P.J.'s bicycle tour in Scotland


The flight

As I wanted to take my own bicycle with me, I had to find a way to get both me and the bike to Scotland. Going by train or by car would have taken too long, so I decided to take the plane. After checking several travel agencies I finally booked a flight from Frankfurt to Glasgow via London and back with British Midland. I first wanted to get on a Lufthansa flight but that was already sold out when I booked in february. On the other hand did British Midland have the cheapest offer (250 pounds) -- they didn't charge for the bicycle. Well, I had to pay a tribute to that, but more about that later.

The bicycle

As I am using my bicycle every day even in bad weather and during winter I check it quite regularly. So there was no reason to do something special before starting the tour. Of course I had to mount several things like a lowrider for the front panniers but these were minor tasks.

I should have done a more intensive check on the wheels, but that's easy to say when you're back home and had three broken spokes while being on tour.


The decision what kind of equipment I would take with me took most of the preparation time and money. First I was looking for a tent. My brother in law offered me to take his tent, which in the end I did, but anyway I looked for a tent of my own. What I was trying to find was a tent that you can put up even in the pouring rain without the inner tent getting wet. I actually found only two of this type; one was the same my brother-in-law got and the other was prized about 480 pounds. So I saved the money and took my brother-in-laws VauDe Mark II. I never had any reason to regret this decision, because this tent is easy to handle, light and yet it proofed to be alright even in real bad weather. But more about that later.

The most important part of equipment I had to buy were the panniers. Everybody who ever traveled with a bicycle knows what's important: They have to be absolutely waterproof (especially when you're going to Scotland) and they should be easy to mount and dismount. I was glad to know somebody who'd been on bicycle tours as well and who had tried several makes. He only said "If you wanna have good stuff, spend money and buy the panniers from Ortlieb." They really are waterproof (I tested that in my bathtub) and are no problem when it comes to mounting or dismounting them. Besides, they're made of really strong but light material. The only disadvantage was the price: I had to pay 260 pounds for the back panniers, the front panniers and a bag for the handlebar. (I bought them from Globetrotter Versand in Hamburg, Germany. They have really good prices, but I don't know how much they charge for delivering outside Germany).

Besides that I bought new bicycle rain clothes, a camping cooker, a gas lantern, a real good sleeping mat from Jack Wolfskin and a couple of other useful things.


What's that ???

The Route

I bought a couple of tourist guides and books about Scotland and marked some places of interest on my map. I didn't actually plan to go to each of these places, but as I wasn't going to take any of the guides with me it gave me some hints where there are interesting places. This Michelin road map was in fact the only map I ever used. In the beginning of the tour I bought two or three local maps, but then I found out that the distances I covered each day were too much for local maps. So I sticked to the map I bought back in Germany .

The only thing I knew for sure was the date of my arrival in Scotland and the date and time when I had to be back at Glasgow airport for my flight back. The decision where to go was something I only thought about in the morning when I was leaving the place where I spent the night -- well, sometimes I looked at my map before going to sleep thinking about what to do the next day.