Monday, 15 October 2018

Autumn Colours

As I usually do at this time of year I went looking for some autumn foliage in the Scottish Borders today. 

In the middle of nowhere (near Newcastleton)…..

…I came across a sign to Saughtree Station. It closed in 1956 but the sign remains.

Another old railway sign.

In the hills above Newcastleton

At the border of the Borders

Outside Langholm there is this monument to General John Malcolm. I'm sure there is a good view from up there.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Cumbrian Run

We've had a lot of bad weather recently. Its been cool, cloudy and wet. But the weatherman promised some respite today with sunshine and warmth. I thought "where haven't I been for a while?" and came up with Cumbria, across the border in NW England.  
The River Esk at Longtown. I assume the two guys on the gravel island are anglers. Thinking about it they don't seem to have any way of getting off the island.

This area has many quaint old pubs like this one in Newbiggin.

Autumn berries

Follow the sun!

Cumbrian landscape
Old-style road sign. These signs look new but "Cumberland County Council" ceased to exist in 1974 - so maybe they are just being very well maintained.

A country crossroads - a good time to check the map.

Another Cumbrian landscape. Dry stone walls are common.

"The Little Chippy" in Penrith provided lunch.

Another tempting pub in Dacre
St Kentigern's Church in Mungrisdale (1756)

Now this is what I call a biking road! - Caldbeck Common (I think)

Wild Fell ponies

I came across this ford. After a quick inspection I crossed without a problem.
As someone who has worked on old bridges this one looks really old. Hesket Bridge - information is vague "mid 18th century" - older than that I'd think.

Beside the sea at Silloth.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Motus go bust

I have been following the fortunes of the US bike makers Motus over the last few years. Unfortunately they have gone bust when their financial backers pulled the plug on them. 

The Motus was an interesting concept and a refreshing change from the big V twin custom/bagger/HD clones that smaller US manufacturers like Indian & Victory build. The Motus was a high performance sports tourer. It featured an all-American style engine - a inline V4 marketed as half a classic muscle car motor. Despite having pushrods and only two valves per cylinder the 1650cc engine produced 150 bhp (MST) and an astonishing 180bhp (MSTR)  

But, as low-volume niche-market bikes, they were expensive $31k/$37k (£24/£28k) and they lacked the modern electronic features that high-end buyers expect.   

Monday, 24 September 2018

Dumfries - the Long Way.

The town of Dumfries in southern Scotland is a favourite destination for me. It's a fairly short run - 70 miles by the quickest route but there are lots of options for a more meandering run and that's what I did today.      

The wilds of South Lanarkshire

Dalveen Pass

I'm sure I've never been here before. Durisdeer is just a few houses and a church

The church dates from 1699

Old gravestones

Nearby was this ford. It looked a bit deep and slippery so I chickened out and rode over the footbridge. It had a timber plank deck but luckily it carried myself and the FJ.

A view of Drumlanrig Castle in the distance

I found some deserted back roads….

…..that deteriorated into gravel and potholes. Not the ideal surface for the FJ

The mouth of the River Nith

Annandale on my way home

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Angus Run

Summer is well and truly over…in Scotland anyway. We are very much in "the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" as John Keats put it. But I'll bet he never rode a motorcycle at 70mph along the motorway in a downpour (as I did today) so what does he know? As ever, it was changeable, and did not stop me enjoying a trip to Angus today.  
First stop was Arbroath. This is a monument to the Declaration of Arbroath where Scotland proclaimed its independence.

Arbroath harbour
This is an interesting building. It's a signal tower built to communicate with the Bell Rock Lighthouse 12 miles offshore. I say "communicate" but given it dates from 1812 communication was limited to raising a ball on the roof. This meant "is everything ok?" and if the lighthouse did the same they meant "yes".

Arbroath Abbey - I'm sure there's a way in somehow.

An autumn scene - harvesting straw

This village has a very un-Scottish sounding name - Friochheim. Well it's half Scots, fraoch is Gaelic for heather and heim is German for home. Named by Flemish weavers who came here to work in the flax industry. It's pronounced "Free-come" (I understand)

Where Charlie gets his guns

The entrance to Guthrie Castle, but it isn't quite what is seems. This is a railway bridge disguised as a gated entrance.

River Ericht in Blairgowrie
An impressively overgrown farm building
Kinkell Bridge

I didn't come home empty handed. The town of Forfar means only one thing to me - the Forfar bridie. A bridie being a meat pastry like a Cornish pastie. These are sold in every bakery in Scotland but these bridies looked something special so bought a couple. Otherwise it would have been like visiting Naples and not eating pizza!

Forfar Athletic even have a bridie mascot!