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2013 - Derbyshire Dales Drive - 1st June


This tour was the seventh on the 2013 listings of HRCR Scenic Tours sponsored by Clayton Classics. A new event to the calendar and a first for the Midlands Region of the HRCR to organise. Main organisers John Taylor, Clerk of the Course, and Peter Haynes had chosen to run the drive on a Saturday to avoid the many tourists who flock to this beautiful region on a Sunday and the plan worked well as most of the roads used were very quiet.

The start venue of the Donington Grand Prix Collection was ideal, with lots of parking for the entrants and many items of motoring memorabilia to be looked through at the impressive entrance to the museum and café. Sadly, there was no time to visit the collection as the bacon baps and breakfast rolls were calling - and these were some of the best we have had so far this year! Suitably sustained, it was now time to look over the very comprehensive paperwork and road book and it was soon evident that a lot of hard work had gone into producing the route information, which included a right-hand column headed ‘Distance To Go’ - very useful when the co-driver gets the question, “How much further is it? - we are nearly out of petrol!” The organisers had also managed to speak with the weather gods and a beautiful morning welcomed Car 1 leaving the start control by the Donington Arch. This car, crewed by Jim Porter and wife Jo, was a red 1954 MG TF and we were running as Car 2, leaving the Arch a minute later.

Leg 1 was from Donington to the Ecclesbourne Railway at Wirksworth Station - quite a coincidence as we had had a railway halt only two weeks previously on the Hills and Valley Tour. This section was to be 32.08 miles long. A short main road run and we were soon into the very pleasant Derbyshire lanes, passing through Kings Newton and Stanton by Bridge that preceded a superb panorama on this clear sunny morning. The villages of Milton, Repton and Willington came next, before the route crossed the canal at Mercia Marina. Burnaston was next - with houses to die for - and then Kirk Langley that was followed by more amazing views. Prior to Idridgehay, we were treated to more stunning vistas and then Millers Green - the last village before Wirksworth.

Despite protests from the navigator, we passed through the very inviting street market and arrived at the railway station for the first rest-halt of the drive. An ideal watering hole and, of course, very interesting to those with railways in their blood. Fully refreshed, we left the market town behind and started Leg 2 - Wirksworth Station to Carsington Water - that would add another

30.62 miles to the route. The roads on the first section were impressive with testing hills and dales. Entering
the Amber Valley, we came to Bolehill, which gave good views across the quarries to a valley town. After Middleton came a right turn over a bridge signposted to Ible, the road book containing the warning ‘EASY TO MISS’ - very thoughtful route planners! A steep climb took us to a height of 270 metres and into Birchover and Stanton Lees, where we were treated to 180-degree distant views. Motoring on, next came Alport, Elton and Brassington with some fantastic stone houses, before a short run to the Visitor Centre at Carsington Water brought an end to Leg 2.

This lake area, which is managed by the water authority, has facilities for all sorts of leisure activities, whether your interests are on foot, cycle or water - it is all here! All the entrants’ cars were parked on a grass field high above the water, which added yet another attraction for the many visitors there enjoying this fine first day of June. We had over an hour’s rest here to enjoy our picnics and explore the visitor centre, which will have to go on the ‘Must Return’ list and spend a day there.

Leg 3 - the last of the day - was to take us from Carsington Water to Swarkestone Nursery, a distance of some 52.94 miles. Passing through Bradbourne and Fenny Bentley, we came to a gated road that took the route on quite a steep climb to a ridge road reminiscent to some of the roads on Epynt. A very nice touch here was that all the gates were manned by marshals, so that navigators didn’t have to get out of their cars. The finger-post sign turned us left just before the Staffordshire Border towards Milldale and this road followed the river, down to the village - a very popular spot for dales’ walkers. Following a run through Stanshope and Ilam, a 90-degree right just before the farm took the route across a number of cattle grids. Then a double 90-degree left through the farm did raise the question, “Is this the right road?” - but she who must be obeyed said “Yes” and we climbed to a new height of 320 metres, with yet more fantastic views. This part of the drive must have been high on the list for road rallies in the past.

After entering the Peak District National Park came the village of Mapleton, where the humped-back bridge was providing the local youth with the sport of jumping into the river. The route then skirted the outskirts of Ashbourne and, at Tulip 39, the road actually passed under a bridge which is someone’s house! The next village to visit was Shirley, followed by Hollington and the roads were now becoming more open and flowing, but still very enjoyable to drive. After Longford, we drove for a further 5+ miles on the quiet roads and then there was a link section that took the route back to the very large and well-stocked Swarkestone Nursery. Here a section of the car park had been set aside for the cars - which gave another dimension to buying plants and shrubs1

The excellent restaurant served us with a delightful cream tea, with cream all the way from Cornwall - we

could have brought it with us! The final touch and the icing on the cake was the finishers’ award of a bottle of Bucks Fizz - what more could we ask for?! Thank you to John and Peter, plus the team of volunteers who made this drive happen. The road mileages and route descriptions were perfect - our Brantz recorded just 26 hundredths’ difference in the whole route. This was our first tour in this area, but hopefully we shall be able to return again to see more of what is on offer. Thanks also have to go to David Yorke and his team from the camera club who were out in force all day; the results of their work can be found by going to the organisers’ flicker link.

For more information on scenic tours, log onto the websites of HRCR and

Sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help with editing our report.

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy - Car 2