Nich Brown reviews…
I’ve been planning to spend more time exploring the British Isles in the near future – something about living on the road in other parts of the world for a couple of years has made me realise how much of my own back yard I have yet to explore. Scotland has long been a favourite place to ride but I couldn’t claim to have seen all of it, not by a long stretch. So I was interested to see ‘The Motorcyclist’s Guide To Scotland’ has been published while I’ve been away.
On the face of it, it’s a typical tankbag-sized guidebook but there are a few thoughtful and unusual features that will help you soak up the culture; among these are an interesting handful of pages on the most important contributions made by Scots down the ages, things that have made motorcycling as we know and love It, possible. There’s also a suggested list of books and other resources to help with pre-trip planning or just to keep you entertained along the way. A QR code links to a Spotify playlist of music with relevance to the areas you’ll be riding through. There’s even a guide to pronouncing place names, which should help to make sure you make it to Brechin rather than ending-up in Brecon.
The partial wrap-around cover makes this guidebook look a notch or two above the others but, when opened, it’s liable to push the map out of view on smaller tank-bag windows. Still, it’s easy enough to unclip if you don’t want to bend it.
The ring-bound spine makes it easy to open flat so you can view the map or check directions at a junction, however the book isn’t weatherproof so it’s probably worth taking a resealable sandwich bag to keep it safe in, otherwise you’ll be opening and closing your jacket to keep it dry.
There are thirty distinct routes to explore, each with plenty of suggestions for places to see, stay at, or eat in along the way (although the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown could well mean that some of this information is outdated by the time you need it). The routes described can easily be strung together into your ideal tour of Scotland including islands, over however many days you have, without ever having to double-back on yourself.
The directions and Ordnance Survey-based mapping seem clear and easy to follow. Plenty of worthwhile and practical advice is offered. This is not just for riders from outside the UK who may not be used to our laws and customs. John Fergusson has decades of experience as a motorcyclist and journalist based in Scotland so there’s lots of valuable insight, such as the importance of midge nets or carrying extra fuel and supplies in more remote areas.
Photography isn’t always a strong point of this kind of guidebook but, whereas the plentiful images are illustrative more than jaw-dropping, they do provide plenty of inspiration to head north as soon as you can. All in all this seems like a well thought-out and nicely presented guide book that I intend to put to good use before long.
Paperback 208 pp £14.99
Published by Tarmap Press (2018)