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Thread: "Left to Live" - A 23-Day Motorcycle Adventure Around UK and Ireland...

  1. #61
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RIDERR1150GSADV View Post
    Absolutely wonderful report!!! Thanks for posting this
    You're welcome. Glad you are enjoying it.
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  2. #62
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    Day 14 - Thu, 06 Sep:


    Our 24-hours in Isle of Man comes to an end, but not before we explore the south of the island. In the early afternoon, we boarded the fast ferry to Liverpool, UK, then rode to Preston, where we found lodging at patron services of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Preston Temple.


    Clear and sunny skies this morning!


    Isle of Man is a beautiful island that surprised me with the amount of open land.


    What about motor bikes? Let's check it out! What a surprise!


    We enjoyed a bit of what the English refer to as “Green-laning”. Not to technical but at least a change to practice our off-road skills which have been lacking since we left Iceland last year.


    Never expected to have a chance to ride off-road in the Isle of Man!


    I would have been very content just spending the whole afternoon here, but we only had a limited amount of time to see more of the southern part of the island – gotta keep on moving on!




    We saw many of these red call boxes, but none seemed to be the Tardis (Dr. Who). Perhaps we couldn’t find the switch?? Actually, after further research we were looking for the wrong box! The Tardis is a blue police box - not a red call box. Silly us!


    Riding under sunny skies and beautiful roads without any traffic.


    The Thousla Cross in memory of seaman who lost their lives near here in 1858.


    Chantil enjoying the view of Isle of Calf, a small islands on the south of Isle of Man.




    We rolled into the quite seaside town of Port Erin to find some breakfast.


    Nautical decorated homes along the beach in Port Erin.


    A quaint, country-side, postal box.


    For breakfast, we enjoyed an English Breakfast (minus the beans; I don’t understand beans for breakfast) at the Cosy Nook Cafe in Port Erin.


    Enjoying the beach air and sun.


    A Morgan Plus 4 painted Corsa Red was parked in Port Erin.


    Top down in a classic roadster would be great way to travel – perhaps when we’re older.


    I was surprised to see so many flowers this late in the summer. Must just be the beauty of the Isle of Man in September!


    Yellows and purples!


    Summer flowers and the Irish Sea.
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  3. #63
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Day 14 - Thu, 06 Sep (continued…)


    A great day of riding and exploring.


    Folks here use stone walls instead of fences to protects their livestock and mark their property lines.


    A memorial remembers a B-17 bomber that crashed at this location in the Isle of Man.


    Remembering those who died. The Eighth Air Force accounted for half of the U.S. Army Air Force's casualties in World War II with more than 26,000 dead. The cost of WWII in human lives and devastation is very apparent throughout Europe – even 73 years later.


    Near the village of Cregneash is an impressive collection of fissures cut deep into the cliffs - appropriately named the Chasms.




    The Chasms was a nice last stop for us before we had to make our way to Douglas to catch the ferry.


    Sheep enjoying the warm afternoon sun.

    We made our way back to Douglas and then prepared to board the ferry.


    Time to board the HSC Manannan again...


    …that will carry us and our mules across the Irish Sea to Liverpool, England.


    I asked if I could get a tour of the bridge and they invited me up to speak with the captain, first mate, and chief engineer. The first mate took me below to watch the jet pumps up close. Man, they are loud and the amount of water shooting out behind the vessel is impressive!


    Making good time at 25 knots to Liverpool.


    The dock is located right near the old part of town with their historic buildings. From left to right: Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building Port of Liverpool Building. These three building are known as the Three Graves.


    Leaving another boat, bound for another country.


    Another icon to grace Liverpool was The Beatles who started in Liverpool during the 1960s.


    The sculpture, Andy Edwards, did a great job of creating life and emotion in the sculpture. Here is a close up of John Lennon.


    Chilling with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.


    Edward VII, by Sir William Goscombe John, stand proudly in front of the Royal Liver Building.


    We made our way to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Preston Temple just before dark...


