LES & CHRIS’S TOUR OF SCOTLAND
14th - 21st
Jedward in Jesmond
The first day of the tour took us to the east coast of England and the
Holiday Inn in Jesmond, Newcastle.
The forecast for the week of our holiday was, to use a meteorological
term, occasional showers separated by occasional downpours, or to use a
more exact definition, ‘A typical summer in Scotland.’
To be fair the journey from the land of the sheep to the land of the
Cheryl Cole wannabe’s was surprisingly dry and uneventful, and the
hotel offered a covered parking area in case the threatened cloud juice
appeared during the night.
First we decided to sample a few pints of the Irish black stuff and a
few ‘large’ chardonnay’s in Chris’s case, then it was off to
Fratello’s Italian restaurant located 15 yards from the bar (remember
the plan was to tour on the bike, not on foot).
When we were fully satisfied in the gastronomic term it was a slower,
more of a waddle than a walk, back the 15 yards to the bar. While
re-engaging in assisting the Irish economy claw it’s way back into the
colour of it’s best know export, we sat down to watch TV only to
discover the preselected channel was tuned into the annual European fest
for tone deaf no-hopers commonly called the ‘We all hate the UK,
European Song? Contest’.
Since the choices were, listen to the Cheryl Cole wannabe’s who were
attending a wedding in the adjoining function room, or listen to Graham
Norton humorous account of how Jedward the Irish spiky haired twats
(oops sorry I meant Twins) were out performing the UK’s twat (oops
sorry I meant pathetic twat) of a middle aged ‘boy’ band for the
coveted prize of best support act to the rest of Europe and Israel (how
did they get into Europe, not another illegal settlement I hope). The
option was simple, bring it on Graham!!!.
When we finally realised that as a nation we sucked better than a Big
Brother has- been on a footballer’s injunction, we retired to slumber
land planning to re-ignite the sparks of patriotism tomorrow.
The arrival at the Holiday Inn Express in
Leith, Edinburgh was accompanied by numerous mental renditions of The
Proclaimers ‘Sunshine on Leith’ it also dawned on me how far
superior the ‘Scottish Twins’ are compared to the afore mentioned
Berthed within a close walk from the hotel (remember it’s a bike
tour), and discretely hidden by a shopping mall, is Lizzie &
Phil’s auld boat The HMY Britannia.
Tea with the Queen (well nearly)
Morning broke with the same weather promises as the previous day, only
this time it did manage the occasional spit at us. Our planned route was
up the east coast to Edinburgh, taking in as much of the coastal roads
as possible, this meant the road took us past the Holy Island of
Taking the short diversion to the islands causeway, we discovered that
we had missed the last advisable time to cross the causeway without
having to wait on the island until the incoming tide receded. At this
point it did cross my mind to try and become a modern day Moses and
endeavour to part the now incoming waters to enable a safe (and more
importantly dry) return crossing.
having finally managed to afford the purchase of my dream Harley I was
not prepared to biblically sacrifice it in the vain attempt to become
the new messiah.
So, with the customary photo taken with the island in the background it
was off to the coffee shop for a warming drink and a slice of compulsory
cake. The rest of the journey to our next hotel bed was spectacular in
its scenery and enjoyable in its ride, never having entered Scotland by
the ‘back’ door it was worth every mile. With the walled grandeur of
Berwick upon Tweed still standing proud considering it’s perpetual
life as an orphan being fought over by two warring parents.
having first sampled a pint of good old Scottish Boddingtons (??) we set
off to have tea on deck. Unfortunately Lizzie and Phil couldn’t join
us due to the fact they were still suffering form some recent family
shindig that no doubt left the Cheryl Cole wannabe’s wedding slightly
in the shade.
The self guided tour of the Royal Yacht was extremely informative and
interesting. It gave ‘one’ a smug feeling that the list of world
dignitaries that had been welcomed on board now included one of the most
significant visitors - ‘A Founding member of the EVICTED MCC’.
The only fitting way to round off our state visit was to partake of a
curry at the world renowned (in Leith anyway) Britannia Spice Indian
restaurant which surprisingly was next to the hotel and well worth the
massive 50 yard hike.
