so bad that Chantil won the match by four strokes.
On our way out of the town of Elgin we stopped by the Cathedral. It was a nice morning and a great time to take some great pictures of an interesting landmark.
Fragments are all that remain of the large rose window of the Elgin Cathedral.
A decorative metal fence surrounds the entire cathedral grounds.
The Elgin Cathedral was established in 1224, but multiple attacks and fires over three centuries have left it in ruins.
There is a fee to visit inside the fence, but we felt like we had seen enough from the outside.
Next door is a Biblical Garden with some nice tile mosaics.
Our next stop was Dunnottar Castle. Just before reaching the parking area, I noticed another fellow motorcyclist pulling out of the parking area and then riding on the right side of the road. No worries, except we are in the UK where you ride on the left! No drama, as I was slowing, he recognized he was on the wrong side and then quickly drifted back his side of the road on the left followed by a sorry gesture. He must be from mainland Europe.
Dunnottar Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Fhoithear, meaning "fort on the shelving slope") is on a rocky cliff overlooking the North Sea.
It was harvest season, so the fields were laden with golden wheat.
The ruins of Dunnottar Castle can be seen on the picturesque cliffs.
Fields of gold!
Some of the fields were freshly harvested with wheat straw still in bails.
The fields, sea cliffs, and sea breeze all created a memorable afternoon of hiking.
We hiked about 1.5 miles to the Stonehaven War Memorial which was designed by local architect John Ellis to look like an ancient structure.
The names of eight First World War battles are inscribed around the crown of the structure: Gallipoli, Jutland, Marne, Mons, Somne, Vimy, Ypres and Zeebrugge.
Looking back at the Dunnottar Castle.
This castle definitely has some incredible views!
Although it just ruins there is a certain beauty to these rock walls.
Squire, a UK based lock company had been in business since 1780.
Moss covers hard rock paths inside the castle walls.
A unique castle for sure and one of my favorites of the few we visited in Scotland.
In many ways this was my favorite castle of our trip. I think it was the lack of crowds, the walking trails around the castle, the incredible seaside views, and the great weather that all came together to make it one of my favorites.
We continued onward to the city of Saint Andrews…
A somewhat famous (does 5000 facebook followers make one famous?) cat named Hamish McHamish walked the streets of Saint Andrews. Hamish died on 11 September 2014 (oddly our visit was exactly four years later) but lives on through this statue dedicated to his life of wandering around a city who loved him.
We wandered around the streets as well looking for a place to eat.
We settled on a out-of-the-way restaurant called The Vine Leaf. It had a nice quite atmosphere with soft jazz music playing during the dinner hours.
The food was also presented well! I’ve never has Crab baked with cheddar served in a sea shell before. The seared salmon, chili, coconut milk, coriander, rice noodles, pakchoi was also well made. Unfortunately, we just didn’t think the food was that great tasting or flavorful.
After dinner, we rode though the medieval street of the city before rolling into camp at the St. Andrews Holiday Park.
Tomorrow, we continue our adventure south around the Firth of Forth with the forecast is calling for clear skies!...
Day 19 published... Hope to have 20-23 done before the end of next week...
Thanks for the comment. I would highly recommend the ride.
Thanks We are happy chappies.
Day 20 - Wed, 12 Sep:
Only 170 km of pavement today; Mostly because we slept in and spent a good part of our day at the Kelpies (B) and (C) Edinburgh. We finished the day at Drummohr Holiday Park (D)
It felt good to sleep in today. The shower was especially nice this morning. We got on the road around 0930.
We enjoyed some of the less traveled roads this morning.
It wasn’t too long before we noticed a roadside place called Blacketside Farms. It looked inviting with plenty of people inside the restaurant and shop. Must be something good inside...
There were lots of fresh vegetables – fresh from the earth.
But we were most interested in the berries!
I ordered some french toast with fresh berries and powdered sugar along with an apple juice. First time I’ve gotten apple juice in a glass bottle.
Blacketside Farms was a great start to our day!
Our next stop was The Kelpies. If you don’t know what these are then you’re not alone – neither did we before planning this trip. Once you see pictures though you’ll want to see them for yourselves.
