Scotland Trip – 2016
by Harry Dunwoody
Time for another tale, a diary of what we did and who we toured with on our trip this year. This time it was with our good friends Greg and Pam Duval from Orem near Salt lake City , Utah .We met them a few years ago and tour-guided them over here on two previous visits to Ireland. They came back this year after we met up with them when we were in Zion last November. They had nothing overseas planned for this year so when we suggested they come over and join us on a trip in Scotland they said they would think about it.
Helen had accommodation booked for us in Kenmore, I had a Road Glide Ultra reserved with Wilmer at Belfast Harley-Davidson hoping they would be tempted to join us. They confirmed they would be coming over so Helen also booked their tickets for the ferry, Edinburgh Tattoo and two rooms at the Holiday Inn Hotel near to the city centre and within walking distance of The Royal Mile. Lots of e-mails passed back and forth fine tuning this trip to make sure everything would run smoothly.
They arrived on 11th August, picked up the Road Glide the next day and packed it ready to leave early on Saturday from Larne for Scotland. A shower whilst on the road between Ayr and Junction 3 at Paisley was the only rain we saw the whole time we were on tour. A stop for lunch at the Minishant Inn then on through Paisley, over the Erskine Bridge, along the side of Loch Lomond to Crainlarich, Killin and then down the side of Loch Tay to our resort in Kenmore.
On Sunday we took a short ride back along Loch Tay to Killin to see the picturesque Falls of Dochart in the middle of the town then back by the more adventurous and interesting road / track down the other side of the Loch to Kenmore. Our evening meal was in the very good on-site restaurant overlooking Loch Tay.
Monday we took the road through Aberfeldy and Blairgowrie to Forfar and made our way to the Davidson Family home near Aberlemno where we met with Mike Sinclair who gave us a great tour of the now renovated old home. He made us coffee then gave us a very informative talk on all things relating to the house and family. Another patch and pin bought for my collection. On our way back we stopped in Pitlochry for some shopping and our evening meal.
Tuesday we set the Sat-Nav for Edinburgh and it took us on a track over the mountains. It wasn’t as good as a track but eventually it took us onto an “A” road. I learned a valuable lesson from that experience and Pam bought me a map later that day. A great coffee shop in Crieff, more interesting roads and eventually the ring road round Edinburgh where we made our way to Edinburgh Harley-Davidson. A few tee-shirts for Greg and Pam then on to our hotel in the city centre. Bikes parked, clothes changed and up the Royal Mile to find somewhere to eat. Then it was a slow walk with more shopping and sidewalk entertainment due to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe taking place on the way to the Tattoo. The place was packed for another great evening display of Military Bands, Pipes, Scottish Dancing, The Imps Motorcycle Display Team and other artists. By the time we got out of the Castle and back to our hotel it was past my bed-time.
After a good breakfast and bikes packed up we made our way to South Queensferry to see the new road bridge over the Forth of Firth and then to see the amazing Falkirk Wheel. It raises and lowers barges on the canal linking Glasgow and Edinburgh. A most amazing must see feat of engineering if you are anywhere near it. It was featured on the BBC’s Great Canal Journeys a while back. Then across country again to Crieff for another coffee and gift shop visit. Whilst there we had the pleasure of a visit by a Royal Princess from Dubai. Then back to Aberfeldy by an alternative route over the mountains and then the six miles on a great biking road to Kenmore. We had eaten a good lunch earlier so we stayed in and had an early night.
Thursday we took a short ride to see Loch Tummel, then some shopping in Pitlochry ending at up and enjoying an afternoon visit to an amazing and enjoyable Blair Castle. Helen and I have passed by this castle many times on our holidays but this was our first time to see the inside. For our evening meal we tried the restaurant across the road from our resort at Kenmore.
