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Old 06-07-2013, 12:29 PM   #1
Thijs_B OP
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Laugh Scotland May 2013 - A Father and Son trip.

After I went to the Nordkapp last year, next on the list for me was Scotland. I asked my father to join me, so it would be a nice father & son trip. We ended up riding a little over 3000km in 13 days, going around the top of Scotland (including Dunnet Head, another 'Nordkapp')


First some background info...

Since the Nordkapp trip I did not ride my bike for a while. I was far from done with riding, but I felt I had outgrown it and wanted to move to a bike better suited to me. After looking around throughout the winter I found this '00 BMW R1150GS a couple of months ago, with just over 70.000km on the odometer.


The day of the trade-in. My first bike next to my second one.

I installed pannier racks so I could use my own aluminum panniers, a Bagster tankcover, ring for my tankbag, power plug for my GPS and finally for the looks a very cool adventure beak. I was ready!

My father Ben has been riding bikes for over 30 years, and for the last 15 years or so his beast is a '93 BMW K75. He bought it with around 50.000km on the counter, but right now it is almost at 210.000km.


Ben playing with his GPS, at Megget reservoir. Notice the shit on his engine, not just dirt but proper shit.

Almost two years exactly to the departure date (may 2011) Ben decided to have revenge for all the years of traffic jams he had to endure and created one of his own by crashing his bike during rush hour. In heavy rain he lost control of his front wheel on a patch of repaired asphalt, while overtaking a car at 120km/h. We don't know what did the most damage, the impact of him hitting the tarmac or the slide that was stopped by the roadside crash barrier, but he was lucky to be alive. He did crush his ankle bone into a thousand pieces, and doctors thought he would never walk normal again.

After 7 weeks in hospital and multiple surgeries, he surprised everyone by walking without aid at the end of the summer, and rode his bike for the first time in the spring of 2012. He was and still is on pain medication but it is (for the circumstances) manageable. The bike had been ok, it had only lost a crash bar, an indicator and a broken windscreen, but the engine was without any serious damage.

The mental aspect however was equally daunting. If it wasn't for my enthusiasm for bikes he might have never got on one again, and even after those first short rides he had a hard time getting over the fear of water or dirt on the road, especially in corners. This hardly changed throughout 2012, and he could hardly imagine crossing wet and cold mountain passes like I did in Norway last September.

With all this in mind I still asked him to join me to Scotland, where he would have no choice but ride in the (guaranteed) rain and get over this trauma. To prepare, we got some advanced training from a professional and experienced riding instructor. This took place on what ended up to be the rainiest day in Dutch recorded history (27 hours of continuous rain), we were soaked but the training helped and convinced us we could handle anything Scotland could throw at us.


A week before departure, testing out the handling of the fully loaded bikes.

So without further ado, we're off!
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:47 PM   #2
Olorin_the_13th
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Waaayyy!

Came back to ADVrider to find some incitations of where to go to this summer - only to find this thread describing a route sharing a lot of my miles from last year :-D

And what shall I say, yeah, the british rain did its thing for me, too.

So - I'm looking forward to your report. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:50 PM   #3
Thijs_B OP
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Thumb Day 1 + 2 - IJmuiden to Newcastle, Holy Island and Edinburgh

So the departure date finally came around but we could still sleep in, since the ferry to Newcastle Upon Tyne would depart at the end of the afternoon. Bonus is that the terminal is only a one hour ride from my parents house.

We arrived right on schedule we found there were more bikers than we expected there to be. I think all in total there were around 150 of them on the ferry.


Waiting...

We had to wait for a very long time for them to load all the cargo carriers and such. This gave us time to check out the 'competition', which consisted of moslty Germans with new-looking GS'es and other BMW's. There were Harleys as well, and the occasional japanese bike made up the last 5%.


This would be my office for the next two weeks, I'm not complaining.

Finally we were able to board, ready to be ripped off at the buffet and bars. Seriously, bring your own food and drink on this ferry, you'll be able to affort an extra stay in a hotel somewhere later on. It would be ok if it was good enough to justify the price, but it was nowhere near that.


It was a bit chilly outside, even though the sun was out.



I took a similar pic last year on the Oslo - Kiel ferry. Even with all the hassle, I still kinda like ferries. You really feel like you're going somewhere.

The next morning we got down to the bikes as soon as possible. We had to wait for more than one hour before we could get of the ship with trucks starting an revving their engines all around (seriously, why?! The hatch wasn't even open!). It was uncomfortably hot with all the riding gear on and we felt baked when we could finally get off, only to be greeted by another waitingline for the passport control. We didn't even have to take off our helmets, which was practical but makes me question the point of having passport checks at all.


Very crowded, but since we're all bikers conversation is always possible.

Anyway we're in the UK! We followed the big A roads at first, but soon left them to visit Lindisfarne on Holy Island, with the legendary causeway which gets flooded two times a day by the ocean.


