How to spend your last weekend as a Miss is a pretty tough

decision. You want to strike the right balance between fun and rest

so you end up feeling fantastic the following week, but the

quandary is whether to go hardcore and head off to bootcamp, or go

for feet-up on the sun-lounger catching some pre-wedding



In the end, I opted for a weekend at John O'Groats with my

mother and sister. Neither sun nor run, I know, but three things

blew this Bride to Be up to the windswept corner of northernmost


One: the weekend before the Big Day is a little close to the

line to be travelling abroad. Two: my mother and sister both live

in Scotland (and the wedding is in Scotland). Three: a new hotel

happened to be opening this very weekend and we thought it might be

fun to count ourselves among the first guests at The Inn at John O'Groats (pictured, bottom


We drove up on Friday to make the most of the weekend. It's

three hours from Edinburgh to Inverness, then another three up to

John O'Groats. Not a short distance, but the coastal route is

bonnie as can be and on arrival we were greeted with a bottle of

chilled Prosecco and Swedish massages for three.

Things were looking good, and I certainly didn't envy Groom To

Be who had his Stag Do this weekend where he's taking on the

hairiest and burliest of kilted Scots having been entered into a

Highland Games by his two Best Men. Not that he knows that yet, of


Anyway, back to girly time where it's all about snuggling up

with a hot chocolate (yes, even in summer), going for long windy

walks and visiting castles. I know hot choc and haggis isn't your

typical pre-wedding diet, but this is Scotland and I have to admit

I found myself looking out to sea wondering if a "wind tan" would

give me that bridal glow.

The original 1875 John O'Groats Hotel sits alongside the

famous John O'Groats signpost and from our cosy two-bedroom

apartment, Kitty Lass, we had a winning view of soggy cyclists

arriving for their prize photographs. The large windows also

showcased the break in the waves where the North Sea meets the

Atlantic and a little jetty that sees ferries off to Orkney.

The restoration involved renovating the white fairytale half

(home, so they say, to the White Lady) after it lay empty for three

decades, as well as adding a splash of colour with a new Norse

style extension made from brightly painted planks - blue, green,

yellow and red.

The next morning after coffee, scrambled eggs and locally

smoked salmon we set off to check out the Queen Mother's Highland

pad. Formally known as the Castle of Mey (pictured, top left), this

royal pile was bought by the Queen Mother after WWII and sits in

front of an ancient gnarled woodland looking out to the Orkney


Prince Charles still comes up to his grandmother's former home

every summer, and was in fact here just last week. Luckily for us,

he's back down south now so the castle was open for a good old

snoop around.

For a crazy Saturday night we ordered delicious seafood

platters from Chef Hamish, downloaded Bride Wars on Apple

TV and bunkered in for an evening of making table place marks

(details to come after the wedding) and sewing silk roses for the

bridesmaids' hair.

More specifically, my sister did the sewing and I did the

place marks - as luck would have it Sister of the Bride a.k.a. Maid

of Honour is a genius with a needle and brought along her sewing

machine for the weekend like it were her handbag.

With cosy lodgings, local seafood and a couple of wee drams

along the way (Chef Hamish quickly diagnosed a Hot Toddy - whisky,

lemon and honey - when he heard me coughing one day) this was the

perfect way to spend my last weekend before becoming Mrs L.

And as for the cough, I'm downing vitamin C like there's no

tomorrow hoping it will scare off my blocked nose and sore throat.

Surely a small dose of flu is all part of pre wedding fun...?

The Inn at John O'Groats has a Special
Introductory Offer with 25% off. Natural Retreats ( is offering 3 nights
from £200 based on a 1 bedroom en-suite from 22nd August 2013. See
more at