View Full Version : The North Coast 100

Dave B
07-05-2017, 07:54 PM
Not a typo...that's about all we did of it.

A ‘blow away the cobwebs’ trip was needed so where better than NW Scotland. The weather is always great for us up there so we booked 4 nights away, Wednesday to Sunday.
Day 1; Yorkshire to Rothbury, Northumberland
Day 2; Rothbury to Fort William.
Day 3; Fort Bill to Achiltibuie.
Day 4; Achiltibuie to Fort Bill
Day 5; Fort Bill to Yorkshire

I planned some routes trying to avoid motorways and dual carriageways. We did a bit of the A1 to get to the twistier bits in Durham (didn’t have time to go via the Yorkshire Dales) and arrived at Tomlinsons Bunkhouse and Cafe in Rothbury after a fish and chip stop at Barnard Castle.
On the hoof trip planning called for some ale so we visited a local hostelry and quietly drank our tipple while the longest pub quiz in history went on.
A wee nightcap was called for as we had found the lounge at the bunkhouse. Good job I’d taken the precaution of taking along a bottle of single malt.

Early start on Thursday and the weather was simply glorious.
Cafe breakfast, stuffed for a fiver. Great value

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We meandered our way North, crossing the Firth of Forth via the Clackmannanshire Bridge. We stopped for a picnic.

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We passed Gleneagles, bimbled through Creiff and eventually found ourselves with little option (other than adding big miles and time onto a longish day) but to do a few miles up the A9.

Coming off at Dalwhinnie we road the superb A889, General Wade Military Road and onto the A86. We made good progress all the way to Fort William where we bought our evening meal at Morrisons...and a few beers. Tonights venue was the Corran Bunkhouse, another superb and reasonable place to stay where you are bound to meet some interesting folk staying.
Tea demolished we boarded the Corran Ferry as foot passengers and made the 3 minute voyage across to the Ardgour Inn for more liquid refreshment (and a game of darts)

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Friday dawns brightly at about 5am….too early so we rise at about 7 and after breakfast, pack and set off to board the ferry to ride toward Mallaig via some of the Scottish 6 day trial sections. A truck driver kindly waved us past him onto the ferry...only for the Captain to turn us round and send us to the back for pushing in..he’d not seen the kindly truckers gesture. We felt like scolded kids and I wanted my black widow catapult to smash the f#####s cabin windows…..I soon got over it.
A great singletrack road took us round towards the A830, Road to the Isles and we watched some talented men and women try to ride trials bikes up impossible dry river beds.

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We also saw Ross Noble trying his best but a way off the talent of all the others…..apparently Dave will show a documentary about it in October. I imagine they’ll use a lot of CGI or proper trials riders will be made to wear Ross Noble face masks to make it look good.

We turned right onto the A830...rode 15 miles, turned round and then rode back and on toward the Mallaig to Armadale Ferry. Those who know the Road to the Isles will know why.

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Safely across the Sound of Sleat we rode off at Armadale and straight to the Clan Donald Centre Caff where they do a mean Haggis, Tatties and neeps. Haggis is obviously in season at the moment and these appeared to be freshly shot and prepped. Lovely
Portree for fuel and food and beverage for this evening and then off the Isle of Skye and vaguely heading North toward Ullapool.
We skipped the Pass of the Cattle and Applecross peninsular due to both time and the fact that we’ve done it a few times.
The roads were superb. Quiet, well maintained, easy to make good progress with stunning views...all whilst bathed in 20c sunshine and without a cloud in the sky….for the 3rd day running.

If we stopped at every good photo op we’d never ever get to the Hostel so we limited stops but made sure we got a pic of Stac Pollaidh. Staggering to see on a crystal clear day.

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I knew the hostel was a bit quirky and involved a bit of a walk in…..

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Parked the bikes, loaded the luggage into the handy barrow and sought out our room. A 4 bed room that was about 9ft x 9ft, that’ll do nicely.
Meal out tonight at the Achiltibuie Piping School Cafe. I’d telephoned a few days earlier to book and they weren’t actually open but she said that if we got there by 6ish she’d do us a meal. Good to her word, she did us a superb local burger, a huge basket of chips that we couldn’t finish rounded off with fresh home baked cake. The bill for the 4 of us to be full to busting was less than 40. We gave her a good tip. (It’s a bring your own beer caff too!)
A quick beer at the Summer Isles Hotel and then back to the hostel to have a chat with some of the other residents...another bunch of bikers from Yorkshire.
Hotel Car Park

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Late night, early start and what a place to sit and have porridge and a pot of tea.

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North then South today. We made very slow progress round two small peninsulas North of Achiltibuie, the larger one being towards Stoer Lighthouse. Wow. Totally blown away by the landscape/scenery/roads blah blah…

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Memorial to the men of the X Boats (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-class_submarine )

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North as far as Laxton Bridge and then SE down the A838. This being the top of Scotland, it’s not like most A roads, it’s a nice fast road but, single track with passing places. 40 plus miles of isolation...apart from maybe half a dozen cars.

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Lunch at a great Caff in Lairgs called The Pier. Well worth a visit. (More haggis)

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Heading vaguely south we get blitzed by a 62 plate 911 Turbo S but oddly start to catch him up in the twisty bits. Not for long as he vanishes on the next long straight.
South of Bonar Bridge we go over the Struie Pass. Yet another new road to me but one I’ll go back to. We’d just been advised to stop halfway up, get off and turn round….

We end up alongside Loch Ness but rather than follow the hordes South we take the A887 for about 15 miles. Most of this road has been resurfaced and is fabulous. Taking the left turn onto the A87 up and over to Invergarry is yet another highlight...great road for cars or bikes provided traffic isn’t too bad or sightsee’ers dart off right to a parking spot to get a photo !
A brief stop at the Marine Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge and for the 3rd day in a row we get Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor in all its glory.

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Food and beer stop again before our last night, back at the Corran. Same as all the others I suppose. Good food, a nice beer or two, great company, a good laugh in stunning surroundings.
The new owners of the Corran are doing a superb job in upgrading what was already a great bunkhouse.

We had half an hour in the Ardgour before the last ferry at 2120hrs and woe betide you if you miss it...it’s either a park bench of a 50 mile taxi ride !
Asleep by 11 and up at 6 am for more blue sky and sunshine and the long drive south.
Glencoe was splendid.

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A quick detour to visit the David Stirling memorial (Founder of the SAS, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Stirling ) and then hit the slab to get South.

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I detoured to try to catch my mate doing the tough 112 mile Fred Whitton cycle challenge but traffic was horrendous and with walkers, cyclists, motorcyclists, cars and campers all vying for a bit of tarmac I shelved it and got home.

Great trip with great company. Lots of proper belly laughs, plenty of food, a few beers (beware the Scottish drink drive limits are far lower than English ones!) Stunning scenery, roads blah blah
Scotland has really embraced the NC500. It has/is doing wonders for local businesses. Having been to the area 30 years ago it is barely recognisable. Nothing seems too much trouble and there is a genuine warmth to the welcome.

I know that most Northloopers are rich beyond their wildest dreams but for those of us working to a tight budget..a trip like this, either by car or bike, can be done reasonably cheaply.
Total cost was about 320. 88 for accommodation. 100 for food and drink throughout and about 120 on fuel.
A bloody bargain


Dave B
07-05-2017, 07:56 PM
Bugger. Photobucket is a nightmare so thought I'd be able to post pics from google drive...seemingly not...anyone with more brain than me (so anyone I suppose) tell me what to do to make the pics appear ??

07-05-2017, 08:45 PM
Great trip report! :thumb:

By the time it's taken to read it you've got the photos showing.

I could see them by clicking on the links.

As you obviously get on well with Google for your photos, any chance you could do a map showing your route? :chin: :lol:

Dave B
07-05-2017, 08:56 PM
Easy. :thumb:

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I did wonder about a proper map but then figured I'd die of old age before sussing it out...

07-05-2017, 08:58 PM

There's probably an easy way to do it!

Dave B
07-05-2017, 09:05 PM
But I'm a mong so I won't suss it. A grown up needs to help me with stuff like that.....
I'll suss something tomorrow

Neil Mac
07-05-2017, 09:34 PM
Nice report as usual, Dave. :thumb:

Found this map on the SAGA website. Surprised you didn't spot it on there. :wink:


07-05-2017, 09:36 PM
Nice little trip Dave :thumb:

07-05-2017, 10:02 PM
Great trip report :-)

Only downside was your yorkshire to Rothbury,I could give you many different fantastic routes through Northumberland taking in top biking/car roads both fast and quiet as to make progress

No matter,I can see the miles you did and it was a pleasure to read :-)

07-05-2017, 10:20 PM
I enjoyed that. :veryhappy: How lucky were you with the weather !

You were particularly fortunate to arrive in the Haggis season so they are nice and fresh too :thumb:

Jim Cameron
08-05-2017, 04:24 AM
That's fab. Had some really special drives up there. Brilliant write up, thank you. :thumb:

Tim in Yorkshire
08-05-2017, 06:48 AM
Looks like a great trip.

Dave B
08-05-2017, 06:53 AM
Great trip report :-)

Only downside was your yorkshire to Rothbury,I could give you many different fantastic routes through Northumberland taking in top biking/car roads both fast and quiet as to make progress

No matter,I can see the miles you did and it was a pleasure to read :-)

Many thanks but we were more than happy with the Durham / Northumberland section, we did the A1 to cut out an hour of the roller coaster roads North thru the Dales due to time constraints. :thumb:

Neil, I understood Sim to mean our actual route which differed from the NC500 as I wanted to avoid it as much as possible for fear of large convoys of Evo readers...even on a glorious Saturday that wasn't the case...probably a tad too soon in the year (which equals NO MIDGES)

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5...boring tramp south

Dave B
08-05-2017, 07:03 AM
I enjoyed that. :veryhappy: How lucky were you with the weather !

You were particularly fortunate to arrive in the Haggis season so they are nice and fresh too :thumb:

Been to the far North countless times and always get decent weather but this was unbelievable. There are few other places I'd rather be riding when the weather is so good. It's nearly as good as Yorkshire Nige :chin:

08-05-2017, 07:59 AM
Utterly stunning.

One day I will do this.

Great mates, great views, great roads. Does it get any better?

Does it have to be done on an Adventure bike?

08-05-2017, 08:16 AM
Does it have to be done on an Adventure bike?



08-05-2017, 11:35 AM


Oooooh! :chin: :veryhappy:

Dave B
08-05-2017, 12:34 PM
Utterly stunning.

One day I will do this.

Great mates, great views, great roads. Does it get any better?

Does it have to be done on an Adventure bike?

I really wouldn't want to do it on anything that wasn't upright. Further North than Fort William you seldom see sports bikes and for good reason. The roads we seek wouldn't really suit a sports car either as they are single track with blind bends and summits but despite folk saying it's got busy up there...it really is relative. You see a convoy of 4 cars every 20 minutes now..it used to be hourly. :lol:

08-05-2017, 09:13 PM
Ace trip report. I'm there the week after next for my annual trip, so thanks for reminding me how good it is. Can't wait.

Will be bloody happy if I get half as good weather as you had! :)