Riding over the ocean...


According the crossing table, this bridge would be submerged half an hour after this picture was taken. Hard to imagine...



I guess this cabin is to be used if you get caught on the road by the tide, from all the names with hearts between them it gets used a lot to 'escape the tide'.



Lindisfarne Castle

We had lunch at the local post-office, got the advice to visit the Drovers Inn at Loch Lomond later on (which we eventually did, more later), and generally enjoyed the plentifull sunshine. We didn't have too much time however, since the tide would come in not to long after that and we'd be stuck on the island until something like 19:30.


The castle on the Island. Click it for full view.

After Holy Island we followed the A1 north, and stopped to get some UK currency in Berwick-upon-Tweed. From there we left the shore to ride some minor roads north. Eventually however the weather changed and we decided to head directly to Edinburgh and find somewhere to stay there. We navigated the beautiful old city streets and arrived at Ravensdown BnB, which I saved in my GPS beforehand. It is run by a Scot who is married to a Dutch gal, so he could speak dutch, and the bikes were parked in the yard behind a closed gate. What more could you ask for?


The weather cleared for a bit, so we went for a short walk to the Firth of Forth.

All in all it was a good day, but we hoped the weather would clear a bit, it started raining again...

Map for day 2:
.

Thijs_B screwed with this post 06-07-2013 at 12:55 PM Reason: Forgot to add picture
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:56 PM   #4
rtwpaul
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...looks like a good route, did you keep a gps file of it?
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:41 PM   #5
FJRCraig
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I'm in... Nice report so far.

Always like reading reports of my 'home' country. Nice to see it from a different perspective

Craig
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Old 06-08-2013, 12:53 AM   #6
Erik500
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Thumb

I'm in

Cool to see you sharing your RR on the undisputed best RR-site ever : ADVrider !


Thanks for putting the link on your FB.
Just out of curiosity : is Peter (Plofkop) the instructor you mentioned ?

Cheers,

Erik
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Old 06-08-2013, 03:48 AM   #7
Rutabaga
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Always nice to start with a nice ferry ride. Or even a poor one. Enjoying your trip.
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:10 AM   #8
Thijs_B OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtwpaul View Post
...looks like a good route, did you keep a gps file of it?
Yeah, the TomTom Rider has an option to record a gps track of a ride. I created one for each day, the very first map of the thread shows the combined result.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik500 View Post
I'm in

Cool to see you sharing your RR on the undisputed best RR-site ever : ADVrider !


Thanks for putting the link on your FB.
Just out of curiosity : is Peter (Plofkop) the instructor you mentioned ?

Cheers,

Erik
Hey Erik! I do know Peter from motor-forum ride-outs, but it wasn't him. Nice to see you're also active here on ADV! Can't find any of your ride reports?
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:53 AM   #9
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Cool2 Day 3 - Forth bridges, Braemar and wildcamping

After a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, mmm) we left with dry skies but wet tarmac and headed to Arthurs Seat. Suddenly you leave city traffic and are cruising on a hill/mountain, strange but nice.


This was in the garden at Ravensdown, don't know what to think of it.


I think there was some runner's event around the hill, there were runners everywhere. Being a runner myself I could imagine Arthurs Seat being a nice training lap for the marathon that would take place the weekend after. We stopped on the top parking lot, and climbed the lowest peak. We could've gone for the higher one and see the old part of the city, but my father ankle will not allow for something like that so early in the day.


Panorama of the view over the new city, click on it for full size!

We descended back into the city and made our way to the Forth river bridges. It was there my father found the room key of the BnB in his jacket pocket


Some nice engineering here in Scotland, the bridge on the background is also nice.
Being a civil engineer, my father mumbled something like 'could do with a lot less steel'.

So after the ride back to the BnB we finally got to cross the Forth of Firth and immediately hit very, very bad weather. We made our way to some single lane roads and continued north. Luckily the weather cleared very soon, it changes all the time and is very unpredictable. Which is a good thing if you ask me.


A waterfall at a leg-stretching stop, somewhere near... some place... or somewhere in that area.



After a lunch break in Auchterarder (the barmaid said something like "You'll probably see more of Scotland than I have") we headed for the old military road to Braemar, which is so nice it is a reason in itself to visit Scotland.


Yup, could do with this.



Cruising towards Braemar.


Since the weather was so good we decided to look for a place to camp, and quickly found a spot between Braemar and Balmoral Castle, at a fishermans cabin next to the river.


The shed was locked, it was filled with chairs.


Plenty of fresh water, far from warm enough to take a swim...
We suspected the fence on the other side was to mark the edge of the hunting grounds of Balmoral Castle, but we don't know for sure.


Ben was excited for his first ever wildcamp!



