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Issue 63 - Mull to Muckle

Scotland Magazine Issue 63
June 2012

 

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Mull to Muckle

The Editor eyes a friend's trip up with a little envy

I have to admit to being somewhat jealous of my friend and fellow motorbike traveller, Tom Morton, as he embarks on another voyage of exploration across Scotland.

As I write Tom is gearing up for a fairly epic ride taking him the length of Scotland, but unlike the previous times when we have travelled by motorbike, in my view one of the best forms of motorised transport, Tom is this time dusting off the bicycle, in my opinion an excellent choice of two wheeled conveyance.

Tom is expecting to cover the distance from Mull to Muckle Flugga, the southern tip of Scotland to the most northerly accessible place, in about 10 days.

Why am I jealous I hear you ask? Well apart from loving long distance travel on two wheels, there is something very attractive about cycling through Scotland. You see what most people who drive around in their sealed tins don’t realise is that for some of us, travel is about the things, smells, people and experiences you have during the trip, rather than just about the destinations.

A motorbike is excellent for this as you can cover big distances in a reasonable amount of time and you are immersed in the environment. On a bike people treat you differently to car drivers. You find yourself being talked to at petrol stations and roadside cafes; people are always interested in the machine and what you are up to.

Translate this to the acoustic version (to quote Irish singer Luka Bloom) and it is amplified about tenfold. Pretty quickly you become aware of everything from the smell of warming tarmac in the sun to the flinty, mineral quality of rivers; from the mouth watering scent of smoked bacon at roadside cafes to the earthy notes from farmyards and ploughed fields. You don’t even have to do a fairly long trip like Tom; even cycling round a town or city can reveal unexpected delights.

A pushbike is very disarming when you meet people. If you take the physical exertion out of the equation; you have literally your life packed up on the thing and little else. You are more vulnerable to your surroundings, not just the cars and lorries, but weather takes its toll; more so than on a motorbike.

All I can say is safe trails and good luck Tom and you can read about his expedition in an upcoming edition of Scotland Magazine.

You can also follow his progress at mull2muckle.blogspot.co.uk.