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Old 07-09-2013, 04:19 PM   #38
kuhjunge OP
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Joined: Aug 2011
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Cool2 Scotland: Thurso - Isle of Skye

Our last night in Thurso was very windy and I was freezing the whole night. Consequently I was not feeling too great the next morning. Additionally (or not?) I had some stomach problems. It was time to get out of Thurso. The weather was ok and after a short stop at Lidl we headed towards Dunnet Head and John O'Groats.

According to Wikipedia Dunnet Head "includes the most northerly point of the mainland of Great Britain". Besides the lighthouse and a few left over buildings from WW2, the birds form the main attractions. So we went there, had a small walk and took a few pictures.

Dunnet Head - picture taken by Roger

Next stop was John O'Groats and I got a big deja-vu from the North Cape. One tourist shop besides another, the "lands-end" sign was fenced and they want to take your money for taking a picture of it. The main reason I wanted to go there was that Long Way Down started from there. Good that the limited space on our bikes deny souvenir shopping ;) Well we did our "I have been here pictures" and hit the road again.

John O'Groats

The beginning of the A99 did not offer anything special. Honestly I got bored with those streets, one scenic highway/road after the next are nice... I was missing some action. Skippy as well. We found some promising gravel roads on the map and based on my GPS the road was not a through road. That sounded exciting and we went for it. After several kilometers of country side riding we were finally at the point where the gravel road started. It was such a narrow track and full of holes that we could only go with moderate speed (we did not intend to test the durability of our bikes).

At the beginning of the "forbidden road" and Lyra always finds funny places to go...

A few kilometres later we came to a halt on a barrier... "road only for private vehicles blabla blabla blabla... get permission from the caretaker" or so... The gate was unlocked and so we went through as the gravel road looked very promising on the other side of the fence

We kept on going and passed through one or two wide open gates, some highlighting that no vehicles allowed beyond this point and the gate might be locked at any time. OK - we took our chances. At the one and only crossing we went straight towards a house and there was even in bigger letters no unauthorised vehicles and no motorcycles (damn, they could read our mind) - ok it was time for a U-turn and we took the other road at that crossing.

The street ended on my GPS already a few km ago. I put my GPS to OFFROAD mode and we followed the temptation to continue our adventure along the forbidden trail. I started to run low on fuel and based on my GPS it was about 8km before the official road started again with a filling station a bit later.

We enjoyed the ride in a moderate speed, the sheep were a bit more sensitive (not used to so many vehicles passing by) and the landscape was stunning as earlier. Here would have been many opportunities for wild camping or find shelter in one of the abandoned-looking houses. We passed several open gates and felt lucky... until we came to the last gate. It was locked with a solid chain and an expensive looking number-lock. Damn - would we now really have to go back all the way and make a 62km detour to hit the same point from the other side? Did the land-owners in the meantime lock down the other gates behind us??? The reason I was low on fuel was that some of the filling stations ceased to exist so that might spice up our situation even more.

As a son of a blacksmith I looked at the gate a little closer and found that we could lift the gate out of the hinges ;) In worst case I would need to dig out my scissor jack to get the required leverage. We tried to lift it together and lucky us the gate had almost no weight. 2 minutes later we magically passed through the (already again closed and put back into place) gate. I am not sure what is the point of those remote located telephone boxes... maybe to call the smithy to break the lock??? 

First we were thinking to camp some more, however since this ride was a little exhausting and I still felt so lousy, we went to the first B&B which announced itself in Helmsdale and there we stayed.

Cooking with a view ;)

At the last day of June we drove to Ullapool and had many nice single track roads. Those are always good for some adrenalin. Two vehicles moving at 50-80km/h from opposite direction and some drivers seemed to see an opportunity to play a little "chicken" game.

Cute little island in Lairg.

The ruins of the Ardvreck Castle at A837.

It's said to be haunted, but unfortunately we didn't meet any ghosts...

Properly equipped biker :)

Calda House next to the castle.

My room... with a doll

Finding a place to stay in Ullapool was more difficult then expected. Many had accommodation available but not for us... "Ouh you got doooogs... sorry we don't do dogs" ...maybe over there..? I felt like the famous vacuum-cleaner sales guy who knocks his way from door to door. After searching for about one hour we finally found a nice en-suite B&B (we took it without the breakfast) and we stayed two nights since I was still feeling lousy.

Girls got their own couch

I was basically the whole time in bed while Skippy took care of me and the girls and enjoyed some nice walks on the hills. She also got a great plan for the rest of the trip... Skippy has been very disappointed with Scotland: cold weather, raiped landscape, sheep everywhere (we all know what really happens to them!), poor veggie selection in shops.... so she needed to get a new aspect to enjoy the country. Skippy "the film geek" had a great idea to travel through Britain (and rest of the world) by visiting famous movie locations :) This we actually did in a small scale few years ago in New Zealand.

Why does Great Britain need English and Scottish pounds...? Especially when they're worth the same!

We took the scenic road from Ullapool towards Isle of Skye and faced the even bigger challenge to find an accommodation especially since we wanted to stay several days in one place. No dogs. No dogs. No dogs... I cannot remember on how many doorbells I rang in order to hear "we don't do dogs". In the end somebody had mercy and by paying a premium on the room price (the highest so far on our trip) we found a B&B place in Kyleakin for two nights. This time the search took almost two hours and I already had several walks in various places. Enough was enough and I was ready to pay, get out of the rain and rest.

My first blooper, getting stuck with the sidecar in the ditch.

The movie "Highlander" is one of our big favourites! It was shot in various places across Scotland and we wanted to explore one of the locations on the Isle of Skye: Cioch in the Cuillin Hills near Glenbrittle (see this clip 2:43 onwards). It was drizzling and cloudy as usually and we decided to stay on the beach to have a play with the dogs instead. No point of going to the top of a mountain which is covered by clouds!

The Cuillins in clouds.

Playing ball with Lyra.

Ulpu - the frisbee monster.

Trash at the beach - remember no fouling!

Everywhere is signs about picking up the dog poo, but what about littering humans!? Isn't plastic trash much worse than organic shit?!

This monster just runs to the most closest person to throw the frisbee...

Magic forest with full of human shit and litter.

...and where did this come from? Does Robin Hood live nearby..? ;)

Next morning we were heading towards Fort William and our next Highlander movie location - the Eilean Donan Castle (also used eg. in Bond films). The castle had quite a history and after being not used for about 200 years, it was rebuilt between 1912-1932. Judging from the movie we imagined the castle bigger than in reality. Nevertheless once we walked inside it was impressive, big and gave us a good picture of how life was in earlier times. We continued on the scenic routes and next stop was Fort William.

Eilean Donan Castle

Cool bridge towards the castle.

Complicated inner yard with many corners.

Old building with some modern elements.

Cool looking bench along the parking place.

... and it was not until Fort William that we noticed a major problem with Skippy's bike.

∼ Wolfi
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