Favourite Run

R

Reggie3cl

Guest
Route: Inverness to Inverness via Skye and Mallaig.


Straight out of Inverness to the south west there's a treat in store; the
A82 which runs down the side of Loch Ness.   Assuming the grockles are
behaving themselves and you don't get stuck behind something big, there is serious fun to be had as this road
snakes down the side of chez Nessie in a series of 'does what is says on the
tin' bends that blend together
into a flip, flop, flip rhythm that is hypnotic.  Don't doze off though,
there's a sheer rock face on one side and a 600 foot deep lake on the other!

At Invermoriston, about two thirds of the way down the loch,  turn 
off on to the to the A887 heading west.  This road gradually climbs away from the loch and
out of the forests and away from civilisation (or towards it if you consider,
as I do,
an absence of speed cameras an important part of  a civil society) into the
high country.  By the time  the turn off  to
Invergarry is passed and the road changes name to the A87, the pace is really quick, but the undulations in the road can be a problem for a poorly set up machine.   The signposts
(in English and Gaelic) point to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye
bridge.
But before reaching  the bridge there is one of the fastest and most
challenging
roads in Britain to tackle.  Under big skies the sight lines are long and
the corners sweeping,
but the road bucks and twists like a snake on Mescalin and for twenty miles
there is no respite as you fight the bike to keep it on the black stuff,
but I challenge anybody with a temperature of 98.4 or above not to enjoy it.

Past the excellent Cluanie Inn (petrol here too) and down through Glenshiel
with the Five
Sisters of Kintail towering over you reach Loch Duich.  Kintail Lodge is
right on the water and turned out to be an excellent place for the Scotish Rally in 2008.


Skirting the northern edge of Loch Duich the loch opens out a little and
soon
you're on the shore of Loch Alshe.  Eileen Donan castle appears around a
corner, one of the most photographed landmarks in Scotland.  Seen that film
Highlander?  That's the one.  A few small settlements with 40 limits calm things
down as you come in towards the Kyle of Lochalsh.  The notorious toll has
gone, so it's over the bridge to Skye.

Now you're on Skye heading south to Armadale to catch the ferry to Mallaig on the mainland.
Most of the A851 between Broadford and Armadale has been improved- probably
with EU money.  Well all hail Brussels, because it's as smooth as a billiard
table!

You can usually just roll up for the the Mallaig Ferry if you're on a bike-
it goes about once an
hour.  But if you've just missed it there is a great little cafe on the
quayside.  The indoor part is about as big as a garden shed, but it has a
lovely deck outside with outstanding views over the water to to Knoydart.

The crossing is beautiful and takes about twenty minutes on the new ferry.
Mallaig is a small and bustling fishing and ferry port.  It lies at the northern end
of the 'Road to the Isles', otherwise known as the A830.  Head south
on this
towards Fort William, past the white sands of Morar which look like
something from the Carribbean on a sunny day, then on to  Glenfinnan.  It's
worth a stop to photograph
the  monument at the head of Loch Shiel where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed
in 1745 and raised his
standard to mark the beginning of the ill fated Jacobite Rebellion.  This is
also where Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express was filmed steaming across the
railway viaduct.

The A830 has improved dramatically, although there are still some nadgery
sections single track (and lots of roadworks due to improvents) before reaching Corpach, just outside Fort William.
On the
left is Neptunes Staircase, a series of locks that are part of Thomas
Telford's
Caledonian canal which takes boats from the west coast to the east avoiding
the fearsome Pentland Firth between Caithness and Orkney.

Ben Nevis is to your right as you join the A82 heading north
up the Great Glen towards Fort Augustus.  Another fabulous road in good
condition, although again the plague of dawdling tourists can hamper
progress.  On the left, just north of Spean Bridge,  we pass the Commando
Memorial marking the area where they trained during the second world war.

Fort Augustus is a pretty town at the southern end of Loch Ness with another
flight of locks running straight through the middle of it.
Here you can make the decision to take in more of the main route up the side
of Loch Ness by staying on the A82, or head towards Inverness by way of the
the southern side of the loch on the B862 which
is trickier (being single track) but less trafficked.  This is made up in
part by General Wade's military road, built to allow rapid troop movements
around the Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion..  Many of
his bridges are dotted around the Highlands

Either way, thirty odd miles later we're back in Inverness after some 220
miles and around five hours travelling including stops and the ferry.

Sorry if this is a little over lyrical, but give me my Jota, a sunny day and
the route described and I'm in heaven!

Reggie

Pix below are First Born and Lav at Eileen Donan, Loch Duich and Glen Shiel from Mam Ratagan, Silver sands at Morar.

 

Attachments

  • skye 003small.JPG
    skye 003small.JPG
    82.1 KB · Views: 64
  • radek.kintail.JPG.small.JPG
    radek.kintail.JPG.small.JPG
    31.1 KB · Views: 31
  • Scotnat08 012.small.JPG
    Scotnat08 012.small.JPG
    64.4 KB · Views: 53

spaynenda

Senior member
Reggie,

This is a great description of what must be a first rate ride. I love maps you can hold in yer hand, and would really enjoy highlighting this route on a good map, just for the fun of "seeing" what you describe. Then maybe someday, when I visit your land, I can use it to retrace your steps.

