September 15, 2012
We have a choice: head back down the east coast via Wick to Inverness (ie go back the way we came) or take the long way around, across the top of Scotland to the west coast and then head inland, in a diagonal across the highlands. Did I mention Graham’s mantra? “Never go back”. We head west. It is windy but not so bad as the past few days. And it’s sunny (mostly) too.
But these moors offer no protection so we’re often caught coming out of the lea of a mountain or turning across a wide loch … and bracing as the wind catches the bike and tries to tip us sideways.
We meet other motorbikes coming the other way, lucky them with the wind at their backs. And pass tourists on pushbikes. No way I could do that.
The trip is worth our minor discomfort, however, with magnificent scenery, wide expanses of water and sand and hills and quaint little settlements offering petrol and beer and yummy lunches.
After an overnight stay in a B&B beside yet another loch, we pass back through Inverness (replace the satnav connection which has shorted out and top up on fuses) and head further east, now towards Bonnie and Edinburgh.
Bonnie lives only about 1-1/2 hours from the city, and only 5 minutes from the A9 but in the leafy countryside of a former farming estate.
There is still a gamekeeper who raises and releases the pheasants in time for shooting season. They often don’t survive the traffic; roasted roadkill is acceptable fare as long as you’re not the one who ran over it.
Graham and I go mushrooming with Bonnie in a nearby nature reserve, driving past JK Rowling’s house along the way.
We are only stopping for one night. Promise we’ll return for a longer visit next time. Graham wants to go fishing with Bonnie’s partner Mark (he owns a fishing magazine!!) and we would both like to just enjoy this part of the country more … and Mark and Bonnie’s company.
Tomorrow it’s Edinburgh, renting a serviced apartment within walking distance of the city centre.
I have harboured dreams of working in the Scottish capital and our visit only reinforces the idea. It may be impractical and never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to keep future options open. Graham says it would be bleak and cold in winter. Mmmmm. Cold definitely. Bleak? I don’t think so. The city has too much character.
We walk the Royal Mile, visit Holyrood Palace (so this is where Mary Queen of Scots lived) and take a tasting tour of the whisky museum. It’s only a quick visit but I’m glad we made it here.
We have cut our time in Edinburgh short to spend our last few days with Elizabeth. We have to face saying goodbye to her at the end of the week.