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Collecting in aid of

Pier Pressure 2016

Day 3 - Sunday 14th August 2016

Kilmarnock to Berwick on Tweed-  213 Miles

Normally on a Sunday morning I get up a little later than normal and generally wake up looking at my beautiful wife.

But not this Sunday. We woke at 7:00am to the sound of the familiar burble of buggy cannons pulling into the car park right outside our window.

I was also welcomed by the sight of George in his under pants getting up for his morning ablutions. As much as he is my best buddy I do hope the remaining Hotels have family rooms for the Chadwicks.

Of all our planned days this was the one I was particularly looking forward to. After going to Paul Muirhead’s Haggis Hunt a couple of years ago up in the Trossachs, I really wanted to get back cruising around Scotland in my buggy.

The burbling cannons turned out to be Allan Mathie who met us on the car park in his SWB Blue Doon and it was good to finally put a face to the facebook name I had been chatting with for a few months. Alan had got a hood made for his Doon the week or two before and had driven down from Edinburgh to Kilmarnock that morning (setting off at ‘Oh My God o’clock) to then cruise all day with us back to Edinburgh. Up until a few months back Alan said he had not travelled more than a few miles from home in the buggy but knowing about Pier Pressure had decided to put more miles under the wheels. By the end of the day he certainly did do that.

He also became the 15th participant on the Pier Pressure Cruise.

Whilst packing up the cars we were also met by Glynn from the buggy forum who kindly arrived to say hi and bring some goodies in the form of sweets and 24 cans of coke. Unfortunately, he couldn’t join us for the day but it was good to put another face to a name.

A quick fuel stop next door and off we head for Weymss Bay and the terminal for the first ferry of the day. Today we would be visiting just 2 piers, both on the far west of Scotland which required us to take three ferries, before ending the day on the east coast at Berwick on Tweed. The 40 minute drive was really nice up to Weymss Bay, with the road running literally right alongside the coastline for a few miles. The day has started grey and drizzly; Alan had driven through rain all that morning, but the weather was now starting to clear and we could now make out the Isle of Bute, the location of our first Pier visit of the day at Rothsey.

Weymss Bay terminal was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. The terminal is not only home to the ferry dock but also a beautiful Victorian Rail terminal / station. In Victorian times wealthy folk form Glasgow and Edingburgh would take the steam train to Weymss and then cross on the paddle steamer to the Isle of Bute for weekends away being pampered at the many health spas that were on the island.

The train station was in immaculate condition and as well as still having operational platforms it also had a great little café situated in one of the old waiting rooms. The Rothsey ferry is a pay as you go ferry and after purchasing tickets for both this ferry and the next one off the island, we found we actually had about 30minutes spare for once in our busy schedule. So off to the café for a nice cup of tea and bacon bap.

We spend a little time chatting with folk on the dock side in the waiting cars before the ferry comes into view and we saddle up and head on board.

The ferry takes around 40 minutes giving us time for another tea and a bit of rare chill out time. We are already starting to feel the strain of continual driving a buggy for 12 or so hours day after day, and it’s still only Day 3.


Before long the town of Rothsey came into view on the Port side and the weather was clearing up nicely.

In Rothesey the boat actually docks at the Victiorian pier we need to visit. Rothsey’s pier master had already agreed for us to spend time on the pier and good to his word a member of his staff was waiting for us as we left the boat. We had to wait for the ferry to empty and for the boarding car queue to load for the next crossing, but then essentially we had the pier to ourselves. Rothsey is an ‘L’ shape pier and when you are on it doesn’t feel like a traditional pier. It is still very much a working ferry terminal and hence there were no cute cafes or amusements here, although there was a very nice restored Victorian toilet block.

We spent a good while just chatting to the assistant pier master before heading off up the coastline to rendezvous with our second ferry of the day, which would take us across from the north of the Island between Rhubodach to Colintraive.

This part of the drive was brilliant, in parts single track and very picturesque, running alongside the narrow stretch of water between the lochs of Riddon and Striven.

The mainland was is now just a few hundred yards away and the ferry literally take just over 5 minutes to cross from Bute. The trouble was that we had spent too long chatting at Rothseay with the deputy pier master which meant we arrived to see the ferry just leaving its berth. We thought ‘OK that’s not too bad as it’s only a quick 5 minute crossing, so it should be back soon’.

40 minutes later the ferry finally trundles back across to collect us after it waited for a few cars to show on the other side before head back. Within minutes we were technically back on the mainland at Colintraive. Although due to the high number of Lochs about it still feels like we are on an island.

Unfortunately, due to the delay we had experienced in catching the previous ferry, we all too soon have to head off to try and regain some of the time we had lost.

To avoid a 60 mile drive around Long Loch (the clue is in the name) we drove just a mile back up the coast to catch our third ferry of the day at Hunter’s Quay.

The ferry would take only around 20 minutes to cross the Firth of Clyde to McInroy’s Point, but we would have to wait 20minutes for the next ferry to appear.

So whilst sat in the queue waiting for the ferry to arrive, a nice old bearded man wanders over to George and simply states, ‘You guys don’t need to pay for the crossing – I’ve sorted it out with them’ !!

Eventually, it turned out he was the retired ex-captain of the ferry we were crossing on and had a word with his ex-colleagues to ensure we were given a complimentary crossing.

He really didn’t want any thanks and just wanted us to acknowledge the company. So thank you to Western Ferries Ltd..

We also ended up chatting with a few of the other everyday folk waiting in the queue. On hearing what our trip was all about, a good number of them dipped into their pockets and added to our ever growing collection.

The generosity people can show still amazes me, in a world where all you seem to read about in the press is selfishness, hate and spite.

