It’s about 900 miles from Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border back to Ullapool with a detour via Tiree and the Outer Hebrides.
But go via Ireland and it’s about the same, thanks to Stena’s handy Irish Sea ferries, including Fishguard to Rosslare, and Belfast to Galloway in southwest Scotland.
I’d already done the ride up through England a few years back on the BMW XCountry, so after the HUBBUK 2018 meeting in Clyro near Hay, I decided via Ireland would make a great ride back north. Here are a few pics from that long first day from South Wales to Tarbert on the Kintyre
peninsula. The full story was in RIDE magazine’s February 2019 issue.
Stena Lines operate 28 daily sailings from seven ports on the Irish Sea. Fishguard–Rosslare takes four hours and costs £55 one-way with a bike; Belfast–Cairnryan on the Galloway coast goes from £42 in two hours and fifteen minutes. Thanks to Stena Lines UK & Ireland for their support.
For the moment there’s no passport check in Ireland and the time of day is the same as the UK, but don’t forget some euros.
HUBBUK at Baskerville Hall in Wales.
Horizons’ founders, Grant and Susan Johnson have an announcement…
… I am honoured to win an award ;-)
After the event I ride in the Welsh rain to Fishguard docks. Will a Stena ferry fit in here?
Oh, wrong docks. What an idiot.
I go for a wander. In 1955 John Houston filmed Moby Dick here.
“For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.” Tell me about it, bro!
A border as soft as a toasty marshmallow. Not for long.
Meet Jonathan – Stena’s steadfast yellow-beaked mascot. We’ll see more of him later.
Stena swings into Fishguard Bay.
Midnight, the horn parps and we sail into the cetacean abyss.
Bloody satnavs. Distance more like 60 miles; ETA 4am.
Four a.m. in Rosslare.
Balmy Gulf Stream palms.
Only a few hours to get to Belfast Docks. Better step on it.
But this EU funding for new roads is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve barely slept so I crash out in a cornfield.
Back on the road. It’s good for you!
Alwasy fancied a JPS Commando. Vespa? Not so sure.
Leaving Belfast. Like the Titanic 106 years ago but with wifi and cappuccino.
Jonathan escorts us back out into the Irish Sea.
Ailsa Crag, an old volcano and source of the world’s finest curling-stone basalt.
Turning round the Rhins of Galloway.
Bombing up the Ayrshire Coast. I got three more ferries to catch before sunset!
Just missed the CalMac from Wemyss Bay to Bute.
Gives me time to explore the amazing Edwardian-era train terminus.
Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end…
XSR gets strapped down again. Might be getting a taste for bondage.
Once on Bute, short ride up to the end of the road at Rhubodach jetty.
Another short CalMac back to the Argyll mainland.
I squeeze aboard the UK’s shortest scheduled sea ferry crossing, about 420 metres.
Great riding up here, but don’t tell anyone.
View back down Loch Riddon to the ferry.
Waiting for the ferry at Portavadie. Sunshine and showers.
Only passenger across Loch Fyne.
‘Go on, do an Evel Kinevel’, says the ferryman.
Tarbert. Actually still 3 hours of daylight left but I’ve been up since 4am.
So I head for the town hotel. Seen better days but haven’t we all.
Next day: backroads to Tiree, but that’s another story.