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Riding GB's mainland coastline... Hot

Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...
Riding GB's mainland coastline...

Motorcycle Trip Reports

Name Mark Hewitt
Age 52
Start Date of Trip 08/08/2016
Duration of Trip 20 days
Total Miles Covered 2500+
Total Cost of Trip ???
Countries Visited EnglandWalesScotland
Bike Make & Model Yamaha Fazer 1000
Age of Bike 11
Mileage at Start 58000
Bike Modifications Oxford Heated Grips.
USB charger.
Garmin GPS + mount.
Bike Problems & Accidents Puncture - Pirelli Angel GT (rear) Great tyre, though very puncture prone. Never had one that hasn't punctured at least once. I sued the Stop n Go tyre plugger to fix (temporarily) at the roadside and the metal Mule tyre pump to get it inflated.

USB charger broke internally shorting all power to lights at rear of bike.
Highs Scotland - Sunny
Lows Scotland - Raining
The Single Most Important Lesson Learnt Travelling on small coastal roads is a time sponge - Especially around Cornwall.


Somewhat jaded with extended periods of ass on sofa I decided (like you do) to set off and ride around all of mainland GB's coastline. I headed off to Withernsea, turned left and kept going.

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GB's Mainland Coastline.

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On reflection, and having done it, there are bits to be missed out, then I guess you can't say you've done it all.

The Northumberland Coastal route, The North Coast 500 route, The Lake District and Wales are the highlights, the rest can be skipped and are slow going industrial commutes. Cornwall is scenic but sssllloooowww progress, a snail sleep walking through treacle slow. Imagine people, on a single track road, driving, with no particular place to go and having all day to get there...

I decided to switch between camping and hostels. Some YHA and some private. NOTE FOR HOSTELS: Take earplugs! On several occasions I was kept awake by heavy snoring (not my own). Some of the campsites were a little out of the way so stock up on essentials before setting up. "Wild" camping is more accepted in Scotland (check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code) where as in England and Wales it's a little more complicated, less readily accessible and less tolerated.

The apps used to help out were Booking.com and wikicamps uk. AirBnB just didn't have the flexibility to be of any use.

I used a Sony Action Cam to take the helmet mounted pics. The biggest drama with that is remembering when you've turned it on or not if you see something you want to capture. Makes you kind of paranoid after awhile and having to stop and check if it's turned on or off!

This route provides an opportunity to take in, or more accurately revisit, last being there many years ago as a child but lacking the capacity for appreciation) are:

UK mainland UK’s most northerly point: Dunnet Head – Scotland (just round the corner from John O’Groats)
UK mainland UK’s most southerly point: Lizard Point – Cornwall, England
and to add to that list..

UK mainland UK’s most easterly point: Lowestoft Ness – Nr Great Yarmouth, England
UK mainland UK’s most westerly point: Ardnamurchan – Nr Fort William, Scotland.

I stopped off in Edinburgh for a night. Edinburgh is too great a city not to visit and it’s on route too, double bonus. I bagged a room at the Edinburgh Central sYHA for £42 and they’ve kindly allowed me, on this occasion, to park my bike around the back in the staff car park.(I could have got a less expensive hostel however this was the first I found where I could reasonably park the ol’ iron horse)

A quick freshen up (and by freshen up I mean take off the helmet and unzip the jacket) and into the city made my way to the http://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk/ on the Royal Mile. Don’t be put off by the fancy website it’s very friendly, cosy and accommodating. Somewhat fortuitously I plonked my butt crack on a bar stool at just the right time as very shortly after it was heaving full (the bar, not the butt crack).

I partook of the Haggis Tower with Whisky Sauce (which is extra) as planned. To be fair I would have liked (and maybe preferred) to have tried the Rosemary Sauce that comes with it but I forgot to ask. (Good reason to go back).

The Whisky Flight consisted of 4 drams of select malts. TBH I’m not a Whisky connoisseur so I couldn’t critically appraise each malt however a couple seemed to have been stored in oak and had that distinctive Oak twang to them, which I like. A couple had also been smoked which didn’t do it for me. For some time after my mouth tasted like I’d had a night on a bong. The favourite by far (to my uneducated pallete) was the Yamazaki 12 (no, not because it sounds like a bike!) It just had a smooth clean taste, which you’d expect for £90 a bottle! They also provide a shot glass brimming with Dark Chocolate bits which, I was informed after ignorantly inquiring “What’s the chocolate for?” cleanses the palette between drams. So now you know.

Oooh, I almost forget. I backed all this up with a “Crannachan” a Scottish dessert (who knew?) consisting of (on this occasion) fresh Raspberries, Whipped cream, honey and, of course, whisky. Deeeelish! I say “on this occasion” as I had one elsewhere later in the week which was a fundamentally different culinary experience. Read on McDuff…

After that I oozed off the bar stool and wobbled my way out of the door. A gentle stroll through the Edinburgh nightscape whilst listening to the audio book “Brave new world” by Aldous Huxley on the Audible app. It’s a hard life…

After a Haggis and Whisky fuelled night of tom and associated foolery in Edinburgh, I woke up early. As I packed, I chatted with some retired English guys sharing the dorm. They’d been cycling around Scotland, like a lot of people braver and fitter than I do apparently, and were heading home. Despite our whispered words, the early morning conversation prematurely roused our other dorm mate, a guy from the Netherlands who’d come to Edinburgh to celebrate successfully passing the maths module of an engineering degree, he’d taken much pride in telling me the night before, as his agitated tossing, huffing and the occasional angry eyed peek out from beneath the sYHA provided quilt suggested..

