We kept a keen eye on the weather forecast and it kept saying that Thursday was going to be dry, so we made plans to ‘do’ the Pass of the Cattle to the village of Applecross. The name kept cropping up and we’d heard about it when we travelled this way last year, so when lots of campers on site regaled us of their stories of attempting the route it went on our list of things to do.
Having spoken to our managers who did it last year (in a motorhome – respect is due!) we rode out through Sheildaig along the coastal road. Most of the road is single-track (with passing places) with amazing views across the Applecross Peninsula, and considering we are at the height of the tourist season the road was fairly quiet.
It was still a challenge though what with sheep wandering along the road. One of them took fright and ran at full speed down the middle of the road towards us with a look of sheer terror on his face, so we had to stop as we had no idea what it was going to do. Only for it to then realise we were there and throw himself off into the opposite verge…stupid sheep!
We were quite pleased with ourselves at this point and as Applecross village came into view we relaxed and were looking forward to getting off the bike and giving our legs a rest. Well, we got off the bike a bit earlier than planned…
Passing places are in existence right until you reach the village, but a foreign vehicle coming the other way didn’t bother to stop so we were stuck. A 230kg bike with a 9 stone person on the back becomes quite heavy and with no reverse gear, makes the V-Strom quite tricky to manhandle when stationary. Trying to be considerate (never again) Dean thought we’d pull off onto the grass verge (NO! I hear you fellow motorbikers cry!) and let the other vehicles pass. However, the ground on the verge was considerably lower than the tarmac, hence a comedy roll off the bike. We were both still standing (it was quite funny really) so Dean did what anyone would do and shouted at the other driver.
Luckily we had only had ‘crash bars’ fitted the other week for this very scenario, and it is true they are very useful as leverage points to haul the bike back upright!
Now we had caused a more considerable tailback as the Strom would not start (we now know it has an automatic safety cut-out system) so we had to push her about 25 yards into the passing place. Having given her (and us) a few minutes to settle down she started up perfectly so we got back on and rode into the village for a glass of something non-alcholic.
Drama over, we set off over the Bealach na Ba and were not disappointed. Again, the http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/applecross/peninsula/index.html website gives brilliant information and the scenery is amazing. Although overcast, we could see the stunning views and as we were going down the Pass we had the benefit of being able to see if anything was coming up. This allowed us to ride the route without drama as you need the whole width of the bends to get the bike around them smoothly.
It was good practice for Dean on the bike as you needed to be in the right gear and it tested his concentration levels, especially when large motorhomes were coming past! They seemed to manage it without problems but I (Angela) do wonder if it is a smart move as the passing places are few and far between. However, everyone else seemed to manage so maybe it is just my fear factor kicking in!
When we got back we treated ourselves to an ice-cream, then a beer and gave the bike a ‘once-over’ to confirm no lasting damage had been done.
We’ve only put a few pictures on here (or will have done by the end of the day), but if you would like to view more click on the ‘Photobucket’ icon to the right hand side of the page.
What an amazing day!