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Home Travel StoriesScotland With Friends 2104

Not Even Scotland

By Ren Withnell

This trip didn't get off to a good start. The gf spotted a luxurious holiday lodge for hire alongside Loch Ness. It came complete with sleeping for 6, access to a relaxing spa and jacuzzi, beautiful surroundings and the owner who the gf talked to was a biker had said he would ensure that we got a lodge with tarmac parking rather than gravel. After confirming with our friends RG and JR that we'd share the very reasonable costs the gf paid a 50% deposit, around £315. A few weeks later she received an email telling her this was all a scam and the deposit was long gone. We were the lucky ones apparently. Several holiday makers had driven all the way up to Loch Ness looking forward to their hard earned and well deserved break, only to find no lodges and no holiday, just a field. 

a cafe in Drumnadrochit where the lodge was supposed to be.
Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness, the lodges were supposed to be nearby...

The gf was heartbroken. She is usually incredibly alert to the pitfalls of online scams but this one got by her defences. A lesson learned, the hardest of ways.

RG came to the rescue. His friend's mate's brother's wife, or something like that, works for a holiday company and could organise a discount on a static caravan at Tummel Valley Holiday Park. Now while this isn't going to be the luxurious loch side lodge we'd all hoped for it would provide warm dry self catering conditions at a very affordable price. After the gf double checked that this holiday park did exist and that holiday company is an established business we were happy to pay our share. 

JR and RG sat on their bikes with helmets on, waving to the camera in a silly manner
JR and RG behaving sensibly in a queue alongside Loch Lomond. 

The gf is still on her 125, with "L" plates. The distance from my house to Tummel Bridge is 287 miles according to Google Maps if we don't use motorways. She's a tough cookie the gf, having proven herself already with a 267 mile day out this spring, but we want to enjoy this holiday rather than simply cover enormous miles. As such it makes sense to break up the journey north and the journey south too. RG comes to the rescue again, booking us into a Premier Inn at Carlisle on the way north and another Premier Inn at Newcastle on the way south. This was booked very early, keeping the cost down to £30 per room per night. That'll do for us thank you.

the gf is bent over her keeway rks 125 putting panniers and a seat pack into place
Bungees, packs and panniers. The gf gets ready to ride.

This day is our first of 7. It's a light grey Sunday morning and I'm quite relaxed. My CBF 250 appears to be behaving, the gf's 125 has been fully serviced, the forecast is for a "bit" of rain and we've only got 100 miles to cover. Tomorrow's going to be a lot harder but today, today should be easy. I'll start to stress about tomorrow soon I'm sure. We meet up at a local petrol station. JR and RG are both on plus 600cc motorcycles, they're going to need the patience of angels at times while the gf is going to be flat out on the 125. I'm in the middle with my 250, I'll be fine either which way.

We set off and after a few miles I wave the gf into the lead. Rather than ride the easy and completely boring route up the A6 we have time to detour a little to Settle, and the gf knows the route to Settle. After 12 months riding and 7,500 miles she's proving quite nimble and deft around the bends in the twisties, it's the wide open straights that see her wringing the twist grip as hard as she can but to no avail, with a head wind and hills 50 to 60 is all she can manage. It's not a problem, time is on our side and even at 125 speeds we're soon stuck behind cars that can't even manage 40 in some places.

RG's '05 plate VFR is giving him trouble, that's not a good start either. There's a loose wire in the "HISS" immobiliser pickup around the key and certain bar movements cause the immobiliser to stop his bike. ARGH! I'm thinking AA trucks, the end of the holiday before it starts and tears all round. RG on the other hand is calm and unworried. He just pokes around under the top yoke and declares that it will do for now. I'm not convinced, but then I guess I'm looking for something to worry about.

honda vfr 750 in silver 05 plate complete with hard luggage
RG's Viffer. Is it going to be a problem?

Settle has the usual collection of bikes on the town square and bikers sat outside "Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe". We all nip to the public toilets down the lane and by pure happen stance we meet with friends who live locally, BA and LA. Hugs and banter follow as the skies darken overhead. It's good to see our friends but time is already marching on at an alarming rate, we really must hit the road again. As we return to the bikes the first few droplets of rain suggest waterproofs may be a good idea.

settle town square filled with a few cars and motorcycles outside ye olde naked man cafe
Settle's a popular stop for the weary rider.

They are a good idea. Initially the rain is light and intermittent but as we pass another biker hang-out, Devil's Bridge, the skies open as soggy bikers scurry for cover or try to outrun the deluge. We plod on wrapped in layers of nylon, plastic, cordura and goretex. Kirkby Lonsdale passes, Kendal takes an age to come into view and the rain returns to showers as we climb over Shap. The gf's 125 is a plucky machine, while it can't reach the speed limits uphill it keeps on going and going and going and going. The run is dull and uneventful save for an impatient female Volvo driver trying to make 2 lanes out of 1 with the gf. The Volvo driver gets trapped at some traffic lights a mile later, JR tries to "have words" with her but the window remains firmly closed. We make use of hand signals to show our disapproval of her driving technique.

