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The End of the Fellowship

By Rev. Mick!

Days 9 and 10

The hostel is a large wood framed chalet and was lovely accommodation for the night. However sound proofing was a bit limited, so when a large group of bikers from North Yorkshire all get up and get going it was a case of us all up. This saves on using the alarm on my phone.

So it was up and get moving, just pack and we’ll get breakfast further down the line. Once again the dynamic duo hit a lovely autumn morning in the West of Scotland enjoying a great ride out through rural Argyll. We headed for yet another ferry at Hunter’s Quay which would get us back to McInroy’s Point and hence for Drew to get his green machine back on to the Range Rover.

We met a nice biker from Ayrshire who was enjoying a blast for the weekend. The ferry was good however the weather started to get a little damper as we approached the other side. Next it was down the coast road to Wemyss Bay and the railway station beloved by Ren’s better half Sharon. That woman has very good taste in cast iron Victorian architecture. 

Only rather than the Railway station/ferry port this time we headed to the community centre where Drew had stashed the Range Rover. It was with a touch of sadness the green machine was loaded on to the rack on the back for its journey back to the Wye valley.

The lime green Vespa is mounted on a rack behind he Land Rover, the Innova is in front

I would swear that the poor old Innova looked a bit sad at the loss of its companion for this long trip. We shook hands and waved to each other then descended the steep hill - Drew turning right towards Glasgow and the motorway, and the the trusty Innova and I turning left for Stranraer and the ferry.

It was a bit of a wet and windy slog down the coast. I made no political statements in Troon or anywhere else, just a lunch in a Harvester and a fill with some high octane unleaded. The Innova does seem to enjoy it and it deserved a treat for its unfailing service. I did get a nice view of Ailsa Craig through the the misty damp.

the island is just a half-round protrusion of rock out in the sea under heavy grey skies

I passed the new ferry ports at Cairnryan, there is one for Stena and a separate one for P&O, then on to the town of Stranraer for the night. Here I stayed at the Swan Inn, a lovely everyday pub with some rooms. The staff were very obliging and had no problem with my early start.

I went for a wander round the town and it was a quiet sleepy place that Sunday evening. I guess a lot of people still work for the ports - it is just they now have to commute up the coast a bit to go to work. This I am sure makes the town and its traffic a bit easier. When walking along the front I noticed they had sea rowing club. They row the same St.Ayles as we had spotted getting on the ferry in Barra.

A large roller shutter in a large shed, the sign above reads Stranraer St.Ayles Skiff Project
A smart white rowing boat with green trimmings in the rain

We have raced against these boats in Curraghs in both The Great River Race in London and the Ocean to City Race in Cork. So it was great to see them thriving in their home waters.

After an early night it was up at 05.00 to catch the 07.30 ferry. Myself and a Dutch GS were the motorcycle contingent. Maybe the rider had little English or it was just way too early, he did not seem to want to talk to an Innova rider.

The small Innova parked next to a massive BMW GS R1200

It was off the ferry and in with an ear bud and Molly Googled my way through the North. I crossed the border somewhere near Monaghan. One of the great things about the Good Friday Belfast agreement is you really don’t know when you cross the border. You just suddenly notice you have gone from a B road to an L road, the speed has changed from MPH to KmH and the road signs are a different colour. Those of us who knew the previous situation can not imagine ever going back to that. While wanting to keep politics out of Ren’s site I do hope The Tories do not screw this up. As the sticker says “Brexit was a S***e Idea”. I also learnt recently while reading “The English and their History” by Robert Tombs that word is from an Irish word. Look it up on Wikipedia. It did make me smile.

I worked my way down to Athlone where I took a break for the night, a push down to Kerry was just a bit too much for both Innova and I. I had never been to Athlone before and it seemed very nice on that sleepy Monday night. Watched a great band jamming in Flannery’s. Got a great deal on The Prince of Wales Hotel in the centre of the town. Now of course named after a different man than a fortnight ago.

Athlone church by the broad river, the church looks foreign like from Spain

I was up early and left to get my breakfast on the way as well as just one more ferry journey. I could not waste as it seemed to be such a running theme to this trip. So push on down to Portumna for breakfast at the Rose Cafe. Thanks guys it was lashing with rain but you let me park right outside and did not mention the puddle round my chair. Also the poached eggs on thick cut brown toast was lovely.

A car, a street, houses and shops, in the pouring rain

Then on through rain and wind, 60 kmph, the Innova just keeps that speed forever, to Killimer. This is the last ferry of this trip. It took me from the North bank of the Shannon in South Clare to the South bank in North Kerry. The ferry, in September runs from the Clare side on the hour. It was now half past

The final ferry across the River Shannon was the starting gun for the worst bit of weather of the whole trip. I know that Kerry is one of the wetter parts of Europe, as is the West Coast of Scotland, but it seemed to chose that afternoon to dump most of it’s yearly total.