Outside it was dry, but with mixed skies. I was sweating like a P.I.G before I’d got out of the building and even more so as I took on the long walk round to the bike. I also struggled with, what became a theme of the holiday, my Hein Gericke trousers sliding down. As previously stated the fashion at the time was to have a combined thermal and waterproof under layer. This necessitates having to stop on the commencement of rain, take off your boots/trainers/flip flops and the trousers at the side of the road. This becomes a royal pain of the highest order. Any how I digress. This under layer seems to have been coated in teflon as at every opportunity the trousers slide down and congregate around your ankles so not only can you not walk, you look like an idiot. Obviously, hands free, you wouldn’t let this happen but with a helmet in one hand and a waterproof bag in the other the options are limited. The joys of motorcycling. (On exasperated examination later in the trip I discovered that there was, hidden beneath a red fabric bead a small zip which connects to another small zip to prevent this very thing from happening.) This minor drama over, a quick load up and I was off. The roads were traffic free and the ride out of Edinburgh was as easy and hassle free as the ride in.

The loose plan was to continue along the coast and ride up to Inverness, the unofficial start/finish point of the NC500.

What’s the North Coast 500?

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile road trip which, starting and ending in Inverness, takes the traveller on a cultural journey around the coast of North Scotland. It’s promoted to showcase the rich and varied delights that the highlands have to offer. Which, it turns out, is quite a lot… The route, promoted actively from 2015, has rapidly grown in reputation and was named fifth in Now Travel Magazine’s “Top 5 Coastal Routes in the World”. The North Coast 500 website has a shed load of itineraries, accommodation, What to do’s and What to see’s as you circumnavigate the route.

The quandary is, as previously stated, whether to miss out on all the glorious sights and experiences to be had by omitting the overland trans-Scotland leg from Strathcarron on the West coast (where I would/should continue South) over to Inverness on the East coast. A detour, one way, of just 60 miles, about two hours on regular roads but probably far longer in “Highland Miles”, with these stunning vistas and with so much to take in..

Despite my original plans I decided to stop short of Inverness and camp. A quick look at the wikicamps app and I found myself at http://banfflinkscaravanpark.co.uk/

I woke pretty early, as I always seem to do when I’m camping, reluctantly climbed out of the sleeping bag and crawled out of the tent to a gorgeous Scottish sunrise, sweet! I got a coffee on the boil (that’s not a medical complaint) as I packed up. While the sky slowly faded from nectarine to blue I hit the road heading yet further north. Yet more easy Scottish miles with wall to wall blue as I cruised along. Great empty roads, plenty of fuel options. Happy days… The problem almost became that there’s too much to stop and explore.. For every photo taken I could have taken a thousand more (and probably better) There were a hundred unrepeatable things that happened which I didn’t/couldn’t capture. Things that make motorcycling, touring and travelling the gem that it is…

And to John O’Groats. As you’re rolling down into J O’G you may be peckish and tempted to pull in at the Seaview Hotel on the right at the edge of the minuscule village. Don’t bother. The food is average and you’d be better suited just keeping on rolling straight by and heading down into the little complex based around the sign below. The common misconception is that John O’Groats is the most northerly point of mainland Britain when in fact it’s actually Dunnet Head which, luckily is roughly 10 miles around the corner to the west. The weather continued to deteriorate so I pitched up for the night at Thurso Bay Caravan & Camping Park. Whilst checking in I found myself doing a spot of translating for a French family who’d rocked up on some heavily modified Hyabusa’s. These were kitted out with massive sidecars. As it turns out one of them was paraplegic, but wasn’t gonna let a little thing like that stop them from biking and touring, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It turned out to be not a bad little spot by the coast. There’s a Lidl just across the road (if you need to top up with life’s essentials such as wine and beer etc..) and it’s roughly a mile of pleasant strolling into Thurso it’s self, which is a nice little town with plenty of decent eating, drinking options. At this point I checked the weather for the following day. It gave weather warnings of heavy rain on the west coast (exactly where I was heading). Surely it couldn’t be that bad. Famous last words….

To say it rained is an understatement…

Way back in the 80’s Yamaha introduced the Genesis concept to the world. It linked engine and chassis development programs so the two work harmoniously and positively affect each other. This concept remains integral to Yamaha sports bike design to this day and can clearly be seen in the Fazer which benefits from the “engine as a stressed frame member” which was part of the Genesis concept

Genesis can also be found as the first book in the Old Testament. Genesis: Chapter 7 v 17 of the NKJV reads “Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth“.

And that’s exactly the same amount of rainfall that fell in the two days I rode the Fazer down the west coast of Scotland. Never, ever, never, ever, ever have I ridden in so much rain. It was torrential, and then some.

The worst part is that I experienced this significant precipitation while travelling, potentially, some of the best biking roads in the world. I’ve always been lucky like that. Grab your wellies and read on…


I woke to heavy rain hammering down on the tent. I laid a moment contemplating the joys of packing up in the rain, then, forced myself to make a move. I unzipped the sleeping bag to be greeted by the cold damp air flowing over my now goose bumped skin. With unusual, for me, and particularly good timing I’d stopped last night and managed to get the tent up before it started raining. At least I had some dry kit to get into. Unfortunately it wouldn’t stay dry for long.

I dressed and started to pack up. The rain slammed in and, with no other choice, I rolled up the tent and packed it away wet. I prayed to various Gods, Tom Cruise, Oprah, etc that I wouldn’t have to sleep in that soaked Orange bag tonight..

I saddled up and sodded off…

Up on the west coast, unlike sheep, conventional petrol station are less frequent. So watch out for sheep chillin’ in the road and these unmanned pumps that fill in the gaps. They have a card machine in a tiny booth near the pump and they work 24 hours. They’re not signposted and V easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. I never went short of juice or had to detour to find a pump. I was racking up around 150 miles between top ups and never got into “fuel anxiety”.

