PistonHeads.com Forum

Road trip by SEC



Original Poster:

7,104 posts

128 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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Reposted from the Mercedes-Benz Club forum.

My family and I have just returned from a week long touring trip to the north west highlands by 126 SEC. The car performed quite faultlessly, covering ground comfortably, swiftly and securely with no doubts as to reliability. Not bad for a 26 year old 155,000mile car.

One surprisingly happy motorist

We set out from home in Northumberland inauspiciously on Friday 13 April. After one mile we had had enough and stopped for lunch at our local pub. Suitably refuelled, it was up the A1 to the Edinburgh by-pass, over the Forth Road Bridge and onwards north up the M90. Our first pause was at Kinross services for a fairly revolting nappy change (no, not mine) and 45minutes' break (if it were me, I wouldn't stop, but my wife can only stand about two hours of my driving in one hit). We continued north on the A9 but had an unscheduled nappy change stop at Dunkeld railway station. I've always wanted to stop here anyway although I didn't really explore since I was up to my elbows in you know what.

The Queen's View near Killiecrankie

We broke our journey for the night at Killiecrankie House Hotel, just off the A9 north of Pitlochry. I would highly recommend this establishment. We arrived there at about 5.30pm, a pretty poor result but to be expected what with the multiple s*** tsunamis and the prolonged rest stop at Kinross. In the morning we had a look at the Queen's View, apparently the most photographed view in the whole of Scotland. If you're going north at a leisurely pace, this is probably worth the short detour off the A9 but it's not going to blow your mind.

OK, you drive

With very little distance to cover, we took our time up the A9, taking lunch at the excellent Ralia Café and then stocking up on provisions and petrol at Inverness Tesco. 24.4mpg to that point, which I consider to be amazing from a 500 SEC fitted up with a 5.6litre V8, running quite well-loaded at or above the legal limit and plenty of foot down overtaking.

But he likes to travel in the boot

It's only north of Inverness that the fun really starts, with some superb driving over the A832 from Garve to Achnasheen and then down Glen Docherty to Kinlochewe. This is one of my favourite roads in the world, being well-engineered, smooth-surfaced, very sparsely trafficked (like another car every five miles), well-sighted and fast. One can cruise at 80 to 85 and if pressing on there are plenty of opportunities to run over 100. We were at our base in the village of Torridon by 3.30pm.

Parked up for the night at our base

Looking back toward Torridon

Spot the rust

Our week consisted of touring round the area, taking in the famous Pass of the Cattle between Kishorn and Applecross, the Applecross to Shieldaig coastal route (which to my mind is "better" than the pass) and the main roads between Poolewe in the north and Lochcarron in the south.

By the northern end of Loch Maree

Outside the Applecross Inn. Who ate all the fish?

We would recommend the Applecross Inn (where we lunched every day), Nanny's shop in Shieldaig, the Shieldaig bar, the Torridon Inn and Torridon Stores café.

Inside Nanny's. Spot the coupé

The return journey we did in one hit, leaving Torridon at 9.30am on Saturday 21 April and arriving back in Northumberland at 4.15pm, with two stops, the first the obligatory rest at the Ralia Café (about 50minutes) and the second at Dunbar Asda (45minutes). The on the road average (331 miles, 5h 10mins) being of the order of 64mph and the fuel consumption checked at Dunbar being 20.7mpg. Both I think are creditable figures, not least because the route is predominantly single carriageway. The A9, despite all of the grumbling, generally is a fast road, running at 60mph for most of the time; and the A1 in East Lothian can be tackled at a steady 100 without too much trouble.

What is this car good at? Well, it takes a lot of luggage and my small family with ease. It rides comfortably. It is quiet. It has plenty of overtaking kapow. It cruises well. It attracts a lot of warm and appreciative comments. What is bad about it? It guzzles up petrol. It can creak and groan a bit when pressing on. It is not particularly nimble. There is a bit of a gap between 2nd and 3rd which shows itself when accelerating to pass back markers holding up the traffic at 45mph: 3rd doesn't take off immediately, 2nd launches you into next week.


1,035 posts

161 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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Lovely article !
It's such road trips that these cars were made for and to share them with family enhances them further .
I'm planning a run to Loch Lomond in October in my 129 for a posh wedding , but sans enfants this time .
PS , I had three point harnesses from QuickfitBS installed last year to maximise family use ; great investment ....


2,725 posts

140 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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r129, I'm cut to the quick!

Why didn't pop in and see us while you were up here? We could have had a blether about Mercs.

Glad you liked my beautiful country; there's no other like it.



5,618 posts

133 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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Fabulous car, great report.


197 posts

98 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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What a lovely old girl you got there....love old school Merc's.


989 posts

164 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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All the best road trip descriptions make you want to jump in your car and take off, and your description certainly does that. ! I think I need to get a higher limited mileage policy, as a trip up that way would use about 35% of the annual limit for my SL at the moment.

With any luck your little one will grow up with immaculate taste in cars. I'm hoping its not too late for my daughter, as her first experience of a driving seat was in my old Triumph Spitfire ...


14,090 posts

164 months

Monday 23rd April 2012
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clap Lovely car. yes


74 posts

136 months

Thursday 26th April 2012
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Great story, superb road trip and an epic car! I want one!