2017-05 - IRELAND / SCOTLAND Trip

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For those that have not been to my site before, I used to write up stories with photos after each of my bigger trips, but slacked off in recent years. I am back, and am planning on continuing the tradition. I do this mostly for my own entertainment, and for a place to go when I want to be reminded of a trip. I keep the pages simple. I am currently using Google Photos to share the bulk of my pics and videos, you can see a links above, but I also have my photo pages.

I tend to take some artistic license for both the stories and pics. I borrowed some pics from other riders, I hope they are all OK with this. I cannot remember which pics came from which rider, so cannot properly attribute them. My thoughts are scattered on the page, and this is not a journal, so I just touch on some of the day to day happenings.

I also try to keep my, or anyone else's, full name off this site, just because. There are other ways of writing things up, and dealing with photos, but I like the control I have over this method. I have complete control, and everything is on my own hard drive, fully backed up and immune to future tech changes, more or less. I tried Facebook, Blogger, Wordpress, Google Docs, and many other ways to share, and just don't like any of them for long term. They all have their advantages for current events, and keeping in touch on the road, but long term storage is definitely not good on any of these, and some of them require people to become members. Lack of anonymity is an issue as well.


I used a SPOT Tracker to keep track of my route. It makes a note of my location every 10 minutes or so.
. .

Google Version of Spot Tracker Data - Click to look at map

If you want to have some fun, you can open this map, go to adjust and make it 100% fill, then Map=Terrain, then zoom in to some of the areas. It only records a point every 10 minutes so you have to guess which roads I was on, but it looks pretty intense close up. You can even turn on Satellite and see where I have been

SPOT Tracker of entire trip

Comparing each country to the North East of the US at the same scale

Comparing the trip to the eastern states of the US at the same scale

In May of 2017 I took a motorcycle trip to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Over 4,000 miles in two weeks.

For the first week, there were 10 riders on 7 bikes, 4 of which were rented from CelticRider.com in Dublin, Ireland. Two of the riders were from North Ireland. Some of us met at a hotel in Dublin, then we all met up at the Celtic Rider office to get and prep our bikes.

We rode from there up to the Belfast area, and all around Ireland counterclockwise (Anti-Clockwise for the Europeans). Most of the time we followed the Wild Atlantic Way, a grouping of roads that follows some of the best parts of the coast, with offshoots to towns, villages and great scenery. Everything about Ireland was awesome. Great roads, great scenery, great people. Even the weather was near perfect, with very little real rain, and quite a bit of sun.

Every one of the riders were Ironbutt Riders. Most with far more experience than I have, and much more recent, as most of my rides were before electronics, computers, gps's etc were standard tools. Chris, the President of the Ironbutt Association Ireland, set up an interesting ride. No one was interested in doing a full up Ironbutt Ride. We wanted our vacation to be relaxing. Of course, a relaxing ride for an IB Rider is a little different than the typical rider. No one wanted to hang around typical tourist places. So Chris made this a non-rally rally. Each evening we were given a sheet with a list of locations and GPS coordinates. We could go to all, or none of them. Our choice. If you went to them in order, you were guaranteed to be on fantastic roads, and see unbelievable scenery, and be far away from most tourist places. A full sheet was a full day's relaxed ride. You could stop for lunch, and sightseeing and still get to the next hotel at a reasonable time for cleaning up, drinks, dinner and more drinks. If you wanted to be scored for the number of locations you went to, you would take photos of the locations an the number of locations would be counted at the end of the week. Most of us went to most of the locations. Some of the time we rode with others, some of the time we rode alone. Chris did an amazing job setting this up.

For the first day I stuck with Chris. Riding an unfamiliar bike, with an unfamiliar GPS, on unfamiliar roads with unfamiliar customs, and all this on the wrong side of the road, riding with a local made it much easier and safer.

We stayed at Generic Hotels, Pub Hotels, B&Bs and all were great. Not a lot of late nights, since we were riding fairly full days.

At the end of the tour, we split up. Some riders returned their bikes, some went off to other locals, I went to Scotland. This was a great, diverse set of riders. I had a great time with them.

Scotland was the same but different. The weather there was mostly great as well. I was very lucky. The scenery and the roads were similar, but more rocky, and dramatic.