Can you recommend a good map? Surely in this day of the internet, there's a way for me to purchase one, but I need to know which map to get.

Thanks for posting your words and pix.

Sheldon
 
R

Reggie3cl

Guest
Hi Sheldon

Maps?  I've got loads, and no GPS.  I favour the Michelin ones for an overview - they do a good one that covers the whole of Scotland in some detail, number 401 IIRC - and then use the OS Landranger series for real local detail.

I also use Undiscovered Scotland as an online guidebook http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/index.html

BTW, if you do get over here, May and September are good months to visit.  Pretty settled weather (generally) and fewer tourists cluttering up the roads.

Cheers

Reggie
 
R

Reggie3cl

Guest
Cool, although it's interesting that Google makes it 177 miles and Microsoft Autoroute makes it 209!

Reggie
 

Spondonrider

Hero member
Location
Colorado
Nice looking route Reggie! I love riding in Colorado but I'll have to admit I'm impressed with your neck of the woods. We have lovely vistas, high mountain passes, and cool roads but we don't have castles or lake monsters!

Ed
 
R

Reggie3cl

Guest
Hi Ed

Well with the dollar finally heading towards a more sensible value against the pound maybe you should come over and see for yourself.  It is possible to rent bikes in Scotland, but bring your wet weather gear just in case ;)  I'd love to see Colorado (my last three long haul vacations have been to the States which we've enjoyed immensely), but unfortunately I have to travel in winter so I've not been as far north as you are.

Cheers

Reggie
 

spaynenda

Senior member
Reggie,

So next time, come to San Diego. We've got ocean, mountain roads and the desert, where it's actually quite nice in the winter. S1 (the old Butterfield Stage route) and S2 (Laguna Mountain) are both wonderful rides, and it's relatively green in winter, as opposed to our summers where everything's parched and dry. (The romantics use the euphemism "golden hills," but really they're just parched and dry...no rain from April through October, typically.)

Today, I rode up to Idylwild in Riverside County with a friend. That's pretty good too. (North out of Escondido on Old Hwy 395 to Route 79 southeast to Route 371 to Route 74 West, and back.) Kobe beef hamburger lunch at El Diablo. Very tasty, but as Ed said, no castles etc.

Sheldon
 
R

Reggie3cl

Guest
Hey Sheldon

Oddly enough, I was in La Jolla in January so not too far away from you.  Made me feel very poverty stricken :-\  Headed over to Palm Springs. Death Valley and then back to the coast at Carmel via Laguna Seca for a drive down the PCH back to LA.  Missed one castle (Scotties) in DV, but saw another (San Simeon).  Had a great burger and an Anchor Steam at Nepenthe on the way :D

Cheers

Mustang Reggie
 

Spondonrider

Hero member
Location
Colorado
Reggie and Sheldon, your both making me miss California! Sheldon, I used to make very regular runs out to Idylwild. Nice town and some pretty decent roads out that way. The campground right there in town is the first place my daughter ever camped....a long time ago. And Reggie, if you've been down PCH and lunched at Nepenthe you've experience one of the best California rides/drives. PCH between Big Sur and Morro Bay used to a favorite of mine. When we went to the races at Laguna the group used to stay in Big Sur, usually at the River Inn so we could enjoy the ride between Big Sur and Monterey each morning and evening. One of my more adventuresome rides was from Los Angeles to San Francisco, on PCH, at night, on a Dunstall Norton! Made it all the way with no problems, even had lights!

Ed
 

spaynenda

Senior member
I feel poverty stricken when I go to La Jolla also, which is why I live inland. Here houses, food and gas are significantly less expensive, and I can be to the top of Mt Palomar from my home in less than an hour.

BTW Reggie, I have a former colleague (I retired last April) who is a Scot. He's planning to visit his parents this Christmas and will get me a map as you described.

The invitation remains open (to you too, Ed).
 

