It started with a one day in Anglesey, two days in Wales and then 5 days in Ireland motorcycle touring, and I figured why stop there! Let’s got to Scotland or more specific England, Scotland, Isle of Skye and York, a calculate route of 1450 miles excluding day trips, and satnav telling my I’ve already done 1500 miles since getting the bike on 7th July. I now ride a Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 and its a beast of a bike!
Route calculated at 1450 miles and 32 hours of ride, I did at least 1600 miles and 40 hours with day trips and detours, across 14 days. The route roughtly shown here clockwise.
Kyle of Lochalsh-Isle of Skye-Portree-Duntulm-Skye Museum of Island Life
Kyle of Lockalsh-Mansion House Elgin
Queensferry-Forth Bridge-through Edinburgh-Lauder-Earlston-Berwick upon tweed
Keilder forest-Bird of Prey Centre-A86-A1 to York
Dumbarton Premier Inn
Kyle of Lochalsh (Isle of Skye) Hotels
Elgin Mansion House Hotel
Elgin Eight Acres Hotel
Premier Inn Malt & Mayre rode to Submarine base and over mountain
Returned to Paisley Tyre didn’t have my sizes
Loch Lomond Seaplanes around West coast
Luss Pier boat trip around Loch Lomond around lake
Castle Stalker view cafe and photos of castle
Rode anti clockwise around Isle of Skye, visiting the history museum on the NW coast, mostly single track
Walked the Skye bridge to reach the Indian
Attended the Portree Highland games
Seaprobe Atlantis boat tour around the Lochlash port area
Visit Banff, Portsoy and Cullen bays
Ride through Cairngorms, visit Lecht Ski centre, passed Glenshee Ski centre
Stayed in Perth
Ride to East coast Berwick-upon-Tweed across country B roads
Stayed in Earlston
Visit Kielder Castle
Kielder Waterside with Bird of Prey centre
Castle on the outskirts of Kielder
Stayed in SW York
York Centre, Art gallery, Park and Gardens, NT house behind Cathedral
Rode the Peak District to return home and much more
The ride up, simple navigation M6, but within 20 minutes massive traffic, turned out a major accident M6closed for 2 hours, I managed to use the central reservation to make some progress after seeing another bike do it! After a jaunt in the countryside finally get above the issue and ride on
Arriving 1.5 hours later than expected, I visit Carelaverlock Castle, then over to the first B&B. A night out in Dumfries and early night
Ride up to Dumbarton via Ayr, in what I can only describe as torrential rain for 2 out of 3 hours, making me think why am I doing this! But the gear keeps me dry and other than Ayr’s roundabouts which felt like ice rink, progress was made. It really helps when the traffic is minimal and vehicle spray is low
The local air museum was a nice way to start the morning, plenty to see
Fresh day in Dumbarton, just a few miles from Loch Lomond and some sun. I had the Seaplane booked for 10:00, arrived early and told by the 5 star hotel porter to relax, have a coffee, 5 minutes later 2 missed calls and 3 texts to say if I don’t check in I miss my flight! Hastily I join the group and enjoy a great flight around the West coast of Scotland, some cloud, some air pockets throw the plane around, but for the most part an interesting flight
A short ride around the West coast to the Submarine base we saw earlier and back over the mountains
After a relaxing break in the hotel veranda I then travelled up to the Luss pier, for a slow boat trip around Loch Lomond. Maybe on the right day this is fun, but overall we didn’t see much, but enjoyable all the same
Kyle of Lockalsh via Castle Stalker and Fort William. Some rain but interesting roads. Stopped at historic buildings and bridges along the way. Arrived a little lost, trying to check into wrong hotel from the 60’s instead mine was the one up the road from the 70’s!
I chose this location as the access point for Skye, but without having to commit to being in the remote regions, turned out there wasn’t that much in Kyle of Lockalsh, but a nice walk over the Skye bridge to the Taste of Indian on the first night provided good views of the bay and light house and good food
I ride over the bridge up the East coast to Portree, continue North to the very northern point of Skye passing the Old man of Storr and then North clockwise riding the single track around to the Skye Museum of Island Life. Lots of traffic, mostly slow moving tourist, turned out to be Italians, poor roads due to volume of traffic. Ride back much nicer flowing roads and less traffic to Portree to watch the Highland games, watched some races where one guy lapped the entire group to win, and the up and over throw, which reached record heights
After several long days, I took a rest day, with the Seaprobe under water boat, we went out to see the seals, lighthouse and coast from a different viewpoint. Luckily I checked the website as they moved the launch from the other side of the Skye bridge, this required a 10 minute ride, rather than the brisk walk I intended. Nice to see the seals and wildlife, though the underwater aspect of the trip was dull, even for the children, due to murky waters.