I had planned on going north from the Ferry and hitting that part of Scotland first, then heading over to Edinburgh to see the castle there. On the ferry I saw that the weather was going to be bad north for the next few days, and Edinburgh was going to be nice, so I changed my plans and went to Edinburgh for a day and a half. Lots to see and do there, then I went back to the west coast staying in Oban for a couple of days, and rode the Isle of Mull, Isle of Skye and other just incredible rides. Then, over to Inverness for a couple of days. I rode the North Coast 500 and the Scottish Highlands. The North Coast 500 being a 500 or so mile loop if you do it all. More incredibly scenery, although that is the only day that I hit rain pretty much all day. Not bad, but cold and it really cut into the scenery watching.

After all that, I saw Nessy while riding past Loch Ness then back to the ferry and back to Dublin to return the bike.

A fantastic trip, I recommend to all, just be aware that the riding is not for the faint of heart, as I will get into below.

One thing of note, I always like to have a guide book, even with all the stuff available on-line. I had a Lonely Planet Guidebook for Europe, which I though had just enough information for what I wanted. What I had not checked out was the publication date. What should have tipped me off was the statement "In recent years Dublin has been modernizing. You can even find some INTERNET CAFEs in the city." Yup, I looked around and was able to find one still in existence. Haven't seem many of them for quite awhile anywhere. It turns out the book was published around 2001.

DAY.............. ODO TRIP DAY
07-May-2017 Start 7,624 ---- ----- Start
07-May-2017 - Sun 7,834 210.0 210.0 Approximately
08-May-2017 - Mon 8,066 442.0 232.0
09-May-2017 - Tue 8,316 691.8 249.8
10-May-2017 - Wed 8,612 987.5 295.7
11-May-2017 - Thu 8,815 1,190.2 202.7
12-May-2017 - Fri 9,117 1,491.9 301.7
13-May-2017 - Sat 9,278 1,653.8 161.9
14-May-2017 - Sun 9,708 2,083.8 430.0
15-May-2017 - Mon 9,843 2,218.8 135.0
16-May-2017 - Tue 9,843 2,218.8 0.0
17-May-2017 - Wed 10,198 2,573.8 355.0
18-May-2017 - Thu 10,493 2,868.7 294.9
19-May-2017 - Fri 10,893 3,268.1 399.4
20-May-2017 - Sat 11,280 3,655.4 387.3
21-May-2017 - Sun 11,575 3,950.1 294.7
22-May-2017 - Mon 11,710 4,085.9 135.8
Longest day 400 miles
Shortest Day 135 Miles
Total Miles in Ireland = 2,083 (first part)
Total Miles overall = 4,086
GPS Max Speed 98 MPH


05-May-2017 - Fri - Dublin, Ireland
06-May-2017 - Sat - Dublin, Ireland
07-May-2017 - Sun - CARRICKFERGUS, N. Ireland
08-May-2017 - Mon - Londonderry, Northern Ireland
09-May-2017 - Tue - Londonderry, Northern Ireland
10-May-2017 - Wed - Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
11-May-2017 - Thu - Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
12-May-2017 - Fri - Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland
13-May-2017 - Sat - Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland
14-May-2017 - Sun - Belfast, Northern Ireland
15-May-2017 - Mon - Edinburgh, Scotland
16-May-2017 - Tue - Edinburgh, Scotland
17-May-2017 - Wed - Oban, Scotland
18-May-2017 - Thu - Oban, Scotland
19-May-2017 - Fri - Inverness, Scotland
20-May-2017 - Sat - Inverness, Scotland
21-May-2017 - Sun - Stranraer (Near Cairnryan), Scotland
22-May-2017 - Mon - Dublin, Ireland

Ireland and Scotland are just like here.

Divided highway w/60 MPH speed limits

Congested roads (two way 60 MPH)

What you see above is a typical single track road. There are many that are much narrower. That bus is not full size. The road is two way, not one. And the speed limit is 60 MPH. Although on a road like this it is more of a challenge than a limit. I think the road speed is self limiting. In front of the bus is a car backing up. A few miles down the road was another bus coming the other way. I almost turned around to see what would happen when they met. And this is a fairly wide spot for this road.

Rude drivers.

See, More rude drivers giving the ADV Rider salute

BAAAAD Traffic Jams

And, of course, Graffiti everywhere.

Jam Packed Commuter Vehicles

But the curves make these 3 countries Motorcycle Amusement Parks

And one can always relax on a golf course, like the locals seen here.

