It has been another busy few weeks with trips to Ireland, France and the Grand Yorkshire Tour. Ireland was just a ‘fun weekend’ at the LURGAN PARK RALLY. Lots of sideways Escorts and a few other modern rally cars. Unfortunately I left my camera in the hotel! So no pics.
France was the recce for the SUMMER MONTE TOUR which we did in a heatwave, 38 deg. C some days. It was a case of windows closed and air conditioning on. We found some spectacular roads though. I always thought the famous Col du Turini was the most awesome road in the Alps but now the vegetation seems to have grown up to hide some of the bigger drops. The hairpins are just as tight though. However the Col de Rousset and Mont Ventoux more than made up for that.
The only problem for the tour is the ongoing situation at Calais. On our trip we had no problems whatsoever and even caught an earlier train through the tunnel because there were no delays. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that this will be the case in September so by unanimous decision we have changed the route to start by crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge, then miss out the first day from Calais and pick up the intended route at Reims. Everything else is as planned.
The GRAND YORKSHIRE TOUR started in style with a good entry from Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club making up the numbers on the first day. It was quite an ‘eclectic’ group of cars that stopped at Tan Hill for lunch. Everything from a 1926 Invicta to 3 Lancia Stratos (what is the plural of Stratos – Stratii. Stratosses???) and a modern Volvo C70. The rest of the week was blessed with good weather except for heavy rain over Blubberhouses Pass – when I had the top down!
Now I have 4 weeks off -- I wish. Just 12 days of road book for Monte to type up, and I had better get the Circuit of Cumbria typed up as well, as there is only a week between returning from France and starting the last tour of the year. The Cumbria Tour is filling up nicely and there is likely to be a local contingent again so if you are thinking about it – get your entry in now and don’t be disappointed.
PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR are slowly coming together.
APRIL – COTSWOLDS AND CYMRU
One day in Cotswolds based at Stratford, then across Long Mynd to Welsh Border and 3-4 nights at Lake Vyrnwy.
MAY - JEC LINCS TOUR OF SW IRELAND (Jaguars only)
JUNE - MOUNTAINS AND GLENS OF IRELAND
Start in English Lakes, overnight S.W. Scotland. Ferry to Larne, 2 days in Glens of Antrim (Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge and Giant’s Causeway), then south via Titanic exhibition to Mountains of Mourne, 2 nights in Wicklow Mountains, return ferry from Dublin to Holyhead.
AUGUST – HIGH ROADS TOUR
Start Peterborough, via Rutland to Peak District, overnight Buxton, then Lancashire moors to Settle, north through dales and 3 nights at Langley Castle with tours out to Lake District and Hadrian’s Wall.
Watch this space!
A particularly busy May and computer problems have meant a lack of ‘blogs’ for a while, but things are hopefully somewhere back to normal.
The JEC Lincs Tour of Scotland went very well and had generally good weather but the Western Isles Tour which followed close behind had mixed, or should I say Scottish weather. Torrential rain met us on landing on Mull and the Pass of the Cattle was shrouded in thick fog. Fortunately though there was never a day with completely bad weather and the northern run around Shieldaig and Torridon was glorious, only spoilt by foreign drivers in hire cars and camper vans. What a difference a few weeks make, Traffic was not a major problem for the JEC Tour but last week it was horrendous in places. I think hire companies should give people a ‘Highway Code for the Highlands’.
At least these mainly foreign tourists should be given some advice on the basics of driving on single track roads, i.e. “Use passing places to allow overtaking”, There are huge signs saying this in places but they are ignored. Worst of all though is the habit of swapping to a passing place on the right hand side of the road when meeting oncoming traffic. I don’t know if this is just habit because they are used to driving on the right, or just ignorance, but it is down right dangerous at times.
I travelled in style on the JEC Tour, in a friends Jaguar but managed some topless runs in the Alpine on the Western Isles. The Alpine is running superbly now after a tune up and a new manifold gasket (must remember to get some new brake pads!!).
It is all go again now with preparations for the Great North Road Tour, a trip to Ireland (holiday) and then a trip across France (working holiday). Then it is the Grand Yorkshire Tour (nearly fully booked but maybe room for a little one!) and then the Summer Monte (still places available). I am pleased to say that the Autumn Tour of Cumbria (October) is also already filling up.
