Wednesday 14.6.2017 0km Total:1983km Total:441km 18.22km Total:138.28km
After a new breakfast of champions prepared in the kettle I once again walk to the royal mile to continue where I left off yesterday.
I start with Cannonball house, so named because it has a cannonball stuck in the façade facing the castle.
There seem to be two versions of why there's a cannonball lodged in the wall, the one with the greatest entertainment value (and thus perhaps not completely surprising discarded as false) is that it is a stray ball fired from the castle on Holyrood in a battle of successors to the Scottish throne.
The other boring version (and thus probably true) is that it's deliberately cast in the wall to mark the height of the Comiston-watersource seven miles to the south which in those days supplied fresh water to the old town.
Right across from cannonball house is the Witches well, a well that commemorates the roughly 4000 women executed as witches between 1479 and 1722 who over 300 of which where burned at the stake at this location.
I wander around pretty aimlessly in old town and amongst other things stick my head inside Mary King's close, a quarter that during the ravishing's of the plague was bricked shut with the people still inside to hinder the spread.
I'm sure the plague claimed many victims in this town since it was so cramped that when they opened up the quarter again they had to chop up the stiff bodies just to get them through the narrow alleys.
To no great surprise the place is now said to be haunted.
I also take a walk to New town and walk along princess street and the parallel streets.
The nice garden separating old and new time was nice and the Scott monument was impressive.
An interesting thing about the "New" town is that they started building it 1767 and I saw on a sign at a restaurant that it's been owned by the same family since the 1800:s.
I guess everything's relative.
All though I didn't do anything very constructive the pedometer in my phone states that I walked 18kms, a nice walk in a nice town.
I skip the haggis and grab some Chinese food on my way back to the hotel.
This must score off the charts in Scottish-ness
Old Calton cemetary
Thursday 15.6.2017 357km Total:2340km Totalt:441km 1.64km Total:139.92km
I spent most of yesterday night planning routes and accommodation along the NC500, the coastal route along the north-western part of Scotland.
It's pretty obvious that Scotland is a wildly popular tourist destination since it took a lot more calculating and planning to find reasonably priced and strategically placed hotels than I'm used to.
Inverness is the actual starting point for the route but accommodation there was just crazy expensive considering I'd barely have time to see anything of it before moving on.
Instead I opted for Conon Bridge and The Whitehouse, Bikers B&B for about a third of the price of a room in "the big city".
Along the way I'd planned a few scenic routes the first of which was Glen Quaich Road, a fantastic little single track road which anywhere else in the world would have been gravel but here the surface was better than many of the motorways back home.
Great riding, very little traffic and stunning scenery.
After a stretch that was pure transport which wasn't bad at all either get to Cairnwell Pass, a "mountain pass" at mindboggling 670m asl.
Again everything is relative so considering that I went over passes last year above 2000m asl. this isn't very high but it's still the highest main road in all of Britain.
What it didn't really deliver when it came to the riding it more than made up for with the scenery, the endless greens hills afar made the Scottish immersion complete.
This was exactly as I imagined Scotland to be apart from the fact that my imagination can't create something as beautiful as this.
Cairnwell was the literal highpoint of the day but the figurative highpoint was what followed next, the A939.
The superlatives just doesn't cover how great of a ride this was, it was almost a spiritual experience.
Grand nature where the highlands are at their most beautiful and long sweeping roads the went up hills and down valleys for almost 100kms.
I must admit that it happens pretty frequently that I look down on the trip counter just to see how far I have left to go but here I pretty much did it every five minutes just to make sure that I wasn't there yet.
But eventually this gods gift to bikers gives way to a highway for the last stretch to The Whitehouse.
This place didn't have a restaurant so I walk down to the hotel (there only was the one) for supper before I head back to Whitehouse to plan the last stretch on the NC500.
As it stands right now I'm stuck somewhere around the Isle of Skye without anywhere to stay within a reasonable distance.
Glen Quaich Road
A weird detail is that on the first picture it rained so hard I had to use the waterproof camera while as you can see the asphalt is all dry on the next image and they're just taken about fifteen minutes and 3kms apart.
Friday 16.6.2017 266km Total:2606km Total:441km 3.88km Total:143.8km
Today I'm heading out on the North Coast 500, a stretch of road along the northwest part of Scotland and marketed as the Scottish Route 66.
But first I'm getting well fed on a full Scottish breakfast which is included in the booking and along with great service, nice rooms and a welcoming host makes me think this will probably be one of the best accommodations of the whole trip.
The breakfast consists of beans, mushrooms, eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding and tomato.
I'm not much for mushrooms and the black pudding was a bit rich in flavour (I was burping black pudding all day) for me but definitely a notorious breakfast that gives you hair under your kilt.
The road lives up to its expectations immediately and is a great ride which is nice because even though it's not raining (yet) the sky is just a solid white and the visibility is somewhat limited.
After about 100kms I get to the first detour, Dunrobin Castle.
Right after I've bought my entry ticket the clerk tells me the falconer is about to do a show and if I want to see it I should head down there straight away.
Of course I will!
I rush down and sit down with a few busloads of pensioners and get a real show, the falconer (who was also the castle forester) was a real entertainer.
It was both educational and entertaining and with the amazing surroundings it was in its own worth the £11 entry fee.
The castle was as impressive as you might expect it to be with a building from the middle ages.
But it is a bit hard to take in that this was residence to someone that wasn't even royalty.
After the tour of the castle I continue towards the north coast and the northernmost tip, John o' Groats which is the northernmost part of the British mainland, pretty much Great Britain's Nordkap.
John o' Groats is a concept as much as a location since it along with the southern equivalent Lands End in Cornwall is what in Swedish terms would be from Ystad to Haparanda, across the nation.
It was a bit underwhelming for me personally but the weather was good and there was a nice view of the Orkney islands.
The next stop is practically just around the corner, just 10kms west along the coast and is Castle Mey, a castle bought by the queen mother for only a hundred pounds because it was in ruin and renovated from floor to ceiling to function as a summer resort for the royal family.
The queen has donated the castle to a foundation but apparently Prince Charles still uses it as a "cottage" a couple of weeks every summer.
A memorable part of the tour was that when the mantelpiece in solid bronze with the queens insignia was to be installed it was so heavy it went through the second floor and landed in the kitchen.
Right at the end of the tour it has started to rain.
Luckily there's only about 70kms to go to the hotel because the rest of the days ride was very uninspiring, if the visibility was limited before I'm now in a complete whiteout.
I could just as well have been riding along the edge of space as the coast of Scotland.
I'm not completely drenched when I get to the hotel but the combination of cold and rain makes the visor fog up even with the pin-lock so the last stretch was a bit more exiting than it had to be.
I get a warm shower and sit down in the hotel pub to eat a beer battered haddock.
As dessert I had a pint of Guinness which I'm enjoying as I'm writing these sentences.
I spend the rest of the evening doing route calculations as the lack of accommodation overcomplicates things.
NC500 somewhere along Cromarthy Firth
Dunrobin castle (no photography allowed inside).
John o' Groats
Castle Mey (no photography)
A cat among the canines at Betty Hill hotel