Our first proper day in the highlands started off very much like our 2012 trip, along the A93 and A939, past Glenshee and The Lecht ski hills. This is the route Evo magazine made a film about, and although I didn’t have an Aston Martin, I really enjoyed the drive – the MR2 was made for roads like these!
After the excitement of The Old Military Road, we stopped in Grantown on Spey for lunch, I went for that finest of Scottish delicacies – the macaroni pie! Tasty. Our next stop was at the Tomatin distillery, just off the A9. The plan has been just to pop into the shop, but we ended up on a very surreal tour with a coach load of French tourists, then a separate private tour/tasting and a sample of their 1988 malt to take away with us (which I’m enjoying as I type). The remaining boot space in the MR2 was also filled with purchases from the gift shop.
By this time we were running late, so drove past Loch Ness to our overnight stop at Lochcarron. The drive past Loch Ness and on towards Kyle of Lochalsh, then round Loch Carron would have been better without the rain, hopefully our return journey will be better. For those interested, we didn’t see Nessie, which I’m also going to blame on the rain, even the hardiest of Scottish mythical monsters wouldn’t have wanted to be out in it!
Total distance: 569 miles.
The first day of a Scottish roadtrip is always the long slog up the M6, fortunately the traffic was good today and we made it up in under 6 hours including stops.
As our itinerary for the week includes some of the best driving roads in the country (and possibly the world) I’m particularly excited to be driving the MR2, it isn’t the most refined car, but should come alive on the highland roads. On the other hand, Jen doesn’t really understand why “we are going on holiday to a country where it rains all the time, in a car she can’t fit all her luggage in”…
Total distance: 347 miles (at 41.46mpg a new record).
Since our trip to North Wales last year, I had wanted to drive my MR2 on the Welsh Mountain roads, so as we were heading up to Chester for the weekend I thought a detour would be in order! This photo was taken at the top of the Horseshoe pass, where we stopped for a picnic, before continuing towards Ruthin and eventually Chester. The MR2 was perfect on the Welsh mountain roads, with the roof down in the spring sunshine I was a very happy Lewis.
We spent the afternoon in Chester doing touristy things, walking along the walls, checking out the shops etc, before meeting some friends at Hickory’s BBQ restaurant – which is one of my favourite restaurants anywhere. My aim for the year is to learn how to cook pulled pork on the BBQ, if mine is anywhere near as nice as Hickory’s I will be very proud of myself.
We stayed overnight at the Village Hotel, just over the Welsh border at St Davids, and called in at Cheshire Ice Cream Farm on the way back home the next morning. I’d heard good things about it and wasn’t disappointed, it was just a shame we couldn’t take any home with us!
In all it was a great weekend, combining three of my favourite things, BBQ’d meat, ice cream and road tripping!
The lease deal on my MX-5 is coming to an end, so it was time to search for a new car. Jen and I had been toying with the idea of driving down to the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, so I had been looking for something suitable for a two week roadtrip around Europe. However, nothing with storage space and in budget caught my eye, but I kept getting drawn to the little Toyotas with no boot!
After looking at a few with Jen and confirming that the storage space (behind the seats) would be enough for a weekend away, I saw this one, which had fewer miles and was in much better condition than the others – so I bought it!
As I still have my MX-5 for a few more weeks, the MR2 is going into storage – but I got it insured for the day to drive it home and it would have been rude not to take it for a run out!
The first trip was to Tesco – I can confirm that it can fit a large weekly shop in the storage bins. Then we went for a picnic at Broadway Tower near Evesham. Broadway Tower is an old tower and country park, on the A44 between Evesham and Moreton in Marsh. Aside from the great views, free parking and cafe the other attraction to Broadway Tower is that the road to get to it, known as Fish Hill has some great alpine style hairpins, so was a good place to test out the new car – don’t worry, my standard Melton Mowbray and Uppingham test will happen when I get it out of storage! The return journey, through the Cotswolds, was a good comparison with the MX-5, as I’d driven that route last month on the way back from Croyde. The MR2 isn’t as refined as my mk3.5 MX-5 (more refined than my old mk1 MX-5 though), but being lighter, mid engined and more powerful, the handling is better than either and I can carry more speed through corners. I’m going to have to take it on a track day to see what it can really do! That will have to wait until it is back out of storage and in the mean time I’m going to make the most of my remaining time with the MX-5!