When I awoke on the Isle of Skye, this was how I have been welcomed:
But shortly after, I got to know the dark side of Scotland. Dark clouds of midges. Well, the camp site was at the sea with enough smell of swamp...
Packing my stuff and packing my bike was a fight of willpower, 'cause I was stinged by 2 millimeter big beasties more than a hundred times. All my face, neck, arm, chest...I'm completely covered. Especially the hard-to-enter parts of the body seem to be attractive to the midges. Like the inner of the ears. It is soooo nice to hear a buzzing sound deep into your ear, where you cannot reach, to be followed by a sting -.-
So, I tried to stay calm, swish the beasts away every couple of second, walk tall and proud of german proudishness and try to set of ASAP. Not because of the stinging, but because I am allergic.
The world was a bit of spinning inside my head, my face blushing and heatwaves rolling all over me when I managed to start my days ride with destination “Talisker distillery”.
Not a nice & safe thing, I can assure you. Highly unpleasant, much more than the stings itselfs.
And I received another warm welcome, this time to Carbost, the village in which Talisker Distillery is situated. But have a look for yourself:
Luckily, 'twas “just” the annual Village People party. The villagers build puppets made from straw to symbolise their regular activities. We have the same here in Germany, so it was nice to find that tradition so far away again.
Talisker lies at the far end of Carbost. You drive somewhat a mile through that narrow village awaiting for the still to show up anytime soon. And when you are almost no longer believing your GPS, there it is:
Here we have another distillery doing things pretty old-fashioned, which is of course always good in the Single Malt Context.
Our tour-guide was a young pal telling us a lot of stories of the distillery, like that it cannot produce in a hot summer because of lack of proper water and himself, like the police not minding when finding him distilling his very own whisky in the garage at the age of fourteen – but giving tips, rather. Talikser has only one big mash drum, it's about three times the size of what I have seen before. The fermentation itself then takes place in big all-wooden barrels, of which they have eight.
Every twenty-five years or so the wood tends to rot away and needs to be replaced. For that, a skilled (which means: old. No, antique) barrel-builder from the US is being flown in.
In the process, the old wood needs to be get rid of. Which is pretty hard, 'cause you can't burn it. It's so full of alcohol, it would explode. Nice little details. So it can only be left to rot.
Also, Talisker seems to have a small problem, they lack a master distiller. They are rare meanwhile, which is why the good stuff from the distillation process (the belly) needs to be distinguished from the bad stuff (the head and the...you know...) only by computerized means, measuring the alcoholic content. Well, that's why old and old-fashioned are so expensive: 'cause they are rare, ain't it so?
Before I left, I fulfilled one of my pals called Claymore (you can guess the reasons for the nickname) biggest wishes and got him a special little Caol Ila something. It's resting now here at my side, waiting for a great occasion to share it with him.
My next destination was Dunvegan Castle. Met this en route. Impressing, don't you think?
And just possibly swwwwwweeeeeeet for some people, too. Go ahead, cuddle it!
Also I found the Black Sheep, finally.
However, when I hit the parking lot I saw they charges almost 10 pounds for entry to that thing! I could not even sneek a look over the fences to see whether it's worth. No. No more rip-off with me, buddies. I'm off!
That's why I headed towards Portree Tourist Info, in order for them to guide me to Clach Ard.
Along the way my wise and allknowing GPS used its appearantly mystical powers to guide me straight to the next epic single-track road.
With another nuissance over here: cattle grids. Normally just make you rattle a bit, but all hell breaks loose when the get wet...
Well, I used the path to settle down for some meal and think. I understood suddenly, that I had seen soooo much in the last days, that I am no longer appreciating the marvellous views and moments being offered to me. Needed some change of scenery, at least. Given that and the time-pressure with the Ferries to Ireland and everything, I decided to skip Ireland for another time and head straight down to Wales.
Hell, it is summer after all! Didn't receive very much of it back in Germany (it is cold and freaking wet all over Middle Europe this year...). And what did I do? Drive right into the best summer of northern Scotland with almost 20 degrees Celsius!
Screw that, I wanted sun and warmth! Appearantly, Freyr liked my thinking, 'cause he waited with his next rain until I managed to finish my business of eating and resting and enjoying the scenery.
Clach Ard is a stone from the piktish era, with symbols and everything. Very...symbolic.
Of course I do appreciate these ancient sites and like to smell their flair and vibrate in their magic.
If only Clach Ard wasn't simply a stone at the regular village road. Coming back to Pratchett again and according to Lancres' witches, the unspectacular, common things are the most magic of them all. He is right, without any question, still, it was missing something.
Maybe that little sucker had to do with it a thing or two, barking at me from the moment I rolled by his house and, after five minutes of wuff-wuffing, while keeping his distance, with a snort, suddenly stopping and trotting back to his premises.
Oh well, I have the pictures for my buddy, who is more interested in these antique matters anyhow.
On I drove to Glasgow. Now, before we leave once and for all and come to regret it, some more impressions from the Isle of Skye and Nice Fata Morgana like views from the Ferry and, of course, where I was BOUND to head -.-
The route to Glasgow leads to Ben Nevis, first. The highest mountain in Scotland and UK. Well. It is so high, you cannot actually see it. What you CAN see, is the Ben Nevis distillery (one I decided not to visit...) and the pumped-storage power plant attached to it.
From here, you'll go through Fort William and Loch Lomond national park. Loch Lomond is really some nice place, whereas overrun by tourists. The coastal route is another epic series of twisties, a dream for any biker not moving a half of a ton hog around.
I can recommend that ride very much, however, no pictures of this final stage itself.
Shortly after Loch Lomond I hit the superslab and fought for miles until an empty tank and darkness. At ten o'clock I arrived in Moffat, the first best town showing itself and hit the Black Bull Hotel, the first best hotel as well.
Which was a great thing, since I enjoyed a long and quite fluid night in local pubs, listening to “Circuit Breakers”, local cover/rock band of aging musicians. Which is AGAIN good, 'cause those who remains have the spirit and the skills. The drummer of that band is simply awesome. Could be a free jazz drummer as well.
Classical pubs in UK are sooo awesome. Completely differing from our german culture, here its a lot of playing and singing along besides the drinking. Amazing experience, that.
I hit the sack somewhat 1 o'clock after also visiting the 'disco' right besides the Black Bull and achieving the state of completely drunk :-)
Oh yeah, I just now remembered my little Tigerprincess hit the 50.000 km line that day. Another drink on her!