There were deer on the road, although I have seen house cats bigger than these. The baby sheep were the ones to really watch out for

Public Toilets

RVs being pulled by inappropriate vehicles

Touchy-Feely Bumper Stickers

Basically, no difference. Everything we have here, they have there. I could have just stayed home.

The roads here are fantastic, once you are away from the cities. The limits are more like challenges than actual limits. The drivers pay attention, and treat motorcycles with the respect that we all think we deserve. 8^) In and around cities, and on the interstate, there are many traffic speed cameras, average speed cameras and many more restrictions. Still, even there I did not feel restricted like I do in New England and much of the rest of the US. Filtering, called lane splitting here, is not only accepted, it is expected. People make room for you. In all situations, bikes are expected to move to the front. It is just the natural order of things. Here, if you moved to the front of the line at a construction site, the flagger might hold you back, and maybe call the cops. There, people make room so the bikes can move to the front. There are even signs everywhere saying make room for bikes to pass safely.

The only time I almost got in trouble was passing at a rather elevated speed, there was traffic coming the other way, and a fair amount of traffic on my side behind a big truck. I figured I would pass as many of the cars as I could, then tuck in behind one until the oncoming traffic passed. The car I decided to tuck in behind tried to be nice and slowed down considerably to let me in front of him. Unfortunately I had already committed to getting in behind him, so there was a fair amount of braking from the two of us and those behind us until the guy I was not passing figured out what was going on and resumed speed. How often in the US will you have to worry about drivers being too nice to motorcyclists?

The country part of these countries really are Motorcycle Amusement Parks.

I did not find it difficult to ride on the left. I have done it before and it quickly becomes natural, although one really needs to be careful when right pulling out into traffic from a driveway or something. It is easy to look right, see a car coming and not worry about it because at home that car would be on the other side of the road.

The real danger, from my experiences, is walking in the city. I don't know how many times I looked right, looked left and stepped right in front of a car. It is a hard habit to break. Walking is much more dangerous than motorcycling.

BMW GS1200

The bike I rented was a BMW GS1200. This is maybe the best possible bike for a solo rider on these roads. It can handle the roads, good or bad, plenty of power without being over the top. Comfortable, even with the stock seat. Plenty of cargo space. I loved it.

Still, it IS a BMW, a German bike, and being of Polish descent, it would be unnatural for me not to complain about something.... So as usual I have a few issues to rant about.

BMW Dashboard

The bike has keyless operation, which means not only do you have to figure out what to do with the massive key while off the bike, but when you are on it as well. I have left it sticking out of the trunk lock a few times. It has every electronic automatic doodad you can think of. Traction control, powered shock, heated grips. It even turns on all by itself. I don't think it's supposed to, but it started doing that after riding in the rain for an hour. All that, but one very valuable thing it does not have. Can you guess what it is? Remember, these bikes are oh-my-god expensive. They are marketed mainly to older riders since those are the only ones that can afford them. Still cannot guess what it is? Look at the picture. Can you see I am in neutral? Sure, a bright green N and a large N on the display. Still can't guess? Imagine you are hurtling down a twisty road and you see a sign for a speed camera. How fast are you going? That's right, with all the technology on this bike, they could not figure out how to put a LARGE digital speedometer on the display. Instead they have tiny numbers behind highly reflective glass, and the numbers are hidden by the needle. The KPH numbers are even smaller. I probably have two dozen speeding tickets in the mail for going 5 over. At least I didn't drive off the road.'

The bikes from CelticRider.com were in excellent shape. I was given a brand new set of tires, and the shop even scrubbed the tires in so I did not have to deal with the potentially slippery mold release compound sometimes left on new tires.

When I returned the bike, with about 4,100 miles on it, the rear tire was pretty bald:

I had planned two routes for the last two days riding. A straight shot and a squiggly one, to be used depending on the weather. The first morning I saw the clear skies and said squiggly one. Then I looked at the rear tire and said straight. It's getting pretty thin. Glad I chose the straight one as it did rain some and getting to the hotel early was good. Cheapest hotel by far, and a free whisky in the room. Still a little tread left on the tire. Should have done the squiggly route back the last two days as my goal was to see cord. The folks at Celtic Riders didn't even blink an eye at my more than typical mileage. Very professional.

