Entry #19 – Paul Clayton “Escape to Scotland: the Photo-story” – RnT Story Contest 1st Edition
Upon finally reaching Orkney, the sun greeted us and we set about enjoying the makeshift camp in the middle of a field near the coast.
The start line itself was at Skaill House where we were presented with good luck Skaill Gin, and waved off by the Laird. There was much commenting about the surprisingly ridiculous scale of the miniature 125cc bikes, and the fact that all of them had already begun rattling themselves to pieces crossing the field from the camp the night before.
We started our trip just to the west of Twatt, therefore the village itself was naturally the first point of call.
First day of the ride, leaving Orkney in full convoy with all the bikes together, and boarding a ferry to the mainland. Fantastic weather in complete contrast to the day before, the bikes sunning themselves on the ferry deck.
The ferry dropped us mere miles from John O’Groats, so it seemed appropriate that we take a slight detour to see the famous signpost before heading west on the north coast road of Scotland, the NC500.
The majority of our team all had the same idea to first head to John O’Groats, so much to the surprise of a group of bikers doing a similar trip on GS Adventures, we rolled up our SkyTeam Bongos right to the sign and took a group photo.
Somewhere west of Durness we stopped to appreciate the glorious morning rays of sunshine coming through the glen. We were then promptly eaten alive by midges, and decided to get back on the road.
A slight off-road detour in order to check out Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt. The bike got a little wet running through the streams into the Loch but it didn’t seem to mind.
Given the successful off road activities from the day before, we decided to turn off the main road and ride up past the wind turbines and onto Loch Glascarnoch. The weather was particularly good as well, so we ditched the armour and rode in lighter gear.
This may not have been the best approach, as although getting down to the Loch went fine, a large majority of the rocks on the way back up were larger than the monkey bikes’ wheels. This naturally ended up with all of us on the floor at one point or another.
The bikes had taken a bit of a battering over the course of the last few days, but it was on the bridge across to Skye that one of our team managed to fall and do more lasting mechanical damage in sheering off his clutch. Rev-matching the bike was possible, but extremely annoying to ride, so we broke out the cable ties and this was the result – a fully functional, if a little odd looking, clutch.
It seemed appropriate given we had been as far north, to also go as far west. We therefore headed towards West Ardnamurchan in order to get the ferry across to Mull.
The ferry didn’t arrive for an hour or so, which meant we had plenty of time to go in search of a nearby Whisky distillery. The picture shown is not alcohol related though, but shows me attempting to straighten out my spine as these bikes were not built for someone 6ft tall to ride 1,000kms on.
On to Mull and the ferry dropped us in Tobermory just in time for our second distillery visit of the day and with the bikes parked up, a few tasters were in order.
At this point we discovered the CalMac ferry to Islay was broken, and thus began the search for a boat either to Islay, or ideally to Jura where the finish line was located. A few suggestions were proposed from options we found along the coast, of which this one was not selected.
Arriving in Oban we still didn’t have a boat so we hit the Famous Tartan Tavern, and helped them with inventing their new cocktail shots menu. Pictured is a Fraser T’n’T – Rose Tequila topped up with Gold Tequila. It’s pretty delicious and lethal in equal measure!
At some point during the drinking and search for a boat this fine pooch decided to hop onboard my bike for the perfect photo opportunity.
We eventually found a boat that was willing to take us to Jura, by reaching out to the individual (Nicole) who ran the passenger ferry, assuring him the bikes were tiny and light, then loading them onboard and hoping for good weather. These pictures show some expert packing, and the safe trip across to Feolin on Jura.
Firstly, let me state that Jura is outstandingly beautiful and an amazing island to ride across. We have rode bikes in every continent, finishing in some beautiful spots, but this one may have to be the winner. The north most point of Jura, where no motorized vehicle had ever reached before.
We parked the bikes up on top of the cliff then walked down to a small landing point where we were truly at the most northerly point. Pictured here in the Scotland Flag boxers, with a well deserved can of Tennants and the Slate Islands in the background.
The rest of the bikes all parked up along the cliff edge upon finally reaching the end of the trip
The north most point of Jura has no roads, no tracks, and to reach this spot we had to go fully off-road through grass and bush that was often considerably larger than the bikes.