The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesScotland, And A Little Rain

A Lovely Start

Ride Date 1 June 2024

By Ren Withnell

I'm so glad we did a test packing run with Sharon last week. There's a few grumbles and grunts but she's packed and ready to rumble joyfully swiftly. Truthfully there's no rush today, we've around 190 miles to cover and we have all day to cover it. The weather is fine although the forecast for the week ain't, but we should be good today. We know the route, we're both "navved up" anyhow. All things considered this feels like a good start.

After fuelling up we hit the motorways from ScouseLand and head north. Soon enough the motorway sucks all the joie de vivre out of me via my derriere and by the time we reach Lancaster Services (not that far at all) I'm ready for a break. We just stop for a pee then look at the skies which are rapidly turning grey. Waterproofs on. Blummin' forecasters couldn't predict a sunrise let alone good weather.  

Sharon in a car park next to her motorcycle smiling and laughing in the sunshine
Sharon is smiling in the sun so Ren arranged some dark clouds.
The Z400 and CB500X fully loaded with camping gear and all the things needed for a week away
Just a few accoutrements for the weekend away.

The rain... never comes. Those dark clouds pass over as I peel off the 3 laner to ride the A6 northbound. There's actually some quite good bends to be attacked on the A6 and attack them I gleefully do, swooshing and sweeping, all the time mindful of the speed limits. There's a few pleasant villages like Shap and even the larger towns of Kendal and Penrith aren't too oppressive. 

By the time Carlisle comes into view we're thirsty, but no cafes have opportunistically presented themselves. Instead we drop into what transpires to be a hipster-eque pub that royally fleeces us for two teas and a packet of crisps. Feeling somewhat violated we drink our beverages and share the crisps outside in the now scorching sun. It's coming, I can tell, but I'm not feeling it, not yet. This feels like, errr, like a day trip or perhaps a one-nighter, not like a holiday or an adventure, not yet.

On the table we see tea and teapots, motorcycle bags in bright sunshine
Tea, but at what price?

As we turn off the last of the motorway onto the A75 I'm just - just - starting to feel it. The A75 is a large major road, it's quite busy too particularly around Dumfries. But it's here, I can feel it now. Scotland. Space. It's only a tiny weeny little bit different to England here by the border but it's still different if you know where to look. The white painted houses. The actual gaps between places. The speed limits being 60 rather than occasionally 60 but mostly 50. 

Oh I dunno, perhaps I'm just over romanticising the place. It's a big road with trucks and cars and some fields and some houses and some hills. So what. Perhaps I'm just desperate to make the most of this trip. It feels so so good to be flowing along a non-motorway road at 60. ish.

We fill up again at the large Tesco outside of Dumfries and ride the last leg to Kirckcudbright. As we stop at the barrier of Silvercraigs Campsite we agree we've enjoyed the ride but we're ready to stop. The barrier is down and there's no staff-looking types about. I'm sure there's a code to open it in an email or on their website or something, I guess I'd best get my phone out.

As I dismount a random chap comes along and gives me the code. It seems our saviour, Norman, is also a motorcyclist and camped for the night. As we park and pitch near his tent we take a moment to admire his very clean Moto Guzzi V7 and learn a little about him. He's from the north east of England, taking a weekend away, has just retrained as a podiatrist after being a dental tech and is besotted with his Guzzi. Of course we don't know him but the first impressions are good, he seems calm and gentle and polite. 

A Guzzi V7 next to the tents and campervans at Silvercraig's Campsite
Norman's setup is simple, clean and effective much like his V7 Guzzi.

With the tent pitched we're settled in by 1700. That's perfect, far enough and long enough to feel like we've travelled, not so far we're totally knackered and useless. It's time to take advantage of the main attraction of this site - it's proximity to what is hopefully the lovely town of Kirkcudbright (pronounced Ker-coo-bree). 

Sunshine helps, sunshine always helps when forming an opinion of a place. Kirkcudbright is as lovely as we first thought. It's not chocolate box picture perfect like a Cotswold village, it's lived in and an honest place. There are a few houses that leave a little to be desired and the school looks like any other. There's also pretty gardens, fascinating back streets, a ruined castle and a marina, the pubs have patrons but it's not packed like a city centre. I'd say there's a happy balance and it suits our nature. 

A street in the sunshine at Kirkcudbright, not beautiful but perfectly pleasant
Perfectly pleasant, not picture perfect.
Stone building with modern glass door next to dark red stone building and cobbled street
Mixed up and interesting.
Varied houses in a terrace and behind a grand building with towers and crenelations
How big is that Beemer (or how small is Sharon)?

We've considered other options but we've both chosen a simple sandwich and drink from the Tesco local tonight rather than a full meal. Back at the tent we dine on the finest "triangle" sandwiches as the sun starts to set over the town. By 2200 the air is now still and the midges are beginning to venture out. After another chat with Norman we retire early to bed before the wee beasties start to make a meal of us all. 

A deep orange sunset behind hills and the town of Kirkcudbright with the motorcycles in the foreground
Sharon does take some impressive images. 

It's been a good start. I'm glad we've not had too far to ride and I'm particularly glad we chose to come back to Kirkcudbright. I dare say even if the rest of this trip is poop it was worth it just for today and this evening - walking around Kirkcudbright, chatting with Norman and just hanging out with Sharon. Let's see how the rest of this week goes eh? The forecast ain't exactly inspiring me.

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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

Upt'North ¹ said :-
I wonder if Norman ever recovered?
25/06/2024 13:15:49 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , did Norman manage to sort out your bunions?
25/06/2024 14:45:10 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Teeth to feet - where next I wonder?
25/06/2024 14:50:31 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I really like Kirkcudbright. As you say, it's a real working town, not a chocolate box confectionery 100% reliant on tourists.
25/06/2024 19:04:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm sure Norman will be fine Upt', with a little counselling. I didn't bother him for too long so there's a reasonable chance of recovery. I do however feel that Northumbria needs a little of my attention and I ought to come a bother you for a brew while my bike deposits oil on your pristine driveway. You can't be happy all your life you know.

I didn't ask Norman about my bunions nab301 as I don't suffer from them. However, perhaps I could have asked for advice on my arthritic big toe? It don't 'arf gimmi jip when it's cold and wet, and it's cold and wet here quite often.

26/06/2024 07:31:36 UTC

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