Gallows Hill to Home

Last day Cumbria to home

This is such a good campsite. Its just a field with some basic facilities and it can only make a small amount of money for its owner but it does a good job. Its on a gentle slope and had a beautiful view over the valley. Chickens scratch around the site and in the next field are sheep and horses. On my two visits its not been crowded and reminds me of the Wee Campsite up in Scotland that was hopeless in terms of noise and disturbance as everyone was packed so close like terraced housing. But in contrast Gallows Hill has so much space. Its also perfectly placed for a journey from the south up to Scotland.

Traveling back home was easy. With earplugs in I sat in the outside lane for much of the journey and thundered back home. Out of curiosity I left the A1 to see what Grantham had to offer, assuming it would be a pretty coaching town like Stamford. If it was I didn’t see it. Tired after just over two hours on the bike I tried to park in a car park there but it was built on such a steep slope that it was impossible to get off the bike and put the bike on its stand (I carry a small block of wood nowadays for these places) so I headed off – without earplugs. Already I can’t believe how I used to ride without them. They make you go faster!

The whole trip was 1400 miles with 33 hours of riding.

So now I’m back home and thinking about the next trip. Lets chose somewhere a little more exotic and somewhere with better weather.

What I ought o learn from this trip: if you are travelling somewhere where wet weather is likely (Scotland, Norway – you get the idea) its really better to book hotels than try to camp.



Miles 204.7Average 58Max 86Riding time 3.5

In Bates motel

Durness back through Glencoe to Tyndrum: written from Bates Motel

Well, not really Bates Motel but it might be. It’s a guest house in Tyndrum with a number of little rooms. I’m in number 6. (I am not a number – I am a free man…)

Despite the moment of beauty last night at Durness I woke to drizzle and heavy skies with the forecast for heavy rain all day. So I abandoned my plan to get the ferry over to Cape Wrath and packed up instead, dressed in rain gear and warm scarf I headed south, quickly, aiming for Glencoe. And it rained and rained. For a strange reason my visor misted up inside and I couldn’t clear it whatever I tried (this was before I discovered anti-fog for my specs). This was really maddening. There was nowhere under shelter to stop to try to dry things out. I tried tilting my head and going fast to get a breeze going but nothing helped. Eventually I stopped to fill up with petrol and lingered as long as I could under the canopy of the petrol station. Early in the day I vowed not to camp tonight. I had no heart for putting up a tent in the rain in wet clothes having been riding for a total of 5 and 1/2 hours in rain. So I tried a few hotels near Glencoe. The first wanted £145 for bed and breakfast. The second looked much more down to earth staffed by young Australians but they had no room though they invited me to camp in their grounds. The third also was full but phoned through to this guest house. A South African woman answered but she is nowhere to be seen instead a very helpful man who keeps stuffed birds everywhere. He lives over the way with the mysterious woman. It’s deathly quiet here or that could be the result of not wearing earplugs for today’s 5 and a half hour ride. There’s a toasty drying room complete with dehumidifier which I would have loved to stay in all evening. (My shower could do with a bit of a clean as there seem to be some bloodstains in the corners.)

Bertha will turn 20,000 tomorrow. There are no photos from today as it was too wet to get the camera out of my pocket.


Miles 218.3Average 40.2Max speed 75.1Hours ridden 5.5

Sango Sands at Durness

Is it this tiny iPhone that I’m using to document this trip or the inclement conditions that abbreviate this travel account? Today I was pleased to get away from the Wee campsite which started off so well and got exciting even with the arrival if the German duo with sidecars (and a Scots bike veteran pointed out to me he knew they were foreign because the sidecars were on the wrong side and I noticed that one had reverse gear so no wonder it manoeuvred so neatly) but it was the family with tantrumming boy and their own very apparent difficulty right next door that drive me nuts. “the professionals say there’s nothing wrong with him but we can’t cope” they complained to each other. They arrived back after 9pm to fry bacon when I was already in my sleeping bag reading Big Sur as it got dark. Before them was another couple with very many children one crying and father losing his rag. That’s camping for you. But today was lovely after my getaway and a lovely ride on the sunshine to Ullapool for bagel and a pot of tea then restock at the last Tesco and throw out that nasty wine that gave me a headache tasted awful and finally leaked in my bag.

this may or may not be Ullapool

Then after I turned left north and all the other traffic turned right so I am on my own to zoom past the sheep and tourists to arrive here at 2.30 where it’s good to arrive early to get the good places mine down by the fantastic cliff though there is a huge space by the entrance with scores of campervans. This is like a separate place, quiet so far, though there is a space next to me. The waves are crashing.

