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Touring: My best of Scotland - Westhighlands and Cairngorms

Discussion in 'General Mercedes-Benz Related Discussion' started by st4, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. st4

    st4 Banned

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    wo weeks ago, one of my oldest mates (Sam) and I decided to embark on a great grand tour. We had four days, and three nights to play with.

    Sam had arrived in Glasgow on the Thursday afternoon so there was only one thing for it. Hit the road. Sam has seen precious little of Scotland other than my Facebook page and liked what he saw.

    The aim was to hit Ft William for Thursday evening. As you can understand from this image, its important to go by the A83 from Tarbert and take in the views at the Rest and Be Thankful

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    DSC_0055 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its also a rare pleasure as often that road is now closed with landslips. Such is the heavy rain, and nature of the soil etc there, that land slips occur frequently. But not for that day allowing my new C class to enjoy roads with views and sweeps like this

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    DSC_0058 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Having never seen Inverarray before it was important to stop off and let Sam take in the sights.

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    DSC_0327 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Inverrary is a quaint old town, that happened not only to offer views like this
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    DSC_0328 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    But also the rare chance to purchase chocolate and Irn Bru, something Sam hasn't sampled for years. Just because you are driving a first class motor, doesn't alienate you from eating normal cheap grub. It also gave me a chance to stretch my legs, having had a serious injury to the back for a month now, its good to keep the muscles moving

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    DSC_0330 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Those of you who pay more attention to my threads will recall whats coming next, one of my favourite drives over to Dalmally and then onto the legendary A85 to Tyndrum. The car as I have mentioned is a big step up from the last one (which was quite a good back road car despite its size) in poise, and agility. This is a big plus in the wet where the whole car was more more sure footed and could progress, quickly and safely. Through the banked turns of the A85 she could hit the Apex, find good purchase without stepping out of line and hold quite high speeds, in the wet. I grinned, Sam enjoyed the views and we stopped here and I let him take in the view at Bridge of Orchy

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    DSC_0064 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    From here, the light was fading, and we cruised up the A82 to Ft William and averaged over 41mpg. Impressed, you bet.

    On day two I wished to show Sam the Isle of Mull, and to wind round Loch Eil, down Loch Linnhe on the other side,

    After a hearty all you can eat buffet breakfast (don't knock the Premier Inns - Sam was not impressed when I mentioned an air bed in the boot to save money) and the luxury of a good nights sleep, it was time to embark and get our feet soaked.

    I parked at the edge of Loch Eil in a pass place (yes, I know its naughty)

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    DSC_0067 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    From here we walked over to the edge of the Loch over some mucky, sodden and peaty ground

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    DSC_0085 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its an odd sensation here as the ground squelches and farts. Honesty, water bubbles, perhaps its methane under there, but it cannot compete with my flatchulence after a steak dinner and a fry up in the morning. The estate car is a boon here, more air to swallow my farts. I digress, the ground farts but we got a nice view of the Jacobite express - the steam train which runs from Ft William to Mallaig.

    However, the real reason for walking down here, was to see this. Loch Eil, in reflection, calm and tranquility

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    DSC_0092 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    From here, you wind along a single track road, taking care as much of it is poorly sighted and try take in the views as you can. There were timber works going on further up, so a big lorry did approach and when you see one, often they come in sporadic succession. With my new treasure and good friend on board, the last thing I wanted was an impact. The C class comes into its own on these wee roads. A lot of people say Mercedes starts with an E, and perhaps, for where they live and drive this is true. Certainly in terms of trim, its not massively Mercedes like, but in terms of handling, manouverabiliuty and agility, it belies the Mercedes badge with a deftness not always associated with the marque. Some forum members will recall this view, this road opens up and to your left is Loch Linnhe, before the road climbs up a majestic section of quiet, wide, fast sweeping road.

