Trip 7: The North East

Monday 22 July 2013


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This was a huge trip – 466 miles in one day. I set off at 9.45 am and after stopping to talk to a friend that I passed in the street, it was probably about 10.15 before I even got on the M8 motorway out of Glasgow. We’d been having a heat wave for the previous 2-3 weeks but the weather seemed to have finally broken as I left Glasgow and made my way north up the M80 to Stirling and then the M9 to Perth.

Dull day outside Perth

Dull day outside Perth

Nonetheless, I was in Dunblane by 11 am so it looked as if I’d cover my route quite quickly. From Perth I continued on the A9 to Dunkeld where I took the very picturesque, but somewhat twisty, B923 to Blairgowrie. When I arrived in Blairgowrie, the A93 from Perth crossed my path. Funny? This was the road I intended to take to Ballater, could it be that I could have taken this all the way from Perth instead of weaving my way on a back road? Not to worry, I’d got there in the end.

Having found the A93, I now took this up towards Glenshee, one of Scotland’s ski resorts. I’d been this way before when I was a youth, and kept expecting to recognise it, but I might as well never have taken this road before, as it all seemed new to me. It was beautiful though, even though the authorities seemed to think it was a bit dangerous for motorcyclists.

Beware of low flying motorcycles!

Beware of low flying motorcycles!

Getting up to the ski fields, suddenly everything seemed familiar. Sunnyside to the right, and the Tiger to the left – happy memories came flooding back.

Glenshee Ski Resort

Glenshee Ski Resort

Getting over the top of the pass, the sun came out and stayed with me for the rest of the day.

A93 after Glenshee

A93 after Glenshee

As I followed the road round to Ballater, the smell of pine trees filled the air, castles poked over treetops and rivers babbled alongside me. Suddenly I found I was smiling contentedly.

Ballater, like most of the towns in this area, was a pretty little place with charming granite houses and a well presented village square.

Ballater

Ballater

Next I took the A939 to Tomintoul. I love the place names in Scotland – Auchterarder, Findo Gask, Ballindalloch. The A939 has got to be my favourite road so far. Golden fields of wheat:

Harvest time on the A939

Harvest time on the A939

Purple hillsides of heather:

A carpet of purple heather

A carpet of purple heather

And, another ski resort. So this is where The Lecht is!

The Lecht Ski Resort

The Lecht Ski Resort

From Tomintoul I was going to take the B9136 to Ballindalloch but it was closed so I had to divert to Grantown on Spey. From here the A95 took me all the way through to Keith. This is whiskey country and the road was littered with distilleries. At Aberlour the smell from the Walkers shortbread factory almost drove me insane – I’d only had a glass of fruit juice and a Greek salad all day and was starving by now.

A quick trip up the B9016 brought me out near Buckie, on the Moray Coast. I turned onto the A96 and followed it till the turning for Lossiemouth. As I rode into the town, the most almightly roar broke out and just as I was thinking, “What the hell was that?” I saw a Tornado fighter jet rocketing through the sky above me. The RAF have a base here. On the way out of town, I saw another Tornado in a petrol station car park looking somewhat less impressive:

Fighter jet at Lossiemouth

Fighter jet at Lossiemouth

All day I’d been swithering about whether I should camp overnight but as I reached Elgin the clock tower said it was 6.35 pm and a gantry sign said “Heavy Rain Forecast Tuesday”. That did it. I wasn’t going to camp if it meant packing up wet and riding home in the rain, so I spent the next 4 hours, racing down the A9 home again. A quick stop in Aviemore for fuel and another in Pitlochry for chips (it was 8.30 pm and this was the first food I’d had since an ice-cream in Keith) and I was back on the road. By the time I got to Perth the light was fading fast. By Stirling it was pitch black. My visor was covered in bug splatter and I could hardly see a thing. Thankfully I made it back to Glasgow in one piece at 11.15 pm but what a day!

For full photo gallery
Trip 7 – The North East

 

  Miles Km £
Overall Target 3,107 5,000 £5,000.00
Total this Trip 466 750  
Total to Date 2,058 3312.1 164.85
Left to Go 1,049 1,687.9 £4,835.15

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