The Highland Tour - Alternative version....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by D-18, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. D-18

    D-18 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I had joined the happy band organised by *** for his Highland Tour and we all met up for lunch at Port Appin and again in the evening for dinner at Kyle of Lochalsh.

    The weather looked promising for the Sunday and several of the group were keen to see a bit of Skye. I've toured this area a fair bit, so I decided to leave the *** group and head further north for a run up the coast from Kinlochewe to Ullapool. I ended up going as far north as Scourie and looped back down via Lairg to Inverness for the night. Next day I headed over to Nairn, then took road to Tomintoul and Braemar, going over the Lecht ski area then via Perth back home to Edinburgh.

    In the style of an *** 'Touring' thread', I've taken a few pictures of the roads to give you some indication of the country in what I believe is least populated area of Europe. As with most big landscapes, they don't always transfer well to the small screen (or not with my level of photographic ability they don't)

    Plockton is a small village just along the coast from Kyle, so I nipped along and took a couple of shots there before meeting *** and the rest of the crew on the Sunday morning.



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    Having said cheerio to the *** group, I went south from Kyle and then headed over towards Strathcarron.

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    From there, I wanted to follow a route I'd previously taken many years ago on my motorcycle. So, it was over to Kinlochewe and then north to Loch Maree. The roads are just excellent with fast sweeping bends and great sight lines.
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    At the risk of sounding like someone from the Scottish Tourist Board, I didn't stop to take photos of all the great scenery because you tend to find that just round the corner, there's an even better view.

    Up at the Gairloch now..
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    From Gairloch heading for Gruinard Bay
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    Gruinard 'Anthrax Island' - where germ warfare experiments were carried out in WW2.
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    If you ignore the nastiness of Gruinard Island, the Bay itself is very attractive. As usual, the inclines on these roads are much steeper than they appear in the photos.

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    There were some great views on the road to Ullapool, but they tended to coincide with some great driving too, so I don't have any of the 'standard' tourist shots from this area. I stopped for lunch at Ullapool and watched this fast boat taking visitors out for a high speed trip round the bay....

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    Leaving Ullapool, you start to notice the scenery is starting to get a lot more harsh - no trees and quite barren rocks.

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    Unapool was the next waypoint - again a very steep descent which is not too obvious in the photo.
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    I went as far north as Scourie then headed down the side of Loch More. This (A road) is single track road with passing places, but you can generally see four or five passing places ahead so can still maintain close to the national speed limit!

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    It was then on down past Loch Shin
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    Stopped at Laird to take a few more photos - lovely little village.
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    From Lairg, down to Bonar Bridge
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    I got in to Inverness about 18:30 after a really excellent day's driving. I did take some more pics today on the way from Inverness back down to Edinburgh and if folks aren't bored out of their minds by my ramblings, I'll try to post them tomorrow!
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
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  2. st4

    st4 Banned

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    Yep, thats next years route sorted....

    Brilliant thread Lawrence :D
     
  3. Dieselman

    Dieselman Banned

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    Looks like you had a fare with you. Were they OK with you keeping stopping for photo's...?
     
  4. Mike Walker

    Mike Walker Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Makes my journey from London to Manchester and back last Friday seem pretty ordinary really. Very impressive pictures as well - thanks for posting.
     
  5. trapperjohn

    trapperjohn MB Club Veteran

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    Fourth picture down. There appears to be someone squatting in the grass in the right foreground. Is this a fellow photographer?
     
  6. Troon

    Troon Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Or was that the reason for the stop? :D
     
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  7. Mike Walker

    Mike Walker Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I noticed that as well but felt it was better not to ask...........
     
  8. SilverSaloon

    SilverSaloon MB Club Veteran

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    I was up this way last year (Gairloch) - lovely area - will be back
     
  9. st4

    st4 Banned

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    The road down from Achnasheen to Kinlochewe is massively improved, remember when it used to be single track?
     
  10. 10EDD

    10EDD Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Fantastic post, thank you!! Mrs ED is from Arbroath which to be diplomatic, 'would not encourage you to return'. I'd be much more interested in planning a trip along those roads with that scenery, lovely!
     
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  11. OP
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    D-18

    D-18 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    The fare was indeed quite fair, but not the reason for the stop!

    TJ, for a man with your knowledge of Scottish traditions, I thought from her posture that you would have immediately recognised a person obviously engaged in serenading the Haggis. As you well know, this is best conducted in the open air to improve the flavour.
     
  12. dulayj

    dulayj Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    great pics-thanks:thumb:
     
  13. trapperjohn

    trapperjohn MB Club Veteran

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    Damn, I thought Haggis were out of season right now. Though the ones we had at The Waverley were certainly not from the deep frozen. There must be an evil trade in backdoor Haggis going on in the Kyle of Lockalsh.
    Burn's Night next year is on January 25th and I thought the season was closed to allow mating and the young to be born.
    The season usually opens on January 3rd to allow Hogmanay Celebrations to settle down before the beaters are allowed out onto the moors dressed in white as Ptarmigans to shoo the wee beasties up into the air. Once airbourne they are classed as fare game and are shot by the local Lairds ready to be hung to mature for the 25th. Any undersized Haggis and the old beyond reproductive age which are gathered up during the shooting and harvest are thrown into Loch Ness for Nessie Treats if I remember correctly.
     
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  14. OP
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    D-18

    D-18 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Thanks all for the kind comments.

    Ok, as promised (threatened?) earlier in the thread, here's the remaining bit of the tour from Inverness. Headed out in the morning rush hour from Inverness - it's a big enough city to actually have a rush hour, so don’t scoff! The road over to Nairn is pretty busy in both directions and is well surfaced with many long straights. Despite that, during the morning rush, overtaking is still a bit of a problem due to the sheer volume of traffic as it's the main road between Aberdeen and Inverness. Even the accelerative abilities of Sean’s much vaunted V8 CLS would struggle to create a gap for itself here.

    At Nairn I headed off down the A939. Like many of the roads on the tour, this had some memorable fast and fluid sections punctuated by other bumpy, tight and twisty elements where progress was quite sedate.

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    I arrived at Tomintoul just after rush hour, but luckily there were still some places to park :)

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    The Tomintoul - Cockbridge road is well known and also has a mix of some great sweepers and tight bends. The steep climb and equally steep descent over the Lecht Ski area is quite impressive and makes up for some of the slower progress made getting there.

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    This is just over the summit of the mountain, heading South past the ski lifts. This is a seriously quick bit of road and it would be easy get carried away....
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    On the descent now and into 'gentler' scenery again. There are parts where the road drops back to some single track with passing places, so you will have to slow down whether you want to or not!

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    I didn't bother with photos the remaining roads, as I've travelled them a fair bit. The main Braemar road (A93) towards Glenshee has some excellent sections, particularly the climb/descent to the ski centre, but these are tempered by some pretty narrow and poorly surfaced areas elsewhere. A more agile car like Simon’s C270 would probably be a better bet here. The ‘bad’ bits are worse than I remember and I think the recent severe winters and heavy traffic have taken their toll. Tour coaches use this road quite a lot and there are sections where there is only just enough room for the oncoming bus to pass. Their drivers also seem to take the view that ‘might is right’ and just press-on regardless.

    The road down towards Blairgowrie and Perth has some interesting sections and again, you can get into a real smooth ‘flow’ with the road. There is more traffic here than the sparsely populated areas in the far north, but compared with some of the more densely packed parts of England, they can still be classed as quiet roads. There are plenty more good roads in and around Perth, but at that point I decided I’d had enough fun for the day and moved onto the Motorway and headed back to Edinburgh.

    So, a couple of excellent driving days which reminded me what an attractive destination Scotland can be for a keen motorist. A long time fan of two-wheeled transport, ultimately I’m still biased towards motorcycle touring. So what about the E Class?

    With the caveat that probably ANY car would put a smile on your face on these roads, then apart from feeling just a touch too big and clumsy on a few of the very tight and bumpy roads, the W211 was just brilliant. The overtaking ability of the 280 was more than adequate with enough accelerative punch to pass pretty much anything else I encountered more or less at will. On the northern roads with cruise control set to 60mph, watching the 7g box simply doing its job on constantly changing gradients was pretty entertaining. The ‘box flicked up and down between 5th, 6th and 7th according to the conditions with only the movement of the rev counter to tell you what was going on. Nice one Mercedes.

    Thanks once again to *** for geeing us all up for this event and for the company of the good folks from south of the border who helped make the trip so enjoyable. Haste ye back as they say!
     
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  15. Cagey

    Cagey New Member

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    Nice pics!

    Clearly this layby is something of a Merc magnet, as I stopped here to grab a quick pic 3 weeks ago. In the ditch on the side of the road the pic is taken from there was a skeleton of something (sheep?) - OH was highly delighted when I told her...:rolleyes:
     

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  16. Aswall

    Aswall Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Great photos. I love that part of the world, went to school in Fort William and used to regularly go up to Plockton and Mallaig and also Tongue right at the top. Haven't been to the Highlands for a good few yrs now, will have to go back next year.
     
  17. OP
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    D-18

    D-18 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    So it would appear! The roads certainly have some attraction too. Wouldn't be surprised if the carcass was a sheep - I know from a farmer friend that they seem to find all sorts of ways of writing themselves off.
     

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