London to Loch Ness, a journey of about 590 miles going via Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow. Might have been more direct routes but without a reliable Satnav and needing to remember the route I kept it simple.
Before I left I made a final stop at Motorbike City Store to invest in a my last piece of cold weather gear, some thermal gloves and so was seen off by Al and Min as I left. Possibly never to return on my very new Keeway Superlight 125 who ended being christened Minion.
If I am honest the first leg of the trip was really quite boring, the view was dull and I was more nervous about getting lost of occidentally going onto the motorway than anything else. But once I got my head in to map mode it became easier. I decided to make a pit stop every few hours to de-numb my backside, stretch my legs and give Minion a rest and cool down. But all this was really uneventful and I can’t think of anything to say other than I managed to find somewhere different to each at each pit stop.
The first leg was London to Newcastle and this took me about 12 hours to make, I left London at about 10am and arrived at my parents house by about 10-11pm. By this time it was pitch black and I had always been driven around the place and was able to get completely lost in the last 2 miles and went in the wrong direction, so glad it waited until the end of the day to go wrong.
I spent a few days in Newcastle and Minion spent the time sitting in the drive way. I will make a point now by saying that the weather was very nice and no rain was seen (pay careful attention to that bit).
I’ve been driven and taken the train many times between London and Newcastle and for some reason wasn’t over worried about making it in one piece, plus I could have always phone for someone to drive to where I was and be my Satnav. The next stage wasn’t so, Newcastle to Loch Ness via Glasgow, no support and no idea of hat to expect as had never been to that part of the country at any time of my life I can remember (aka many years ago when I was young and probably asleep).
I set off and it was a little cold and within 5 minutes of heading out, the rain started. Not too heavy but still I was going to get wet 🙁
The view was a bit nicer than before as the country was easier t see with less trees in the way and then before I new it I saw the border of Scotland, even tho I had not been on the road for long I had to stop and take a few pictures.
The next part to Glasgow was event free, only stopped to check I was going the right way and stopped off there for a quick bite and dry off. Shortly after leaving Glasgow the country side changed and it the Scottish Highlands were a sight I loved in pictures and now I was seeing it whilst riding through and it was wonderful.
I only stopped a few times on the way up, the weather was bad and I was feeling miserable because of it but the ride was still fun. I eventually gave up and made a pit stop to have a drink and look at the view, even with the poor weather it was worth it.
Minion and the view along the way.
The weather didn’t improve much and the weather got dark. Very dark, on thing I didn’t think about was street lights, being spoilt by street lighting on every corner in London it didn’t occur to me the Highlands wouldn’t have any, and to be honest I spend any time before hand having that thought.
So the night draws in and I have only my headlight to show me what was coming, and what ever the headlight didn’t touch was just black. Adding that the bright lights of on coming traffic killing my night vision I wasn’t having much fun riding in the dark having no idea what was to the left, right and little idea what was behind me. But I finally got to the southern point to Loch Ness and the road to the cabin was dark and twisting and I am sure I annoyed many drivers by going slow, but I had no idea where I was and the last thing I wanted was to come off and knacker the bike up when I didn’t know where I was.
I did however, stop off and kill the engine to see what it sounded like and it was quiet. Even nature didn’t have much to say at this point. I think I know what it was supposed to have been like in the Blair Witch Project.
I got back on and set off for the last stretch. I finally found the side road to get to the cabin and still having no idea what was ahead I followed it. Then a nice hill appeared and then it steep, 45 degree steep, and all this still under the light from by headlight. Until this point I hadn’t had much dealing with steep hills as the place I live only have one or two and they are in places I don’t normally visit and not to mention, they were short. This one was very hight, had near 360 degree turns and wasn’t all tarmac.
It was a little scary as the first sharp turn I didn’t take very well and ended up not revving up enough and being in the wrong gear, the bike stalled. I couldn’t see anything and the slope of the hill meant I could only stop the bike from going backwards and little more. After a minute of serious panic I realised the solution was to turn the handle and get the bike across the slope so I could change gear and use what I remembered about riding up hills. Success! It worked and this time took it slower and stayed in a lower gear, eventually getting to the top and going what felt like a fair distance to get the cabin.
I had made it! about 600 mile trip and I was now (for the best part) on the other side of the country. I found my cabin in an spooky state but I unloaded the bike and got use to having light to see with.
I will write up the return trip another time, there is a fun bit about a race with a car but more on that later. I can say I am glad I waited to make this trip. I had considered riding my previous Sym 125 on a trip like this but suspect even thought I could have getting more speed I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride as much. The seating position on the Keeway is relaxing and the mileage was expectational. The entire return trip cost me around £120-£140 and I still had plenty left when I get back to get me to and from work for a week or so.
Minion has since been having it easier, she’s not really gone far past the M25 and she is still proving to me one f the least worries in my life. The odd minor issue that is normally the cause of someone else, like cars that like to knock over parked bikes outside my office building, or some basic maintenance that is needed. I’ve been going to Motorbike City since my first scooter and between the bike being exceptional in many ways and being well looked after by their mechanics it made my trip very enjoyable and at least on the part of the bike, event free.