This is a trial run because I bought a new hat and it is going places. It’s going somewhere very nice very soon and I wanted to shake the bugs out of a new lap top, which is also going somewhere very nice indeed…. and I am going with them!
Seeing that yesterday was going to be by all things Scottish, the entire summer rolled up into just one day I decided to take the hat out for a little drive on the Beemer, well the hat was in the top-box at any rate.
My objective to the day was Corgaffe Castle way up in rural Aberdeenshire, in a much by-passed part of the world by tourists, which is a great injustice as it contains some great scenery and interesting places to see and visit.
The first part of the run was up through Glenshee, which is a great run on a motorbike, a little tricky in places but full of twisty turny roads that make the driving of the road the challenge rather than the simple fact of getting to ones destination.
Traffic wasn’t much of a problem but for one instance, it was the one bl**dy instance that just had to happen. There is a company that operates a fleet of anonymous red painted flat bed lorries that do a vital job of clearing up the country side…. the Knackers Man no less.
The problem is with all this good weather that we have been having and animal that has been dead and out in the sun is that it is going to be a little on the ripe side and being behind such a lorry us not very pleasurable on a motorbike. One just can’t roll up all the windows as you would do on a car!
As things would happen I got stuck behind this lorry at Bridge of Cally and it took me a long time to get by it.
The first chance I got and I was off and from then on I more or less had the road to myself, there was a moment heading up from The Spittle of Glenshee when a sheep looked at me strangely which believe it or not is a danger sign as sheep looking at grass with their heads down munching is a whole lot safer than one considering (I believe that sheep only ever consider eating and procreation) crossing the road in front of me to join its flock mates on a munching spree.
That taught me a lesson that I had forgotten, sheep are capable of anything on an unfenced road and are very capable of escaping on a fenced road as well.
It was nice, if you could call it that to feel ones ears popping as I rapidly climbed up the final stages towards the Glenshee ski centre, I did consider stopping for lunch there but was having too much fun to stop and let that knackers lorry pass by.
Braemar was over in a jiffy, there were a few dawdling tourists around but nothing much, I’ve seen a lot worse. The road out of Braemar is a great one for motorcyclists. It is tempting to open the throttle right up when going long straights through the forested sections but no, too many accidents and too many warnings that the Safety Camera Partnership vans could be lurking around the next corner. I’m just content to behave myself and stay legal.
I turned off the Braemar road just short of Betty Windsor’s summer holiday home, she’s not due to come to Scotland for a week or so yet. Anyway I turned onto a road that’s famous in Scotland for all the wrong reasons. This road goes over the Grampians to Tomintoul and is one of the first to be closed by snow. It is hardly surprising as goes over some high open moorland.
The first part of the road is single track with passing places, I have no problem with single track roads, I know the rules both written and unwritten unfortunately the car that I got stuck behind didn’t.
For a start the linkage between the rear view mirror and the drivers brain was disengaged. The first unwritten rule of single track driving is – If something comes up behind you fast, pull over and let them past as they are either locals that know the road well or bloody lunatics on motorbikes hell-bent on their own self destruction!
The next unwritten rule is, after you let them pass speed up and keep pace with then at a safe stopping distance, for it is they and not you that will collide with any oncoming traffic!
The other unwritten rule is when you get t the top of a blind summit, go to the left hand side of the road if you can. On some stretches the road is widened on blind summits, so if you meet anything at the top you stand a good chance of missing them!
The other thing about single track roads is you need to use forward observation, constantly looking for oncoming traffic and where the road goes ahead of you… and this driver could only see ten feet ahead. Anyway my frustration boiled over and a couple of toots to awaken the driver that I was overtaking and I was gone and he was history!
The single track was also history as it became dualed shortly afterwards, such is life.
A few miles later and I arrived at Corgarff Castle not too far away from Cockbridge.
My motorbike gear was quickly removed before I melted and started walking up to the castle, I don’t know why but I checked the information board discovering that the place closed for lunch five minutes before I arrived.
I had come this far so I wasn’t going to leave without a picture, so I walked up to the castle and took this photo.
The picture does not do justice as the defensive wall around the tower has lots of ports for muskets to fire from and it is star shaped to improve the killing zones.
The latter parts of the castle date to the Jacobite times post 1745, and this can be considered as a Military Police outpost in a former war zone.
Apart from being hungry, I also felt dejected having come so far, having so much visual and olfactory fun along the way not to be able to visit the castle but there will be another day.
I started out for another nearby castle and changed my mind, ending up just following the road until I came across Kildrummy Castle.
This place must have been very impressive in its day both from a military and an architectural points of view.
This panoramic is a little bit over exposed in the highlights but you get an impression of the size and extent of this castle.
That done and it was time to follow the front wheel in the vague direction of Huntly, which was the recommendation of the Kildrummy’s custodian.
Driving through the village of Rhynie, I caught a glimpse of a small brown sign with a symbol that I recognised, This turned out to be for the Aberdeenshire Pictish Symbol Stone trail. Rhynie has three stones housed in a small shed close to the old burial ground. One has an uncommon beast symbol.
I had to play about to get the best out of this picture, the strong sunlight made this stone hard to see.
This one is called the Craw Stane or Crow Stone.
There are other Pictish Symbol stones near by but I did not know they were there.
On to Huntly and lunch at last at the ASDA supermarket, I would have settled for a cafe of some sort but by this time I was too hungry to be fussy.
Filled up and fuelled up, another 72 mpg out of the bike and off on the last part of the journey to Huntly Castle.
If I thought that Kildrummy Castle was making a bold statement then Huntly Castle was screaming style and power. That was until the boss stood by his principles and remained steadfastly to his religious beliefs and paid the ultimate price by being beheaded.
What a place this is, having a decorated entrance way and a bold statement at the top of the castle as to who owned it, you can just make out part of it at the top with the letters SE being visible in this picture.
With that done it was 4PM and time to set the GPS for a route home, which unfortunately took me into Aberdeen in time for the rush hour and the customary traffic jams on North Anderson Drive.
I arrived home and despite the dire predictions of that day there were no thunderstorms, they came the day after and I was very grateful not to have been out on a bike. The temperature on the Beemer-ometer peaked at 26C, which is hot enough for me.
Well that’s the end of this blog post and of the test, I have learned one important lesson in that further blog posts need to be a lot shorter.
You’ll find why next week and then….