18th July 2017

An XS650 run to the North Coast of Sutherland – 179 miles (its last big run)

This was a very hot day. We had none like this last summer. I took the motorbike, my old XS650 for this run. I think it is going to have to go as I am finding it just too heavy. Old age is a bit pathetic!
I was very late in leaving as I stupidly was waiting for a Youtube upload to finish. It took over an hour. This trying to produce more useful video clips all takes a long time. I used a ‘new’ Nikon camera I got on Ebay for £28 today. It was seeing the quality of Bill’s videos made me go for it. I had major problems with sound in the wind. It was hot but very windy today.
I first headed to Morrisons for petrol and LIDL for supplies.

There are always problems when I go away on an adventure with the XS. Putting the bike on its sidestand to save effort I went into LIDL. When I came out petrol had leaked past the cap and dissolved my new paint! This is a supposedly higher capacity tank I got from the States on Ebay. The bike also has replacement side panels from Ebay. I love Ebay.

I went up the A9 to the Dornoch Bridge roundabout. I followed the old road north to Edderton, Ardgay and Bonar Bridge. At Bonar I went left to Lairg and then North up the Crask road.

I stopped for my lunch between Lairg and Crask. 

This is what you need for a day out! No chocolate as it would melt in the heat. I heard later it reached 24ºC today.

The road then goes by Crask Inn to Altnaharra. At Altnaharra there is a crossroads, straight on goes to Tongue, left goes onto the Hope road and right goes up Strath Naver. I went right. The road follows Loch Naver for a while. This is Ben Klibreck across the water. My cousin Martin and I went up it many, many years ago.

Further up Strath Naver is Syre. It is lovely. This wee church always impresses me. You can branch to the right here which would go to Kinbrace on the Halladale road; that was last week’s adventure.

This picture was taken from the same place as the picture above testing the camera’s zoom capability.

And then reached the north taking the left turn to Tongue.

This is a glimpse of the sea at Coldbackie. Further North is the North Pole; sea and ice, I suppose, all the way.

I reached Tongue much later than I had hoped. I tried to text Anne as I made my way to Lairg but could get no signal. I wanted to let her know I wouldn’t be home for tea. This is the lovely old Church of Scotland.

Ben Loyal.

I got petrol here which I think I was swindled on. The pump (there was just the one, a very ancient one) is not self service. The pump is not connected to the till and the man serving me used a different figure as stated on the pump as he rang up the till. I don’t think it was deliberate. He was very pleasant and just seemed a bit scatter brained. Maybe just a Sutherland man. It was only 20p or so.

The Kyle of Tongue is stunning. North Sutherland is amazing countryside.

Before Loch Eriboll there is the branch off down the Hope road back to Altnaharra which I followed. This is Loch Hope with Ben Hope beyond. This is another great Highland road, broken up in places with grass growing down the middle. I love it. The only problem was getting bitten by the clegs when I stopped. 

Half way down is the Dun Dornaigil Broch. A broch is an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure of a type found only in Scotland. Their origin is a matter of some controversy. The theory that they were defensive military structures (an Iron Age equivalent to the castles and tower houses of medieval Scotland) is not accepted by many modern archaeologists, while the alternative notion that they were farmhouses is dismissed by some others. Although most stand alone in the landscape, some examples exist of brochs surrounded by clusters of smaller dwellings. (Wikipedia)

The old XS then took me down to Altnaharra and back onto the Lairg road. I stopped across from Ben Klibreck. I needed a rest and was in the vain hope I might get a phone signal.

I got some chips in Lairg which I ate with a pork pie and washed down with Barrs American Ice Cream Soda.

I headed for Bonar, then Ardgay and over the Struie.
I stopped for some pictures at the Struie viewpoint. Only 11 miles to home.

And home, a bit hot; a bit sore; a bit tired. But a lovely day.