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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ireland and Scotland [Very long and lots of Pics]

Hi All,

I have been meaning to post up the pictures of my trip since I got back but only getting around to it now...

Anyway, the plan was to spend a week riding around on my first proper tour on the bike so I decided to leave from my home in London and head to the ferry in Pembroke, arrive in Wexford in south east Ireland and then to ride to Larne in the north east and take the ferry to Troon and then head in the general direction of Skye and see where took my interest.

The trip didn't start out so well :rolleyes: but it ended up being a brilliant week :iconbiggrin:

Firstly thanks to everyone who gave me advice here, I got some really good information and lots of suggestions of places to visit... some I got to see, others not unfortunately, as you will see in this ride report.

So here how it all happened:

Day 0 (day before leaving):
I was preparing the bike with the panniers and tools etc when I though I'd better take off the TKCs based on the good advice I got here, so I thought it was time to use those tyre levers I bought for my off-road trips but never got to use ;)... BIG MISTAKE Got the tyre off easily but the road tyre did not want to go back on :(:confused::( Hours of sweat, cursing and tips from XRV'ers later, I decided I'd have to get it done at a tyre place... found a universal tyre centre down the road so decided to go there first thing in the morning (it was now 11.30PM and very dark)... went to bed defeated by a motorcycle tyre :(:(

Day 1:
Off to universal tyres in Greenwich at 8AM and an hour later I have the road tyres on the bike and can now load the bike. Went to work a little late but at least the holiday was back on track as the bike had tyres on again :thumbright:
After work I went home all packed and ready to go and had 7.5 hours to get from London to Pembroke for the ferry at 2.30AM... loads of time to get there and should be an easy enough ride, all I had to do was wait for my mate who was coming to Ireland with me... all going well... until my mate arrives 1.5 hours late... So we set off for Pembroke, cutting it fine to catch the ferry and then it gets really cold, really cold... I mean really COLD, and it's dark and the rain starts in Wales... I thought this was supposed to be a fun holiday :confused:
I have no pics here because it was dark and we were rushing but when we got to the ferry we were shattered and not very enthuasiastic... The ferry staff then came over and told us to hurry up as we were the last to board and they were waiting on us... ooops! The lads on the ferry who strapped the bike down were really sound and we had a laugh with them, especially when my mate caught his foot on the pannier getting off the bike and floored himself!! He landed about 10 feet from the bike as he made the the clumsiest and slowest stumble and fall I have ever seen :D
Once we got a seat on the ferry we fell asleep with the Olympic soccer final playing on a large screen TV in the background. :sleepy1:

Day 2:
Woke at 6AM and the ferry was only a short distance from Wexford and the sun rise was amazing... "where's the camera?... feck! I left it on the bike!" :(
When we docked we rode to my Dad's house which was about an hour away. There was a proper Irish fry-up waiting for us when we got there... brilliant, just what we needed. We went to bed then till about midday cos we were shattered.
When we got up, we headed to Greystones in Wicklow. We were staying with a mate from college there as there was a college reunion in Dublin that night :eek:ccasion5::eek:ccasion5::eek:ccasion5: There are no pics from this part of the journey because... well... because... there just aint!! :)

Day 3:
My mate who was riding with me was flying back to the UK that evening so I packed up and left Greystones at about lunch time and finally the rain stopped, it dried out the sun was splitting the stones :) Here's some pics from around the Glen O'Downs:

The Sugarloaf mountain:


More greenery and mountains and glorious sunshine!!


Travelling light!! :) Although this isn't too bad as it's all the gear for me and my girlfirend including tents etc:


After Greystones and Wicklow, I headed for Abbeyleix in Co Laois where my Mum lives and my Sister and her family also live there so we had a good chat and a few beers :eek:ccasion5:

The weather was still fantastic when I arrived, it was a really enjoyable ride to Abbeyleix


