Scotland and Ireland (quite tame compared to normal)
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31st August 2007 to 9th September 2007
map 2007

The plan was very late this year due to other pressures, however we still had a plan to cover over 2000 miles by doing a loop round Scotland and taking in the outer hebrides before setting sail for ireland. This would include a north and south loop of Ireland.

Various problems would fill our days, from broken radiators to battery problems.

And to discover that the midges had not gone home, only late this year.

 
     

Day 01 : Thursday 30th August 2007 : John O'Groats : 404Miles : 7h20m

  denny on his way home   end of the road  
 
Denny waits for the outcome, and his early departure from the 2007 trip
 
John o'Groats old hotel, looking tired (not as tired as paul)
 
  Paul and ian at the top   coffee time and Paul's ready for an early night  
 
Paul shows off his new bike suit
 
Paul and Ian find comfort in a fancy coffee
 

An early start was called for and by 7am we are on the boil. Meeting Den at the Wagon pub north of Ponteland for 7.40am. Oops that was minus Ian who had returned home for his passport.(Oh yes Southern Ireland is a foreign country.)

The day was going quite well until Denny at a point just north of Inverness declared a sudden loss of coolant in hid engine. After a 2 hour wait for the RAC his bike was declared unfit to continue and he and the bike was dispatched on the back of a trailer back to Newcastle. What a bummer all the preparation and then less than a days bike ride.

A couple of years ago I had completed the run from Lands End to John O'Groats (known as LeJog) in one day and was wondering how I had managed to fit in the extra 470 miles.

With all the waiting about it was 6.30pm before we arrived at John O'Groats and an hour later before we arrived at the bar.

The day had taken its toll on Paul and by 9.06pm he stated that it was time for bed, only the promise of a Bailey's with coffee kept him up for a further 15 minutes to winge on about how hard he works. by 9.45 we were pleased to see the end of the moaning. (money on he's off on the phone again)(hi BABE).

The Seaview hotel was a worthwhile stop for both the hospitality and the food.


Day 02 : Fri 31st Aug : Ullapool : 164 miles : all day(3h40m)
  john o groats official photo 1   official photo 2  
 
Official photo at John o groats
 
Official photo at John o groats 2
 
  help is always appreciated   time to turn green at Dunray neuclear power station  
 
Thurso repair depot for the BMW
 
Time to turn green at Dunray nuclear power station
 

Up early rain was not the welcome we had hoped for. But if its raining then they is not much you can do about it. We delayed the start till 10am and the rain had cleared.

Only the first of today's problems was to pop up its head. bill's bike refused to start because of a flat battery. After a 300m push it eventually started only the pushers were moaning.

Off for the traditional photograph at the top and several telephone calls to BMW and the choice of continue pushing or have the bike collected and sent to Inverness for a few days or straight home, all for a battery. A couple of visits to auto centers in Thurso allowed us to construct a set of miniature jump leads ready for the next morning. thanks to autoparts of Thurso and charles Angus Engineers (yes 2 companies for the construction of set of jump leads. Paul even joined in by sticking tape over the connections ( one day this lad will become an mechanic)

News came through that Denny was home in a truck just after midnight with his bad bike and a broken radiator thoughts a quick repair and a return was considered. But not realistic possible as saturday would see us catch a ferry to Stornaway and the Hebrides part of the trip.

Ian's bike had developed a problem that would ensure he had a permanent brake light so removal of the ensured that he just had no lights on the back end.

Paul joined in the problems with a autocom that had water damage, so all in all the 170 odd miles had taken till 6pm.

Tonight's accommodation was provided the Morefield Motel in Ullapool and as usual no complaints on the hospitality. Oh I must add that wireless internet is available FOC if you can work out the log on instructions, but hey do not complain at least it is free.

 

Day 03 : Sat 1 Sept : Stornoway : 2 miles : 4h30m
  the ferry arrives   the island arrives  
 
the ferry arrives
 
all look the same in the rain
 
  locals are always gog for a chat   a local all his life  
 
Charlie and Jackie, locals who helped us fill in the gaps and enjoy our curry
 
a local with character (name please)
 
  another good story of the island   terry the last man standing  
 
another excellent source of information, including the Sunday is a day of rest facts
 
the all night captain - Terry
 
After Gandies revenge had taken its toll, it was time to jump start the Bill's bike with the new leads and they are perfect, so good in fact we used them 1 mile later when petrol was required. I think we could market these.

