The next morning we jumped onto the bikes and pushed south, alongside Loch Broom heading along one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world. It’s pure riding heaven and an absolute sensory overload of scenic beauty. There are only a few roads l have ridden in the world that take me in some kind of a dreamscape and the journey that lay-ahead south along the West-Coast was one of them. As crazy as it seems, the other has to be riding from Los Angeles to San Francisco, north along the Pacific Coast via Big Sur (Wow, what a ride!). That journey always knocks me out and makes me happy to be alive. Well, Ullapool to Applecross and the Isle of Skye is the real jewel in the Scottish Crown. (If you ever get to ride it, let me know your thoughts). So we headed south along the A835 from Ullapool, turned right onto the coast road (A883), that took-us North via Little Loch Broom with small scenic snow-capped mountains in the background.
l could see the boys ahead just lapping up the views. They were just magic. We continued past Loch Ewe, Loch Maree, stopping together every so often to take-in the scenery, and Blaggy rounding us up with ‘Come-on’. Eventually we pulled into a small town and into Kinlochewe Stores and Café, because – you guessed it – the boys were hungry again. The lady informed-us that she was just about to close, but offered us a perfect Ploughman’s lunch followed-up with tea, scones, fresh cream and strawberry jam. Damn! This was probably the healthiest food we had eaten in days and also perfect timing as the rain was passing overhead, so a good feed would see us through the rest of the day.
I never get bored looking out over Applecross - the higher you go, the views just rock!!
We turned the bikes around, up through the village and hung a left onto the A896, past Upper Loch Torridon and through the beautiful little village of Shieldaig, where we turned-off onto a small road that took-us out to the past Loch Torridon and Fearnmore before we began to head further south. Words can’t explain this area, for me it’s almost heavenly, spiritual with the beautiful distant mountains and cliffy edges that run away into the ocean, it’s just breathtaking. We continued south riding through one of my favorite spots within Scotland, an area that is completely stunning and totally remote, Applecross. The village is such a treasure and set within a picturesque horseshoe bay and it’s always a pleasure to release the throttle, sit back and lap-up the view as you look out across the coast at the stunning mountains on the Isle of Skye. This place fills your lungs and soul to capacity.
Our group pushed south, through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula and up through ‘Baelach Na Ba’, along one of the coolest roads. It is absolutely perfect biker territory with its twisty mountain roads, similar to the Swiss Alps, that switch back and forth as you descend down to Loch Carron. The boys had gone way ahead of me, not to be seen. Blaggy was always really heavy on the throttle and it made me wonder if he came on vacation with us or alone. I always joke when we all pull-up together, ‘Hey, funny to see you here, if l had have known you were coming to Scotland – we could have all come away for a vacation together’. He’s a great friend, but l am sure we all have friends that ride at different paces. l have never been bothered about just getting from A-B, trips like this need to be ridden at a pace that can be enjoyed and simple moments and views shared with friends.
Riding through the beautiful Glencoe, always a must ‘to-see’ when you come to Scotland. It never gets tiring to look at all-year round.
We set-off together and rounded Loch Carron joining the A87 and then onto the A82, south and down into Fort William. We made time for a quick brew, as the weather looked like it could take a turn towards rain. However, we pushed on south towards Loch Lomond following the A82 all the way through the beautiful, picturesque Glencoe. Again, another moment where you simply release the hand from the throttle and enjoy the ride and realize why you came away - l just love this stretch of road! We pushed further south to a really cool campsite that sits just north of Loch Lomond called Beinglas Farm and it was a perfect retreat for our last night’s camping - (www.beinglascampsite.co.uk). We pitched the tents, showered and headed into the pub for a few beers and you guessed it – a bite to eat.
Funny really, here we are in Scotland and everyone in the pub recommends the chef’s chicken curry. We did just that, ordered the beers and curry and sat down red-faced from the fresh-air we had just ridden through the last few days.
While we were at the bar we got talking to a rather flirtatious lady in her mid-50s who was there for a few nights with her over-jealous boyfriend. We sensed his non-approval of his wife talking to us, so we headed for a seat and ate the most delicious curry washed down with cold beers and shared stories from the days riding. It wasn’t too long before Blaggy decided to turn-in for the night, so Nick and l made a conscious decision that we needed to have a couple more beers and enjoy the last night fully before he became a father (good excuse right?). Just then, the lady re-appeared saying that her boyfriend was beginning to get aggressive with her, unfortunately we had to laugh as he didn’t look 100 lbs wet-through. The door of the bar swung-open and the guy came bursting in like something from a spaghetti western, pointing his finger into the air and demanding that she go back to their tent (who killed the romance eh?). I told him to quit the anger and maybe sit down with-us and have a drink – no need to blow a gasket! He stormed out of the bar snatching the car keys and slammed the door shut behind. It was all very childish but Nick and l could only laugh as we both summed him up as the world’s biggest bulb.
Its time for a final Kodak moment, Nick squashed in the middle looking like he’s on full ‘Bulb’ alert!
We sat together and chatted pleasantries, before she decided it was safe to head back to the tent. It wasn’t long after that Nick and l realized it was time to turn-in as well and so we head-out of the pub and heard the arguing coming from the tent and could just see the silhouette of them both wagging their loose fingers at each other. It was funny listening in on the argument, but after 10 minutes of sneaking around in the background laughing our asses-off, tripping over other tents, we realized that she was the one who wore the trousers in that relationship and he was just going to have to put-up or shut-up! We could hear Blaggy snoring away in the distance, he was set to leave at 4 a.m. and head home before us. Nick and l decided rising at 9 a.m. would be perfectly suitable for our day ahead. I pulled the sleeping bag over myself, wrapped-up tight and fell into a much-needed deep sleep. True to his word, it was around 4 a.m. that l heard the fire of the engine. Blaggy had packed-up and set-of back home to Nottinghamshire, though l soon dropped back into a deep sleep, with the odd rumble of curry disturbing my posture.