I am definitely planning a smaller calendar for next year!
A mix up with bookings on the first night of the Western Isles Tour resulted in a change of hotel to a very spectacular castle – we may be using this again, see above centre.
The first real tour of the season exceeded everyone’s expectations, both with the weather and the scenery. Most participants were surprised at how scenic rural Kent and Sussex were and the venues visited on route were the icing on the cake. I think Jan and Ann sum it up best;
Again you managed to produce a well organised ,and planned Tour , which we enjoyed very much .
How did you manage the privileged parking at Gaydon, and Blenheim and get the good folks at Crofton Beam engine to open for us ?
I overheard one of our group comment about Crofton that " its not the sort of place they would have stopped at but glad they did and found it very interesting ", which shows you made a good choice .
The tea and Tour of Goodwood House was a master stroke and then to join it all up with thatched village after thatched village was the icing on the cake.
Thanks, hope to see you again soon Regards Jan and Ann Ziomek”
I had to take the Golf to Kent as the Alpine was having a little ‘tune up’ which wasn’t finished in time. It was just as well as we had some taxi-ing to do, and the Golf probably used about a third of the fuel the Alpine would have done (before the tune up). It is now running sweetly again and should be out for the Western Isles Tour. The Escort just seems to keep wanting more and more new panels! But we are getting there.
I did a lot of ‘market research’ for next years tours while in Kent as there were a good number of regular customers present. Brittany in some form seems popular but I may have other ideas. I will send out a questionnaire later in the year – I don’t want to distract anyone from this year’s calendar – there are still plenty to do. Having said that I think Roger and Marie are in line to break or at least equal Brian and Helen’s record of six tours in one year!
I think people must have known something I didn’t! It was a rather disappointing turnout for our first event of the year, The Lakeland Spring Classic, but as it turned out it was probably one of the wettest weekends of the year. So perhaps everyone had better long range weather forecasts than me? Nevertheless, the hardy group that did tackle the event seemed to thoroughly enjoy the challenges of Hardknott and Wrynose Passes and the Trough of Bowland despite the deluge. There were a few sunny spells, particularly on Saturday when things brightened up and the cloud lifted, in time for lunch near the beach at St Bees, although despite our best efforts, no one could see the Isle of Man across the Irish Sea. It is possible on a clear day. And of course the sun came out for the last few miles to the finish at the Heaves Hotel in time for our cream tea.
In contrast, the previous week, I made a recce visit to Scotland in beautiful weather.
Whilst there I visited “The Kelpies”, amazing metal horses heads standing as high as an electricity pylon above the canals in Falkirk.
Also in contrast to the Lakeland event, the next tour to Kent is fully booked with 20 cars. There are still a couple of places left for Scotland in June but anyone interested will have to be quick as the hotels are almost full. Everything else is going along steadily and plans for 2016 are already starting to ‘simmer’ in the Kirk consciousness. More on that later!
Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club have postponed their Devils Own Classic Rally until October. It is likely that our Circuit of Cumbria Tour will now include the planned Tour following the new rally route. Exact details to follow. However CCT(MK) will still run a tour on the weekend March 28/29th.
LAKELAND SPRING CLASSIC
SATURDAY MARCH 28TH
LAKELAND SPRING CLASSIC (NEW ITINERARY)
Today we follow part of the route of the postponed ‘LITTLE DEVILS TESTS’ on some typical rally roads through the picturesque Cumbrian countryside. We will skirt the town of Kendal on some minor roads before cutting across country into the Lythe Valley. After crossing Gummers How with its view over Lakeside (Windermere) we will have a coffee stop at the excellent LAKELAND MOTOR MUSEUM. We then head into the Western Lakes and cross Corney Fell with views out to sea and the Isle of Man (on a clear day!) before a stop for lunch at St Bees on the west coast seaside.
The afternoon run takes in some lesser know roads around the Whitehaven area before we return to the Lakes where we cross the unfortunately named ‘Cold Fell’ and then go via the spectacular Wastwater Screes and a stop for tea before tackling the highlight of the day. The twin passes of Hardknott and Wrynose with their hairpin bends and 1 in 4 gradients, bring us back to Windermere and the run back to the finish at the Heaves Hotel.
ENTRY FEE = £45 per car (2 people) includes entry to Lakeland Motor Museum and afternoon tea. Dinner at the finish will be available on request.