The day was awful, drizzle a rough sea passage took order of the day. Loaded and off for 10.30am for a 3 hour crossing. Paul quickly started to look green and came back to the table with an ice cream just for himself. then off for a lie down, and to catch up on a bit beauty sleep.

Arrival at the hotel for 2pm was the lot for the day, what with wind and water upon us that was enough. The chance to do some running repairs on Paul's bike and the opportunity to find the man utd v sunderland game on the TV was a good enough reason in my book.

A call was also placed to find a man who or could confirm it was the battery that was at fault on Bill's bike

Paul once again was tired around 7pm and although less than 2 miles had been completed declared he had been on the toilet 5 times today. Maybe that was also my job to wipe his backside I do everything else and it was wearing Paul out.

Tonight's bed was provided by the Caladh Inn hotel in Stornoway. A lovely friendly place well located, where I was taught that it was STORNOWAY not STORNAWAY as I had always thought for the past 20 years.

Day 04 : Sun 2 Sep 07 : Lochboisdale : 200miles + a ferry

the map of the day

Today's run (in Yellow) - Outer hebrides

  breakdown repair   bikes by the harbour  
 
In the end the breakdown man called to confirm the battery was the problem
 
Time for the bikes to pose by the harbor
 
  ferry to uist   the scenary is wonderful  
 
A ferry has to be taken between isle of lewis and uist
 
Always a pretty picture to look at
 

The sun was shining and it was our chance (after the repair man had finished) to do the loop around the top of the island. The 90 miles loop provided good roads with little single track. The scenery was fantastic only the lack of coffee stops (none) and thoughts that had I been in the motorhome looking for overnight stop and pubs I would have been disappointed .I could not believe that everything comes to a standstill on a Sunday it had a feeling of Christmas day back home. We noticed as we rode the parking problem outside the church's was a sight to be seen. Then at 12 the church rush hour began. In total of the 200 miles covered today we never a cafe open and only 2 garages what a quite place on a Sunday. The hotel was situated at the end of the road and gave the feeling that it was the end of the world, situated in a fantastic location next to the ferry terminal. Which was just as well as the ferry leaves at 7am in the morning.

The only complaint was a christening had taken place at the hotel and the place was overrun with kids from nil to seven. Paul mentioned that it would go quite early on as they all went to bed, my bet was that Paul and Ian would be in bed before the kids.

Paul's bike acted up today and decided to deprive him of a front light, it was like the end of the world Paul was was deciding if he should cal out the emergency services to fix his light.

Tonight's accommodation was at Lochboisdale hotel, South Uist in the outer hebrides.

 

day5 : Monday 3rd Sept : Troon , Scotland : 134miles
  looking back at Lochbosdale   castlebay, isle of bara  
 
looking back at Lochboisdale and the hotel center
 
first port of call was castlebay on the isle of Barra
 
  dockside castlebay   locking back at castlebay  
 
ship docked in Castlebay
 
Looking back at Castlebay, Barra
 

The first post was sounded early today as the ferry check in was at 7am, bacon butties were provided as an early breakfast.

another jump start was required and the task today was to locate a dealer with a battery. Only to find no phone coverage on the ship. Permission was granted for me to leave the ship in Castlebay and use the ferry masters phone on the key side. speed was required as the boat only docks for 15 minutes. A battery was located in Belfast and this could be obtained on Tuesday as we started our ring of Ireland.

Castlebay appeared to be a lovely small town on the island of Barra. the island was also celebrating its annual merchant navy day, and the place was overrun with school children.

The ship crossing time was a lengthy 7 hours not docking in Oban until 2.10pm leaving all to until the afternoon. the route taken was via Dunoon and was helped by fantastic weather.

Troon had never really rocked my boat in the past but will be remember for the fine beer and food at the anchorage hotel right opposite the ferry terminal ready for the next days departure.

