The Scottish Events 2012
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

Thursday 2nd August
This year the plan was to give the Plus One a miss and just ride the two weekend events. Reasoning being to have a look at other parts of Scotland during the week off. Those going were Terry and Dilys Hopes, Rob Jones and Bill and Jean Phelps. With all the planning done we agreed to meet up at a halfway stop in Garstang. Terry and Rob were booked onto local campsites whilst Jean and I booked into our usual B&B. The weather on the way was terrible but had cleared up by the evening which was spent in the local pub and what I consider to be, one of the best Chinese Restaurants in the UK. Terry had a nasty shock when on his campsite. A fellow camper stopped to chat,  just as Terry was checking the tie-downs on his Ariel - "What have you got under the cover?", was the question, followed by - "Is it a Velocette?". Terry was taken aback by the thought that he might have a Velocette under the cover - needless to say the enquirer was put right.

Friday 3rd August
A leisurely drive today, arriving at the S&T campsite in Crieff by mid afternoon.
The local pub was our venue for an evening meal that went down very well. On arriving back at the campsite the bar was supposed to be open at 7.30pm but at 7.45, when we arrived, the barman was on his way home in a strop, as he had opened up to find no customers - that was his story and he was sticking to it.

Saturday 4th August
This was the day of the road Trial and the weather looked ok - dry and with sunshine. Rob had entered his Venom but found it difficult to load onto his trailer on his own, so brought his lighter and more reliable 1953 MAC. The bike needed fuel and it took quite a bit of effort to coax it into life - eventually it fired up though and Rob set off into Crieff to tank up.

Soon everyone was lining up their bikes, by which time the sun was really out. As was usual with the S&T we were away to the sound of the bagpipes and were soon off out into the beautiful Trossachs. The route took us over Glen Quaich which was a narrow single track C class road.

Just before we turned onto the Glen Quaich road we came upon a bike that was burning quite merrily - 'hope it's a Velo' - I thought, but it turned out to be a 1953 Ariel NH350. There was nothing that we could do, as you can see from the photo, so I expressed our commiserations and asked if it was ok to take a photo - "No probs" was the reply.

On along the picturesque Glen Quaich road and we eventually came to a steep climb with tight hairpins that stopped the Indian, not easy with a foot clutch and left hand throttle. Luckily Rob and the Velo was with us and he took Jeannie to the top whilst I struggled to get the Indian round the tight corners. The big problem with hills, is that what goes up, must come down, and it wasn't long before we were heading down a steep hill with more hairpins. That was all negotiated very slowly due to the Indian only having the one brake and the fact that I'd suffered brake fade before on an event with a long downhill in it.

We then had a 15 mile run along the south side of Loch Tay that afforded us some lovely views. On reaching the main road and turning south, after another 10 miles or so we reached Loch Earn and the lunch stop at the Clachan Cottage Hotel. The afternoon run was a mere 20 odd miles back to the Rugby ground and the finish, as we had all chosen the short route of 70 miles - far enough we thought.

The Velo decided to unscrew the Gearbox sprocket nut and made some fearful noises on arrival back at base. However, Rob, with a little help from his friends managed to get the sprocket back on and do the nut up. Funny thing, but the nut was a nylock 19mm one - don't ask!!

We had a good evening and Terry managed to win a trophy for best in his class, whilst the rest of us managed a few prizes in the Raffle and also collected the seperate raffle of a bottle of Champagne. An excellent evening along with a good buffet meal.

Sunday 5th August

Today it was a social run and we all travelled together. The coffee stop was at the Kilmahog Wollen Mill where we stayed for over an hour. The run then took us back through Callendar and eventually to the rally field. That evening Terry and Dilys ate on site, whilst Jean and I, along with Rob, sampled the Thai restaurant in the middle of Crieff. So that was the S&T over and we now had five days to get to Fort William, see a bit of Scotland, and then get back to Blairgowrie for the Scottish National event on the following weekend - so the next part of the report concerns what we saw and did. On with the Holiday pics etc.

Monday 6th August
Fort William was 84 miles from Crieff and we had all day, so decided to detour to Loch Katrine for Terry and Dilys to take a boat ride on the Loch. Jeannie and I had done it twice before and Rob did it with us in 2011. Bits of blue sky were about, but it was still dry, which was nice.

Onwards to Fort William and through Glen Coe, the site of the 1692 Glen Coe massacre of the MacDonalds by their guests, the Campbells. The scenery was fantastic - I don't wish to do too much lyrical waxing - just in case a Scot reads this and becomes under the illusion that Scotland is better than Wales. But the sights were superb. The photos to the left were taken by Rob, one on the move and through the windscreen of his camper. We made Fort William by 5pm and whilst Terry and Rob headed for their campsite at the base of Ben Nevis, Jean and I booked into our B&B in town.

Our evening meal was taken at the restaurant on the campsite - and good it was.

Tuesday 7th August
We'd previously made a booking to travel on the Jacobite Steam train that runs daily from Fort William to the small fishing port of Mallaig on the west coast. A round trip of 84 miles - 2 hours each way. Again a touch overcast, but at least it was dry. Mallaig was not very exciting but the scenery on the trip was super with the Islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye, all in view from the train. The line is generally regarded as the prettiest in the UK and one could see why, with two steam trains running on a daily basis - and all were fully booked.

One of the lines claims to fame is that it is the one that was used during the making of the Harry Potter films. The glenfinnan viaduct featured heavily in one of the films.

