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The Lavender Run - July 14th 2013

This run was to be the 10th in the 2013 season of the HRCR Scenic Tours sponsored by Clayton Classics and organised by Redditch & District Car Club. Before starting our report, an update on Dippy’s health, as he has spent a number of days in intensive care at Tipton Garage in East Devon. This was due to the rear sub-frame deciding to part company with the car’s body. Sadly, on removal of the frame, a large amount of tin worm was discovered and much plating and welding was needed. He is now back to full health and raring to go. 

The start venue for the run was at the Stratford Armouries Museum at Pathlow near Stratford-upon-Avon, an ideal place with plenty of parking and good facilities for taking breakfast in or outside the large restaurant. Signing-on took place on the terrace in the beautiful morning sun. Rally plate fixed to the car, it was now time to take a look at the road book, which was a superb publication, generously sponsored by Securelets Jeremy Mcginn & Co. An innovation we have not seen before in a road book was colour-coded pages; a yellow box at bottom right of Page 1 directed the entrant to look for a yellow box at the top of Page 2. This was a great help in preventing the old problem of two pages being turned at once - we have all done it. 

At 09.15 hours, Car 1 left the start, flagged away by local Mini hero Will Sparrow who was British Rally Champion in 1970 Dippy and crew left 3 minutes later. Russ Pemberton arrived at the start without regular navigator wife Rikki, who had succumbed to a bug and was feeling unwell. So Plan A was for Russ to follow us at a discreet distance and we nicknamed him our ‘Shadow’ for the day. This worked very well, with Russ actually doing most of the navigating himself, overcoming the main problem of turning of the pages - clever these ex-policemen. 

From the start the route headed east towards Snitterfield and then south-east via Hampton Lucy to Wellesbourne, passing by the Second World War airfield. Next came Walton Hall, Pillerton Priors and the steep climb of Sun Rising Hill. This hill was once used as a motor sport hillclimb back in the early 1900’s and it must have been quite a challenge for those old cars.

Climbing the hill had been well worth it as the distant views from the top across the rape fields were stunning. Now travelling in a southerly direction, the route went past the Tudor House of Compton Wynyates and then turned due west, crossing the Fosse Way near Treddington. Continuing west, via the wonderful Cotswold villages of Blackwell and Ebrington, brought us to the first rest halt at the National Trust gardens of Hidcote - a splendid place to take coffee and cake on a lovely sunny morning, with the route thus far having covered 44 miles. 

Fully refreshed after an hour’s rest, the crews left Hidcote Gardens to the south, for a route that went past some more gorgeous Cotswold villages. These were - in this order of travel - Chipping Campden (steeped in history), Broad Campden (breathtaking thatched houses), Draycott, Batsford (famous for the fine arboretum there) to the glorious market town of Moreton-in-Marsh. This town has a very large weekly market that draws customers from long distances, many travelling by coach. From Moreton, we travelled west, passing the other side of Batsford and another climb to Bourton-on –the-Hill and across the Five Mile Drive. A clockwise loop of roads now took us via the high roads that afforded some fantastic views to the distant hills. This culminated in a climb past the Snowshill Lavender Farm, which looked just perfect in the morning sun - a glow of purple. A short run brought the entrants to Broadway Tower Country Park which was to be the venue for the lunch break, with Leg 2 having added another 26 miles to the run. What a fantastic spot - on such a clear day, with views of Bredon Hill and the Malverns. 

A very generous break of over an hour was given here to take advantage of the food at the café or to relax under the shade of the trees with a picnic. This break passed very quickly and, at 14.00 hours, Car 1 left the views behind to start Leg 3, which would be the longest of the day, clocking in at just less than 59 miles. From Broadway Tower, the route used the famous Fish Hill to drop down to Broadway, with some superb views again to be had whilst descending the hill. As usual, Broadway was full of tourists taking in the sights, but today there was the added attraction of 55 beautiful classic cars for them to see pass by! 
From Broadway, another climb to Snowshill, passing by Snowshill Manor, that has a collection of many thousands of treasures and artefacts collected by Mr Wade and is now open to visitors. The route continued going south via Taddington, Temple Guiting and Kineton to Guiting Power, where the local pub - going by the name of The Hollow Bottom - displayed a sign saying “Stop here and re-fuel - £2.95 a pint”! This was to be the most southerly point of Leg 3 and we were now to be journeying in a mainly northerly direction. Not far into this section came a gated road - thank you marshals for manning the gate! - and this road again offered more first-rate views as we dropped down into the valley and, as a bonus, passing over the railway bridge of the Toddington Steam Railway, a train passed below us. Great use was now made of the little-used quiet roads that abound on both sides of the B4362, to take the route via Aston Somerville, Childswickham and Wickhamford. A short run on the A44 followed, through the villages of Saintbury, Honeybourne and Pebworth, before Dorsington - a picture-postcard village, full of thatched properties and flowers. It is also the home of the publisher Felix Dennis. The next gem was Welford-on-Avon - similar to Dorsington with the addition of the river. Once over the river, the route continued past Binton, Billesley and Aston Cantlow to return to Pathlow and the Stratford Armouries. 

Here it was time to hand in the route card and collect the very appropriate finishers’ awards of a lavender plant and a beautiful fridge magnet. At 17.00 hours, the restaurant served an excellent 2-course meal to round-off the run. To sum up the day, we think the word should just be “perfect”, the route being very compact and the roads used very suitable for classic cars and the releasing of vehicles from the main controls in order did keep any bunching of cars to a minimum. We had lived in the north Cotswold village of Mickleton for 26 years and we thought we knew this patch very well, but we have been on roads today that were completely new to us. The road book was very clear and comprehensive and the mileages matched our Brantz very well. Time now to say a big thank you to Peter, Tony and all the marshals and helpers for organising an excellent run with perfect weather.

Our sincere thanks once again to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in proof reading and editing our report. Also we would like to add a credit to Cliff Porter for providing the photographs.

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy - Car  3