Friday morning after breakfast and packing the bikes we left Kenmore for Aviemore. We had two routes in mind, if the weather was poor we would stay on the main road and go straight up the A9 to Aviemore. The other, if it was good, by the more interesting and scenic route through the Cairngorm National Park. This route took us through Pitlochry, Braemar, Tomintoul, by-passing Grantown-on-Spey and into Aviemore. For those of you who ride directly to the Thunder in the Glens Rally every year you should allow a bit more time and take this route. You won’t be disappointed with either the scenery, the roads or the views. On your way you can stop and see the 17th century Braemar Castle and if you stand on your seat while still riding you might just get a glance of Balmoral Castle as it has high hedges and a no-stopping zone. On arrival at Aviemore we checked into our chalets at the High Range complex at the bottom of the town. A quick change into our jeans and then a good meal at the Cairngorm Hotel and up to the Macdonald Resort to register and collect our most important wrist bands and Rally Pin.
On Saturday Greg and I watched the Bike Parade whilst Helen and Pam took the train to Inverness for some shopping and sightseeing. We then made our way to Grantown in time to have coffee before the Parade arrived. As usual it was tremendous to watch and then we strolled up the main street to see all the Harleys on display, meet up with friends from our own Belfast Chapter and others we have made over the years. I also got to meet some of the guys from Red Rose Chapter I trained with on my Road Captains Course. After spending the rest of the afternoon at Grantown, Greg and I rode to Inverness to collect Helen and Pam. We had all their gear in the side boxes for the journey back to Aviemore.
Our evening meal was in the Castle Tavern beside Inverness Castle. Helen and I had eaten there several times before on previous tours and could recommend it. Then it was just a ride down the A9 to Aviemore and in for the evening.
Sunday started with breakfast in the Roo’s Leap beside the train station, then a walk round the town to see the other stalls and back for the bikes for a ride up the mountain on the railway to the top for views over the surrounding area. Sunday evening we dined in the popular Taverna Italian Pizza Restaurant on the High Range complex. Then it was time to get packed for the ride home in the morning.
Monday morning, sun shining for a change as we left Aviemore after another great week-end. We were joined on our way back to Cairnryan by Glenn and Margaret Sands, Ian and Jean Mc Cracken and Niall Mc Carragher. Our usual route to the ferry is by Newtonmore, Spean Bridge, Fort William to our coffee stop at Glencoe Village. Back on the Harleys through Glencoe, Crainlarich, with a stop for fuel and another break just before the Erskine Bridge, Paisley and a dinner stop at the Minishant Inn. This has become a favourite stop for us these last few years on the way to and from Aviemore. Their food is really good with parking right at the door. Margaret took our food orders, phoned them in and our meals were ready shortly after we arrived. The rest of the ride to Cairnryan where we met with Norman, Ken and Lex was still in beautiful sunshine. There are a lot of Belfast Chapter members make this journey to Thunder in the Glens every year. Good byes are said on the boat as we approach Belfast and the group split up and go their separate ways.
Greg and Pam’s Road Glide was returned on Tuesday morning when the shop opened then we took a drive to Ballycastle and down the Antrim Coast, another favourite of mine. Our last meal with them before going home was in The Quay’s in Portavogie.
I could say without hesitation they enjoyed the whole experience, especially the Rally with the Tattoo a close second. Scotland and everything there really excited them. Their vacation was now almost over with just an early rise on Wednesday for their flight home.
This is our forth vacation with them, two when we tour-guided them in Ireland, another when they tour-guided us in Utah and this most recent tour of Scotland. Greg is a very skilful rider and over the 1200 miles we rode together I never once had any concerns with his ability to keep-up, negotiate heavy traffic or overtake.
The Dunedin HOG Chapter from Edinburgh Harley-Davidson did a fantastic job of putting their 20th Thunder in the Glens Rally together. This is where you finish by saying both the Destination and the Journey are worth the ride.
Photos— Greg and Pam at Ailsa Craig, Aberlemno, Falkirk Wheel, Bridge at Glenshiel Lodge/A939, Falls of Dochart and Glencoe.
