The highlands are something that has always been on my biking bucket list, the vast landscapes, quiet roads and Scottish culture makes for a great bike trip. I made my way up to Glasgow from London, stopping off for a scenic ride through the Lake District. It was a gruelling days ride and a true test of endurance. As a biker, you often find yourself going through a tough day’s ride before you get the reason you went through that challenging ride. There’s nothing nice about spending the day on UK motorways in mid-April. Nothing. The day had been lost on the motorways and by the time I reached Glasgow it was early evening and time for a rest.
The next day I began my proper highlands tour. I made way to Loch Lomond and then on to Kilchurn Castle before getting lunch in Inverarnan. The roads were damn good, beautiful landscapes that made me feel like I was riding through New Zealand or something. I checked out the castle before grabbing some haggis and a Guinness at a traditional Scottish pub. Bliss. I moved on towards Fort William, hitting the winding roads surrounded by forestry, the weather was average, very average but it didn’t impact my riding or my enjoyment. There were beautiful lakes everywhere and the smooth roads really made it worth it.
I enjoyed the ride up to Fort William where I checkout out one of the Nevis mountains, opting to get a gondola up rather than trekking it. I took some cool photos before hopping back on the Suzuki GSR and riding towards Loch Ness. I still had a good few hours of daylight. The ride towards Loch Ness was even more scenic. I stopped off at Fort Augustus which is the gateway to Loch Ness, I walked around the little town and looked out at Loch Ness. There’s more water in Loch Ness than all the lakes in England and Wales combines, that’s how big it is.
I got back on the bike and continued the ride towards Inverness where I’d be spending the night. The whole ride was along Loch Ness, I stopped off and saw another castle which sat next to Loch Ness and then got back on the way, trying to make the most of the limited daylight. I arrived in Inverness safely and checked into my hotel.
The next day I went to the Glenmorangie distillery and did a tour, I promised myself I’d check out a few distilleries while I was in the area. I’m a whisky lover and I do like a good dram of Glenmorangie. The distillery was in Tain, about 30 minutes north of Inverness, it was the most north I’d go. I headed back towards Inverness and on to the Cairngorms National Park, but before that, I stopped off at Tomaitin and did the tour a Tomaitin whisky, a lesser known whisky. I had a dram a two to warm up the cockles and got back on the bike to hit the most scenic roads I’d ever ridden. I rode towards Granton-on-Spey and through the national park. Wow. These roads were spectacular, absolutely spectacular. I even had blue skies that day, making it a perfect day’s ride. I’d casually cruise past mind blowing castles, flat fields of green, green forestry and sweeping hills. The roads were very intimate in the national park and so it took longer to cover distance which meant little daylight once I found my way out of the national park. I got out the park, topped up the tank and hit the throttle towards Aberdeen before checking in for the night. I treated myself to a big mean, a few whiskeys and some Guinness before a much-needed rest.
The next day I made my way back to London from Aberdeen. Yep, no shit. I got on the bike at day break and began the ride home. I stopped off in St Andrews for a wonder around and then through Edinburgh and back on to the motorway. It was all going so well until I was riding through Carlyle, the heavens opened and soon my leathers were soaked and I was freezing, I only had at least 6 hours of riding ahead of me. Fuck. I was stopping at every other service station for warmth. I ploughed on with no spare gloves. Idiot. My hands started to split and bleed because of the cold. It was the toughest ride of my life and a true mental test. I knew that the more south I got, the warmer it would be and that kept me going. Hours went by and I was in a miserable mood but I was making progress. I eventually made it back with plenty of lessons learnt that day. Still, it was worth the trip. Any biking adventure is. It was just another biking story in my arsenal and an experience nevertheless.