Scottish Borders run – review and pics

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    Joined up with the folks from the Thundercat forum for a blast in Scotland recently…here is the review and pics….

    I had been looking forward to this weekend for ages and when we all enjoyed that glorious weather a short while ago and temperatures hit record levels in Scotland I could barely contain my excitement. I have not ridden in Scotland since way back in 1987, when I toured on my lumbering Suzuki GS550E. However as the date for the WeeMac drew closer the weather forecasts got progressively worse as rain and even hail pounded down here in Worcestershire. I seriously considered not coming at all and as I climbed aboard my Thundercat early on Friday morning there was a layer ice on the roofs of the cars parked nearby. It was biting cold but the cat was purring smoothly away under me, seemingly revelling in being back on the road, and I felt good at being back aboard my trusted old friend.

    Frosty start in Worcestershire

    A dull ride up to Chesterfield was despatched without drama where I met up with a few of the others.

    Forming up at Nick and Ellies

    We fuelled up and quickly blasted up to Thirsk to meet up with another lad who rides a 848. Ellie had some of the widest throw-over panniers I have ever seen and as she weaved confidently through the traffic she was literally mm’s from clipping the door mirrors of several cars. One driver was so transfixed by her precision that he completely forgot to brake and ran into the back of the car in front! More drama came when the covers she had fitted to panniers to protect her kit from the rain that seemed inevitable decided to start coming off. After a couple of attempts to secure them we gave in and pressed onto to Thirsk. The others all had heated grips and sophisticated thermal clothing; I had my £4 woollies Villa gloves as a liner and a freebie micro-fleece under my normal biking jacket. You are all softies!! Who needs all this high tech kit?? Or am I just a cheapskate?? Answers on a postcard….

    We met up another lad in Thirsk and after a brief halt for dinner where I would have enjoyed my customary salad but for the waitress getting my order wrong (I was forced to eat sausages and mash…), he led us ever further north. He knows some great back roads so rather than trundle up the A1 we cut across country along some more challenging roads taking in Barnards Castle and enjoyed a rest halt atop the beautiful Hartside summit. The road up was great fun and the road away off the moors looked even better. So I was a bit disappointed when we didn’t actually continue along that road….one for another day

    The approach to Hartside

    Hartside’s inviting moorland roads

    Stunning spot for a cuppa!

    We continued to slice our way across country at a decent, but not ludicrous pace

    We eventually rolled into the highly imposing Broadmeadows having enjoyed a superb ride up. A big thanks to him for picking such an excellent route. I was stopping down the road in the somewhat less impressive, but still charming Old Schoolhouse along with four others We dubbed it the leper colony!

    Not bad, not bad at all….Broadmeadows

    After dropping our kit off at the leper colony we joined the main party back up Broadmeadows to eat and socialise for the night.
    A couple of the guys had raided a local supermarket for supplies and the whole group mucked in to unload and then prep up a stream of pizzas for everybody. The drink soon began to flow and new friends and old got on well as the group gelled through that traditional biker medium…taking the piss! For me it was the first time I had met many. Bikers, whatever their backgrounds are generally great people. The evening raced by and before I knew it was the wee small hours. One lad showed a few of us how to play his favourite card game…Arseholes (don’t ask). In fact he taught me so well that I won three games on the trot before we gave up and focussed on downing some delicious single malt whiskey…forgetting in my case that I actually don’t like whiskey!!

    Enjoying the pizza

    Washing the pizza down

    Some rowdies outside lowering the tone

    Smiling before he got thrashed at his favourite card game

    Break out the whiskies!

    Up at 8am the next morning, the bikes all gathered up at Broadmeadows for the off…and 24 bikes made for an impressive sight as we headed out keen to enjoy the delights of the Scottish border country. OK this was a Thundercat forum run, but many have moved onto pastures new, so while the underrated 600 was the most common bike on show we had a good variety of machines from sports bikes to big adventure bikes. I thought it was great to see so many different machines all being enjoyed to the full. Eight were Thundercats, with a 9th due to join later in the day.

    Forming up at Broadmeadows

    It was straight into the action on the A708 a fantastic if somewhat bumpy road in places, that twists and turns alongside the hauntingly beautiful Loch St.Mary. The surrounding backdrop was equally stunning and despite still being pretty cold it felt almost a privilege to ride such roads in such a setting. The first stop for fuel at Moffat came up all too soon and I was amused by the level of chaos we caused, 24 bikes caused some stress for the poor lass on the till.
    From here we picked up the slightly more open and sweeping A701 which overlooked the A74(M) for a while, which provided a neat contrast. We were soon enjoying the glorious Delveen Pass and I was please when Rosco pulled up the line near a waterfall so we could take it in properly and snap of a few photos to freeze it all in our memories. I had been really enjoying myself in group of 5 or 6 bikes. We were all having fun without things getting too pressured or threatening. We were not even halfway through the day yet and the memories were coming thick and fast. We should look back and savour times like these.

    Bikes everywhere at the first fuel stop in Moffat

    This why we are here…the The Devleen Pass

    Our lunch halt came up all too quickly with about 130 miles or so covered and weather had held off pretty well up to now. New Galloway was a little overwhelmed by the group, but we still had an enjoyable lunch in an idyllic spot. I even got over the shock of being served an ACTUAL salad!

    The idiylic (until we showed up…) lunch halt

    After lunch the fun continued as we sped across country to the next fuel halt at Strathaven. The roads were challenging and very bumpy, but for me this section provided one the biggest highlights of a memorable weekend. A group of maybe 12 or 15 bikes kept a neat high speed formation, peeling off into bend after bend one after another. The view ahead a line of fast moving bikes, the view in my mirrors the same: It was like piloting a Spitfire a tree top height in company with the rest of your squadron on a daring cross channel raid…what a buzz!!
    On a more sensible level the marking system was working immaculately, but I had fun marking a junction at an unknown town whilst variously moonwalking and generally mucking about much to the bemusement of the locals and two bikers who had nothing to do with us!
    At Strathhaven we did the compulsory Thundercat line up and group shots, roping in a somewhat stunned trolley boy from the local Sainsburys to take some of the shots. One Thundercat had already turned for home by this point so the Thundercat line up was one short.

    The traditional line up shot…

    From here the fun continued and even a full on snowstorm failed to dampen spirits as we headed for one of the forums members houses for a tea halt. He had generously opened up his lovely home to us all and I am quite sure that this quiet sub-urban cul-de-sac had not seen the like of this before as we all rolled in en-masse. We then proceeded to demolish the healthy supply of choccy biccies and home made cakes that his wife had laid on for us.

    Braving the snow

    Tea halt

    I hope he has good neighbours, everybody needs them, they become good friends you know…

    Rosco looks pretty busy, 24 teas and coffees please!


    The final leg of an increasingly memorable day was yet another challenging section, again bumpy in places, but the countryside remained as stunning as ever. Temperatures were dropping again by now and we even got splattered a couple of times by gritting trucks coming the other way. The line of bikes was stringing out by now and by the time I marked one of the last junctions we had a long wait until the lad back marking came past. He celebrated by pulling a big fat wheelie on his KTM990 along an inviting straight…
    The final few miles back to Broadmeadows were despatched without drama with a ER6F joining me in passing the stragglers. All the bikes rolled back into Broadmeadows after 230 miles of some of the most memorable riding That I have enjoyed on my trusty Thundercat. No accidents, no breakdowns, nobody got lost, only that unfortunate salad incident marred an otherwise perfect day!

    Towards the end of the day and the Thundercat is looking pretty travel stained, but just check out that view…so typical of the day

    No wonder a little wheelie could not be resisted here…

    WeeMac 2012 was wrapped up with another evening of fun at Broadmeadows as we enjoyed a Spag Bog cooked superbly by one of the forum members. Once again the chat and laughs flowed as easily as the beer wine and one lads’s potent fruit punch, that tasted like Five alive and had a bigger kick than neat aviation fuel!
    The snow had come down and settled overnight and I was hopeful that I would be stuck up there for another day or so, but it soon cleared in the morning.

    Essential supplies

    Tucking in

    Beer, food and bike racing on the telly!

    Snow capped Thundercat

    Still snow on the ground as I sadly turned for home

    So I was a little sad the next morning to split form the group at Selkirk and head the 277 miles home. I enjoyed a brisk solo run across the A7 before trundling down 38(!) junctions of the M6. I got home on my travel stained Thunercat, another 850 trouble free miles added to the clock. What a superb bike!

    Back home after well over 800 miles the old girl deserved a clean…

    All in it was a brilliant, memorable weekend


    great write up and pictures as always mate


    Top stuff, great write up. The photo of your Tcat with the sun and rain clouds looks quite surreal, that’s got to go on your wall!


    Great write up as always, looked a great weekend although I think it may of been a little chilly for me!


    I have never had the chance to ride the Scottish roads but I love blasting along them in the car. Need to get up there at some point with the bike. I will add it to my list along with isle of Mann and route 66 (although I may need to save for that one)

    Great pics and write up, shame about the snow. Snow on a bike isn’t very fun.


    I was toying of getting a forum outing to the TT set up for 2013…would you be interested?


    Yup without a doubt


    cracking pics and write up [:)]


    Going agin this year, looking forward to it


    it is cracking up here. Let us know details and I’ll see if I am about for part of it! :-)


    it is cracking up here. Let us know details and I’ll see if I am about for part of it! :-)

    How far away from the base are you

    It is April 12-14


    I live on HMNB CLYDE during the week, so if not on a course or leave then I’ll try and get a bike up there. But am most likely to be doing resettlement training around then in Aldershot


    I live on HMNB CLYDE during the week, so if not on a course or leave then I’ll try and get a bike up there. But am most likely to be doing resettlement training around then in Aldershot

    No worries Pete, wont be long before you have to come to the midlands again to show off the 636!


    aye mate…. you gonna have to lock up ya RD tho in case I try rob your right hand pipe as a spare for my 100 tho! ;-) lol

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