Monday, 14 August 2017

Back Roads to England

This is the fourth in my "Back Roads" series. It's a simple concept. I pick a destination and figure out a route there and back on minor roads. I'm looking for great biking roads, scenery, history and adventure!

In this episode I'm heading south, to England. The main road is the M74 (in places called the A74(M) for obscure reasons) There is also the old A74 now de-trunked and designated B7076 & B7078. But I'm looking for a more scenic and winding route. 

Studying the map I found a road I'm sure I've never been on. It starts in Carronbridge and heads for the Lowther Hills and the Forest of Ae.

I know I've complained about this before but come on guys, some road signs on  back roads would be helpful. We don't all have satnav.

But I found the way. The weatherman said it would be sunny but this was not really true.
Lost again. I'm sure this sign once contained useful information like "this road is a dead end in 2 miles".

Cattle grid in the hills.

Robert the Bruce statue in Lochmaden.

Silted up harbour in Annan.

This was interesting. The "Devil's Porridge Museum". The what? This is a new  museum on the site of a large First World War munitions factory that produced cordite. Cordite being the propellant in bullets and shells. The place was huge employing 15,000 workers, mostly women, to mix nitro-glycerine and guncotton to produce a paste. This was dubbed "the devil's porridge" by writer Arthur Conan Doyle who visited the factory. I didn't have time to go inside but I'll make a note to return.

Workers making cordite

Near Gretna I came across these cars waiting to race in a rally stage.

The motorway at the Scottish border

The River Esk at Longtown

Heading back into Scotland

The road between Canonbie and Langholm has been closed for some time because of a landslip. The local council don't seem to be in a rush to fix it but this earth mound placed to stop traffic is easy to get past.

They don't bother fixing pot holes either

Suspension footbridge in Langholm

Another excellent "Back Roads" run. I found some new roads and some interesting places. The day was slightly marred by uncharacteristicly bad behaviour from the CBF. It started misfiring and spluttering. Later that evening when I fuelled up it left a pool of petrol on forecourt. Oh well, excuse me, I've got a carburettor to strip……

Thursday, 3 August 2017

In the News - Harley Davidson flavoured Gin

I'm a big fan of gin. The old "mother's ruin" is my preferred tipple if I'm drinking spirits. Gin has undergone a huge upsurge in popularity in this country. In the past a bar would have a bottle of Gordon's and maybe Bombay Sapphire and that was it. Now there will be gin menu stretching to many pages. A booze shop will have literally scores of brands from all over the country. A reason is that gin is cheap & easy to make. Take grain spirit and flavour it with botanicals - juniper, orange, cardamom, liquorice, anything really and you're ready to sell it to a hipster for £35 a bottle. No blending and ageing as required by whisky.
But German bike builder Uwe Ehinger has taken things to a new level by flavouring gin with Harley Davidson parts. Ehinger has created three varieties of his premium-priced gin based on bits and pieces of a 1939 Flathead, 1947 Knucklehead and 1962 Panhead. Each bottle comes with the part’s backstory and from what far corner of the world the part was unearthed.

All this doesn't come cheap, of course. A bottle starts at $1,058.

video (hilarious)

Monday, 31 July 2017

Sunshine & Showers

The American writer Bill Bryson, who lives in this country, said that he heard a weather forecast that went something like "it will be cloudy with showers and some brighter intervals". He noted that this could be read out every day in Britain and seldom be wrong. Well, today was one of these days. But we are nothing if not used to changeable weather so it won't spoil a day out, will it?
I took a selection of waterproofs. Luckily it never got so bad that they were needed.

My plan was to head into Dumfries & Galloway on the minor road through Glentrool Forest. My first problem was finding it. Junctions with no direction signs seems the norm on the back roads in Ayrshire.

Found it!

It got dull so I switched on the HDR (high dynamic range) setting

The Solway Firth near Creetown

I don't know a lot about agriculture but it seems that giant pink marshmallows are grown in this area.

In Kirkcudbright there is an early (1926) reinforced concrete bridge over the River Dee

Beach huts?, I'm not sure there's a beach here.

A "99" from the Mr Whippy van. I don't think I've seen one of these vans in years.

MacLellan's Castle.....

........with its own Rapunzel

HDR panorama

It's rare it happens but I don't think I'm ever been on this road before.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Happy Campers

I took a run up the West Highlands today. I passed Connel Bridge and went for a walk over it for the view. I spotted this outfit. It's a Ural with sidecar and caravan. It had a foreign number plate, white, so maybe German.

"Five wheels on my wagon and I'm still rollin' along"

I've featured this bridge previously. It crosses Loch Etive at the Falls of Lora east of Oban and close to the point the loch joins the sea. It was built in 1903 as a railway bridge but converted to a road bridge when the line closed.

There's a good flow of water from the loch heading to the sea

Looking east up Loch Etive


Thanks to "Mr Combo" for identifying this couple. They are from South Eastern France, so a good way from home. 

An account of a trip to Norway here
video here

Monday, 17 July 2017

Return to the Lochs

A couple of years ago I posted about a run to the Lochs. I thought it was about time to do this again.

Lake of Menteith

Loch Lubnaig

The road on the south side of Loch Earn is narrow but very quiet

Loch Earn

This duck seemed unconcerned about me getting close to her & her young

Statue in Loch Earn at St Fillans

The blue flowers on this shrub had a strong scent. I think it is the Butterfly Bush (Buddleja Davidii) imported from China as an ornimental plant, now in the wild.

Loch Tay panorama

Loch Tay

Loch Rannoch - it was breezy here, making the water choppy

Unusually for me I made lunch to have on the road. This rock provided a table with a view.

River Tummel

This bridge over the River Tay in Aberfeldy is one of my favourites. The four obelisks framing the central arch are an interesting architectural feature.

Castle Menzies near Aberfeldy