    I've been fortunate thanks to the kindness of C240Sport97 to have driven a 55 AMG up here. I've also driven my E320cdi and this car up here, and my E220cdi come to think of it. Its a steep climb, hitting 100 (not saying what unit) is childs play in a 55k, easy in the E320cdi, impossible in the E220cdi. So where does this fit in, nearer the E320 than the E220cdi I would say but with damp roads 100 (whatever units you choose) was not the best idea so I don't really know, but its got power and more importantly, the road holding, supportive seats and impressive damping allow it to go where you aim it, and grin how you aim it. It doesn't have that slightly lethargic nose heavy feel my E sometimes had, just poised but not nervous.

    Suddenly the weather changed, and see these trees, well some are getting the chop, where said timber lorries were coming from

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    DSC_0101 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Normally, I would rule out October for a grand tour due to the lack day light and iffy weather, but with autumn colours like this, and fresh clear air to breathe, I am fast re appraising these views. This is what makes life worth living, the moments you can see views and places like this.

    Wanna know what really makes it worth while. Looking at this, and remembering the time you and your best mate saw this place

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    DSC_0103 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its astoundingly beautiful. The calmness of the water, the autumnal colours, the hillside. Its a majestic landscape we have here in Scotland and we are all truly blessed to have it so nearby. And you really can see this from the car, its all of 100m in a layby.

    I know Del320 will know whats coming next, the run over to Lochaline. This is a jolly little road and its qualities amplified by the C220cdi, ample torque for the hills, good balance and poise for the twists. Its a bleak view and whilst nice, I'd probably only do it to go to Mull, which we didn't as we wanted to be in Kyle of Lochalsh for the evening.

    Wanna know the best use of an estate car, it ain't the boot space. Its being able to use the roof rails as a drying line. My feet got soaked down by Loch Eil so the chance to dry my smelly socks out was a god send.

    On a longer day I would have taken Sam to Ardnamurchan, but time wasn't with us (downside of touring when day light is less prevalent than night time). However, it does allow for this colours, this is on the way to Loch Ailort.

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    DSC_0110 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    There is also another good reason for sharing this view,we talk a lot about under developed roads over here. Well let me inform you of something, this stretch of road was rubbish, now look at it.

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    DSC_0111 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Smooth, sweeping and capable of taking the areas present traffic and future traffic as more and more people catch on to just how wonderful it is to drive, to see, and to be here.

    The next stop was to feed the skip some diesel in fort william, buy some chocolate and head up to Kyle of Lochalsh.

    But Sam couldn't resist the charms of Loch Lochy. Who can blame him, in the golden evening light, there isn't many better places to be than here

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    DSC_0349 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    You know what, I am wrong, there is someplace better to be

    Here

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    DSC_0122 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    At Glengarry view point, fifteen miles up the road. Taking in this, and savouring the prospect of the A87, one of our best fast driving roads, with a car like this to devour it

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    DSC_0361 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Lets just say on this road, the 5g works a lot better than 7g. Namely as it reacts quicker to paddle inputs, (it just does) and that the 3rd gear will allow you to span the range of speed thats safely acceptable to use in the corners, the 7g doesn't. 4th takes care of the higher speed stuff and you can really press on smoothly without throwing the car around and rely on the grip, feedback through the wheel and dampening of the care which is firm but not harsh to cater for any mid corner bumps. It never felt dragged, just smooth, capable and fun.

    For the evening, we dined at the Waverly restaurant in Kyle of Lochalsh, again familiar to form members, lets just say the food is as good as ever. I smacked into Tuna Carpachio and a fillet of beef served on a bed of haggis, it wasn't cheap, but quality costs and this is one good quality place.

    Onto day two, again an old favourite route of mine and one familiar to forum members as it comprises of part of both years tours, the 1st bit of the 1st tour, the 2nd section the reverse of the 2nd tour. Kyle of Lochalsh to Gairloch via Belach Na Ba and to Ullapool.

