The night before the ride we stayed in Wheal Rodney Holiday Lodges which are near Marazion, just along the coast from Penzance and about 20 miles from Land’s End. Although not much to look at, indeed a bit drab from the outside, once inside we found the lodge comfortable and pretty spacious. Although we were only there for one night it’s the kind of place you could stay for a few days without going stir crazy as it has a separate living room/kitchen and bedroom. The lodge was self catering with a fairly well equipped kitchen and although there was a small shop on site we nipped 5 minutes down the road to the supermarket to stock up for the following day too.
The first night of the ride was spent in The Coach House in Hele, a few miles north of Exeter. This kind of bridges the gap between self catering and a B&B with a fridge and microwave in the room and comes stocked with various goods to make your own breakfast in the morning. At first I thought the buzzing of the fridge might be a bit intrusive but we both managed to get to sleep no problem. It’s the kind of place you need to speak to the owner to find but once we did we had no problem locating it - the owner was also very nice and let me bring the bike into the room.
For Monday night my accommodation was the Rose & Crown in Playley Green, Redmarley D’Abitot – about 10 miles north of Gloucester. The is a pub with a few rooms and the room I stayed in appeared to have been done up nicely quite recently. I was able to leave my bike in the bar and although I was slightly concerned about the local youths playing pool next to it the bike survived the night unscathed. The pub had a good selection of food and I enjoyed a good evening meal and a full cooked breakfast in the morning with the exception of beans which I am told someone had eaten the last of the day before! The only issue I had was the room heating being supplied by an electric heater as the central heating wasn’t on which would have made drying my clothes off a bit easier.
Tuesday I was back at home and although the accommodation was unfinished in places and generally untidy the food was first rate!
By Wednesday night I was in Gretna Green and stayed at the Kirkcroft Guest House with their secure bike storage. Despite the shower being a bit low powered – I was told that the water had gone off earlier in the day and there were problems with the water pressure – I had a very comfortable stay. Breakfast was lovely and there were a few options nearby for evening meals depending on what you fancied, I chose the Gretna Hall Hotel which had a decent choice of meals.
Thursday night I was in Callander and met Kerri at the Crags Hotel which seemed more like a pub with rooms upstairs. The hotel had a somewhat quirky interior and although the bed was very creaky it was pretty comfortable. Again the heating in the room wasn’t on so as I had arrived sodden after a day of constant rain I had a bath to warm up and we resorted to use of the hair dryer to dry the gear I needed for the next day. I was able to leave my bike in the garage out back which although wasn’t locked itself I managed to secure my bike inside. Although the hotel does food we ventured out for our evening meal since there is plenty of choice in Callander and the breakfast in the morning was good.
Friday night was spent in Clunebeg Lodge near Drumnadrochit. Arriving quite late Kerri had been to the local shop for supplies and we enjoyed an evening meal of pot noodles and pies! With electric heaters drying my clothes wasn’t easy although the owner kindly offered use of his tumble dryer and also locked up my bike for me. Breakfast again was very good as I enjoyed another 3 course meal of cereal, cooked breakfast and toast although I had to politely turn down the offer of another rack of toast as I was pretty stuffed by that point!
Saturday night we stayed in the gorgeous Caithness History B&B for a bit of luxury at the end of the ride. The B&B itself is a bit out on its own although there are takeaways in the relatively nearby Castletown, we headed to Thurso straight from the end of the ride in John O’Groats for fish and chips and to draw out some money as the B&B didn’t have card facilities. Both the building and the room itself were stunning and although I didn’t have any more cycling ahead of me I used the long drive home as a good excuse for another good three course breakfast.