Scotland Motorcycle Tour - Day 2 - Lancaster to Bladnoch
From: Lancaster To: Bladnoch Distance 196 miles
When we opened the curtains at 8am we were pleased to see that though it was damp outside, it wasn't actually raining. Another check of the weather forecast showed that the outlook for the next few days appeared to be improving. Our makeshift drying system based on a wardrobe, heater and fan had dried all our clothes out so we decided to throw caution to the wind and leave our waterproof suits in the luggage.
Our first stop of the day was just four miles away in Morecambe, where on the sea front is a statue of Eric Morecambewhich I had taken photos of on an Iron Butt Rally a few years ago.
We decided to keep off the motorways as much as possible and Alisa picked a nice route up to and through the Lake District passing Windermere, Ambleside and Grassmere lakes as we made our way to our breakfast stop on the outskirts of Keswick, The Filling Station Cafe.
We sat down rather hungrily at 10:30 and soon polished off full cooked breakfasts, juices and coffees. Alisa had come across the Cafe online when it opened a couple of years back and it had always been on our list of 'bikers' places to visit. It's small, but has a little outdoor space and attracts bikers, car enthusiasts, walkers and tourists alike. It's worth a stop if you are ever up this way.
Full of fried food, we headed north following back roads to Bothel, then across the border into Scotland and our first tragically tourist, but fun stop off at Gretna Green.
Crossing the border starts our Scotland tour proper. When we pulled into the 'Famous Blacksmiths Shop' at Gretna Green, the sun was shining and the bagpipers were playing - so this must be Scotland.
After coffees and swapping some Game of Thrones north of the wall jokes, we did what holidayers do and started to buy some tourist stuff. A couple of drinking horns are bound to come in useful back home.
Leaving Gretna on the A75 to Dumfries we then jumped onto smaller roads and instantly the sun came out. We followed the A710 and the Dumfries and Galloway scenic route to Sweetheart Abbey.
The Abbey was founded in 1273 by Lady Dervogilla of Galloway in memory if her husband John Balliol. On her death, she was laid to rest next to her husband's embalmed heart and the monks named their abbey in her memory.
Sat relaxing in the Abbey coffee shop in the early afternoon sunshine, we forgot all about the rain and started to relax into the holiday.
One of the aims of the tour was to do as much of the coast roads of Scotland as passible, so rather than taking the direct route to our destination we turned off at Dalbeattie and took another scenic coastal loop, the A711 to Kirkcudbright . The road was empty, fast and fun with sections of twisties linked by long straights. We could regularly see out to sea.
We got to Kirkcudbright fairly late in the afternoon and stretched our legs visiting a couple of the local galleries, filled the bikes at Newton Stewart and then headed to Bladnoch where we would stay the night.
We arrived at the Bladnoch Inn at 6pm, checked in, grabbed a pint sitting outside as the sun went down and dined on traditional Scottish 'Haggis Neeps and tatties', or at least the pub's slightly odd, slightly soggy take on the dish which happened to include a creamy pepper sauce to spice things up.
Bladnoch is the site of the Southernmost distillery in Scotland, and makes a rather nice single malt. We had booked accommodation at the Inn across the road so that we could do a distillery tour in the morning. Unfortunately, between October when we booked our hotels for the trip and the trip itself, the distillery had gone out of business. There would be no tour, and so the space I had been saving in my pannier for a bottle of their scotch would go unused. I made do with some photos from outside the gates and several more pints at the local Inn.
Another day and another 196 miles... It's great to be in Scotland.