The Quick Quacks visit Newcastle and travel to the 4 corners of Scotland
Sultans of Swingarms (dodgy sound quality my fault not theirs!)
Another super quack weekend,great weather & great company. Thanks Nick for an excellent ride out,lovely scenery which I was able to admire in more detail as a pillion. Also thanks to everyone for the generous donation to the Great North Air Ambulance (the Pride of Cumbria)on my behalf,they certainly were a blessing to me for the quick recovery to A&E. Ian says the rides in Scotland have been excellent & dry so far,they are all safely on Skye tonight. Look forward to seeing you all again at the next meet. safe riding to everyone, Audrey
The Bard writes:-
Newcastle to Portpatrick.
Via & including the Mull of Galloway; being the first extremity of our Caledonian Cornucopia of delights.
Splitting up after Uncle Nick's Geordiefest was a little sad but any minor depression was quickly banished by a naughty little bubble of schoolboy giggles brought on by the prospect of a whole week away with the Quacks. A whole week ! What larks !
On leaving the hotel Yoav, Hazel & JonB headed for Carlisle so Yoav could swap bikes. The rest of us followed Gary by nefarious back roads around Ponteland onto something he would only refer to as the "Military Road". It turned out to be a fantastic Roman route which arrowed westwards dead straight for miles across the high ground. You could see forever. The B6318 I think it was but I may have become disoriented. Then over the Border & up to Langholm & Mid-Knock. There various people took advantage of Bon & Jeanne's workshop facilities for a bit of fettling. Needless to say Huw was upon the horns of a Celtic dilemma (again). How to raise the ride-height of a Triumph to compensate for a pillion without making Trish think she's fat. The deed was swiftly done. Martin did the same by turning a big knob thing he found lurking on the side of his motorbike. Chris meanwhile had his TL up on the hydraulic bench for some unknown reason. The rest of us drank tea. I think Yoav rejoined us at Mid Knock but I could be wrong again.
Then in the interests of something or other we split into 2 rough groups & set off Westwards. Past the Buddhists at Eskdalemuir, petrol at Lockerbie, lost Brocklehurst (to become a recurring theme) and hung a right off the A75 at Crocketford. The Quacks have done half the A712 before on Lockerbie 1. Unfortunately on that occasion Lee got bitten badly, Haze took avoiding action & Pete spent the day being supportive in Dumfries A&E. But we're better at this stuff now. The first half of the A712 is a riot of flip-flopping corners & deep green prettiness. The second half is merely spectacular. I chased the Subaru along here a few weeks later & overshot the petrol pumps in Newton Stewart as I'd roasted the brakes. Smelly it was. Oh & the sun shone all the way.
To my house for more tea. Some seemed a little anxious about my rocky driveway. Bon started taking Jeanne's bike to bits again & was about to start cannibalising mine when he found the elusive brake problem. Once he'd reconnected the lever return spring all was well. She already had my shock absorber supporting her hind quarters, whatever next ?
With a single bound the 748 was put back into the shed & the Mighty Scabbers wheeled out into the remarkably persistent sunshine. Being graced with a seriously uprated shock & heavyweight fork oil I was hopeful for a less lollopy experience than the E2E. I would be partially right. As we prepared to leave we thought we heard an 848 passing the road-end.
Away round by Port William & up the Port shore to drop back down the Rhins to Drummore & the Mull. There we all went to look at the lighthouse. Except for the wayward Brocklehurst (he had found us by now) who was still disoriented from leaving Lincolnshire & encountering hills. He wandered around the car park. Mumbling.
After the obligatory photo opportunity we all had a gentle chunter back up to Portpatrick & the Fernhill hotel. Except for Peter who scared animals whilst filming himself doing so. See YouTube for details. In Glasgow a Tube is a foolish person.
The Fernhill was excellent being graced with a terrace overlooking the harbour from which Peter could take sunset photos & a restaurant manageress whose blouse buttons were under awesome strain. Having drawn Huw's attention to this phenomenon I derived hours of simple pleasure watching him trying to counter the hypnotic draw her jooglesome carriage exerted on his helpless gaze. Despite this distraction the band set up in the bar after dinner & entertained all & sundry.