Mount Melleray Abbey

A friend of mine related this story (to the best of my recollection): His grandfather's family had a farm in the area of Cork, Ireland. The British kept taking the best horses on the farm and the family decided to get this man to America. Every time he got on a ship, the British would take him off. With arrest likely, he hid out in the Mount Melleray Abbey for 6 months. Then, the monks secretly put him on a ship that was heading to America. He got to Ellis Island, but he did not have a sponsor, so was likely to be sent back to Ireland. It so happens that the chief of police in the local town was there to pick up someone who did not make his ship. So, he saw my friend's grandfather, said, you look like a good chap, and brought him back to town. The Chief found him a job as a janitor in the public school, and he worked in the school system the rest of his life, raising a family in the process.

Since I was in the area, on my way to the Ferry to Scotland (I was at the southern tip of Ireland to start) I decided to see if I could find it. It was surprisingly hard to find, as Google Maps had it in the wrong area. But I found it, and took photos. There was not a lot of information there. They had a small museum, that I had to ask to have it unlocked. The gift shop had almost nothing for information, except for a stack of thin books with lots of photos and a few words. I asked about those, and the woman behind the counter started peeling back the pages that were stuck together from too many years and too much humidity. She was bound and determined to find me one that was intact, even though I had not said I wanted to buy one. I finally told her I would take the one that was in front of me, as she was now on book 5 with torn pages and all. She gave it to me free as it was in tatters. Still, it was the best one in the pile.

It was a beautiful place as you can see here.

Mount Melleray Abbey

Whisky Disney

Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh

I had gone to Edinburgh to see the castle there. I was told that I HAD to go to the Scotch Whisky Experience. This was like Whisky Disney. Have you ever gone on the Haunted Mansion Ride in Disney, you might understand. You start by getting into a Cask or something with a seat. Then a ghost tells you all about the history of whisky in Scotland. After that, you sit in a room with some need special effects where the bottle in front of you looks like it has fireworks going off in it, and it is getting filled in front of you, all while getting a history and tasting lesson.

After all this, you try whiskies from 5 different areas of scotland while being told all the details of what you should be tasting.

From there, you go into a room with the largest collection of whisky in the world. It is beautiful. Lastly, you go to a pub where you get to taste a few more whiskies. Of course, you can buy more if you like, they have a serious selection and a ton of knowledge.

Is this a bit hokey? Yes. Is it worth doing? Yes. If you really want to learn about whisky, and try a bunch, there are also other options in town, but it was not my thing with the time available.

The "Ride"

It's Beautiful. This is just a small portion of the collection.

It is an experience

The Whiski Bar, Edinburgh

This was another place I was told I had to go to. They have an incredible selection of whiskies but since I am not exactly a whisky geek, I drank a few beers and then a sampler.

Sitting in the Whiski Bar I was surrounded by Whisky Geeks. Blah blah blah blah blah..... I can't even tell if they like what they are drinking. I chose a sampler and read the description card. More blah blah. But then I read the last one. Tastes like crunchies? Rubber??? Victoria Sponge. Really not sure I even want to know what that is. Makes me wonder if they write these just as a joke for the tourists. The Whisky was very good though. At least I think it was. Will have to check with one of the geeks to find out if I liked it 8^)

Struck Match? That would be sulfur, right? What about brimstone?

Rubber? Victoria Sponge? Maybe I will just drink the Guinness


A week in the Caribbean barely a tan. 4 days in Ireland and sun burned to a crisp. Something is wrong.

Sunburned in Ireland?

For the most part, the weather was great. It was cool at times for riding, lows in upper 40's, highs in upper 60's, but most of the time it was upper 50's to lower 60's. Plenty of sunshine, some rain but most days it was fleeting. A decent amount of wind, but nothing crazy. Loved the weather.

Really, we got lucky. Although this is a normally fairly dry time in the area, this was unusually dry. Even a week or so before it was wetter. The dryness had some of the rivers too dry to have good fishing, according to one guy I talked to.


On the Ferry to Scotland I met a guy who was once a cop and then a search and rescue diver. Through the magic of Facebook he was sorta volunteered to help a guy who lost a momento watch while fishing. The guy who lost the watch did not expect anyone to actually help, but the guy I met volunteered. He went down and found the watch. The owner was very happy. The diver decided to go back down to have a look around. He found what turned out to be a Lee Enfield Rifle. Cleaned up it looked surprisingly good. It was missing the bolt and had no ammo in the magazine. Although it would probably never fire he had it decommissioned to be legal.

