Tuesday, 19 September 2017

River Run - South Esk

An idea I had a few years back was to do a "river run". That is follow the course of a river to see what I find. This turned out to be a good idea and I discovered some great roads and interesting places. I've run out of rivers in central & southern Scotland so today I went a little further afield. I went to Angus for a run along the South Esk. The river didn't turn out to be that interesting itself but I found plenty of other things to photograph. I don't know this area so much of what you see is new to me. 

I started where the South Esk meets the North Sea in the town of Montrose.

The mouth of the South Esk

There is a busy port. The ships here service the North Sea oil industry (I'm guessing)

The sun shines on Montrose! The lighthouse marks the mouth of the river

The Traill beach pavilion dates from 1913

To the west of the town is a large tidal lagoon - the Montrose Basin. It is a habitat for wildlife. When I stopped here a local lent me his binoculars to look at seals basking on the sands and a huge flock of geese.

West of the basin the Bridge of Dun crosses the river. Completed in 1787 it has many interesting features. I particularly like the prow shaped refuges supported by quartefoil columns.

The approach walls have recessed double crosses

In Brechin I visited the cathedral. But I was more interested in the adjacent round tower. These are associated with Ireland and there are only two in Scotland. The tower dates to the early or late 11th century (depending on where you look) and their purpose seems not to be well understood. Old as it is…..

….this is older. The sculptured stones at Aberlamno are Pictish and about 1,200 years old. It is kind of amazing that these things are just at the side of the road and not in a museum.

I came across this pile in a pleasant setting. It's called Finavon Castle. It's not a castle, of course, but takes its name from the old ruined castle nearby.

Any excuse for a bridge photo

My next stop was Kirriemuir which has statues of two former residents. Firstly Bon Scott, the original singer in the band AC/DC….

….and a Peter Pan statue to commemorate JM Barrie

The river & Glen Clova from Gella Bridge. I'm now heading north towards the Grampian Mountains

From Gallows Knowe Bridge

The road ends a few miles from here so I called it a day

I hope you agree that whilst the river wasn't much the stuff around it was of some interest. This really is a beautiful area with nice towns, great scenery and fine biking roads. I'll be back soon. 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fun in the Rain?

If you ride a motorcycle in Scotland you will not be unfamiliar with rain. Although nowadays I mostly ride for pleasure and can choose when I travel I usually avoid the wet stuff. It was different in my commuting days when I had to ride whatever was coming from the sky but that was only for 30 minutes at a time.

The weather here for some time now had been what the weatherman calls "changeable", changing about every 10 minutes I estimate. We're away next week so I was keen to get out on the bike but the forecast was dire. Then I thought "can you have a pleasant day out in bad weather?" I looked out gear that I thought would keep me dry and set off for the coast.

I knew what I was heading into

The wet gear

The CBF at Loch Thom

Abandoned farmhouse

Largs. By now it was raining hard and I couldn't take any more photos because the lens was soaked and I had no way of drying it. Time to head for home.
So to answer my question "can you have a pleasant day out in bad weather?". Well, no, not really. On the plus side my gear did keep me reasonably dry and the little CBF is great in the wet. It's light and the lack of power is an advantage in slippery conditions. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Featured Bike - Honda CB250RS 1980-84

For Sale. Very good condition for 37 years old.

I recently saw a Honda CB250RS for sale locally. This brought back fond memories of an RS I owned many years ago. Well, not exactly owned but…

In the past the 250cc class was big in the UK. Between 1960 and 1983 learners (ie those who hadn't passed a test) were restricted to under 250cc bikes. Honda's main bike in this class was the CB250N Super Dream. The RS was added in 1980 using an engine based on the XL250 trail bike. This was a sohc air cooled single with balance shafts. In the RS it produced a nimble lightweight roadster with good performance and little vibration. In my opinion preferable to the tubby Super Dream.

My girlfriend Gwen had got into motorcycles in 1981 with a Honda CG125. The RS followed in 1982. I can remember riding to a tenement flat on Glasgow's south side to look at and buy a very nice two year old bike.

The RS soon after it was bought. Note Gwen's "L" plate below the number plate

In 1984 we bought our first house together and the RS became our commuting bike carrying the pair of us to work year-round. It fulfilled this role reliably for eight years. As well as commuting the RS was also a fun little bike to ride. It had reasonable power, good handling and the willing little single cylinder engine had lots of character. 

August '90 - Resprayed white by this time
The bike was kickstart only. This wasn't a problem, the bike had an automatic de-compressor. This momentarily opened the exhaust valve when kicked giving an easier action. In 1983 Honda added a "Deluxe" version of the bike with an electric starter. This had a significant addition cost and was therefore rare. The bike was replaced in 1985 by the CBX250RS that had a twin cam engine. This bike was not a success because, by that time, the bottom had fallen out of the 250cc market due to licence restrictions.


There was another version of the RS. The CL250 "Silk Road". This was a semi off-roader. I'm not sure that it was ever sold in this country.

CL250 "Silk Road"
By 1993 the RS was suffering the ravages of commuting year-round in the Scottish climate. I sold it to my brother's friend David who breathed new life into the little machine. He reads this blog so perhaps he'll respond with his memories of the bike.

I eventually replaced the RS with an MZ ETZ125. Not a step up you might say and I'd have to agree.


My current "small bike" is a CBF250. Very much a similar concept to the RS and a bike I very much enjoy riding. 


You can tour on a single (as my brother doesn't say) I just found this photo. It’s Gwen and the RS failing to make the crossing to Lindisfarne in July 1984. We wanted to go away for the weekend but my GSX750 was under repair so we took the RS. We're travelling light with just a small bag on the back of the bike.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Bays of Galloway

I was planning on going somewhere else but the weatherman said that it would be best in the south west of the country so that's where I headed.

I remembered that there were some impressive bays heading for the Mull of Galloway so I went looking for them.

As usual (for some odd reason) I'm visiting the coast at low tide.

Loch Ryan from Stranraer


Sandhead Bay. I'm standing where the seaweed finishes so the tide goes out a long way here.

Sandhead Bay

Drumantrae Bay

New England Bay. I can't find the reason for the name. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the USA.

I brought some lunch and the bay made a pleasant setting for lunch

Drummore Bay

Drummore Bay

Port Logan Bay

Luce Bay

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Journey to the Edge of Britain

Yesterday I took a run to the furthest west point in the British mainland. Ardnamurchan is a peninsular west of Fort William. It is a wild, remote and sparsely populated area. But it is possible for me to do a day visit.

The route

On the way there Glencoe had some low cloud but I hoped that this is would clear.

The SV at Loch Ailort

Glenuig Bay

Loch Moidart

Looking over Loch Sunart

Camas nan Geall (Bay of Strangers)

Near the end of the peninsular I took a diversion to Sanna to see this magnificent sandy beach. On the deserted road there I thought I might have it to myself but the car park was busy and there a fair amount of people enjoying the beach.

Loch Sunart at the village of Strontain

River Gour flows into Loch Linnhe

I took the Corran Ferry over Loch Linnhe to avoid having to go back to Fort William.

This was great day out in a really beautiful and remote area. Progress can be slow because many of the roads are single track and liberally coated in gravel. But worth it for the seclusion, a rare thing in out crowded country.

I've tried to get the locations correct but it is hard in this area of twisting roads, many bodies of water and few towns.