    ...and the wonderful folks at patron services were able to find us accommodations even after their closing hours!


    Tomorrow morning we’ll spend some time inside the temple. If you would like to know more about LDS Temples click on this link: https://www.lds.org/temples
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  4. #64
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    Day 15 - Fri, 07 Sep:


    Almost 300 km of riding today: Preston, Singing Ringing Tree, Kendal, Lake District National Park, Castlerigg Stone Circle, and Hoddom Castle Caravan Park in Scotland.

    We woke up early in order to have enough time to clean up our room and dress for the Temple’s 8 AM session. Afterwards, we walked around the temple grounds and then readied the mules for another day of riding.

    The Preston Temple is located on a raised circular plot of land with reflecting pools and flower gardens surrounding its entrance.


    Unique stained-glass windows and flowered hedges.


    Each of the side walls has panels showing the phases of the moon and sun.


    The stained glass windows on the chapel side of the building.


    Photo capture from drone footage shot by John Melling.

    Chantil and I enjoy roadside oddities, so the next destination was a choice between either the Singing Ringing Tree or the Blackpool High Tide Organ. Since the tide was going to be low and there was a good chance of wind, the choice was obvious – Singing Ringing Tree.


    Although it was raining all morning, it was starting to look like it was improving.


    The trial down to the Singing Ringing Tree is just a short hike from the parking area and is well marked. Burnley, England can be seen below the horizon.


    The Singing Ringing Tree is a wind powered sound sculpture resembling a tree set in the landscape of the Pennine hill range.


    Designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu of Tonkin Liu, the Singing Ringing Tree is a 3-metre tall construction.


    The sculpture is comprising pipes of galvanized steel which harness the energy of the wind to produce a slightly discordant and penetrating choral sound covering a range of several octaves.




    Quite beautiful in a natural setting such as this hillside in Pennine.


    Few clouds and relatively warm for early September in Northern England.


    We stopped at an Aldi groceries store where we enjoyed a lunch of cheese and green grapes while sitting in parking lot next to our mules. Some folks looked at us a bit oddly, perhaps our German plated mules kept them from asking questions?

    Kendal wasn’t on the agenda, but after a few hours of riding we pulled over at a rest stop and saw a sign that read “Kendal is much more than mint cakes!” Having never heard of a mint cake, we wondered what that was – so off to Kendal to discover mint cakes.

    Kendal was alive with cars, people, and tourist shops. We parked the mules and walked around looking for a restaurant that served their famous mint cake.


    The town of Kendal seems to have a lot of support for its military, specifically the Royal Air Force.


    A monument to those who left Kendal to fight in the major wars of the 20th century. Each corner is draped with the Royal Air Force Ensign.




    Found it! Although, it wasn’t a restaurant that served mint cakes – it was a cigar shop!? Apparently, Kendal is known for its famous Romney’s Mint Cake factory – not a mint cake bakery or restaurant, like we expected.


    It’s basically a harder and much larger York Peppermint Pattie. Or should I say that a Peppermint Pattie is a smaller, softer Romney’s Mint Cake. Romney has been making mint cakes since 1918 - 22 years before a York Peppermint Pattie.


    Kendal had a relaxing vibe even though it was a bit of a tourist town.


    A narrow alleyway between streets of Kendal.


    Along the fence were these poems from students of the local school. I especially liked this one titled ‘click’ by Anne Banks. She sounds like a photographer.


    This mural even had a Kendal Mint Cake delivery truck on it!
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  5. #65
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    Day 15 - Fri, 07 Sep (continued…)

    Time to continue heading north…


    Passing through Ambleside within the Lake District National Park.


    The surrounding hills and green forest and fields were beautiful, but it was very cloudy with drizzle and light rain for most of our time there.


    Enjoying the views…


    …and the narrow roads…


    …that got even narrower,…


    until… Fortunately, there was a passing area, but you can see what four cars and two motorcycles look like on these narrow roadways. I can imagine traffic in the summer must be somewhat of a mess here.




