Gateway to Galicia
Another Celtic nation
The night ferry said goodbye to England
Along the coast of France
Across the Bay of Biscay
The often wild sea a mill pond on this crossing.
The morning brings Spain
Ready to catch the ferry to Bilbao with fellow bikers
Dartmoor National Park neighbours Cornwall
Famous for the Dartmoor ponies
Beautiful patches of forest
Such as Lydford Gorge
And of course beautiful riding across the moors with a stop for a pint along the way.
Back in England
Start of my next motorcycle adventure
Canals a starting theme.
Stone in Staffordshire the starting point for this 3 month tour of the UK and Europe
The shakedown trip north to Skipton in North Yorkshire
An old mill town
A canal town
With Skipton Castle playing a special part in the English Civil war.
But my main reason to travel north was the Moto Guzzi Club Pennines rally.
Meeting new friends and experiencing the welcoming biker culture.
And of course riding through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
Canal passing through Stone a canal town in the English midlands
The canals wind like watery snakes across the English countryside
The narrow boats once work horses now leisure craft
Wending their way across the country side
Marvels of engineering the locks using the power of water to life the boats, their crew and in times past heavy cargo over hill.
Narrow boat exiting a lock
I’m back in the English midlands staying in the pretty canal town of stone.
Staying with friends
Getting the mighty breva II ready for chapter 3 of my European adventure.
Mighty Breva in distinguished company of a Ducati 900ss and Moto Guzzi 850 Eldorado
On the train from the midlands to London. I listened to The Clash, London Calling.
Its both a distopian and resilient view of London. It seemed fitting as a bombing in the tube had set a sombre tone.
But London is London no matter.
Despite the confrontation London open day was in full swing as was Thames week.
And it gave a little sometime for mariner like me.
These 10 Thames barges had sailed up the river.
And were using their motors against the ebb tide to hold formation still in the water. Such seamanship.
And really there is something special about the English is their way with the sea and boats.
Be it Drake’s Golden Hind
Replica Golden Hind
Or the uniquely English narrow boats that carried goods and produce from the midlands to London prior to rail
Narrow boat exits a Loch on the
Along the Grand Union Canal.
And now provide floating pleasure.
So I did go to London!
Went to England but not London
Went to Scotland but not Edinburgh
Didn’t do Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds
Touring a motorbike is on a different path
With strange admirers along the way
Started in Stoke
Made it to the top
Coast to coast
From Newcastle in the east
To Skye in the west
Past castles grand
And those that bare the scars of Britain’s violent history.
In search of monsters real or legend
In the highlands
View from the Burway
And in the low
Went to England and didn’t do London
In Scotland missed Edinburgh
But saw a bit.
Mighty Breva II loaded and ready for the European adventure to come
Inverness ancient trading city of the north
All have influenced this city
Inverness castle looms over the city
Destroyed and rebuilt a number of times
The Hanoverian garrison during the bloody Battle of Culloden that ended the Scottish uprising.
But I thing I was touched the by the Celtic Ray
At Hootananny where the beer and good craic flower
Inverness is the gateway to the very north of Scotland
The start and finish of the touring route the North Coast 500
It takes you the top of the British mainland
Dunnet Head the northern most point of mainland Britain
And the beautiful villages and dramatic coastline and history of North Scotland
Flying fox across the fjord
Inverness’ Calladonian Canal opened a trading route into the northern highlands
Locks at the start of the Calladonian Canal stepping up to Loch Ness
So my rediscovery of the Celtic Ray stated in the old streets of Inverness.
Back in Glasgow
The buildings have a new feel
I’ve been touched by the Celtic Ray (the Awen)
Harris Tweed Cap made on the Shetland Islands
‘Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and Wales
I can hear the mothers’ voices calling
“Children, children, children”
Listen Jimmy! I want to go home.
Listen Jimmy! I want to go home.
I’ve been away from the Ray too long
I’ve been away from the Ray too long’ – words by Van Morrison
My heritage is Irish, my great grand parents migrating to Kalgoorlie in the 1890s
Part of the Irish diaspora.
But spending time in the north of Scotland has put me on the Celtic Ray
Fishing harbour John O’Groats
Touched by the Celtic Ray
Glasgow has a new light.
I found the Glasgow Enlightenment
And the fact the the world’s first Afro-American doctor was trained in Glasgow by slavery abolitionists. He was James Mcune-Smith.
I have been away from the Ray too long
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing
Onward the sailors cry
Carry the lad that was born to be king
O’er the see to Skye.
So goes the first verse of the Skye boat song and Skye is inextricably linked to the Bonnie Prince Charlie legend.
Skye is an island of deep fojds and sounds, rugged mountains and quaint villages.
When leaving Stirling I met a Spanish couple on a BMW. Who had said the beauty of Skye bought a tear to their eye.
View of Portree
And it is hard to disagree.
The vistas on each turn of the road surpassing the previous.
And the Scottish weather continued to smile.
A hundred and fifty years ago Glasgow was the second city of the empire
A centre of heavy industry such as shipbuilding and textile manufacture
A centre of design, typified by the Glasgow architecture.
But a century or so later Glasgow was struggling to survive as a city.
Unemployment, poverty and significant population decline challenging the future of the once great city
While in the UK, in Australia, there is tension and a struggle about accepting migrants and refugees.
For Glasgow, have stabilised it’s population.
The cities motto “People make Glasgow” a reflection of the more diverse international city it has become.
People make Glasgow proudly on the new skyline.
Maybe we should all be thinking about people, humanity.