Author Topic: NC500?  (Read 314 times)

Moto63

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NC500?
« on: January 12, 2023, 02:18:10 PM »
This is a question to anyone out there, possibly some of our Scottish friends. Has anyone ever ridden the NC500? A friend of mine says it’s on his bucket list so wants us both to do it in early June. Can anyone out there give any advice?  (apart from the “don’t do it” line😉) We are going to do it ? Is early June a good time to attack it or will it be camper van hell ? As I say any advice will be appreciated.
Cheers, Michael

Itsme

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2023, 03:58:17 PM »
Hi Michael

I rode much of what is now termed the NC500 way back when it was just the Westerross Trail. Bloody brilliant and well worth the ride. Midges are a bugger and if June is warm take midge repellant. The only other thing you might want to consider is the popularity of the NC500 now as booking any type of accommodation becomes almost impossible if you leave it too late.

I can recommend the Independent Glencoe Hostel for good, shared dormitories, but have never been posh enough to stay in any B&Bs.

Whilst up there you absolutely must ride the Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) up near Applecross. 12 miles of unbelievable gradients and hairpin bends. Not to be missed or underestimated. I don't know if the Flower Tunnel cafe is still open on the Applecross campsite but it used to be a great place for a breakfast.

I am a bit jealous but if you decide to open the ride to TC members I could be persuaded!

Ian

Moto63

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2023, 04:06:16 PM »
Many thanks for your advice Ian. All of which I will take onboard. If it were up to me, you could gladly tag along. However it’s ultimately my mates trip so not really up to me I’m afraid.
Thanks again and I’ll look up hostel and pass you’ve mentioned.👍
Cheers, Michael

iansoady

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2023, 04:44:50 PM »
I agree with much of what Ian says although my trip up there dates back to the 1990s on the Commando. I fear it has been a victim of its own success to some extent these days so can get very crowded. I vividly remember being baulked by a motorhome on the single track road going north towards Tongue. The driver refused to use the passing places to let me past despite the big signs telling him to, and I ended up with a very dodgy overtake on the grass verge. I probably wouldn't attempt it these days....

Gorgeous scenery and wonderful roads at least when they're clear.
Ian.
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Moto63

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2023, 04:51:31 PM »
Thanks Ian. Yes I’ve heard it can get extremely busy nowadays. I’ve ridden a fair bit around the Scottish Borders and love it up around there, so tried talking my mate into basing ourselves at Moffat then going off each day in a different direction, take in a few different type of roads. However he wasn’t having it, says it’s on his bucket list so he’s doing it regardless 🤷???.
Cheers, Michael

Richard

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2023, 06:05:44 PM »
Many thanks for your advice Ian. All of which I will take onboard. If it were up to me, you could gladly tag along. However it’s ultimately my mates trip so not really up to me I’m afraid.
Thanks again and I’ll look up hostel and pass you’ve mentioned.👍
Cheers, Michael

Cafe closed a while ago now - which is a shame as its hard to get food anywhere else in the area, the pub books up very quickly.

However there is now a fuel station, automated, in the village which usually works.  Its a long way to another.
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Moto63

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2023, 06:42:37 PM »
Hi Richard. Thanks for the information, especially about the fuel station. It’s something again that we thought may prove a slight problem.
Cheers, Michael

themoudie

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2023, 11:26:09 PM »
Aye Michael,

Last time I went on part of your proposed route from Inverness was with Pat and Smudge of this club, when Pat was riding from John O'Groats to Lands End on his Dominatrix! Smudge had a MZ Mastiff and I rode Sally the twin shock SRX600. This was back in 2006! :o  Time flies!

Kat and I cut through from Lairg to Ledmore and then down to Ullapool, Braemore, Torridon, Shieldaig, round the Applecross peninsula, down the Bealach-na-Ba, Lochcarron and then back up to Garve via Achnasheen and Achnashellach, before COVID and it was a great run, in good weather, with dry, quietish roads in the middle of the week in October.

Back in 1975 I did the whole loop from Cannich in Strathglass on my AJS 18S, but there were Scottish Youth Hostels then and much less high speed traffic and more single track road, with passing places. Everything was shut on Sunday for the Sabbath.

My advice would be to go earlier rather than later, between Easter and Whitsun.
Take a light bike that you can pick up, if it falls over and has good mpg.
Carry spare plugs, control cables, nipples and be prepared to walk if there is no mobile signal. Inverness is the nearest motorcycle shops. Local quad dealers might be able to help. Rescue trucks will take time!
Do not rely on a mobile phone, the signal can be non-existant, use several OS paper maps to follow your route and take 4 to 5 days at least to do the circuit, on top of your travel up to and from Inverness. Some do it 13¾ hours travelling time, or less on a motorcycle.
Having worked in many areas accessed by the route, often for weeks, in rain and midges, camping out for the pleasure of feeding the hords has lost its appeal. So private hostels, bunk houses, 'Wigwam', may be the best way to go.
Make sure you sample the pies from the Lochinver Pie Shop Lochinver_Pie_Shop
The Applecross Hotel is not what it used to be and book early to get into a 'Wigwam' there, if you plan staying. Usually busy in the hotel and the campground.
Since COVID and Brexit, staffing has become an issue for many establishments catering for the NC500 and tourists expectations have often been inflated beyond what is possible.
Fuel, E10 is available in most filling stations. E5 can be found in Thurso and Ullapool, but remember their supply lines are long and if it is busy, fuel may be in short supply.

