Ride to the snow-covered north of the UK and you’ll begin to understand why they make such a big fuss about the Full English, says Instagram rider Alvaro Pangea. (And this was only in September.)
“The natives are also obsessed with covering every eventuality when it comes to weather… which is why we packed T-shirts, thermal underwear, sweaters, windstopper, rainwear, motorcycle jacket and trousers with protectors.
“We’re glad we did because the changes in climate and the need for the Full English of bacon, eggs, sausages and mushrooms go hand in hand on this incredible island where I spent 10 days exploring on my trusty 2013 Bonneville Black SE.
“Here’s my diary…”
During the planning phase, it becomes clear from the weather reports that we have to be prepared for all weather conditions. On Thursday we arrive early in Bilbao and board the ferry to England and arrive 25 hours later.
Portsmouth, and the bad weather has followed us. Seven hours and 300 miles later on the bikes we arrive completely exhausted and in the dark in Manchester.
Next morning, it’s 250 miles to Edinburgh and the landscape has changed from wet plains to snowy mountains. On the way to the Highlands, we visit the magnificent Hadrian’s Wall, which separated the Roman-occupied part of the country from the Picts.
As we cross a mountain pass, the snow sets in and our windscreens and helmet visors quickly freeze. We arrive at nightfall in Scotland’s capital city ready to ride to Loch Ness and its monster.
After a tour of Edinburgh, our tradition of a big breakfast in a Scottish bar continues (a full Scottish, you could say) before a visit to Arthur’s Seat, which we climb in record time with all our motorcycle gear for a fantastic view of the city. We head north to Dundee, where we camp in the small fishing town of St Andrews.
Breakfast, naturally, before the 120 miles north to Inverness and the Cairngorms National Park. In Aviemore we fortify ourselves with fish and chips. Magnificent mountain passes give a pleasant feeling in the stomach so we arrive a little later in a good mood in Inverness, a small town at the mouth of the Ness River in the North Sea. Typical Scottish music in a bar after a small tour of the city and traditional songs, immerses us in the culture.
A huge storm brewing means fewer kilometres than previous days. The many curves of the mountainous country roads are fun so we ride with confidence towards Fort William, where the Loch Linnhe flows into the sea.
As we pass through Loch Ness, we see the first spurs of approaching storms so we stop at a small cafe there for the sole reason of checking the existence of the famous sea monster Nessie. No sightings from this rider though.
When we wake, there’s snow on our bikes. But the owner of our bed and breakfast reassures us that the Glencoe mountain pass is open and we can use it. Stirling, further south, is our target for today.
Stirling is known for William Wallace’s victory over the English. In his honour, the Wallace Monument was erected in the 19th century, a tower overlooking the battlefield of 1297. There is also a castle to visit and an impressive bridge.
From here it’s only 100 miles to the border with England and the small town of Carlisle, where we plan to spend the night.
Without realising it, we ride into an extreme snow and ice storm. Seventy miles in the worst weather conditions we’ve ever encountered and we arrive at the hostel, and have earned the warm shower.
A big breakfast that brings back the lost powers of yesterday’s odyssey. Bags repacked, we head south to Ledbury near Worcester at the end of the day. After a two-hour tour of the city with its cute half-timbered houses, we find shelter in a small guesthouse.
Portsmouth again, but this time rare wonderful weather and sunshine make the last part of the route via the ancient monoliths of Stonehenge – a 4,500 year old stone circle in the south west of the country – even more stunning.
We reach Portsmouth and suddenly realise how exhausted we are from the trip from packing and unpacking, with only those breakfasts to sustain us.
The ferry leaves early and, in a dream, we experience some of the highlights and exertions once more – the rain, the mountain passes, the icy cold of riding in the blizzard, Nessie and of course the ‘full English’. All moments are stored in our memories and on film, with the odd few making it to Instagram.