Through rain, hail, sleet and snow – Scotland on a motorcycle

Our Yamaha XJR 1300 on the road passing through the Caringorms hills and mountains.

2534 km in 9 days. We rode on some of the best roads of the UK, through rain, hail, sleet and snow. Spectacular scenery from start to finish. Some roads used so little the sheep graze right by the edge and nonchalantly walk in front of your not-so-quiet motorcycle. Highland cows taking themselves to a different pasture because they got bored of the old one.

We can share all the photos of Scotland there are, but they pale in comparison to driving down its roads, breathing in the clean air, getting your cheeks red from the cold or the sun (both can happen on the same day) and seeing no other vehicle or person around for miles and miles.

Stats:

  • Bike – Yamaha XJR 1300 aka The Beast
  • Period – 01st – 9th May
  • Distance covered – cca 2534 km or 1575 miles
  • Issues with the bike – thankfully none, even though we packed half of a toolbox with us. However, as we entered Chelmsford on our way back, the swing arm went
  • Favourite part of the road – really difficult question for this trip and I don’t think we can choose one. We loved the stretch of A87, Old Military Road, between Loch Cluanie and Shiel Bridge, the road on Skye from Broadford to Elgol and lastly the trip from Mallaig all the way to the end of Loch Lomond (A830 + A82).
Getting ready to hit the road towards Cairngorms

Scotland

What scenery, such greenery, the glens, the hills, the heather.
The outdoor life, the deer, wildlife, and bloody rotten weather.
The old historic places, the mountain tops and ridges,
Bagpipes, the friendly faces, and millions of midges.

Hobbo's Poems
We were told this was a Braveheart film location. Honestly, I wouldn’t know, last time I saw Braveheart, Mel Gibson wasn’t an alcoholic racist. However, this definitely is the castle from the 1986 Highlander.

Back in October 2019, after a work trip to Scotland, I always said I would go back for a motorcycle road trip with the husband. I didn’t expect this to happen so soon after, but, with international travel banned, this was the best time to explore more of the UK.

The original idea was to take this trip around Easter time and good thing we didn’t. Why? Because it was so bloody cold on the road in May, I don’t wanna think what it would’ve been like end of March! 5-10 degrees (celsius) during the day isn’t that cold per se, but when you add a sharp, icy wind and riding the motorcycle 40+ mph down country roads, it quickly becomes a freezing experience.

I posted an outline of our trip in the last post. We mostly kept to it. Apart from the times the husband blindly followed Google maps even though they stopped working. You can tell a man to download an offline map but he will still stubbornly use the online one, get lost and then blame bad connection for the fact that he missed the road signs and has no idea where the hell he is going.

I’ll just say that on our way back to Chelmsford he drove the opposite way for several miles before realising we didn’t hit the M8 in time.

In case you were wondering why the blog is called Mate we’re lost, the husband is the reason 😀

Anyways, male ego to the side, this was one long trip, filled with stunning scenery. We didn’t take nearly as many scenic stops as I wanted. This was mostly because some of the best roads had the worst weather. Like the A87 that gave us icy winds and hail all the way until the last few miles. When it’s raining, last thing you want to do is stop, take your gloves off and take the camera out for some snaps. Not to mention, not good for the camera either!

Our start and end point in Scotland was Glasgow. We were on the motorcycle 7 out of 9 days (this is including the ride to and from Essex). We enjoyed a dry ride most of the days but the ride from Aberdeenshire to Isle of Skye was abysmal most of the way.

The below is the video of the weather in Highlands the day after we rode to Isle of Skye.

We rode through thick snowflakes around Nairn and after that through persistent hail and rain until halfway by Loch Ness when the clouds left and gorgeous sunshine warmed us up. That day we got completely wet and dry on the road at least 4 times.

Location: Loch Ness. These photos were taken 2 hours apart and are only 8 miles away from each other.

The weather at the Five Sisters of Kintail clearing for a quick photo shoot.

Up until now, I thought Scotland could not get prettier than Cairngorms. Then we hit the Old Military Road that goes through the Five Sisters of Kintail. Even with the weather doing its best to make us miserable, we couldn’t stop admiring the scenery.

And then came Isle of Skye, but not the main, backbone road to Bradford, that is bit meh. It’s the small, single lane roads that lead further into the island, the roads where sheep rule.

Our Airbnb was in a cluster of houses (about 4 of them to be exact) a few miles before Elgol. It was so quiet if you disregard the occasional moo from the field. Our cottage was about 100 years old and had no internet. I don’t mean they didn’t provide WiFi, I mean even the mobile network did not work. Perfect digital detox.

I found the views best early in the morning. If it had been warmer, I would’ve had my morning coffee on the little bench overlooking the sea and the rising sun.

Our road back to Glasgow took us over one of the best scenic roads in the UK according to several websites. Before we rode into Fort William, we passed Glenfinnian viaduct (see photo after the map), famous mostly for the fact that it is the bridge from the Harry Potter films.

After Fort William, we were back on the A82. The A82 goes from Glasgow to Fort William, past Loch Ness all the way to Inverness and is an excellent road for a road trip! Do I even have to continue saying how the scenery here was amazing or are you already getting the point? 😀

I don’t have many photos of this part of the road. I took several with my phone, but not all of them turned out good. I don’t know if it was because of the strong winds or anything else, but the photos and videos have a waves effect and are not equally focused.

Anyone had anything similar ever happen to them? Check out the video below to see what I mean.

There are many picturesque stops on this road, one of which are the Falls of Falloch as you reach Loch Lomond and Trossachs area.

Jimi at Fall of Falloch

When we left Glasgow at the start of the trip, we could feel the air becoming sharper and sharper the further north we went. Later on, as we drove down south we could feel the coldness easing and the warmth taking over. However, this was most keenly felt after we started on our trip back down to Essex.

As soon as we passed Carlisle, the air got noticeably warmer and, once again, we could easily do more than a 100 miles stretch in one go.

So what did we learn on this trip? Not much really. Take the trip in a stride and don’t make your schedules too tight, you never know when the road will take you the longer way 😀 Oh, and nothing beats a nice hot bath with a drink after a long, cold, wet ride.

Do you have any wisdom from the road you’d like to share? When was the last time you went on a road trip and where? We’d love to hear other experiences ^^

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