Loch Rannoch to Shiel Bridge (and Beyond)

Arriving at Loch Rannoch, it starts to rain. It continues for three days and is joined by a wild wind that keeps us awake at night. Not due, in part, to the fact the tent is positioned back-to-front for such conditions, of course. There’s even a sign saying ‘wind’ on the end of the tent that should be facing into the wind.

A pretty forest to stay in, but it has lost its magic. In retrospect, we couldn’t have made a better decision. About five minutes after leaving Kinloch Rannoch, the rain stops, the wind dies down and the sun shines. It’s a great day for the next leg of our journey.

Our route is 113 miles and brings us to a small campsite not far from the Isle of Skye. We decide to use it as a base for exploring Skye and anything else of interest in the vicinity.

We begin on a windy B road, that isn’t too daunting. We turn left and the ride becomes a challenge, it’s single lane with very limited passing points. There’s plenty of steep, winding bends to keep our wits on high alert, not to mention the unpredictable direction that sheep will take when you meet them on the road. We’re meeting plenty of sheep.

We meet a lorry, that is the full width of the road. There’s nowhere for us to go, and even stopped, there isn’t room for us unless we take a dive into the surrounding moorland, from which we’d have to be crane lifted out. We don’t have a reverse gear, and we’re on a steep hill. And to think hill starts used to be such a big deal! The lorry driver recognises the problem and makes a tortuous journey in reverse up the hill until it reaches a passing place at the top. We’re more than grateful.

It isn’t today that we pass a tractor rally, but I’ll mention it here, as it was on part of the road that we’re travelling today. It’s not unusual to pass a tractor in these ‘ere parts, but when you’re passing two, no three, in a row, things seem a little out of kilter. Concentrating on the gap between the verge and the tractors, I couldn’t keep count of how many passed us, but Verd did get to 16. Some looked somewhat antiquated.

Antiquated-Tractor
Another antiquated tractor we met on our travels

We experienced the tractor escapade during a ride out to Queen’s View, a few miles from Loch Rannoch.

Queen's-View
Queen’s View

The challenging single lane road takes us through sheep-shaped moorland, not unlike being in Yorkshire. This means peat, heather, marsh grasses, bilberry bushes and little more. Heritage groups are hard at work preserving this desolation, sheep-farming being part of the cultural heritage of the land. However, it isn’t good for our natural heritage. Sheep soon eat anything that tries to take root and what was once densely forested land, is now tree-less. It’s not the kind of the land that we’d typically think of as desert, but that is essentially what it is.*

Marsh-Grasses-at-Shiel-Bridge-Campsite
Even Marsh Grasses are Beautiful

The breeze is gusty at times, making some of the bends more difficult. I’m learning all the time, rarely using brakes to slow for bends and controlling the bike through using the clutch. I later learn that this is good practice, although, I’m sure something from my lessons stuck that made me introduce this feature into bend control.

I’m somewhat relieved when we meet the A9 and we have a smooth, fast ride for a few miles. Soon the sat nav directs us left and we travel the A87 via the A889. It’s a heavenly ride, the scenery nothing short of spectacular. There’s bends, but they are fast and I enjoy the tilt of the bike from one side to the other. Strangely, I’m finding the bike easier to handle with the weight of luggage than without. Except for when parking, and that’s a whole different story. I’ll tell it another time. It’s worth a designated post.

We stop at a popular picnic spot, recognising an opportunity, not only for a good photo, but also for some chips. The chips plan doesn’t work out, which is probably good for my waistline, but we do get some photos and have a good ol’ chat with a couple of other bikers.

Loch-Lochy-Stop
This is not Loch Ness

 

Loch-Lochy
This is Loch Lochy

One, whose family has now flown the nest says, more than once ,how inspired he feels by what we’re doing.

Fellow-Bikers-at-Loch-Lochy
This is What Inspired Looks Like!

That is a poor photo – and I would have take another had I known how badly I caught him out. He’s quite the handsome chap and deserved another shot!