 

Day 06 : 4th Sept : Donegal , Eire : 185miles (long way round): 4h05min
  paul upset at bad news of oil leak   outside hirst motorcycles belfast  
 
Paul hears the bad news of oil leak on final drive shaft
 
Paul puts right what he put wrong
 
  rope bridge   giant causeway  
 
Ian hanging on the rope bridge
 
Giants Causeway (strange rocks)
 

map day 6

Map day 6 (Larne to Donegal via BMW Belfast) Track from Gps  

What a start, off the ferry half an hour late into Larne and a run to Charles Hurst to try and get and get the battery fitted before lunch. No chance a wrong turn would ensure we missed lunch.

The dealer was most helpful and our thanks go to Alan for that. Having made a phone call from the outer hebrides one day to having the bike sorted the next was a joy. While at the dealer he spotted a oil leak on Paul's final drive shaft which put him in state of panic. Paul then managed to snap a cable feeding the autocom just by fiddling about . Ian's bike got a quick once over but the dealer did not have the parts to fix his brake light problem.

so here we are 3pm and sitting outside a dealer updating a web site and not riding the bikes.

2 choices lay ahead should we run straight to Donegal (100 mile) or take the slower coast road to via the road bridge and the giant causeway (180 mile slower but more fun road). Everyone we talked to insisted that we should do the long way and enjoy the roads and tourist attractions. That we did, I had done it before and knew it was good. In the end I think all agreed the coast road is a fantastic road.

The road bridge is accessed with money and a 2km walk but what a experience. it may be only 90foot above sea level but tied and swinging between 2 rocks it wobbles the knees some what. Time was running out and a quick dash to the Giant causeway was made. The days run to Donegal was not complete after crossing the unmanned boarder and the clock was showing gone 8.30pm.

This was Paul's first experience of of Ireland and his first ever pint of Guinness. Thankfully a couple of un spoilt bars still exist in the town. Local crack about the area and tales of many. Local food was proved around 11 in the local Indian.

the hospitality was in the Atlantic B&B in Donegal, a meet and great service provided by the owner on arrival on a wet night was welcome.


day07 : Wednesday 5th Sept 07 : Clifton, Eire : 163miles
  traditional bar in donegal   liam outside his boathouse  
 
Traditional bar in Donegal
 
Liam outside his boathouse
 
  boathouse   inside liam's boathouse  
 
Another view of the boathouse
 
Inside the boathouse - it all worked
 
  quiet man location   abbey on route to clifton  
 
bike outside the scene of John Waynes quiet man movie
 
Abbey on route to Clifton
 

Well the previous night had seen us chatting to the locals, and an offer was made to visit one of the locals seaside residence. He was Liam aged 80 who said we should call around at 10.30am for a coffee. Not sure what to do as we could not remember the directions clearly. We returned to load the bikes outside the hotel when he was standing there waiting and had a taxi booked for us to follow the 5 miles back to see his place.

What a man, what a place he started to built it 18 years ago and it took him 9 years in the making. It was unbelievable stone built to look like a ship, he stated that he originally got into trouble with the planners but because it was so eccentric it could remain.

Leaving late after our visit we headed for Cong the place where John Wayne's movie the Quite Man was made. Since my last visit I noticed that the place had started to change. One of the locals informed me that not as many tourists had been coming, everything has its day and I suppose anyone under 40 will not the film, no matter how good it was.

As always happen the day no matter how small the miles always disappears and ends in rush at hotel. clifton remains to be a busy town full of life. If you don't like it here they say you can always carry on to the next place Boston USA. Bed was found at the station hotel good but lacks the personal touch.

map day 7

map day 7 - Donegal to Clifton
Day08 : Thursday 6th september 2007 : Dingle : 198miles : 5 hours  
  ian gets a tidy up   doolin  
 
Ian gets a makeover
 
Doolin bay
 
  cliffs of moher   all 3 on top of conner pass  
 
The cliffs of Moher
 
All 3 at top of Conner Pass (4 miles from Dingle)
 
  top of connor pass   bamburys guest house, dingle  
 
On top of connor pass overlooking dingle bay
 
View into dingle from Bamburs guest house
 
  a night in dick mack's bar   and o'connors bar  
 
A pint or more in Dick Mack's bar, Dingle
 
Same idea in O'Connors bar
 
map day 8
Map day 8 - Clifton to Dingle

Up and off early was the plan, until I explained that today's ride would take us past Lisdoonvarna where every September the town plays host to matchmaking of single men. The event gets populated with lots of rich American woman.

