A small group of us decided to go for a weekend to Applecross in Wester Ross. This used to be a favourite destination many years ago, and one we always looked forward to. When it was planned, we decided on going in August, but as I had only 2 free weekends (ie not 'on call'), we decided on what is the Bank Holiday in the rest of the UK, (but not Scotland).
It wasn't until after we'd booked that we found out that this was the same weekend as the MZ Riders Club AGM, and that some of the people we'd invited were going to that instead. As most of us are former members of the MZRC we were unaware of the clash of dates.
Mike, Terry and I had booked one of the camping huts at the campsite so it we only had to carry a sleeping bag and a few changes of clothes on the bikes.
This trip was particularly important to me as it would be the first time that I'd been away from home since my wife passed away, and I felt it would be good for me to get out of the house and away on the bike for a while.
A couple of people who'd planned on going had to pull out, but we knew we had at least 5, and would see who else would turn up. So it was bright and early on Friday morning (07:00) that I got the bike out of the garage and headed north. Leaving so early meant that the traffic was still fairly light, and the sun came out whilst I was heading up the side of Loch Lomond. It was a steady run up to Glencoe, and by now the sun was bright and warm. Remembering all the times that I've been to Applecross in the rain, this was an unexpected bonus!
Up through Glencoe to Fort William, where I stopped for a short break to get money from a cash machine.
After Fort William it was a good ride up to Applecross in brilliant sunshine and ever increasing temperature. It's not often in August that I have to stop to put my sunglasses on! A refuelling stop at Inverinate, then another break at the south side of Loch Carron to take in the view.
I rode round Loch Carron to the village of Lochcarron where, 19 years before, we had spent our honeymoon. I can't say that it was an easy visit, but one that I felt I had to do.
From there it's only a few miles to the start of the Bealach na Ba, Britain's highest road.
The road is very narrow and twisting as it climbs over the Pass. Luckily, it was very clear and I got some spectacular views. Unfortunately, there's very few places where you can stop and take a photo, so it's best to follow the link here for some pictures. I remember having crossed the Pass about 6 times before I ever saw it clear on top, but last year was clear so I've managed 2 clear trips in a row!
As I'd set out early I arrived at the campsite at 13:00, the booking in time was 15:00, but luckily they gave me the keys to the hut when I arrived so I could change out of my bike gear before I sweated to death. I bought one of their superb coffees and sat outside in the sun and waited for the others to arrive. It doesn't get much better than this!
Both Mike and Terry arrived on their Skorpions:
Both the campers we had expected turned up, Gareth on his Derbi:
That was all the people we were expecting that night, so we sat about in the sun and talked rubbish until it was time to get something to eat. There were also lots of other riders staying at the campsite, so we had a wander round looking at bikes.
The campsite has a cafe/bar called the Flower Tunnel that sells not only good food but also drink, so that saves us having to go down to the pub, (which can get very busy - very good seafood though!) So we had a good meal, a good drink, and sat about talking rubbish until it was time for bed. As a precaution, before going to bed I put in my custom earplugs but woke later to find they had fallen out. This was particularly unfortunate as Mike and Terry were indulging in Snorefest, so sleep got a bit difficult!
Up the next morning, and if anything it was even hotter and brighter than Friday. None of us went out on our bikes, preferring to going for walks, going to the pub, and generally hanging about. It's amazing how you can spend a whole sunny day basically doing nothing! That night a lot more riders arrived, including Dave (Suzuki Freewind) and 2 of his friends (Kawasaki GPZ 900 and ZRX1200R), who had told us they were coming and had booked the hut next to ours. Again we had a pleasant evening of eating, drinking and talking rubbish. It's amazing how much rubbish we can talk when we try! I was a bit tired due to lack of sleep the previous night, so went to bed early, but Mike and Terry woke me by holding Snorefest 2. I eventually had to go out in the dark and get some foam earplugs from the bike so I could get some sleep. Needless to say, they fell out as well, but at least I got some sleep.
The weather had been remarkably good, with only some light rain overnight, but when we got up on Sunday it was gray and drizzly. Another of the Flower Tunnel's superb breakfasts, and we were off on our trip home. We hadn't really planned on travelling together, but Terry and I left at the same time, but split up when I stopped to take some photos on the Bealach na Ba.
This photo is supposed to show the road zigzagging up the hill, but it's very difficult to see.
I had a fairly uneventful ride down to Fort William, meeting Mike in one of the many 'camper van queues' we got caught in. We separated at Fort William when I stopped for petrol, and from there the ride home was a bit slow due to traffic but the weather stayed dry. All day it had been gray, but the rain hadn't really got above 'heavy drizzle' level.
By some bizarre coincidence, all three of us stopped at Crianlarich at the same time, and we had a final chat before heading home.
The weekend was a great success, and even the small amount of rain on the way home didn't spoil our enjoyment. Great weather, great roads, and great company - that's what good trips are all about. We're going to be planning some more trips, probably not until the New Year, and I hope that some of the people that missed this trip will be able to attend.
Interestingly, at the same time there was a large Harley Davidson rally at Aviemore, which although it's not a huge distance from Applecross, it's on the other side of the mountains, and they had appallingly heavy rain all weekend. So it looks like we were lucky!
There are a lot more photos from the trip on my Facebook page: photos (You'll need a Facebook account to see them.)