So after my half hour wait in Killimer I boarded the Shannon ferry. There seemed to be lots of Americans in hire cars with me. Leaving County Clare was fine with the weather no worse than any other part of the day. As we crossed towards the Kerry coast the wind rose and the rain started to pour. Welcome home, the Americans all waved from their warm dry cars, sympathetically I suppose. I was off as soon as the van in the front was moved. It was gingerly with feet down that I moved up the metal front ramp of the ferry. I’ve had previous experience of just how slippery wet metal ramps can be on a motorcycle.

Being let off first was OK, in principle, unfortunately as I could not go faster than 50 kmph every one of those hire cars wanted to pass me at speed on the road to Listowel. It was easier just to pull over and let the cars pass and the rain pour. It kept it up all the way to Tralee as I inched along into driving wind and rain. 

Then after Tralee as I turned west down the Dingle peninsula it started to brighten and things got easier. I returned to a hero’s welcome. We’ll the dogs were pleased to see me.

“I did not catch fire!”
“See that’s what all that Holy water did for you!”

So some 2491 Kms later I let the faithful Innova rest. I thought my steed deserves some nice fresh oil.

The Innova back home with the seat up and unloaded after the big trip

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Holy Water On Departure It's Rev. Mick!'s day of departure, in spite of his wife's misgivings. He's crossing Ireland and he's already lost in his own country.
Countryside, Culture And Carlingford Lough Rev. Mick! is finding a ferry and fascinating sights as he makes his way northbound towards Belfast. A good day all in all but there may be just one small hiccup ahead.
Police, Passages, Pals, and Pints Rev. Mick! is escorted by the police, hangs out with Scooter types and catches TWO ferries. It seems he can't have an "ordinary" day.
Ferries And Fun But No Food It's all ferries and frolics for Rev. Mick! as he gets deep into The Highlands and islands. The riding and crossings are good but there's a problem with acquiring sustenance.
Motorcycle Meditation In The Wild And Wet Rev. Mick! is having one hell of a day. The Hebridean weather is throwing it's worst at them as they make their way northbound to their raison d'etre.
Lovely Lewis And Chilled Chums Rev. Mick! finds today to be much calmer and enjoyable rather than endurable. A tour of the northern half of Lewis and some good company sees Mick swinging and snoring.
A Laid Back, Easy Day On Lewis While their hosts are working Rev. Mick! and Drew enjoy and easy mooch around. There's just that one place Rev. Mick! still hasn't managed to reach.
Homeward Bound From Lewis To Mallaig It's way too early for Rev. Mick! this morning but needs must. Sadly it's time to head homeward but that won't spoil a good day looking around Skye.
Veggie Brekkie, Bikes And A Blast Rev. Mick!'s enjoying a day through some classic Highland scenery then pondering the past, present and a future yet to come.
The End of the Fellowship With the parting of the pals comes a tinge of remorse yet Rev. Mick! still has many more miles to cover before his heroic return to home. Did anyone notice he'd even left?

Reader's Comments

CrazyFrog said :-
Excellent write up of what sounds like a great trip. Any fool can just twist the grip and go on a big bike, it's much more of a challenge doing a trip like this on a tiddler!
05/04/2023 16:50:28 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Thanks for the words and pictures the Most Reverend.
If Scotland ever fails it's either the weather or the odd idiot.
It's funny, ain't it, whenever anybody says, they don't wish to be political, they inevitably are.
I don't think we can help it.
I spose it's a bit like saying with all due respect and then showing none.
Thanks again, look forward to the next jaunt.
06/04/2023 08:28:09 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Next planned jaunt is our “To Kiss Seven Sister’s” trip to India in September for some post monsoon fun in NE India. I tend to only write up British Isles trips for Ren. The big overseas ones tend to be a bit full on and tiring. Dragging bikes down and up river banks across make shift bridges/small boats and navigating washed out roads leaves an old man like me a bit wasted. So settling to a screen and trying to type it all up rather than hanging out with the locals, eating amazing food and having the craic, is less appealing. Where as in a nice B&B on our islands it seems more doable.
Have got flights, initial accommodation, IDP done.
I can’t wait for the first motorscooters to roar up to me piloted by 1/2/3 or more youths who then shout, “Hallo Sir, Where are you?”. The door of the airport door opening to utter mayhem with that smell of incense, car fumes, raw sewage, spices, cooking and cigarettes and Bidis. The eye watering colour and the noise!
06/04/2023 09:16:27 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Yes, a great trip report. To spare Upt's sensitivities I'll refrain from a positive comment re your political point, although I couldn't help but smile when a certian prime minister extolled the virtues of Northen Ireland having both the UK and EU market at its feet. Hang on a minute......
06/04/2023 10:47:20 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
See, I told you.
07/04/2023 09:48:29 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Omniscience is a wonderful thing.
08/04/2023 10:59:59 UTC
nab301 said :-
The St. Ayles skiff ( after realising it is an actual design model) had me scratching my non nautical head ( re port and starboard and what looked like (and is) the coxswains seat) until I realised after doing some "research" that it is a double ended hull design...
An interesting project!

11/04/2023 11:47:33 UTC
Rev. Mick! said :-
Designed by Iain Oughtred.
14/04/2023 09:19:56 UTC

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