    Next stop: Castlerigg Stone Circle.


    I was surprised how many of these stone circles exists in the UK. Stonehenge, of course, is the most famous...


    ...but I prefer the quietness and natural beauty of these lesser known ones.


    Just a relaxing late afternoon with sheep grazing among the ancient rocks.


    Just us, some grazing sheep, and the distant buzzing of the drone.

    We made it to Scotland and Hoddom Castle Caravan Park well after dark, but the camp host generously set us up in one of their camping pods, even though we were only staying for one evening.

    Well, we made it! We’re officially in our last country of this trip – Scotland! I’ve heard some amazing things about the natural beauty of Scotland, but I’ve also heard that it rains A LOT! We’ll see…
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  6. #66
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    Day 16 - Sat, 08 Sep:


    350 km of riding today as we made our way deeper into the north of Scotland.


    We had a great night’s sleep in the “hobbit pod” at the Hoddom Castle Caravan Park. Our pod looks much cooler with motorcycles parked next to it!


    A tiny home for sure. A small deck and porch.


    We stayed in Pod 2...


    ...with keys for the pod bay door (ha-ha), a shared kitchen, and shared bathrooms.


    Inside the pod are sleeping accommodations for four folks.


    Hoddom Castle provides a unique backdrop to this camping experience.


    It looks like much of the castle is in need of restoring. Perhaps visitors will be allowed inside in the future.


    A nice bridge with a pathway underneath takes you to the golf course. Of course, there’s golf - it’s Scotland!


    A few days earlier we bought some packages of Lego mini figures. We felt the packages and knew they contained the Lego brick costumes but had no idea that we got both the guy and girl until we opened them this morning! Woot!

    This is one of the few places we would have liked to stay for another night, unfortunately we’ve got a schedule to keep. Moving on to Glasgow, Scotland!


    Fellow Glasgow Residents is a mural at the Ingram Street Car Park created by Australia artist Sam Bates a.k.a. Smug.


    The four seasons are represented in this mural. Close-up of the detail involved in painting the bee and dandelions.


    Imagine this parking lot without Sam Bates’ mural. It would be just a boring dirt parking lot.


    Incredible detail and photorealistic quality.


    I don’t know what King Pong Ping Pong is, but I want to find out!


    A vinyl sticker that caught my camera eye.


    Inside the TRONGATE 103 is an exhibit...


    ...called the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. Unfortunately, it was a late afternoon showing and this would have put us too far behind schedule. The darned schedule!


    An interesting barber shop called Safe Hands with its famous skull and scissor mural.


    Who is this man wearing a cone head?!


    The World’s Most Economical Taxi by artist Rogue-One.


    Some random graffiti by an unknown artist.


    Honey... I Shrunk the Kids is another great mural by artist Smug (Sam Bates).


    Rogue-One and Art Pistol created this mural titled Wind Power.


    Wind Power is in two parts. This close-up of this section is "downwind" the previous mural.


    Glasgow’s Gordon Lane is home to the...


    Glasgow Panda by artist Klingatron.


    Buchanan Street had a lot of shopping and sculptures such as this one.
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  7. #67
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Day 16 - Sat, 08 Sep (continued…)


    Princess Square Shopping Centre is hard to miss with its famous Art Nouveau, Peacock made from metalwork, built by Shepley Engineering in 1990,…


    … and its glowing colors beckoning you to come inside for a closer look.


    Princess Square Shopping Centre from the fourth floor.


    Beautiful hard wood accents throughout.


    All Saints clothing store with its unique design of glass walls and thousands of old sewing machines.


    The equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington was created by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844. Ok, why does it have a traffic cone on its head?


    It is believed that climbing the statue to place a cone on the head of the duke started in the 1980s and it’s been a part of the city ever since. It’s iconic and I don’t think the city would be the same without it.


    How can you turn down a sign like this for ice-cream? Even if it is a bit chilly.

    Definitely one of my favorite cities of this trip.

