Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dingwall to Brora - The very scenic route

Doing this blog 'the morning after'. Too contentedly tired last night to think about anything other than sleep.
Yesterday was the perfect day's riding. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, perfect roads. 216 miles. 5 hours ride time.
From Dingwall I headed across to Ullapool on the west coast through forested glens, then north to Durness on the north west coast along a route that was stunningly beautiful. Blasted rugged glaciated mountains and valleys - traversed with a twisting undulating ribbon of bitumen - for the most part traffic free. The landscape becomes progressively treeless apart from the odd grove in some sheltered valley.
At one point as I cruised along, enjoying the conditions - I came up behind a slower vehicle. A tourist camper van. Checking my rear view mirror before overtaking I was astonished to see - coming up VERY fast behind me a line of 20 plus motorcycles. In short order the tourist van and I were passed at a great rate of knots. Later when I pulled into the cafe in Durness - packed with bikes - it turned out to be a BMW club run, led by an ex-motorcycle cop who clearly knew the roads and conditions.
After lunch and a quick look at Smoo Cave, I rode eastward along the north coast to the Kyle of Tongue. Yet more amazing scenery and roads. Passed one of Scotland more famous surfing spots, perfect conditions but only one lone (and I presume - cold) surfer. Lots of bikes in this area passing in both directions. At Tongue, left the coast and headed south inland and up into some high moorland country. Full of peat bogs, scattered with small lochs and a narrow single lane road with the occasional signposted 'passing place'. Big sky country, with views back across to the snowcapped peaks on the west. Again - despite the single lane road - great riding.
Finally dropped back down into Lairg and followed the glen down to the coast. A final 10 miles to my BnB. Clynelish Farm built by the Duke of Sutherland as a retreat alongside the local distillery. Only recently opened as a BnB by the delightful Victoria (ex Tamworth) and Jason her Scots farmer husband. Victoria's parents are visiting from OZ so the atmosphere was very relaxed and familiar. Only one other guest. After dinner in the village, a pleasant evening with the family discussing OZ and Scottish politics over the odd "wee dram". Collapsed into bed at 10:30 in a room with shutters and heavy curtains - no lingering twilight or early morning dawn. Bliss!

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