The photo on the far left shows Fort William with the top of Ben Nevis being hidden by the clouds. The other photo is of 'Neptunes staircase', the set of locks and the start of the Caledonian canal that runs through Loch Lochy and Loch Ness to Inverness and the North Sea. After a great day out, it was back to the campsite restaurant for a good feed that evening.

Wednesday 8th August
Today we'd decided to head for the Isle of Skye and on the way stop at Eilean Donan castle. A place that I'd always wanted to visit.

Eilean Donan is the ancestral home of the Macrea clan and part is still used by them with their quarters cordoned off from the public. The girls decided not to have a look round, but Terry, Rob and I all enjoyed a two hour visit. Photos were not permitted inside the castle for the most lamest of reasons. It was reckoned that Antique dealers had taken pictures and posted them on the Internet - what on earth for, I wondered! I can't understand, for the life of me why they just don't say that they want you to buy the photos in the gift shop and that's the real reason why you're not permitted to take your own.

On to the Isle of Skye and we crossed the bridge at the Kyle of Lochalsh and headed up the east coast of the island. We found a nice small coffee stop in Broadford and spent an hour there before realising that we still had a fair distance to return to Fort William and time was getting on, so we turned round. Whilst it was free to cross the bridge, as the tolls of 6 each way had been removed in 2004, we decided to do something different and return via the ferry crossing to Glenelg a bit further down the coast.

The small ferry from Kylerhea to Glenelg was being kept alive by the local community who ran the boat.
It was part of the 'road to Skye' before the bridge was built  - how's that for nostalgia?

Evening, back at the campsite, and we decided to eat in town and selected a rather good Thai/Indian restaurant after checking out many of the others along the main High street. The sunsets at the campsite and over Fort William were well worth seeing that evening and boded well for the following day.

Thursday 9th August
Today we decided to have a lazy time so did nothing much at all. Come the evening and Terry and Dilys decided to eat in house - mainly due to the fridge not being switched on for four days, so the food needed to be eaten.
Rob, Jean and I headed into town to the Italian restaurant for our food, after which we sat in the town square to wait for the local school pipe band which was due at 6.30. All members of the band were school children in Fort William and two were even still in primary school. Good they all were too and we spent a very enjoyable hour listening to them play all sorts of Scottish tunes. There's just something about a pipes and drums band that can be quite stirring.

Friday 10th August
Back to motorcycling and the return to Blairgowrie today. There was just over 100 miles to travel and after 40 odd we were heading south on the A9 which was the main road through the centre of the highlands from Inverness to Perth. I had planned a coffee stop at the first services that we came across - but there were none for 45 miles. Eventually we found a small craft shop for a welcome break. Then it was on to Blairgowrie and the Coupar Angus sports ground which was doubling up as a campsite. After dropping off the Indian for Terry and Rob to look after, Jean and I headed into Blairgowrie and our B&B - run by a man from Lisvane and his wife, who was from Bargoed. The evening was spent back at the campsite where we were all fed stovies. That's a sort of corned beef hash, in case you were wondering. Afters, was a slice of cluties - bit like a boiled bread pudding, but it was tasty, for sure.

Saturday 11th August
The day of the Scottish National and all of us had again opted for the 70 mile short route. Seen on the rally field were:

Rob and the Velo was the first of our contingent to be away as number 36, but the Velo decided to play up and became difficult to start, so it was pushed off the line. Eventually the engine decided to behave and Rob left five minutes late. Jean and I were away on the Indian as number 38 and off we went out into the countryside. Both Rob and I were on a 20mph schedule, whilst Terry on his Ariel had opted for 24mph and was riding number 52. The lunch stop was at the Strathmore Arms in Glamis; photos taken at the lunch stop:-

The afternoon route was pleasant until we came to the watersplash - I really didn't fancy riding through, so watched a few others before we attempted it. All was ok, as it happened, however 2 Douglas Dragonflys opted out as their carbs are quite low down.

Photos courtesy of Ron Male.

We all finished without any mishaps and without getting wet at all.

Whilst sitting drinking a coffee and pondering the day a good friend of ours, Paddy Winter, was having trouble starting his nice 1928 Sunbeam model 8. Rob went over and provided his Velo kicking leg - all to no avail. The rest of us then joined in the fun and soon diagnosed that there was no spark. I found that the points block centre bolt was loose and after cleaning up the arcing between the block and the armature, and refitting everything, the bike started up first kick.

The evening Dinner at the Angus hotel in Blairgowrie was scheduled for 7.30 and we were early in order to be able to all sit on the same table, unlike 2011, when we were all on different tables. There was quite an array of trophies to be presented and Colin Bell did the honours. The only award that our contingent had was made to Terry for timekeeping in his class. We had entered a team under the name of Bromorgannwg as we wanted to hear the announcer speak the name - but another team won, which was a shame. It was a good evening and meal.

Sunday 12th August
There were fewer riders out for the social run which headed for the east coast and the Arbroath area. We skirted Dundee and eventually arrived at the coffee stop at the Corn Kist farm shop and coffee house. Back at the finish I felt a little deflated that everything was finished as we loaded up the bikes for the final time. Later that afternoon we all set off into Blairgowrie to look for an eating house and eventually settled for the Dalmore restaurant on the Perth Road.

Back at the campsite Jean and I collected our Indian and said our goodbyes as we were going to head straight home from our B&B the following day. Rob was going to head to Holy Island and to complete his sight seeing of Northumberland that was cut short last year by his camper engine blowing up. Terry planned to head to Beamish - a must if you're ever in that area.

All in all a good 11 days and just about completely dry all the time.