It was August Bank Holiday. Our family had arranged a surprise 30th birthday present for my youngest daughter’s bike-riding boyfriend. My son was going to join us, and we had booked up the Buccleuch Arms in Moffat, just over the Scottish Border. I had wanted to go for many years as I had heard such good reports about it in the national bike press. It has a hearty welcome for bikers but also cyclists and walkers.
It was part of that very hot summer, (too hot for biking?!). Reece, whose birthday
it was, arranged to meet us at our house in Whitley Bay with my son John Paul, so the three of us set off together. We had a combined age of 126, so I will let you do the maths!
To help you out, I passed my bike test on a CB125 Honda in 1979. Reece had been riding for some time, and my son had passed his direct access a few years ago. I passed my IAM advanced test in August 2000. With our differing riding experiences, our bikes couldn’t have been more different either.
Reece had a Suzuki GSXR1000 (Gixxer) in the usual Suzuki livery. JP had a two-year- old retro classic candy gold metallic flaked Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor- not the 1960s version! He had previously ridden my 1981 classic Triumph Bonneville, and I was on my VFR – X Crossrunner -funny name – which
is the sit-up version of the Honda VFR – V4. We set off on a jaunt over the borders for an overnight stay, some nosh, some craic and a leisurely ride back.
What a cracking ride! We had perfect conditions towards Otterburn. The sweeping bends and straights are made for biking and on towards Carter Bar on one of my favourite runs. Onto the windy tops, where you can see for miles and that great, winding uphill sprint to the Carter Bar border with Bonny Scotland.
Stopping at the mobile burger van, we were just about to get a shot against the standing stone with one of the resident pipers, when a coach of Dutch tourists descended, and that was that!
Sharp left and through Bonchester Bridge, Hawick and Selkirk and then turn off for St Mary’s Loch on the A708 from Selkirk to Moffat. What a road. It was so good we did the whole run straight through without stopping. Our journey’s end was Moffat and the Buccleuch Arms.
Dave, the Zimbabwean owner, made us feel welcome,and although I did ask him if he was South African, he took it in good humour. The facilities for bikers have to be seen to be believed. Everything is ultra-secure, with separate garages on the site. Gates are locked, and it would take something extraordinary to have anything stolen from there. I don’t think anyone would fancy facing a horde of bikers! Derek showed us all the facilities, and we could have washed our bikes, free of charge with all his cleaning products. We simply cleaned our fly bespattered helmets and got out of our biking gear.
The sports bar opposite called for an afternoon watching some footy in good company and after a cracking ride. A biker at the bar told me that the correct pronunciation of the hotel is “Bichhluucchh”. Now I know. We had a great meal. I chose a curry dish “Bobotie”. After a couple of drinks in the bar, we had an early night as we were all tired before the hearty Scottish breakfast and our return home.
We took the A74 towards Carlisle, straight onto the dual carriageway beside Moffat, and left after Gretna for a great run via Longtown on the A6071 to Brampton and then took the B6318 Military Road past Sycamore Gap and into Newcastle and home.
I couldn’t fault Dave and his Zimbabwean staff’s welcome. Nothing was a bother. He has tons of ideas for motorcycle, cycle and walking routes around the area, and with his legendary good humour – this was a place to go back to. A great lad’s trip, highly recommended.
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at email@example.com or call 0191 2533509.