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Old 06-21-2011, 01:34 AM   #1
GlobalTech OP
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Location: Hampshire, UK
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Touring Scotland on the KTM 990 Adv

This was our first big outing on the 990 Adv, two up, fully laden with camping gear and two free weeks to explore Scotland's minor roads and stunning landscapes.

We decided to do a clockwise route starting and ending in Peak District, although weather got the better of us and we cut the trip short by a day.

I'll be honest and say that living off the bike and under rip-stop nylon for almost two weeks was quite enduring. Not because of riding, but rather due to getting soaking wet, day in - day out and struggling to get / keep things dry. However, the scenery more than made up for the weather, likewise did the nomadic lifestyle.

The Rev-it two piece textile suits (I slated in the past) actually turned out to be a really good. I was surprised how well they kept gale force winds, driving rain and midges out......more on this later!

Anyhow, here's a ride report of sorts.....

Day 1 - Eastleigh to Peak District - 196 miles

We kicked of at 9:30am and took things gently, stopping every 90 minutes or so to get the blood back into my butt, filling up with fuel, coffee and grabbing a bite to eat at various motorway services on route. The wife (Anne) struggled with her knees, not sure what the cause was, but guessed it was either the seat or foot peg positions.

Our route was M3, A34, A43, M1 and was pretty boring really. We arrived at a "no vacancies" sign on small campsite near Monsal Dale off the B6465 mid afternoon.
Anne sweet talked the owner and he said that due to poor weather, many of his bookings were cancelled. We pitched the tent, had a brew and then wondered over to see the views of Monsal Dale.

We then headed to the local pub, had a few beers and grabbed a meal before staggering back to the tent for an early night....well, there's no need to push it - it's only day 1!

Day 2 - Peak District to Galloway- 240 miles

Sleeping under rip-stop means you're awake as soon as it gets light. That happened to be ~5:00am. So after a few brews, we slowly packed up and got on the road.

We followed the B6465 (nice road through the Dales) up to the A623 and then on to the A6 and M6, stopping for a (crap) sandwich at some derelict services outside Blackrod on the M61.

Back on the bike, the heavens opened and we had torrential rain and 60mph side gusts all the way up the M61, so we dived into the services at Horwich for fuel, a fag and a rest bite!
We gingerly carried on up the M61 to Carlise and again stopped for coffee and bun at the Little Chef at Todhills. Back on the M6 and off at the A74 (relief), we picked up the Queen's Way through Galloway National Park.

This was a great road taking in Chatteringshaws Loch and a some great scenery before turning onto the A714 to Glentrool. We arrived at the campsite late afternoon, the sun was out and we found a great spot next to a small lake and pitched up.
Time was getting on so went looking for the local pub. About a mile up the A714 we found what we thought was our first real Scottish country pub, until we walked into what turned out to be an up market wine bar / restaurant that wouldn't look out of place in Brighton. I guess the owners decided to revamp the place to pander to the Motorhome / Caravan brigade. Prices were high and to be honest the food wasn't that good.
Leaving the pub at 10pm in daylight, we were confronted with swarms of midges. We got back to the tent, made a brew and discovered that we were covered head to toe in the little buggers. We broke out the Mosi nets and repellent, but it was too late, Anne had ~80 bites on her face, neck and arms. So we called it a night, closed the tent and exterminated every last one of them (found on the inside!)

Day 3 - Galloway to Oban - 181 miles

Off to an early start, Anne woke up looking like she had just had a severe course of botox injections. Her face was so puffy with bites I couldn't see her eyes…Piriton to the rescue!
We packed up and were on the road by 8:30. In mist (drizzle) we followed the A714 and soon diverted onto some fantastic B/unclassified roads up through Kilkerran (stunning landscapes) - meeting up with the A77 at Maybole and then stopping for breakfast.

We continued on A77 up to McInroy's Point and caught the ferry to Hunters Quay.

We then followed the A815 and A83 to Inveraray, before getting on the A816 for Oban.
We arrived early evening at a nice campsite off Glennshellach Road. The sun was shinning and we had a chance to dry some of our kit.