Back on the B roads (more like C roads, if there is such a thing). They were actually single track roads with frequent passing places. Not there was much traffic, especially with weather like this. Any sane person would be indoors…

Catching the ferry from Corran to Ardgour (£3.80 each way, pay on ferry and they prefer exact change. NOTE: They don't take plastic!) I gave them a soggy £20 note receiving a receipt/ticket, a pocket full of shrapnel and a grim look in response) on my way to Ardnamurchan Point which is mainland GB’s most westerly point. The ferry isn’t essential and there’s a land route option however I’d detoured to ride along Loch Ness and didn’t fancy riding back up in this weather thus doing more wet miles than I had to.

At this point I was up to 248 miles of riding, mostly B roads, for the day and decided I was wet enough. Time to find a bed for the night. The concept of camping didn’t thrill me as the tent was soaked from packing up in the AM. My riding gear was soaked and, with nowhere to dry it, I’d have to put it back on wet again the next morning, shudder!!!! As it turns out there was no accommodation, anywhere. The unprecedented rainfall had flooded campsites and driven everyone indoors so everywhere was fully occupied. Fantastic!

I initially called in at the tourist information cabin in Strontian (after which element Strontium is named after it was discovered on the Lead mines back in 1790 )

My timing was good/bad and the receptionist was just locking up. I think looking like a drown rat (me, not her) twanged at her conscience and she re-opened to try to find me a room. She rang everyone on her list while I made a huge puddle on the carpet. Be warned, this must be a privately owned information centre (if there is such a thing) and they charge a £4.00 booking fee and 10% of the accommodation price. Also they don’t have contracts with all local accommodation and aren’t allowed to call anyone not on their “list”.

List rang, there was no room in the inn for me. I returned to life under the ocean, sloshed on my wet helmet, wrestled on the cold and clammy wet gloves and climbed back on the ol’ iron horse. Before riding away into the mist I spotted a sign for the “Sunart Campsite” which is located about 200m behind the “tourist information”.

Reluctantly I rocked up at http://www.sunartcamping.co.uk/ fearing yet envisaging a night in the wet tent of doom. They had plenty of pitches, obviously, but it was waterlogged and I do mean water logged. When I stood on the grass the water squidged up and over the toes of my trainers.

I found the one of the owners working in the art gallery at the front which is part of the business and contributes to the income I guess. I enquired about a pitch which of course they had. While we talking the kind lady informed me “We have a cabin free tonight, if you’re interested?”. Had a vicar or ship’s Captain been available I believe I would have married her on the spot. But, there wasn’t and I’m sure her husband may have objected. “I am indeed interested” I replied. “It’s up at the back. The keys in the door. I can do it for twenty pounds, just for the one night”. By the time my angelic saviour had uttered “It’s” I was off and up the grass towards the warm and wooden haven. “It’s got a heated floor” she shouted after me “The switch is on the wall”

I tried taking the bike up to the cabin but it just slid everywhere at both ends. It sank on both centre and side stand despite having a side stand plate with a wider footprint for just this occasion. So I left it on the gravel..

I entered to find a quaint, stylish and well laid out cabin with a double bed. It had power but no water, so no toilet or sink etc. I’d have to use the camp site ablutions which is fair enough. The floor was indeed heated and was sufficient to keep me and the cabin toasty warm plus dry most of my kit, the important bits anyhow. There was a kettle and a microwave and no, I didn’t microwave any stuff dry, though I was tempted…

It’s official. I have lost all respect for Tom Cruise as a deity worthy of my pathetic prayers.

I feel my worship of false idols has come back to chew on me like a starving rat on a kebab. Despite the biblical volume of rain that fell yesterday, it was but a mere molecule in comparison to the vast oceans which began to deluge themselves from the heavens in attempt to make their way into my Calvin Klien’s and thus chill my scrotum.

I don’t know much about clouds but from what I can gather I was driving through fog which overlapped with the mid laying Nimbostratus which seemed to have a hand up the frock of some Cumulonimbus.

I was again woken by the sound of rain on the roof. I hesitantly whipped back the curtains to check the weather and found a deer partaking of some breakfast.

Bereft of my own breakfast and, at this point, not being of an agreeable disposition to wrestle a deer for some bracken I quickly dressed. My kit was not only dry, but toasty warm from a night on the heated floor, outstanding !!! I sploshed my way across the sodden grass, loaded up the bike and headed west.

Of course, the deluge continued….

And at this point, the puncture happened. Whoopity do…. Fortunately I’d had the foresight (from being stuck in a similar position previously) to fetch the Stop and Go Tyre Plugger Kit and the Cycle Pump so I was able to get rolling again quite quickly.

I kept rolling, the rain kept falling but finally I made it to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse which is pretty much mainland GB’s most westerly point.

Having enjoyed all the delights that Britain’s most westerly point during a torrential downpour has to offer, I turned around and headed further south and hopefully into some sunshine. Yeah right.. I am now of the opinion that the Sun had been replaced with a 40w bulb and had little to offer in either light, heat or any other positive qualities.

Next destination was Campbletown. Unfortunately it lies near the end of a long peninsula making it a time consuming journey. Particularly in the rain and especially just to get there just turn right round and head back. There are several ferries from the peninsual to the mainland and to Ireland. One time saving option would be to catch one of these afore mentioned ferries but that would mean missing a small secion of coast which I’d intended to ride. I consulted with my damp scrotum who was of the opinion that this, in this instance, was acceptable and fully justified. My timing, impeccable as ever, would have me rolling up to the ferry late Saturday evening with the next departure @ 07:00 Monday morning. One, I didn’t want to waste a day waiting for a ferry, Two I didn’t want to get up at the crack of Monday morning to get to the ferry for 07:00 and Three I was reluctant to fund all this unneccessary nothingness, money that could be well spent on wine. So I slammed all on and decided to stay where I was. Not literally, but at the nearest reasonable town/village, still being reluctant to camp in this rain and I needed to dry out desperately.