The Stoney Beck Inn along the A6 north of Penrith offers sanctuary a few miles short of Carlisle. We are all wet and the ladies are a little cold too. Inside it is smart and quite posh, I'm wondering if we'll be welcome here. 2 teenage girls serve us with warmth and a smile, we have hot drinks and and a long sit down as our bike gear makes puddles on the wooden floor. We discuss the Volvo driver and how much further we have to go. Everyone seems chipper even in the rain and knowing we're only a few more miles from our bed is a relaxing thought. I apologise on our way out about the puddles, the girls aren't bothered and are just happy to see us. Thanks Stoney Beck (http://www.stoneybeckinn.co.uk)

I have the upper hand in Carlisle, I passed through here earlier this year on another holiday. As such I can navigate the town's multiple traffic lights, one way system and confusing junctions like a seasoned pro. It's not long before I'm pulling into the car park of the Premier Inn. Only...RG informs me...this is the wrong Premier Inn. The one we want, the one we're booked into, is another half mile up the road. What? There's 2 Premier Inns this close together? RG leads us by the power of Sat-Nav to the correct Premier Inn. Well I never.

The lady on the desk suggests parking the bikes outside reception as there's always someone there to keep an eye on them, great! The room is fine, simple, basic, warm, clean and just about large enough to call spacious, almost. Whatever else you say on a wet and chilly evening it is better than a tent. The gf loves camping but as she lies in a piping hot bath surrounded by luxuries like hair dryers, mirrors, soap and straighteners even she has to admit there are times when a hotel is good.

THE ROOM AT THE CARLISLE PREMIER INN FILLED WITH BIKE GEAR
We've filled the room with all our bike gear. 

We join RG and JR in the bar, we can't get into the restaurant until 2030 as it's busy tonight. We play "Uno", a kind of card game that provides some laughs until eventually we are seated for dinner. While the Premier Inn is up to standards I can't report the same of the restaurant. The food is overpriced, takes an age to come to the table and proves at best average or acceptable rather than delicious. We conclude we'd have done much better with a carvery or some pub grub. 

The gf and I settle in to the room for the night. We watch a little TV, I have a hot shower and then we make the most of the comfy large bed. It's been a good day even with the rain. I guess now might be a good time to start worrying about tomorrow. There's at least 180 miles to cover and there's likely to be a lot more if we take the route we'd like to take. I'm too tired to worry tonight, I just fall asleep instead.

Not Even Scotland The story and first day of our Scottish tour. A scam, some miles, some rain and a hot bath.
Big Miles Through Scotland The second day of the Scotch tour sees us into and through the surprisingly delightful Ayrshire coast and into the Highlands
The Fort William Loop We lucky four take in Dalwhinnie, Fort William, Glencoe and some of the bestest roads you could hope for.
Dawdle To Rannoch Station. Today's tale is of a lazy, slow and peaceful ride along Loch Rannoch.
Forres and The Cairngorms We find the best hospitality in Forres and and a different kind of awesome through the Cairngorms
Soaked In Newcastle It's the first leg of our return trip. We get a cold shoulder then a drenching - and still we're loving it!
Knaresborough And Home Oh dear, it's the last day of our trip. Will there be tears?
Home Travel StoriesScotland With Friends 2104 Random Link

Reader's Comments

S Latchy Latchford said :-
Superb write up, I know you lot personally and it really brings it all to life and I am looking forward to reading about all the other parts of the trip.
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JDV said :-
LIKE WISE, GREAT WRITE UP.
More photos would be nice, speshly the bath tub soak.............;)
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Ren - The Ed said :-
JDV - I do have some bedroom images from the Prem Inn, but they're not for public consumption. For a fee these can be made available however.
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JDV said :-
Do you have pay pal?
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Ren - The Ed said :-
I do JDV. However, Sharon will need to negotiate the price. I'd suggest you "reimburse" the £315 she was scammed out of...
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Rob Gratton said :-
How did you make my bike look clean?
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Ren - The Ed said :-
It's the magic of the camera that never lies Rob.
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brian g said :-
Brilliant that, enjoyed reading about your escapades..
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Daisy said :-
Fantastic reading, look forward to your escapades, you really draw us in to your journeys. only downside to them is we werent actually there to enjoy them with you x
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Jeanette said :-
I always behave sensibly when waiting in queues! Love the pic!
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Linda atkinson said :-
Great read Ren
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