We surmise that we’re standing by Loch Ness, but this later turns out to be fake news, as it’s really Loch Lochy, south of Loch Ness. We have to turn just before we get to Loch Ness. Perhaps we’ll find it again on our way back?

Anyway, onward to Shiel Bridge, a small campsite completely surrounded by mountains. The scenery is going from beautiful, to stunning to breath-taking the further north we go. We book in, then get on our bikes to find a pitch. I watch Verd try to pull out and then, in slow motion, fall gently sideways as he drops the bike. Off I get, this is a big load to pick up. We fail. We try again. We fail.

A bike passes on the road, and the same bike comes back.

“I’m only a weedy bloke, but I reckon between the three of us, we can get her up.”

I think it was sheer will power, but soon she’s upright – although we did take off a bit of the weight before trying. I plan a good, serious conversation about the weight we’re carrying, health & safety (I used to be a teacher, it’s in my bones), etc.  He managed to drop his bike twice in one day previously. Then, I pull up beside Verd’s, now safely, parked bike and pull in a little too close (I keep forgetting how wide the panniers are). In slow motion, I fall gently sideways as I drop my bike.

No lecturing to be had. Doh!

Darren, our camping neighbour comes to the rescue, but I have to remove the tent so that we have something to grab before we attempt the lift.

We selected this location for two reasons. It’s only about 15 miles from the Isle of Skye, so can do a day tour of the isle and secondly, it boasts hot showers. The last stopping point was cold water only and after three days of cold water, wind and rain, I’m in the hot shower faster than a rabbit in mating season.

We take a good walk through a mountain range called the Five Sisters, then after lunch, take short ride out on our first day to a little village called Glenelg which has 2,500 year old stone hut constructions.

Morning-Walk-the-Five-Sisters
Morning Walk Through the Five Sisters
View-from-the-Five-Sisters-Walk
Morning Walk View of Loch Alsh

It’s extremely hot in our gear, so we don’t get to see them, but stop off for a tonic water instead. The village has a quaint inn, which oozes the smell of peat fires and is playing a few Scottish tunes by the Blind Old Dogs. Apparently, they can only be found on Spotify, but I recommend them if you do. The landlady introduced us to another band called Tweed, a little more commercial and good fun for a ceilidh, we’re told. I like them, but prefer the Blind Old Dogs, they have more of a feel of a couple of (extremely good) players by the fire of an evening, just enjoying themselves. However, I think both bands need to be given more of an ear before full judgement is made.

Viewing-point-on-route-to-Glenelg
View on the Road to Glenelg

We look at a sample menu and Thursday promises fresh seafood, so we book a table for Thursday evening.  I’m really looking forward to it. We’re planning the day out on Skye, and I’m sure we’ll be good and hungry when we get back. I’m hoping we’ll be able to taxi it, so I can enjoy some wine too, ‘cos although it’s not the pass to Applecross **, it is a road to be respected. With luck, our next visit will also take in the ancient monuments.

During the evening, I get extremely excited. We see a bird glide on the thermals over the mountain, later joined by two others. They have the call of a bird of prey, and the colouring is brighter than a buzzard. Could they be golden eagles? They are just too far away for full identification, but I’m going to check out the competing possibilities when back on the net.

Our second day in Shiel Bridge is more sedate, we’ve massaged out some aching muscles and catch up with the documenting of the journey. I’m not sure why we both feel this to be important, but perhaps it has something to do with ageing memory.   We’re already having to double-check facts with each other!

We’re staying here a couple more nights, and then will make our way to Durness on the north-western tip of Scotland.  We’ll then make our way south again and pay a visit to our nearest and dearest before crossing the Channel.

 

*Rant heavily influenced by a recent Guardian Article by George Monbiot

**Applecross is a small town on the west coast of Scotland, and one of the roads to it, is through a mountain range.  It’s well-known in biker circles and I’m getting the impression that if I ever survived doing it, then I can call myself a biker.  Right now, I’m hoping Verd doesn’t get any ideas about doing it.