SUNDAY MARCH 29TH
THE LITTLE DEVILS TOUR
(As originally planned for Saturday)
The day starts with a tour over some of the roads used by the Devils Own in its heyday. First we visit familiar territory a few miles down the road from Kirkby Lonsdale, Ribblehead and its famous viaduct. We then continue down Ribblesdale with views of Pen-y-ghent on or way to coffee at the Watershed Mill in Settle. From Settle we take the old main road over what was once an infamous climb, Buck Haw Brow. This road is now by-passed and the hill poses no problems to modern traffic. We then cut across country to more remote countryside and some traditional road rally roads. As we climb across the fells heading south we get wonderful views over Gisburn reservoir and forest to Pendle Hill in the distance.
After crossing the reservoir we emerge from the forest and climb over the hill into the lower reaches of Ribblesdale turning west again in another picturesque village, Waddington. After a short run we reach our lunch stop hidden away down a country lane.
Suitably fortified we set off for the next climb over Longridge Fell with views over the Lancashire coastal plain on one side and the Forest of Bowland hills on the other. We descend steeply to the Bowland side, meandering through several villages and getting nearer to the hills, each little road giving more views of scenery reminiscent of Scotland. After passing through Dunsop Bridge we enter the ‘Trough of Bowland’, a cross between a deep valley and a mountain pass and a famous rally section. As we climb out of the valley we reach the ‘Jubilee Tower’ on the hill above the city of Lancaster. Here there are stunning views across Morecambe Bay – weather permitting. We approach Lancaster with the prominent Williamson Monument ahead before turning north again and back into the Lune Valley. The last section home could perhaps be described as a the ‘Lonsdale Belt’ as we follow the River Lune, more or less, back to Kirkby Lonsdale with the un-mistakable silhouette of Ingleborough always ahead.
ENTRY FEE = £59 per car (2 people) includes morning coffee and evening meal at the finish.
Accommodation for any combination of nights – Friday to Sunday is available on request at either the Heaves Hotel, (finish for both nights) or at the Crooklands Hotel (4 miles away).
Just when I thought I was stumbling into the 21st century it all went wrong. My apologies to everyone who received begging letters from the Ukraine, and thank you to those who enquired after my wellbeing.
I actually ventured no further than Kent! Just prior to starting my Kent – Cotswold recce I purchased an i-pad, thinking this would keep me in touch with the world while I was away. How wrong could I be!? On arriving at my first port of call my mobile phone went completely dead, so I only had the i-pad to communicate with. Barely 24 hours later it would appear I was ‘hacked’ and the i-pad would no longer send or receive e-mails. It wasn’t until several days later when I used a land line to ‘phone home’ that I discovered what had happened. The following weekend was spent trying to put everyone’s mind at rest and restore some order to my system. Unfortunateley I seem to have lost most of my address list, so apologies to anyone who didn’t receive a mail explaining the situation. But if anyone is about to send off the funds requested, they will be quite welcome in Kendal never mind the Ukraine!
On a happier note, the recce went very well. Despite the bitter cold weather there were some beautiful sunny days and I found areas that far exceeded my expectations as far as scenery was concerned. I was pleased with the whole route and the venues I visited, so with an entry of almost 20 cars already it looks good for April.
All the other tours are filling up slowly but if anyone is thinking about Scotland please let me know very soon as some of the hotels are already badgering me for confirmation of numbers. I would hate to cancel the spare rooms only to have some late enquiries.
Happy New Year
2015 certainly looks promising so far! A bumper entry of 16 cars tackled the ‘Stuff the Turkey’ in somewhat icy conditions. O.K. that was technically still 2014, but the start of this year’s calendar. A little mist on some of the higher ground meant that the scenery couldn’t be appreciated at its glorious best, but the route as a whole kept everyone entertained. Some icy patches on north facing slopes caused some concern but only one car actually got into difficulty.
The 1928 Humber of Roger Harrison failed to make one short sharp climb but as he was blocking the road, following crews had to come to his rescue by carrying grit from a nearby salt bin. Everyone got through safely even if they had plenty of stories of ‘derring do’ at the finish.