France and Belgium Trip – 2014
by Harry Dunwoody
This year, 2014, was a very special year for me as it was the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War 1 and also of the death of my Grand-Father, killed serving King and Country. Years back my Grand-Mother gave me all the paperwork she had relating to his death in Belgium at the start of the Great War. Included was a picture post card of the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres and on the back of it were all the details of where his inscription could be found. He served with the Irish Guards and was with the British Expeditionary Force made up of Guards Regiments sent to Belgium at the start of the war. During an intense battle with the Germans at the end of October his group was over-run and for a few days he was reported as missing in action then declared dead on 6th November 1914. Along with over 56,000 soldiers of the Commonwealth remembered with no known grave his inscription is on panel 11 of the Menin Gate.
This was my third visit and after reading The History of the Irish Guards in the 1st World War, Regimental War Diaries and researching on the internet I found as near as I could possibly hope the place he died.
Travelling companions for Helen and me on this trip were Margaret and Glenn Sands. Having crossed from Rosslare to Cherbourg we made the beautiful cathedral city of Bayeaux, famous for the Bayeaux Tapestry, our base for two days to visit St Mere-Eglise, the Normandy Beaches and Bayeaux Memorials.
Then we made our way around Amiens to the Best Western Hotel in Albert in the Thiepval area of the Somme for two more days. Just out of Albert is the massive Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle that is 300ft across and 70ft deep. On 1st July 1916 Pte George Newell was reported missing in action at this spot, his body was found in 1998, identified and then buried at Ovillers Cemetery just across the road from where he went missing, an incredible fact and dedication to the missing by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. This area is dotted with cemetries along every main road honouring soldiers from New Zealand and Australia at Pozieres, Longueval and Peronne, South Africans at Delville Wood, Longueval, Canadian Newfoundland Memorial, Beaumont- Hamel and the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval for the French-British. Of particular significance to us was the Ulster Tower, built in 1921 commemorating soldiers of the Ulster Divisions who fought and died there on the 1st July 1916. It is modelled on Helen’s Tower in the Clandeboye Estate, Conlig, where the men trained before leaving for the front. Our tour guide there was Teddy Colligan from Belfast, a competitve motorcyclist of days gone by who is an absolute mine of information, ably assisted by his wife Phoebe who runs the cafe and shop. Yhey live in the Tower. Having mentioned the main purpose of our visit Teddy gave me a poppy wreath to place at Polygon Wood about 5 miles from Ypres. This was where I had decided through my research my Grand-Father had died.
Leaving Albert I had another task to perform for my friends, John and Maureen Mc Clure To visit and photograph Maureen’s Grand-Father’s Memorial at Vis-en-Artois which was on our route from Albert to Vimy. He served with the North Irish Horse Regiment and was killed near the end of the war in 1918.
Then it was on to Vimy where a major battle was fought between the Canadians and Germans, to see the Canadian Memorial. We spent a few hours here looking round the bomb craters, trenches, both cemetries and information centre and then visited their massive 120ft high memorial overlooking the Douai Plains.
Back on the Harleys again and straight to Ypres and Varlet Farm, our B&B for the next three nights. An excellent place to stay and convenient to Tyne Cot and Passchendaele Cemetries and so many of the other cemetries in the area such as the Welsh and German cemetries at Langemark-Polkepelle. We arrived in time to see the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. This has taken place every night of the week at 8pm since 1928 except during WW2.
Our first full day was spent visiting Tyne Cot Cemetery and then finding Polygon Wood where I was able to place a wreath in memory of my Grand-Father at a no-name headstone in the Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery. There are a lot of these headstones with the inscription “A Soldier of the Great War” and “Known unto God” on them in all the cemetries. The 5th Australian Army also fought the Germans there in 1916 and have an impressive Memorial and Cemetery at the bottom of the Wood. At the other end of Polygon Wood is the Black Watch Corner Memorial, commemorating almost 9,000 killed and 20,000 wounded from The Black Watch and Cameron Highlanders. Our travels then took us cross country, passing the windmill, the Sobbing Soldier Canadian Memorial on our way to see the German Cemetery at Langemark-Poelkapelle. On entering this cemetery there is a mass grave with 24,000 dead soldiers right in front of you along with a lot of multiple graves. Back in Langemark while we were looking for the newly erected Welsh Dragon we came across a Welsh choir and members of the Welsh Parliament holding a dedication service to a poet and their new cemetery. We passed the windmill and Sobbing Soldier again and on to see the cemetery at .Passchendaele. Another very large British Cemetery not far from from our B&B. Then it was back to Ypres again for our second Last Post Service.