    After leaving Glasgow we were making good time until a police officer, at the side of the highway, motioned for us to pull over. Both Chantil and I pulled over along with a vintage VW travel van. It turns out the travel van was speeding - not us! The police officer motioned for us to continue along our merry way. Not sure how a gutless VW van was speeding but we’re glad it wasn’t us.


    Balloch Castle and Park offered a short walk and some rest from riding the mules.


    Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park was nice but very foggy with misty rain.


    Tarbet Isle lies on Loch Lomond. Locals refer to it as 'Honeymoon Island'. If newlyweds spend a week on the island without killing each other, it was deemed a sign that the marriage would be successful!


    A map of Scotland at one of the rest areas.


    North of Trossachs National Park you climb into the West Scottish Highlands.


    Glencoe Mountain Resort was our first experience trying haggis. This double burger has a beef patty and a haggis patty. It wasn’t bad actually! I guess enough flavoring will make any sheep parts taste good.


    I thought this flag was kinda cool looking until I researched it and realized it’s from Harry Potter? Still cool looking - just not as cool.


    We’re both glad the weather lifted enough to enjoy…


    … this beautiful valley pass. I’ve heard the views get even better as one continues north.


    As we continued North along the A828, the evergreen trees started to return.


    The Ballachulish Bridge crosses the narrows between Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe.


    The second oldest operational cruise ship in the world, MV Astoria, cruises through the Loch Linnhe near Fort William.


    We covered a lot of ground today. I was hoping to make it to Isle of Skye, but we would soon run out of daylight.


    We found a secluded dirt lot and pitched our tent in the woods next to a beautiful view of Loch Garry.


    *Image from WillCopestakeMedia.com

    Side note: In Glencoe, we first noticed hikers with netting over their heads making them look like post-apocalyptic scarecrows. “Are the bugs here really that bad?”, we wondered. The answer – A RESOUNDING YES! THEY ARE THAT BAD!! Flying insects called Highland Midges are ruthless here! So far, they haven’t been more than just super obnoxious. I hope they don’t bite because I hear they are worse than mosquitoes.


    Goodnight Scotland. I’ll dream of Scottish Highlands without midges. Until tomorrow…
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  8. #68
    Registered User RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Sweet!!!
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  9. #69
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Day 17 - Sun, 09 Sep:


    300km of riding around the Isle of Skye today. Sites included Eilean Donan, Kilt Rock at Mealt Falls Viewpoint, and Duntulm Castle.


    Already shaping up to be a wet morning and day. Currently, it’s only a drizzle.


    We arrived at Eilean Donan before it was opened so unless we storm the castle, this is a close as were getting today.


    Eilean Donan, which means simply "Island of Donnán" was founded in the thirteenth century and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae.


    Fortunately, the sun started to pear thorough the clouds just as we were about to move on. An attractive castle especially with the arched bridge that was added in early 1900s to give easier access to the island


    German motorcycles and Scottish castles!


    On the road to Isle of Skye I spotted this sculpture in a yard of a small house. I think it caught my eye because it’s something my dad would have liked. I can hear him laughing “It’s cool, huh?” Mum tattoo and all.


    Some other hearty motorcyclists on a Sunday morning ride. I’m still trying to figure out the wave thing with the left-sided roads. Many bikers just seem to kick out their right foot instead of using their hands.


    Before long we were crossing the only bridge access to Isle of Skye via the aptly named Skye bridge. It was completed in 1995 allowing much easier access across the Loch Alsh.


    Herds of cows and fleets of cars on a narrow road make for some interesting confrontations.


    The Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint offered some great views of the Inner Seas.


    The rocks and sea from the steep cliffs at Mealt Falls Viewpoint.


    Mealt Falls (foreground) and Kilt Rock (background).


    Looking south towards the Brother’s Point.


    An old truck makes for a great mobile business selling afternoon tea and sandwiches.


    Duntulm Castle Ruins, located on beautiful hilly cliff, was not accessible to the public.


