The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

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From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

Ride Date 16 September 2022

By Ren Withnell

After last night's jolly good stuffing (the meal, behave) this morning we are also indulging in a full Scottish. Throw in some cereal, toast, orange juice, and tea and it appears I can no longer reach my feet to zip up my boots and these pants are awfully tight. I know I have eaten far too much but I was trying my best to "maximise my return on investment". As my tummy gurgles I believe I may have tried just a little too hard. It was very nice though.

The dining area at the Village Inn is old with wooden beams and a medieval style
It's not a bad place to start the day is it.

It would be very simple to take the A83 east from Arrochar to Loch Lomond and return through Dumbarton and Glasgow. As noted on our way up that would be miserable. A much better option is to head west on the A83 then pick up the A815 southbound. This will lead us past Loch Eck and to the ferry at Hunter's Quay. I have done this route before and I know it's a cracker. Plus I get to ride another ferry.

Oh my! Fuel at £1.59.9! I was thinking we'd wait until we're back in deepest darkest civilisation to get fuel but at that price? Bargain! I pull in, perhaps rather too swiftly as Sharon careers past me. We brim the tanks and depart.

The A815 is as good as I remember it. It has all the Highland cliches you could ever hope for, it feels wild and remote, mountainous and imposing, yet with the ferry at Hunter's Quay it's barely a stone's throw from the everyday urban lifestyle. As I swoop around another bend, Loch Eck and steep hillsides beside me, I get to thinking again. 

This area has some considerable advantages over The Highlands proper, ie. Fort William, Ullapool, Skye etc etc. It seems to have escaped the hordes of campervans and suicidal motorcyclists so far (give it time). It's also way way closer to my abode than The Kyle Of Lochalsh for example. We enjoyed this area the last time we were here going to and from The Mull Of Kintyre. We really should spend more time here.

My thoughts are rudely interrupted as we roll by the 30 sign and back into civilisation, if that's what you call it. I almost miss the turn for Hunter's Quay but soon enough the small ferry terminal comes into view. It's a bittersweet ferry this one. I feel it marks the end of our adventure even though we have 2 more nights before we reach home. It certainly marks the end of "The Highland-y bit" as from here on in we're back to main roads and such things as traffic lights, roundabouts, and busy junctions.  

Ren is taking pictures on the ferry in front of a sign stating children need to be supervised at all times
An irresponsible motorcyclist left this child unattended. Sharon?

Sure enough as soon as we roll off the ferry at McInroy's Point we are into traffic. Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie reintroduce the notion of queues. This part of the A78 coast road is odd for the road itself is much like any main road you'll find in the UK save for the random beautiful views across the Firth of Clyde to the hills and mountains beyond. Then you're back in another town, then more delightful scenery, then back into town. 

I sense there's too much blood in my teastream and I meander into the car park of The Waterside Restaurant Bar. As soon as we've parked the bikes I'm having my doubts, it looks rather too posh for the likes of me. There's GETS (Germanic Executive Transportation Systems (BMW, Merc, Audi)) and Chelsea Tractors aplenty, the gents wear casual suits, the ladies wear nice dresses. We's gunna be turned away innit.

Nope. I ask for a tea, Sharon gets some odd coffee thing and we are treated most courteously and kindly by our sharp dressed... waiter? host? floor operative? He's most charming, enquiring about the bikes and our trip. I notice he's young and handsome too, I'm sure Sharon doesn't notice at all. Heck, I mean it ain't truckstop cheap but even the price is tolerable.

Sharon sits in the smart stylish bar with coffee and a smile
I think someone liked her coffee.

The rest of the towns from Ardrossan to Ayr are... towns. Not ugly, not pretty, not busy, not quiet. They're perfectly fine I'm sure but after the wonderous Highlands they are indeed something of an anti-climax. Ho well.

Tonight's accommodation has been carefully picked by yours truly. This means it's quite cheap but well provisioned. I've booked us into a Parkdean resort inland from Ayr. No, fool, not in a static caravan or a swish pod, just a tent pitch. There is a shop and a bar and a chippy and everything else though so it's going to be great!

Errr yeah. Ahem. Poop. It's Friday night is it not. We're still in the holiday season too, just. Parkdean is essentially Butlins or Pontins with static caravans (and a few tents) rather than chalets. It's packed. It's packed with screaming kids kicking footballs into the sides of cars. It's packed with frazzled parents already drinking away the screams of their offspring. It's packed with random grandparents trying to encourage some sort of order but to no avail. Poop, I've cocked up here and Sharon is less than impressed.

The bikes between various cars at the holiday park
Ahh, right. Yeah erm...
Sharon sits face down looking at her phone within the porch of the tent

Still, I shall ignore the "nice bike mister, 'ow fast does it go", the toddler trying to get its ball from under Sharon's still hot exhaust and the already drunk "lads night away" bunch cussing each other as I put the tent up. It would be fine during the week I bet. There's a shop, the chippy, the toilet block is acceptable, there's a couple of bars on site if it was lashing it down and we wanted a warm dry seat. I bet on Wednesday night during term time it's full of retirees enjoying the actually quite pleasant scenery and the company of other retirees in the bar. Sharon's not going to forgive me is she.

The night passes. We do have a glass of pop in the quieter bar, there's some godawful "entertainment" in the main bar. There's a chaotic arcade we wander through and we share a portion of mediocre chips. It does get a little quieter later on but not as much as we'd hope. There's been too much alcohol consumed which leads to random arguments from various tents between the distressed tears of overtired children. Poop. Perhaps the noise keeping me awake is a good thing, I fear if I sleep Sharon will take the opportunity to thrust a knife into my chest.

Otherwise... not a bad day. Maybe I could move to Ayrshire? While a town is a town these towns hereabouts also have easy access to some fabulous routes on the other side of the Firth Of Clyde. Getting up to the northern Highlands would be an easy day's ride rather than a hard day's ride. Tempting. Oh for goodness sake - stop blooming arguing!

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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.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ooooooooops, Ed's a poopie head.
Never been on that ferry.
15/02/2023 13:06:46 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
We all make mistakes Upt'. Just that some of us make more than others.

The ferry from McInroy's Point to Hunter's Quay and back is a rare thing, in that it's not a CalMac ferry. It also opens up that peninsula wrapped around The Isle Of Bute which is lovely. From your end it's only 135 miles away making it useful for a weekend trip. I'm not sure there'll be a wide range of accommodation but that's what makes the area so lovely.
16/02/2023 13:58:26 UTC
Bogger said :-
That campsite looks proper dodgy Ren. What on earth were you thinking.
Sharon must have a very forgiving nature.
I really feel for her at times with what you put her through.
But please don't feel too bad about it. I'm sure that you've made it up to her with an expensive weekend away at at top boutique hotel.
Thought so.


17/02/2023 20:06:33 UTC
Sharon said :-
I don't think Ren knows what a Boutique hotel is and if he ever found out he might die of shock.
27/02/2023 17:40:03 UTC
Bogger said :-
I'll send him a link or two. Just to brighten up his day.

28/02/2023 10:22:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I think I'm starting to develop a nervous tick.
28/02/2023 12:46:23 UTC

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