Next morning we made our way back to Ypres for some sightseeing of this beautiful town, bombed out of all recognition during the two world wars but now restored. The Cloth Hall, St Marten’s Cathedral and the town centre were almost completely demolished and it is a credit to the Belgian people that they have had everything rebuilt to their remarkable original condition. In the afternoon we went to visit a motor museum on the outskirts of Ypres. On the way there and on the way back we passed numerous out of the way cemetries. Back to Ypres again, only early this time so we could go for our evening meal before going to the Menin Gate for our third Last Post Service.
There are around 320 Cemetries and Memorials in the Somme and Ypres area. The three days we spent there only scratched the surface of all there is to see and this was our third trip.
Tuesday morning we left Varlet Farm for Ijmuiden in Holland for the overnight ferry to Newcastle. Panic setting in along the way as we encountered two serious traffic jams on the motorway with the clock ticking away. We did make the ferry in good time, had a rough crossing to Newcastle and finished off with a very pleasant ride through Northumberland Nat Park and Jedburgh to Edinburgh. We made a short visit to Edinburgh Harley-Davidson on the way to our accomodation, booked for two nights as we had tickets for the Military Tattoo. Great seats and a tremendous experience. Fortnately we had no need for the Harley that day, just our wet suits, as we had really heavy rain most of Thursday and were very fortunate it stopped just as we stepped off the bus in The Royal Mile before the tattoo started.
Friday morning we set off for the Thunder in the Glens Rally in Aviemore via the Forth Bridge and Perth, where we met up with John O’Neill. For all who have attended this rally they will know it is one of the best in the whole country. The location, the atmosphere, the roads there and back home through the mountains, Saturday’s parade and ride-out to Grantown-on Spey, the rally has it all. A light shower on Saturday afternoon, unusual for Scotland was all the bad weather we experienced at this year’s event.
On Sunday the sun shone, so Brian Hazeley, Helen and I took the railway to the top of the Cairngorm mountains and enjoyed tremendous views over the whole mountain range. Glenn, Margaret and John went in the other direction and took a ride round Loch Ness exploring that area.
Leaving on Monday morning, rally over for another year, we crossed over to Spean Bridge and rode through Fort William, stopping for a break at Glencoe Village before riding up through Glencoe to The Green Welly for fuel. Then on to Crainlarich, down beside Loch Lomond, across the Erskine Bridge, through Paisley, Ayr with a stop at Minishant for a meal then Cairnryan for the boat. Back home for a rest.
Lake Superior Circle Tour – July ’13
by Harry Dunwoody
Bike trip to Brittany – May 2013
by Paul Nixey
Do you fancy a trip in company to Brittany this Summer. A small group have booked ferry from Rosslaire to Cherbourg on the 26th May (Oscar Wilde) 15:30. We are travelling 160 miles to a village called Besle where we propose to camp in a private field adjacent to a camp site and on the banks of a canal. We will set up camp here and tour the local region. Besle is roughly half way between Rennes and Nantes, see page 14 HOG touring handbook; it is proposed to visit some of the 4 or 5 harley dealerships as a days rideout, among other venues to be decided.
Return will be on the 2nd of June from Roscoff to Rosslaire (Oscar Wilde) 18:30.
Booking through Irish ferries is very easy and should cost approx. €79 each way bike and rider, camping is free unless you wish to book a caravan in the campsite.
For more details call Nixey on 07762569657 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org