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2013 - Welland Classic Wander

WELLAND VALLEY WANDER - SUNDAY 18th AUGUST 2013

Round 12 of the HRCR Scenic Tour Series, sponsored by Clayton Classics, was organised by event founder Andrew Duerden, assisted by Keith Baud and was raising funds for LOROS, Hospice Care for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland - a fine cause. This was to be the first running of the tour that was using ‘new’ territory in the counties of south-east Leicestershire, Rutland & Northants. 

A perfect sunny morning greeted the full entry of 60 cars to the wonderful start venue of Foxton Locks - situated on the Grand Union Canal - and dating back to 1814. This was an ideal place to take the traditional breakfast roll whilst overlooking the canal and very impressive narrow boats. The road book and paperwork were of a very high standard and Keith’s input of the narrative section was excellent. Shortly before our start time, Hilary was approached by John Broughall with a request for us to carry a GPS tracker on Dippy and act as a guinea pig for a new timing method being tested for regularity events - or was it big brother out watching our driving standards and wrong slots?! 

Running as Car 4, we left the Locks’ car park at 09.34 hours and, after a short southerly trip, the route turned north-west to the village of Gumley. Using ideal tour roads, we came upon the villages of Laughton, Mowsley and Sibbertoft – with many more ups and downs than we had expected. An innovation for this tour was the inclusion of questions to be answered on the Carnet De 
Route as to mileages shown on the fingerposts that we passed - the first one appearing at Tulip 27. The route so far was making an anti-clockwise loop around Market Harborough, before heading due east via Kelmarsh. Due to road works, a re-route had to be made in the towns of Rothwell and Desborough - congratulations to the organisers for a very descriptive insert to the road book and arrows to confirm the correct route to get around the problem. 

We were now travelling due north on the very quiet roads sandwiched between Corby and Market Harborough, passing through Rushton and Pipewell to the first rest halt at East Carlton Country Park, having covered 26.7 miles on this leg. Suitably refreshed, we left the beautiful park behind and journeyed on via Drayton that was followed by the superb Welland Valley Vista - just perfect in the morning sun. We then took a steep descent into the valley and through Medbourne to another steep drop to Hallaton. We had no idea the roads in this area would be so challenging, but it was great fun - although Dippy did complain at some of the low gear climbs! Next on the agenda was Horninghold - a village full of houses to die for - before a hairpin left at Tulip 79 that took the route along the shores of Eyebrook Reservoir - what a great road for a night rally! 

We now crossed the county boundary into Rutland and came across a secret check, manned by none other than Andrew and Keith and, for keeping to the planned route, the rewards were a ginger biscuit each - thank you very much! At Tulip 86 came the Midway In control that was manned by our good friends Caroline Dean and Peter Fieldhouse and here we were given instructions about the two lunch options. Option 1 was to follow the road book into Uppingham
and park at the old school - dating back to 1584 – before taking a walk through the picturesque town to find some lunch, whilst the second alternative was to go directly to Launde Abbey. With our picnic packed in the car, we chose the latter and arrived in the gorgeous parkland in front of the Abbey for our lunch. The second leg had now added a further 27.25 miles to the tour. 

Rest complete, we left the Abbey and passed through Withcote, Knossington and Cold Overton, before going back into the County of Rutland and to the small town of Oakham. The route now took a clockwise loop of the splendid Rutland Water - a great area for anyone interested in birds, watersports, walking or cycling. This area was the most populated we had seen so far and it was so nice to see people out enjoying the facilities on offer - and well worth putting on to the ‘must return’ list. The circum-navigation terminated at Edith Weston and then we moved on to Wing. Going due south via the Turf Maze, we came to the village of Glaston. This was a very interesting road - quite narrow in places. But at Tulip 146 came the first view of the Welland Viaduct - what a marvellous feat of Victorian engineering and the views of this just got better and better as we descended to the base of the valley. 

The tour continued under the viaduct to Laxton and Bulwick. This was followed by passing Deene Park and the fringes of the Rockingham Raceway, with evidence of much more building going on here. A short run to the north via Gretton and then southwest led the crews to Rockingham. What a magnificent village to be the last in the road book, wonderful thatched houses and a steep hill climb to the Rockingham Park and Castle entrance. The final leg had added another 41.63 miles to the tour, giving a grand total of 95.58 miles according to our Brantz. A pause at the finish gantry for photographs and to collect the finishers’ award of a bottle of bucks fizz brought the day to a close. The display of all the wonderful cars parked on the Tilting Lawn made for a stunning sight for the many visitors to the Castle. 

A big thank you to Andrew, Keith, the marshals and helpers who made this tour take place. It was a new area to us and a huge surprise as to what was on offer. In addition, the fact that some £2,000 was raised for LOROS made for a fine result all round.
Our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help with editing our report.

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy - Car 4

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