29.07.2015 - 31.07.2015
Thursday 30 July dawned rain free which augered well for a dry journey to Strathpeffer just a few miles north west of Inverness. We rode on some fabulous roads through the ski fields and mountains of the Cairngorms National Park. As we were meandering along a gently sweeping road between the steep mountains two Eurofighter jets buzzed us with the most incredible noise echoing all through the valley. A thrilling sight and I don't just mean the jets! Lunch was at Blairgowrie and afternoon tea at a pub in Tomintoul. With the weather holding we rode the last hour or so to our digs for the night in sunshine.
We arrived at The Strathpeffer Hotel at 17:30. The night's lodgings were akin to Fawlty Towers in the staffing... but a brilliant location and building. We had a good meal (highland chicken stuffed with haggis and creme brûlée), a few drinks and then bed.
The Murphy's had a second night booked so they could tour the local area. Jim, Frank and I had a trip planned to the far north of Scotland to visit the Orkney Islands, where Jim's father was a crew member on various Australian war ships on convoy duty in the North Sea during WWII, and then ride the North Coast 500 road along the west coast back to meet Conor and Kay in Fort William on the following Tuesday night.
The newly formed trio of riders set out under clear skies heading for Thurso, a comfortable 250kms along the East Coast road, visiting Dunrobin Castle (continuous family ownership since 16th century) and lunching at John O'Groats at the Seaview Hotel. Our ride then took us past Mey Castle where the royal standard was flying as Prince Charles was in residence. It is in this region that Prince Charles has an arm of his organic food enterprise and Jim partook in some of the foodstuffs from this region for lunch - Mey Selection steak well done with hand cut chips. Mey Selection means the beef has to be grown within a 100 mile radius of Mey. A quality piece of meat said Jim.
We continued our coastal ride with Frank and I deemed to have left the tour at Dunnett Head as we wanted to ride out to see the headland we had seen on the much studied map of Northern Scotland we were carrying. A great little road, a lighthouse and a walk to the summit. Time poor we took a couple of pics and continued onto Thurso where we caught up with Jim and booked into The Royal Hotel on the main drag. Thurso dates back to the time of The Picts (late Iron Age) and its Viking name means Thors river. The three of us wandered the town for about half an hour but as the weather really wasn't conducive to a summer evening's stroll so we stopped in at a local bar and had a light meal and a couple of pints of Kronenborg.