It was overcast and decidedly cool when we reached John o`Groats, where we took the usual photos at the signpost which said 874miles to Lands End. There isn`t a lot to at John o’Groats do so after a comfort break we carried on. The odd fact provider was leading and south of Wick having spotted a sign showing “Toilets, Cafe & Harbour”, turned left into Libster. The toilets were open and looked to be early Victorian (good plumbers then).The high street was unusually wide and pleasant apart from the cafe which was shut and decrepit. Undaunted we followed the road down to the harbour which is a gem, picturesque and kept in good order. There is a visitor centre there called Waterlines which details the history of Libster as a herring port and also had a small cafe serving lovely home cooked food at the best prices we encountered on our trip. The harbour is well worth a visit.
Suitably replenished we carried on to our digs for the night, Torguish House which is at Daviot south of Inverness. The turn off the dual carriageway is down a hill, with little run off; so you have to go at a reasonable pace to spot the Two white Lions which mark the entrance. The house is an old manse (vicarage) and the church is now on the other side of the A9 dual carriageway. We all arrived eventually and were met by Ben our host, we met his Mum & Dad at Masham where they were delivering antiques and gave us a card for their biker friendly B&B (that`s how we knew it existed). Ben showed us into the large drying room to store our riding gear and boots then took us into the dining room for a coffee, which came from a state of the art machine sat on top of a glass case. In the case is a 350cc Stevens made by Mr A.J. Stevens one of a handful he built before the AJS marque was founded , it comes out of its case when Ben rides it and was recently used to do the North West 500 route. The Stevens is kept company by a BSA B40 perched on the sideboard in the dining room, complete with drip tray.
As mentioned before Ben and family are dealers in antiques and the house is part of their stockroom. There are other sheds outside all crammed with all sorts of stuff, I spotted a pair of Matchless footrests circa 50`s. Outside there is all sorts of larger items including trucks , industrial gear and building reclamation items. They also deal in period vehicles. On the side Ben makes magnificent shepherds huts on trailers to order, the bodies are from thick solid wood planks and the interiors are designed to suit the buyers taste. We were free to roam about and view all.
When we booked we had ordered a meal. Ben arranged the meals at the nearby Culloden Moor Inn and he ran us there and collected us later using his left hand drive ex forces off road personnel carrier(still in camouflage ), which some found difficult to climb up and get through the small door. It was certainly an unusual taxi, which Ben gives as part of the service, Is that brilliant or what! The food at the inn was good and reasonably priced the slow cooked beef was very good and came with lots of veg. It was helped down by a few pints of proper McKewans but they did serve other stuff for the wimps.
Our room was en suite and had four single beds which we all found comfortable as we all seemed to get a reasonable nights kip, some sleepers were accused of being unusual as they were apparently still dead to the world amid the noise and confusion of early risers.
We had ordered breakfast the night before by ticking off what we fancied on an extensive list so each brekkers was bespoke. There was a buffet of juices, cereals, fruit and yoghurts. The breakfasts were cooked by Ben`s wife and were well enjoyed.
When we were ready we paid our dues and Ben refused to take any extra for the taxi ride , insisting it was all part of the service. The whole experience was great. The best biker friendly digs I have been in. All the better for me as Ben`s Dad was an outfit racer in the same era as myself, we probably bored the company stiff during our late evening chat.None of them would believe that TT racers of the era wore two pairs of goggles so they could swap when the flies got too thick to see through. Now I have been challenged to show evidence or never repeat the tale. We would all recommend this spot which is ideally placed as a touring centre or a start & finish point for the NW500 route
Unfortunately for me, I had to leave the group here as I had a funeral to go to the next day. The others may have counted their blessings as they could have been sick of my silly facts, rose tinted specs and voice; who knows only them.
I fuelled up at Aviemore and it rained from then all the way home. I stopped only once to empty my overflowing tank and fill the bikes. I made the journey in 5 hours arriving home with wet feet, a damp collar and hands, but my old suit kept out most of the wet stuff. Next time its back to Altberg boots I will consign the others to sunny days.
After the remaining dodderers had safely returned home Gordon sent the following account of their final part of the trip.
After bidding Brian a safe journey farewell at Aviemore fuel station, the now 3 intrepid explorers headed through the pine forest to base camp 1 in the Cairngorms some 2083ft above sea level. After a break to admire the views we retraced our route to join the A9 south to our stop for the night Bein Inn Hotel Glenfarg.
Soon after leaving Aviemore the signs of bad weather looked ominous, without hesitation Dave in the lead pulled over for another comedy moment of donning our wets. Dave having jumped into his then helped John get into his full wets which proved challenging for reasons you don’t need to know - (video available). At Pitlochry we visited the Salmon ladder and dam.
That night with still the missed opportunity of a Chinese in mind, discussion took place with the hotel receptionist to have a takeaway brought in to eat in the bar. He was both sympathetic and agreeable, however the final consensus from we three was that it was not acceptable behaviour. From the hotel menu we settled for 2 fish and chips and Dave’s massive steak pie, he didn`t want to risk the chance of another fish finger size portion.
Next morning after a good breakfast, we set off for home, with a fuel stop en route, if only we could all do 77mpg (maybe some are dreaming) and with a misunderstanding on the relevance of let’s go down the A19 we all made it home mid afternoon.
I enjoyed the trip, the company and the craick, I just hope the others did too.