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Dangerous Curves

NC500 by NC700: Friday 02/09 - Saturday 03/09

The North Coast 500 is a route dreamed up by Scotland's tourist board and billed as "Scotland's answer to Route 66". Starting and ending at Inverness, it winds around the very top of Scotland; do it clockwise, as we did, and you keep the sea on your left as you go.

A member of the Honda NC700 forum, Clive, suggested a trip, and was kind enough to put together an itinerary and find some hotels. Howard and I joined up, and the eventual group was ten people on nine bikes.

Clive's suggested start point was near his home in Hemel Hempstead. Howard and I spent the previous night with family in St Albans, knocking a good hour and a half off our journey in the morning and sleeping with a wiggly Labrador on the bed too. We even got a packed lunch!

The morning was sunny, but bad weather was promised, and a few spots of rain fell as we made our first stop to collect Hubert and his wife Jo, riding two up on a white bike with lots of luggage. I decided to don waterproof trousers and gloves now rather than regret it later. This was the right choice.

It absolutely threw it down for the rest of our journey: up the M6 Toll, to Lymm services to pick up another fellow-traveller, along the UK's highest stretch of motorway at Shap Fell in Cumbria, and finally into Carlisle and our hotel. Another two members of our party had already arrived and were happy to see us, but for some reason declined my hugs. We dripped indoors, festooned every available surface with wet bike gear, and made ourselves reasonably presentable for dinner in the bar.

Miles: 337
Tags: ,

Comments

How are you able to travel relatively often? I have a strong desire to travel but I don't know if I'll ever be able to. :'(

If I ever get a motorcycle, I would love to travel on Route 66. :)

Edited at 2016-09-13 03:12 pm (UTC)
I don't think I travel that often! I do believe we get more holiday allowance in the UK than in the US; motorcycles are cheap to fuel, and there are budget hotel options.
Oh. It seems like most of your entries are about all your motorcycling adventures! ;)
Well, sure, but there are plenty of times when I'm not posting anything :)
Ah. Still, that's still a lot more traveling than I ever have. :)
Distances are greater for you to get to interesting places, I guess!
Most of the traveling I did was when I was a kid, though I've been to D.C. and California since I turned 20. XD
A road pedant writes: Shap Fell isn't the highest point on the UK motorway network. That's somewhere on the M62 in the Pennines. There's even a sign saying so.

The interesting bit of trivia I do >know about Shap is that just south of there the two carriageways of the M6 spend five miles separated from one another. For a while, there's even a B-road down the middle. There's also a curious special bit of road here, with a bridge and everything, which they built just so it's possible to contraflow half of that stretch. It looks a bit scary and manky; I wonder if they've ever used it?

Also, I was going to say that I wouldn't have expected hotels to be necessary for a jaunt of a mere 500 miles. But then I remembered you had to get there and back. (-8
I read about the split recently, and the false claim that it was because a farmer wouldn't sell up; very strange!
Um. I'm afraid the M6 persists in being less interesting than you believe, and the M62 more so.

The farm in the middle of a motorway is also on the M62. :-p
Doesn't surprise me. Most of the M6 is a barren featureless wasteland.
It absolutely threw it down for the rest of our journey

Given the weather that was to come, I suppose that counts as acclimatisation!

Oddly, I'd never heard of the North Coast 500 before! I'm familiar with the route from the start to Ledmore Junction a little way past Ullapool, but I don't recall seeing any mention of the title. Strange.

Edited at 2016-09-13 06:10 pm (UTC)
It's a very recent thing, and I've only heard of it because it's the kind of thing that appeals to motorcyclists, so word spreads! (Drivers too, of course; we kept seeing the same group of three sports cars, who were obviously doing the route at a similar pace to us. "There goes Top Gear again," Howard would say as they passed.)
I have travelled both high motorways may years back - esp the M62 working for Torch Computers.
I'm not sure I've done that one!
Another two members of our party had already arrived and were happy to see us, but for some reason declined my hugs.

It may simply have been precautionary. If you were approximately 99.4% water by that point, you might have collapsed into a Ghostbusters style puddle of ectoplasm. (Speaking of which, I do want to catch the new version when it comes to download - looked like great fun! I might try catching Kubo and the Two Strings, though, now that finances are poised to improve)
Oh, yes, I'd very much like to see Kubo - I enjoyed the trailer before Zootropolis.

I was never that into Ghostbusters, so I wasn't all that interested in the new version (I do rather question the value of reboots for that very reason; if you didn't like the original you won't care, and if you did you'll probably be annoyed. HELLO VAL KILMER'S THE SAINT YES I AM LOOKING AT YOU.)