25th and 26th July 2011
(Now updated with some of Dave’s photos)


Monday

My old pal from university, Dave Munro, has moved back to Scotland. I had tried to visit him three years ago, in Kent, but had my motorbike stolen en-route. So he lives in a part of the world I do not know in Dumfries and Galloway.

The weather forecast looked great so I decided to pay him a wee visit. I set off on my trusty old XS650. I took on petrol at Tesco, Inverness and then called to see my aged parents.  It was then down the A9 but I stopped on Drumochter to stretch my legs. You don’t half get sore and stiff at my age on a motorbike. I then stopped just before Perth to have a wee picnic. I took on more petrol about 10 miles before Stirling and then headed towards Glasgow. It was more straightforward than I expected getting through Glasgow. I just kept following the signs for Kilmarnock. I headed down to Ayr and turned off at Maybole as instructed by my SatNav. I went on to Crosshills and took the mostamazing road down towards Newton Stewart through the hills.


And arrived at Newton Stewart just after 5.00. I had to wait till near 6.00 to get into my accommodation so I got some petrol and then had a wee picnic by the river. It was mostly a humungus LIDL pork pie which I couldn’t finish. I had a packet of crisps and a Tunnocks wafer – a meal for a king. I then went to my accommodation, Kilwarlin B & B, which was lovely and dropped off my stuff.


I then headed out to try and find Dave at Stoneykirk. I had ‘Googled’ it before hand and this took me to the wrong place. The bloke there was most helpful and pointed out Dave’s home, the next house along. There was my old pal out hoovering his car and what a nice welcome I got from him.

I spent a super evening with Dave and his lovely wife, Linda. Better not forget old Jack, their wee ‘dug’. I saw Dave’s 25 volumes of his life’s history and it was good to go over old times. I was fed, even though, packed full of pork pie! We also took Jack for a wee walk on the beach at Sanhead. He’s a hardy old chap of 17 years. He even wanted to take on two big dogs! Then the evening had to come to a close. Dave became my SatNav and I followed him to Newton Stewart. I had promised to be back at my B & B for 10.30 but it was 11.00 when I got there. I let myself in and went to bed.

Dave kindly shelved all his plans to come north with me tomorrow on his fiery Triumph. We arranged to meet at Glenluce. 326 miles is not bad for an old man on a bike.


Tuesday

We rendezvoused at the old viaduct in Glenluce on a stunning morning. Dave had to put his car to the garage and was slightly late so I started to panic thinking I was in the wrong place.

We went to Castle Kennedy and took on petrol. Then we were ready for a big day of travel first going through the grounds of the castle which was just stunning. Portpatrick, a lovely coastal village was our next port-of-call. Dave is one of the kindest people there is and he insisted on buying a present for my wife, Anne. Even though I had chosen what I thought she would like, it wasn’t enough for him. So we waited while the shopkeeper carefully packed a glass decanter to make it as motorbike-proof as possible. (It did arrive home in one piece!)

Here are the heroes of the day – good old parallel twins.


And here’s Dave contemplating a strange mode of transport. Maybe thinking he and Linda could do that world tour.


And contemplating it myself


We headed on up the coast, via Stranraer to Maidens, just beyond Turnberry.


In the photo Ailsa Craig can be seen in the distance. We could also see Aran.


We motored up to Dunure where Dave treated me to lunch. I wanted to treat him but you cannot argue with him. You never could. So we had a good rest and a good lunch.

Then it was on to Dave country. We stopped in Ayr to see where he had lived for a short time and then moved on to his home town of Tarbolton. This was his granny’s house, then his uncle Jim’s house and then Dave’s house. I’ll not say more than that as the story brought a lot of hurt to Dave. I could see he was visibly moved being here but memories are wonderful and we should treasure them.


And here is the old man passing the time away.


Tarbolton is a nice place. We took on petrol at the Johnnie Johnston Motocroft Service Station. The proprietor came out for a yarn and noticed my bike was from the north. So we exchanged pleasantries. He knew Mitchell’s Motorcycles in Inverness. I had help from them over an insurance claim in the past. He also knew right away that my XS was an American import. He’s the first I’ve come across to be so knowledgeable.

I am just so taken with the south of Scotland countryside. Being a Highlander I tend to think we only have it in the north but what I’ve seen the last couple of days has been fantastic.

Dave took a ‘shortcut’ to Glasgow via West Kilbride, Largs and Greenock. I was just so tired and hot, then, that I was desperate to get into the Highlands. The traffic was start, stop and I cooked with my fleece, thermal motorbike jacket and rubber trousers. Then we hit the Erskine bridge and motored north by Loch Lommond. We came to Crianlarich and had not found petrol. A little panic was starting to rise in me. We checked the SatNav and it suggested there was petrol in four miles at Clifton, or Tyndrum. Dave was confident there would be but he’s always confident! And there was!! What a relief. I now had enough petrol to see me home.

We had an ice cream and something to drink. Dave would not even let me treat him to that! And then we parted. What a nice and unusual day. I’ve known Dave for 38 years. Who would have thought we would do something like this. He had further to go than me to get home. The XS and I then motored on to familiar territory, into Glencoe. It is stunning.


I stopped in Fort William to have a chat with Anne on my mobile. I also put the fleece back on that I had removed at Tyndrum. The day was really starting to cool. I then went on to Spean Bridge where the car park at the Commando Monument was deserted so stopped there.


It was then up through the Great Glen which is an amazing trip on a bike. It was getting pretty cold. I had a wee stop to have some juice, a packet of broken crisps and a Tunnock’s wafer. Me and the old XS then headed on to Drumnadrochit over the Coul na Kirk and home through Muir of Ord and Dingwall. I got in at 10.20 feeling pretty tired. 365 miles. So that was 691 miles in two days. That’s my highest mileage ever. Wonderful weather, wonderful countryside, wonderful company, wonderful motorbikes.