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Roon the Tap
Sat 19th Apr 2014 to Sun 20th Apr 2014
organised by Highland Scotland

Car Count : 6
[ show pre-run info ]

“Roon The Tap” or “Roon The Bend”
Saturday morning and a peep round the curtains showed that the requested clear blue skies and dazzling sunshine had been delivered as ordered. Five cars met at Kildary on the A9 where full route instructions were handed out, and we assured Peter our Grampian driver that we had plenty toilet stops marked out on our route. We headed north up the A9 to our first fuel stop at Helmsdale, this was for drivers and passengers, the cars can last a lot longer than us.
La Mirage in Helmsdale made us feel very welcome and solved the issue of whether we should have bacon rolls or freshly cooked scones – by supplying both for us all. They even sneaked in some fresh pancakes and donuts, along with pots of tea and coffee.  We almost had a new member join us in Helmsdale but there was definitely something fishy about him and he would “bearly” fit in our cars. Drivers and passengers fully refreshed we headed north across the Ord into Caithness. The sun continued to beat down on us and the roads were surprisingly clear for Easter weekend (maybe they knew we were coming?).

Whaligoe Steps is just south of Wick and a little jewel of an old harbour. It’s such a little jewel that parking is a bit limited so we tried to squeeze our cars into a few residents’ spaces obviously leaving plenty space for other drivers.  There is a hand built stone staircase down the rocks to a harbour that the engineers of the time said would be impossible to build. Even today it would be some feat of engineering. We walked down the steps and then headed back up to the cars with an ongoing discussion as to exactly how many steps there were. On heading back to the cars we were met by a slightly fierce looking local who was looking at the cars. However our fears were unfounded as instead of complaining that we were taking up residents parking he was keen to tell us the history of the steps and provided us with some amusing anecdotes of celebrity visits in the past (obviously we had arranged all of this – yeah right!!!) His stories certainly brought the harbour to life and he gave us a cheery wave as we left and headed north.

We headed through Wick and then onto John O‘Groats thoroughly enjoying the lovely weather, and quiet roads. John O’ Groats has been the centre of much regeneration recently, however we didn’t see much evidence of it and retired to Starbucks for coffee and cakes (well – it had been a couple of hours since Helmsdale). We took the opportunity to get a few photos in front of the famous sign before turning west and heading for Dunnet Head which is the most northerly point on the mainland. Unfortunately we had a bit of a “wrong turn” when our lead driver instantly reacted to the female voice from his sat nav (as you do) and turned right – even though everybody else realised he was going the wrong way! Needless to say the sat nav was then switched off never to see the light of day again! In fact it was such a clear sunny day that we could see right across to Orkney. We really must venture there on one of our trips.

After some more photos we headed west for a fuel stop in Thurso – this time for the cars! We carried on west along some lovely long straight roads (there aren’t many hills in Caithness) then enjoyed the new challenge, coming back into Ross-Shire, of more twisty and hilly terrain as the mountains in the west beckoned. We arrived at the Tongue Hotel and quickly booked in before heading to the bar and dinner. The hotel must have been pre- warned about us as they gave us our own separate dining room which was just as well. The hotel staff must have been amazed at how little alcohol was consumed for the amount of laughter that was coming out of our dining room (or was this the result of the complimentary decanters of sherry in the rooms which needed much replenishment on the Sunday?). Enough in fact, that Brian felt it necessary to phone NHS 24 when he went back to his room to see how long it would take his ribs to recover as he had never laughed so much . In the morning we all agreed that what happens in Tongue – stays in Tongue, but partly because none of us really knew what had happened. Let’s just say it was an education – more for some than others.

Sunday morning and some slight concern as the BBC reported Sunday would be wet and cloudy. However a quick check out the window showed the blue skies remained as requested. Indeed it turned out that the rain was falling on the south of England (shame eh?). We were all very bright that morning probably because the hotel, to their great embarrassment, had run out of gas and therefore hot water. However bottles of wine were distributed to us for the inconvenience and we headed off still on time even after post breakfast showers when the water had heated up. We had barely gone mile before stopping again on the causeway across the Kyle of Tongue. Sometimes words simply cannot do justice to the scenery. The back drop of Ben Loyal, Ben Hope, and the Kyle of Tongue with 5 MX-5s glistening in the foreground was simply majestic.

