Just returned from a 6 days and 1909 miles trip London to Scotland (John O Groats), NC500 completed as well…just when I thought that Morocco was good I got to ride to the highlands. Anyway here is a mini report and some shots.
Things I learned:
4 seasons can happen in a day, have decent gear, if you get soaked, it’s all about keeping the body heat inside your riding gear. Cover yourself in waterproofs and you will equally cook and get soaked on your sweat.
Single lane tracks can be very dangerous, oncoming cars won’t judge your speed in time, blind corners, blind summits… I nearly got smashed by a truck and a car, wheels skidding and shit… proper brown pants moment.
Eyes on the road! The scenery is just so stunning that you will be likely forgetting about that next sharp corner, potential brown pant moment.
Road kill! the roads are littered with it, not much problem with mixed use tires, but sportier tires can easily slide and crash.
A fully loaded Vstrom will partially take off on a sharp bump/blind summit at 60mph, I don’t want to imagine lighter and faster bikes…
Country side YHA or SHA hostels (which are awesome) are not the same as backpackers hostels on Inverness… book ahead if you plan to stay on a big city and avoid hostels.
If you have limited time avoid the north east coast it’s dull (perfect for sports bikes though… very well maintained roads)
If you see a car with an Arnold Clark sticker, it’s a rental, keep your distance, they will make sudden stops, you can’t blame them, the scenery it’s just so great.
Applecross pass is absolutely worth it, specially when the way up is raining and foggy and on the other side it’ s sunny and glorious, I think I cried a bit…
Although the sea it’s all around the route, and there is cattle on every hill, gastronomy is very very disappointing. Fish and chips, haggies and standard pub crap is all you will find along the route (think small town). I did struggle to find good seafood restaurants or places where they could cook proper lamb or beef. If you want to eat proper, you will need a big city.
To attempt to camp end of September is VERY optimistic. Don’t pack camping gear unless you go during the summer, country side hostels and B&Bs will do (careful on weekends, they will be full).
I was lucky enough to camp on a day when the weather was perfect!
I think riding start of autumn is a unique experience, colours are amazing and there is less traffic. I can imagine summer being a bit crowded. Don’t be putt of by the weather.
Don’t forget your camera!!