When we plan a tour it is usually well in advance and obviously we have no control over the weather and can only hope for dry days with sunshine being an added bonus. However, no one could have predicted the near perfect riding conditions we encountered last weekend on our tour of The Scottish Borders as can be seen from this photo of us riding away from the Talla Reservoir.
Temperatures were in the high teens to low 20’s for riding resulting in a lot of ice cream being purchased and eaten (purely to help cool everyone down of course!) We rode through Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland on our way to the Borders on quiet back roads which rewarded us with some spectacular views over the moorlands and beyond. It was a shame to ride up Hartside though and see the cafe in ruins after it sadly caught fire over the winter, there were still several motorbikes parked outside using the mobile cafe which was on site and we hope the main cafe will re-open one of these days soon.
During our stay in The Borders we visited a lot of coffee shops! Several lochs, enjoyed the grippy asphalt which Scottish roads are known for, soaked up some stunning views, crossed the border into England on one of the ride-outs to enjoy the wide open spaces of the Northumberland National Park before returning to Scotland via Carter Bar and had a lot of laughs along the way. Around a third of the tour group were new to us but by the end of day one everyone had gelled and as we often say “2 ingredients needed to make a great tour are the weather and the people” – we were fortunate to have both on this.
Due to some excellent marketing the NorthCoast500 (NC500) is now on many a motorcyclists “must ride” list and whilst we are in full agreement with that, it has become difficult for a larger group to tour the coastal road mainly due to the lack of accommodation. We have run tours in the past in The Cairngorms and also Argyll & Bute and plan to return to both of these areas at some point in the future. The Highlands is also on our list but if you are short on time and would like to experience some of the open roads of Scotland why not visit The Borders? Dumfries & Galloway is on your doorstep with the Galloway Forest to enjoy, the Northumberland National Park and Kielder Forest and Reservoir are easily do-able on a days ride-out or stay within the confines of the Borders themselves and you will not be disappointed. The variety in roads and scenery is such that you need to take time and stop for photos, enjoy coffee and cakes or scones at the welcoming cafes and even if you are not blessed with as good a weather window as we had we are more than certain that you will return to the area more than once – we have and plan to run another tour here in the future 🙂