Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lakes and Scotland Tour

Helen and I have just returned from a brief tour around the Lake District and Southern Scotland.

Mon 19th Sept - Home to Bouth
We hung around at home most of the day waiting to see what the weather was going to do, as rain had been forecast. Just after lunch we decided to go on the bikes as the rain hadn’t arrived yet. As expected, as soon as we had packed up and put all the luggage on the bikes it started to rain. As we were ready to leave we decided to just head straight up to my Mum’s static caravan at Bouth.

We left home and headed on the M66/A56 to Clitheroe. At Clitheroe we joined the A59 towards Skipton, we turned off as usual at Sawley and headed towards Settle via Wigglesworth and Rathmell. Just outside Settle we joined the A65 and headed towards Kirkby Lonsdale. Just after Clapham we came across signs informing us that that the A65 ahead was closed for roadworks. We left the A65 and followed the diversion through High Bentham on the B6480. We continued on the B6480 to Wennington  and then cut across to the A683 via Melling. We then followed the A683 to Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. We stopped briefly at Devil’s Bridge but due to the heavy rain we didn’t have any lunch as we would have got soaked.

We left Devil’s Bridge on the A65 and headed towards the Lake District. We passed over the M6 and joined the A590 and followed that all the way to Newby Bridge. Just after Newby Bridge we turned off the A590 and headed towards Bouth and soon arrived at the caravan at Black Beck.

We quickly unpacked and headed over to Booths at Ulverston to get some shopping in for time that we were going to be at the caravan. It had stopped raining by now and while we were having lunch in the cafe the sun came out and a blue sky appeared. After lunch and stocking up on food and alcohol we headed back to the caravan in nice weather. We unpacked again and apart from my gloves everything was dry by now. Wind at 6omph is very effective at drying things out, especially Gore-Tex.

Tues 20th Sept - Lowther Castle via Kirkstone Pass
We awoke to drying roads and a weather forecast of a generally dry day. The low flying jet fighter passing over the caravan was a good sign for the day.

Kirkstone Pass We left the caravan and headed through Bouth and Spark Bridge and then joined the A5092. We soon turned onto the A5084 and towards Torver. On the way we passed by Coniston Water and then turned right at Torver onto the A593 and headed towards Ambleside. We passed through Coniston and Skelwith Bridge before arriving in Ambleside after a good run. We then took the Struggle up to the top of Kirkstone Pass and stopped at the Kirkstone Inn for a coffee.

Clifton Hall We left Kirkstone Inn and headed down the North side of the Pass towards Patterdale. After a really good and fairly quiet run we passed through Patterdale and Glenridding. We then rode alongside Ullswater before turning onto the B5320 and heading through Pooley Bridge. We then turned right onto the A6 just South of Penrith and soon arrived at Clifton Hall, our first visit of the day.

We left Clifton Hall and continued South on the A6 and then went to visit the newly opened Lowther Castle. The Castle is currently being consolidated and so a lot of work is going on and the Castle is covered in scaffolding. We knew this before we visited but decided we really wanted to see the Castle as it looked very impressive. We had a walk around the outside of the Castle and had a good look at the plans.

Lowther Castle We left the Castle and rode down the road to the nearby Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre. We were in time to see some of the birds being flow around. Helen particularly liked Otto the Eagle Owl, which she was able to feed while holding him on her arm. She also got a few cheeky strokes in on his chest, whilst keeping her hand away from his beak. The other two birds we saw being flown were Falcons. Which performed various acrobatic manoeuvres while trying to catch the lure. We even had an impromptu low pass flyby of a Tornado jetfighter. After the flying display we had a quick look around at the other birds and then had a much needed coffee and some cake in the cafe.

Otto the Eagle Owl We then headed South again on the A6 towards Kendal, passing through Shap on our way. We stopped for fuel just outside Kendal and then headed via Burneside to the A591. We then turned onto the B6284 and headed over towards Lake Windermere. We joined the A592 and rode alongside Lake Windermere towards Newby Bridge. At Newby Bridge we joined the A590 and headed back to the caravan at Bouth.

Later that evening we walked into Bouth to have a meal at the White Hart Inn. As always the food was excellent and this time we had remembered to bring a torch to aid us on our walk back to the caravan in the dark pitch black night sky.