    The sheep roam pretty much anywhere here on the island, leaving their little round balls of poop wherever they go. It’s normally not an issue, unless it’s raining. It’s been raining almost all day.


    It would have been a great place to fly the drone, but it was raining and blowing about 30 knots.


    However, the rain seemed to let up just as we arrived to capture some beautiful views.


    We didn’t go inside the Dunvegan Castle & Gardens but we did enjoy a nice ride on the roads to the north of the castle.


    The Ferry Inn looks like a nice place to stay.


    There were a few pockets of blue skies throughout the day.


    Typical white cottage style homes and hills of green of the Isle of Skye.


    By 3 PM, the rains returned and was heavy enough that it starting to seep through my gloves, and pants. My pants have a “waterproof” liner that just wasn’t making the grade. If anyone has rain gear that manages to keep you dry for an entire day of riding please let me know - I'll buy it!

    An hour later, I just wanted to stop and dry out anywhere, so we stopped for the evening at a hostel called Saucy Mary’s. The hostel’s pizza restaurant was not very good. Wait, what?! Is there such a thing as “not very good” pizza? Yes, we found it at Saucy Mary's Pub. Pizza – 1.5 stars. On a positive note, the hostel had a private bunk room for us over the Scottish holiday and a friendly reception guy. He even dried a load of wet riding gear for us! Service – 5 stars.


    The hostel had a few clocks showing different times. I got a laugh out of Trump time.

    It’s funny how folks, nearly half a world away, care about an American president. A week ago, all the news was about Trump coming to Ireland. I don’t understand this fascination with politicians, movie stars, and sports figures.

    The forecast is calling for solid rain the next four days, so we are rethinking our plans of riding the Scottish North Coast 500. The weather looks better to the east. We’ll see...
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  10. #70
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Day 18 - Mon, 10 Sep:


    200 km of riding today as we make our way east to the promise of better weather. Highlights include Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, and the city of Elgin.

    We abandoned our plans to see the Northern Highlands of Scotland because of the poor weather forecast over the next five days. This was a decision we did not make lightly; I knew we would be missing out on some of the best scenery of our entire three-week trip.
    Although I was a bit bummed, there was also a concession plan to see a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since my childhood back in the USA. A mysterious place called Loch Ness and the dinosaur creature that lived within its depths – The elusive Loch Ness Monster!
    The morning was already calling for rain. I hate loading my mule in the rain - Even more than actually riding in the rain. Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for us to pack the mules. Unfortunately, as soon as we clicked our shift lever into first gear, the rain started once again and didn’t let up until late in the morning.


    Leaving Isle of Skye to head east where better weather is promised by the weather guessers.


    Curse you gray clouds with your cold and joy crushing rain!

    Side rant: Our gear keeps us pretty dry until it rains hard or rains for more than a few hours. My “waterproof” boots start taking on water from all the spray that is kicked up the pavement and the front tire. Once the waterproof liner of my pants is saturated, it too starts leaking. Fortunately, we have heated jackets, gloves, and handlebar grips. Without the heated gear we would be downright miserable.

    There was one particular section of the narrow, curved road where we had to follow a large RV. I imagined they were inside wearing flannel pajamas, listening to relaxing jazz, the passenger feeding cheese slices and grapes to the driver, all while they drove through rain that was isolated from them in their temperature controlled, cocooned, glass and steel, wheeled RV. Yes, I was admittedly jealous of the RVers. Riding for extended periods in moderate to heavy rain is no joy.
    Moving on… First stop of the day was to Urquhart Castle located on the shores of Loch Ness. What, another castle? It turns out Scotland has over 115 castles! Yes, that’s A LOT of castles! No, we didn’t see them all.


    Raining all morning was a bit of a bummer but not bad enough that our spirits couldn’t be lifted with a fresh baked raspberry and white chocolate muffin.


    The visitors center at Urquhart Castle had this life-size statue of a deer.


    The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though it was built on the site of an early medieval fortification.


    Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle.


    Lighting is used to show where the large fire pit was used for the kitchen area of the castle.