The treasure hunt was won, not for the first time, by the proprietors of the Heaves Hotel, Miles and Cathy Whitelock, on a score of 47 out of 50. ‘Best Classic’ went to the Humber on 20 while the ‘Best Topless’ went to Malcolm and Janet Grisdale in their Midget on 40 points. ‘Furthest travelled’ went to Neil and Sue Williams, all the way from Liverpool – in a Subaru not the Anglia or RS. (I think there may have been someone from London in one of the 2 Andy Gibbs teams – 45 and 43 points). I must be getting soft in my old age, too many people were getting too many clues! Although, as is often the case, some clues that I thought were obvious were missed, and my most ‘devious’ ones were answered by all the front runners. All in all, not a bad way to spend my birthday. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photographs as I was forced to stay in the pub awaiting any un-solicited gifts of alcohol!? The one below was taken by Phil James, a reporter for a local newspaper who braved the conditions to get some shots of the cars, even though most were everyday road cars.
As for other events, I am pleased to say that the KENT-COTSWOLDS is already in to double figures – but we can take more. The SUMMER MONTE also has enough bookings to date to make it viable, but a few more would be better. THE WESTERN ISLES tour still has plenty of spaces, but I would like to know A.S.A.P. if you are thinking about this one, as hotel rooms aren’t as plentiful in some parts of Scotland and the hotels will want confirmation of numbers very soon. All the other tours have some bookings so things are looking good.
I have had a some spare time over Christmas and my mind started to wander to 2016. How about Ireland again? I have a ‘cunning plan’ to develop the highly successful 2013 tour of Southern Ireland adding some extra route along the south coast (Kinsale, Cork) and an extra day in the Wicklow mountains. We would use most of the excellent hotels used last time but perhaps have one night near Tipperary rather than Bunratty.
Sunset over the Kent Estuary(Morecambe Bay) the day after ‘Stuff the Turkey’.
A Happy New Year
TO ALL OUR FRIENDS AND CUSTOMERS
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN 2014
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN 2015
EARLY NEWS FOR 2015
Since the brochures were posted out, a little earlier than some years, I have had to make a few amendments to itineraries and costs.
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD TOUR is £699 for 3 days/nights
£899 for 4 days/nights
THE WESTERN ISLES TOUR
Unfortunately Leeming House isn’t available for the optional extra night but the Crooklands may be an alternative.
THE SUMMER MONTE TOUR has been extended by one day to allow more time in Monte Carlo. The general feeling was that if you were going to drive all that way there was no point in turning round and starting a long journey back straight away.
Also, because we now arrive in Caen on Saturday there is no afternoon ferry so we will take the overnight ferry to Portsmouth. The cost of a cabin (2 berth/bunks) will be included in the price which should offset any hotel costs in Portsmouth. However because of the extra night in Menton the overall cost will now be £2899.
I am pleased to say bookings are coming in at a steady rate and the Kent to Cotswold Tour is certainly looking viable already. I will soon have to take my winter holiday in Kent and get the route notes done! The Summer Monte is also looking very popular with almost enough bookings already to make that viable. I plan to do a route survey in early summer. (My Summer Holiday!) There is no point going now as some of the roads won’t be passable.
The JEC LINCS Tour of Sotland (May) is almost fully booked but I am sure if you have a Jaguar and would like to join the tour we could accommodate you. At the moment there is just one place left.
We have just had our first snow in the Lakes but while the mountains looked very pretty it didn’t come to anything lower down and at the time of writing it is back to rain. I did give the Alpine a very short run out the other day just to make sure everything was still working. It is due an M.O.T. but it isn’t exactly ‘topless’ weather at the moment so there is no immediate rush! The Escort has made a little more progress but is still some way off being finished. ‘My’ restorer has said he won’t incur any major expenses over Christmas, or as he put it it, “Do you want to buy yourself a lot of Christmas presents now (meaning body panels) or just let me carry on with what I have got until the new year?” We agreed the latter!
See you all next year!
It should have been a quiet time after the Ferrari Tour but things haven’t quite worked out like that. I have had a busy time sorting out the 2015 calendar and getting the new brochures printed and I am now working on the website updates. The new brochures are back from the printers and should be in the post in the next couple of weeks, after we have refreshed the database.
