Thursday 1st July 2021

A scooter run to Achiltiebuie and up the West Coast of Sutherland (221 miles).

Why is my life fraught with disaster?

I went on what should have been the most beautiful run and met problems. Yet another puncture, but read on!

I went through to Dingwall and stopped at Tesco to purchase the usual food (trock is what granny called it).

I headed to Strathpeffer and stopped again at Foderty. It is a convenient place. I had a bit of my ‘trock’ to eat.

I drove West to Garve and on to Ullapool. At Ullapool I bought petrol. Ullapool was mobbed and the roads were really busy. Then I headed out further West to Achiltiebuie. The West of Sutherland is stunning.

This is Stac Pollaidh showing.

The hill dead ahead is Suilven. In the middle Cul Mor. On the right Stac Pollaidh. 

I went anticlockwise round the loop at the end of the road. This is the Summer Isles.

I stopped at the shingle beach just before Achiltiebuie and had my lunch. I have done well to photograph this as I was surrounded by camper-vans. I think this is looking out to Skye. The beach was a mess of plastic pollution.

I came round the loop but went into Achiltiebuie itself. Then backtracked and took the Inverkirkaig road to Lochinver. This is from beyond Lochinver. Suilven is showing looking like the Sugar Loaf Mountain. I think Canisp is the mountain to Suilven’s left.

I again took the coast road, which is part of the ‘North Coast 500’ and stopped at Drumbeg. It was mobbed. The single track roads were a pain with camper-vans and push-bikes.

Getting North. This is Quinag which you have on your right all the way round this loop of the journey.

I came back onto the main road North and stopped to eat just before Kylesku. This is where things started to go wrong. I pulled into a field entrance and there was a fearful bang from under the bike. I had hit a rock that was sticking up. It has caused a bit of damage under the bike. I don’t think the centre-stand fits the same. I had something to eat before pushing on.

The road was closed off at a beautiful spot before Laxford Bridge.

The man in the ‘high-vis’ vest told me the road would be closed for 12 minutes as they were making an advertising film of a new Jaguar. You’ve seen it first here! There was a fellow flying a drone to film the jaguar as it drove up and down. He was really expert at it. 

Eventually we were allowed on. I turned onto the road down to Lairg at Laxford Bridge. The traffic was a lot less which was wonderful but I started to notice the scooters handling was getting bad. Had hitting that rock cracked the frame?! All sorts of bad thoughts went through my head. However I kept going. I stopped at the head of Loch Merkland and got out my stove to ‘cook’ my tea. Some ‘Chicken Teriyaki’, number 1 in Japan!

It was a beautiful day. I headed down to Lairg and out to Rosehall stopping at one of my favourite stops – the Bailey Bridge on the Inveroykel Culrain road. The handling was really evil by now. After stretching my legs and having a look under the bridge I looked at the back tyre. Flat. Well I have a new repair kit. I first took out a new compact pump, which connects to the battery, and inflated the tyre. I easily found the hole. You use a tool like a skewer to enlarge the hole. Then a tool like a needle is used to force a glue solution into the hole. The same tool is used to force a sticky strip into the hole, covered in glue, and back out. I didn’t have a knife or blade to cut off the excess it so had to leave it hanging out. I waited a couple of minutes and then used the pump to inflate the tyre. It stayed up!! I drove the 30 miles home going down to Ardgay and over the Struie. The tyre stayed up. The handling was back to normal. I didn’t go over 50 till the last straight before turning up the Boath Road. Just to test it!

So there you are. I can hardly go for a scooter run without there being some disaster. I am a wee bit upset. I will have to get a new tyre. This one was only fitted in March. The wheel rim is marked. There is damage underneath the scooter. I also need to replace the rear shock absorbers as the second hand ones I fitted last year are now leaking.

I am useless. You would think I’d recognise the symptoms of a puncture by now. But no. I keep driving causing more damage. I will probably wait a wee while before adventuring again. I have repairs to do.

Incidentally, three days later as I write this, the tyre is still up!