Crossing the Firth of Forth via the Kincardine Bridge.
For someone who loves modern architecture and sculpture, this was high on my list of things to see in Scotland.
The park where the Kelpies are located is quite relaxing with its large grass fields and nearby canals.
The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Scotland. These Clydesdales are modeled after two horses named Duke and Baron. The final sculpture is 30-metre-high and was designed by sculpture Andy Scott.
A close-up of Duke’s eye and the stainless-steel cladding.
Looking from the inside out. You can see the steel frame and some of the 928 unique stainless-steel skin-plates.
Baron stretches his head up to the sun.
Duke bends down to the earth.
Close-up of the cladding plates.
The unique shadow of Baron that is cast against a grassy field.
The “sun” portion of a large stone and metal plaque which reads “Stretch up your long necks to face the sun.”
There is also an attached visitors center with the Kelpies modeled using Lego bricks.
The walls and a monitor tell a bit about the history of this region.
A drawing area for kids with coloring pages and crayons and colored pencils. I’m guessing Owen is probably Scottish!
A monitor displayed how the model and then life-sized structure was built and then fabricated on site. As you can imagine, something this large, takes time to build and assemble.
View of the Kelpies from the visitor’s center. As you can see, by way-too-many pictures, we enjoyed our time here.
Day 20 - Wed, 12 Sep (continued…)
We continued along our route and arrived at the city of Edinburg, where we spent the rest of the day.
The central part of Edinburgh is watched over by the Edinburgh Castle.
The oldest pub in town, the White Hart is located on Grassmarket and shares its Victorian architecture with other buildings in the area. Notice the hilarious sign in front of the pub.
West Bow just off the Royal Mile and it’s iconic colorful shops and restaurants.
John Kay’s Shop is a wonderful little store full of globes, airplanes, balloons, and...
...metal toys to remind you of the UK.
A bronze statue of Walter Francis Montagu Douglas Scott, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry, stands above Parliament Square.
Tourists walk over the Heart of Midlothian - A heart-shaped mosaic, formed in colored granite sets. This area used to be the site of a prison where countless executions took place near the mosaic. Sometimes people spit on the heart to show their disdain for the executions that used to take place here.
This church has been the religious focal point of Edenburgh for over 900 years! The present church dates from the late 14th century, though it was restored in the 19th century.
The impressive 117-piece pipe-organ.
Two ornate unicorns, Scotland’s national animal, are depicted on this crest located in the Thistle Chapel.
Some of the ornate details of the cathedral.
The Robert Burns Memorial in stained glass designed by Icelandic artist Leifur Breidfjörd.
A bagpiper plays among the streets of the Royal Mile.
The Camera Obscura & World of Illusions seemed like an interesting place. Why not?
The Camera Obscura was built in 1835. There isn’t much to it really. It’s a dark room with a large table and a beam of light. But wait…
…An image of Edinburgh begins to appear on the table. It’s not a recording. It’s a real time projected image! By today’s standards (of GCI where anything you can imagine can happen on the big screen), it’s not incredible, but in the 19th century this was fascinating stuff.
The views from the Camera Obscura observation deck are pretty good…
The Hub, with its iconic gothic spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh.
Adding a bit of modern architecture to the old town.
The floors below Camera Obscura are where the World of Illusions are located. It was fun to walk around and participate in the interesting exhibits.
A black light made for some interesting photos.
Look closely. This image is actually two female models painted to look like a chameleon.
Illusion Chessboard by Maurits Cornelis Escher. You most likely know him better by his artist name of M. C. Escher.
Glow lamps were fun to interact with. Expect to get a little shock though!
Keith Newstead does some incredible automata all choreographed using a rotating wheel. Amazing! See a video of his sculptures here: https://www.keithnewsteadautomata.com/portfolio-items/tree-bind-mice/
Hand with Reflecting Sphere Depiction by M. C. Escher.
Thermal image camera shows why Chantil is always cooler than me. Look how much cooler here face is than mine!
Thanks for the report and fabulous photos.
We were there in 2008. As noted by her absence in the photo, my wife refused to cross the bridge.
Really looking forward to the last few days of the report.