I am also working on my ‘birthday bash’ – The Stuff the Turkey Treasure Hunt at Christmas, and involved with plans to celebrate 60 years of Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club. In amongst all this I even did ‘a turn’ as guest speaker at a newly formed local classic car club. and I have already got twelve bookings for next year. The JEC Tour of Scotland has ‘taken off’. We currently have one space available, so if you have a Jaguar you would be welcome to join us, but don’t worry if you don’t have a Jag., I am doing a separate Scottish Tour open to everyone. However it would help if everyone was so early with their bookings!!
New for 2015 are KENT to COTSWOLDS, THE GREAT NORTH ROAD TOUR*, A GRAND TOUR OF YORKSHIRE and THE SUMMER MONTE. Details will be on the website soon.
The Great North road Tour is a new idea not on previous lists. As most of my customers are from the south I thought it would be a convenient way of ‘luring’ them north without having to travel too far to the start. The start will be north of London on the A1 but the route will obviously not be entirely on the main road, it will criss-cross numerous times to take in more picturesque and quiet routes. Sherwood Forest, Rutland Water, Yorkshire Dales, Durham and Northumberland will all feature, and an option to visit Edinburgh at the end.
On the car front, the Alpine is having a well deserved rest tucked up in the garage, while the Escort makes steady progress. The chassis and floor have been fully repaired (not too mention the roof), there are just the front wings to repair, then it will need a complete re-spray, and then putting back together again. Oh dear! Retirement seems to get further away as I write. I will just have to settle for a winter holiday – but it will probably end up being a recce.
I have sold my ‘project Alpine’ which has been taking up garage space for longer than I care to think --- but I have been looking at another one! Fully restored rolling shell with full FIA roll cage which would mate up nicely with my spare Holbay engine – hmmm, it just depends really what else it needs to finish it. Could be another endless project? In the meantime I have bought an original Monte Carlo Rally Alpine, white with a black hardtop – it looks the business – in its display case on top of the television, alongside a rally Lancia Fulvia, a Stratos and a Roger Clark Escort. I have since seen the actual original white Monte Carlo Alpine for sale – a snip at 60K.
Talking of Monte Carlo, I am looking at extending the Summer Monte Tour by a day so that we can do some extra route on the way down and still have a couple of nights on the Mediterranean. I am trying to do this within the advertised price!! More news later.
I am not involved in any tour connected with the actual rally this year, although there is a tour being organised from Glasgow to Reims on January 28th. See CCHMSC website for more details.
Well, I survived the ‘invasion’ of German Ferraris. It was hard work but luckily I had an excellent team of helpers who made sure things went as smoothly as possible. There were a few early hic-cups but these were mainly due to ‘cultural differences’ and the sheer numbers involved, 70 people and 37 cars. Fortunately the weather was very good and the scenery looked at its best in the early Autumn colours. It was quite a spectacle everywhere we went. Most places had never seen that many Ferraris all together and we estimated that it was the most expensive car park in Europe when we stopped at each hotel. There were the inevitable breakdowns but ‘my team’ coped admirably, even sourcing one of only 2 tyres of a particular type in the country, and getting it couriered up to Inverness in time for the car to complete the route. Electrical problems on another car were
beyond our scope but we got him to the main dealers in Edinburgh and he completed the route in a hire car. At least one driver was so taken with the Scottish kilt that he bought one and wore it during our run over the Pass of the Cattle. I was relieved that the wind at the top didn’t lift him up like a parachute and blow him away!
All in all it was quite an experience – but I might limit numbers on future events!
More news later when I have fully recovered.
Just a quick ‘blog’ this month as I get ready to host 38 German Ferraris on a tour of Scotland next week.
The Holland and Harz Tour was almost more successful than expected! The weather was generally good, the hotels and food were excellent and apart from an incredible number of ‘Umleitungs’ (diversions) the routes worked well. I thought Britain was bad for closing roads at a whim, but it seems EU Health and Safety must rule everywhere as we had roads closed almost every day and I think the record was 3 or was it 4, in one day. Luckily everyone managed to find their way around without too much trouble. In most cases it didn’t spoil the intended route except for the little rope ferry which we had kept as a surprise. Luckily one person’s determination to get through the road works (i.e. he moved the barriers) encouraged most people to persevere and experience this little gem of a river crossing. It must have made the day for the otherwise rather bored ferry man. At one point he had a Porsche 912, a brand new F-Type Jaguar and an MGB filling his tiny ‘raft’.
