I’ve been riding motorcycles for around 3 years now and really fancied a try at this touring malarky – and what could be better than exploring this fabulous country we live in on just 2 wheels? A photographic phriend of mine (Mike) is also a biker and between us planned this tour of northern Scotland, with the added bonus of taking our camera gear, back in January. Google maps helped us work out the route and the mileage – here is what I hope is an accurate representation of our experience…
Our trip was set over 4 days of planned riding – each day averaging around the 200 mile mark (give or take 50 or so) and staying in hostels to keep our costs down. Setting off on the Friday morning we made our way through the all-too familiar roads in the Crieff area and it never really felt like we were on holiday until Glen Coe was in front of us. As usual the place seems to have its own weather climate and while we were standing in beautiful sunshine, it was obviously tipping it down a few miles away in most directions.
The burger van at the top of the hill was there as always so we stopped for a venison burger which provided the energy for the next leg of the journey. Also on the roads were a plethora of cyclists which seemed to be on some kind of charity event. Not a problem for us, but they were complaining about the car drivers getting too close to them while passing.
A piper was blasting out some standard Scottish tunes and posing for photographs with the tourists. I’m sure he must make a pretty penny by standing up a hill all day!
My VFR has no mounted hard luggage so I used the stop to check the stability of all the soft bags I was carrying – Oxford Sports panniers, a tail pack and a tank bag. The back end seemed to have shifted to the right but was still secure. I had even used some Oxford anti-slip material to protect the bikes fairings from scratches, but there was still signs of movement. This is a far cry from Mike’s setup on his BMW GS1200 which has it’s top box and panniers all locked to the bike and is pretty much ideal for the job. Unfortunately the same setup for me would cost £800 – donations welcome…
The next 20 miles or so provided some of the most breathtaking scenery of the first day. Waterfalls cut their way through the hills and to the roadside, mountains stand menacing all around and seem to suddenly spit you out onto valleys of sunshine. The traffic was heavy for roads so far away from anything – not a problem on a motorbike but I could see the car drivers getting frustrated with the camper vans on the winding roads with no visibility to pass safely.
Here are some of the best Skye images I’ve found during my hunt. Check out the seperate photostreams too for some more stunning shots.