Ride Out to Holy Island and Beyond

I have a new favourite hobby.

It is crossing the sea on a motorbike.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is accessible by road, but only when the tide is low. Some days the window is very limited and cars become flooded in the rush back. Today, the window is from 9:30 am – 4.30 pm. The sun is out and it’s a perfect day for a ride out and a picnic. We plan a coastline route on minor roads, stopping at Bamburgh for a photo stop.

Bamburgh-Castle-B&W
Bamburgh Castle

When we visited Bamburgh last, the castle had become the setting for scenes in the new Macbeth film starring Michael Fastbender. The car park was covered in marquees and horse boxes and we had the fortune to see some special effects smoke and model bodies falling from the parapets. We never caught a glimpse of the man himself, I’m sad to say.

I wear a hi-vis vest over my bike jacket and I’ve learned it has a disadvantage. There’s a particular species of fly that are very drawn to it and when we arrive, I’m in a swarm. Taking the vest off helps free me of the pests for taking photographs and they disappear before the next leg of the journey.

Crossing the sea at low tide isn’t quite as exciting as it might seem. With tourist season in full-flow, we cross at a leisurely pace and park up. A brief stroll to the beach and we set up a camp stove. I love the picnic on the beach. We quickly cook up a three-cheese toasted sandwich and gaze out over the ocean to see Bamburgh Castle from a Viking perspective.

Bamburgh-Castle-from-Lindisfarne
View of Bamburgh Castle from The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

The tides not only affect the accessibility of the island, but also those who prefer sails.

Low-Tide-Lindisfarne
Low Tide Mooring

We wander around the not-so-photogenic Lindisfarne Castle (it is being restored/repaired and so is covered in scaffolding), and decide to leave well before the tide is due to come in, in case of a last minute exodus from the island. It’s a good plan, as Verd can’t get the ignition to start on his bike! I’m immediately going into plan B mode, thinking breakdown might not want to come visit with the tide due to turn and we might need a change in sleeping plans for the night. There’s no reason for it not to work, so I turn my bike around and wait.

Verd-Rock-Climber-Lindisfarne
It’s the biker, not the bike!

We escape the island in plenty of time; the problem being one of the biker and not the bike. We take the less scenic, but quicker route back, just in time for a party with our very interesting camping neighbours, Michael and Finn. We torment Michael to forecast the weather for us – he’s a meteorologist.

We wake up to sunshine (and a pile of alcohol bottles to dispose of). Today is the first that we pack without having to try and keep everything dry. We’re able to air the sleeping bag and mattresses, dry the footprints and take our time getting the bikes ready for the most adventurous of trips yet.

Black-Headed-Gull
Black Headed Gull

The plan?

Alnwick to Loch Rannoch in Scotland.

We first take the A1 towards Edinburgh, but take a detour to Dunbar for fuel. It’s the first of three stops we make. It’s a little seaside town, and we consider stopping for lunch, but we weren’t sure where would be convenient to park or safe for our load, if we leave it. We carry on, and shortly make our second stop, when the fuel needed is for ourselves. My hands are glad of the break. Even though I’m more relaxed than I’ve ever been on the bike, some of the slower parts of the journey have put pressure on my thumbs and wrists.

Back on the A1 we round Edinburgh and follow signs to the Forth Road Bridge over the Firth of the Forth.

Enter sea-crossing number two:

It’s a huge suspension bridge. This is far more exciting than a low tide crossing. The view is stunning and I’m able to fully take it in as the traffic is going slow. Unfortunately, there’s no stopping point for a good photograph; both sides of the bridge are undergoing roadworks and we have to keep going in the continuous line of slow traffic.

Once over the bridge, the countryside changes and you know you’re in Scotland. We pass from a motorway to the A9, a reasonably fast, but very pretty road. Nearing Pitlochry, we flow into meandering B roads. I’m glad of the two practice ride outs we did in the Dales, now coping better with bends and blind hills. There’s a supermarket van tailing us, but the driver in front likes to take the difficult terrain as carefully as I do.   The van driver is becoming impatient, but I don’t sweat.  We’re riding deeper into forest with the road following lakeside contours. It’s amazingly beautiful.