We carried on west across the moors before descending onto the Loch Eriboll in all its’ glory. The drive around the single track road of this loch on such a beautiful day was glorious. However something was afoot as Bobby & Debbie were allowed to disappear ahead.  The mystery was soon solved as we left Loch Eriboll for a glorious bay on the north coast to be met by the Easter Bunny! In truth the plan hadn’t quite worked as the Easter bunny was in a slight state of undress when we arrived at the bay, and most had just assumed that Debbie had maybe had a little too much coffee in the morning! Goody bags full of Easter choccies were handed out by the Bunny, she even had a goody bag for some Australian tourists who happened to be in the car park at the same time, (what on earth must they have been thinking?) before we all rolled our eggs and went down to the beach. Full marks to Douglas who didn’t hesitate to get them off (socks and shoes that is) before paddling out into that fantastic looking surf. However perhaps it was colder than it looked as he didn’t stay in for long!!!

A short drive into Durness and a visit to Smoo Cave. This is a natural limestone cave which has a little boat that takes parties deeper into the rocks. We had to split into two groups to do this, and we discovered that not all bunnies like to live in underground burrows! It was no hardship waiting in the glorious sunshine.  It was then that an unfortunate incident occurred. Arriving into the small car park came a lovely gold mark 2 with its fixed roof still on! Worse was to follow as they parked in between our roofless steeds and the driver admitted he was a lapsed club member. You could tell from his girlfriend’s demeanour that he was now in serious trouble, she had told him to take the roof off that morning! Not wishing to judge with righteous indignation (ok – just a little bit) we reached out the hand of friendship to the driver as his girlfriend admired the other cars sitting in the car park. Indeed it was a good job Muriel was there at the time as I think she quite fancied a shot in Doug’s car!

Another short drive to the Chocolate factory in Durness. It must be pretty close to what the definition of happiness is – 10 MX-5’ers at a chocolate factory on a sunny day, eating and drinking the products ( warm croissants drizzled with white chocolate and toffee sauce and large mugs of hot chocolate with melted marshmallows floating on top) outside in the sunshine – it really doesn’t get much better than this.

The drive south to Kylesku had picture postcard views around every bend, and we enjoyed lots of goodwill from other drivers. Many on seeing us approaching slowed to let us pass by with lots of smiles and tooting of horns. Let’s face it who wouldn’t want to be in our gang that day? There is always an exception to the rule and we won’t waste anymore time except to say it was an Audi driver on the road to Rhiconich.

We thought the day couldn’t get any better until we turned into our planned stop just north of the Kylesku Bridge to find fifteen MX-5s from Central all lined up waiting for us. This would have been some sight to see –20 MX5’s all in one place. We agreed to join them on their drive into Ullapool which became quite spirited in places. So spirited, in fact, that some Central cars were so intent on keeping the foot down that they missed the last junction into Ullapool.  We all gathered for a drink in Ullapool and it was very noticeable that all the drivers wore silly grins, but many of their passengers maybe had a few issues with some of the previous corners.

It gave us a great opportunity to have a look at some of the central cars and discuss some possible modifications to our own cars. Personally I have decided to invest in a couple of big screws for my number plate.

After some good hearted banter we headed for chips (it is the law you must have chips in Ullapool). The sun was still shining when after our meal we left our central cousins with lots of waves and tooting of horns before starting our last leg back to Maryburgh where we pulled over to say our goodbyes.

Simply put it was the right cars, in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Thanks to everybody for an absolutely cracking weekend.

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Your Comments
20th Apr 2014 00:43 :: Brian - part of FAB
Well we're only half way through our weekend and I have to say it"scone of the best yet. My sides are sore from the laughter at the dinner table! A brilliant day and evening and still tomorrow to go!.

20th Apr 2014 00:49 :: Frankie
The boat pulling in to platform 3 is Sydney Opera House

20th Apr 2014 21:46 :: Debbie & Booby
WOW what a brilliant weekend a big thanks to Charles & Gillian for organizing it as specially the weather!!!! The views were to die for but most of all the company was brill as always .

20th Apr 2014 22:58 :: Douglas & Muriel
Thanks very much Charles and Gillian and your helpers Bobby and Debbie for such a fantastic weekend. Thanks also to the 'Easter Bunny'. Super company, weather and organisation. The meal last night is one to remember - brilliant.

20th Apr 2014 23:02 :: Peter P Smith
Just home, always weird when you are the only MX-5 on the road. What a laugh. Roll on the next one!

23rd Apr 2014 22:32 :: Frankie
'Eggcellent' report on an 'eggstraordinary' weekend!

24th Apr 2014 18:01 :: andy & dorothy
What a report ,....sounds like everyone had a fantastic  banter fun filled weekend ..excellent ;)

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