    The Loch Ness. A bit bummed that we didn’t see even one monster!


    The Scottish flag waves proudly overhead the castle ruins.


    The castle was abandoned by the middle of the 17th century.




    A ferry takes passengers to other piers located around the Lock Ness. Still no Nessie sightings!


    If someone has what you want, and they think they can get it, then conflict will follow. The MacDonalds Clan raided the castle numerous times over a two-hundred-year period. Apparently, they also had a very accurate accountant who kept great records like there.






    Moss covered tree near the banks of the Loch Ness.


    The visitors center has a small museum showing a typical wooden shield covered in leather and studs from the Wars of Scottish Independence.


    What the castle may have looked like during it most fortified and productive times.

    Just a short ride from Urquhart Castle to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition…


    Along the road, Chantil heard a sudden pop sound and then something metallic falling and skipping along the pavement. We pulled over and I noticed she was missing the chain tension adjustment plate that fits on the back of the swingarm. The adjusting bolt ended up snapping in half. Unfortunately, the aluminum support plate, an $18 part, was missing.

    We rode back and ended up finding the plate on the side of the road. Lucky us! Replacing a standard sized bolt will be much easier than finding a replacement for the BMW manufactured plate. Also, the broken part is only important for adjusting the chain; something we adjusted just a few days ago. If we’re lucky, we won’t have to mess with the adjustment for the rest of the trip.

    Onward to Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition…
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  11. #71
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Day 18 - Mon, 10 Sep (continued…)


    Our BMW G650GS mules parked next to BMW R1200GS clydesdales. Yikes they look heavy! I’ve never ridden on such a behemoth, but I hear they are like hippos in the water – heavy on the eyes but actually quite graceful once on the move.


    The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition is a great looking building...


    ...with stone headed statues!


    The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition takes you on a journey of discovery and ultimately lets you determine, for yourself, if the Loch Ness Monsters exists.


    A Scottish design of the Loch Ness Monster.


    This famous picture, known as the “Surgeon’s Photograph” inspired thousands of people to flock to Loch Ness. It was later determined to be a hoax.


    A few, high profile, studies were done in the 1970s and 80s but nothing conclusive was found.


    Many of the sightings, although real to the observes, were probably just water and wind effecting sticks, logs, animals or birds.


    Does the Loch Ness Monster exist?...


    ...It clearly does!! Here is a plastic one…


    …and an isle of stuffed ones! Yea, I’d say Nessie lives; even if he’s manufactured in China.

    We continued along our planned route and made good time along the A96.


    This was found on the side of a petrol (gas) station! Seriously, is gas theft that much of a problem that you need four cameras?


    We made it to Elgin! This is where my mother-in-law served part of her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


    Riding through the streets of Elgin. Chantil is right behind me in the mirror!


    German bikes next to a British jet. We’ve come a long way since the 1950s!


    The Blackburn Buccaneer was used in the 60’s and 70’s as a carrier-based attack aircraft. Fly Navy!


    These old jets have a history to tell, I’m sure.

    We finished the day at the, nearby and nearly abandoned, Silver Sands Camping & Caravan Holidays. Tomorrow we continue our clockwise trip around Scotland…
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  12. #72
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    A little break...

    There will be a break in the ride report until after Christmas. Happy holidays to you all!
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  13. #73
    Registered User powwow's Avatar
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    I continue to enjoy this thread and the amazing photography!

    FWIW...your comment regarding waterproof gear. My wife and I both have the BMW Comfort Shell jacket and pants...they are by far the most waterproof gear I've ever owned. The best part...there isn't any liner to be zipped in and out. We lived in the Seattle area for 15 years and have ridden in all day downpours...the gear did it's job and kept us both very dry.
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  14. #74
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by travisgill View Post
    There will be a break in the ride report until after Christmas. Happy holidays to you all!
    And to you and your family, Travis. And thanks for the Christmas gift trip report.
    Rinty

  15. #75
    Registered User RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Merry Christmas to you as well!!
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