Now I know George loved the road from Keswick, but the B836 over to Dunoon from Colintraive was one of my highlights of the whole Pier Pressure trip. The road is essentially a 10 mile single track, freshly tarmacked roller coaster of a road, with twisty sections, stunning scenery and a 1 in 4 slope in places just for fun. You really should put this road on your bucket list.

Very soon we drop down alongside Holy Loch and find another small pier for a quick picture (although its not Victorian this time), before heading around the coast to visit our second and final pier of the day at Dunoon.


Once again I had pre-contacted the pier before we started our trip and had pre-arranged to meet the the deputy Pier Master on the day. The area around the pier was pretty quiet for a Sunday afternoon and apart for a few folk setting up a community radio event, there were actually no folks on the pier.

Dunoon Pier forms more of a U shape rather than a long more traditional spur and was very much in the guise of a steamer terminal rather than amusement centre. It even still had its original ticket office and event hall on its head. Dunoon had recently undergone a full restoration and the pier deck boards had been completely renovated, so it came as a welcome surprise when the Pier Master opened the gates and the three buggies were allowed onto the new deck. We really appreciated the gesture and can’t thank the staff at Dunoon Pier enough for this experience.

Back onto the proper mainland time had pushed on into early afternoon so it was time for fuel and a quick bite to eat. A short KFC break at Greenock after trying to get food at the local Tesco Café to find out they stop serving at 2pm, before heading east towards Edinburgh. At this point we detoured over the Erskine Bridge across the Clyde and headed for a place I spotted some time ago when originally planning the trip.

When you spot a road name such as ‘Tak ma Doon’ then it is law that you must take your Doon made beach buggy up there – simple. Tak Ma Doon road is highly regarded by cyclists and winds up a steep narrow road to give great views across to the Firth of Forth and beyond. It climbs up to Carron Bridge in the North, over the Campsie Hills.

Other than a very near miss with a local in a 4 wheel drive coming the other way, the ride was brilliant and at the top we stopped at a viewing point for a quick 10 minute break. From the view point you can see across Glasgow to the west and all the way down to the Forth Bridge in the East. It was a brilliant view and well worth the detour.

So 10 minutes passed and we headed off east towards our Travelodge stop in Berwick on Tweed. However, time was now moving quickly past 6pm and as our bellies weree starting to protest we asked our Scottish brethren where would be a good place to eat.? We ended up at the all new Fort Kinnaird centre at Newcraighall which was a typical large retail out of town centre with shops and eateries.

At this point Alan stayed with us for food whilst Aaron, David and Jed all decided to head for home. But not before Alex got a ride on the back of Jed’s Trike, which made his evening. Thankfully we managed to get a table at an Italian place and for the first time in many days we managed to eat a proper meal and something other than chips or sandwiches.

As a sub plot to our trip to visit the piers, we also wanted to cross as many iconic bridges as possible. Therefore we had already decided to head to Edinburgh the long way around as we really wanted to drive over the spectacular Forth Road bridge.

Heading to cross the River Forth for the first time at Kilcardine Bridge we met up with some additional buggy supporters. Waiting for us near the bridge were Aaron in his yellow Volksrod, David in his red GP and Jed on his really nice blue and silver VW Trike.

They had parked in a laybe on the side of the roundabout jut before the bridge and had waited patiently for us as we were now running about an hour behind the published schedule.

We had met up with Aaron previously at Paul Muirhead’s Scottish Beach Buggy Haggis Hunt event a couple of years before and it was great to see his buggy finally up and running and joining in the Pier Pressure fun.

After a quick jaunt along the northern side of the river Forth, we crossed back south using the amazing and historic Forth Road Bridge.

The existing traffic bridge is impressive, but not as much as the new bridge will be when finished. At the time the new bridge was around 80% complete and runs right alongside the old bridge.

At this point traffic is building and getting quite heavy, so I hand over the leadership reigns to Alan, who lives in the shadow of the Forth Bridge. I pre-arranged with Alan to lead us through is home town of Edinburgh and I am so glad I did. What we hadn’t realised when we planned the trip was we would be hitting Edinburgh on the Sunday afternoon of the Fringe Festival and the Tattoo. Busy isn’t the word, but bloody brilliant too. We must be on at least 1000 Japanese holiday snaps and many a youtube video too.

Alan led us a merry dance through the City, backwards and forwards across the Royal Mile, before we final parked up outside the rear gates of the Royal Palace of Holyrood House. Ruth went over and spoke with the guard that was quickly heading our way. Apparently we were OK for a few minutes, but he did say that  Lady Sarah did want to leave soon so could we please be gone in 10 minutes.

We finally say goodbye to Alan and thanked him for his outstanding support for the day.

He was over the moon that he had smashed his own furthest trip in his Doon record by taking a round trip from Edinburgh, via the Isle of Bute and back to Edinburgh in a single day. We had received awesome support from all our new and old Scottish friends.

We were now left on our own to complete the final 40 miles or so along the A1 and soon the sun is setting on a brilliant day.

Turning south as we hit the east coast near Dunbar, we arrived at our resting place for the night in Berwick on Tweed in the dark, although somehow we managed to find two parking spaces right next to the reception front doors.

At last we got our first family room of the trip for the Chadwick’s and George gets his own space. Before bed we partake in our customary night cap of tea and biscuits whilst reflecting on the great scenery, memorable roads, great company and the two very different but equally as nice piers we had encountered in Scotland. George then heads off to his own room to download his go-pro and leave me programming in the next day’s journey into my satnav, between fatigue led power naps and watching the late night Olympics catchup.

3 days complete, 12 piers down, 18 additional vehicles already joined in our Cruise Against Cancer and nearly 750 miles travelled already around the British coast– bring on day 4.

Click here to continue reading our Day 4 story

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