So the sun shone.
Brock got lost.
The Hotel was excellent.
And no-one fell off.
Not even Pete.
Port Patrick to Connel with no points of extremity in between.
This was a bit of a strange day I thought. Really just about getting up to the Highlands without getting too bored in the process. It started well though. Watching Bon getting all sweaty pushing Jeanne's bike around the car park trying to bump it whilst Jeanne looked unamused.
Ah Scadenfreude. It's ugly but enjoyable.
Having applied the Dr Bob finger of healing (to the Ducati) Jeanne's bike was persuaded to go & we progressed out of the hotel car park in convoy-ish. I then rode straight over Nigel's sat-nav which he'd left lying in the middle of the road for some reason. I blame my inner Wooley. Once we'd stopped in Stranraer for petrol, textual communication indicated that the Dr Bob finger of healing had been but temporarily effective & Jeanne's 748 was ill. Many of my healing efforts turn out like this sadly. But a white knight in a Ford Galaxy stopped at the side of the road & did a proper job on Jeanne's ageing Italian wiring. All was well. We carried on into Ayrshire.
The Electric Brae proved not to be electrifying but the view was nice. I got a wee bit lost in Ayr. Nigel & Ian went to get Nigel new tyres. They were dear. I got a wee bit lost again trying to find the scenic way to Largs. We stopped in Largs for an ice-cream at Nardini's where Bon, Jeanne & Dr Yo caught us up. So we all had ice-creams. They were fab. Up to Gourock where I annoyed a Subaru driver apparently then onto the wee red ferry for Hunter's Quay and Argyll. I have been on this ferry with Scabbers many times. They charge me a different price every time. It adds to the adventure I find.
The sun was shining again.
Whoosh up Loch Fyne to Inverary for tea & buns. There we found a prostrate Hayabusa rider on the grass. His bike was fine but he was asleep in the sunshine. Truly these modern hyperbikes are exhausting. I shall stick to Scabbers for a while yet. We found a tea shop with the biggest toilet keys in the world. The occasional pillions were starting to enjoy themselves.
Last bit through the arch in Inverary & up to the Oban road which was a bit busy. We got stuck behind a bus from Wales. it had bad Karma so I didn't overtake it.
And on to the Oyster Inn in Connell.
Possibly the least organised establishment I have ever been in. Rooms lovely. Food lovely. Situation fab. Bar tip-top. But couldn't organise the proverbial. I'm still arguing about my bill. Lurch the enormous waiter features in one of the band videos extorting money with menaces from Adrian.
Ah the band ! In possibly their finest hour Pete prodded them into playing in the public bar to be recorded on his expensive new recordery toy thing. They were proper good. Gary just nailed the solos on the Dire Straits stuff. My gob was smacked. If I'd been standing I would possibly have dropped "like a stunned mullet" as the Badger would have it.
But I went to my bed instead.
So the sun shone.
Jeanne's bike got fixed.
The band were brilliant.
And JB didn't get lost. But I didn't see him all day so he might have done.
Connell to Flodigarry via Ardnamurchan Point which is a long way west. It is nearly in Americaland.
This was to be a big day. I was a little worried in truth. Ferries were involved. And single track roads. But there weren't too many possible variations so surely Brocklehurst couldn't get lost. Or could he....................
Another day, another big breakfast. I'm getting breakfast fatigue by now. Maybe just a poached egg.
After much discussion the troops split a bit today. Being organised the Taudevins took the ferry to Mull so the gurls could visit Tobermory; which is really Balamorey in real life as any fule kno'. >From there they could get another boat from Strontian putting them virtually at Ardnamurchan.
We fearless mileage hounds however headed north for the Corran ferry, Ardgour & points West. And once we crossed the ferry guess what ? The sun came out. Following the locals off the ferry is tremendous. They take absolutely no prisoners overtaking as they know that once you're onto the single trackery you really don't want to be behind a hapless campervan. The Mighty Scabbers strained every sinew & clawed his way past a wumman in a Focus coming home from the shops.
