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Scotty
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I thought you might like a quick report on my recent long weekend tour from Essex up to Oban. If not stop reading :)

I left home last Thursday after lunch and went up the M11, A14, A1M to Scotch Corner then up to Newcastle. A wave to the Angle of the North and I headed West of the A69. I soon detoured off and took the A6318. It's mainly straight - strangely like a roman road ;) and follows the Hadrian's Wall and passes many historic sites. It's very barren up there and to my regret i didn't stop for pics. In fact the whole weekend I took very few pics. It was more about the experience than continual stopping to take a pic. Google street view's done that anyway! After following the signs for the scenic route which includes some real rollercoaster rises and dips I was then back onto the A69 for the run in to Carlisle for my overnight stop.

Friday morning we departed (I met another rider there) and cracked on for Scotland. It was mixed weather but good progress was made ....until the Scottish Police force decided it was a fraction too good. Nicked for 89mph when 85 would have been ok. Doh! Shame they weren't busy with the Merc that had flown past us just a couple of mins before. 

Once past Glasgow we headed for McIncroys Point for the ferry across to Dunoon. We met another guy at the ferry who'd come across from Ireland. He'd gotthere 10 mins before us so great timing. For me this is where Scotland really started. The smell of pines, the hills, the coast and lochs and of course the twisty roads. We took a very scenic route via Inverary and down to Lochgilphead before going up the coast to Oban. This road (A816) is a real mix of fast flowing bends and some really tight and technical sections.

On arrival at Oban we met with another 18 riders/pillions. The view from the hotel was great. The hotel was just next door to the Cathedral you can see. Some people have apparently complained about the bells chiming (!!) but it added to the atmosphere. 

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Unfortunately the hotel was pretty poor. It was like a time machine back to the 50's or 60's. I had a private bathroom .... but it just happened to be down the corridor!

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Saturday morning was free so that people could take a breather from the saddle after long trips the day before. I took the opportunity to visit the distillery.

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The guided tour is highly recommended and great value : £8 ticket = tour + sample + taster + £5 discount + complimentory glass. That's a winner all the way

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Saturday afternoon was the first ride out. Just over 100 miles but miles seem a lot longer up there! Due to the lochs and hills there's actually not a lot of roads to choose from! Just as well the ones there are all good. We did a loop to the North East of Oban. First stop was at the "The Hollow Mountain" - Cruachan. It's a hydro powerstation with miles of tunnels in the mountains. The tour takes you deep inside via mini-bus and you get to the scale of the construction with huge caverns and a view over the turbines. The actually use more power than they generate! They produce power in the mornings and at peak periods but then pump the water back up ready for next time. Apparently it works and also makes money. The loop went on to Glencoe. Some great scenery and the feeling of wilderness all around 

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After various coffee stops (always some nice goodies on offer such as home made shortbread) we made it back to Oban. A great curry at Spiceworld (also a great view!) and a few bevvies and we were done.

Sunday promised great weather and as the clouds burnt off that's what we got. After the daily fry up (I'd now learnt not to ask for a full "English" when in Scotland! Doh!!) we set out on a ride of 150 (long Scottish) miles on a Southeastern loop. We headed into the Trossachs National park with obligatory break at the Green Welly Stop. I decided not to purchase another bottle of whisky here!!!!

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We rode on down the side of Loch Lomond and the route then joined up with the same roads I'd used on Friday via Inverary and Lochgilphead. No complaints as they're great roads.

Inverary (site of my first and last Iron Bru ice cream!) 

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With around 40 miles to go we broke off my favourite road and headed down to the Crinan Canal. Its a canal that cuts across the Kintyre Peninsula but to make the trip by boat means operating 15 locks in 9 miles. Seems like a lot of effort and talking to one of the crew on a sailing boat it was : their skipper had a heart attack half way through and he was waiting for a crew to arrive from the Netherlands. It's a lovely peaceful please to wait!!

Sea lock #1

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A chinese meal and more local distilled beverages and the sun set on a good Sunday 

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Monday morning meant reality dawned. I had to get home in one long ride :
Oban to Glasgow - only 100ish miles (in heavy rain) and it took 2.25 hours due to the twisties, coaches getting stuck facing each other etc.
Glasgow to Scotch Corner - 150ish miles and a broken down truck on the single track bit with solid white lines meant a bit more delay ... although not too much on a bike!

Scotch Corner to Peterborough - 150ish miles

Peterborough to home - 70 miles.

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I left Oban at 9:15 and was home at 18:30. It's a slog but well worth it for the fun in Scotland! It was a 1,310 mile round trip to collect my bottle of whisky. Just as well it's my favourite single malt!

It looks like the group will be going further North in Scotland in 2018. I've time to consider whether it's a one day ride back again. In the mean time there's 2017's trip to Northern Ireland to look forward to.

Edited by Scotty
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On the subject of the hotel - there was an article in something like the LA Times or the NY Post not that long ago.  It talked about Scotland and the average American tourist.  Post visit reports from tourists were all very positive.  However, when asked if they'd go back, over 75% said no.  They almost all gave the same reason - the hotels.

 

Edited by NewNiceMrMe
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That Balvenie 40yo is my absolutely favourite whisky.  I've only had a dram of it but wow, such a nice whisky.


If you find yourself in Speyside then a tour at The Balvenie has to be done.  They tours are small and get booked up well in advance but they're excellent.  We were taken around by one of the brand ambassadors who really knew his stuff.  This tour felt much more personal unoike the very corporatey tour we had at Aberlour the previous day.

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5 hours ago, Calm Chris said:

Mpg was ...:)

The MPG was .... irrelevant  +++

The hotel - I knew it wasn't expensive but paid ages ago and couldn't remember the cost. I just checked - £93 for the three nights including the breakfast. I guess you can't moan too much :roflmao:

The distillery tour was limited to 8 people. Three of us were bikers with previous distillery experience and then five Germans who rolled out a list of ones they'd been too. The tour guide was great and instead of just telling us all the basics moved it on to comparing how they differed from other distilleries. The most interesting point was that most of the Scottish distilleries (including Oban) have the malting done in one place on the East coast. It's still done specific to each distillery but many don't malt any more. Oh and then the spirit goes off in tankers and is casked and stored near the East coast ... and also bottled off site! 

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