Back on the road we started to climb up to where the highest distillery
in Scotland (Dalwhinnie) meets the clouds, and where we met the rain. It
only lasted about 10 minutes but it reminded us as to why there are so
many whisky making plants in Scotland. Well they have to make something
useful out of all that water.
Here Nessie, Nessie
The following morning saw us
riding in more familiar territory, over the Forth road bridge. I don’t
know what happened to the first three, but if the wind was any
indication they are probably somewhere in Iceland, then onto the M90
heading for the A9 and a lunch stop in the very familiar (for us anyway)
town of Pitlochry.
It was the first time we had been in Pitlochry without visiting either
Edradour or Blair Athol (or both) distilleries. We did however visit
McKays bar for soup and an alcoholic beverage, followed by a trip to the
Christmas shop to buy a tree decoration, well there is only 223 shopping
days until Santa comes (no wonder his sack is bulging!!).
By the time
we reached the Holiday Inn Express (notice a pattern emerging here) in
Inverness we had dried out enough so that we could quickly settle into
the room and then make our way to the bar for a ‘large’ chardonnay
(if they knew Chris they wouldn’t keep asking what size of glass) and
a pint of local Boddingtons again. WHERE ARE ALL THE LOCAL BEERS??
the local eatery (remember there is a distance limit here), The Snow
Goose was conveniently built within the same car park as the hotel, and
served draught Belhaven all the way from Dunbar. Finally local Scottish
beer, tastefully accompanied by some well cooked pub-grub, after which
we commandeered a couple of comfy armchairs in the pub lounge and
continued to indulge in our choice tipples, Jack and Coke for Chris and
Single Malt recycled water for me.
If you’re ever in Inverness, trust me
it’s far better looking for ‘The Snow Goose’ than some mythical
monster, that if it is ever found will probably turn out to be some
A wee hoose by the sea
Our final leg of the outward
journey took us the relatively short run, approx 80 miles to our little
cottage home. The cottage in question is in Poolewe and is owned by a
work colleague of Chris, who has let us stay there before. However this
was the first time we had been there on our own and the first time on
Being on well known territory it did not take us long to unpack the bike
and head back the 6 miles to the local supermarket and butchers in
reloaded the bike with the required necessities Jack, Coke, Wine,
Whisky, Beer and some food then headed back to Poolewe to relax by a log
evening we prepared a feast of Haggis, Tatties and Neeps (well what did
you expect, Jellied Eels?)
Wrestling with nature
Settling down with a few 10yr old
Macallan nightcaps and followed by a good night’s sleep, we woke
planning a strenuous day of not doing much. We decided to take a ride to
Ullapool, which takes in some scenic coastal roads, wood lined forest
roads and open moors.
arrived we found a coffee house (not that it had been lost by anyone)
for a hot drink and some compulsory cake.
came time for the return trip, Mother Nature decided it was her cue to
welcome us to Scotland, and what had been a pleasant ride to Ullapool
turned into a battle going back. With driving rain and gale force winds
trying to deposit us and Harley into every coastal bay or off every
cliff edge we passed.
By the time
we arrived back at the cottage, with no falls, submissions or knock-out
deciding the winner, we settled on a draw. I rested with a stiff one
(whisky that is), and Mother Nature calmed down as soon as she saw us
enter the front door.
Comfortably Numb (and soaking wet)
The next morning dawned looking
much better for its good night’s rest, with blue skies scaring the
locals who had never seen this strange phenomenon before.
We decided to skip breakfast and ride to the Melvaig Inn for lunch.
Everything was fine until we reached the final 8-mile stretch, a single
track coast road where Mother Nature decided to pick another fight
(bully). So, heavy rain and wind continued until we reached the Inn,
where she promptly disappeared, no doubt looking for someone else to
Inn is situated in the tiny coastal village of Melvaig (I do try to keep
it simple for you). It is owned and run by an ex Pink Floyd roadie, and
it is full of 60s, 70s and 80s nostalgia together with a Wurlitzer juke
box full of Golden Oldies on vinyl.
