05.08.2015 - 05.08.2015
Our hotel for the Saturday night after our trip to The Orkneys was a Scottish version of the Grand Hotel Budapest. It reminded us also of The Parco Del Largo where we stayed in Italy last year. This once grand, and still in very good nick hotel, faced west overlooking a small bay and beaches. We watched a farmer and his dog heard a flock of sheep that were in a pasture across the road. There was the makings of a housing estate there too but this had suffered from the GFC and plots had not sold yet. Funny to see sheep settling down for the night on bitumen.
Our formal dining room, tables set with silver cutlery, overlooked the inlet and we watched as the sun set over the water and the tide came rushing up the narrow neck. Fantastic sunset, yes you heard right SUN. The riding was truly amazing on the Orkney islands and the Scottish northern mainland. The 30 mile ride from the ferry to our night's stay was breathtaking and even though we were tired from our day's outing we sparked up and hooked into our final riding for the day. Long sweeping hills and straight stretches in a barren, wind swept landscape. We passed the local nuclear reactor as well as several small fishing and tourist towns.
Sunday morning was bright and shiny as we headed off to Poolewe after yet another delicious highland breakfast, mine being porridge with whiskey and honey. Our plan for the day was to ride the A838, A894, B869 over the Bealach nam Bo, A837, A835 and then finally A834, all a part of the NC 500 route that the Scottish are promoting as their answer to Route 66. We had looked at the map at dinner the previous evening and had seen a minor coastal road that looked interesting so when we came to the turn off we took a right and headed off on a single lane road that took us over, around and through some of the most striking landscape we had yet seen.
We rode through Drumbeg where we got fuel and had a chat to a guy from Poland, Stoer where I took a couple of scenic pics and the beach of Clashnessie where there were many sun loving locals enjoying the warmer sea provided courtesy of the Gulf Stream. The road was about 40 miles of winding roads that showcased the coastal region of the far north and was quite busy with tourist traffic doing exactly what we were doing. At one point the GPS told Jim to take a right and we road down this very narrow shitty road. I mean it! Cow, sheep, horse dung, you name it it was on the road. Yes, we were off course again but we soon realised and spent a little while going around in circles till we referenced the compass and headed south again. We took a break for lunch at a fishing village Lochinver and spoke to a guy and his pillion riding a BMW Tourer who said "found you!" He had been talking to another BMW rider who had told him about two Australians riding Indians and he had been on the lookout for us.
Back on the main drag we headed down to Poolewe with the weather changing about an hour from our destination for the night. At Ullapool we met up with Jim Lambert, a resident of Glasgow and an Indian enthusiast who had offered to come riding with us and show us around for a couple of days. We made a decision to ride fairly directly for the pub with the two Jims leading. Deep narrow glens and lochs were the order of the afternoon for scenery and again the British airforce flew overhead, giving Jim L a bit of a start as he had not ever had that experience before. Once again the hotel was brilliant and we enjoyed a good meal, company and restful night's sleep.