I eventually found myself at the Rosebank B&B in Kilmartin. It was the only accomodation still available. I was shown to the “Family Room” which the mildly deaf hostess shouted she could do for Fifty Poond. It had ensuite with a huge bath, much to my chilled scrotums delight. The room had a kettle, which is not unusual, however it had a fantastic selection of flavoured/fruited teas. So I sat in the bath supping a Camomile and honey.

With all my external body parts now dry and at the correct temperature I headed to the pub/bar at the Kilmartin Hotel about 200m down the road. I partook of the house rose, a salmon dish off the specials board and I thought I’d try another Raspberry Cranachan as I’d tried in Edinburgh. The Cranachan was much different and probably more “traditional” than the one I’d eaten at the McGregor. This one had way more toasted oatmeal (which is soaked in Whisky overnight) and was thus denser. Not unpleasant but dense and quite filling. I couldn’t finish it off, and I hate leaving food..

On return to the B&B I was greeted by the hostess who shouted “Do you want a full Scottish?”. Believing this to be some odd Scottish sexual practice involving a claymore and a headbut I obviously said yes. It transpires I was wrong and she was referring to the breakfast, slightly disappointed I again said yes…

I retired to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream of the delights of a full Scottish…

Tackling the “Full Scottish” !

I awoke following an unsettled night peppered with strange dreams and dark omens. I calmed my nerves with an Echinacea and Raspberry tea sweetened with two canderel. I stood at, and stared out of, the window contemplating the prospect of tackling the full Scottish, checking the weather and, judging by the gasps of shock and horror from the street below, thinking I should probably put some clothes on.

That done, I sauntered downstairs to the small dining room. I attempted to exchange some morning pleasantries with a young couple seated in the corner until I realised they were French and hadn’t understood any of my previous two minutes of chat. The awkward international silence was broken by the interjection of our aurally challenged host unexpectedly shouting from the doorway “How do you like your eggs?”

I sat at my designated table and knocked back some OJ. I entertained myself, as best as one can sat alone at a breakfast table in a B&B, while our fair host fried away. Unusually I chose tea as my morning beverage, possibly as I liked the look of the knitted tea cosy.

I must admit I felt a little over faced on it’s arrival. I was still full from last nights meal, especially the “Cranachan”. Fortunately this interpretation of Haggis didn’t do it for me so there’s a fair chunk of stomach real estate freed up for starters. One of my gastronomic rules is “Prioritise the Protein” so I quickly polished off the bacon. The black pudding was gone shortly after, so I moved onto the sausage. North of the border they tend to make their sausage thin and square, the rational being that it fits better in a sandwich and doesn’t roll about as much. Okay in theory, but in reality they tend to dry out too much. I gave up on the sausage and set about the eggs, toms and mushrooms.

Our hostess re-appeared to enquire how we were doing and (loudly) voiced some concerns about my lack of progress and manlyness. I tolerated the mild berating longh enough to finish the cuppa, then bid them farewell, which half of them didn’t undertsand.

I quickly find myself bloated and back on the road. Finally the weather had broke (actually it’s been broken for a while now, thanks Thomas Midgley Jr) and there was a promise of less rain, Hoo and rah!!!

The roads were clear with good progress available. Although the scenery had less to offer than further north, it was still easy on the eye.

Eventually I found myself rolling into Stranraer and I pitched up for the night at the Ryan Bay Caravan Park Not a bad little spot about two miles from Stranraer town. I pitched up and walked into town. I was going to take ride in but I fancied a spot of exercise after being sat on the bike all day, a drink and something to eat and maybe take some snaps.

As I walked into town I noted that there’s the Aird Donald caravan park much closer at around maybe 500 m from the town. I can’t comment whether it’s any quieter, better facilities etc.. just that it’s a lot closer. It can be a good or a bad thing..

Stranraer is a typical ferry/port town which has the facilities to cater to short stay tourists catching ferries to various parts of Scotland, Ireland.

I bagged a takeaway pizza and a coke (I never did get that drink) then set off back to the ‘ol tent. Of course it started raining, so I grabbed a taxi, the kind woman at the Petrol Station called them for me and it picked me up outside. £4.00 from Stranraer out to the caravan park..

And to bed…

Back to Blighty…

I was going to spew forth yet more biblical references preaching, on this occasion, about the Lord resting on Sunday, but decided I’d spouted enough religious ramblings for one trip. So, in essence, no rest for me on this particular Sunday thus, the road trip continues.

I woke up to clear-ish skies. At one point, when I was younger, (don’t you just hate it when people say that. As we perceive a temporally linear existence obviously we were younger in the past, our own past anyway, Excluding the possibility of travelling to the past at some point in the future and existing in the past and being older than we are now. Relatively speaking) I woke up in all sorts of crazy places and thought nothing of it. It seems the novelty wore off somewhere along the way. There’s nothing like your own bed. Except possibly Cara Delevingne’s bed. I don’t think the novelty of waking up there could ever wear off..

I hit Gretna Green on my way back to blighty. Obviously I passed through quicker than dysentery fearing I’d be spontaneously married. Ridiculous I know, but I have Gamophobia. It’s a real illness, it has Doctors and everything.

TBH Gretna was much larger and cosmopolitan than I expected. I’d imagined it would be some small back water crap hole selling cups and such making a living off it’s past reputation as the go to place for star crossed knocked up 12 year olds to get wed without needing parental consent, but actually it’s rather pleasant.

Once I was absolutely sure I was still a bachelor I rolled off the throttle, looked up and found myself at Carlisle. I skirted round before heading out west, with a little north thrown in, towards the Solway Coast. Finally pitching up at @ the Seven Acres Caravan Park near Gosforth, why not?