Onwards to the West ! The roads got narrower. The roads got bumpier. The bends got blinder. The suddenly appearing white vans got suddener. Scabs got a bit bouncy. Strontian, Salen, Kilchoan and suddenly we were there. Parked up beside some big rusty oil tanks before having a furtle around the huge engines in the engine shed. I would like an engine shed. Cup of tea & a bun.
But where is the Badger ? Marked absent again ! Adrian's phone goes off. JB & Graham are in Mallaig. Concerns over fuel range apparently. Flimsy I feel. But he has discovered that CalMac have limited their ferries to 8 bikes at a time so we decide not to muck about & light out for Mallaig a bit sharpish. Huw & Martin look a bit surprised to meet us leaving as they arrive. The road from Salen to Lochailort is utterly delightful. From Lochailort to Mallaig utterly mental. Scabbers doesn't really do mental. Gary decides to go the long way round by road. Fort William, Invergarry & over the bridge. At Mallaig we get safely booked on & go for another cup of tea. Or it may have been soup. I can't remember. Having wandered back to the bikes we see Mike Hurter pole up to the man in the yellow vest. Despite the boat being nominally full he rides over a few minutes later looking a smidgeon smug. He'd talked his way on, the smooth old hound. A Smooth Hound is a type of shark.
A half hour of the speed bonny boat thing & we're safely back on dry land. It promptly gets a little damp but only a little & by Broadford the sun is shining again. Martin & Mrs Martin wave cheerio. Off to a holiday cottage for some family time. The road to Portree is fabulous & Dr Yo engages warp drive to disappear over the horizon. Big hills. Big views. Big speed if you want it.
Buy petrol in Portree where a young woman gets id'ed in the filling station when she tries to buy fags. She's not happy. Adrian scours Portree for optical equipment. The rest of us push on to Flodigarry.
The hotel is a bit bonkers. Pure Victorian hunting lodge Gothic horror. The extensive cellar is tested by Dr Hurter to his considerable advantage. I get to taste. Seems alright to me. Peter discovers his expensive new recordery toy is in Connel for some reason. The band have a night off.
So we had a little rain.
But the sun shone too.
Brocklehurst missed another extremity.
Nobody fell off again.
Flodigarry to Tongue.
If I'd been worried about the previous day I was positively delirious with glee about this one. I happen to believe that the North West Highlands are probably the best place in Britain to ride a motorbike. I've been pretty much everywhere else so I reckon it's an informed judgement. Feel free to express otherwise.
But you will be wrong.
So out of the Flodigothic horror into a morning liberally polluted with midgies. Huw & Trish having already sadly gone to tend to a poorly daughter at home. A Marathon day's run South awaits them.
Stop almost immediately for photo opportunity below the Quirang. Scabbers never handsomer. Back down the swooping, sweeping rush of Skye to Broadford for supplies of motor spirit. There to say cheerio to Ian who has to cut & run back homewards.
Over the Skye bridge. To my shame for the first time. What a gas ! A perfect arcing parabola over the narrows. Quash mean republican spirit which mutters that such lordly height was dictated by the height of HMS Brittania's masthead. The shape is magnificent.
A little ways along the Road to the Isles then hang a left up the hill towards Stromeferry. The sun is shining and with the elevation my happiness expands with the vastness of it all until I'm shouting madly inside my helmet like a big daft thing. Or a Tube in fact.
Our group push away North East up broad Strath Carron. Mike heads back west for a lunch date with his parents. Somewhere after Achnasheen with the sun on my back a shadow envelopes and overtakes me. A heartbeat later a Tornado goes over my head and thunders Eastward. His banking wings echoed by our heeling bikes as we bend to the terrain. The only guy in Scotland having as much fun as we were that morning.
Towards Ullapool we're serially Minged who obligingly stops to take our pictures as we ride past.
Lunch overlooking the harbour. Haddock & chips. Lots of vinegar. Yum !
Refuelled we head North once again. The sun shines. Again.
Coffee at Ledmore Junction cries the Bonster. At Ledmore Junction there is a junction. And nowt else.
Coffee at Laxford Bridge he cries again. At Laxford Bridge there is a bridge.
We collapse through hypoglycaemia.
Coffee finally sourced at Durness but by this time I want to be there so trundle off happily towards Tongue. After final pic stop on the Kyle Of Tongue Uncle Ade directs me to ride his 1200GS to the hotel. Excellent ! Many things light up. Wopping the throttle open at 80 results in noticeable snapping back of head. I may have been in third mind you. Adrian says Scabbers feels "different". I suspect he is being kind. He declines further offers to swap bikes for the following day.
Another excellent meal at the Tongue Hotel. Second visit for us. Does it get Quack approved status ? I hope so. No band tonight without the bass player. Gary very tired anyway. I think his big mileage days are catching him up.
And so to bed.
The sun shone again.
Tornadoes don't need Termigioni's.
New BMWs are better than old ones. Probably.
Nothing went wrong.
Possibly a perfect day.
Tongue to Peterhead.
Taking in our most Northerly extremity yet. And a surprise family reunion.
It strikes me that I haven't mentioned our support team / baggage train / waitress charmers yet. Our superduper motorbike tour was tracked most of the way by Uncle Peter's other half Debs in the mega-Vectra stuffed to the gunwales with amps & guitars. And Jeanne's Mum & Dad in a Volvo stuffed with little Bonsters. Periodically you'd drift up behind Debs on a remote Highland road & realise she appeared to be singing her head off in glorious isolation. If the Hotel staff seemed surprised at the band materialising they often looked utterly bemused by the sight of two lovely little girls clinging on to two slightly windblown motorbicyclists. Grandparents bringing up the rear.
So away along the top to Dunnet Head. Start the day on lovely coastal swoopery & some seriously behorned Highland cattle on the unfenced bits. The oncoming cyclists looked a bit worried. Past decommissioned Dounreay, featureless Thurso and bleak Dunnet. Photocall then turn south for the first time since Sunday.
But if you look carefully at the picture you may see a missing person. Indeed there is a distinct lack of Badger. For indeed that very morning he had packed his Ducati at crack of dawn and sloped off southwards citing a need to spend a couple of days at home prior to another foreign jaunt. Once again his stripey muzzle failed to illuminate one of our exactingly selected points of interest. This must be some kind of record. I blame Ducati induced cerebral fever.
People seemed to scatter in search of petrol in Thurso so Yoav & I Beemered along happily past the fantastic windfarms on the Flow country. I love windmills. They should fill Caithness with them. Somewhere on the northern stretch of the A9 a gaggle of headlights announced the arrival of the petrol seekers and we all swooped up & down the stretch from Helmsdale to Brora. After another pause on the causeway over the Dornoch Firth I remembered the Struie (or B9176 if you must) which cuts off the corner and is awful pretty. It also has a good plaque. I love a good plaque me.
Lunch ! Cried the Bon. And with uncharacteristic accuracy found us a farmy, visitorey centre place which indeed did excellent lunch. Whilst there Professor Hurter again narrowed his eyes and said "I think this place could be owned by relatives of mine". The fact he remembered this after we had all bought our food did not go unnoticed (by me). He then proceeded to invade a children's play area in full leathers and engaged a young woman & her baby in conversation. Subsequently he claimed this was distant cousin Mina or somesuch. We think he lied & she was too unnerved to call the police. She was also much too pretty to be related to Mike.
Back onto the motorcycles. 2 plans presented themselves & 2 groups followed them One party pushed on down to Grantown on Spey then turned left along the A95. Yoav, Nigel, GG & I followed the main A96/98 towards New Pitsligo then Peterhead. Our route was a bit boring in truth but we had a nice ice cream in Portsoy or somewhere. GG paid. Oh & we got eyeballed by the Grampian Federales from their 5 series. We eyeballed back. Well Nigel did. He has suitable gravitas for eyeballing policemen.
Somewhere between Portsoy & Peterhead Scabber's headlight was smashed by a flying stone. But on a sequence of bends around Mintlaw I nearly smashed up the rest of him. Following Yoav (who was riding awfully well) I got sucked into a series of left/right twisties and by the time we were onto about the third corner Scabs was displaying signs of malaise. 2 bends later the front wheel let go on the last left and I had to pick him up and run wide. Thankfully nothing coming. I was cross with myself. Smashing up Scabs would be a family faux-pas worse than seizing the Vincent.
Note to self. BMWs have improved in the past 25 yrs. Curses.
Then the hotel in Peterhead. I was tired. The hotel was staffed by cheery Eastern Europeans and had the air of a well appointed open prison. It was stunningly cheap though. Perhaps it was for the best that Badger had left us already. I slept the sleep of the righteous.
The sun shone again.
Aberdeenshire is prosperous.
Grampian police are cheerless fish.
Pete did his own thing.
Peterhead to Moffat.
One more extremity and the last day together.
The hotel in Peterhead has a new thing to me. A do it yourself egg deep fryer. I had some scrambled, I think they were scrambled.
As we gird our loins for further 2 wheeled japery I notice a big hole in Scabber's headlight. Undaunted we stick it back together with some duct tape and set of in search of Scotland's most Easterly point. It appears to be between a fish processing works and a fuel oil depot by Peterhead's extremely industrial harbour. The smell is unbelievable. We settle for a nearby stretch of harbour wall with a sort-of sea view. Locals come out of their houses to look at us. we are slebs !
Of this part of the world I am supremely ignorant. Yoav however spent many long winters up here treating patients with hypothermia. I believe he may also have snared the lovely Helen whilst in this part of the world but I could be wrong. Today, therefore, was officially "Follow Yoav Day". So follow him we did. Mostly. Chris got lost. We did do lots of lovely Aberdeenshire back roads. The sun shone again. We found another good place for tea & scones.
But my nose was bothering me. I kept getting oily whiffs. Naturally I gave Scabbers a stern stare but he appeared unusually blameless. I became mildly obsessed. Eventually I whittled the suspects down to a small group containing all the bikes in front of me. This was pretty much everybody except Chris who was still lost. Perusal of sightglasses uncovered Mike Hurter's Triumph teetering on the edge of smokey wobblerdom. He bought some oil. Time for a new one methinks.
Off again towards Braemar where the roads get smoother, the Police have new Range Rover Sports and random members of the military appear. Up over Glenshee where we stopped for a chat again. Gary split for home. Then off down the southern side where Scabs & I got marooned on the wrong side of some temporary traffic lights. Everyone else headed off but after my sphincter troubling moment of the day before I trundled on at a gentlemanly pace. Lunch was in Blairgowrie unless you were me. Having failed to spot the group stopping in the town centre I whined on Southwards in glorious isolation. Past the world's biggest hedge !
Yoav had mentioned the Baxter's visitor centre in Blackford as a possible lunch stop so I went there. Met a nice young man with a new Tenere which was his first bike. He was very happy. I was happy for him. That's the kind of guy I am. Picked up random texts from an increasingly bewildered sounding Chris. He had been to Arbroath. I don't know why. Ate an overcomplicated sandwich. It was a disappointing experience.
Pushed on past Glasgow's sprawl & got snarled in interminable roadworks around Cumbernasty. This was the route I'd suggested so thankfully the majority were being effortlessly led by Yoav around Edinburgh & down the A701 to Moffat. Once free I battered away down the M74 then cut over Greenhillstairs to drop into Moffat that way.
And there we all were. The last night in the Buccleugh Arms in Moffat. Pete took pictures of the lugless sheep
Nigel showed what it should have looked like
Everyone posed for a final picture
And I suggested to Jeanne that 25 yr old K100s were the ultimate performance motorcycle
Then we all went for our tea, some whisky,
The sun shone again.
Pete was dressed like a Space Age Pirate.
The Buccleugh Arms is a good place but too wee for a full Quackmeet.
Aberdeenshire was good.
I was ready for home.
Quick Quacks Pete the Free