The VW Autostadt was as amazing as expected
and we even had a cruise on the canal. There was more to see than could comfortably done in a day, although the individual brand ‘pavillions’ were a little disappointing (except for Bugatti), not much more than rather average show rooms. On the other hand the car towers and the museum were excellent.
Everyone enjoyed the train trip up the Brocken Mountain regardless of whether they were steam buffs or not, and a rather eccentric museum/fun park entertained another day.
On the down side I have decide to cancel the Autumn Tour as there weren’t enough bookings to make it viable and the planned base at Kirkby Lonsdale didn’t work out. At least some of the route (Forest of Bowland) will probably be incorporated in a new event in March next year. See below.
I am trying to firm up dates for next year, see below, and a new brochure should be published before Christmas.
PROVISIONAL PROPOSED CALENDAR 2015
DEVILS DIAMOND 60 TOUR
Celebrating 60 years of Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club. A tour on some classic Cumbrian Rally roads and a chance to watch the Classic Devils Own Rally.
KENT TO COTSWOLDS (5 days)
Romney Marshes, South Downs, Salisbury Plain, Cotswolds, Stratford upon Avon.
JAGUAR ENTHUSIAST CLUB TOUR OF SCOTLAND (7 days)
Start Nothumberland, Jim Clark Rooms, Falkirk Wheel, Glen Eagles. Loch Rannoch, Loch Ness, West Coast, Rest and Be Thankful. Loch Lomond and Trossachs. Return run to Leeming House
May be repeated as ‘open’ event following same route later in month.
WESTERN ISLES TOUR
As Jaguar tour above but including the Isle of Mull.
GRAND TOUR OF YORKSHIRE (7 days)
Dales, Moors and Wolds, Start at Crooklands. 3-4 nights in York with free day in York. Castle Howard, Sledmere House, Whitby, Buttertubs, Blubberhouses (some of the routes featured in the 2014 Tour de France).
SUMMER MONTE (11-12 days)
A repeat of the 2014 tour following the route of the Monte Carlo Historic Rally
Calais, Reims, Valence, Massif Central, French Alps to Monte Carlo. Col de Turini, return via Route Napolean, Millau Bridge, Dordogne, Loire Valley.
CIRCUIT OF CUMBRIA (4 days)
Every ‘Kirk Road’ in the county of Cumbria! Barbondale, Garsdale, Stainmore, Gummers How, Corney Fell, Wastwater, Cold Fell, Crummock Water, Ullswater,
A new area around Whitehaven. Caldbeck, Solway Coast, Gretna, Kielder Forest, Alston, and Hartside.
The last two tours went off well although both were blighted by one day of bad weather. The High Roads Tour started off well in Derbyshire although fog on the Cat and Fiddle didn’t bode well for the day. Things brightened up though and some new customers enjoyed the day. Later on we had the worst possible weather on the day with the most spectacular scenery. Thick fog and torrential rain completely obliterated the spectacular scenery around the western lakes. I was amazed that most people completed the challenge of Hardknott and Wyrnose Passes with grins on their faces and comments such as “wasn’t that a challenge”. It certainly was! I was not so enthusiastic as the rain got under the hood, ran down the hood supports until it overflowed onto the steering wheel, over my hands and down my arm until it dripped onto my legs! Oh the joy of classic motoring! Of course the sun came out afterwards for the last 30 miles and the rest of the tour was done topless – well, hood down and in shirt sleeves.
The recent Solway South West Tour was equally successful but again pouring rain on the first morning on Arran and a rather dull day around the Wigtown peninsula interrupted what was otherwise perfect weather for classic motoring. Some new routes through the Galloway Forests had everyone in ‘rally mode’. It was almost surreal being at the back of a convoy which consisted of a Volvo Amazon, a Porsche 911, an Aston Martin DB6 and an AC Ace all being driven enthusiastically on some superb roads including the wonderful Dalvene Pass – a real drivers road.
The Cally Palace hotel proved to be an excellent stopover and I think we will be visiting again in 2015. Talking of which I have the following in mind for next year.