So after numerous memory joggers and a substantial meal eaten whilst
looking over the sea the time spent there was well worth getting a
Scottish sun tan for (rust).
It was all to soon time to ride back while keeping a look out in case
the weather bandits tried to ambush us again which fortunately they did
not, so after stopping at the local butchers for that nights ‘last
supper’ at the cottage we surprisingly arrived back dry.
From a cottage to a flat
The next morning we were due to leave the cottage on the journey home.
We planned to do the western coastal route, bringing us to Crainlarich,
down the side of Loch Lomond to Glasgow then onto the Holiday Inn at
At least that was the plan. We left Poolewe and the cottage in heavy
rain, which changed into heavy hailstones. As we turned towards the Kyle
of Lochalsh, the hail was soon accompanied by strong cold winds as we
traveled parallel to the ‘snow’ that had been recently deposited on
the mountains. Then as we turned towards Fort William the conditions
were made worse by some of the poorest road surfaces I have ever
Ben Nevis conquered by car,
Click to see
Having been to Fort William before (on a whisky tasting mission) I new
that the Ben Nevis distillery had a café, so there we stopped for a hot
drink and some hot soup.
It was when we came to leave the distillery, fully thawed out, that we
realised that somewhere along the crater riddled road we had picked up a
screw that had no doubt been shaken off a previous vehicle and found its
way into our back tyre.
And this is when it all went ‘44DD’ up.
Although Harley Davidson is not everyone’s idea of the perfect bike,
most people realise that, although a little on the expensive side,
everything that Willie G and Co put their name to is of good quality and
more than adequate for the designed purpose.
Except that is for
‘Harley (HOG) Assistance’ hereby known as Hog-Ass, the Harley Owners
Group Breakdown assistance service designed to ‘keep you riding’.
We first noticed the flat tyre at approx 13.30 and rang Hog-Ass
immediately. With hind sight we should have rung the AA, with which we
also had cover.
As a result of numerous phone calls and constantly changing plans
between Hog-Ass and the recovery people (but leaving me out of the
loop), we were finally picked up by the recovery vehicle at 17.15 (well
it did have to come a whole 18 miles).
To write about the whole fiasco that took place that afternoon would
double the length of this rambling. So if you’re interested, next time
you see me buy me a pint, put your feet up, and I will explain.
By the time the Harley was securely (hopefully) tied down onto the bed
of the truck it was too late to arrange anything for that evening other
than let the recovery people take the bike back with them for the night
whilst we hastily booked the Premier Inn in Fort William and cancelled
Arrangements were made to be picked up in the morning so that we could
accompany the bike and recovery truck to ‘West Coast Harley Davidson
So after spending all afternoon in a distillery and not touching a drop
we ended the evening in a pub, one and a half miles further on, eating a
rack of ribs (lamb shank in Chris’s case) and trying to get as wet on
the inside as we had earlier been on the outside.
Hold the party we’re on our way
Sitting in the Truck on our way to
Glasgow the following morning the only consolations was the weather was
still as bad as the previous day, and the music on the drivers CD was
good and heavy.
When we arrived at ‘West Coast HD’ it was approx 24hrs from the
first call to Hog-Ass (not bad for 110 miles, even Sammy could have done
that on his funky moped).
The people at West Coast
were very friendly and helpful, and when they were finally able to get
the bike on a ramp (Saturday is a busy day) they replaced the tube,
relieved us of £101 parts and labour, and smilingly sent us on our way.
Back home preparations were being made for a party to commiserate with
Banger & Katie for turning half a century old (Katie reaching 50
first), and Matt for just turning (52).
the driving force that helped us speed (not really officer) through the
continuing rain, was the aim of getting home before Matt finished of all
the alcohol (and food). I was also pondering about what England does
with all its rain since it doesn’t make whisky, then it dawned on me,
they make Boddingtons and send it to Scotland.
Finally arriving home at
around 20.00hrs and sitting down to our first drink at 20.01hrs (give or
take) we had completed our tour.
Overall it was extremely enjoyable despite (or even because of) the
weather, and apart from the last 24 hrs we would do it all exactly the
P.S. note to self ‘’ DO NOT RENEW HOG-ASS’’