The temperature had been ok during the day, but dropped early in the evening. Reading an (e-)book at camp.

After dinner (camp food, hmmm ) we went for a walk along the road. I have no problems riding on the left hand side, but walking was almost scary. Cars would come up behind us but we half expected them to hit us...


Spooky... The weather had turned a bit, but it was still (mostly) dry.


Map for the day:

Up next, Loch Ness!

Thijs_B screwed with this post 06-09-2013 at 12:41 PM Reason: Corrected one of the photo's
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Old 06-08-2013, 07:19 AM   #10
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Great pic's and narrative! Would love to go to Scotland sometime. Keep it coming, Thanks
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Old 06-08-2013, 07:49 AM   #11
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I went on a tour in Scotland once, it was so amazing! The best bike tour ever. We almost stayed afterwards we loved it so much. Want to go again, thanks for bringing the memories back.
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:04 AM   #12
catundaseskin
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Trip

After you left Berwick you passed within 25kms of where I live, If I had known you could Have stayed with us. See you got typical Scottish weather.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:37 PM   #13
Thijs_B OP
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Eek Day 4 - Cows, Loch Ness and Inverness

Sleeping next to a river certainly has its advantages, if you can get over the noise of the thing. There is however the noise, and it drops the temperature a couple of degrees, and during the night. Ben kinda froze in his summer sleeping bag and cheap air mattress. I didn't really have any trouble with the temperature, but when I got out I found him sitting in his tent with his biking gear on completely shivering. Poor guy =D.


The only drive-by vid I made during this trip...


We were at Balmoral before 10:00, so it wasn't open to the public yet.

Via Carrbridge we went towards Loch Ness.


Carrbridge, build in 1717. The oldest stone bridge in the highlands.

Just before the Loch we came to a very small road, the state of which kept getting worse and worse. While planning beforehand I found it would lead us to Loch Ness, and the GPS said it was ok, so when we got to a fence with a lot of cows behind them we opted to go through since we didn't want to take the entire road back.

The following screenshots are very low in quality, since I bodged the lighting settings on my camera just prior to the trip. Every helm-cam video I made turned out over-exposed


They looked like they didn't give a crap about us, but actually did that before we got there. The road was covered in shit .

If I knew the state of this road before we got there I would have probably avoided it, my father being on a K75 and not used to riding like this, but it was fun altogether.


The road ended in this switchback going down, very steep but a lot of fun.

We had some lunch in Foyers, where a big waterfall is just below the restaurant. We went down the steps a bit, but the waterfall seemed to be mostly dry and we didn't go down any further.


Very nice trail going down.


We rode around the Loch and back up via the north-western shore. It was nice to see the Loch in all its glory. It's an understatement to say I liked dinosaurs as a kid, and I was always fascinated watching documentaries about the Loch Ness monster, so I was excited to be there and actually see the monster! It was just there for a few moments and I managed to get my camera out in time!


This was the best pic I was able to get of it... I swear on everything I love that it's no fake!


Eventually we reached Urquhart Castle, which was our first castle visit of Scotland!






Panorama of the Loch!


Visiting these castles felt very touristy, but provided context with the lands we were traveling through. Learning about everyday life throughout the ages also gives something to think and wonder about while riding through stunning scenery.

On the last stretch towards the castle, Ben had started hearing a whining noise from his bike at around 80km/h. It didn't come from the engine, and appeared to originate from the rear, possibly the final drive. I did a little test-drive, but didn't hear anything. Ofcourse, my father did 150.000km+ on that thing, so he'll probably hear it instantly if something's wrong. This reminded me of all the final drive horror stories I read online, and we were both worried about how this would affect the trip later on, should we go to the 'real' north.

Our morale took a hit thinking over what this could mean for the rest of the trip, and since Ben was not in the mood to try out some BnB (having only slept 2-3 hours in the tent the previous night), we ended up in the Premier Inn of Inverness. We found there was a BMW Motorrad dealership only 10 minutes from the Inn and decided to go there first thing in the morning.

After dinner, I went for a walk in the general direction of Inverness to get some air and came back with some nice impressions from the city.

Inverness:










Map for day 4:

The nest morning would start with a trip to the BMW dealership...

Thijs_B screwed with this post 06-12-2013 at 11:54 AM Reason: Added GPS track at the end.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:39 PM   #14
Thijs_B OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcgee View Post
Great pic's and narrative! Would love to go to Scotland sometime. Keep it coming, Thanks
GO THERE, it's worth it

Quote:
Originally Posted by catundaseskin View Post
After you left Berwick you passed within 25kms of where I live, If I had known you could Have stayed with us. See you got typical Scottish weather.
Maybe I'll go back one day, I'll keep this in mind if I do
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:02 PM   #15
jmcg
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Enjoying the start of another great RR.

Great pics, as always.



Thanks,

JM.
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