It’s not often I’m lost for words however, on this occasion, my vocabulary fails me.

After leaving the rolling beauty of the Lake District things rapidly , and I slowly, went south. Scenically the West coast of mainland England has little to offer and I found as much of interest down there as Ricky Martin found in his wife.

There are a few cultural hot spots, if you dig deep enough, but for the touring motorcyclist, it’s a bit of a dump. It’s worse than Pandora’s box. At least contained within that, was hope. No such good fortune on the ol’ west coast. Just to be clear, if I remember rightly, Pandora wasn’t given a box, it was an earthen jar. The mis-translation probably happened when some halfwit academic botched the Greek to Latin translation but hey, the essence of the story remains, kind of. Pandora was the first woman (on Earth any how). She was made as curious as she was beautiful and as beautiful as she was stupid by the Gods, who gave her the box (which was a jar), and was herself then given to Prometheus’ brother Epimethius as punishment of Prometheus (and mankind which he created, Zeus is not a fan) for the various shenanigans he got up to, which I won’t bore you with here, but he was/is a scamp of the highest order. At this point you’re probably wondering “Where’s he going with this? and, if you don’t already know “What was in the box?” well, it’s that kind of thinking that got us all in this mess in the first place. And, to digress further, if Pandora was the first woman, what were all the men up to before she came along? One can only speculate.

TBH after cruising (cruising is a bit of a stretch of the imagination, more like incessant stopping and starting of a seemingly endless commute) along Blackpool’s “Golden Mile” some derelict parts were reminiscent of news reports from Syria with disused and abandoned buildings, some reduced to piles of rubble lining the coast road, lovely.

Knowing what I know now I’d be tempted (tempted is not the word, it’s a no brainer. It’s like being offered a night of passion with either a drunk, oiled up Amber Heard or dry, dry sex with the corpse of Charlie Sheen) to get on the M6 southwards near Carnforth. Stay on it till one reaches the M56 West, then head flat out for the Welsh coast. But that does go against the spirit of circumnavigating the UK mainland coast. Your choice, and I wouldn’t have done it if someone had suggested it before either. This is actually what the M6 was designed and built for.

Only when I started rolling down into Wales did things get more interesting again. Most of the towns/villages are stunning and renewed my faith in the West Coast.

I found myself rolling into Llanberis where I found a bunk in a hostel for the night. It’s on the cusp of Snowdonia (there wasn’t any snow).

Using the booking.com app I bagged a bunk in the Y Gwynedd Inn & Bunkhouse for £22. It’s in a great location in Snowdonia National park giving great access to the big outdoors, should you want that. It’s located to one end of the small village within a minutes walk of most amenities i.e. Pub, Take aways, Restaurants with a cash machine and shop across the road. There’s limited parking for cars/vans but they did let me park a single motorcycle (though there’s room for more) around the back and it felt safe enough (not that there’s ever a 100% guarantee for vehicular safety). I had the top bunk, bonus..

Yet again I found myself sharing a room with a French couple. They were pleasant enough, claimed they spoke little English (I’m starting to get a little paranoid about that) but were considerate and quiet.

I was going to stroll into the village for a Ruby Murry but, lazily, I headed for the bar adjoined to the hostel. It serves the usual beverages plus a selection of local beers I believe, not being a beer drinker I can’t give expert advice on this (or anything really). The food in the bar is acceptable, average, reasonably priced pub fare. There are better options in the village if you should choose to take the short walk. I partook of a Mexican Chilli Burger off the standard bar menu. It was of fair pub standard, though it claims/pretends to be nothing else.

The other clientele, during my overnighter, were the previously mentioned French Couple in the same bunk room, and, in the bunk house generally, a selection of tradesmen i.e joiners, decorators, plasterers etc. All were amenable and friendly.

The bunk room I was allocated had 3 bunk beds. Some of the mattresses were less uncomfortable than others, so choose wisely. The beds were a bit rickety but didn’t cause any problems. They don’t provide sheets etc so a sleeping bag or your own bedding would be required. It also had an acceptable en suite.

There was a pin entry lock on the bedroom doors. I’m never sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

I slept well with no rowdy/road noise etc noted and I am a light sleeper. I inquired about breakfast which I was told would be £8.00, a little steep I thought as I only usually have toast and coffee so I declined. It also quoted £5.00 on booking.com

I’m being petty but the free wi-fi didn’t quite stay connected in the bunk room which can be a bit of an annoyance if you wanted to sit in bed planning a route, world domination, or watching porn/TV on the tablet/phone etc. Good connection downstairs though…

Thus I went to sleep..

The plan was to get from Caernarfon to “The Lizard”. I naively headed out of Llanberis. Made my way through Snowdownia. At this point the roads, and my progress, turned to treacle. To say the roads were congested was an understatement. I met a perfect storm of B road capacity, wall to wall blue summer skies and school holidays. People with no where to go and all day to get there. Turning up at Tenby. It took me 10 hours to do the 275 miles along the coast to get here. Not a happy camper, but at least it’s not raining. It’s only through challenge we find out who we really are. The first day’s rain in Scotland was a challenge, the second was a reality enema, with ice cold Scottish rainfall. In Wales the first day’s traffic was a challenge, the second day was like being beaten with a stocking full of wet shit. You get a lot of people in unnecessarily over sized cars on unnecessary journeys meeting truckers, who should really know better taking “the scenic route” and thus creating havoc for me, obviously the most important person in this tale of woe. You be surprised how many drivers take up a “Command Road Position” just so you can’t get by.

Finally I cam across the Exmoor National Park. Only one thing to say really which is “Just Go” it’s B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. Which is actually two things, but you know what I mean.

After another long day (hours not miles) in the saddle I rolled into Illfracombe. Whipped out the ol’ Booking.com app and found myself a bed for the night.

I grabbed a single room in the Carlton Hotel shed loads of parking, great location. All good really..

Whilst at the bar ordering a Rose and my food, some homemade Tommy Soup and a homemade Eton Mess, I chatted briefly with a young American woman who’d just discovered the joys of British Artisan Beer and was working her way through the selection they had, can’t fault her for that. In discussion it also became apparent that she’d never experienced the delights of an Eton Mess. What do they teach Americans in school? I say “she” simply as I cannot recall her name.

After this I retired to bed…

Following a decent night’s sleep I awoke to wall to wall blue.

That’s the sky I’m talking about, not the wallpaper. Maintaining a Greek mythological theme it seems Hypnos (the Greek God of sleep) was out, about and in good form last night as I had a really good kip. How he managed to covertly gain ingress to my room betwix dusk and dawn remains a mystery of the Gods or maybe it’s part of the dark arts of the hotelier.

I indulged of a light breakfast the same namely being a cafetiere of coffee (as you’d expect from a cafetiere), the usual OJ, a couple of rounds of toast spread lovingly corner to corner (by yours truly) with best butter and Lime Marmalade. Nothing confounds me more than trying to establish a precise distinguishing definition between what constitutes a jam and what a marmalade. I await any interesting comments or insights re the topic (jam and marmalade, not the chocolate bar which contains neither jam nor marmalade) you may have.

Yet again I saddled up and sodded off.

I have to admit that the black top running along the west coast from Woolacombe and rolling in a generally southwards direction twists and turns through some exceptionally beautiful Terra Firma and proved (for me at least) easy riding. After the congestion of the Welsh coast this was a pleasant relief.

Again, expect the unexpected. One of the slight annoyances of the SatNav is that as some tiny, single tracked, badly surfaced, gravel strewn B roads are legally 60 MPH limits, they are, to its route planning algorithm, theoretically faster than other (wider, smoother, straighter, safer) 40mph roads. Which of course is a pile of bull poop..

I eventually find myself at the Lighthouse at Lizard point which is, as I believe I’ve previously spouted, mainland GB’s most Southerly point (the jagged rocky outcrop at Lizard Point and not the lighthouse, just to be clear). It’s not Land’s End,I have no idea where that misinformation came from. Probably a similar source to John O’Groats being mainland GB’s most northerly point, which it’s not, it’s Dunnet Head.

Anyhow I ramble like a large rambling thing with a fetish for rambling. There’s a lighthouse, which you can ramble around if you also are partial to ramblage. There’s a National Trust car park which charges to park, but they don’t take plastic. The gentleman seemingly in charge of the car park kindly let me park for nothing, as I had no cash on me, I travel like the Queen, in return I vowed to cough up an equivalent donation the next time I ventured onto National Trust property.

It transpires that there’s a free, but small, car park around the corner nearer to Lizard Point which would be preferential, if you could get in. I’ve neglected practice, and regular use of, my psychic powers, for reasons I won’t bore you with at the moment, but needless to say, I wasn’t aware this other car park existed until I’d negotiated some free parking and made my way the several hundred yards down a series of steps towards the rocky gull and seal dwelling cliffs and lapping waters of the very tip of blighty.

This objective ticked off the list I headed along the south Coast. My cashless status created further tribulation as I travelled. As irksome as this tribulation was I quickly established that the current or recently contemporaneous lack of worthy Christians either vanishing or flying up into the heavens in rapture probably indicates this isn’t a tribulation of Biblical proportions and not indicative of the second coming of Jesus, though I readily accept I’m no expert in Christian eschatology. Thus I regrade the tribulation to a “drag” for want of a better synonym that I cannot be bothered to hunt for at this time.

Any how it transpires the ferries don’t take cards (it’s like the dark ages). And vary in cost from free to 35p and beyond.

After Plymouth I decided to spend the night in the YHA in Dartmoor.

At this point, unbeknown to me, I’d left the helmet cam running and had amassed something along the lines of 10012 (yes, ten thousand and twelve) mostly useless pics and flattened the camera battery in the process so I have no pics of the beautiful ride through Dartmoor National Park. “Fear ye not!” I cry as I took some pics with the dslr when I arrived and, with a fully charged helmet cam battery took some on the way out in the morning.

It turned out to be a great hostel with a great crowd. Again, not the clientele you’d expect. I think there is less Youth to the Hostel Association these days.
I got a bed in a male bunk for £15 including the £3 discount one gets for being a YHA member.
I was offered a three course hostel cooked meal for £8.50 which on this occasion was a decent sized bowl of Tommy Soup and a warm, crusty bread roll. Fish, Chips and peas followed up with treacle Sponge and Custard. They also have a small selection of wines/beer available (at extra cost). Bonus is that they have a card machine so I partook of the supper club. You can, and probably should, book in advance as they might not have enough to cater for demand if you just turn up and they usually serve at 7pm. Rock up much later and you will have missed out (pre-booking and prior negotiation aside).
A good nights sleep and, thankfully, no snoring. More on that later..

The silent yet continuing vibratory shenanigans of my phone jiggled me from slumber.

The nectarine glow bursting forth around the curtains edge and warmly spilling onto the white washed walls hinted it was sunrise, either that or the shed next door was on fire.

The plan for the day. Head back to and along the East coast, or as near as damn it, and find myself in at the YHA in Medway Kent. I decided some time ago that I was done with camping, done with it I say, and it’s now “YHA all the way” (now that should be on a t-shirt) for me.

After a short walk to the WC where I unburdened myself of the previous nights accumulated Nocturnal Nephritic functionings. I made my way down stairs to partake of the pre-booked breakfast (£5.18 and you get 10% off if you pre-book).

Our chirpy bespectacled Asian hostess (Asian Asian not Indian Asian, not that it matters, I’m just being descriptive rather than discriminatory. I guess it does matter really as some may be offended by being mis-described and possibly re-located, in your mind’s eye at least, to an incorrect continent. I wish I hadn’t started this side bar now and should probably move on to something else) whipped up the breakfast and on this occasion I’d chosen Bacon, Sausage, Scrambled (as opposed to sunny side up) egg, Beans, Tomatoes and a hash brown. A guzzle of good ol’ OJ and the cafetiere returns, not the same one from Illfracombe, but generally to acknowledge coffee as a beverage’s return to accompany the breakfast.

That done. I saddled up and again, sodded off into the sunrise.

Unbeknown to me the local sheep were (and probably still is) part of a well organised criminal gang. They stands around, generally trying to look all innocent and sheep like, but don’t be fooled, it’s all part of a well thought out and executed plan. After you pass, they whip out a mobile thus informing the rest of the gang down the road of your impending arrival.

At this point these countryside criminal masterminds have you in their clutches. My route was barred to front, side and quickly the rear. I found myself in a desperate and potentially life threatening situation, I was being CowJacked. I was slowly approached by, who was obviously the ringleader, a calf named Buttercup. My progress halted indefinitely, I slowly realised I was their captive. But what did they want? What could they want? Fearing being de-bagged and radished I clenched, at both ends, and returned her steely, big eyed gaze. Without breaking the stare, Buttercup lifted her tail and issued forth 10 pints of steaming urine onto the road next to me, the other cows nodded and smiled, amused by this show of utter disrespect. Fearing this was the beginning of some Orwellian “Animal Farm” revolution and at any monet they would start singing “four legs good, two legs bad” I felt I had to represent humanity to the best of my abilities and make some kind of statement/stand so, I unzipped my breechers and as I whipped out the ol’ man I shouted “So, it’s a pissing contest you want?” Buttercup broke her stare and slowly lowered her eyes. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard a cow laugh but, when it’s directed at your John Thomas it’s quite unnerving. Buttercups infectious laughter spread faster than CJD, now all the cow’s were laughing uncontrollably. “It’s a cold morning” I lied optimistically but unconvincingly and they were having none of it. I attempted to match Buttercups 10 pints of urine however found I had little to issue but a dribble to donate to the front of my breechers, which obviously generated further laughter. On this I withdrew and zipped up. We returned to the impasse however this was interrupted, nay broken, by the arrival of a commuting glazier. The cows, unwilling to perpetrate crime in front of a human witness, quickly returned to cowing leaving me sat in the road like a dick with the travelling glazier wondering what the hell I was up to. I took this opportunity to escape and put some distance between me and the bovine mafia yet somehow, I feel this isn’t over…

Not much happened after that. Fortunately the 3000 tons of sunken munitions didn’t semi-unexpectedly explode as I passed. But I bet it would be so cool to watch, from a little further back.

Tonight's stop. The YHA in Medway Kent.

Great place to stay. Well laid out with good facilities. Pub within staggering distance if you so choose and a large wooded park/activity area across the road.

I had a (top) bunk in a shared male dorm. I socialised with one of my bunk mates while changing out of my riding gear. It turns out he’s a LGV driver who lives in YH Mon – Fri (having to rise at 04:30 in the AM to start work!) and goes home for the weekends. You’d be surprised how many workers do that. In another YH, I spoke to another guy, who lives and has a house and family in West Yorkhire, yet commutes South on Sunday, works the week in the city and lives in a YH. Friday he commutes back north. Not for me but I guess it wortks for him.

The conversation met a natural demise and I headed down stairs to the well furnsihed lounge to, well, lounge, and make the most of the wi-fi, like you do.

I chatted briefly with the host of the day who had a benelux twang to his voice and was obviously European though I never actually established his country of origin as the conversation meandered a different route. He was a biker himslef so we had something in common to discuss. As the conversation wound down I enquired as to the menu of the day which turned out to be:

Carrot and Coriander soup
Meatballs, Pasta and Tomato sauce.
Sticky Toffee Pudding and custard
I booked that for the 7 O’Clock kick off and returned to Netflix. Dinner came and went and was fair home, or in this case hostel, cooked food.

I retired to find all my fellow bunk mates already aslumber. I clattered around and prepared for bed as quietly and successfully as I could in the dark without trying to disturb anyone. Climbed the creaky metal ladder and slipped beneath the quilt.

I quickly slipped into sleep though was quickly wrenched back to consciousness by the loud, rasping, laboured sound of air being forcefully drawn by a struggling diaphram through adenoid lined nasal passages. I had a moments respite then again, the long, loud drawn out snore. This develish cycle repeated it’s self over and over ad nauseum. At times the culprit in the bunk below would wake himself up and give us some time to slip into sleep but soon after the slumber shattering snore would return. There were various sighs, loud “ah hems” etc from my fellow victims, but all to no avail the snoring continued. I employed various efforst to disrupt the snoring, all to no avail. In the end I found it easier to leave the bunk room and sleep, under blanket, on the settee on the lounge downstairs.

Usually I carry earplugs though on this occasion, I’d forget them. Lesson well learnt.

After a night on the settee, blissfully free from aural assault, I ventured back into the waking world.

On rising, just in time for my booked and cooked breakfast, as I was still down stairs I didn’t have far to walk. While I dined I exchanged light conversation with a very pleasant German lady who was visiting the remaining family she had in England. Again, not the clientele you’d expect in a YH but, as previously noted, my expectations were incorrect. I clocked she was reading Roald Dahl’s classic “Danny, the champion of the world” and commented on the same. We fell into a discussion of English and German comparative children’s literature, which can be quite enjoyable over a hash brown. After Brekkie and the stimulating chat, I again packed up and saddled up.

The plan: Head for the East coast, turn left and keep going. I’d booked a YHA in Blaxhall so that was today’s final destination. On perusal of the map whilst planning this leg of the jaunt I’d decided that today would be a long (wrongly as it transpires) and awkward ride, with little to see (rightly as it transpires).

It proved a short but irksome ride. More a long commute than anything pleasurable. On reflection it was generally an accumulation of unnecessary tyre, engine and ass wear whilst burning petrol and contributing to global warming. On looking back at all the photos there are three that aren't boring.

The leg thankfully done, I rocked up the YHA in Blaxhall which was probably (definitely) the most interesting part of the day.

Blaxhall is a tiny village, more an accumulation of houses, about 15 miles NE of Ipswich. It’s deathly quiet (more on that later). The Hostel looks like it used to be a small school, closed at some point (though I decline to get drawn into a political debate about successive governments’ fiscal and educational strategies) but has obviously been “converted” as there are no desks, irritating teachers, blackboards and such. Not that I’ve been to school for ?? years.

This is the dining room and reception. The self catering kitchen, should you so choose, is through the door in the back wall on the left.

The hostess of the day was another chirpy and, on this occasion, funky young woman (funky in style rather than aroma, just to be clear). There are a multitude of hair styles of the day (none of which I know the name of) which look simple enough though obviously require some time to make them look simple and to look that it took no time, any how, she had one of these. Hair styles, having little hair myself, and their construction remain a mystery to me. Moving down she sported a pair of obviously, but not overly, manipulated eye brows which, admittedly, suited the look. I would say the smoothness of her skin implied some layers of concealer and/or foundation but I could be wrong. Despite being dressed down for work in a black sweatshirt and jeans she was, and hopefully still is, quite pretty with a well established and successful style. Wrapped in this pleasant and easy on the eye package, was a warm and welcoming manner. She spoke confidently with an east country twang that was easy on the ear as the rest was on the eye, this, and a hint of mischievous humour, implied a personality to match the style. All this I observed whilst “checking in”.

Annoyingly the wi-fi was down in the hostel (a problem at BT’s end I was told) and there was no phone signal, this due to the rural location and not BT. Thus I was drawn to the pub, the Ship Inn which I’d spied maybe three hundred yards down the road, to eat, drink and wi-fi.

Once checked in I went to change. I entered the bunk room and disturbed a fellow bunker who, despite the early hour, was curled up and napping. I made my apologies, more from politeness than anything else, as I slipped out of the riding gear and into my civvies. My fellow bunker, now awake, was keen to chat. I don’t recall the specifics but he’d decided a short break was called for and had decided on here, of all places. He’s never been in a Hostel before and wasn’t sure what to expect. “Are there hostels in other places?” he asked. “Erm…yes” I replied “there’re hostels all over“. He mulled this over then asked “In other countries too?“. “Yup” I answered “checkout hostelworld or booking.com apps“. He pulled out his phone before remembering, there was no signal. “You been to any?” he asked. Now at this point I set myself up for a fall. Based on his current choice of hostel I thought he would be into the whole outdoors thing so, I answered “Interlaken in Switzerland has a good hostel. And iy’s a pretty nice town its self. You can sit outside Hooters with the Jungfrau, Munch and Eiger peaks of the Alps as a back drop.” I was going to back this up with the legend of how the mountains came to be and how “Munch” actually translates to “Monk” and it sits eternally betwixt Jungfrau, which translates to “Young Maiden” protecting her from the “Eiger” or “Ogre” at which point he interrupted from beneath the green YHA quilt “You sound really old. I like bars and night clubs and going out”. I processed for a moment thinking of a suitable response. “Okay. There’s a pub down the road, see you there later then“. “Nah” he replied before rolling over and returning to the land of nod. What a party animal. Conversation over I went for a mooch around and despite my best efforts I slowly gravitated towards the pub.

I found myself partaking of the “Trio of Proctor’s sausages:- roast garlic mash, caramelised onion gravy, seasonal vegetables“, which was good pub food, accompanied by several glasses of Rose wine. Gastronomically these may not be the most suitable bed (or probably more accurately, table) fellows but hey, I like the taste. The pub was busy, an affable mix of locals and guests, they offer accommodation, with a good vibe and it was an easy place to spend some time, despite being alone. I ate, drank and be merried as this fair part of the ol’ blue marble turned it’s back on the sun and darkness crept across the land. Bidding my hosts thank you and farewell I set out into the night. It really was night too as there are no street lamps.

The advent and spread of street lighting as an inevitable consequence of urban creep has robbed me of the nights of true darkness that I remember from my childhood, I’d forgotten just how dark it can get. I was hoping the clouds would clear and I could sky watch free from light pollution but no such luck, it remained overcast. My lightless stumblings converted the 5 minute stroll into a ten minute walk. I found myself at the hostel, pin coded my way in and retired for the night, or so I thought….

I made my way into the darkened bunk room with all the stealth of a meteor impact. Now, there are those among us who like to sleep with the window open, for varying reasons. I personally like a temperature of around fourteen degrees to aid a good nights sleep and a bit of fresh air, but this was ridiculous. I needn’t have bothered using the pin coded door, I could have just climbed through one of the plethora of open windows, in fact, I needn’t have bothered coming indoors at all, maybe I should have just slept in the car park. Shortly after, I’d wished I had.

I slipped under the quilt, my own you’ll be pleased to hear, happily felt my eyes close themselves and slowly oozed into unconsciousness like honey dripping from a jar, bliss. The tranquility was shattered by the reverberations of Party Animals soft palate and oral tissue vibrating as his body struggled to drag in sufficient air to prevent the big sleep. The vibrations were big enough to register with seismic event monitoring stations throughout Australia triggering fears of a Tsunami and stations in the US fearing nuclear testing by North Korea.

I decided at this point to re-site to the TV lounge and another night on the settee

 
 
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