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Aug
28

It’s new, brand new!

Its fair to say the roads around the Scottish coastline have been there for a few years but now they have badge’d the route up as the NC500 the number of visitors to the region has increased massively, pushbikes, cars and motorbikes all taking to the roads, taking in the delights of the highlands.

Heading up the A19 didn’t really give us any indication of the roads to come, but we had a breakfast appointment to keep at Bob’s place just north of Newcastle.  A lengthy stop saw us heading to Bamburgh just after noon, following the sat nav’s directions to Edinburgh.  When we had set the dates for the trip we hadn’t realised it would be in the middle of the fringe festival.  Pete sourced tickets to see Colin Hay, you may know him better as the lead singer with Men at Work.

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The last few miles to the campsite were in pouring rain, arriving the skies cleared, tents pitched we caught something I am not familiar with into town, a bus.  Public transport, not sure it will ever catch on, although it did the job and provided our drunken transport home later in the evening or early morning as it turned out.  Our first pint in a nondescript pub provided directions to the Gilded Balloon, we managed to arrive for the performance via food, more pints, two bands and a burlesque show, so the evening had already been pretty eventful.  Colin Hay, entertaining, funny and talented, what a great gig.

Sunday saw us heading for Inverness via the Old Military Road from Glen Shee and our first taste of the roads ahead, looks like it’s true, the Scottish roads are empty and a riding nivarna, but not before Pete had a bit of roadside maintenance to sort out, carb stripped, cleaned and back on in about half an hour, curing the problem that had been haunting him for days prior to the trip but previous strips had failed to resolve.


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The A9 to John O Groats was damp, misty, cloud strewn and a bit cool first thing, the greyness of the day didn’t detract too much from the ride but the bacon butty van and cups of tea were most welcome.

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We headed for Dunnet Head, the most northerly tip of the land and found this little spot.

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Catching the ferry from Scrabster to Orkney, we pass the Old Man of Hoy, seen by many in a BBC programme of yesteryear with Chris Bonnington making an ascent.

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The Italian chapel, built during the second world war by to pow’s sent there to build the causeways linking the islands and protecting Scapa Flow

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A block ship, sunk to protect the fleet at anchor in Scapa Flow

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Scapa Flow, what this place must have looked like all those years ago………….

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This is a Broch, an ancient settlement, brought up to date by Barret Homes and others, a central building and room surrounded by smaller chambers

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Pete contemplating the past, present and future!

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The sea cliffs at Yesnaby, even on a calm day the Atlantci Ocean crashes into the rocks, this place must be wild in a storm, and its fair to say I wouldn’t be standing on the rocks in one.  As we pull in to park the first sign I see is the Samaritans phone number, kinda gives you the impression the place might be known for other reasons, other than the spectacular views

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We land back on the mainland from Orkney about 6pm, we are riding to Durness to a bunk house.  I have read that this section of road can be jammed with shed draggers and camper vans, this late in the day the draggers of sheds have already reached their chosen spots, we have the road to ourselves and the sheer scale of the scenery unfolds before us as we ride in to ever brightening skies, amazing road, quality.

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Having introduced us to the the scenery the evening before the Highlands presented themselves today in all their glory.  The ride from Durness to Applecross is something to behold.  We were blessed with warm sunshine and blue skies.  The B road diversion to Drumbeg affords you a singletrack road, incredible views and amazing riding.

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The B869, wow, wow, wow, but don’t tell anyone or it’ll be total gridlock!

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Bealach na ba, I think that translates to stunning views

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Just over 1500 miles in 8 days, amazing roads, amazing scenery, I’ll be back.

and if you want to see the talent that is Colin Hay in action, click