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Scotland by Pillion

We were on the road early on the Sunday morning at the beginning of August, with the Scott securely strapped down in the back of our very ratty pick-up truck. The truck had been off the road for the previous five years since we had moved to Wales and I was dubious about giving it such a long drive for its first real run since the major surgery had been performed. However, here we were heading North for the first Scottish Scott Rally. It had all seemed such a good idea back in February when we had told Ted that we would love to participate in what promised to be an interesting ride. After all we had always said that we would like to return to Scotland to see more of the West Coast and what better way than this. It might have been different if we had bothered to look at the map and find out just how far north Hopeman actually was and what is more it is on the East coast! As with many of the best laid plans, preparations for our trip north had not gone as smoothly as we had hoped but the bike, a 1927 3-speed Super Squirrel, had received more attention than it was used to, and had even had the magneto armature rewound after 20 years of use and abuse. So we were relieved that we arrived at Jack and Sybil Butterworths in good time to off-load the Scott and join them for part of their Section run for the next stage of our journey north. It was a while now since I had been on the pillion of the Scott but I didn't remember it making such heavy weather of the hills but then we did have loaded panniers. Having waved goodbye to our companions who were heading towards the hills and returned to our route northwards, the problems started. After the first petrol stop at Kirby Lonsdale the bike refused to start. A change of plug seemed to do the trick and we were on our way once more until after our lunch stop when yet another plug change was needed. At this rate we would be out of plugs before we even reached the border. I lost count of the number of times that the tool box was opened but I became quite expert at the routine. The bike kept going but refused to start after every stop, requiring a juggling of the six plugs that we carried. This was a new experience for me as usually the Scott has behaved herself in my presence but on this occasion we were having difficulty in enjoying our journey. It was on the long haul out of Moffat when the Scott went on to one cylinder that Jon finally decided to call it a day. He was by now exhausted and had run out of patience and he had, of course, accepted by now that it was the magneto that was giving the problems. Not wanting to continue the slog up the climb in this fashion and having had no success with the last plug swapping efforts it was decided that we would coast back down the long hill and find somewhere to stay the night before returning home by some means. But, just drop it into gear once more - a roar of life - turn round and we are heading North once more. Eventually tired and disappointed we arrived at our hosts for the night. Paul Rickards had kindly invited us to stop over with him and without his help we would never have completed our journey. The next morning he was able to locate someone in the vicinity who was prepared to look at the magneto and he took Jon and the offending article to the other side of Glasgow to meet Mr J McKinrop who was able to provide a replacement armature. On their return the necessary repairs were carried out and by 4 pm we were on our way once more, deciding to continue with our planned scenic route rather than opt for the fast roads. The plan had always been to make the journey to the Rally an enjoyable part of the event and we had planned the route carefully before leaving home. The Scott was performing well as we circled Glasgow and wound our way along the back lanes and on through Perth. For those who do not know this part of Scotland, the A93 it is a long and remote route leading from Blairgowrie across a mountain pass to Braemar 50 miles away, and, with dusk approaching. I began to wonder on the advisability of starting our journey so late in the day. However, this concern was resolved when, upon our arrival in Braemar soon after 7 pm we found that the only petrol station had already closed and we would need to find ourselves a bed for the night. Fortunately Braemar has plenty of accommodation for weary travellers and feeling much refreshed the next morning we continued our journey over the Grampian Mountains. We finally arrived at our destination in Hopeman in time for lunch in the garden behind Ted Parkin's house. Colin and Sheena Morris, Roger Moss and Ian Young had arrived on schedule the previous day and had been enjoying the morning with a run out to see a local motorcycle collection and the swapping of tales of past events. During the afternoon I was pleased to be able to stretch my legs on a walk along the cliffs in glorious sunshine in the hope of seeing some dolphins. Following an excellent meal provided by our hosts we spent a very enjoyable evening with the main entertainment being provided by a slide show given by Roger Moss. The next day again dawned fine and we all set off on a route devised by Ted incorporating one of the 6-day trial hills and ending with a picnic lunch at Fort Augustus watching the boats negotiate the locks. The return journey followed the shore of Loch Ness where we stopped for tea and tried to explain to a young Italian couple the delights of riding a Scott. We never did get to see the West Coast. That evening we were joined by Arthur Fogg and we all sat around the large table that had taken over the living room and enjoyed a Chinese Take-away meal and several bottles of wine. Next morning we had to say farewell to our companions and retrace our route. We had a leisurely journey South enjoying all the sights that had been missed on the outward route. All the hills seemed to be sloping downwards on the return journey. Our thanks go to everyone who helped us on our trip and especially to Ted Parkin and Pam Gander for organising the first Scottish Scott Rally. We were wondering on the way home about the possibility of having similar annual events held in different regions as part of the Scott Calendar. In fact some of us are planning a trip to Ireland during 2001 ............

Gill Swan

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