Reader Ride: Scotland – Single Malt Moto Tour

Text: Stacy V. Bearse • Photography: Stacy V. Bearse, VisitScotland Scottish Viewpoint, Visit Wales

It’s a balmy August morning, and I am crammed into a train car with hundreds of gray-suited commuters. Destination: London. I feel smug pleasure knowing that I am about to embark on an adventure, while they are headed to another day of office drudgery.

And what an adventure! My GPS is programmed for a 1,300-mile loop north from London favoring coastal roads around Scotland and Wales. London’s fabulous underground system drops me off just around the corner from HGB Motorcycles in Ruislip Manor. There, I meet Keith Marven, who has a 700cc Honda Deauville rental ready to roll. Keith is a fountain of local riding knowledge, but he sums it all up in a simple mantra: Keep left. Look right.

My first overnight waypoint is Newcastle upon Tyne, located in the northeastern corner of England. Keith’s words resonate as I catch the M1 Motorway heading north. This is my first experience riding in the U.K., and it takes a few clockwise roundabouts and motorway merges to get the hang of riding “on the other side of the road.”

This is also my first exposure to the U.K.’s obsession with speed cameras. Early that morning, my son had briefed me on the network of speed traps in operation throughout the area. Authorities maintain more than 4,500 cameras as part of an automated enforcement system. There are many types of units, including instantaneous monitors and the more insidious average-speed systems that measure your velocity over a stretch of road. At any rate, steady rain ensures that I keep the Honda within the 70 mph limit.

Castles and Forts to Business Centers and Golf Courses

Under the early leaden skies, I point the bike north on the A1 heading for Edinburgh. The capital city of Scotland has roots in prehistoric times when a crude fort was built atop a hill. Over centuries, the fort was transformed into a castle, and the outpost grew into a thriving city of nearly 500,000. I take a break to tour the magnificent castle and then ride westward to find a bridge over the Firth of Forth.

Just north of Edinburgh, I veer east off the motorway to cruise up the Fife Coastal Tourist Route, a network of country roads along the North Sea. The ride takes me to the historic village of St. Andrews where I stop for lunch at a cafe overlooking ”The Old Course,” which is generally regarded as the birthplace of golf. Farther up the coast, the broad mouth of the River Tay forces me inland, where I pick up the A90 motorway to Dundee and the seaside city of Aberdeen.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2014 back issue.