Wed 21st Sept - Conishead Priory 
The weather forecast for today was not at all good, pretty much rain all day. We awoke to damp roads but there was no sign of the rain yet. We waited it out until  early afternoon and apart from the odd shower it hadn’t rained much. We decided to stay fairly local and visit Conishead Priory.

Conishead Priory We left the caravan and headed through Bouth and joined the A590 and headed towards Ulverston. In Ulverston we turned left onto the A5087 and to our surprise soon hit a perfectly dry road. So we decided to have a run down to Roa Island to have a look over the sea to Piel Castle. We arrived at the lifeboat station on Roa Island, after battling high winds on the causeway. We didn’t stop for very long due to the high winds and headed back over the causeway. We then had a run back down the A5087, just before Ulverston we turned into Conishead Priory and parked up the bikes just as it started to rain. We headed round to the fairly recently built Buddhist Temple. We had a quick look around the Temple and then the heavens opened. We waited out Conishead Priory the rain under the Temple’s canopy and when it had eased slightly we made a run for it. We went round to the front of the Priory and entered and grab ourselves coffee and cake from the cafe. 

By the time we had left the cafe the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. Se we decided to risk it and have a walk down to the beach. After the walk we got back onto the bikes and headed back to the Caravan on the A590. It didn’t rain for the rest of the day so we felt like we had dodged a bullet.

Thurs 22nd Sept - Egremont Castle and Honister Pass
The weather forecast for today was quite promising as a high pressure was pushing in from the South. We awoke to sun and blue skies and drying roads.

Egremont Castle We left the caravan and headed to the A5092 via Bouth and Spark Bridge. We joined the A5092 and headed towards Grizebeck. We then joined the A595 and passed around Broughton-in-Furness. The road then turned at Silecroft and we ran parallel with the coast all the way up the A595 passed Muncaster Castle. We passed by Ravenglass and Sellafield on our way to Egremont. We arrived in Egremont and parked the bikes in the centre of town quite close to the Castle. We then walked up to the Castle to have a quick look around. 

We left Egremont and turned onto the A5086 towards Cleator Moor. We continued on A5086 for a while and then turned onto minor rSettle @ Loweswateroads to head passed Loweswater to Buttermere. We found a particularly nice minor road (not), which was full of gravel and grass down the middle. After a while we turned onto a much better road and then stopped alongside Loweswater for lunch.

We left Loweswater and continued on minor roads until we joined the B5289. We then headed South alongside Crummock Water and then through Buttermere. We then passed alongside Buttermere before we started the short climb  up Honister Pass. It was fairly quiet so we had a nice free run over the pass. We didn’t stop at the top Loweswaterby the slate mine as the carpark is not really suitable for motorbikes. We then dropped down the other side of the pass and soon arrived at Derwent Water. We rode alongside Derwent Water for a while before arriving in Keswick. We left Keswick on the A5271 and then turned onto the A591 and headed back South towards Ambleside. On the A591 we first passed by Thirlmere, then Grasmere and finally Rydal Water before arriving in Ambleside. In Ambleside we joined the A593 and headed towards Consiton. We then did the reverse of the route we did on Tuesday to get back to the caravan.

Fri 23rd Sept - Troon via Caerlaverock Castle
The weather forecast for today after initially looking poor at the start of the week, was dry and windy. We awoke to dry roads and so packed up and turned off the gas and water on the caravan.

We left the caravan and headed on the A590 towards Newby Bridge. We then turned left at Newby Bridge onto the A592 and headed alongside Lake Windermere. For once this road was very quiet and we were able to really enjoy this dangerous (stone walls and many side roads) but nice flowing road. We soon arrived in Bowness-on-Windermere and then continued on the A592. We then turned onto the A591 and headed towards Keswick passing by Rydal Water, Grasmere and Thirlmere. Wetheral Priory GatehouseJust before arriving in Keswick we turned right onto a minor road that ran right passed Castlerigg Stone Circle. We then joined the A66 to by-pass Keswick before re-joining the A591 to run alongside Bassenthwaite Lake. Along this road we stopped at Dodd Wood carpark to use the toilets. 

We set off again and soon left the A591 and went on minor roads (very minor, with gravel and grass down the middle) via Udale to cut across to the B5299. The B5299 was a welcome relief, wide with a nice clean surface. We followed this through Calbeck and onto Welton. Here we crossed the B5305 and continued on the B5299 to Dalston. We turned off here and headed for Wetheral via Durbar and Cumwhinton. We then stopped at Wetheral Priory Gatehouse, where it was trying to start raining. So we waited it out under cover and had a spot of lunch. 

