Our Tweed Valley – Graham Adcock, Cleikum Mill Lodge

  • Graham Adcock, Cleikum Mill Lodge

 

Graham Adcock is in his second season of running the already award-winning Cleikum Mill Lodge – a wonderful old building in Innerleithen that offers self-catering accommodation for outdoorsy visitors. We caught up with Graham to find out more

This is your second season running Cleikum Mill Lodge. What’s the experience been like so far?

Feedback from guests has been really encouraging, and it’s been great meeting so many like-minded people from near and far. There’s a fantastic community spirit locally, with lots of small businesses working hard and all so proud of the area. The buzz in Innerleithen on a weekend is fantastic. It’s great to see so many visitors enjoying it too.

What did you do before?

I was a site engineer in the construction industry working locally on projects such as the Edinburgh trams, Borders Railway, and the Selkirk flood scheme. I come from a running, then triathlon background, and was known as the ‘cycling engineer’ when working in London as I cycled everywhere and did some crazy long commutes on the bike.

Why Innerleithen and the Tweed Valley?

It has a lot to do with mountain biking! Back in the day, I was in the top 50 for my age group in the UK … I remember entering a mountain bike event thinking it would be easy because I was pretty fit, but little did I know about the technical aspects of riding. I ran with my bike for most of the laps as I was so terrified of the course! Although I’ve never really mastered the technical side of mountain biking, I became hooked and we moved here a decade ago following lots of holidays in the Tweed Valley. Some good construction projects also coincided with the move, so it all worked out. But Cleikum Mill Lodge is now my job – it’s definitely not a retirement project, so I need to make it work!

It’s a wonderful old building. Can you give us some background on its rich history?

Yes, it has quite a local history. Built in 1877, the building was previously known as the Volunteer Hall or Drill Hall and was home to the Territorial Army. The regular army also billeted here during war-time. The clock on the font of the building was erected in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and still works today. Over the years, the building has been used as a dance hall, court room, a venue for roller skating, curling, and even had a shooting gallery in 1913. In the 1940s, it was converted into a cinema and bingo hall. It was latterly used as a mill until 2001 when it was converted into its current form. We now own the front section on the High Street, while behind us are houses that open onto Hall Street.

You took over the running of the building following its previous incarnation as The Bike Lodge. What changes have you made?

Not that many really. We have refreshed the decoration and now also rent out the apartment upstairs where the previous owner lived. The security in the bike store has been upgraded, while we have also created a brilliant drying room. Probably the main change is that the building is now more versatile in terms of rental options – people can rent a room, just downstairs, the upstairs apartment, or the whole building. So, lots of options depending on group size.

Typically, who stays with you and what brings them to the area?

We renamed the business to attract non-biking guests, but the majority of people tend to still be mountain biking groups. That said, we have families and non-biking groups staying with us too, and they love it. Bikers are drawn to the wide variety of trails available locally, while others love the area for walking, exploring, or just relaxing. A group of cross-country skiers also enjoyed this year’s snow!

What can guests expect from a stay at Cleikum Mill Lodge?

A warm welcome to a cosy, characterful building with facilities aimed at outdoorsy people. There’s no need to use a car if you don’t want to, as everything can be reached from the front door – including local cafes and restaurants.

What do you enjoy most about running the place?

Seeing people really enjoying this wonderful area – and returning for more. One set of guests got on so well with some American guests also staying with us that they went riding with them and ended up with a holiday invite to the US. That’s great to be a part of.

How’s the season looking for you … nice and busy?

Our weekend bookings are looking good well into the summer and beyond. I suggest people start planning!

What top three things would you suggest visitors do while in the area?

It’s very hard to choose just three, but I’d say definitely check out Robert Smail’s Printing Works here in Innerleithen, plus nearby Traquair House (the guided tour of the house is fascinating). But the top thing is to just get outside and explore the amazing countryside all around. With so many walks and trails to choose from, it’s a pleasure at any time of year.

Finally, you may not get too many of them, but what’s your favourite thing to do on a day off?

It has to be getting out on my bike … sometimes to challenge myself, other times just to pootle along enjoying the views. I’ve never returned from a bike ride having not enjoyed it.

Further info

Winner of the prestigious MTB Friendly Accommodation of the Year in the 2017 Scottish Mountain Bike Awards, Cleikum Mill Lodge can be found on the High Street in the heart of Innerleithen. It offers flexible, value for money, self-catering accommodation in an ideal location for exploring the wider area. For more details, including booking information, visit www.cleikum-mill-lodge.co.uk

 

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