The really cool part is how it got there. The find was made public and someone stepped forward with this story. I am sure I am am remembering some of the details wrong but here goes. When this guy's Uncle passed, one of the kids in the family found a rifle in the shed. This was before they instituted amnesty, so they would get in trouble if they turned it in or if they were caught with it. Brilliant. So one of the uncles who was a fisherman decided to drop it out at sea. He was in the bay and the weather was bad so he said screw it and dumped it there. That's how it got in the bay, but how it got in the shed was even more interesting.

You may know that Britain had the Home Guard, also referred to as Dad's army (there is a movie of the same name with Catherine Zeta-Jones). They were responsible for keeping Britain safe from small attacks delaying things long enough for the army to respond, capturing downed German airmen and helping downed British airmen. They were men who could not join the military. The very young, the very old and what not. That's not what this guy did.

This guy was a member of the GHQ Auxiliary Unit. This was a British Resistance Organization. Civilian Saboteurs. They stored arms and explosives, buried in caches just under the surface. They are still finding these caches today. The men were trained in various forms of sabotage, blowing bridges, communications, silent executions. Their job was to be a trained resistance if the Germans invaded. This was so secret that today most people are unaware that they existed. This gun was most likely left over from that time period.

Here is a link I found to the story that made it public which allowed the rest of the story to unfold. Diver discovers World War Two rifle in sea - while he is searching for stranger's watch (From Bournemouth Echo).pdf

Newspaper Article - PDF version

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/districts/christchurch/15234796.Diver_discovers_World_War_Two_rifle _in_sea___while_he_is_searching_for _stranger_s_watch/

Riverside Museum, Glasgow

I was told to visit the Riverside Museum as it was interesting and had some great bikes. It was interesting, but there was not relative to bikes. There was a wall of bikes, some interesting, but they were mostly hung up on the wall too far to really get a good look at them. As a bike museum, it was a bust.

But they did have another bike display. A crashed bike. They took up quite a bit of space for this.

The entire museum has interesting displays, but they did not have much of any information. There was almost nothing, but there was some touchy feely stuff that was unnecessary. For example, there was an interesting steam train. I wanted more information, but the only info I could find was on Apartheid since the train was used during that time. OK, it was a bad time in history, it is important to know this history. But at a transportation museum, why does that need to be the primary focus of a Steam Train display? And no other real information?

There were some interesting cars, but up on the wall where it was tough to really see. There were lots of interesting displays, again, no real information. It seemed to be set up for children who were not very inquisitive.

Steam Train, no information worth mentioning.

This is a steam tractor. I would love to find out more details.

This is the only information on this thing. Pretty skimpy. No wonder the smart kids looked bored.


I went by Loch Ness. Saw a head pop out of the water, but it went under by the time I got the photo, as you can see here.

There was a head there a second ago, honest.

This was the animal I saw, well the head anyway.

The Lake from a distance. Can you see Nessy?

In the catacombs of a very historic church, there are all kinds of relics. What is the single most photographed thing there? A cat and a rat that had gotten caught in the walls and dried up. Found during a renovation.

The Freedom Wall, Belfast, North Ireland

The Freedom Wall, Belfast, North Ireland

An example of what the boni look like. The actual bonus was not interesting, but the view was stunning.

This was the actual bonus. Boring, until you looked around, then WOW.

We took a ride out to an island on this boat. Was a lot of fun.

Seals were scattered around.

A small RV park on the beach.

Incredible Views.

Beautiful Beaches.

Most of the crew.

Some of the boni were interesting.

Concrete Ship

John Wayne in the Quiet Man, filmed in the area

Me thinking about John Wayne, per the bonus instructions.

The cottage from the Quiet Man

Ashford Castle, where Rory McIlroy the golfer got married.

Edinburgh Castle

Majesty's Yacht Britannia

The Royal Barge

Now with Facebook, I learned how to take photos of food (Cappuccino)

And I learned how to take ME-MEs, or Selfishes or whatever.

As you can see, the residents of Holyrood Palace are at home, so no one can visit.

The bike is a little lonely on the ferry.

Oh so true.

Mr. Snuffleupagus, a Highland Cow.

Pics of the riders

US Navy Walruses, just exactly like Navy Seals in pretty much no way at all.