Caerlaverock Castle We left Wetheral and joined the A69 and headed towards Carlisle. We then dropped onto the M6 and headed north, we intended to stop at Todhills Services for fuel but it was closed. We left the M6 at jct22 and joined the A75 and headed for Dumfries. We intended to leave the A75 after Annan and cut across to Caerlaverock Castle, but because we were in need of fuel we carried onto Dumfries. We stopped outside Dumfries for fuel and then headed south to Caerlaverock Castle. The café at the castle was open so we had coffee and cake before a quick visit of the castle.

We left Caerlaverock Castle and headed back into Dumfries and then joined the A75 towards Castle Douglas. Near to Crocketford we joined the A712 and followed that to St John’s Town of Dalry. The A712 was pretty clear and was also a really nice road to ride. We then joined the A713 and headed north to Ayr, again this road was pretty quiet and really nice to ride. Outside Ayr we joined the A77 which we used to by-pass Ayr and Prestwick. We then arrived at Troon and went and found our Hotel for the next couple of nights, Barcelo Troon Marine Hotel which is situated alongside Royal Troon Golf Course.

Sat 24th Sept – Troon Loop
Again we were lucky with the weather and the early forecast of rain has changed and we were now due a day of nice dry weather. We awoke to sunshine and a blue sky although it had rained overnight so the roads still looked a little damp.

Barcelo Troon Marine Hotel We left the hotel and the stopped at Monkton Services for fuel before heading south on the A77. We then joined the A719 and headed towards Galston but turned right onto the A76 and headed south towards Mauchline. Here we joined the B743 and cut across to the A70 which we followed all the way to Douglas. We had a nice run but came across some traffic after Douglas but we managed to pass it at some roadwork traffic lights. We then turned right onto the B7078 and ran parallel with the M6 it was pretty open here so was very windy. After a while we turned right onto the B740 and followed that all the way to Sanquhar. What an absolute peach of a road, open with plenty of visibility and following alongside Crawick Water in a small valley. There was also plenty of sheep everywhere to keep Helen happy. At Sanquhar we turn right onto the A76 and then stopped at Kirkconnel to use the toilets.

Dunure We left Kirkconnel and followed the A76 to New Cumnock where we joined the B741. We followed that to Dalmellington where we crossed the A713 and then continued onto Dailly. We tried to visit Dalquharran Castle but we were unable to find a road/path to it, although we did manage to see the castle from afar. We then continued on minor roads to Maybole where we joined the B7023. We then joined the A719 and followed that to Thomaston Castle, but realised once we had arrived that we had been there before. We left the castle and did a u-turn and headed back up the A719 to Dunure. We then stopped in a lay-by above Dunure Castle for lunch.

We left Dunure on the A719 and continued north towards Ayr. Just on the outskirts of Ayr in Doonfoot we headed towards the coast to visit Greenan Castle. We stopped in the carpark and could see the castle but it looked like a long walk so we didn’t visit it. We then headed back to the hotel but filled up with fuel at Monkton Services on the way.

Sun 25th Sept – Troon to Home
We awoke on the morning of Helen’s birthday to dry but overcast skies. The weather forecast for today was for rain to come across later in the morning. So with that in mind we had awoken early than normally, we could hopefully get packed up and headed south before the rain came.

We left the hotel and followed the A77 around Prestwick and Ayr. We then joined the A713 and retraced our route back to Dumfries on the same roads that we had used to get to Troon on Friday. We left Dumfries on the A75 and headed over to the A74/M6 which we followed all the way down to Penrith. We left the M6 at Penrith and joined the A6 and head south towards Shap. We passed through Shap and then turned left onto the B6261 and headed to Orton. In Orton we joined the B6260 to Tebay where we stopped for fuel. We left Tebay on the A685 and headed towards Kendal we then joined the B6257. We then briefly joined the A684 before continuing south on the B6256. We then joined the A683 and followed that to Kirkby Lonsdale where we stopped at Devil’s Bridge for lunch.

We left Devil’s Bridge on the A65 towards Skipton and then after Ingleton we turned off before Clapham and headed over Burn Moor and past Stocks Reservoir. We then turned right onto the B6478 and headed through Slaidburn and then over Waddington Fell and down into Clitheroe. From Clitheroe we followed the A59, A671 and then the A56/M66 back home.