Change of plan! Due to a wet front and high winds instead of staying until Friday and travelling, I made a late decision and rode on from Kyle across Inverness to a 5 star hotel The Mansion Hotel, getting the queen suite, the bed was big enough for 5!, table service, swimming pool, sauna and a rather nice scotch whiskey resulted in a bill 1/5 of my entire holiday, but for that but of luxury it was worth it
Half a days ride, east to Keith, to visit the Stathisla distillery (Chivas). Taking in a tour and samples of their finest, with a doggy bag to go. the 18yr being my favourite. Return to the Eight acre hotel. The Italian family with two boys in a separate room, meant constant knocking, nothing a hearty meal and wine couldn’t sort
I had a 10:00 booking at the Aberlour distillery, so early start and ride over. Actually a good if quick tour, followed by a guessing game of whiskey tasting, overall while there were six, only three where worth keeping. Rather than a direct ride back, I travelled via the North coast taking in Portsoy and Cullen bays, to enjoy the ocean views. The roads where that good, I had my first peg down. Which is a little scary as I’m riding a tall adventure bike and looking at the height of the pegs not sure how that really happens
While back at the hotel Eight acres the room was ok, but a wedding event was on, nothing started until 21:00 then music load and continuous until gone midnight, not pleased, though I did have a nice meal again and made the best of it
Only issue so far, was a few stones hit my visor while in the country from the 4×4 I was behind, which left some marker in my vision, a replacement ordered to be delivered at my next location
After cleaning the bike I realised the peg down loosened the left foot peg, so off to find a garage, as this was Sunday I found Halfords, had to purchase rather than loan a ratchet, socket and Allen keys, but got the job done. Ride on down through the Keilder forest was a treat, few cars, lots of sheep, but a valley road that never ended. I passed two ski centres the second Glenshee and with the rise and falls of the mountain passes, take care, for some drivers don’t seem to know how to stay on their side of the road! But with 120% headlight, twin led side lights, a bike the size of a small horse and a bright vest, they were soon very aware of my presence, ride on
So this was the Elgin to Perth section of my trip, with stops at the Keilder castle and birds of prey centre. Ride out were great. Also visited Scone Palace
No 9 the guest house Perth was in easy reach. Perth itself not particularly nice, it seems dated and tired, a bit like me once I’d settled in and walked into town. I used the cinema in the evening only to find with adverts and trailers it was 23:30 finishing, I returned to find the B&B was all dark, I felt like a burglar using my iPhone torch to enter, but apparently not even the dog heard me, so that was fine.
Second night back into town, similar story, but back earlier ready for a big ride the next day. Also my replacement visor arrived from Amazon! I had clear vision again
So I extended the ride to the East coast, calling at Lauder and Earlston-Berwick upon. This was a great cross country ride of about an hour each way, open country, slightly mucky roads in places, just as always take care in the corners
A few stops on the way down, mansions and castles
Returned to Earlston for evening meal and pub crawl to the two pubs, both have character is all I would say! but a good selection of the local whiskey was all I needed
Earlston to York was always going g to be a long ride. I chose to ride the A68 to reduce the A1 and that was a smart move. So far I have ridden at above 50 everywhere except on our finest motorways!! The A1 was 50mph variable all the way and then the exit I needed was closed, so 10 minute detour later I’m there. There being a quiet pub with rooms. From here I walked into York along the river path, until reaching the town centre. I visited the main attractions and few off the beaten path
Ride home York across the Peak District and home. The A628 across the Peaks is a busy and windy road, thankfully I headed South West half way along and travelled via the narrow but quieter country roads via Buxton
Riding in the UK, particually in the North you must accept and be prepared for wet weather, expect for two major downpours I did pretty well, but had waterproofs on most days due to mountainous terrain, every valley had its own weather, but with the right gear, I stayed warm and dry.
The roads in the tourist spots like Skype were worn, ridable but not great. While the major routes from town to city were actually quiet, had good tarmac and generally safe. Just watch out for the tourist camper vans and people looking at the views, not the roads!
It was good to visit the Highland Games in Portree, the traditional bands, music, dance and main event while small were colourful and on a warm sunny day, great to see. I visited many places listed above, just didn’t take photos at every location, sometimes you just have to take it in.
In terms of riding the VStrom DL1000 it’s a easy touring bike, I had changed the standard screen to a MRA Vario screen, to give better wind protection, fitted Oxford heated grips and use the Suzuki panniers and a top box, to keep things dry and secure, though the extra weight around town was always on my mind. Load weight behind you where possible and dont load those side panniers with anything too weighty. Carry enough basic tools to repair loose bolts etc. and check the bike thoroughly every morning before riding on! 5 minutes near a town will saves hours on the side of a road in the middle of know where
Finally, doing a trip like this just shows we have a great country and plenty of places to explore and visit. Take the weather as it comes and enjoy your next holiday. Ride safe!
2009-2017 Carl Sumner @ http://www.photographit.co.uk