With little interesting riding to be found heading between Mey and Helmsdale, we opted for a day visit to Orkney. Whilst this is a rather expensive option, costing us £128 for the return trip, it did give us a fascinating insight into Neolithic history and an opportunity to experience riding in some staggering wind conditions! Had we visited in the right season, we would also been able to visit more puffin colonies!
During the summer months it is possible to get a passenger ferry straight from John O’ Groats, this is often combined with a day tour bus trip on Orkney. At £64 per person (Summer 2017) this may well be worth it depending on the vehicle you are travelling in. If you are set on visiting and driving yourself, the options catch the Scabaster-Stromness ferry or the Gills Bay-St. Margaret’s Hope. The latter is cheaper, and with a approximate sailing time of one hour is also a half hour quicker than the former option. We managed to get tickets simply by turning up on the day, but in high season advanced booking is required to guarantee a trip. We payed £16 per bike, plus £16 per person each way. Continue reading
Today, although still windy, was finally dry with a few rain spells, which made a difference to the overall feel of the day. Our waterproofs didn’t become heavy with moisture and my hands and feet stayed mainly warm. We added in an extra loop, so we could ride the the road between Drumrunie and Lochinver, without missing any of the sights on the main stretch. Our first stop was Ullapool, where we chatted to John, an incredibly friendly man in the tourist information centre. After a good natter, which included swapping tales of travelling in New Zealand, we headed next door to the West Coast Deli for a second breakfast! We both tried their interesting take on sausage rolls eating a black pudding roll and a thai curry one! We also bought sandwiches here for lunch on the road. Continue reading
Another day of grey skies, high winds and heavy rain. Fortunately the morning stayed dry for our foray onto Skye. Taking a turn at random on Skye, we ended up on the A851 which leads down to Armadale. We stopped a little way down this road at The Gaelic Whiskies and had a wander round a local gallery before trying a very wee dram of a few whiskies.
Local artist Derek Robertson showed us his current field study drawings of an otter and let us use his telescope to see some porpoises he’d seen across the bay. His artwork was stunning, although sadly we could only afford to take a few cards home with us. The whiskies we tried were all very tasty, and not being connoisseurs couldn’t taste the difference in quality between the single malt and the blended. So, naturally, we bought the cheapest, “Té Bheag”, which according to the label is pronounced chey vek and is the affectionate term for a wee dram! Continue reading
Our first day of travelling the NC500 ended in a quaint “bothy” listening to the rain lash against the tin roof. Occasionally a particularly heavy lashing caused a light mist to rain down on us as the weather found gaps to push through. Doing the NC500 whilst the tail end of three hurricanes battered the U.K. was perhaps poor timing, but now we were here we were going to make the most of it!
We explored this little route on our way up to do the NC500. The weather, forecast to rain all week was kind to us, and stayed dry, with a few sunny spells throughout the drive.
The route starts at Kielder Castle and finishes on the A68 near Otterburn, a few miles from the Scottish border. There is a small £3 levy, which you pay via a machine at the Kielder end. It only accepts change, although if you are caught short, the bike centre opposite were very accommodating in changing a note for us.