That night we ate in....two tins of chicken casserole and one tin of mushy peas, all mixed together and boiled on the petrol stove….washed down with couple of shots of Southern Comfort!

Day 4 - Oban to Isle of Skye - 198 miles

We woke up to the sound of rain, packed up and headed off towards the Isle of Skye.
We followed the A822 to Glenachullish and stopped for breakfast at a local golf club. The place was empty, so the proprietor wasn't averse to having a biker pull in to increase trade.
We carried on the A828 and then caught the Corran-Ardgour ferry. Soon after arriving at Ardgour, the sun came out and we carried on the A861 until we found an amazing coastal road (B8043). For me, our Scotland tour had now begun, no cars, no people and postcard scenery!

After ~20 miles at 25mph, we left the B8043 at Lochuishe and worked our way down - to what was meant to be Lochaline.

Unfortunately, when I planned the route, I placed the waypoint on the wrong side of the loch and I ended up off-roading for 10 miles, until Anne said...enough!

Being happy Larry, I followed the same route back, picked up the A884 and worked our way along the scenic A861 until Acharacle, where we then stopped for a late lunch.
Back on the A861 we followed the breathtaking coastline until the A830 at Lochailort and then went parallel with the railway line until Mallaig.

Another ferry crossing to Armadale (Skye) and under heavy rain we headed up to a campsite at Sligachen, arriving early evening.
Our intention was to have two nights here, we paid this guy £24 (he mentioned a storm was brewing but still took our money), pitched our tent and grabbed steak and chips at the local "walkers" pub. We left 2 hours later under heavy rain and gale force winds. Got back to the tent and attempted to make a brew. No chance, the stove wouldn't stay alight, so we called it a night. What a night indeed!

The tent was battered by heavy wind and rain, the flysheet ripped, the poles bent and water was seeping in. We spent the night holding the tent down and finally gave up at 4:30am, donned the motorcycle gear and packed the lot up and moved to the barren toilet block to make a brew.

Day 5 - Rest Day

Supposedly our rest day, we were tired, soaking wet and it was only 6:00am. At 7:00am, we were visited by an Aussie, whose opening sentence was "that's the bike Charlie and Ewan weren't allowed to have....nice bike". After a 30min journey conversation, I moved the bike off the newly formed pond, loaded her up and rode to Portree. Conscious, that I was already 20 miles into reserve and the next petrol station was 12 miles away. Fortunately, the bike was true to KTM form, it had spent a night hammered by torrential rain and was now running on vapour, but it made it!

After getting petrol, we parked up in the centre of Portree, walked into a cafe and had a full Scottish breakfast. Anne and I looked at each other and said, bugger it let's get a hotel tonight and dry out.

We wandered to the local Tourist information centre and was met by dozens of poor souls (campers) looking for hotels/B&Bs. Yep, the storm was that bad. Out came the plastic and we booked into a harbour based hotel (£150/night…Ouch!). Only one problem, it was 10:00am and we couldn't check in until 14:00, so off to the pub then!

Four pints of Guinness later and broad knowledge of how the Skye mafia operate (pub landlord), we dragged ourselves into the Hotel, hung everything out to dry and then slept for 3 hours. I did wonder why the Hotelier was persistent about using their laundry room.

Day 6 - Isle of Skye to Applecross - 76 miles

We woke to a misty (drizzle) morning, grabbed a monster Scottish breakfast (Haggis and all) and loaded up the bike for day 6. All ready to hit the road at 9:30 and bugger the bike wouldn't start!
I immediately thought that the heavy rain has got the better of the mighty KTM. I checked the fuses, pulled the bashplate, cleaned/dried the relays, checked the wiring and after an hour, was completely stumped. So out came the trusty KTM Service card. I phoned the hotline and was told someone would be with me in 1 hour (11:30am). So I thought, better put the bike back together so the guy can start from scratch.

After a momentary lapse of ignorance, I noticed that the neutral light was out....yep, I had left the bugger in gear! Sh!t, this is going to make me look a right twat, so I quickly phoned KTM back and said, "I managed to get it to start ...Ahem, it must have been water in the need to send the relay truck" which point Anne called me something that rhymed with dick!