[map of journey – work in progress]

Tired and hungry, I’m very happy to see the sign for the campsite.

Kilvrecht-Campsite-EntranceThree minutes before arrival, it begins to rain. We pick our spot and become a slick camping team: the tent took about 10 minutes to erect. I sort out bedding, while Verd completes the guy ropes. The rain is coming down and the famous Scottish midgies are swarming. We’ve got head nets, and don them while we cook a risotto in the rain. We’re still in our biker gear and standing in the porch out of the weather while eating a somewhat basic, but never-tasted-so-good hot-pot of a meal.

Clambering out of wet gear, we snuggle in the warmth of the sleeping part of the tent and listen to the rain on the canvas. It’s not long before we’re asleep.

I leave Verd at base to do his thing, and take a 6 mile walk to meet the local inhabitants and document their flora and fauna.

I discover a hidden loch ‘beach’, and see two stags. I have a friendly chat with a fisherman and another former teacher. The two stags were formerly part of a group of about 40 which had come down from the forest, but these two didn’t return with them. As far away as they were, they seemed to sense us talking about them.

On return, I encourage a frozen frog across the road before it becomes a pancake.

Loch-Rannock-Local-Inhabitants-Frog

Life is good!

Heading North

We awaken to a misty morning with light rain soaking the tent just as we plan to pack up and leave Kettlewell and already miss the BMW Bikers, Yorkshire Section. It has been a lot of fun.

Misty-Morning-Leaving-Kettlewell

Rain is not unusual for the terrain, but we hope for some clear skies later on, it’s a 130 mile journey to our next pitstop. We want to improve on our previous packing time of six hours. Can we do it?

Hampered by the weather, most is conducted in the tent. I occupy the sleeping area, Verd, the ‘garage’. He seems to make faster progress than I. But three hours later, we’re revving up the engines and on the road.

Leaving-Kettlewell-Camping

Alnwick starts with a superb evening meal in the Mivesi, an Indian restaurant with dazzling silver and purple décor. For a Monday evening, we’re surprised how quickly the restaurant fills and the lone waiter is soon rushing to keep the orders fulfilled. He smiles at us apologetically, his colleague failed to turn up for work. We’re relaxed and in no hurry, and savour the wholesome food. After 100 miles on the A1, in stinging rain, we’re wholeheartedly warming up to the place.

The waiter is later joined by two girls with the brightest of smiles, adding to the general ambience and professionalism of the service. The food is well presented and utterly delicious.

We are in bed by 9 pm, the A1 is a tiring journey. I’d not fully fastened the wrist of my jacket, so experienced a cold, wet wind tunnel. A lesson learned. The trip is presenting us with many. Verd believed that we’d experienced hailstones, but I’m unsure, and suggest that’s what rain feels like when you ride at 70 mph.

For the first day at the new base camp, we take stock of our journey so far, reorganise our belongings and catch up with some laundry. The rugby club has good shower facilities, but laundry is undertaken in a sink designated for cleaning muddy rugby boots! We’re getting creative. We wander into town during the afternoon and visit a secondhand bookshop, Barter Books. The shop is somewhat of a tourist attraction being housed in a former railway station. Established by a couple with a fondness for books and trains, it has a model railway running above the many shelves of books. The collection is vast. They have a catalogue of their rare and antiquarian books, but there are more than 300,000 that remain uncatalogued. Honestly, I could just live there, but they didn’t seem to require any tenants.

Barter-Books

We purchase ingredients for camp cooking for the next couple of days and settle back to base. I study a map of Scotland and plan our next stop, near Pitlochry. I find a site run by the Forestry Commission which should prove to be prettier than a rugby field. It’s getting cold and we nip into the clubhouse for a swift half before bed time. It proved to be a fateful decision.

