Travel StoriesAn Island And Way Out West
Spendthrifts And Sumptuous Scenery
Ride Date 15 September 2022
By Ren Withnell
You may recall Sharon had tried to book a hotel on Mull for a night, without success. This failure means she's been even more determined to book a blummin' hotel - and not just any old mouldy BnB, it's got to be a nice hotel. I of course would be happy with another pod, maybe a cheap chalet, in fact I'd be happy in the tent. It won't be too hard for you dear reader to work out which of us has won this disagreement.
One day I will win an argument... one day... perhaps... maybe...
We are booked into The Village Inn at Arrochar. I can already feel my wallet writhing in pain because not only will we be paying for the nice hotel, I'm sure we'll be paying for a nice meal in the nice hotel. I stroke my wallet to calm it down as we pack and make ready to depart.
As we ride past the Craignure ferry terminal I'm tempted to pull in and wait to see if we can indeed blag a crossing. No Ren, no. It's fine. We have all day to ride, the weather is nice, and at the end of it all I don't need to put the tent up and source sustenance. Maybe Sharon's right, maybe I should allow myself the odd luxury? NO! Never!! I'm here for a long time not for a good time.
There is a queue for the Fishnish to Lochaline ferry - I'm not sure if we'll get on this crossing, it may be the next. It'll only be a half hour wait I reckon. No, we've struck lucky and managed to squeeze on at the back. Soon we're on the single track from Lochaline to Strontian.
You paying for this crossing sweetie?
Oh my, perhaps the gods are shining upon us? So far we've been slightly lucky with the weather, enduring only the lightest of rain and marginally grey skies. Today brings us light cloud and some sunshine. Today this single track is not frustratingly slow, it is gloriously beautiful. If we had manged to book the ferry from Craignure to Oban we would have missed all this.
Wow. Worth the detour.
The Highlands are always beautiful to me. Sometimes when the wind howls and the rain falls in torrents they are beautiful in a challenging, frightening way. Sometimes when they are dark and cold they are beautiful in a menacing and sinister way. Today in the sunshine and comfortable temperatures they are simply beautiful in a monumental and visually stunning way. Today we are blessed to see and enjoy this.
By the time we reach the outskirts of Strontian time is still on our side despite our detour. As such I lead us to the cafe and pull in for a brew. As we drink and await some nibbles a couple arrive aboard a large KTM Adventure of some kind. Of course we get to chatting. They are obviously not as measly minded as I, enjoying the comforts of hotels as they travel. Sharon gives them a BAT business card, I wonder if we'll ever hear from them?
Time for a brew I reckon.
I blast along the 2 track from Strontian to The Corran Ferry with a smile like The Cheshire Cat all over my face. Sharon's never far behind and soon we're crossing Loch Linnhe. Back on the familiar and now somewhat busier roads we make our way through Glencoe, over Rannoch Moor and around the edge of Tyndrum. We could take the main A82 through Crianlarich and Loch Lomond to get to Arrochar, but that would be silly.
Instead we take the A85 and A819 towards Inveraray, passing Kilchurn Castle that we visited on day 2. I'm glad we do this. The A819 is another enjoyable road, I must have ridden it before I'm sure but it feels like my first time today. I'm not pushing hard yet we are both making good progress, only to find on a couple of occasions we have to let large builder's vans past! I keep one in my sights for a few miles. One can only assume speed limits here are suggestions rather than laws and the laws of physics don't apply to builder's vans either. That thing should have been in a ditch miles back.
We stop in Inveraray for more tea. Unfortunately within our chosen refreshment establishment there are very tempting cakes on display. No, no I'm going to be a good boy, I'm desperately battling against middle aged spread. Oh, you're having one are you? Oh go on then. My tastebuds are incredibly happy, my waistline not so.
Oh dear, delicious.
We waddle out of cake heaven and take a short stroll around Inveraray before returning to the bikes and the road. It's only 21 more miles of wonderful, breath-taking, and gorgeous Highland road before Arrochar comes into view. It hits home that after tomorrow that's it, we're done, no more Highland roads. I am so going to miss this.
Arrochar? We're only a handful of miles from Loch Lomond, we're not so far from Inveraray either and yet I don't think I've been here before. It's quite nice on first impressions - like most Highland towns it's nestled between the obligatory loch (Loch Long) and some suitably steep and impressive geology. This town is not very big and it doesn't take long for The Village Inn to appear.
The view from the The Village Inn - fabulous.
Oooh bikers! 2 young Germans on large capacity modern naked beasts, one of them limping and rubbing his leg. It transpires this one dropped his big butch machine on this here gravel car park. I watch Sharon as she gingerly and carefully parks her own machine. There's no real damage but I suspect the limping one is going to be sore for a few days - even a minor spill can ruin your day. I offer tools to re-secure his mirror but they assure me they're all good.
Good news! Our room is not up several flights of awkwardly narrow steps but around the back - I figure it's a converted outbuilding. We can park the bikes nearby making unloading a much more pleasant task. The room is clean and well presented as is the bathroom and it all looks good. It blummin' well should do at this price. OK... OK, yes I admit it is nice to have a real bed and our own bathroom and heaters and walls. I stroke my wallet to calm it once more.
Our room is through the right hand door. The bikes are where Sharon is taking the picture from.
It must be nice, Sharon's feeling frisky. We'll be having none of that nonsense young lady! Get changed, we're going for a walk to see what Arrochar is really like.
Arrochar is not entirely picture perfect. There are a couple of properties in need of paint and a few unfinished buildings. The Loch Long Hotel would have been passable if it weren't for the 1960's/70's concrete aberration behind it. Otherwise we find a small, pleasing, and comfortable town surrounded by delightful rugged Highland countryside. It feels remote and rural and yet we could be in Glasgow in around an hour or so and Dumbarton even less. Yes, I can see the appeal of living here.