We finally got under way at midday and got off the misty isle heading for Applecross. Over the Skye bridge following the A890, we followed the coast road and passed Loch Kishorn and Loch Carron before turning onto the A896 and heading cross country.

We arrive at the Applecross Road under stormy skies and made our way over the 3rd highest road in Scotland.

As we worked our way up to the peak, visibility dropped to about 20 feet. I did a quick 360 at the top and started my descent. About a 3rd of the way down the skies turn blue, the sun comes out and I'm loving it!

We pull into a campsite early afternoon and checked into one of their camping huts. (Thanks to DG for the heads up on these...brilliant idea, why aren't there more of them in the UK?).

Making the most of the sunshine, we air the tent and notice it’s badly damaged, so much for shelling out £400+ on a high performance tent. Out came the plasters and we patched it up as best we could.
Shortly after some Dutch neighbours arrived on a BMW Tourer and we spent an hour or so chatting about our journeys so far.
The Dutch were doing Scotland anticlockwise and we were going clockwise. We then grabbed a meal at the campsite (not bad food) and then wandered down to the shoreline for some overdue exercise.

With hindsight, we should have booked two nights and given the Misty Isle a miss!

Day 7 - Applecross to Clachtoll - 152 miles

A new day started with plenty of sunshine followed by another hearty Scottish breakfast. We were saddled up 10:00am, riding the stunning northerly coast road out of Applecross and joining up with the A896 at Sheildaig. At Kinlochewe we joined the A832 and headed for Gairloch onto Poolewe, again following the coast passing through Gruinard Bay and Little Loch Broom.

At Braemore with turned north onto the A835 and after 20 miles we stopped at a Pub in Ullapool for a late afternoon dinner. We then pick up the A837 to Lochinver and turn onto the B869 heading for Clachtoll.

Early evening we arrived at Clachtoll under threatening skies and pitched up for the night. The campsite was owned by an ex Royal Navy Diver and we quickly learned that it was his little slice of Scottish paradise. In good weather you couldn't disagree, white sand, rugged rock coastline and beautiful sunsets.

Fortunately, for us the sun came out 10pm and the place lit up like a oil painting!

Day 8 - Clacktoll to Thurso - 135 miles

Our original plan was head for Talmine (Kyle of Tongue), approx 50 miles west of Thurso and do short ride on day 9. However, we decided to push on for 35 miles and stay just outside Thurso.
We were on the road 9:30am and worked our way north and east along the B969 to Drumbeg and Kylesku, where we stopped for breakfast.

We then picked up the A838 to Durness, stopped for coffee and pressed on around Loch Eriboll, across to the Kyle of Tongue and onto the campsite (a pub garden) at Melvich.

We arrived late afternoon and pitched up for the night. The landlord was an ex Army Sergeant from the East End of London and we spent the evening (in an empty pub) listening to his life story and political views. Quite an insight!

Day 9 - Thurso to Rousay (Orkney) - 40 miles

No rush, we had already booked the Scrabster ferry to Orkney and only had 15 miles to go. Today was the day we were going to meet up with some friends - who decided to change their lifestyle and move to some barren island off Orkney.
We needed some provisions and couldn't turn up empty handed, so we followed the A838 into Thurso, dropped into the Co-op and picked up some wine and food.
Thurso is quite a strange place, we asked a local where we could get a breakfast and he pointed to a Bar which doubles as a Cafe in the morning. We each sat down to the largest Scottish Breakfast we've ever eaten - enough for 4, while watching the locals sup their pints and chasers at 10am.
We then headed off to Scrabster and caught the midday ferry to Orkney (took about 1.5 hours).

The ferry passed the Old Man of Hoy (a 450' pillar of red sandstone that stands out from the Hoy coastline) which I recently learnt was used (back in the 80s) as a dummy torpedo target by RN submarines.

Arriving at Stromness, it was quick jaunt across Orkney to Tingwall and onto another ferry to Rousay to meet up with our friends.