The next morning, Verd’s in a sweat, he can’t find his travel bag with every single thing that is most valuable for our travels in it. You know, like passport, cash, bike keys…… He realises he’s left it in the clubhouse. The problem is that the clubhouse is rarely open. Luckily we bump into someone who knows someone who has access to the bar. We meet the someone who checks behind the bar, to no avail. The someone promises to ring another someone who would definitely know if the bag had been stored safely. I bump into another someone who mentions the safe, but the someone who can open the safe is inaccessible by phone.

We’re getting gloomy and begin to assess just how bad our situation is. We find some reassuring optimism out of the gloom.

Long story short, it returned to us, with all contents intact.

Yet another lesson is learned.

Having planned a more adventurous ride out to Lindisfarne, we instead settle for a sedate stroll to Alnwick Castle, a very impressive construction. We play with the idea of being part of a small army wanting to penetrate the impenetrable facade, then realising our ambitions are somewhat lofty.

Alnwick-Castle

We’re staying in Alnwick until Friday, but hoping to fulfil the plan of a ride out to Lindisfarne tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we will finally map out a route for ourselves, so we don’t find ourselves in the Alps during the winter season.

Kettlewell

Onward we go, to the sound of applause from the Cock o’ the North.

You wonder why the applause?

The packing takes six hours to organise.

Six hours!

I say packing, but the packing is thwarted by a couple of mishaps.  A security cable is stuck in the brake disk of Verd’s bike.  The second is a packed pannier bag that refuses to go into the pannier.   Our first thought is that we’re going to have to get rid of the axe (we need an axe?)  However, the obstacle is a previously unnoticed dent in the pannier caused by the dramatic toppling of The Beast before we even left the house.  The Cock o’ the North is not only attached to a micro-brewery, but to an engineering company.  Hans comes to the rescue with a car jack and irons out the dent.  We also have to adjust the suspension on The Destrier so that she doesn’t become too fond of wheelies all the way to the next stop.

Finally, we’re on the road (hip, hip, hooray!) and The Destrier and its rider are extremely happy.  Not quite so heavy, beautifully balanced and in complete control.  Verd and The Beast are little wobbly and top heavy, but not so bad that we have to spend another six hours addressing the difficulty.

We have a good and faultless ride.  Stop-start traffic in urban areas are challenging, but we remain in control.  We enter a dual-carriageway and reach the speed limit with little effort; both bikes pull well.  They are built for this kind of journey.  The Yorkshire Dales presents very narrow and windy roads –  fun – even with a load.

The final challenge is getting into Kettlewell campsite itself, undertaking its rough stoney track and wet grass to the tent pitch.  By the time I dismount, I’m feeling very pleased with myself and now more confident about the feasibility of the trip.  Verd is happy too, but still feels he has some weight distribution to sort out.  I’m sure this is going to be another 6 hours of pain when we we’re packing up again in 5 days time.

Loaded-bikes-at-Kettlewell
Happy arrival at Kettlewell Camping Site

The campsite is a field with 5* shower facilities.  After 5 nights with only pub toilets and basins for basic sanitation, I wallow in the luxury of a hot shower that’s better than many hotels I’ve been too.  It is set in a valley between limestone hills and is beautifully peaceful.  Swallows are gliding over the grass catching midgies with incredible aerobatic accuracy.

We soon make friends with Mick, Tim and John, and accompany them on a ride that takes me a little beyond my comfort zone for hills, blind bends, blind humps and general adventure bike-ness.  But I’m really happy with how I’m managing the new terrain, although I don’t keep up with the leading bikers, who’ve been riding since they were nippers.

Mike-Tim-and-John-Ribblehead
John, Mick and Tim (left to right)

We go to Skipton first for some provisions, then make our way to Ribblehead Viaduct.  I’ve only ever seen the viaduct from a train window before and it always looks magnificent, but to see it on a bike ride is just exhilarating.  We do a circuit, stopping briefly at a cafe where I break my decaffeination regime – I’m with dedicated tea drinkers and it rubs off.

