Went to England but not London
Went to Scotland but not Edinburgh
Didn’t do Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds
Touring a motorbike is on a different path
With strange admirers along the way
Crossing the Burway on the Welsh/English border
Started in Stoke
Made it to the top
Coast to coast
From Newcastle in the east
To Skye in the west
Past castles grand
And those that bare the scars of Britain’s violent history.
In search of monsters real or legend
In the highlands
Fortingall Hotel Central Highlands
View from the Burway
And in the low
Smoo cave on the North Coast 500
Went to England and didn’t do London
In Scotland missed Edinburgh
But saw a bit.
Mighty Breva II loaded and ready for the European adventure to come
Inverness ancient trading city of the north
All have influenced this city
Inverness castle looms over the city
Destroyed and rebuilt a number of times
Hanoverian garrison during the bloody Battle of Culloden that ended the Scottish uprising.
But I thing I was touched the by the Celtic Ray
Hootananny where the beer and good craic flower
Inverness is the gateway to the very north of Scotland
The start and finish of the touring route the
North Coast 500
It takes you the top of the British mainland
Dunnet Head the northern most point of mainland Britain
And the beautiful villages and dramatic coastline and history of North Scotland
Flying fox across the fjord
Inverness’ Calladonian Canal opened a trading route into the northern highlands
Locks at the start of the Calladonian Canal stepping up to Loch Ness
So my rediscovery of the Celtic Ray stated in the old streets of Inverness.
Back in Glasgow
The buildings have a new feel
I’ve been touched by the
Celtic Ray (the Awen)
Harris Tweed Cap made on the Shetland Islands
‘Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales I can hear the mothers’ voices calling “Children, children, children” Listen Jimmy! I want to go home. Listen Jimmy! I want to go home. I’ve been away from the Ray too long I’ve been away from the Ray too long’ – words by Van Morrison
My heritage is Irish, my great grand parents migrating to Kalgoorlie in the 1890s
Part of the Irish diaspora.
But spending time in the north of Scotland has put me on the Celtic Ray
Fishing harbour John O’Groats
Touched by the Celtic Ray
Glasgow has a new light.
I found the
And the fact the the world’s first Afro-American doctor was trained in Glasgow by slavery abolitionists. He was
I have been away from the Ray too long
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing
Onward the sailors cry
Carry the lad that was born to be king
O’er the see to Skye.
So goes the first verse of the Skye boat song and Skye is inextricably linked to the Bonnie Prince Charlie legend.
Skye is an island of deep fojds and sounds, rugged mountains and quaint villages.
When leaving Stirling I met a Spanish couple on a BMW. Who had said the beauty of Skye bought a tear to their eye.
View of Portree
And it is hard to disagree.
The vistas on each turn of the road surpassing the previous.
And the Scottish weather continued to smile.
Wallace National Monument, Stirling
The Wallace monument stands tall looking across the Forth River at Stirling Castle.
The Scots watching the English, the English watching the Scots as it has been for centuries.
Back at Berwick upon Tweed tale had told how that city had changed from Scottish to English and then English to Scottish 13 times in 30 years.
Not that either could see much on the damp misty Stirling day.
In the highlands past Dalwhinnie the cloud lifted revealing the green rolling hills and small villages.
Gatehouses that mark the entrance to stately homes.
Still the homes of the clan chieftains.
The lochs opening up bigger and broader as the west coast of Scotland came closer and closer.
With grand castles standing on islets.
Eilean Donan Castle
Across from Skye is the township of Kyle of Lochalsh.
A working port
End of the train line from Inverness and just o’er the sea from Skye.
Lochalsh from Kyle
In the middle of the working port
On the station at the end of the line.
There is a most beautiful seafood restaurant.
Waterside seafood restaurant on Kyle station
With a choice from delights such as langoustines, monkfish, sea bass
Beautiful sunset over the Loch at 11pm
And Skye still to be explored.
A hundred and fifty years ago Glasgow was the second city of the empire
A centre of heavy industry such as shipbuilding and textile manufacture
A centre of design, typified by the
But a century or so later Glasgow was struggling to survive as a city.
Unemployment, poverty and significant population decline challenging the future of the once great city
While in the UK, in Australia, there is tension and a struggle about accepting migrants and refugees.
For Glasgow, have stabilised it’s population.
The cities motto “People make Glasgow” a reflection of the more diverse international city it has become.
People make Glasgow proudly on the new skyline.
Maybe we should all be thinking about people, humanity.
It’s been 17 years since I visited the UK
A cold wet winter of long nights and freezing days.
This trip its summer and the days are long, damp and cool. Not all the different from the Australian winter I left behind.
With help from local guzzista I have the mighty breva II ready for this adventure.
Mighty breva II in front of an old porcelain kiln, Stoke on Trent
This adventure starts in Stoke on Trent, once the porcelain capital of the world. Here I collected the Moto Guzzi, I’ve bought in the UK.
Thanks to Kate and Guy of the GB Moto Guzzi club my dream of riding again in Europe is happening.
I rode up the motorway to Glasgow through the damp air and rolling green fields.
To be greeted by the march of the orange men and woman.
Flying the flags trooping the colours and beating the drum
Orange men parade
I reflected that this is what confronts and challenges the UK.
Great glories of the past celebrating victories a century or more old. Masking an underlying anger and frustration that divides the country. Orange VS Green, North VS South, the pro brexit VS the anti brexit. It’s a challenging time.
And as I ponder this there is the beautiful architecture of Glasgow.
The great Victorian design from designers like Rennie Macintosh.
And the music
In the streets and pubs.
Cold and damp Glasgow has struggled through some tough times.
But as the city’s new motto says
People make Glasgow