The next thing I knew was Ian and Paul planning a hair cut in Clifton before we left. Ian even considered getting rid of his tash, but at the last minute decided a trim was good enough.

Then the race begun Ian even took the lead in the dash for Lisdoonvarna, he led for 65 miles before Paul shot past. However Paul was using the wrong tool for navigation and ended up 11 miles away in the wrong town. It was like a ghost town as expected (I have been before).

The day was getting hotter as we headed for the cliffs of Moher and touched 23c to hot for much of a wonder only a quick photograph and an ice cream. The place was packed.

After catching the ferry across the shannon and a wonderful run over the Conner pass we arrived in Dingle at 6.30pm stopping at Bamburys Guest House a favorite of mine on previous trips. Oh how pleased I was to find access to open internet access free of charge. Compared to clifton demand of 19 euros.

The night was voted the best both the local crack and the accommodation once again proved Dingle to the winner in my books.

 

Day09 : Friday 7th september : Cobh, Eire : 175miles : 4h55m
  cobh accessed by ferry   cruise ship from hotel room  
 
Cobh accessed via another ferry
 
cruise ship outside hotel window in Cobh, Eire
 
map day 9

Not the most photographs taken today, as we headed away from Kerry to Cork not that it was worthy of photographs just so hot at 23.5c it was easier to keep going. Oh and an early finish getting to Cobh for 5pm. Cobh is famous for being the last place the Titanic stopped (to pick up ice) before it sunk.

Overall the roads were excellent, a little slow in places as every road goes through every village.

The first impression is outstanding with a cruise ship tied up ready to leave at 6pm with all the pomp and ceremony going on.

The accommodation on the dockside The waters Edge was a lovely quaint place and no better location could be found.

Day10 : Saturday 8th September 2007 : Trim : 180miles : 3h30m

A day to remember as it is my brothers 40th birthday: Happy Birthday Anthony

  cobh from the hill   rock of cashel  
 
Cobh town from the hill
   
  paul in the stocks   the castle in trim  
 
If only we could have locked them
 
The bit of Trim used in the film Braveheart
 
map day 10
Map day 10 - Cobh to Trim

This place looked wonderful last night, but in the morning light it was even better and a shame to leave. but it's home time and reaching the end of another trip. Talks started to turn to next year and Paul said he would do a search on goggle for russian bed and breakfast's.

Ian meanwhile was convincing Paul that a run to St. Ives would be good. (no thanks from me)

The run nothing spectacular, a lot of new road finished the day in record time after a visit to the rock of Cashel for lunch and a visit to Trim castle (used in the film Braveheart) on arrival provided the lads with a bit of culture.

The White lodge B&B in Trim provided the accommodation for the night and the owner was a delight providing free computer access to the internet and fridges in the rooms, you could even bring food in from the carry out and eat it in his dining room.

 

Day11 : Sunday 8th September 2007 : Home : 315miles 4h50m

a run in 2 half's today first make sure you catch the Stena HSS ferry at 11.10am and then pray for a dry run for the hit home. all fast miles today (motorway mainly). Well after a late night in the oldest pub in Ireland we did make the ferry. finally it was dry for the run home. The only diversion was to run through Kirkby Steven to help rid of some motorway miles.

map home run day 11
map day 11
 

Facts
Day
Mileage
Total
Staying At
Country
Hotel
Comment
1 404 404 John O Groats Scotland Seaview hotel  
2 164 568 ullapool Scotland Morefield Motel  
3 2 570 Stornaway Scotland Caladh Inn  
4 200 770 Lochboisdale Scotland Lochboisdale Hotel  
5 134 904 Troon Scotland Anchorage  
6 185 1089 Donegal Ireland Atlantic B&B  
7 163 1252 Clifton Ireland Station hotel  
8 198 1450 Dingle Ireland Bamburys Guest House best
9 175 1625 Cobh Ireland The waters Edge  
10 180 1805 Trim Ireland White lodge B&B  
11 315 2120 Home England    

In total 2100 miles covered

The end of a wonderful trip, Ireland is a beautiful place with fantastic people.

 

 
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