24th July 2014

I needed a break so I took my XS650 for a long run. The forecast was for settled and hot. It reached 26°C in Lairg today. But the day started a bit cooler with a haar. I left about 10.30 and called at Morrisons to put petrol in the bike. I just headed up the A9 to the Dornoch Bridge. The bike was running badly yet again. I stopped the other side of the bridge and checked the fuses that they were connecting – that was the problem last year. I also checked the vacuum line to the pet-cock. They seemed fine but it still was not running right. 

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I kept going north up the A9 to the Mound and branched left for Rogart. It really coughed and spluttered as I slowed down. I then gave it full throttle snapping it open and shut rapidly and it ran like a bird for the rest of the day. Maybe a bit of dirt stirred up from the bottom of the tank. I don’t use an in-line filter as there is so little space. Whatever we were going grand. I had a wee break for pictures beyond Rogart.

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nd again in Lairg.

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The day was hot and I was starting to cook. Kind of like driving in a hair drier. At Lairg I branched right onto the Tongue road but a couple of miles on kept going straight onto the Altnahara Road. I stopped at Crask for photos. Both properties are for sale. The Inn and the house. What a lovely place.

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Heading to Altnahara – this is Ben Klibreck. My cousin Martin and I camped at Crask many years ago (like 40!) and went up Klibreck.

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At Altnahara I turned right onto the Strathnaver road which follows Loch Naver to start with. It is stunning but very winding and you have to go easy. There were a quite a few other bikes about. None as nice as mine. I stopped quite often just on the bike to snap some pictures. 

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At Syre I went straight on.

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Then reached the top of Scotland. Beyond the sea is the North Pole! No land in between.  I turned left to go to Tongue.

Before Tongue not long after coming onto the North Coast road I stopped and had my lunch – three small pork pies, an apple and a packet of chicken flavour crisps all washed down with warm Pepsi. I could have done with chilled Pepsi with some ice cubes in it. 

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I went through a place called Coldbackie. I have no memory of this place name at all though I’ve passed along this road a few times in my life.

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I went through Tongue.

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This is Ben Hope and Loch Hope.

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Onto Hope, then down Loch Eribol and back up the other side and then Durness. Before Laid I got held up by a stupid foreign car that would not pull into a passing place. I honked my horn and kept indicating. Eventually as it pulled into a passing place to let and oncoming car past I went ahead of it. A bit rude but all I could do.

Reaching Durness – what a day!

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I got petrol in Durness £1.45 a litre!! At the service station with one pump there were two Spanish guys on bikes, one on a Harley. They were very pleasant and I had a blether with them. Even they were complaining of the heat! There were also four foreign Minis (real ones not BMWs) parked outside the shop.

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I went along to Balnakeil and took photos of the church and beach.

Not often you share a beach with cows!

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Then back to Durness and down the Kinlochbervie road though the road actually doesn’t go to Kinlochbervie, you have to branch off at Riconich. 

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I kept moving on till Laxford Bridge where I turned left onto the Lairg road.
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This is a single track road but you can see ahead and make good speed. I stopped for something to eat another pork pie, another packet of crisps (bacon) and even warmer Pepsi.

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I moved on and just kept going till I hit the road I was on earlier near Lairg completing a loop.

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I went back by Bonar Bridge. I stopped here to get something for my tea in the wee shop. I didn’t really feel like it but got a Scotch Pie – kind of pied out! I stopped for a short while at the car park by the bridge.

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Then it was no through Ardgay and up the Struie road stopping at the viewpoint for a couple of pictures. This was home territory now.

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And then back to Contullich at about 5.30. A brilliant day covering 215 miles.