Day 20 - Wed, 12 Sep (continued…)
Trying something new like these Jelly Slugs candies. Harry Potter seems to be very popular here.
Edinburg is an interesting city that combines the youthfulness of a college city with the old architecture of the 17th century.
An entire neighborhood in Edinburgh is named after Greyfriars Bobby; a dedicated Skye Terrier who spend 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, John Gray, until he died himself on 14 Jan 1872. A drinking fountain was placed in Bobby’s honor in 1873. The sculpture was William Brodie. It’s held up well, even with the century of rubbing Bobby’s nose.
The final resting place for both John Gray and Bobby is in Greyfriars Kirkland.
Well-wishers place sticks in front of the gravestone of Bobby.
Stores are named in his honor as well.
A row of University of Edinburgh buildings caught my eye. This particular building seemed to have something different about it.
Something as simple as white chalk outlines around the original bricks made this building stand out.
More unique patterns among the streets of Edinburgh.
The University of Edinburgh’s Old College Building with its dome stands above fast food restaurants where the students can grab a bite between classes.
Scots seem to have a lot of patriotism for their flag.
A mix of modern with a nod to the original 17th century buildings.
The Scotsmen Steps have connected North Bridge and Waverley Station ever since 1899. Each of the 104 steps received a major overhaul in 2011. Each step is now a different colored marble.
The major marble quarries are all represented from Italy to India, from Belgium to Brazil.
The Royal Unicorn and Scottish flag sit atop of the Mercat Cross in Parliament Square.
The Aha Ha Ha joke and novelties store on Bow Street is hard to miss.
On the night of 2-3 April 1916 two German airships, the L14 and the L22, dropped 23 bombs on Leith and the City of Edinburgh. Seven residents of Edinburgh were killed during the bombings. Today, over 100 years later, our two German motorcycles are parked just a few hundred feet from this location. It’s important that we remember the past such that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes but it’s more important to move on and create to a better and more peaceful world.
There is definitely A LOT to see in Edinburgh. If we had more time, I think we would have enjoyed the castle and some of the overlooks around the city.
Our camp site for the night wasn’t too far away at the Drummohr Holiday Park.
WWII memorials and fish n chips... This is my kind of ride! :)
Day 21 - Thu, 13 Sep:
300 km of riding today. We left Scotland to return to England and enjoyed Holy Island (B), Northumberlandia (C), Angel of the North (D), and North York Moors National Park (E).
We woke up at 7:38 AM and got our camping equipment and bikes packed up by 8:00 AM. A record for us!
We took the freeway in order to make good time to Holy Island. This small community is isolated from the rest of England twice a day when the tide raises. Access is via a causeway that can be driven at low tide. We just happened to luck out and were able to visit from 10:05 AM until 15:50 PM today!
The entrance road into Holy Island. This causeway is the only way in and the only way out for motored vehicles. Plan your route because twice a day, during the high tides, the road will be covered with salty ocean water. Salt water is not good for our mules, even if they are adventure mules.
The island’s website lists the safe times to travel across the causeway for each day. Although the website said it wasn’t safe until 10:05 AM, these folks are already on their way at 09:50. I think we’ll wait a bit...
... and take pictures of this guy chilling just behind a concrete barrier. Aweeeeee!
Crossing the causeway was no problem; although there was a short section of about 6 inch deep salt water to cross. Just before entering the town, you must park in a large paid-parking area. I imagine this keeps traffic within the small community to a minimum and provides a bit of income to a town that seems to flourish because of visitors.
A small bird sits on the cross inscribed with the Latin abbreviation “Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm” or "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
A nicely decorated window sill in the village of Holy Island.
A nature display showing that there is more to the island than just the village and castle.
Bird stickers hopefully keeps folks (and birds) from bumping into the glass.
The flooring in the visitor’s center challenges you to find the bird that matches the “foot” print.
The extreme tide not only effects access to the island but access to your sailboat as well. These boats have specially designed twin keels to support the weight of the boat as it sits on the muddy bottom.
Boats, a small village, walking trails - my kind of place.
Just up the road is the Lindisfarne Castle, a 16th-century castle built on a hill overlooking the North Sea.
Fall flowers in full bloom, a nice breeze, sunny skies – a perfect day!