Day 4:
I had to leave Abbeyleix about 10AM because I wanted to ride to Dublin, my home town, and through the city centre on the bike (a little personal sense of acheivement for me :) )and I had to go to Belfast for 5PM to catch the ferry. As soon as I got on the road, the skies opened and dropped enough water to fill a small ocean!! :( Unfortunately it stayed raining until just outside Belfast as I was heading for Larne. Along the way I bumped into some celebrity bikers!! No, not Ewan and Charley or the Mondo gang but Wallace and Gromit :D :grommit:



The road from Belfast to Larne is really nice and quite scenic and I really enjoyed it. While waiting in line for the ferry I got chatting to this fella (below) Tom Dunne, a really top bloke, he had just cycled hundreds of miles (pedal power, no engine :shock:) around the cost of Ireland and heading to Scotland to meet up with his son before he flew back to New Zealand. Tom, I hope your trip went well and you got back ok.



On the ferry, I met a fellow biker, Millen, who spotted I was bit of newby to touring etc (I was sure where I was meant to go or how to tie up the bike on the ferry :confused:) so he helped me out. He had just bought a Pan European in Belfast and was bringing back home to Scotland, so we had a good ol' chat about the bikes he'd had and he gave me some advice about things like BikeSafe and the RoSPA courses. Millen, I hope you're still enjoying your Pan.

At about 7.30PM I arrived in Scotland :blob8: and view on the road from Troon to Greenock in the evening sun was great :

(Note my lame attempt to get a pic of the bike with the Scottish flag in the background :rolleyes: )






I rode towards Greenock where I met up with my girlfriend, Gemma, as she had been on a sailing weekend there. We went for dinner and had a wander around Greenock and just had a chilled evening.

Day 5:
We went to Gourock and took the ferry to Dunoon but unfortunately it was raining AGAIN!! I didn't mind so much, I had gotten used to the rain and found ways of keeping dry and warm but this was Gemma's first (proper) time as a pillion on the bike and it was our holiday so I was hoping it would be a bit more comfortable for her. I think from this photo you can see that she was not over enthuasiastic with bike in the rain ;)



Gourock:


My free standing bike on the ferry :shock:. They told me not to tie it down even though it was a bit rough so I just put it in gear and stole Gemma's hairband for the front brake lever ;)



I was really concerned that Gemma might not be enjoying herself because it was pissing rain, cold and I hadn't sorted out the rider to pillion intercom so we pulled into a little place called Cairndow and found a place called the Stagecoach Inn that did a fantasic Scottish vegetable soup that warmed us up no end and the Venison Steak was amazing... What a meal!! We thought about staying in the place but it was a tad expensive and we thought we would push on to Oban. We called the tourist office in Oban before we left they and found us some accomodation at short notice and were extremenly helpful (called us back when the credit on the phone ran out :thumbright:)





Some pics from the way to Oban:




This pic was taken just outside the hotel we stayed in, it had amazing views, really friendly staff (including the Great Dane owned by the proprieter ;) ) and it had lots of secure parking for the bike.


Day 6:
We headed in the direction of Fort William and Glencoe, I had been to these places before but the views here are so incredible I had to go again. Along the way we stopped at a cafe with a view of Castle Stalker ("Castle Arrrgggh!" from the Monty Python film) and had a cake and coffee (fantasic cakes here by the way).



Glencoe:






The road to Kinlochleven:




We stayed at strange little B&B just before Mallaig, nice rooms rooms etc but I have never seen so many midgees in all my life!! I went down to the bike in a T-shirt to take off the panniers and when I looked at my arms they were crawling with tiny black insects... :shock: The B&B was nice but the owners were very much into promoting their religious beliefs to their customers...:rolleyes:

Day 7:
When we got to Mallaig we took the ferry to Armadale.
Mallaig:


Day 8:
As soon as we hit Skye, the sun comes out, the views are incredible and the roads are a joy to ride... my first impressions of Skye are fantasic and live up to all my expectations










Day 9:
After being absolutely stunned by Skye (definitely one of my favorite places I've ever been) we had to start making our way back toward the route home :( So we took the bridge at the Kyle of Lochlash off Skye:



We then headed for Invergarry and back towards Fort William.


The narrow lakes beside the road were really impressive:


Some of the lakes were like mirrors (I promise I did not alter these images, the reflections are real, amazing eh?!)