What the deuce?
Otherwise Arrochar is picturesque
Back at the hotel I gird my wallet once again as we head into the restaurant for our evening meal. Sharon's made an effort and forced me to put on a clean t-shirt. No, The Village Inn is not posh, you aren't required to wear a tuxedo and ball gown - it is smart though - perhaps the clean t-shirt was a good idea. This ain't no nuovo-cuisine Michelin starred claptrap either. Our burgers are sumptuously filled with real flavours and our deserts are delicious. And the price? Of course my wallet is already hurting but I agree, the price is fair.
We retire to the luxury of our room and loosen our belts, letting our bellies hang out. When I travel alone I survive on a diet of sausage'n'beans, rice, and supermarket sandwiches. I tend to lose weight. When I'm travelling with this 'ere woman thing I dine like a king and I put weight on. She's a feeder I tell ya! She'll also be poking me in my chubby bits, suggesting I could do with losing a pound or two. Pffffft.
We share a little intimacy in the warmth of the room. I kiss her hand gently and she allows me the odd glimpse of an ankle before we settle in to bed.
I know my wallet will never forgive me but it's been another good day. As mentioned The Highlands are lovely in any weather but I have to admit they are at their best in the sun. If money were no object then I would stay in nice hotels every night but alas Sharon is not the wealthy heiress I was looking for when she found me. Fear not dear wallet, it's back to camping tomorrow night. I've enjoyed the day greatly but there's this tiny niggle, knowing that I'll soon be back to normality. Oooh a proper pillow - night night.
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Prologue - This Time It Is Up North
Ren has made this kind of trip many times and several trips of much greater magnitude. The bikes are fine and everything is under control. Don't worry dear readers, Ren is worried about having nothing to worry about.
A Successfully Dull Day
The job of the day is simply moving 2 people on 2 motorcycles around 280 miles north. Is it worth the effort?
Speed, Strontian, Showers And Silliness
At last! The Dynamic Muppets finally get into The Highlands properly. There's a couple of things for Ren to moan about, particularly that Sharon is far too happy.
The Ardnamurchan Peninsula - Slowly And Quickly
It's not far from Strontian to The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse... or is it? The weather ain't too bad and there's a lovely bathing belle on the beach that requires Ren's attention
Dangerous Distractions, Draughts And Dapper Drivers
Not all is as perfect as one would wish for today. There's a draught or two and a lairy scary moment. All in all though things seem to be going acceptably well for The Dynamic Muppets.
The Majesty And Magnificence Of Mull
By keeping his expectations in check Ren finds the small island of Mull to be a delight. Apparently it's all about the journey not the destination though.
Spendthrifts And Sumptuous Scenery
Ren's wallet is quivering in fear and loathing as Sharon seeks the comfort of a real bed. Maybe the scintillating scenery will be sufficient to ease Ren's pain?
From The Sublime To The Ridiculous
The day starts well with a full breakfast and good weather. The day goes well too considering the dynamic muppets are back in the throngs of civilisation. Ren's choice of accommodation isn't quite to Sharon's liking though.
Favourable Freeways And A Grotty Grotto
After last night's debacle this time Sharon's choosing the overnight location, making it much more amenable. Ren decides the roads hereabout have much to offer too.
Epilogue - Home And Thoughts
It's the final day of this Scottish trip. With regret Sharon and Ren must return home to their regular lives. Ren reflects on the changes in Scotland and considers his next moves.
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ed in a ball gown, now there's an eye worm that'll take some shifting.
I'll take Scotland in the sun and warmth, it's god awful Dreary in the rain. But isn't everywhere I spose.
04/02/2023 10:03:30 UTC
Bogger said :-
Sounds like you had fun. Good for you and Sharon. Get that wallet open more often. Tight wad.
I also went to Loch long a few years back, to pay a sort of homage.
Loch Long was where the Submarine HMS Tuna departed from during WW2. It took Blondie Hasler and his men to the Gironde estuary. They paddled, in canoes 70mls inland. Here they planted limpet mines on vessels in Bordeaux harbour. Only two of the brave souls returned. Hassler and Bill Sparks. Operation Frankton.
Sorry for the short history lesson. You would know the raid better by the film 'The Cockleshell Heroes'. Which just so happens to be a totally inaccurate description of what actually happed.
Sorry I'm going on again.
Nice write up Ren
04/02/2023 20:17:50 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Fun? FUN!?!?!? I'll not be having any of that FUN!! How can you have "fun" when you bank balance is decreasing? Tut, you kids think money grows on trees.
I looked up Operation Frankton on Wiki. Fascinating, frightening and sad. Wiki suggests that the submarine left from Holy Loch? Shirley shum mishtake.
06/02/2023 08:48:28 UTC
Bogger said :-
Ren you are correct. It was Holy Loch. To be honest one Loch looks much like another. We did circumnavigate Loch long as well on the same trip.
Sorry for the historical error. I'll put me dunce cap back on. Dunno how I got it mixed up?
The operation 'Frankton' raid itself was remarkable. The escape to freedom by Hassler and Sparks beggars belief.
The factual book by Ce Lucas Philips tells the complete story. It's a really good read.
Bogger.....going on with himself again.
p.s. Ren there's no pockets in shrouds.
06/02/2023 19:47:28 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
He definitely won't buy a shroud.....
06/02/2023 23:36:04 UTC
Bogger said :-
07/02/2023 09:56:55 UTC
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Travel StoriesAn Island And Way Out West