Scootering classics: Highland fling

Highland Scooter Weekend, Aviemore, September 30-October 2, 2016

This may not be the largest event of the calendar but with fantastic roads, stunning scenery and a warm welcome, it’s one worth making an effort for.

It seems that scooterists have only recently discovered what our biker cousins have known for years, Scotland has some of the best roads in the UK. Kelso’s earned its popularity, but is barely across the border. The LCGB’s 2016 run to Mull produced rave reviews and the North Coast 500 is ranked as one of the world’s greatest road trips. We thought that the Highland Scooter Weekend would be a good opportunity to experience Scotland for ourselves.

Are we there yet? Still over 200 miles to go.

For the past few years several Scottish Clubs have organised an end of season bash in the Western Isles. This year the event moved to Aviemore and attracted scooterists from across Scotland.

By Gretna Green I was falling in love with the LML.

 

 

 

 

 

For those who haven’t visited Aviemore, it’s the perfect location for a rally, being a resort town catering for winter skiers. Most bars and restaurants are on the main road with everything from a five-star resort to hostels on the neighbouring side streets. I rode up on the A9, a great road if you need to make progress as it’s a dual carriageway for the most part. I’d never ventured this far north and found the scenery stunning.

The road north was dismissed as boring my hosts. Seriously?
Reinforcing Scottish stereotypes.

The rally was centred around MacKenzies Highland Inn but my first taste of hospitality was outside the chippy which was great — a rally hasn’t started like this since I was 17! The rest of Friday night was spent between various bars mixing with people determined to have a good time and making new friends.

Highland Scooter Weekend HQ.

Saturday morning was a relaxed affair before the lunchtime ride out. Johnny Street had planned a beautiful route that took in all the sights of the Highlands. I ticked a ruined castle, a loch and a mountain off the list. Between these points the roads were perfect, with a mixture of tree-lined avenues and stunning views forming the backdrop as we twisted slowly upwards to the Cairngorm railway. Here it was possible to take a short train ride up the mountain or just enjoy a hot chocolate and take in the scenery.

Glencoe. If this doesn’t inspire you to ride nothing will.

Unfortunately Johnny’s GP chose the summit to decide its clutch needed replacing. It’s a measure of how enthusiastic the Scots are for riding that, despite the distances involved, there wasn’t a single van or trailer at the rally to get him back to the hotel.

Johnny Street’s GP gave up the ghost on Cairn Form, completing the trip in the back of a horse box. Apparently Johnny could be heard shouting: “Get this speed on GPS for me,” from the darkened interior.

Saturday night’s entertainment was provided by DJs from Inverness-based Ready Steady Go Go. Unfortunately the advertised 6pm start was optimistic and by the time things really started buzzing I’m afraid to say that I’d peaked!

Commando Memorial at Fort William. That sky isn’t Photoshopped.
Lockerbie memorial garden, a very moving break from riding.

Before the trip I’d been warned that Scottish weather wasn’t usually kind in October, but Sunday saw nothing but clear blue skies. In company with a few others I took the scenic route south. With not a stretch of dual carriageway in sight but plenty of twists and turns this really was ideal scooter territory.

Lucky heather sir?
My escorts south were ‘Jukebox’ Jury from Kilmarnock and Animals fae Naboombu SC members Fraser and Les. Regulars at the event, it closes the Scottish calendar down in good company before the dark nights set in.

If your idea of fun is riding full throttle to a mass gathering of scooters and organised events, the Highland Scooter Weekend isn’t for you. However if you take pleasure in the journey and enjoy a small gathering of like-minded people it’s a real treat.

Adam had made the journey from Edinburgh on his insane Piaggio X9 home build.
The hotel sounded much better on the internet.

TROPHY WINNERS

Best Vespa: Mick Copeland

Best Lambretta: Colin Dower

Best turned out club: Aberdeen Classic Scooter Collective

Furthest Travelled: Stan from Scootering magazine!

My first ever trophy, though in fairness the LML earned it.

 

WE SPOKE TO

Stan Smith of Fife has been riding his 1970s smelly tribute for the past 10 years. Currently running a Rapido 200 kit, this LI-based machines has given him very little trouble.
Behind the rally are Buchan Coasters SC members Bill Malcolm and Derek Bain: “The idea is to get a few friends together at the end of the season but everyone’s more than welcome to join us.”

Words & Photographs: Stan

 

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