Ribblehead-Viaduct
Ribblehead Viaduct and Looming Threats of Rain

Back at base I draw a laugh from the newly arrived BMW riders – my hands have cramped and I’m cursing as I try to get the blood circulation functioning normally again.

The next ride takes us up over Nidderdale.  Mick promises there’s nothing more to cope with than experienced on the previous day.

Ribblehead-farmhouse

This is an outright deception!

Only a couple of miles into the ride and the lead rider has missed a hairpin bend into a very steep hill.  The next two riders go for it.   I follow.  With some help from my guardian warriors, we make it up that hill and I’m whooping to celebrate the success.  There isn’t anyone going fast on this road and we manage to stay together.  The scenery is magnificent, with 360° views.  Not that I can fully enjoy it.  My eyes are firmly fixed on the road ahead and I’m learning to look further than I normally would for clues as to what hidden obstacles it presents next.

The-bikes-at-Ribblehead
Pitstop

The road presents a herd of hefty cows.  With calves, I’m aware how quickly they could become aggressive.  We pull up and wait, but they don’t move.  Mike braves the challenge and presses slowly forward.  We bunch up into an impenetrable line, hoping that no calf becomes separated from its mother.  We are all holding our breaths.

I’m relieved when the herd thins out and we finally cross a cattle grid.  I sense the communal exhale of breath as the bikes are revved and those wheels begin to gain distance.  It’s not long before we hit another hairpin bend into a steep hill.  A car occupies the road leaving little room for manoeuvre.  It’s a nervous moment, but we all make it up safely, although I can’t say that it was the most graceful of feats.

We stop at Jervaux Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery, for tea (of course).  The monastery is quite close to my heart, it being a sister monastery to one in Ireland, Mellifont, where I was once employed as a tour guide.  The cakes look more than tempting, and I opt for a gluten/dairy-free lemon and blue poppy seed variant.

The club member regroup for a meal at a pub in Kettlewell, conversation is good and we’re given good tips for the road, including ditching the 21st century technology!  Most are taking off this morning for home, I’m taking a hormonal break from anything adventurous.  It’s necessary – or it could be a conversation with an officer of the law: “sorry officer, it’s me hormones.”

Not sure they’d buy it.

Next stop: Alnwick Rugby Club.

It’s in Northumberland, beautiful countryside and a place where we spent one of our first romantic weekends.  Looking forward to exploring further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cock O’ The North

We sleep on the sofa bed the new tenants have agreed to keep. It’s uncomfortable and the nervous energy is high. Not a great deal of sleep is had and we have to drag ourselves into action in the morning. We’ve got a lot to do.

I’ve moved house before, but there’s always the option of finding a big box and flinging the last of your possessions into it and worrying about it later. It’s a great deal more difficult when you’ve now filled four panniers, a top box, two duffles, tent bag, mattress bag, two pannier toppers, two tank bags and Dennis and you still have to pack what looks like the same bulk and weight again.

Before I go on, allow me to explain Dennis.

……..

Dennis is the Hopper. It is a giant Pelicase that was never intended for a motorcycle, but has groovy features like waterproof-ness, pressuriser and general bomb proof-ness. It’s the home of sensitive equipment that enables us to remain on the grid while off-grid. Think solar and mobile wifi and you get the picture. When full, it’s about 40 kilos and definitely not intended for a motorcycle.

But Verd is a gadget man and there’s no compromise to be had, despite my girlish suggestions of small and light. This box must go on the back of his bike – but how?

Enter the stage: Mark

Mark is an engineer, based in Scunthorpe, with a passion for bikes. He has about nine of them. I’ve seen a couple: an BMW Adventure bike, a BMW cafe racer, a Kawasaki he’s had since he was a nipper and a Triumph ex-army bike. He makes some BMW accessories which he sells well below the usual market price for similar equipment and undertakes custom work. He loves a challenge and when Verd presents a significant feat, to be complete within 4 weeks, Mark sets to work, day and night to get the job done. It’s a masterful piece of engineering and Dennis is now riding pillion on Verd’s bike.

Dennis
Dennis the Hopper

…….