Tomorrow I plan to take the minibus to Cape Wrath then on Monday head back south to Glen Coe again in one day.


It is beautiful and awesome in a way in this site on the edge of a cliff and on the edge of the British Isles. I look over the sea northward and wonder where the next land is. But we are also exposed here to the rain.

Durness cliffs

More poised

I’ve made a more poised entry to the Wee campsite number 30 in the Cool Camping book. The midges are just appearing but though it’s overcast it’s dry – well it’s not raining.

Midge war
I think these are designed to be worn with a hat

This little site seems to attract people from all over Europe who sit on easy chairs in couples quietly reading paperbacks. The view is over a loch and there is sunlight on distant mountains but I hardly look at the view. I rode through breathtaking scenery and as I was warned you begin to take it for granted. You almost have to.

I met four Spanish bike riders from Spain who find Scotland to be paradise although they told me at home it was already 30 degrees and not raining. I stopped and chatted and caught them up thanks to my new found countersteering skill which zooms me around corners. I road 80 miles in vain from the Mallaig ferry only to find it was all booked up till 4:30 – this seems impossible.

This is a pretty little site with basic facilities.

The facilities are basic

My neighbours in a huge tent are still out (luckily as it turned out). We are all a bit squashed and a man about 20 feet away continually coughs in a way that suggests he won’t be holidaying next year. Tomorrow I will make it up to the top of this beautiful country. To Durness.

Now a German couple drive in on vintage bikes each with a sidecar, one is a 1944 BMW! The other is a single cylinder bike (AJS I think) that sounds fantastic as it arrives. They have ridden round Iceland via Denmark on their way here and within minutes – no seconds – of efficiency have put up a big Robins tent. I am amazed. This makes me consider getting a larger tent to shelter from the rain that seems to afflict every camping trip.

Vintage 1944 German BMW with sidecar
Beamer with sidecar

Look, tent envy.

Another bike and their huge tent

Day 4 summary:

Miles 188.7Average speed 43.3Max speed 88.4Riding time 4.33

The story is rain

The trusty Norwegian weather site predicted rain from 3 am which would stop at 10 am. It was right on both counts and I left Ayr in the dry. But it didn’t predict it would start raining again and rain on and off all day necessitating a hasty climb into the rain suit in a carpark just off the ferry at Dunoon.

Rain on the ferry to who knows where
Rain on the ferry to who knows where

Since then I’ve been wet all day and my spirits flagged seriously rising when I reached the stunning and unusual landscape of Glen Coe. It’s on page 2 of my two page map of Scotland so I have some progress. Driving past a big commercial campsite in Glencoe village because I knew this cool campsite was 4 miles down the road was also very satisfying (for a while at least).

Its not actually raining

This place is stunning and I still haven’t got my head round the amazing scenery here of the loch the mountains and the ever moving clouds. However, clouds mean rain and I jumped insure my just fabricated tent in time to shelter from another shower and write this. I feel I don’t want to linger on this rainy holiday. I remember that the washroom was crowded and the floor was wet and muddy.

Glencoe cloud=rain
Don’t even ask for a caption

I will reach my target of Durness at the top of Scotland but get there tomorrow or the day later. I find the rain very tedious.

Mileage 145.4Average speed 39.6Max speed 76.3Riding time 3.75

Day 2 Cumbria to Ayr, Ayreshire

I made it to Ayr on the west coast of Scotland to the house of a colleague and her family. I slept very well finally waking up at 8.45(!) and got off about 10.30. The going was problem free. I even stopped off at Penryth to buy a cup that I forgot to take. Once in Scotland my GPS did itself proud for once taking me on a twisty B road most of the way from Dunfries complete with goats wandering across the road.

Somewhere there are goats

I stopped by the road in a village and watched a bride and her father driven on the back of a horse drawn carriage off to get wed.

My first site in Scotland

However gps Emily disgraced herself by taking me on a wild goose chase to some pub car park in the middle of Ayr then could not seem to find the place of this newly built house where I was staying: ‘now proceed off road’ she tells me when she has completely given up. Even Google street view shows the wrong house. But I made it, thankful to see a dim hand waving inside as I pulled up rather nervously and noisily in someone’s drive.

Four hours riding with just a couple of short breaks and I feel tired. After today the adventure really begins and I’m not too hopeful about finding these campsites with postcodes alone.

Mileage: 152 Ave speed: 39mph Max speed: 81mph Riding time: 3.9 hours