    1st stop of the day, Eilan Donan Castle. I've been fortunate enough to see this many times in my life, but Sam has not. Its important to give the uniniated the chance to see something as special as this, and to take it in

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    DSC_0370 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its the most photographed castle in Scotland, and again, keen photographers enjoy the castle in its marvelllous setting

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    DSC_0373 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its also ruddy expensive to get into, so being of Scottish thrift, I stray not to close…LOL

    Anyway, as you can see from the lousy flat photographs there that the fella was wasting his time, the light, and weather were driech and miserable. However a miracle happened at Loch Carron


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    DSC_0149 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Look, another "kodak" (well Nikon actually) moment. It really looked like that. Again this is a view I almost take for granted having toured here so often before, but its good to see it through someone else's eyes and Sam shouting, we must stop and take a picture really hit it home. This is the cream of the crop for views. And you can see it from the road.

    Again, without being tedious about it, the car is really suited to these wee Scottish roads, and you can enjoy the road more as you can use more of it when you want to, and take up less of it when you need to.

    From a driving point of view, perfect, and from driving, you do not get better than Beleach Na Ba, well you do in the Alps but this remains a great road to drive up.
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    DSC_0385 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    I can say this car charges up here not that much less hard than the E320cdi, but nowhere near the peerless power I unleashed in Seans CLS55, but I used a less prodigious amount of fuel.

    Again, seeing this majestic place through someone else's eyes got me to look for things I never normally looked at deeply, like this mountain falls.

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    DSC_0394 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Plus there is more optimism in this image, blue sky. Which sets the theme for later.

    Driving up this road is fun, being enthusiastic in the hairpins is fun. Driving down it to Applecross less so, its narrow and oncoming cars mean you need to be alert and find your passing places to let on comers pass. Whats really not fun is someone driving down 20mph all the way, and not letting you pass. Thats rubbish. Just remember, this view

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    DSC_0397 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  2. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    Applecross is a fantastic place. Remote, yet civilised. The food at the pub really is awesome, and the views. Well, heres one.

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    DSC_0153 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    We decided to go for a wee track, a mile out, mile back sort of thing. There are some good little trails that are not onerous, but worth doing.

    Sam adored Applecross

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    DSC_0401 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    The trail climbs up higher than the road, and you get a fabulous view of the Coulins. Its well worth doing in the area, and is good light exercise which is ideal if you ate another cooked breakfast and a big lunch as the Inn at Applecross really has a jolly menue.

    Again, most of what follows here will be familiar to those who were wise enough to come on my forum tours, to those of you who haven't and who haven't been here…NAE LUCK!!!

    The drive to Sheildaig village is great fun and the unexpected happened, a small anonymous Toyota Starlet pulls out and makes decent progress, not dangerous but clearly swift and progressive with excellent knowledge of the road. The car was swift where it was safe, slow where it was poorly sighted and rarely braked, I followed safely as I was keen to keep up, but looking back, I went along there way quicker than I normally go. Gotta love those locals.

    The run down Torridon was lovely, but it rained.

    Thankfully by Loch Maree, it cleared, and you can see Slioch here, majestic and proud in her glorious setting, (and also covered in cloud, as usual)

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    DSC_0164 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    This is one of my favourite runs, and one familiar to me since I have been about five years old, this is the part of the world where to me when i was little, where life was the best, and to be honest, that hasn't changed. I've walked along most of the trails up here from 6yo onwards, been driven here and yearned to drive whilst a wee thing in the back of my old boys car. Now am I lucky enough to come here with my mate, drive a Merc around here and relish the sights and joys I used to have.

    From here, we drove past Gairloch, past Poolewe (do if you have times visit the botanical gardens here, a fabulous place right on the gulf stream).

    Just past a place called 1st coast we stopped for a wander and picture take. Doesn't she look at home here

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    DSC_0442 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Because she is, she was built to tour our fun roads in, really almost perfect for it. Big enough to be comfortable, small enough to be driven hard and economical enough to not worry about petrol tank range. Just superb. Remember, I filled it in Ft William and over half a tank is left here)

    We clambered about the beach, its rocky, but the views are nice

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    DSC_0188 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Being a Mercedes, I didn't want to stay too long here, I know the rust and sea air and a Mercedes are not the best pairings, but every now and then won't hurt….

