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2012 HRCR Bluebell Run 12th May

For the 12th running of this tour, Ross and District Motor Club had moved the start venue to the Whitchurch Services on the A40 near Monmouth. This venue brought back many happy memories to driver Mike of when he had acted as RAC Noise Observer on the Ross Traders’ road rallies in the 70’s and 80’s. Ah - those were the days!

The Club had not only organised the event, but also a nice sunny day to go with it - quite a change after all the recent rain. Following the usual formalities, there was time to look over the superb road book in the comfort of the services’ restaurant. Running at Car 34 out of an entry of 62 cars, we left the start on our due time of 09.34 hours. A short run along the A40 and we were then onto the quiet country roads of Herefordshire, passing by the village of Llangrove that has history dating back some 4000 years. From here, the route passed through Welsh Newton, Skenfrith with its castle and the River Monnow, famed for its trout and salmon.

After 23.8 miles, we arrived for our first stop at the Crown Inn near Pantygelli - a delightful place to take coffee and cakes whilst sitting outside in the sun. The other claim to fame for the Inn is that it is an ideal starting place for a climb of the Sugar Loaf that rises to 596m above sea level. Keeping with just-perfect tour roads, we passed through Clodock and Longtown with its castle built in the 1180’s. A short distance from the castle, tulip number 39 clearly stated, “Ignore road to Black Hill.” There were reports of many tour regulars having to use reverse gear here - no names but we know who you are!

The route now went via Craswall and the wonderful market town of Hay-on-Wye, famous for all its bookshops and its literary festival. Then came Clyro - another place name with memories of past road rallies. After Clyro, there were some stunning views to be had across the hills in the Newchurch area. Crossing over the Offa’s Dyke Footpath that stretches for 282kms, we then made our way to the Whitney-on-Wye Toll Bridge that crosses the River Wye. We duly paid our 80p toll, that had been given to us by the organisers, - another small ‘attention to detail touch’ that makes these events so special.

Shortly after the crossing, we arrived for the lunch stop at The Castlefields - another excellent choice of venue that serves first-class food. The route to here had added another 39.4 miles to the Tour. Suitably refreshed, there was time to take a break, whilst waiting for our 3rd leg start time. Organiser Stuart really had got things well organised: sitting in the sun with a pint of beer whilst re-issuing the time cards. He denied that the other 3 empty glasses were anything to do with him!

At 14.19 hours, we left the pub and passed through Bredwardine and on to Eardisley - famous for the black and white-timbered buildings that were built here. Continuing on through Weobley - voted one of the top ten villages in Britain - we came to the Brinsop Court, a manor house that dates back to the 13th century. The villages of Preston-on-Wye, Tyberton, Blakemere and Moccas were now on our tour route, Moccas being well-known for the deer park that was designed by Capability Brown in 1778. The 3rd leg of the tour route of 42.2 miles came to an end in Peterchurch, where we were asked to turn right just past the school and reset the car trip for leg 4 another 30.3 miles.

From this point, through to the village of Ewyas Harold, there was an abundance of cowslips to be seen. Next came a road through the centre of a military establishment - the warning here was, “No stopping - the Army are watching you”! Next on the agenda was Kilpeck, with its Norman church from circa 1140, which then led us to the last village of the day - Much Dewchurch. From here, there was a main road run back to Ross-on-Wye for the final meal of the day at the Chase Hotel.

Again the hotel did a splendid job of serving a choice of hot or cold meals to the hungry tour competitors. All that now remains is to thank Stuart, his team and all the marshals that made this event happen. A few more bluebells would have been nice, but that has to be down to Mother Nature getting the weather right - perhaps she will do better next year!


Car 34 - Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy