I started out by heading west to Kemble, an unusual route to Scotland, to meet up with Howard. It was lashing down with rain when we arrived, and repeated this performance on and off as we rode north to Telford to collect our friend Bob. The three of us set off after coffee, scones and dog-teasing, leaving the rain behind and taking a very pleasant non-motorway route to Dave's place near Preston, where we would be spending the night. We turned in after a welcome meal of pizza, oven chips and cider, at least two of us exhausted by the first and longest leg of our journey.
We left on schedule, around ten on Sunday morning, and trekked up the motorway. When we left it, we were in another country.
We stopped for the obligatory photo:
then pulled in to the blacksmith's shop at Gretna Green:
Another hour or so brought us to the Dumfries McDonald's, where they serve Irn-Bru alongside the Coke and Fanta. Refreshed, we pushed on into the countryside, and the scenery improved dramatically. I saw a field of dear little black-and-white goats, and some cows who were black at each end and white in the middle and which Howard later told me were Belted Galloways.
Our next stop was Ayr, where forum member Colin had offered us a brew and a look at his stable of ten bikes and assorted cars. From there it was an easy hop to Largs and a night's rest. We crested a hill and saw the sea below us, stopping to take pictures and breathe it in before riding along the coast.
Largs was pretty and seasidey. We checked in to our B&B and hit the town, enjoying a curry with a sea view at the Star of India then strolling along the prom with ice cream cones. Ice cream of the day: my favourite raspberry ripple, with a cone dipped in red sparkly sherbet.
Tomorrow, there would be ferries.