Paul Godbold joins the Bentley Drivers Club for the drive of the century, a 1,260-mile British tour to celebrate 100 years of Bentley Motors.
2019 is a very special year for the world’s most prestigious luxury automotive manufacturer. In July 1919, Walter Owen Bentley founded a car company under his own name and it’s probably safe to assume, 100 years later, he would never have imagined his surname would become a byword for class.
To celebrate the longevity of this iconic brand, the Banbury-based Bentley Drivers Club organised a 1,260-mile drive across Britain.
Called ‘The Centenary Extraordinary Drive’, it involved a collection of both classic and modern Bentleys with a combined worth in excess of £20 million, and I was fortunate to be invited along to experience what proved to be far more than simply extraordinary.
Due to previous commitments, I was joining the participants on the Isle of Eriska located off the west coast of Scotland. Although I could’ve caught a train and somehow made my way to the island, it made sense to drive.
Accompanying me on the trip was my good friend, Mike Heybourne, who plies his trade transporting famous and influential people. It’s also handy having another person to share the 6+ hour drive from Lancashire, and as we own fourteen classic cars between us, his input on the motoring side is always very welcome.
Lancashire to Eriska
Any drive through Scotland is a delight. Although it was raining, the type of annoying fine rain that sits on your eyelashes, it was still great fun as the darkness started encompassing the countryside and the excitement built the closer we got.
Our first night would be spent at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, a property we’ve taken great pleasure in featuring many times over the years.
In the sunlight, this 34-room hotel looks like it’s been lifted from the pages of a fairytale. However, in the gloom and rain, as picturesque as it was, our focus was to head inside rather than admire its fine exterior.
There are 16 bedrooms in the main house with further properties dotted around the island. Mike and I would each be staying in one of the six hilltop reserves. These modern detached properties offer great views over Loch Linnhe from a large decked veranda.
There was no scrimping on luxury here: outside is a sunken hot tub, whilst the living room had a roaring natural flame fire casting out warmth throughout the property. The kitchen area was fitted with every essential you could wish for, and the tasteful décor continued from the living room into the bedroom and bathroom.
After a quick wash and a change from driving attire into something a little more formal, we were driven to dinner in the main house. It was here, we got our first chance to meet with the other participants, and what a friendly bunch they were!
People had come from all parts of the world to partake in this unique celebration and were keen to extend us a temporary welcome into the Bentley Drivers Club. After a fine meal, much mirth and clinking of glasses, I headed to bed in readiness for the drive from Eriska to Edinburgh.
Come morning, the drizzle had stopped, and I was able to venture onto the balcony and look over Loch Linnhe and the surrounding countryside. The scenery in Scotland is always magnificent and the perfect precursor to what would be an extraordinary experience.
At breakfast, the nerves had built to the point where I lost any urge to consume the moreish offerings in front of me. Mike, noticing this, spared me from any further agony by suggesting we head out to get fully acquainted with the car.