Many locals along the route are "pissed off" by the following (I still talk to old acquaitances):

Dumping of raw 'Elsan' contents in lay-byes or people wandering onto the hill for a crap, without digging a hole first and then burying everything.
Inability of punters to observe signage, know what to do when meeting oncoming traffic on single track or 1½ track roads, or when to pull in to allow others to pass.
High speed 60mph to 150mph plus by packs of "Supercars"/"Sportsbikes", often with "track/open exhausts", trying for the fastest lap.
Loud individuals or groups, demanding attention/service/food.

Remember, if you bin it, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness is the nearest big A&E department and for major trauma, it's Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow, if they can find a bed for you. 100 miles plus under blues and twos along single track roads won't be quick.

This link may help planning, there are others: Motorcycle_Scotland N.B. their from Moffat!  ;)

Apologies for being a damper, don't let it put you off, it's just very different from south of Hadrian's Wall or south of the Highland boundary fault even.

Go and have a chilled run!

Good health, Bill


Itsme

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2023, 07:51:19 AM »
Hi Michael/Bill

Even though I'm not from that part of the world I fully sympathise with why local people get sick of the crowding that takes place, particularly from people with no respect. I used to go up to the west coast back in the late eighties and early nineties and it was bliss. I always made a point of supporting local shops and businesses by buying food etc from them and the time I used a local hospital (Fort William for some dressing changes following an operation just before a trip) I made a donation to the 'Friends of' branch of the local charity.

It amazes me that people go to such a beautiful part of the Scottish Highlands and act like rude idiots.

I don't know if this still holds, and probably because of the aforementioned rudeness it doesn't, but my friend, who is Scottish, told me once that if you get stuck for petrol up in the Highlands most hotels, farms etc carry reserves and will give you the odd gallon if you're desperate. I certainly had this in Wales once when I asked a farmer in a pick up where the nearest garage was as I was running out of petrol. He pulled a jerry can from the truck and filled my tank and wouldn't take payment.

Like Bill says don't let this put you off, just uphold the impeccable reputation of Thumperteers on a trip!

Ian

mthee

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2023, 12:49:23 PM »
More than a little jealous, Michael! Hope it hasn't  been too spoiled by becoming popular.
Closer to where I grew up, wild camping on Dartmoor has just been given the kibosh in court, as camping is not recreation,  don't you know!
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/13/dartmoor-estate-landowner-alexander-darwall-court-case-right-to-camp
Fear of the unknown does not mean the unknown needs to be feared

Moto63

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2023, 04:04:54 PM »
Bill... as always a full and comprehensive account. Which I can’t thank you enough for spending the time to sit and type it all👍. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post. I’d be happy basing ourselves at the Buccleuch Arms in Moffat and going north, east and west from there but my mate is insistent on the NC500. However I won’t let the thought of running out of petrol in the middle of nowhere stop me from being the intrepid explorer I used to be 😁😉
Thanks again for all the advice
Cheers, Michael

CrazyFrog

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2023, 05:19:13 PM »
I once ran out of petrol in rural Staffordshire. I'd collected a new bike from Bolton and was riding back only to find the idiot dealer had put the tap to reserve when I set out. There was a guy at a cottage a couple of hundred yards further on mowing his lawn with a petrol mower. He said he had got a jerry can full of fuel and all he asked was that after I'd tipped it in my tank, I'd go and refill it for him at the local petrol station. He also said he was very reluctant to let me have it as the previous year the same thing happened and the biker who'd agreed to this arrangement had tipped the petrol in his tank and then disappeared taking his Jerry can with them. I gave him a £5 deposit, filled the Jerry can and the bike at the local petrol station, took the Jerry can back to him and told him to keep the extra £5 as a thank you for getting me out of trouble.
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themoudie

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2023, 09:03:02 PM »
Michael,

Here is the one for you and those Xmas book tokens!

Link: Destination-NC500-guide-book

I haven't read it!

Good health, Bill

johnr

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2023, 11:14:04 PM »
Hi Richard. Thanks for the information, especially about the fuel station. It’s something again that we thought may prove a slight problem.
Cheers, Michael
theres usually no problem with fuel. what we found when we were up there and fuel was scarce was that the fuel stations which are usually a single pump or a pair in a small forecourt operated 24 hrs and paid by card tended to run short of diesel, but they all had petrol. theres a petrol station opposite the spar in durness, and one near loch eribol, plenty near wick and jog, take a fuel can and youll not run out.

Moto63

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Re: NC500?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2023, 08:35:04 PM »
Thanks for the info John. Hotels are now booked so just hoping we get half decent weather 🤞
Cheers, Michael