Saturday 21st September 2019

A scooter trip to Durness 

This day turned out a little bit different from the expected and the anticipated! In the summer holiday I went on a scooter trip to Keith which I never bothered to blog. I didn’t even take a camera with me as I wanted a day just to drive. I didn’t get there as I got a nail in my back tyre out near Dallas and had to slowly get down to Elgin and leave the scooter for nearly a week at Tom Adamson Motorcycles. He footered about on the Saturday injecting a tin of sealant into the tyre. It just oozed out the hole the nail had made. The scooter had to be left to have the rear tyre replaced. I got the bus back home! I did continue and finish the journey on the Friday following.

Well today was kind of similar, but read on.

There was a most fantastic weather forecast and Anne was down in Fife. What better way to spend the day than touring the North of Scotland on a scooter. The target for the day was Durness but avoiding as much of  the ‘North Coast 500’ as possible.

I went over the Struie. Just look at the sky.

And headed by Bonar Bridge to Invershin.

I stopped here to sort out my new helmet camera. I hope to put a Youtube video up sometime. Just now I’m too busy.

This is Carbisdale Castle.

The castle dates back to 1905 and was the last castle to be built in Scotland, erected as part of a bitter family disagreement.

It was built for Mary Caroline, Duchess of Sutherland, after the death of her husband George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, the 3rd Duke of Sutherland.

His family did not approve of the marriage and after his death they contested his will.

Eventually they agreed to give the Duchess a substantial sum of money and build her a castle, as long as it was outside their lands.

So the Duchess built her castle just outside Sutherland lands, on a hill where it is visible across a huge part of their estate, earning it the nickname ‘The Castle of Spite’.

The clock tower is even missing a clock face on the side facing their estate, as the Duchess did not want to give them ‘the time of day’.

In 1945 the castle was gifted to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association and became known as one of the most eccentric UK locations open to backpackers travelling on a shoestring.

In 2011 the hostel was closed for repairs – but workers discovered further water damage, resulting in it being put up for sale in 2014.

The Kyle of Sutherland.

I headed to Lairg and went into the Spar to get liquids for the day – Banana Milk and Coke.

And then headed out to Crask and Altnahrra.

This is in Strath Vagastie with Ben Klibreck showing. My cousin Martin and I camped at Crask and cycled to Altnaharra and back to try and get a delivery van. We were desperate for sweets! The next day we cycled to Altnaharra again and climbed Ben Klibreck. Martin lost his water bottle somewhere near the top. Then we moved onto the Hope road and camped by a bridge. I was shattered. 

I stopped in Alnaharra to take pictures of the deserted Church of Scotland. What a lovely wee church. This is another church I would love to see filled with people worshiping and praising God.

Look at the moss growing through the old door mat.

This is the bridge where Martin and I camped.

I moved on a bit before stopping for lunch by Loch Meadie. The day was warm and just look at the scenery.

I think this is Ben Loyal.

Another deserted cottage. What a place to have lived!

This is a bit further up Strath More below Ben Hope.

A glimpse of Loch Hope.

I came to the North Coast and onto the A838. Now part of the ‘North Coast 500’. This is reaching Loch Erriboll.

Further down is Erriboll Farm. I think I have already commented on my blog that Martin and I phoned home from here. It was a hand cranked phone in these days.

And came round to Durness. This is the Church of Scotland. A woman minister! What a state the national church is in. Mind you, our own is not much better.

I took on some petrol and got no receipt for it!

I usually go out to the beach at Balnakeil but didn’t bother this time. I did stop at this well further down the road.

At Laxford Bridge I turned onto the quieter single track road going to Lairg. It is still the A838. The main road changes to the A894. I’ve taken a picture of this cottage before.

Further down I stopped to eat again. I think this is Loch Stack. The views were so beautiful I kept stopping to take more photos.

Its a most beautiful road. The colours of autumn are starting.

Another deserted cottage by Loch Shin.

I went on to Lairg and bought myself ‘fish and chips’ at the Chip Shop and strawberry milk at the Spar. I went out to Gruids to Raemore Wood to eat it. It was delicious and I was at peace with life.

So much at peace I modestly took these self indulgent ‘selfies’.

“But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, it’s bloom is shed;
Or, like the snow-fall in the river,
A moment white, then melts forever.”
(R. Burns)

After finishing my meal I went to the scooter, got my helmet and gloves on, got on the scooter, pressed the starter button and the only thing that happened is it went ‘click’. The starter solenoid was catching but it would not start. I tried again and again (you do hope) and still the same thing. Now I was starting to feel sick. That ‘fish and chips’ and strawberry milk didn’t seem such a good idea now. I pushed the scooter down the hill trying to bump start it. In my heart I knew it was futile. You just cannot bump start a ‘twist and go’ scooter. The clutch is disengaged till the engine turns it fast enough!

A nice bloke stopped in a 4×4 and had jump leads. It still only went ‘click’. I even tried bridging the solenoid with a pair of metal pliers. I found out he had been in Invergordon Academy and was now a lorry driver on the logging lorries that go up and down the Boath Road. He recognised me but I didn’t recognise him. We gave up and he headed off.

I pushed the ‘dead’ scooter to the nearest house to ask just to leave it there. I heard a mower going and round the back of the house met the most obliging, helpful man I could have got hold of. Instead of just letting me leave the scooter he lent me his tools.

I texted Anne to come for me and started stripping the scooter down. It is a very comfortable machine. It goes well (usually). I like it (on the whole). But when it comes to repairing it, it’s is a pig. It took an hour and a half to get all the panels off and the starter motor out. Getting poor Anne to come was a bit unfair because she had just driven up from Fife today.

Anne came. I packed most of the parts stripped off the scooter into the car. For speed we went home by the Shin Falls road. It was dark by now. We were stopped by the police as there was an accident. We had to wait 15 minutes for it to be cleared!

When I got home I checked the starter motor on a power supply. It worked perfectly. The battery was good. So that leaves three things –

1. The starter clutch has seized.
2. The engine has seized.
3. But most likely it is the wire from the solenoid or the earth wire to the engine not giving electrical continuity. The fact that there is no electric spark as you bridge across the solenoid would suggest that.

Monday 23rd September 2019

The return

I came home from school as quickly as I could. I packed my wee Ka with all the tools I could think of and the parts that I taken back with me on Saturday. Anne and myself headed to Gruids. Anne dropped me off with my tools and parts while she headed into Lairg to do some work in the car.

James Dalton actually came and helped me with tracing the electrics. Sure enough the earth seemed poor. We spun the starter before fitting, using the start switch and solenoid. It worked perfectly. I cleaned up the earth terminal and fitted the starter motor – the scooter engine turned over. I then fitted the petrol tank and it started! This is it just after starting.

This is it all back together again with the lovely man who helped me.

I texted Anne and she came back to collect all my tools etc. We went down to Lairg and bought chip suppers. This time I went for ‘fish cakes and chips’ which I really enjoyed.

We headed back home.

You never know what a day will bring.