Day 10 - Rest Day

Chill out time, a leisurely breakfast followed by a tour of the island, all 14.3 miles of it. Rousay is fascinating place if you’re into archaeology. Within 1 mile, you can see the Midhowe Brock (200 bc), Midhowe Cairn (3000 bc) and a Viking church (600 ad), all set against a backdrop of sea and sparsely populated islands.

By the evening we were both feeling a little cabin bound and were itching to get back on the road.

Day 11 - Orkney to Loch Ness - 204 miles

We had to a long ride ahead of us and had to catch an early(ish) ferry to meet the Orkney Cat at St Margaret's Hope on time. We left Rousay at 8:45, arrived at Tingwall at 9:00, rode 30 miles to St Margaret's Hope and sat around for an hour waiting for the Cat to load up.

Just after midday we were back on the mainland and heading down the B876, then B870 and onto A9 passing Mybster, Achavanich, Latheron, Berridale and stopping at a Truckers restaurant outside Evelix. We carried on the A9 through to Loch Ness and camped at a site in Drumadochit just of the A82.

The campsite was an offshoot of the stables and we were told in no uncertain terms that we cannot ride the bike between 9 and 10 am, for fear of upsetting the “horses”.
We pitched the tent and wandered off to a local Inn for some grub. After 1.5 hours of waiting and three pints down, the bar staff told us that they had overlooked our food order, which prompted a free drink offer. So I grabbed the single malt whiskey menu and had wee dram or two (after the meal of course!) We then staggered back to the tent for a brew and hit the sack.

Day 12 - Lock Ness to Pitlochry (Cairngorms) - 160 miles

Ironically, we woke up to the sound of Quad bike rounding up horses. So much for upsetting the locals!. We got underway early and headed off to the Cairngorms. We stopped at a Tourist haunt on Loch Ness and grabbed a breakfast before picking up the A82 back to Inverness. We turned onto the A9 until Cambridge, where we joined the A938. The A938 takes you over the highest road in Scotland with some breathtaking views.

We passed through Dulnain Bridge, Craggen, Speybridge, Bridge of Brown and watched an electricity pylon fall over on the Letch Road.

We pressed on towards Ballater and picked up the A93 to Braemar, where we stopped for tasty Haddock and Chips in the village chip shop (highly recommended). We continued on the A93 to Blacklunans and turned onto the B950 to meet the A924 heading towards a campsite at Moulin.

Arriving in a heavy shower the Campsite refused to let the bike on the grounds and insisted that we park at the gate and carry our luggage 1/2 mile to the camp field. Guess what? We didn't stay long! We punched in the postcode of the nearest alternative campsite and rode another 10 miles into Pitlochry arriving early evening.
Unfortunately, campsites in around the Cairngorns are bloody expensive! Most sites cost less than £10 or free, this one was £25...yes £25 for a patch of wet grass and a paving slab with no 75 sprayed on it.

We had another wet night and the Tent wasn't up too much, so we called it a day and agreed to go for an endurance run home.

Day 13 - Pitlochry to Eastleigh - 497 miles

Leaving the campsite at 10am, we rejoined the A9 down to the M6, picked up the M42, M40 and A34 arriving home at 9pm.

So how did the KTM 990 perform?
With the bike being marginally overweight to start with, it performed everything effortlessly (if you excuse pilot's error).

She averaged 44.5 mpg over the 2100 miles. Many of the single track roads forced constant 1-2-1-2-3-2-1 gear changes for hours at a time.
I maintained 75-85mph on most of the A roads and motorways with the only problem being side wind. A fully laden KTM 990 acts like a spinnaker and I had to lean into the wind to stop being blown across two lanes.

Surprisingly, she used no coolant and ~1/2 litre of oil over the whole distance. This was more than I thought as it used very little in the first 2000 miles.

As for tyres, the rear Scorpion is almost toast after 4000 miles, while the front still has plenty of tread. Time to spoon on a Mefo Super Explorer!

