7th September 2019

A scooter trip over the Bealach na Ba (217 miles)

We did eat a lot of pork-pies but it was good.

My brother Billy and I are a lot older now. We had motor bikes in the past but now both have scooters. He has a very nice 2014 Kawasaki J300 which is a very capable machine. It’s handling and performance are exceptional. I have an old 1999 Yamaha Majesty YP250 which is extremely comfortable.

Billy came down for 9.30. He helped me hang out the washing. I had already gone down to Alness to get petrol at Morrisons and the trash that I call a picnic. During the day I got through :-

Trash Quantity
Pork Pies 6
Apple Pies 3
LIDL White Chocolate (bars) 1
Crisps (bags) 2
Pepsi Max (cans) 3
Yazoo Banana Milk 1

Billy manged to consume something similar without the fizzy drink.

I so enjoyed this day. It was great to get away from it all; from work; from church duties; from people. Bill’s company was great and we didn’t go hard at the day.

We first went over to Inverness to go to our mum. She had a parcel that Billy had arranged to post for her. She was going out to a communion service so we were just in and out.

We went to ASDA so Bill could get petrol and purchase his picnic.

These are our machines now. Hideously ugly but extremely practical.

We headed over the Black Isle to Dingwall stopping for a picnic just beyond Tore. Not the ideal place, but does it matter? In Dingwall I went to Specsavers to get my new glasses adjusted. I sent Bill on a wild goose-chase to where I thought the Post Office was. It had moved to the other end of town. I saw him as I came out of Specsavers and we found the Post Office at the back of the Spar.

There was a ‘street fair’ on in Dingwall and it was mobbed. A band was playing Scottish dance music and a silly old drunk was dancing around in front of everyone.

We pushed on and stopped beyond Loch Luichart at Loch a’ Chuilinn. We were having a blether about life, the universe and everything when a police car drew in, blue lights flashing, and came up to us. What had we done? It was Bill’s wretch of son Alex who is a traffic police officer in the North. I wish I had taken a photo!

The following two pictures are Bills.

We moved on to beyond Achnasheen turning onto the Locahcarron road. We stopped for lunch overlooking Loch Gowan. The day was warm and comfortable by now. I took my scooter togs off to enjoy my picnic.

A train went by on the other side of the loch. This is using the camera’s zoom lens. I have found a scratch right in the centre of my camera’s lens. I haven’t a clue how it got there as I keep the lens cap on when not in use. However my photos don’t seem to be affected. I don’t know why Nikon don’t supply hardened lens covers. This is the second camera to get a scratched lens.

A bit further on we stopped where there was some shelter to ‘powder our noses’. That actually sounds like some drugs crime. We are ‘bodachs’ now (Gaelic – old men); we needed the loo!

Down the hill is Achnashellach.

Bodachs. But we look happy Bodachs. Bill took this one. It turned out a lot better than my attempt.

And pushed on to Lochcarron where I topped up with petrol.

Another Billy picture. I didn’t realise that I’m getting so thin on top. Oh dear.

We headed round Loch Kishorn. I stopped to take this picture looking over to the Bealach. It goes left round the large hump to the left of the picture.

This is moving up towards the Bealach na’ Ba.

Looking down to Kishorn and the horrible fabrication yard. We headed up the Bealach stopping several times to take photos.

We finally got to the top which was mobbed with tourists. ‘The North Coast 500’ has not done the North of Scotland any good as far as we Highlanders are concerned. All the roads are too busy now. Caravanettes are a nightmare but what is worse on the Bealach is the push bikes. They don’t pull over to let the cars past crawling painfully slowly upwards and bringing tale backs behind them. I could have pushed them over the edge.

This is 2,054 ft above the sea level and climbed from sea level. It is a fantastic road.

The twist and go scooters are phenomenal. You just open and close the throttle. No changing gear. We saw these adventure bikes doing it but our scooters did it effortlessly.

This is looking out to the Isle of Skye.

We had a bit more to eat (I believe pork-pies came into it) and then dropped down the other side to Applecross.

Out in the distance, to the middle right of the picture and very faint, are Lewis and Harris.

The Torridon hills are coming into view.

Looking back to the Cuillins in Skye.

This is beyond Shieldaig. Liathach is on the right and Beinnn Alligin on the left. We also saw Beinn Eighe. This was rather sad and poignant. I climbed these as a youth with my cousin, Martin, who has now sadly passed away. I have walked the roads from Alligin to Achnasheen with Martin.

We twice camped in Torridon once at the back of Alligin in the Coire Mhic Nobuil and once at the back of Liathach in the Choire Dhuibh Mor. We got terrible weather both times. We also walked one day through the Coire Mhic Nobuil and then the Choire Dhuibh Mor and back by the road by Torridon. Things were a lot quieter the in the ’70s.

Getting towards Kinlochewe and looking back.

We stopped at the shop and petrol station in Kinlochewe. Bill got petrol. I bought Yazoo banana milk. The couple there were very pleasant. The lady said the weather was to improve considerably in two weeks time. Today was super but it hasn’t been great.

Further up Glen Docherty and looking back to Kinlochewe.

A wee bit further on we stopped for our tea. Yes more pork pies. We should have gone a wee bit
further to Loch a’ Chroisg and got a more scenic spot. But you get hungry.

Bill took this one. It is a good perspective (not of me but of the bikes).

Then we stopped again in Strath Bran. The shadows are lengthening.  I don’t like the nights drawing in. I love the long days of summer.

We pushed on through Garve, Contin, Strathpeffer and stopped at Fodderty, at the cemetery, to pay our respects to Martin. I can’t take it in that I can’t go walking with him. I thought when we were retired we could catch up again. But its too late. I know the theory. He is in paradise. But I do wish I could get that postcard from heaven; all he’d have to say is – ‘having a wonderful time, wish you were here, Martin‘.

I know we were bad in our youth. I am so ashamed as I look back. 

My sins and faults of youth
do thou, O Lord, forget:
After thy mercy think on me,
and for thy goodness great.
(Psalm 25: 7 Scottish Psalter)

But Martin was a great Christian. I look forward to hill walks in Heaven.

We took the Old Evanton Road and headed up the Struie road. We parted at Aultnamain. The day was getting really cold by now. I headed home. What an enjoyable day.