Monday, 23 July 2012

Applecross 2012

Up on a bright Friday morning to head off on our annual trip to Applecross. I'd been working late the day before so hadn't even done any packing. Usually, I tend to leave early for trips and end up sitting on my own waiting for the others to arrive, so instead did some housework, cut my grass, and went shopping. Eventually left about 12:30 for the familiar 200 mile (320 km) trip to Applecross. Look at my post from last year to see a map of the route.
One disadvantage of leaving at this time is that the traffic is much heavier and all the 'slow drivers' are out. This meant that it was a slow drag all the way to Fort William behind a succession of Honda Jazzes and Nissan Qashquis being driven by elderly drivers at 35 mph (56 km/h).
I stopped in Fort William to fill up, (it's roughly half-way point), then it was back on the road to sit in a queue behind a camper van, also doing 35 mph.
Eventually got past it, and the ride up to Applecross was fairly quiet and uneventful. Once I got there I found Terry, mr combo, Stuart, and Gareth. We also met Dave, who had been there last year on his bike, but this year he had come in a car with his family.

Gareth's Kawasaki, Stuart's Yamaha, and my Skorpion

Stuart with mr combo's Triumph (left), and the other bikes

Gareth's very shiny Kawasaki KLE 500

Upper pic: Terry's Skorpion. Lower: Gareth and Stuart with Stuart's Yamaha FJ1200

There were also a lot of Nortons (and others) there for the rally mentioned on Gino's blog

Cool tank badges on this BMW

This Norton had a wonderful collection of transfers (not stickers!) on its home made panniers.

Yes, that's a tow bar. It had a trailer as well.

We spent Friday evening having a good meal in the Flower Tunnel, the campsite's bar/restaurant, and generally just talking rubbish. We later wandered down to the pub for a drink, then back to the campsite.
It rained overnight, but had dried by the time we got up on Saturday morning, where fortified by the free breakfasts we got for booking early, we went for a walk, first to the shop a couple of miles away, then to the pub, popular with passing riders.

A rare beast indeed! A Yamaha GTS 1000.  British registered, which makes it even rarer.

Who would guess that the BMW R1200GS is the biggest selling bike in Britain!

Honda Crosstour - Hadn't seen one of these before.

Then to the Walled Garden café at the end of the bay. The day had been bright and dry, if not actually sunny, and very pleasant for just walking about looking at things. On the way back to the campsite we saw a man and a girl looking intensely at a bush next to the path. There was a stoat (I thought it was a weasel) harassing some wrens. The younger birds were too young and stupid to fly off, so the mother wren, assisted by some finches were trying to drive the stoat away. I was surprised that different types of bird would work together against a common enemy, and that all this would take place about 2 metres away from us. Eventually we left them to sort it out, and wandered back to the campsite for a good look at the bikes there.

It had started to rain by teatime, so it was back to the 'Flower Tunnel' for something to eat, then mr combo produced a cake.

This had been produced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the South of Scotland Section of the MZ Riders Club, in which mr combo and I had been involved in the formation. However, all of us (except Terry) had left the Club after it had changed from a riding/touring club into a classic club more focussed on the earlier 2 stroke models. The cake had been intended for this year's SoS Section Rally, but as no-one had told mr combo when and where it was, the cake ended up at Applecross. Nevertheless, it was thoroughly enjoyed by us and some of the Norton riders present.

The rain had become fairly heavy and continued to be so through the night, enough to wake me a number of times, and it was a very drizzly and windy morning that greeted us on Sunday. Although we could have had free breakfasts again, we decided to leave early for home. This was one of the most miserable rides I've ever experienced, and going over the Bealach-na-Bá was very scary. The mist was right down (5 metres visibility) and the very strong crosswinds made things difficult. Near the summit, the wind was so strong that I honestly thought I would either be blown over or off of the road. I was reduced to putting my feet down and 'walking' the bike slipping the clutch in 1st gear. It got better once over the summit, but it stayed wet and windy all the way home. Things went well until I got to Glencoe and joined the back of a very long, slow moving queue. I slowly made my way past the queue of traffic, which must have been about a mile long and travelling at no more than 30 mph. At the head of the queue was a 'convoy' of 3 campervans driving so close together no-one could overtake. I eventually got past them and onto the next challenge – Rannoch Moor. The moor is very exposed and the strong cross winds once again made riding very difficult. At one point I was nearly grounding the footrests trying to ride in a straight line. Eventually I got to Tyndrum, where I had to stop for petrol. This took so long that by the time I left, the 'campervan convoy' had caught up with me and I had to join the back of the now 2 mile queue. Luckily, they went straight on at Crianlarich, where I turned south to Loch Lomond.
The ride down Loch Lomond was fairly uneventful, still very wet, but at least the hills shelter you from the wind. From there it's an easy ride home with only some excitement crossing the Erskine Bridge in the crosswind.
I got into my house and was pleased to find that other than a small patch on my t-shirt where I hadn't tucked it into my trousers, I was completely dry inside my waterproofs. Let's hear it for Gore-Tex!
I was so tired due to disturbed sleep during the night, and the sheer physicality and concentration required for the journey home, that I fell asleep for 4 hours!
Weather on the journey back aside, I had really enjoyed myself and it was good to meet up with people and see lots of interesting bikes. Just hope it's a bit dryer next year!!
Stuart (who was sensible enough to leave on Saturday and avoid the bad weather) has posted on his blog and Gino has posted on his. 


  1. Very nice post Norman. The trip had a bit of everything by the looks of it. I´ve never been to Applecross but judging by the photos and the rather romantic name it must be worth all that driving behind elderly slow folk. Glad you made it home safely - pretty gripping stuff there! One of these days maybe you´ll blog about exactly WHAT rubbish was talked, though that might be a closely guarded biker secret. Nice cake too!

  2. The 'rubbish' we talk is just that - inconsequential rubbish! Mostly just about motorbikes, trips we've been, etc. It's not like we're plotting the downfall of the Western world or anything like that! (The bankers seem to have achieved that already!)
    It was very good to get away and meet up with people, and being caught behind slow drivers, and riding in bad weather is the price we pay for it. Applecross is a wonderful place (in the right weather!), and well worth a visit, but it's a long way from Spain!