The Gobi luggage was totally waterproof if a little restrictive in capacity, however the Wolfman medium duffle on the CJDesign rack was dependable, it kept our sleeping bags, fleeces and Thermarests totally dry and was solidly mounted.

Would I change anything on the bike?

Yes, the handlebar mounted SW-Motech GPS bracket will be replaced with a proper dash mounted KTM (Touratech version). The GPS on the bars was difficult to read - being too close, in the sun and out of road view. I prefer not to use bluetooth as its irritating .

The 150 mile tank range was a bit of bind. Filling up the tank never coincided with wanting a break, so I'm adding a 2in1 exhaust and Ned tank to increase the range to 250 miles.

After ~1.5 hours the seat was bloody awful, It felt like I had been sitting on an 8" log, so I've joined the 6 month Renazco waiting list.

As a summary of the journey, the west and north-west coast roads of Scotland offer amazing seascapes views and are exciting to ride, even more so on a KTM 990. The single track roads are empty bar the odd motorhome driver ignorant of “unsuitable road” signs. However, the east side is gentler (easier to ride) and has more mountainous viewpoints. When I return, I will definitely spend more time on the west and north-west!

We did see a lot of bikers, mainly Dutch and German riding BMW GS and GSAs. As for KTMs, we only saw four, a group of three Dutch going in the opposite direction and a UK reg'd Silver 950 (two up), who we inadvertently played tag with for ~200 miles around the north west coast.

Cost-wise, we spent a total of £1300 over 2 weeks; £300 went on fuel, £150 on ferries, £350 on campsites (inc. 1 night hotel) and the rest on good food and beer.

Surprisingly, even given the very "changeable" weather we both enjoyed the ride, the lifestyle and the freedom, so much so, we are now planning a 10 day trip to the Pyrenees in October!
'09 990 Adventure (UKl) - fully farkled
'06 525 EXC Racing (UKl) - a new stablemate

RR - Two weeks Touring Scotland
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:27 AM   #2
Christian RA40XT
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Great pictures!

Reminds me on my last holiday last year....

But I got more luck with better weather!
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:43 AM   #3
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Really good RR, good pictures too. Sorry that the weather wasn't a bit kinder for you.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:39 AM   #4
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:39 AM   #5
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Wonderful trip with very crisp log & nice pics.
I can imagine with rain as a constant uninvited companion, how messy things can get.
Thanks for sharing the ride.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:59 AM   #6
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This looks great... I love Scotland.

Where did you get the little luggage loops on top of your panniers?
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:43 AM   #7
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great rr
I've been camping in Scotland and remember the midges - tenacious and vicious!
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Old 06-21-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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Good stuff, thanks for sharing. I was in Scotland two weeks ago, though only for four nights, and got soaked as well. BTW, I stayed at the same campsite outside Oban (Roseview, formerly the Diver's Campsite) - that little lean-to/BBQ area came in handy.
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Old 06-21-2011, 02:18 PM   #9
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Nice pics and good write up. And theres a KTM in it. Hard to beat !!
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Old 06-21-2011, 04:58 PM   #10
Just Paul
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great RR !

your story about the bike in gear made me

thanks for sharing !
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Old 06-22-2011, 11:33 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by BoydRIDER View Post

Where did you get the little luggage loops on top of your panniers?
'09 990 Adventure (UKl) - fully farkled
'06 525 EXC Racing (UKl) - a new stablemate

RR - Two weeks Touring Scotland
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:21 PM   #12
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Nice ride, but I wouldn't do the Pyrenees in October... earlier is better.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:00 PM   #13
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After a momentary lapse of ignorance, I noticed that the neutral light was out....yep, I had left the bugger in gear! Sh!t
Man, I wouldn't be telling anyone if that happened to me!! lol

Nice report, enjoyed it.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:17 PM   #14
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Great report, loved it. Gotta go there some time.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:33 PM   #15
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Glencoe & The Trossachs

Hi, great pictures and lovely bike. I think you lasted longer in the tent than i would in that weather.

Did you get to see much of Glencoe & The Trossachs? If not put it on your to-do list for a weekend away, not to be missed!!!
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