A small garden provides a diversion from the hustle and bustle of tourists at the castle.
A sculpture of a Snipe made from twisted branches.
Flying with the Snipe.
The rocky beach is full of hundreds of cairns.
Many folks place the round rocks, from the beach, to form all kinds of shapes.
Next to the castle are the Castle Point Lime Kilns that were used for the calcification of limestone to produce the form of lime called quicklime. These kilns have not been used since the 1880s but are surprisingly well preserved.
A recycled boat hull is cut on half to produce the roof and walls of this storage shed.
Lindisfarne Castle from the rocky beach.
Seaweed with its pods is exposed at low tide.
On our way back to the parking lot we walked through town...
...and enjoying a lunch of some creme of celeriac soup at The Ship Inn.
Some artwork and trinkets above the fireplace at The Ship Inn.
A scarf with the UK flag hangs from a coat-hook at The Ship Inn.
A lion head door knocker in the town of Holy Island.
Local venders were selling fresh fruit and vegetables along the road.
We left the island well before the tide started raising so that we wouldn’t be like this poor chap.
Day 21 - Thu, 13 Sep (continued...)
After Holy Island, our next stop was Northumberlandia. Northumberlandia? Sounds like a ferry-tale kinda place!? What is it? It’s 1.5 million tons of earth from a neighboring mine formed into the shape of a reclining female figure.
A small cafe and visitors center are at the entrance area. There is no cost to park or visit the park.
The sculpture is is 34 meters (112 feet) high and 400 meters (1,300 feet) long.
From the parking area you walk through a small forest.
The trail has some surprises like this tiny home for Smurfs.
The Lady of the North! Her face and chest are visible from the viewing point.
Chantil standing on the... (get your mind out of the gutter!)...viewing hill, located next to the Lady of the North.
On her forehead is this sculpture of a hand and pointing finger. What does it mean? What is it for??
Picking your nose, I guess?!?
View of the Lady of the North looking down from her forehead. You can see her nose and eyes in the foreground.
On her chest is a small plaque pointing to another sculpture – The Angel of the North. Hmm, we’ll have to look that one up.
A section of her hip is sculpted with a sitting area to enjoy the green grass and blue sky.
The visitors center has an overhead view of the lady. Drones are not allowed due to close proximity to a nearby airport.
A mosaic of the Lady of the North.
After exploring the hills and walkways of Northumberlandia we made our way a bit further south to this sculpture titled…
Angel of the North; a contemporary piece, designed by Antony Gormley. Chantil is as the base of the statue for size comparison.
The area is also an informal memorial with items hanging from nearby trees that were placed in memory of those who passed on.
The problem I had with this sculpture is the location. From the freeway, you only see the very top of it over the treeline...
...I wished it has been placed on top of a mountain and visible from all compass directions. Even so, it was worth the short stop.
We continued south. Found a Chinese takeout place. Ate it in the parking lot; something homeless people and motorcycle travelers seem to do.
For dessert, we shared this Snickers bar and learned a new British word. Faffer: A fussy, indecisive individual, prone to procrastination, dithering between tasks, and who is easily distracted and achieves very little. In-two-minds, he/she flops from one thing to another and starts all over again.
We entered the North York Moors National Park where I was expecting a forested area but was surprised by the beauty of the wide-open plains.
Watch out for sheep! Initially, Chantil would call them out via the Bluetooth headset, but after a km of this, we realized it was futile - There were just too many sheep. At least sheep are not skittish like deer; they seem indifferent to passing vehicles.
Enjoying the sunset and gorgeous views. North York Moors NP, you surprised me!
I even found a trail that was a bit fun for riding my off-road mule through. I wanted to take it down the hill a bit more, but it looked like it didn’t go anywhere that we could camp for the night.
A stone cross just off the road at North York Moors National Park.
We rode until just after sunset and found a place to camp in a field next to the White Lion Inn. Cost £5. One of cheapest places we’ve camped the whole trip! It also came with some great views once we found an area for the tent that was clear of sheep crap. Dumb sheep seem to crap everywhere.
Tomorrow we continue south through England. I’m starting to feel a bit saddened that we only have two days left of vacation…