    Whilst I really love driving VERY fast along this route, it is bumpy and in my youth, I've had some spectacular near offs on here, making me maybe unduly apprehensive about really driving hard. Anyway, the C class does it better than any car I've taken here. The lack of roll being a noticeable thing, even compared to my E sport, which was convincing up here in March.

    At Braemore we were treated to the most awesome light. Rain down at Loch Broom in the distance, and lovely golden evening tones up here….

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    DSC_0193 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    But Sam wanted to go to Ullapool. Last time I was here was a month before last, with Sean upfront setting a good pace. Lets say I didn't match that this time and wafted down more sedately. Remember how some say Mercedes starts with an E, well they are wrong. This glides and has that marvellous relaxed feeling on the road when not being pushed, just with some bite in reserve. What a road, what a car…

    Anyway, Ullapool is a lovely little fishing village at the head of Loch Broom. Not the sunniest of places, but who cares. The rain gives it its feel, character and charm.

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    DSC_0462 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    The view down the Loch Helps too

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    DSC_0466 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    We trot back to Inverness, have a good laugh, and enjoy the cars more relaxing nature as we make cracks about old conquests, and I think, I now have a boot I can lay 'em flat on….Missionary accomplished…

    Sam lives in York, so the last day was to tour in the Cairgorms, and get him back onto the train to York that leaves Waverly at 7pm. No problem.

    Again, lets not be silly here, I know the good way to go, the way I took the chaps last month. Via the Lecht, Braemar and Pitlochary. Well, it ALWAYS works for me this run and gives a good contrast to the majestic west coast of Scotland, with something a little different

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    DSC_0197 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    I am also very proud to call this car mine

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    DSC_0200 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its awesome, its given me already three great tours, or is it four, and not once let me down, early days, but this is the start of a great friendship….

    The east of Scotland always did have better weather, but clarity like this is rare. Thats the moon the in the frame here.

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    DSC_0205 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Anyway, another premier inn, another croissant challenge, free coffee and the dire need for the toilet…

    We smashed up the lecht at Collosal speed, the handling of the car really making this possible and that high top speed available in 3rd gear…LOL. Perfect for this sort of real driving.

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    DSC_0207 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Careful of the Lecht cafe, its in Aberdeenshire, and in tradition with the Aberdonian spirit, it charges for the use of its toilet to non customers. Cheeky, but not all things can be down all fresco…

    Another of my favourite places along here is a little bridge, very narrow, so best take care. The C class has a long bonnet and does that frontal blind spot thing on big rises that the big Mercedes do. Annoying, but it can take a V8. Big engines mean big bonnets, and this is the downside of that. Who said Mercedes started with an E???

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    DSC_0471 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    The drive down Royal Deeside is another happy childhood memory, the colours are vivid, the views of the River Dee and the Royal residence makes you proud that this is on your doorstep and a part of your country. Its a lovely part of the world and the devils elbow the drive to top it all off. Being a punchy car with 295ft/lb of torque and 170bhp meant overtaking pesky caravaners and large slow people carriers was a doddle. You tend to find with a good handling car, that you approach slow traffic quickly. This is a twisty section of road but well sighted, the C can carry the NSL for all of it pretty much, not that much it transpires can, or even wants to…

    We lunched at the Spital Hotel

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    DSC_0477 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    Its a typical ski lodge. Great food, basic surroundings. Seriously, don't judge a book by its cover as the food is excellent and the service really helpful and polite.

    Its a bleaker landscape than the west coast, but i still love it, and the air is great here, no large cities for miles. Real crisp clear mountain air. Love it.And you can't beat those pine trees….

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    DSC_0479 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr

    I drove Sam back to Edinburgh, via the Sma Glen. Its a great run and an underrated road, quiet, fast, twisty, it has the lot….

