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2014 - Hills & Valleys - 18th May

Organiser: Kidderminster Motor Car Club When: 18th May 2014 Where: Shropshire and Powys Entrants: 65 plus reserves.

Welcome to our report on the 6th round of the HRCR Scenic Tours 2014 sponsored by Clayton Classics. This was the 5th edition of this tour from the KMCC team and a full entry of crews had been received, plus reserves who all got a run on the day due to some late cancellations. A warm sunny morning greeted the entrants at the usual start venue of the Bridge Inn at  Dorrington, this venue offering spacious car parking - plus very tasty bacon butties!

The entry list contained were some very well-known names from motorsport past, including Graham and Jo Elsmore in their Triumph TR8 3500 and Malcolm and Elaine Oxborrow, still using the faithful MG Midget 1275 as the Dolomite Sprint was still requiring more work. John and Susan Bloxham were down to drive a Fiat X1/9 1300 but, as it refused to start, a very nice Mk 1 Ford Escort was pressed into service, whilst Ian Orford had Pauline Rigden reading the road book in their very unusual Matra Murena 1597. One could be forgiven for thinking that someone had turned the clock back some 30-odd years and we were in fact waiting to start a classic Motoring News event! There were also the regular HRCR Scenic Tour entrants plus a number of Clerks of the Course who are organising other rounds of this year’s series. Another ‘name’ spotted viewing the beautiful array of cars was none other than ace co-driver Phil Clarke, fresh from his recent win on the Manx National Rally with Jason Pritchard in the Ford Focus WRC. Phil was quite interested in what was happening and thought it might be a good idea to get his driver from the 80’s road rally days Keith Wilde to wheel out a car and join in the fun - watch this space!

At 09.15 hours, Car 1 crewed by Terry and Helen Schraider (main organisers of the forthcoming Harvest Tour) led the event away from the Bridge Inn, other entrants following at minute intervals. Travelling in a north-westerly direction, the route soon left the main A49 behind and entered the classic quiet roads that offered good driving and sights of the wonderful fresh spring colours. At Montford Bridge, we crossed the River Severn and continued to Knockin Heath, passing the 6-furlong, all-purpose training gallop on the way. However, there were no one-horse power versions to be seen today - just a very quick hare – that was quicker than Dippy up the hill!

Dovaston came next, with some stunning houses to be seen and then Kinnerley, Knockin, Maesbury Marsh and the humpback bridge crossing the Montgomery Canal. This was followed by quite a deep ford that was taken with caution - we did not want to repeat last year’s Harvest Tour drowning! The route then followed the canal and basin which was a very picturesque road to the lift bridge back over the canal. Continuing on through Porth-Y-Waen, and Trefonen, at Tulip 150 there was time to stop and take in the views and the carpet of bluebells that was breathtaking in the morning sun. Passing the border of the Borough of Wrexham, we came upon a sheep jam - the local farmers were moving a large flock some 2 miles along our route! - but the shepherds were amenable and moved the sheep to one side to allow the tour to continue.

The first section of 40.1 miles came to an end at The Glyn Valley Hotel in Glyn Ceiriog, a very nice setting and the classic cars proved quite a hit with the local residents. After a rest halt of 35 minutes, the route went due north, taking a very steep road out of the town. Dippy did struggle and needed the use of first gear, resulting in overheating, but this was cured by running the heater on full - not really what was needed on a very hot day! But the effort was well rewarded as the views on the climb and descent were outstanding.

From Glyndyfrdwy, we came to the crossing of the Llangollen Railway and luck was with us the gates were closed and we had to wait for GWR 3802 to pass. A bridge took us over the River Dee and onto some more classic narrow roads protected by cattle grids. Entering the A542, we had the joy of driving the Horseshoe Pass that took the route into the Dee Valley, offering stunning views on the way, whilst the run along the Panorama on such a clear day provided stunning long-distance vistas. Another steep climb took us past the ruined 13th century Castell Dinas Bran and onto Trevor. We then passed by the breathtaking Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - dating back to 1795 - and a further 3 miles brought the second section of 29.8 miles to an end at the National Trust’s Chirk Castle for a 70-minute lunch break.

Organiser Simon Rogers had a problem with a split tyre on his BMW that required the car being recovered back home. This left the In Control short-handed, but Dippy’s crew stepped in to lend a hand until our due time out of 14.18 to start the 3rd section of 29.2 miles. On leaving the castle grounds, there was a short pause for Kevin Baldwin of KPB Photography to take shots of each car outside the very ornamental entrance gates. More interesting, quiet classic roads took the tour to Ellesmere and the magnificent roads around the lakes. Continuing through Lower Hordley, Bagley and Weston Lullingfields, we arrived in the village of Myddle, with its church tower dating back to 1634. At Tulip 339, the route left the public highway for the private road to the Shropshire Aero Club. The café here was used for the tour’s 3rd rest halt, lasting 45 minutes. The second floor and balcony gave great views of the small planes taking off and landing whilst taking our refreshments.

From Sleap Airfield, the route back to the Bridge Inn was another 23.2 miles. Fortunately for ourselves, the roads were now much flatter and we could at last turn off the heater and cool down! From the village of Clive, the route was heading in a south-easterly direction, passing through Sansaw Heath and Upton Magna. Here we checked in at Secret Check 4, whose personnel included a young boy in a high-visibility vest that was aptly labelled “Daddy’s Little Helper” who took great delight in counting down the 3,2,1 as we left. After Berwick Wharf, we crossed the River Severn, viewing the marvellous old stone bridge as we past on its modern cousin. There were now just another 6 miles of the tour left, but this did not disappoint, the final views of the hills in the afternoon sun, coupled with masses of wild lupins by the roadside being a real bonus.

There was now time to relax in the sun outside the Inn with a drink and partake of the excellent hot and cold buffet, followed by tempting desserts. At the finish, photographer Kevin and team were on hand to show all the shots taken during the day and to print and mount those requested - what superb service! Congratulations Mac, Simon and all the team at KMCC for another first-class tour - as usual the paperwork was excellent and the overall maps in the road book must have been a great help to newcomers to the tour scene.

 

Our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in proof-reading and editing our report.

 

For more information on Scenic Tours log onto the websites of HRCR and www.classictourdiary.co.uk

 

Mike and Hilary Stratton Car 21 plus a very hot Dippy