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April 30, 2017

Scotland Beckons with Celtic Horizon Tours

Scotland - A land so vast and isolated that it needs to be seen to be believed.

Dan Tynan joins the crew of Celtic Horizon Tours for a skip around the Scotland.

The road, the street, the motorway, the green lane and dirt tracks. The paths on which travel occurs. Connecting the civilised cities with the unpolished rural pastures that surround them. Like everything around us, roads are constantly progressing. These paved surfaces originalally created for trade have progressed to be the busy commuting trails they are today. But these trails are not just for commuting. These twisty, tar surfaced routes are also our playground. The route to our next adventure and pathway to free our soul.

One road leads to another, which leads to another. Until eventually you run out. You end up at edge of our island. The ferry in the docks crys out for us to load up and see what else is out there. So that’s what we did. On a dark spring morning we packed up and headed for the docks. On an adventure overseas. To land which promised an untamed and unventured terrain. A land so vast and isolated that it needs to be seen to be believed. One that promised twisty road after twisty road. Through uncompromised isolated lands, untouched by modern society. Lands so pure they are the breath of fresh air to our choked up urban lungs.

Celtic Horizon Tours Scotland

The excitement of loading onto the boat that morning seemed almost outweighed by the feeling of nerves as we prepared to roll off onto the tarmac on the other side. Our group just one of many eager to disembark the boat and begin our adventure. Landing in Scotland we headed north from Cairnryan along the coastal road. The longer we seemed to travel, the busier the road seemed to get. Before long ours thoughts of raw deserted lands changed to the reality of the busy areas of which we were riding through.

We opted for the short ferry ride from Mclnroy’s Point to Hunter Quay. When we reached the other side of the peninsula things seemed to change. We rolled into a small fishing town like those located in the west of Ireland. The roads changed from being the heavy traffic A roads to smaller, quieter B roads and after travelling two hours up through Scotland we finally had our first promise of what was to come.

The Scotland we were looking for

We left the small Village of Kirn heading north along the A815. We crisscross back and forth through the serious of roads along our path. On the advice of a friend we took in the B8074. A small stone chipped road that leads up along the River Orchy. Lined on one side with trees and the alluring waterfalls of the river on the other. We rode against the flow of the river and exited onto the A82. The moment we turned left we knew we had found the Scotland we were looking for. The peaks of the highlands stood in the distance. A vast open valley stood between them and us. The road linking us to them was surfaced like a race track. There seemed to be almost a pause when we turned onto it. As if time slowed down so we could take in the sight that stood in front of us.

Just as quickly the pause came, it went and we were off. One bike after another down into the valley. Bend after bend, apex after apex. The sounds of engines roaring, the wind whistling and the road eating into our tyres. That 30 minute ride through the valley, through the wall of rock that lined either side and out into the opening at the other end, made the whole day worthwhile. It made all the traffic, all the slow filtering and dual carriage way riding from that morning irrelevant. It wiped the slate clean. This one road was the pathway from the regular to the irregular we had dreamed about. We had found it.

Celtic Horizon Tours Scotland

Day two saw us head further north along the A82. We stopped and got our fishing rods out to see if an Irish man could bag himself the infamous loch ness monster. But after half an hour of failed attempts to get the bait on the hook we scrapped the idea and went back to our motorcycles. We headed west along a zig zag of minor roads before joining the A835. Taking us away from the hustle and bustle of tourism that surrounded Loch Ness and back into the wild detached highlands. I found it hard to contain my primal need to go fast. My wrist so eager to twist the throttle and my conscience battling to contain it from doing so. The road barren of any traffic so inviting to the needs of any motorcyclist. Using every inch of the road. Bouncing from one bend to another. My focus gone from the clocks on my bike and now solely set on one limit point after another. It was as if the bike was no longer under me. But that I was flying free.

We pulled up outside Ullapool to regroup. Not passed by another motorist during all the time we are stopped there. The winter snow was still sitting on the ridges of the surrounding mountains is a reminder of just how isolated we are. We continued into the town to refuel our bikes and our belly’s before pushing further north. The road itself seemed to have changed. No longer was it the main wide perfectly finished trading route in which we travelled before lunch. The road had changed and with it so did the landscape. The road narrowed and the bends tightened. The wide open valleys had contracted to narrow twisty ones. The sharp climbs and descends followed suit to increase the complexity of the road. And within minutes we were out in the vast isolated land. The batch of “Bend Ahead” roads signs along the edge of the road seemed redundant as we were reading them from a position where our pegs were scrapping the ground.

On top of the World

Day three we woke to a slightly overcast morning. A sea fog had blown in overnight. It was the first morning on our trip the sun didn’t greet us as we woke. We geared up, filled up and headed for the destination the whole trip was built around. The place made famous by Charlie and Ewan in 2007, John O’ Groats. It’s funny how certain places make it onto our bucket lists. A sign post on a hill, but as I rode up that hill with my dad by my side the feeling of accomplishment was almost overwhelming. It’s a memory, a feeling that no money could pay for and evil in this world will ever take away from me. It’s a constant reminder that life is about experiences not materials. It’s about people, family and friends. The joy I saw as I watched each one in our group take their picture with that pole one by one is something I will never forget.

Celtic Horizon Tours Scotland

We left here heading south on the A9. The sun burned off the morning dew and the day brightened. Heading through the back roads and byroads to our final Destination in the town of Drymen. The atmosphere in the bar that evening was fantastic. Each one of us on the trip had achieved something today. And it was clear in all our faces. Our celebrations went on into the small hours of the night. That night 18 acquaintances became friends.

Our final day on our journey was all about getting home. Although the A712 through Galloway Forest Park is one road I hope to repeat. Our last hurrah before the mundane journey home on the boat. Our four day trip covered 2250km on Scottish Soil. We rode new roads. Experienced the isolated tranquillity of the Scottish no-man’s land. We searched for Nessy and drank hot chocolate in Durness. We battled the north winds and embraced the sunshine. We celebrated reaching John O’Groats and we paused to reflect on how far we had come. We lost ourselves in the valleys, in the sweeping bends and the Scottish mountains. And most importantly we all got home safe. Scotland you’re a lady and for one weekend a year, you’re ours!

If you’d like to head to Scotland this year motorcycle travel specialists, Celtic Horizon Tours, are heading there this summer. To take part call 01 629 2000 or go to

http://www.celtichorizontours.com

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