LaverdaIan

Hero member
Hey Reggie, new to this I am as you know,...but on the road past the excellent (means stop for a grand old pint...??)Cluanie Inn on the way to Loch Duich, "the road bucks and twists like a snake on mescalin.. >:D.."Inspiring maan, I'm there...
So...fire that little puppy up and get the 180 warm as you do the left,right twisties down to round-about, gas it a little and head out the Bellmere road thru the 70/80k(marked) sweepers to the T. Turn right, give it a handful and shoot down to the J LIndsay Rd, hard on the brakes here as it turns in on itself and relax as you gas it thru 1 right and then a double left thru the trees with no need to do anything else but leave the throttle open and let the Jota howl..there's rarely any cars here, and the last time the cops were here farmer Dave had lost his prize heifer....go hard up to the 50k right hander and a gentle drop down to the 1st causeway taking you in under brakes..thump,thump..wait for the second bump and crank hard left and gas it up to the 2nd one. Hard now with the braking (don't slip on the sand from the last time the creek ran) and get the flock outa there as it opens once again. The reward is to get to the T onto Campbells Pocket Rd. You're heading for the mighty Mt Mee but there's no time to think about that now coz up and into the first set of bumpy, twisty (was that a snake on mescalin I just saw?!...concentrate) left,left up over the rise into the dip, and uuup...and STOP hard into the sharp left and climb up to the blind right hander, glance at the road mirror kindly installed by D.M.R. and gas it down, down, past that tight right hander (where Moffat crashed it in '03, but he was coming the other way..) and it opens really well to allow you get some lean angle as you gas it up the next climb. Really steep here and a little caution is advisable as you REALLY can't see around the corners, so you hafta hang out wide and lean your helmet as far as you can for a look before you finally commit in 1st gear and go for the next...watch out about 1/2 way up though coz there's this one really big tree..?! that's been there for a very long time?!...and it's RIGHT at the edge of the road...ya kinda gotta pull your head in a little you know what I mean... anyways, up and outa there you go, past Mann Rd and the Nunnery and it opens again past some cattle roads (read shit everywhere) over another reasonably blind rising right hander, but if you've looked early in the approach you KNOW there's no-one coming down the hill so GAS it, GAS it again and blast up to the T at the "chair of thought". Take a breather here if you want...OR push on turning right to head out thru the open fields to the top of the mighty MEE.
Now you mighta done this a few times (approached this spot) or it might be your first time, but when you come a-blasting around the the 80k sweeper (at @ 130 or so) and see that first 40k right hand arrow, there's a certain ripple you get, let alone the note you get from the Slater pipes as you go first down two, then one more gear as you go now hard under the brakes as you prepare to dip right, squirt..brakes and left into Blue Corner and then let it open up (3rd,4th) and give it a big gutful to propel you down the hill. The next left looks tricky as you approach, but if you know it and trust the day, just let the Lav have it's head and barrel away down to the next, still descending at a fairly steep angle, but hey, isn't that what Marzocchi and Brembo's are all about...Next lefty looks about the same, but NO, NO, NO...now's the time to get focused, coz just around that steep little sucker left is this sharp. dropping right, followed by a double twisting left, then a right. Fortunately, there's been so many prangs and landslips on this bit of the road that Council kindly redid the whole surface a couple of years ago, so we've got good grip, a reasonably wide run, and armco in case you screw up, so with all safety gear in place it must be OK to stay with it, keep the revs up and pegs (just) off the ground and push on over a small rise, another 50k (yea right) uphill left, over blind right, another wide left then tight rising right, and down again thru the last lefty (that Rad threw the 3cl down on years ago..but he was coming the other way too) and crack it as flat as you care up to the Dag Pub on the highway. Time elapsed...about 15-20 mins. Now that's breakfast out of the way, guess we can pop in and have a Bundy and coke and decide...ride on, or just go back and DO IT ALL AGAIN....
Are we having fun yet down in grungy old Oz...????!!!
Til next time
Ian
 

spaynenda

Senior member
Come on guys, there's got to be some more favorite runs. I went up to Mt Palomar a few weeks ago, and as usual, had a very good time of it. The best time to do it though, as Ed L may well remember, is during the week. On weekends there are simply too many squids, many on high-powered racer reps with nowhere near the skill level of the maniacs in France (See Ed's post elsewhere regarding "Do they all ride like this in France?").

Unfortunately Mother's Kitchen only serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, so early riders need to bring their own fuel on the other days.

Coming down S6 South Grade is good, clean fun, very tight and twisty, with great surface. The best part, though, when riding the Jarama is from the S6 split at CA76 West to the S6 Rincon/CA76 Pauma Valley intersection: lots of downhilll sweepers and good sticky tarmac.

Going the other way via S7 South Grade is interesting, too, but getting rough as you approach the downgrade to Lake Henshaw. Besides that area is currently plagued by a grasshopper infestation. (Hate it when they get in yer helmet!) Then up and over to Santa Ysabel via Mesa Grande Rd and a stop for pie at the Julian Pie shop. Home by way of Ramona using the very fun CA78. I'll see if I can Google Map it, as Laverda Keith would do, but perhaps later tonight.

From my house in Escondido to Mother's Kitchen takes about 45 minutes. A visit to the Palomar Observatory is always a nice extension, if yer in the mood for some stargazing (always difficult in the morning). I believe they no longer use the 200 incher, but do have more sophisticated modern equipment. And the gallery/museum is always worth a look, too. Then the cafe opens at 11:00 Wednesday through Friday for lunch.
 

Attachments

  • Palomar overlook_em.jpg
    Palomar overlook_em.jpg
    162.3 KB · Views: 23
  • Palomar fire damage_em.jpg
    Palomar fire damage_em.jpg
    127.8 KB · Views: 7
Top