Sometime during the day, we strike a deal with a rally driver who buys the car and promises to take it on a charity rally from Norfolk to Romania. He’s quite the character. We’re based in the car park of a garden centre and other shops, and he manages to make heads turn with his larger than life voice and personality. Lots of us have shadows that follow us, but I think this guy is followed by Fun.  

I’ve love the stories that people have told about how they intend to use some of the things they’ve bought from us. One couple bought a cabinet they intended to hang in the van they were doing up. The internal décor of the van wouldn’t have looked out of place in a scene from the Imaginarium of Dr Parnassas.

The bikes are full with all they can carry and we’re still not finished. It’s past the time we said we’d be out of the house, so Verd takes an executive decision. We’re only going a mile, so go to the campsite, I pitch up the tent, and he goes back for the rest.

Despite the obvious flaw in this plan, I set off, and wait for Verd at the gate. The bike feels very heavy, the suspension isn’t adjusted and I’m nervous about handling this long one mile of a journey we have. While talking myself through what I need to do, Verd walks towards me and says he needs my help. I park up the bike, turn the corner and witness a very large bike (The Beast, until otherwise named), with extraordinary luggage, lying flat on the ground.

By the time I’m back on The Destrier, I’m very hot and bothered.

An hour or two later, I’m enjoying a merlot (or two) in the Cock O’ The North tap room, which adjoins the campsite, relating the tale of why we’re two hours late for the drink we were promised. I’ve not eaten, and end up staggering back to the tent to discover The Destrier is now flat on the ground. We’d not had time to add the ‘pebble’, an attachment which gives the side stand a fat foot to stop it sinking into soft ground. We look at the bike and wonder how far into the mud the side stand has sunk. I imagine having to dig her out. In our inebriated state, and a general lack of seeming damage or fume smells, we decide she’s safer where she is until morning.

………….

We start the day refreshed and feel a sense of determination to continue with what we’ve started. The Destrier is a lightweight chore after the ordeal of lifting The Beast. The sun’s shining and during breakfast, we’re accompanied by two magpies. The omens are good.

First-Meal-Chickpea-Curry
Our first camp cooked meal: Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice and Samphire

After a hearty lunch of a chickpea curry with basmati rice and samphire we begin the task of reducing the load to something two bikes can reasonably be expected to carry. This is a messy affair where we create a pile of definitely not keeping, a pile of maybe keep and the definitely got to keep.

The-Big-Clean
Eeny, meeny, miney mo…….

 

Our rescue team turns up to collect two 50 litre boxes, a pannier bag and helmet bag full of the don’t need items. They also feed us a wonderful three course meal. Charlie and Ewan – bet your support team didn’t give that service!   

We ask to stay a couple of extra nights at Cock O’ The North to do the things we should have done before we left the house. 

What are those two doing over there?” someone asks of the campsite guardians. “All they seem to do is pack and unpack.”

The campsite guardians are also bikers, they understand.

We’ll be saying goodbye to Cock O’ The North tomorrow morning to join other BMW bikers in Kettlewell, hopefully The Destrier and The Beast will remain on their wheels.

Happy-Arrival-at-Kettlewell
Newly loaded bikes

One Mile

What whirlwind few weeks!  Boxes in, boxes out  – I’ve never seen so much packing material in my life.

Verd is a certified hoarder.  Certified-Hoarder

I know this.   It wasn’t this hard when I sold my house.

But we’re going to be on the road tomorrow.  In fact, on the same road we now live, as we’re camping one mile from home for the weekend.  Big adventure, huh?

Anyways, we’ll put another few miles in before the week’s out to join a camping meeting of other BMW Bikers in the Yorkshire Dales.  Promises to be fun, and we should get some good tips from the more seasoned saddled-sore folk.

Then onward to Scotland via Northumbria where we may just treat ourselves to a meal in a treehouse – the coolest restaurant I’ve ever been to.

The camera is now in a pint-sized bag that fits neatly in my tank bag,  so I promise lots of pics.  Hope you enjoy the trip too!