    After dropping Sam off I felt sad to say goodbye to him, I'll see him in December but this is a trip he and I will cherish for the rest of our lives, and this wonderful car made it all happen.

    Driving back west to Glasgow I twigged it was sundown, so unpacked a tripod and camera, and took one other picture of another great thing in Scotland, this time its man made

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    DSC_0212 by stephentaylor4@hotmail.com, on Flickr
     
  3. Naraic

    Naraic Moderator

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    Beautiful as usual Steve...I've a photo of 0122...lovely.
     
  4. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    Its a very popular view point, with good reason....
     
  5. brianbrian

    brianbrian Senior Member

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    Thank you for the pictures. Hope this helps
     
  6. syncropaddy

    syncropaddy Senior Member

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    I love a good piccy thread .... I always look at the pics first and then go back and read what the poster says about them ....

    ..... but I stopped when I got to this.

    Sorry but I dont relate to nonsense statements like that.
     
  7. Pinenut

    Pinenut Senior Member

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    quality trip report and superb pics,thanks.
     
  8. Pinenut

    Pinenut Senior Member

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    it's called humour
     
  9. Boydonegood

    Boydonegood Senior Member

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    Damn buddy. This is a must do for me n other half in 2013
     
  10. bpar1713

    bpar1713 Active Senior Members

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    Brilliant!

    Brilliant as usual. Please keep them coming.
     
  11. Kylinski

    Kylinski Senior Member

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    WOW! Stunning scenery! Superb photos. I'd love to this route with my other half. Maybe next summer :D
     
  12. MINKYMERC

    MINKYMERC Senior Member

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    Hi Steve,

    I always look forward to your superb photo tours and this one brought back more happy memories of holidays in Scotland in the 1970s.

    Some places I have visited and some I would still like to visit - your posts give me the inspiration to look forward to another trip North.

    You and your mate obviously had a wonderful tour. You're so lucky to have all that grand and majestic scenery round you.

    Thank you

    Minkymerc
     
  13. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    It was a fantastic 3 night and four days touring. Makes the 9 to five grind all worth while. Scotland really does offer a lot for a driving holiday and is well worth seeing.

    I've deliberately mentioned place names so people can construct a route themselves, taking in what they want to see out of my pics.
     
  14. Andy.M

    Andy.M Senior Member

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    Fan ****** tastic :)

    Must do it, but car or bike? mind you it's a long long way from Kent :(
     
  15. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    I would say motor bike, from feedback from a member who has both and he says he finds the motor bike a lot more fun.

    From Kent you need to drive up to Glasgow and say in a cheap chain place hotel, do this route and spend another night in Glasgow before the drive to Kent the next day
     
  16. Andy.M

    Andy.M Senior Member

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    Trouble is riding to Scotlandshire in a day would kill me :neutral: so it will be the car, might even take the wife :shock::lol:
     
  17. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    I am a single bloke but it goes down well with couples. If biking it up, you need to explore the peak district and lake district. I know this adds yet more overnights stops, but you can do the lot in 9 nights...

    The CLC will be good here, nice and compact, our roads really don't reward very big cars.
     
  18. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    So you wouldn't eat a chippie or buy a bottle of Irn Bru and bar of Chocolate unless it said Green and Blacks on the front...
     
  19. jonthetourist

    jonthetourist Senior Member

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    Hi Steve

    This has reminded me that I haven't said thank you for the tour planning help when I went up to Scotland last month. I used a lot of your Sassenach route. When the girls sprinkled their mother's ashes just north of the Corran ferry we got a double rainbow, and a fighter jet flying down the loch.

    We stayed at Acharacle, which was great, but my personal highlight was the little road alongside Loch Slapin on Skye. Such a contrast with the gift shops of the main road, with the mountains just towering over you!

    So many thanks - we all really enjoyed the tour.

    Jon
     
  20. OP
    st4

    st4 Banned

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    My pleasure Jon, glad you enjoyed the countryside, its immense
     

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