Then we headed to Sterling and Bannockburn and stayed with friends of Gemma for the night.

Day 10:
We went to visit the Falkirk Wheel and it was interesting (particularly to Gemma who is an engineer).


It was last few days of the holiday and we knew we had to start heading back to London so we decided to start heading south and take our time and use the A and B roads rather than the motorways. We made it as far as Richmond and camped there for the night. Once the tent was pitched we went to the local town and got a Thai take away and beers, and sat in the tent eating and drinking and thinking back over all the places we went... :)


Day 11:
We reluctantly headed back towards London that morning only stopping for lunch and rest breaks etc. We were both quite tired when we got back to London and only too aware that we had to go to work in the morning so it was a very dull journey home. But then just as we got to Greenwich, we pulled up beside Susan and Grant from Horizons Unlimited on their customised bike:



I thought this was amazing as I had read a lot about them and seen loads of pictures of them and the bike etc and I had used their site for information etc. I thought "Wow!... what are the odds on meeting them? I wonder if they are on another world trip?" but after I spoke to them, Grant told me they lived in London and were just on the way back from a Horizons event, so maybe not so surprising to meet them but I was still delighted to bump into them. They are very friendly and I have since met them again the Touratech Travel Event.

And then that was it, we pulled into the driveway, unpacked the bike, had some dinner and went to bed... and fell asleep instantly, exhausted from the fresh air, traveling and great places we had been to. It was my first experience of touring on the bike and I loved it... in the 11 days I covered just over 2000 miles and enjoyed every minute of it, even the rainy bits... can't wait to go on my next trip! :D:D:D:D

Cheers,
Slanty
 

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Great photos, I am now depressed as I want to do that well maybe one day.
 

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Deer Dodger
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Very nice photos, glad you enjoyed The Isle of Skye.

Mind you if you had seen that waterfall last week, you would have crapped yourself. We had a bad week of rain and the force of water going down that gully was awesome.
Makes you wonder at the force of mother nature. ;)
 

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Excellent write up Slanty, thanks for taking the time to put it together. Getting into Ireland is something I must do, sooner rather than later, so I'm really jealous that you've been and done it already :)
 

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Top trip report Slanty, thanks for sharing. Lucky you got some good weather on Skye eh, shame about the washout in ireland.

Can you remember where you found Wallace and Gromit? I feel the need to hunt them down next time I go home.

/td
 

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DILLIGAF
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Great write up and pics :thumbright: :thumbright: :thumbright:
 

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Should know better
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Some stunning pics there. Looks like a fab trip. Thankx :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the ride report :thumbright:

Can you remember where you found Wallace and Gromit? I feel the need to hunt them down next time I go home.
/td
I can't remember exactly but it was close to Larne and this is the route I took. It's on a roundabout and I think it's called Hillhead Road Roundabout but I'm not sure... :confused:
 

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RNTA
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The waterfall going straight into the sea, was that on Skye? It would be worth the trip just to see that I think. My wife still hasn't been on the bike, not a big fan at the moment truth be told, but she will be convinced. I'm 100% confident, I've just got to show her how much of a great way it is to travel. Great photos and a great write up too.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The waterfall going straight into the sea, was that on Skye?
Yep, it's on the northern part of Skye, I can't remember exactly where it was but if you look at the route we took, it's on the loop to the north of Portree. There is a small road off the main road that goes to a little car park and there's a viewing point for it there :thumbright:

My wife still hasn't been on the bike, not a big fan at the moment truth be told, but she will be convinced. I'm 100% confident, I've just got to show her how much of a great way it is to travel.
From Gemma: Life on the bike is much more enjoyable with a headset... make sure you have a rider / pillion comms kit and it's enjoyable. There's cheap ones in Lidl at the moment that do the job perfectly, no need to spend a fortune.
 

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RNTA
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Pin is in the map, plan to follow shortly. Oh, and thanks to Gemma, affordable comms are now on the shopping list. I'll make a TT sticker and no-one will be any the wiser (I still want to look cool)!
 

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Tenacious Member
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Great report Slanty! Fantastic photo's. Thanks for sharing.
 
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