Trip to Scotland
Linlithgow to Oban
To the Islands
Back to the Mainland
The journey home
After a very enjoyable tour of Skye with Highland Rider in 2004, I decided to go on their Hebrides tour in 2005. The choice of the Hebrides tour was for a number of reasons. I think any of the tours would be good. The tour I decided upon was for the end of May/ beginning of June; this suited me.
picture within the Gallery.
When I arrived at Peter's, no-one was in, but he'd left a note saying he would be back shortly. I decided to go and fill the bike with petrol instead of just kicking my heels, and passed Peter at the end of his lane as he was returning. I was already committed to going onto the road, so I went and got the petrol, and on my return found Peter mowing his lawn. As he said, he's away so much that he has to fit his domestic duties in as and when he can. He made some tea, and over the next hour or so, others arrived, including two men with their wives who were sisters with two bikes; also Steve, an (ex motorcycle) policeman; a husband and wife on separate bikes; and an American who had been on Peter's previous tour and would stay with us when we went to Oban where he would leave us to do his own thing for a couple of days before returning to the States.
The hotel we stayed at that night was five miles or so from Peter's, but was nicer than the one we used last year. Apparently Peter prefers this one because, at weekends, the local one can get quite rowdy. Peter likes his customers to get a good night's sleep. Suits me.
During all our time on the Hebrides the weather was just about perfect for us, mostly sunshine (we all got tanned on the ferries), but not too hot. Indeed, on the ferries, it was often very cold, even in the sunshine.
We returned to the mainland from Stornaway to Ullapool, again with a visit to the ferry bridge. We rode through pouring rain through what should have been magnificent scenery, passing down the west coast of Wester Ross, stopping in Gairloch, Peter's home town, where we met his mother and twin brother; both remembered me from last year. As previously, very good company.
After leaving Gairloch we went down the side of Loch Maree, past Upper Loch Torridon. Then a tiny, winding, up-hill road (Pass of the Cattle); we nearly didn't do it because the weather had closed in and the cloud base was barely above us.
Back down to the main(?) road, then round Loch Carron, past Loch Duich, Loch Cluanie, Loch Garry, Loch Lochy, to Fort William, down to Corran, and across a small ferry to Ardgour, where we spent the night.
Next day it was up the north side of Loch Linnhe, round Loch Eil, and back to Fort William. (If all these lochs sounds like a boat ride, with the weather pouring with rain most of this time it sometimes felt like a boat ride!) We continued on, through Glen Orchy, Glen Lochy, then retraced our tracks through Callander, past Stirling and returned to LinLithgow.
|A gravel car park|
The real dampener as far as I was concerned was not the rain. It was one of the riders, who, although claiming forty years of motorcycling, couldn't control his bike properly. Coming to rest he used his front brake aggressively, once dropping his bike on a garage forecourt (yes, it was on a slope and was greasy, but no-one else had a problem), and once on a gravel car park he pulled up beside another bike, and promptly fell onto them; Richard and Jackie, the unfortunate props, had to hold both bikes up until the rest of us could pull him up. Gravel (his nickname now) also was inconsiderate in his riding, for instance, whenever we had to stop in a passing place, he would not draw up to the bike in front, so restricting the space for others behind. He once, exiting a car park, pushed in front of me, so that I had to take significant avoiding action. I don't know whether it was deliberately wanting to be in front, or just ignorance.
Enough of that, I enjoyed the trip immensely. Everyone (with the one exception) came into that category I have for "good company" - really friendly, no pressure to conform to any particular behaviour pattern, could take a joke, and enjoyed the ride. A special mention of Richard, who I gather commented that he liked being behind me because in my riding I "always left a bit in hand". I think that was a compliment (or perhaps he was suggesting I was a wimp, but I think the former since Richard is a very laid-back type of person).
So, I hope to go on another trip with Peter next year. Richard and Jackie suggested they would be trying for an Orkneys or Shetlands trip about the same time next year, and that they'd like me to be there! We shall see.