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2012 HRCR Tour of Kent

TOUR of KENT - 7th OCTOBER 2012

After many trips along the M20 Motorway to gain access to the port and tunnel terminal, it was time to see what the Garden of England had to offer the HRCR Tour entrants. Our first impressions of the event organised by the Blackpalfrey Motor Club of Kent was very positive - the pre-event paperwork and very detailed final instruction information was first-class. 

The start venue was at the Great Danes Hotel, just off Junction 8 of the M20 - an ideal place for those of us travelling from a distance. Following a superb breakfast at the hotel, it was time to check out the road book and fix the tour plate to Dippy. Again the excellent paperwork theme continued with a very clear and descriptive tulip road book, coupled with copies of the Ordnance Survey maps for those entrants who wished to follow the route by map. A plus point here was that tulip numbers were also printed at the junctions on the maps so that a cross-reference could be made. This system was to be of great help to any entrant that strayed from the prescribed route, so, by using the two methods, the right roads would soon be found. 

At 09.34 hours, Dippy and crew left the first control and headed South East to Langley Green and then via Broadstone to the pretty village of Smarden. Next we passed Pluckley, Charring Heath and over the M2 to the Apple Craft Centre for morning coffee at Macknade Fine Foods. Hilary was very impressed with the range of foods on offer here and they could have had serious effects on the credit card had we had more time here! From MC2, the route continued north through Graveney and across the marshes to the coast near Whitstable. Then we travelled south to Yorkletts, Blean and the magnificent Thornder Wood which will be quite a sight with autumn colours in a few weeks’ time. 

Now travelling back north, we passed Maypole before turning due east through the Isle of Thanet to Margate. A short run now took the Tour to the Hornby Car Park for the lunch halt, where time had also been built into the schedule for the entrants to visit the fascinating Hornby Museum, bringing back many childhood memories of cars and trains. At 13.45, Car Zero left the Hornby Centre and we followed on at 14.19. The first few sections here took the route right round the Kent International Airport, where it was very interesting to see all the redundant aircraft parked around the perimeter. 

The route now headed west past Monkton and Sarre and gave some stunning views - with a windmill thrown in for good measure. The next village was Patrixbourne, followed by the ford at Tulip 30 - but no photo opportunities today as the water was missing! 

Another beautiful village called Bishopsbourne came next, followed by Barham and Elham. Before reaching Stowing, we were treated to more fantastic views with even a glimpse of the sea in the distance. On past Brabourne brought the tour route to Wye, which for us was probably the jewel in the crown. The village had it all: a college, large church and large village green - all looking very pristine in the autumn sunshine. On the outskirts of Wye, we were held up by British Rail at the crossing, which gave us time to admire the Tickled Trout Inn nestling on the banks of the Great Stour River. From Wye, a short run brought us to the Conningbrook Hotel, where we were treated to a welcome cream tea and presented with our finisher awards of very nice engraved glass coasters. The tour had covered 115 miles, indicated by 159 tulip diagrams with a very good choice of non-damaging, quiet roads. 

This was our first experience of a tour in the South-East and we were very pleasantly surprised with the stunning villages and scenery that are to be seen in this area - and also the abundance of village pubs that the residents and visitors have to enjoy here! A final thank you to Tom Ash and his team of organisers for a perfect tour, offering very good value for money - with the added bonus of good weather. What more could we ask for?

All photographs courtesy of Trevor Hawkins.

Car 34 - Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy