Scotland – Story Report
“It’s getting lighter over there!” – Da drüben wird es schon heller.
“Why are you going to Scotland? Is not it raining all the time?”, “There’s nothing but rough weather, sheep and whiskey!”
But for us one thing was certain … Scotland here we come!!
Hay, good scottish weather, the rain comes slightly from the side.
It is good Scottish weather, the rain falls almost vertically, only slightly inclined to the side. This describes very well how we were greeted after crossing the English weather. After a few kilometres on the “wrong” side of the road, we were quickly on the left.
The landscape around the border area on the A68 between England and Scotland already gave us a taste of the Highlands. At the border crossing, we just wanted to take a quick picture. We set up our tripod and put our bikes in the right place. But then suddenly a bus full of tourists. A look at the other side of the street made it clear we must change the street side. There we were undisturbed, and so our photo was taken at the landmark to Scotland.
On the way to Edinburgh we stopped at Jedburgh. The ruin is worth a visit and offers a great view of the architecture of the Augustina monastery. This is followed by two days of sightseeing and relaxation at the 4* hotel in the north of Edinburgh.
Now it started. We left the capital and we were wet “except for the underpants”. The weather was not good with us again. So, we chose the M90 to Perth. When the sky opened, we felt the famous Scotland feeling for the first time. The first rays of sunlight immerse the landscape in a very special light that we have never seen before. With the rising temperatures, the mood also increased, and we enjoyed the first curves in the dry. Direction Glenshee on the A93, or better known as Old Military Road, we realized that we were approaching the Highlands slowly. Arriving at Braemar Caravan Park, we moved into our camping pod, which was completed in time for our trip. The wooden hut leaves nothing to be desired. It has heating, which was perfect for drying our gloves and boots.
From Braemar we continued the Old Military Road towards Inverness, the twelfth largest city in Scotland. Past ski resorts we stopped at Loch Morlich, where we enjoyed the sunshine on the old wooden terrace of the water sports club. The homemade soups are excellent. Shortly before Inverness we turned off onto the A82. On the left side there was a wonderful view of Loch Ness up to Urquhart Castle. Unfortunately, we did not see any monsters, but that’s not important considering the great views around the lake. Arrived at the campsite we built our tent for the first time in the sunshine. After a short time, we got to know a bikers group from Newcastle. For beer and whiskey, we spent a cozy evening.
The start on the North Coast 500 was great so we want more and turned off the A836. The road led us inland and was a real curve spectacle. The extreme waves in the road are so much fun but first you must get used to. The A9 took us further north to our norther destination in Scotland. Arrived in John o Groats, we noticed that here in the north the air gets rougher. We met our English friends and took the opportunity to take a photo on the famous roadmap. At the John O Groats Camping & Caravan Park, we build up our tent for the day. You must have tried the famous fish and chips from the “The Cabin” snack bar, while you can watch the departing ferries on the Orkneys.
The route to Durness took us almost exclusively on single track roads along the coast. We were very surprised that we were as good as alone in the wide landscape. Once a motorcyclist crossed our paths, they greeted each other and enjoyed the tranquillity of the Highlands for a while. Here you can meet more sheep than humans. The A838 winds its way from place to place before passing the famous Smoo Cave – worth a visit. Next to our campsite Sango Sands Campsite we went to a real insider tip: “Cocoa Mountain” chocolate factory. A hot chocolate with lots of cream, small marshmallow pieces and chocolate sauce is everything you need to enjoy the Scottish weather.
We need help
The next day we drove further south and enjoyed the warmer temperatures. The West was at its best. However, on the single tracks of the A894, as a dangerous situation can lurk after every turn. In an evasive maneuver Martin unfortunately came off the road and slipped into the ditch. Fortunately, except for a few scratches on the crash bar everything went well. With the help of a few strong French motorcyclists, we were able to get the GS back on the road. Arrived in Ullapool surprised us a short rain shower. Since we just wanted to set up our tent, we decided to eat something. In the restaurant “The Frigate Café” the burgers and sandwiches were excellent. As soon as we finished lunch it suddenly gets warm in our thick motorcycle clothes. The reason was that the sun comes out and therefore the temperatures climbed to 20 degrees. In the evening we enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the sea. What a day!
Along the rugged Scottish west coast, we continued to the Achmelvich Bay. The white beach and the blue sea reminded us more of the Caribbean than of Scotland. Since the campsite was fully booked to the last place, we decided to continue driving. Our destination was the small-town Applecross. Already in the run-up to our planning we heard from the famous pass road “Bealach na ba”, which was the only connection to Applecross for many years. From the vantage point you have an excellent view along the coast on clear days.
In bad weather we went over the Skye Bridge on the famous Isle of Skye. We first had to get used to the tourist crowds. Just as we were the last few days on our tours, the more buses and rental cars we had on this day in front of us. We were compensated with sunshine and impressive views along the road A855 direction Uig. Past the Kilt Rock Fall and the Skye Museum. We continued the A863 and the A8009. An absolute highlight of our trip was the visit of the Old Inn at Car-bost. Not far from our camping pods was the traditional pub “Old Inn”. We got the tip, from 20 clock to enjoy the live music and a lager. But not so long, because we wanted to catch the ferry the next morning.
“The next ferry leaves in the afternoon.”
Yes, we were amazed when we drove to the ferry terminal in Armadale and the employee at the parking lot waved us off hysterically. So back to Skye Bridge and on to Fort William. On the way there we stopped at the most famous castle in Scotland the Eilean Donan Castle. As ordered the two-hour heavy rain ended, and the sun turns the castle in a very special light. Before we went to the campsite, we decided to visit the Commando Memorial on the A82. The location offers a wonderful view of Ben Nevis.
The highest mountain in the UK drove us the next day a few drops of sweat in the face. We decided on our first motorcycle-free day since Edinburgh to climb the 1043 m high mountain. The day before, a local told us to dress warmly. Just below the summit, we suddenly knew why. At under 10 degrees, fog and sleet it was anything but no easy walk. On the way back to the campsite we met hikers from Switzerland, who told us that the view from the summit is only 10 days a year clear.
“It’s all just about the motorbikes. It always has been, it always will be.”
– Ewan Mc Gregor, Long Way Round
The next day took us on the A82 past Glencoe to Loch Lomond. The former Glencoe is – as Skye – overrun by tourists. Once again, we were lucky with the weather, and the mixture of clouds and sun could not have been better. Off to the bikes and on to Loch Lomond. The road on the west bank of the lake is a real treat of curves and waves. We came closer to our goal today. The famous Museum of Transport in Glasgow. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the museum was one of Scotland’s most visited attractions in 2015. When we finally stood in front of the wall with the motorcycles, it was a very special feeling. Upstairs we saw the two bikes of actor Ewan McGregor from the two world trips Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
Our tour was ending, and we had one more day to go back to the ferry. Therefore, we decided to follow the advice of Mark from Newcastle and drove further south across the border into the Lake District. This proved to be the right one. In perfect weather, we spent a wonderful day in the national park. Our English friends from the campsite in Inverness accompanied us the last kilometres to Newcastle. They showed us the Angel of the North, the rust-brown steel figure of an angel has the wingspan of a jumbo jet. The construction and construction are decorated with many details. We said goodbye on deck of the “Earl of Zetland” and decided to keep in touch.
Smiling, we looked at each other as the last lashing strap on our motorcycles was tense and we could close the chapter England and Scotland for now.