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2011 Hills and Valleys - 22nd May

DIPPY HEADS for the HILLS and VALLEYS - 22nd MAY 2011

For the second running of the Kidderminster Car Club Tour on their Golden Anniversary, Dippy actually made the start venue. Last year he was still unwell and at the eleventh hour our 11 year old trusty VW Bora also cried enough. So the Vectra Estate (affectionately known as The Shed due its dimensions) was pressed into action, but that proved not to be good in the small lanes.


Now to this year’s Tour. We signed on at the start control - the Bridge Inn at Dorrington between Shrewsbury and Church Stretton in Shropshire and joined the other 52 competitors for a very pleasant breakfast roll. Running as car number 33, we left the start control at 10.11 hours for the first section of the route. This went via Church Pulverbatch, Habberley, Stiperstones, The Bog and Church Stoke to Mellington Hall. This first section of 25.5 miles had taken in some of the best Shropshire roads with many stunning views.


After a short refreshment break, we were treated to a regularity run through the grounds of Mellington Hall. The route on the smooth unsurfaced roads gave a very nice twist to this event. Run at a 15 mph average, Dippy and crew stopped the clocks with a loss of just one second. Now onto leg 2, with the route going via Ceri Ridgeway, Sarn and Clun Forest to Bishops Castle for the lunch halt. This was taken at the Ransfords Timber complex where a superb buffet lunch had been laid on for the competitors and marshals.


Yet again, the Kidderminster organising team come up with another surprise for us: a display of vintage steam road rollers, old lorries, tractors and stationary engines, some in steam and working, others awaiting some TLC. This fantastic private collection did add something special to the tour. After a break of 1.5 hours, we left the steamers behind and headed for Walcott Hall, once the home of Clive of India. The route to here was via Cefn-Einion, Bicton, Clun and Colebatch.


This third section brought back many memories of the 60’s and 70’s’ road rallies in this area - the roads still look the same. At Walcott Hall, there was time for another short break for the car and crew and take in the wonderful views across the lakes and valleys from the house. The second regularity section started from just outside the house and used the metalled and smooth unsurfaced roads of the estate. Again, the average set by the organisers was 15 mph and we worked out that we needed to take 4 minutes 24 seconds for the 1.1 miles. Sadly, we were a little too cautious on the last few yards and we lost 4 seconds.


From Walcott Hall, we joined the public road for the last section of the tour which was to be 34 miles. We travelled past Plowden, and Bridges before climbing the steep hills to the top of Long Mynd. The views on the descent to Church Stretton were just perfect. Now on past Hope Bowdler, Cardington, Acton Burnell and Condover to the finish control back at the Bridge Inn, where a very welcome two-course evening meal was served.


During dinner, Mac announced that Car 22  - Richard and Maria Roberts driving an Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce - had had the best result on the regularities with a loss of just 1 second over the 2 tests. This made our total penalty of 5 seconds not look too good; could do better next time! Congratulations to Sheila, Mac, Simon, Brian and all the other helpers and marshals for yet another perfect tour. The choice of very quiet roads - 109 in total -, comprehensive local information, superb paperwork plus the 2 regularities was just the right balance. We look forward to being back next year.


Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy.