Day 1 Tuesday 31st May (Preston to Fort William)
Five cars met up at the Forton Services for the start of our Tour of Scotland, Bob and Vicky in the Tuscan, Rob and Penny in the Chimeara, Jim and Carol in the Cerbera , Ian and Lorraine in the T350 AND Ann and I in the Wedge. Russ and Rob had arranged to travel up the following day and meet us in Fort William. The route took us round Glasgow and along the shores of Loch Lomond. There was a sea plane just taking off from the Loch for a scenic pleasure flight at Inverdeg where we stopped for lunch, I would have loved a flight in that. The sun was shining on the Loch and the scenery was beautiful.
The run through Glencoe was special and it’s easy to imagine what went on in that valley with its shear sides of granite and cascades of water. Definitely Braveheart country!. We arrived at Fort William early evening and stayed at the Clan Mc Duff Hotel on the shores of the Loch. We had booked dinner in the hotel in advance as we thought the 300 mile drive would be enough for one day. Excellent dinner good food, wine and company.
Small gift shop & café near Fort William Clan Mc Duff Hotel at Fort William
Day 2 Wednesday (Rest day in Fort William)
The forecast was correct and the Scottish Mist had descended (we call it rain) We spent some time in the Highland Musem which was very interesting and then went to look round a distillery. Unfortunately the next tour round the place was full so we went to see a steam railway on the road out to Malaig. This was followed by some of the group going to look round the Statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Ann and I decided it was time for a read and afternoon snooze! So we went back to the Hotel. Russ and Robert joined us for dinner in the hotel. Vicky ran an evening quiz with questions taken from the “Pub Quiz” article in the Telegraph. Brilliant fun and we even had some others on nearby tables joining in. Well done Vicky.
Ian in need of a sugar rush! Speaking of Rush this was the “rush hour”
Day 3 Thursday (Fort William to Ullapool)
First stop was Eileen Donan Castle for coffee and a wander round . The scenery was again magnificent with snow on the tops of the highest mountains long waterfalls and azure coloured lochs. We stopped at the foot of the road over to Apple cross and met up with a chap in a white Westfield RS500 who was having a blast through the highlands Looked fun but I don’t think our girls would have agreed to wearing full face crash helmets! Russ, Ian and Jim decided to go over the pass. Rob, Bob and I thought it would be too cloudy to see anything so we went on to a place called Torringdon for some lunch and a sit in the sun. We joined the A82 (otherwise known as the Nurbergring) and did the remaining 50 miles to Ullapool at shall we say a sprightly pace! We stayed at a B&B called the Shielings which was again a nice place with very helpful owners. It was not licenced but they were fine if we brought some wine and beers to drink in the lounge. They did not do dinner so we dined in the Ferry Boat on the front in Ullapool and had some very good Cullen Skink soup and other sea food. The langoustines were like baby lobsters!
Langoustines at the “Ferry Boat” in Ullapool At Eileeen Donan Castle
Day 4 Friday (Ullapool to Durness at the very top of Scotland and back to Ullapool)
(Very hot Sunny day and shorts were compulsory; apparently Ian did not get the memo stating this.)
First stop was the bridge at Kylesku where Rob Larcombe was allowed to drive first his Dads Sagaris round the car park then Jim’s Cerbera. It was at Kylesku where they practiced with the miniature 2 man submarines that were used in the war to try and sink the German battleship. The journey up to Durness was mainly then on single track roads with passing places. It was along this section that we split into two groups. The first being the SAS (Scenery Admiration Society) who drove at up to 50 mph and the RAS (Road Admiration Society) who never went less than 50 mph! The place in Durness where we intended to have lunch was closed so we diverted to a place called “Cocoa Mountain” where Rob had a beaker of what was basically liquid chocolate. Also Penny assures us the Truffles were to die for not that I had any.
Crossing the Bridge at Kylescu
We met up with a Dutch couple and they said to take a detour along the coast on the way back I’m not saying it was desolate but they even had signs warning of wild pigs on the roads! And when they say blind summit they meant it. It was safer to get out and see where the road went! Needless to say the exhaust system on the Wedge was getting a real battering and those following me said they often saw sparks underneath it. Any way on the way back I was doing a steady 60 / 70 (so going slow by RAS standards when I noticed a strange noise coming from the engine. I stopped and Rob also pulled up to see what was wrong. It sounded like a broken tappet or valve spring or some other top end metallic rattle. All the instrument readings were ok so I decided to limp back the remaining 13 miles or so to the hotel. Jim came out and diagnosed a blown manifold gasket so I was very relieved as I was planning in my mind trailers and trains to get home.
The gang sat on the decking at the back of the Shieling’s for wine and beers in the sun whilst I took my spinning rod down to the Loch to try and catch some fish. Don’t ask. Dinner that night was in the Arch Restaurant where we also celebrated Jim’s birthday. Ann and I drove down to the Village whilst the rest walked there and back, did I mention the midgies?
The bay at Ullapool Good place for dinner in Ullapool
Day 5 (Ullapool to Fort William)
Took the Coastal route south which was again stunning scenery and stopped at Invercrewe Gardens. Whilst there we saw the cruise ship the “Hebridian Princess” moored in the Loch with people coming ashore on tenders. A nice pub lunch followed and back to the Clan Mc Duff hotel for our final night. I think the night is best described by a note in Ann’s diary “maybe a touch too much wine”
Day 5 (back home via a meet up with Central Scotland Region in Stirling)
We had arranged to meet up with some of the Scotland region members at the Dreadnought TVR garage in Callander. Whilst there the owner opened up the garage and showed us round. They seem to specialize in preparing MG TF race cars but did have a Chim up on the ramps. Nic e guy and a nice set up a bit like Track v Road in size and style. Lunch was in the Broom Castle hotel where the Central Scotland Region hold their meetings. Penny nearly rounded off the holiday by buying a white 2.8 S, but Rob just managed to talk her out of it.
With some of the Central Scotland members Another day in paradise
How do I summarise the trip? Well I really do believe that Scotland has what I think is the best scenery in the world, better than Canada or Austria, or Germany. Just when you think it cannot get any better you round a corner or crest a pass and you are blown away with the views. As for the roads, the chap who planned the A82 should have got a Knight hood. There are no real tight bends on any of in the roads we drove on and in general the surfaces are better than those in England. I really don’t know where we can go that would better that trip. I have driven through Germany, Austria and France and it just does not compare, scenery wise or driving wise. There is going to be some serious head scratching before next springs Tour……………..BRILLIANT!
Finally a big thanks to Bob Cuthbertson for making all the arrangements for the tour.
Only one thing spoiling this photo …….YES IT’S THE CARAVAN ………..I think this must be where Top Gear got the idea of shooting caravans off a cliff came from.