Friday 23 July 2021

Kilmallie Stone Circle

In an ealier post I mentioned a stone circle that I had spotted on a trip to Glenfinnan. It was such an unusual thing to come across that I had to stop and take a closer look.

Located on land beside Kilmallie Hall in Corpach, on the A830 between Glenfinnan and Fort William, it's a modern circle of rocks from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland recording the history of Scotland from 3,125 million to 55 million years ago.

Each stone is labelled and comes from a different area and is intended to highlight the geodiversity of the region.

More information on the circle can be found here.

Roadside Cairn

On my recent trip north, and about three miles west of the Dalwhinnie Distillery, I spotted a cairn a short distance from the road and stopped to investigate and take some photos.

The cairn is a dedication to a 19th Century piper and teacher, Calum  MacPherson.

Calum Piobaire at Dalwhinnie

More information on the life and times of piper Calum MacPherson can be found at The Calum Maclean Project.

Sunday 18 July 2021

There and Back Again

Having a bit of a lazy day today after yesterday's 325 mile round trip on the Triumph. A bit stiff in places, it’s very clear how out of condition I have become sat at home this last year and a half. A day like this wouldn’t have taken so much out of me not that long ago. 

Sitting looking out the window at the recent spell of generally warm, sunny weather while attempting to get some work done from home has been frustrating. Mainly because there is no guarantee that it will last until the weekend when you have might actually be able to enjoy it. 

However, the day started bright and clear and I dragged the bike out, stuck some bottled water in the panniers for later, and headed north. 

(B-Dalwhinnie Distillery, C-Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge, D-Glenfinnan, E-Crainlarich, F-Home)

On my last trip I stayed on the east coast of Scotland, this time I had decided that I’d pop over to the west coast and ride some of the roads I’d been missing since I moved to Edinburgh years ago. 

I started out with a quick blast up the A9 to the Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery. I had planned on taking the tour but found that these had to be booked in advance due to Covid regulations. No matter, onwards and westwards. 

The road from there to Spean Bridge meanders along the A86 besides Loch Laggan with the trees giving some relief from the late morning sun. It’s a road meant for taking your time, a pleasant, twisting road connecting east to west, and a road I haven’t travelled in too many years.  

I did stop briefly for a photo opportunity at the wonderfully grandiose Lodge at Kinloch Laggan, near Newtonmore. part of the estate where they filmed the BBC TV series “Monarch of the Glen”, before heading on to Spean Bridge. 

Once there, I decided on a quick detour to the Commando Memorial a mile or so out of town for a bit of a rest and to take some more photos. 

Just as I was getting ready to leave the memorial a lad pulled up on a Ducati. He was from Kent and was spending a week or so touring in Scotland and was loving it so far. He couldn’t believe the roads and the weather. I’m sure he’ll change his tune when he meets a cloud of midges of an evening. 

Back southwards again towards Fort William and needing to refuel. The roads were beginning to get busy, but luckily for me most of the traffic was heading in the opposite direction. Lots of bikes, but the number of caravans and camper vans was a bit worrying at times. 

After fuelling up I did head to Glenfinnan, but the whole area around the monument there was over-run with coachloads of tourists, so I turned around and headed back to Fort William. 

It wasn’t a wholly wasted trip, though, as I found a modern stone circle at Kilmallie (more of which in a later post), and it was a pleasant run in and of itself. 

Back then through Fort William, and the bane of modern travel, roadworks on the cost road. 

Traffic was still heavy in the opposite direction as I crossed the Ballachulish Bridge and headed for Glencoe. 

Needless to say, it was overcast going through Glencoe and over Rannoch Moor. I don’t know exactly why this is, but I don’t think I’ve ever been through there in sunshine. 

Buachaille Etive Mòr, Glencoe, Highlands

On to Crainlarich now and it was feeling like time to begin to start back eastwards again and towards home. From here on in pretty much every passing place and forest stop at the roadside was full of cars and motor homes as people headed out to the countryside for a brief escape from the new normal. 

A brief trip around Stirling for the last photo of the day, the Castle, and then the final run for home. 

A tiring but enjoyable solo trip with some decent weather for a change, but after nine hours or so in the saddle while wearing an open-face helmet and sunglasses I find that I have a face like a ripe tomato.

Saturday 3 July 2021

Last Men Standing

I came across these interesting old petrol (gas) pumps looking a bit forlorn in a hedge at the side of a back road near St. Boswells in Scottish Borders while out for a run.

Interestingly, the one on the left seems to have been upgraded for use with modern unleaded fuel at some point, see the green nozzle. When I ran a service station for ESSO in the 80s the pumps were serviced by a company called Gilbarco. A man with a van would come around and dismantle and service the pumps one at a time. Seems they’ve been around a mite longer than that.
The nearest building was probably the local garage. It certainly looks as if it started life as an industrial-type building and seems to have been converted into a dwelling house at some point. Why the pumps weren’t removed at the same time is anybody’s guess.