This weekend so nearly didn’t happen. Way back in the dim distant past at the end of 2006 I discussed when and where to go with Ian Scott, and we eventually agreed on the final weekend of July. I wanted to do a Monday to Friday visit, but Ian thought it would be less likely to work than a long weekend. I wanted to go further north to explore the west coast, but again circumstances suggested otherwise. So the Trossachs area became the venue for this year’s Scottish event, using Callander as a base. My original departure time was set for around 10.30am, but due to Mike Butterfield’s shift arrangements we decided 1.00pm would suit him since he was on night shift on the Thursday night. And so CAM’s Scotland Trip 2007 was born.
Further difficulties arose during the six months or so from advertising the trip to setting off on the day; one room was re-allocated no less than 3 times for example. However the day dawned, and 7 bikes with 8 participants eventually departed around 1.15pm once a radio problem had been partially resolved. Due to the latish departure time it necessitated a fairly quick run – A1(M), A696, A68, A720, M9 and finally A84. We arrived about 6.15 having had a couple of rest stops, one of which we re-fuelled as well. The hotel 6 of us were staying in had provided us with a £40 per person per night b & b plus evening meal deal. Popping into the restaurant after a few thirst quenching beers or wines we were confronted by a menu with a fair bit of choice. Only the steak required a price supplement, the rest were all included in the price. The meals proved to be excellent, all ably served up via a very competent Polish waitress, Lucy. We had starters, mains and desserts all in the price. Added to a full breakfast the following morning we felt we had been well looked after at the Dalgair House Hotel.
I had planned routes to take us out on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday run took us to Oban for lunch via Inverary and Lochgilphead and a lot of bendy roads plus one very heavy shower just after Inverary. Having fed at the McTavish’s Kitchen on the harbour front, I gave everyone the option of the direct run back to Callander, or the longer one via Glencoe. Everyone opted to go via Glencoe, so off we set around 3pm, fuelling up first. More rain affected visibility and speed as we climbed up the glen, but it cleared as we cruised across Rannoch Moor. I got a bit of a surprise on the way down off the moor when I recognised a rider coming towards us on her bike. I would recognise the riding position, bike and helmet of an ex girl friend anywhere. It really is a small world. We managed to get to the Green Wellie at Tyndrum shortly before its 5.30pm closing. Markus was in need of an ice-cream, and several of us didn’t want him to be on his own of course. Ian bought one for girl friend Michele, but it was melting before he found her only after ringing her to find her lying down on a wall.
Callander was busy on the Saturday night following the first of a two day Highland Games weekend, and we couldn’t get in to the restaurant until 8.30 for our evening meal. Once again it was a good meal for all of us. The Sunday run took us east for a lunch at the Spital of Glenshee. We routed north initially to Killin, then along Lochs Tay and Tummel before arriving at Pitlochry. Killin is the home of a splendid waterfall system which was well-photographed, and Loch Tummel has a Queen’s Point viewing platform which we indulged in before a coffee and loo stop. Having negotiated Pitlochry’s busy main street, we climbed east across the watershed to Glenshee, and turned left. Mike decided it was going to rain – it did – and couldn’t trust his waterproof suit so stopped to put his oversuit on. It rained for about 5 minutes, which was almost as long as it took him to put his suit on. We stopped at the hotel/restaurant at Spital of Glenshee for a bowl-full of home made Tomato soup and slices of lovely home-made bread. We decided to sit outside but guess what? Yes you’ve got it – it rained again. Just before departure we had a laugh when I found my keys were missing. Michele had nicked them in retaliation for me having hid hers and Ian’s gloves earlier on in Oban. I’ll have to lose that mischievous streak sometime I suppose. Our return trip to Callander took us along Loch Earn with a quick coffee/dessert stop at Comrie garden centre. Fuel was an urgent need for those on bikes with smaller tanks, but Mike’s sat nav came to the rescue. We managed to get into the restaurant at 8pm on the Sunday night, but outside there was a disturbance across the road with an altercation between two Callander residents which had apparently involved a stabbing.
The run home in the morning begun around 10.15am, exploring the Campsie Fells. We descended from the Fells into Lennoxtown before reaching the Stirling area and the motorway system to travel to the Edinburgh by pass. I had routed us along the A7 for a change via Galashiels, and Selkirk. We lunched at Kennedy’s at Selkirk, and then proceeded along A7 to Hawick. I didn’t remember the map well enough to find the road to Bonchester Bridge followed by a climb up to Carter Bar to regain the A68 for the run south. As a result we travelled south along the B6399 towards Newcastleton, then Keilder. It might have taken a lot longer but we were treated to some lovely scenery and twisty roads which were more enjoyable than the A68. However it added a fair bit of time to our trip. Our last stop was at Chollerford for quick coffees/ice-creams/pees and a rest before the final 60 miles or so south along the A68. We returned to Teesside via the A689 from the Thinford roundabout for around 6.15pm.
The general consensus was we had all enjoyed a super weekend with good accommodation, food, views and roads.