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Motorcycling roads in Scotland.

Mark Fraser

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
I would to travel round Scotland and visit some castle's. Especially travel down Loch Ness (Urquhart Castle) and visit Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.
Can anyone recommend any other very scenic roads roads and routes I should take in? If time allows I would want to travel to John 'o' Groates just to say I've been there!

Mark.
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Roads in Scotland

Safety notice first:
I once came upon a motorcyclist stone dead in the road. He'd been looking at Eilean Donan Castle, and had run head-on into a car. Not much consolation that his last view was one of the best in Scotland...
Practical notes: I saw a sign last week that said "next services 46 miles (not 24 hours)" - so fill up when you get the chance. Especially on Sundays.
DEET (strongest you can buy, like "Jungle Formula") fixes midgies. They feed at low levels of light, when the wind speed is below 4 knots (I'm not making this up) so that still twilight may have a downside...

West coast is best, a mix of single track roads requiring care, and fast open roads. The road from Inverness to Applecross (B835?) is a beauty, particularly if you get there via Bealach na Ba - Scotland's answer to an Alpine pass, c/w hairpins, albeit only three. Good pub in Applecross. Leave round the coast road to Shieldaig. Doubtless there are castles, but I'm habituated to them now. Many (Dunvegan for one) are in fact country houses with the original windowless castle buried inside. Castles went out when cannon came in. Further North the road through Poolewe is nice too.
I live in Aberdeenshire (which is positively INFESTED with "castles". Dunnotar, however, just South of Stonehaven, is the real thing.) My favourite trip is Aberdeen, Ballater, Corgarff, Tomintoul, Granton-on-Spey, Inverness, Dingwall, Achnasheen, and Applecross via the Bealach. 200 miles of heaven.
I would to travel round Scotland and visit some castle's. Especially travel down Loch Ness (Urquhart Castle) and visit Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.
Can anyone recommend any other very scenic roads roads and routes I should take in? If time allows I would want to travel to John 'o' Groates just to say I've been there!

Mark.
 

Jock English

Website User
Non-VOC Member
Roads in Scotland

Applecross as advised before is a MUST- DON'T DARE GO TO SCOTLAND WITHOUT GOING THERE!
When are you going, from where?
Maybe travel up with you?
Jock English
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Applecross

Not yet posted in MPH (you read it here first, another Daily Mail exclusive, but not really, because this is actually true, not made up) is the first VOC Scottish Section camping weekend of the summer, third weekend in June, 19th to 21st, at Applecross.
The campsite is close to the pub. (The Applecross Inn is often booked months in advance so don't count on B & B).

Applecross as advised before is a MUST- DON'T DARE GO TO SCOTLAND WITHOUT GOING THERE!
When are you going, from where?
Maybe travel up with you?
Jock English
 

Tracey Tilley

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Avon Skin so Soft

We used Avon Skin so Soft and it seemed to work for the midges.

We also did Applecross, a bit hairy in places.
Skye was lovely and we saw Eilean Donan.
Had a week of glorious sunshine then got soaked on the way home from Glasgow to the M6.
This was last August. We did see 1 Vincent on the road by Glencoe, we didn't wave because we were on a H*nda, due to time constraints.We went for the posh option of a hotel and based ourselves at Letterfinlay Lodge,a lovely spot by Loch Lochy.

I can't wait to go back, a camping weekend sounds great.
 
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Peter Stokes

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The Far North

There are some good things to see in the far north too, but I must second Tom Gaynor's recommendations that Dunnottar is stunning and the Ballater, Corgarff, Grantown-on-Spey road (A939) is great fun.

The castles like Castle Fraser, Drum Castle, Crathes and Craigievar are all very interesting but unless you have loads of time it might be better to pick one of them, and then go to Dunnottar.

The A9 north of Inverness follows the coast, and goes through the small towns like the southern part of the A9 used to. It is very scenic, and there are some twisty and hilly bits around Helmsdale and Berriedale. The road has been straightened out over the years but the Berriedale Braes might still be a test for the brakes. It would have been a formidable road in the early days. There is a long single track road (A897) which goes inland at Helmsdale and goes north through some really wild places but to get to John O'Groats I'd go to Wick and up the east side. Don't bother with the A9 which goes off at Latheron to Thurso unless you have got a ferry to catch, it is all peat bogs and windmills. The coastal road in much nicer.

The road along the top (A836), Thurso, Bettyhill, Tongue is also very scenic. Keep going around Loch Eriboll (beautiful), and to Durness and onward. I have been to Lochinver by the main road (A837) but not the B869 which looks very interesting - lots of arrows on the map. Just south of the B869 turnoff you go over a modern bridge, at Kylesku, where once you would have waited for the short, free, ferry trip.

Near Wick there is a castle ruin, Girnigoe and Sinclairs, which I first climbed about on in 1971. A few years ago part of it had been gated off so you couldn't crawl about in the dungeon or get too close to the sheer drops to the sea, but it is still good.

If you have got that far north, and don't mind a ferry trip, why not come to Orkney - good fast roads, no traffic, bit of cow muck and the occasional escaped sheep on the road. The Pentland Firth has a reputation for being rough, but I have had many more calm crossings than rough ones, and the rough ones have all been in the winter.

There aren't any midges on Orkney (maybe it is too breezy for them), apart from on the island of Hoy, where there can be a few!

Pete
 
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Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Vincents in Glencoe

If it was around the 12th of August, it was probably me, visiting a Vin owner who lives near Ardshiel (see Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson for details...) on Loch Linnhe. I went via Glencoe coming and going. It was a great run.
I've heard Skin-so-soft works, never tried it.

We used Avon Skin so Soft and it seemed to work for the midges.

We also did Applecross, a bit hairy in places.
Skye was lovely and we saw Eilean Donan.
Had a week of glorious sunshine then got soaked on the way home from Glasgow to the M6.
This was last August. We did see 1 Vincent on the road by Glencoe, we didn't wave because we were on a H*nda, due to time constraints.We went for the posh option of a hotel and based ourselves at Letterfinlay Lodge,a lovely spot by Loch Lochy.

I can't wait to go back, a camping weekend sounds great.
 
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hooterman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Scotland

Hi Mark,Go for it, does'nt matter where you go in Scotland it's fantastic,We did Ullerpool,Stornaway,Butt of Lewis then all the way down the Outer Hebrides to Vatersay i.e. Northern most tip to the Southern most tip, lots of ferries and midges (Get your own tying down ropes though)
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Midgies

I have been told before that Skin-so-soft is a brand, not a product. There are at least three variants, only one of which discourages midgies (and, apparently Lousiana blackfly). The formulation depends on where it was made, rather like Marlboro cigarettes in the bad old days (when I smoked). UK Marlboro were actually Dutch, and US Marlboro were completely different. Neither of those worked on midgies, however, who seemed to think it was a diet supplement and couldn't get enough of it.

As Tracey and I have recommended, it does indeed appear to work. However my wife warns that she thinks Avon have changed the formula and the new one may not work. At least with the old one we assume it works by having a scent that either does not attract midges, or is one they do not like. It will not hurt to stock up on more than one remedy just in case.
 

overthehill

Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Skin-so-soft is the business - I first saw it on a construction site near Plockton in September - (if you really want to see midges go to Plockton in September) - A squad of hairy ar**d, tatoo-covered, highland construction workers passing around a bottle of Avon skin-so-soft was one of those things you didn't see every day. - I've used it ever since and it does work (or rather does help - nothing completly works)

Dont worryabout ordering it from Avon - every shop, pub and petrol station (not many of these) up there sells it.
 
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