8th August 2017

Scooter run to Durness – 193 miles

Since the last scooter trip I have sold the old XS650. I have mixed feelings, some sadness but mostly relief. Owning two bikes is too greedy and too much work. I think the XS is one of the most beautiful bikes ever made. I had always wanted one since my student days and then I got one. I had nine lovely years with the XS. I bought it leaking oil for £675 and sold it as a much more reliable machine for £1600. I can’t complain about that. It was very heavy and the weight of it was adding to my back pain and I was using the scooter more and more. I will not have such a big bike again so its the end of an era. But I do love my scooter! I never expected that.

Today should have been a great day but was spoiled by three things – weather, midgies and damage.

I phoned my brother Bill just in case he could come but he was working. Better for him once the day is seen. As usual I went to Morrisons for petrol and LIDL for supplies. I had been working on the scooter the night before and on the way down couldn’t remember whether I’d tightened two screws on the fan case. When I checked they were nearly out! So I bought some sort of multitool in LIDL and managed to tighten them.

I used the Scotsburn road, then the old main road north to Bonar and then onto Lairg. I stopped just before Lairg to eat something and here the horribleness started – rain. It went off when I stopped but picked up again in Lairg. It rained all the time till near the north coast. The forecast was for sun and I kept going thinking it would pass. I suppose it did; eventually.

This is Crask and the miserable weather.

Then onto Altnaharra and the Tongue road. I don’t think I’ve taken this one before. I usually go the Hope road or by Strathnaver and Syre.

This is Loch Loyal. Still raining but not quite so wet.

And here comes disaster number two. It was very windy. Its been a windy summer. The wind blew my ‘new’ camera on its tripod over. It landed on its lens and cracked it. Down on the bottom right which can be noticed in all the other photos. I could have cried. Maybe I did. It certainly upset me. I just got the camera second hand a month ago on Ebay and was delighted with it.

This is looking to Ben Loyal.

As I reached the north the rain stopped. I chugged on to Loch Erribol and the sun was coming out at times. I should have been happy but that damaged camera was occupying my mind.

This is Erribol itself. Forty four years ago my cousin, Martin, and myself cycled from near Rogart to here. We phoned home from this kiosk. It was a hand cranked phone back then!

And once round the head of Loch Erribol I stopped for my picnic lunch. This should have been a joy but the midgies came. I chose the only non-windy place and was devoured. So I ate walking about.

Ben Hope.

And then near Durness. A much better day. I was starting to dry out. My leather jacket didn’t really dry out all day.

I hate camper-vans. There were probably hundreds of them today.

Beyond Durness.

At Laxford bridge I moved onto the Lairg road. This is a lovely road and was so much quieter. I met another old bloke half way down on an old scooter. He was having his lunch and I exchanged a few words. Later he passed me when I stopped to eat. But then the ‘superior power’ of the Vonroad allowed me to overtake him later!

I stopped at the head of Loch Merkland where the guy on the scooter passed me. I took a few photos. This is not believable but the wind blew my camera over again and damaged the lens further. The damage is seen as two diagonal streaks on all the following photos to the middle top left. Why are the lenses made of such soft material? Why can’t you buy a protector? Why did I be so stupid? Why did my tripod not be more secure? Why was there such a wretched wind? You can see I’m on a real downer now.

Loch Shin.

The scratches on the lens is quite obvious in this picture – streaking to my goggles. The strength of the wind can be seen too as the lens cap is in view to the left blown by the wind in front of the shot.

But aren’t these ‘iridium’ goggles cool? The rain stung my face earlier. Beasties bounced off my skin. A full face helmet is definitely safer. But the open face has something about it.

I stopped in Bonar and took photos, really to test the camera. Sometimes the effects are almost unnoticeable. Zoom shots seem OK. But it needs a new lens or replacement camera. we will have to see.

I kept going and just as I headed up the Struie road ran out of petrol. That’s OK as I carry 6 litres extra in a can. I was testing how far it would go before running dry – 176 miles since being filled. That’s pretty good for such a wee tank. So I topped up and headed home.

That’s the last trip of the holiday. It didn’t turn out as it should. I return to teaching on Monday and am not too happy about that. Three years to retirement! It can’t come soon enough.