A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesScotland, And A Little Rain

Prologue - Scotland, And A Little Rain

Leading up to 1 June 2024

By Ren Withnell

You may recall such shenanigans as Northern Ireland Under Grey Skies and who could forget Downtime In Devon? It's time for this circle of friends to organise this year's debacle. 

Some plonker (not me for once) has suggested Scotland. My little ears prick up - I know a little bit about Scotland, I might have a few suggestions? Around a table in the cafe at Millennium Motorcycles St Helens a cunning and devious plan is formed, mostly with myself as the self appointed expert on all motorcycling, accommodation, meteorological and navigational matters north of the border. Golly, it makes a refreshing change to be the expert for once. Remember though, in the Kingdom of the Blind the one-eyed myopic idiot is King.

Ren stands proudly behind the bikes on a ferry deck crossing the Clyde estuary
Behold! Ren - King Of Scottish Motorcycling, Keeper of The Knowledge, and useless halfwit.

Fort William, not Tyndrum, is my recommendation. Better access to better routes, and more options for shopping and dining there too. Oh and cheaper fuel, but I'll not mention that eh. Ben Nevis Holiday Park has tent pitches for the miserly (that'll be me and Sharon will suffer with me) while there's static caravans for the rest of the lightweights. In a dramatic twist the whole lot is agreed on and booked within the space of 2 hours and 3 rounds of tea/coffee. Success!!

The statics caravans are only available for either 4 or 7 nights, and with us all being poor working class folks it makes sense to book them Monday through Friday, giving us the weekend either side to ride up there and get back without serious ass-busting 320 mile days either end of the holiday. It's up to each of us to figure the hows and whens of getting there, just be there for Monday and depart Friday.

A silly map from Manchester to Fort Willian and all the bits inbetween
Just in case you can't work it out for yourselves.

As such Sharon and I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday to get to Fort William. This is in fact very pleasing for us. This means we can make an easy, relaxing and calm trip up, and back too. You may recall we dropped in on Kirkcudbright a while back and from the little we saw we liked the town. Well, Kirkcudbright is not quite "en route" but it's close enough and there's a campsite there we wish to try out. We book a night at Silvercraigs Campsite for the princely sum of £13.50. That's Saturday night sorted.

Oh poop. Sharon's on booking.com and Airbnb, this could get costly. After rejecting the 5 star hotels, the private mansions and the luxurious pods with roll-top baths we settle on a bungalow north west of Dunoon for Sunday night. I will, reluctantly, admit Sharon is getting much better at not busting the budget these days. We don't expect too much from the bungalow at £74 for one night, but it must surely be more comfortable than the tent.

Monday through Thursday we'll be camping at the holiday park with the crew. We need something around half way home then on Friday night. I manage to keep her restrained and she lands on a place called The Tushielaw Inn, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, south of Peebles, and west of Hawick. I can live with the £82 this time, as long as it all goes on the budget spreadsheet.

The silly map including Kirkcudbright, Dunoon And Tushielaw Inn
Right, you got that, all clear now. Simples.

With everything booked that's the logistics sorted out. I am now facing another problem, and it's a strange one.

I find I am unduly excited and looking forward far more than usual to this trip. I always get a little excited, even if it's just a night away in a soggy tent in Yorkshire, but this is ridiculous. I've been doing this for eons and while a little anticipation is both sensible and welcome I'm like a 7 year old waiting for Christmas, why!?! Upon reflection I suppose it's because the previous trips with this group have been enjoyable AND we're off to The Highlands, my favourite place.

This over enthusiasm is actually at risk of ruining things. I'm over fussing the preparation. I'm over thinking the rides and what we can do. Fail to plan, plan to fail, sure... but also go with the flow, let things happen and enjoy the unknown. I'm counting down the days. I'm packing and re-packing. I'm 52 and been doing motorcycle things for, crikey, nearly 34 years and bike trips for 33 years. I'm acting more like a teenager off to their first festival. 

Ren almost smiling at a table at the bar at the holiday park in Fort William
It's not a smile, it's trapped wind.

Get a grip man!

Sharon is a last minute packer, quite the opposite of me. She's as calm and chilled about trips and holidays as a transcendental hippy achieving nirvana. Somehow, someway in a random turn of events we have time on a weekend to get her to pack. I'm glad we did. We have the time to work out what's best, what to put where and to check it all fits together. Sharon's new luggage system seems to be working. Halleluiah, praise the lord! 

Both the Kawasaki Z400 and Honda CB500X fully laden with camping luggage for the week
We *almost* look like we know what we're doing.

With a week to go I dare not even look at the CB500X let alone ride it. I fear if I touch it I'll break something and that'll be the end of my holiday. With 3 days to go I paranoically check the tyres and repack my kit. 

I've become consciously aware I'm more excited than is natural and healthy for a man of my growing years. I know it is foolhardy and childish and yet I can not switch it off. By the time Friday afternoon at 1500 arrives and I sign out from work for the week I'm shaking. 

By 1525 I'm loaded, the house is secured and I start the engine. Sharon's place tonight, nothing new there but psychologically THIS is the start of the trip for me. As soon as I'm on the road I begin to relax. This always happens and I'm glad when it does. And breathe...


Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue - Scotland, And A Little Rain In the lead up to this year's trip with friends it's all sorted and settled very swiftly. With that done all Ren has to do is contain his antici...pation and try to be a growed up and not a child. No hope.
A Lovely Start Good weather, good roads and a good campsite next to a pleasant town. There must be something wrong with the universe if Ren isn't grumbling and griping, this can't last.
Northbound, A Ferry And Big Trees The Dynamic Muppets are continuing their ride north and so far there's no major disasters. There's roads to be ridden, a favourite ferry and a strange new place to explore.

Reader's Comments

Bogger said :-
Ren expert. Really? Ah yes of course, the expert that makes his own expertly made hand guards and Touraplank.
Yes that expert, obvious Really.

Bogger
18/06/2024 17:38:01 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
That's our Ed, our ex-pert in command, or if you like the "has been - drip under pressure".
Oh and I do like Peebles! Proper lovely is Peebles.
Upt.

19/06/2024 00:35:14 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I knew I could count on you folk's support! Your kind word have been gratefully received. Pffffft.

There might be a brief note about Peebles later on Upt', maybe even a picture. If you're a good boy.
19/06/2024 07:33:13 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , I'm almost as excited to start reading about this trip as you are before setting off...
Nigel
19/06/2024 14:59:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Thanks nab301, I'm glad someone appreciates my talents and efforts. I can't help but ponder if there's a little irony in your comment...
19/06/2024 16:33:48 UTC
nab301 said :-
I'm disappointed Ren , I was actually poking fun at myself !
Nigel
20/06/2024 12:08:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
HEHE! Thanks nab301. I hope my minor trip to The Highlands proves as entertaining if not chaotic as Bogger's Alpine trip was. Mind you - the notion of Bogger and his inept cronies making their way to Poland (and possibly back) has endless possibilities.
20/06/2024 12:53:27 UTC

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