Touring Argyll & Bute June 2015

Recently we undertook a 6 day tour which included riding north through Cumbria and Yorkshire to the Scottish Borders before exploring Argyll & Bute in Scotland for 4 days.  The scenery was incredible Riding in The Trossachsand at times we felt we were motorcycling in the European Alps as we had wide open roads, mountains and blue skies as our backdrop and high pine forests edging the roadside.

Many of our clients were able to treat this tour as something of a reunion as 80% of them had all been with us on our West Coast of Ireland tour in May 2014, it was good to see people becoming re-acquainted and in particular we were thrilled to have Hans and Kurt ride over again to be with us from Germany.  Neither of them had been to Scotland before and they were blown away by the roads, the welcome we had wherever we stopped and the beauty of Argyll & Bute was something they had not envisaged.  They even commented on the last day that “they had no idea the UK had so many bends“!!!

We stayed south of Glasgow for the first and last nights of this tour which gave us a good base for riding to Arrochar where we spent 4 days exploring the Trossachs, Argyll and the Isle of Bute.  We took a circular route to Arrochar on the Friday, Loch Lomondcalling in at Loch Lomond Shores for a coffee – the loch was cobalt blue and gave our group a very relaxing spot to enjoy a cuppa that day – not to mention the ice-cream!  The motorcycling roads in this part of Scotland are grippy, flowing and fun to ride.  There are so many views to take in as you ride through the Trossachs National Park with many cafes to call in along your way – we made a pitstop at The GreenWelly at Tyndrum  a famous stopping off point for not only motorcyclists who need a fuel stop and brew but also tourist coaches tend to pull in with traditional Scottish wares on sale……. who knew how many things came in tartan!!

We had a ride-out of Argyll on the Saturday which took us north along the Argyll Coastal route through Oban with a timely stop at Cruacham Dam and cafe for lunch just before the rain came in.  We headed back to the hotel after stopping here and even though the weather was not brilliant the roads were still awesome with flowing open bends to enjoy along the A82.  From here we picked up the road which follows the shores of Loch Lomond, whilst it narrows in places it is a very pretty route to ride and as long as you don’t find yourselves behind a coach, (as some of us did that day!!!) you will come to the end of it with a huge smile across your face 🙂

Our Sunday ride-out included a short ferry crossing to the Isle of Bute which is a lovely island to explore Photo stop on Buteoffering spectacular views overlooking the Isle of Arran.  If you ever tour the island we can recommend a great place for lunch – The Kingarth Hotel which is at the southern end, we had forewarned them of our arrival and we were given not only a great welcome but also some fantastic food which set us up perfectly to take in the coastal ride back to the ferry and then some stunning roads back through Argyll to our hotel.  It is worth stopping a while at Rest & Be ThankfulThe Rest & Be Thankful which is at the top of Glen Croe where you will find a stone placed here by soldiers who built the original military road in 1753 and when it was used by Drovers moving animals they rested at this location and were thankful to have reached it (it was a lot easier for us on 2 wheels though!).

We headed south on the Monday riding through Ayrshire and along the coast road before returning to the hotel we had stayed in on the first night of the tour south of Glasgow.  Our route back to Lancashire, which was our dispersal point for the day, took us through Cumbria, Yorkshire and we even crossed the border into Northumberland for a few short miles before enjoying lunch at The Hartside Cafe – something of a mecca for motorcyclists and with the roads ascending and descending along the Hartside Pass it is no wonder 🙂

To sum motorcycling through Argyll & Bute – we think you could rename it Awesome & Beautiful 🙂

 

The Lakes of Wales Ride-Out

On Sunday 7th June we undertook our third motorcycle ride-out of the year taking in three of The Lakes of Wales together with a stunning run along the Welsh coastline.

After meeting near Whitchurch in Shropshire we crossed into the Welsh borders on flowing roads to our morning coffee stop at our first lake of the day – Lake Vyrnwy.  Artisans cafeWe had booked ahead to call in at Artisans cafe by the lake who were more than ready for us with plenty of home baked cakes and scones available for us 🙂   There were a couple of other bikers already there having a quiet brew…… they must have wondered what was happening with all the motorbikes turning into the car-park, there were 33 of us in total!

We had a great ride away from Lake Vyrnwy on an open B class road which offered spectacular views of the hills as we approached the A road between Welshpool and Mallwyd.  However, as we joined the main road our progress was thwarted by a considerable queue of vehicles which turned out to be due to a charity cycle event taking place further up the road.  As Geraint arrived at the front of the queue, the driver of the escort vehicle did apologise for the delays they were causing – it was frustrating for us as motorcyclists even though we were able to filter for some of the way, imagine what was being said by the drivers of all the cars in the queue!!!!!

Soon though, “normal service” was resumed and we had a free run from Dinas Mawddwy with Riding from Dinasthe mountains of the Snowdonia range opening up ahead of us as can be seen from this photo.  We significantly increased the fuel sales as we pulled into the petrol station on the outskirts of Dolgellau before riding over Bwlch Llyn Bach which gave us our first glimpse of the second lake of the ride-out, Tal-y-Llyn which is set in a beautiful “V” shaped valley.

We had pre-arranged to have lunch at the Tyn Y Cornel hotel which sits at the far end of the lake and having had the twisty section of road to ride along the shores of Tal-y-Llyn we were all ready for something to eat.  Sheila and her team had already prepared the sandwiches which had been ordered and as soon as we arrived they started cooking the hot food – fab service from everyone at this lovely hotel 🙂

The Welsh coastlineThe ride from lunch took us along the Welsh coastline which is a great motorcycling road on any day, but particularly for us on Sunday as the conditions were near perfect with blue skies giving rise to crystal blue seas and fluffy white clouds floating just above the mountain tops.  This was one section of road where you simply wanted to soak up everything and the saying “Riding a motorbike is like being in a picture” was never truer.

Bala Lake was our third and final lake of the day and whilst some enjoyed a cuppa, others were caught on camera with ice-creams and there were even burgers “on the barbie” for sale…… wonder if the people working out in the gym next door were tempted….!

We rode out of Wales into Cheshire with our afternoon departure point being The Sandstone near Broxton where a few of us took advantage of the weather and sat outside in the garden enjoying a brew before heading off home.  We had riders travel quite a distance to join us for this ride-out, one from near Huddersfield, others from Droitwich and Kidderminster, Shrewsbury and Warrington and we know that they saw Wales, and in particular the three lakes we visited, at their best.