On the car front’ the Alpine has done sterling service on all the tours this year after a new clutch and general overall in May. The gearbox is leaking oil and the carbs need setting up again, but apart from that it is going well, still fun to drive (except perhaps in a Lakeland Monsoon!). The Escort now has a roof! I am not sure if I mentioned but it was a convertable for a while!! My ‘restoration man’ wasn’t keen on doing the chassis repairs until he investigated what horrors were hidden by the vinyl roof. And, yes, there were some horrors. The guttering on both sides was completely rotted away as was part of the roof itself. It was decision time. Restore or scrap. With the rise in values of all classics, and Escort RS’s getting rarer, plus the amount of money I already had invested in it, it just had to be restore. We are now back to the stage when I first took him the car, all the chassis and inner wings to repair. Looks like I won’t be retiring for some time as I try to keep my cars in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
My ‘summer holiday’ proved to be a little hectic. We completed the route noting for the Holland and Harz Tour making adjustments to the itinerary on the way. A new itinerary will be published as soon as I have finished this report. We did an anti clockwise* route through Holland to the Dambusters area, then the Harz Mountains, Rinteln, Wolfsburg and back through Holland to Assen and finally Amsterdam. Well, not actually finally, that was the work completed and then we trekked south to Ypres for the European Championship Rally. Several days were spent in blistering hot sun watching all the action before we then had to return to Amsterdam via Brugge and Zandvoort. We stayed in a hotel overlooking the old Grand Prix circuit and then had a day in Amsterdam before catching the ferry home and back to business.
*This was because the original clockwise route would have got us to Rinteln at the weekend and the Wolfsburg Autostadt Tours are only held on week days. So it was either change the ferry dates which would have complicated everything, or reverse the whole tour.
On the whole I must say that Holland exceeded expectations. There weren’t exactly any ‘Kirk Roads’, (although there is one little surprise which I won’t spoil now), nor was the scenery spectacular, BUT, the small towns and villages were all very attractive especially along the coast or on the inland seas. The one exception was a place I had intended to stay, but the hotel and the town itself were not very attractive, hence the detour to Assen, which co-incidentally has a famous racing circuit. (Mainly for bikes). Talking of bikes, everything you have ever heard about Holland and bikes is true – and more so. You need eyes in the back of your head and everywhere else. They take giving cyclists priority to the ultimate! That said we found plenty of quiet country roads where the cyclists have their own separate carriageways so the motoring was still enjoyable. We also sampled the ‘park and ride’ system in Amsterdam which definitely looks preferable to driving in the city.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to actually have a ride on the Brocken Railway, although we did have time to get some photographs, it all looks very interesting, if you are a rail ‘buff’. Neither did we have time to actually do a factory visit at Wolfsburg although we did visit the site and get some relevant information.
The Ypres Rally was pretty spectacular. There were modern and historic cars in separate events and the crowds were un-believable. Even on the Wednesday night for the Historic ‘Shakedown’ (one stage run as many times as the competitors liked to practice and shake down their cars), there were hundreds of spectators everywhere and the main service area was in the middle of a village with live music and stalls selling beer and bangers!
It was the same the following night in a different village for the Modern cars shakedown, except that this time the stage finished in the village square with a couple of artificial hairpin bends made from straw bales. The course was so tight that the police ‘opening car’ had to shunt to get round. Needless to say none of the rally cars shunted. Handbrake turns and power slides were the order of the day! This was again also accompanied by loud music, running loud speaker commentary, (which we didn’t understand a word of), copious supplies of beer and hot food. The village was literally taken over by the rally in mid afternoon. Local residents had to move their cars off the streets to allow the rally cars to set up their service areas. The official Peugeot and Skoda Teams took over the car park and forecourt of a local animal feed mill much to the confusion of their lorry driver who couldn’t find anywhere to park, but still took it all in good spirit! The action carried on well after dark and I suspect some of the spectators may have had sore heads the following morning (Friday! Not the weekend.)
The sad thing is I just couldn’t see anything like this happening in Kendal or Kirkby Lonsdale or anywhere else in this country (except the Isle of Mull). In the U.K. we seem to try and hide motorsport away from the public in the fear we may upset someone – every where else in the world they make it an event for everyone to enjoy. (On the flip side – I did miss most of the World Cup hype in England while I was away.)
We didn’t see too many classic cars on our trip, except on the Ypres Rally, but we did spot an unusual car in Amsterdam. It was something like a cross between a TVR and a C-Type Jag! (Answers on a postcard?).
"Another superb Scottish Tour and even after completing four of these tours with you around Scotland you still managed to find some new