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2014 - Valleys & Villages - 3 Aug 14

DEVIZES & DISTRICT MOTOR CLUB - VALLEYS & VILLAGES CLASSIC TOUR - 3rd AUGUST 2014

Welcome to our report on the 12th round of the HRCR Scenic Tours 2014, sponsored by Clayton Classics. A glorious summer morning greeted the full entry of 46 cars to the organising club’s headquarters - The Oliver Cromwell Inn in the village of Bromham, northwest of Devizes. This was the 3rd running of this tour but the first time as a round of the HRCR Series and there were 10 DDMC crews and 12 HRCR crews entered. The parking constraints at the start meant that a cap on the entries had to be applied and the marshals did a great job of using every available inch of space to park the cars. The full entry had been received by DDMC way back in May; a testament to just how popular these Scenic Tours have become.

The day started with an outdoor BBQ of bacon and sausage baps and then there was time to look at some of the very interesting cars that were on the start list, including Car 16 - a Hillman Super Minx, driven by Ray Sissins with grandson Connor reading the road book. This car was in superb condition, having been laid up since 1982 in the family garage and this was its first proper outing! Another rare car was the rear-engined 1963 Cox GTM Coupe - a kit car based on Mini sub-frames which was crewed by brothers Paul and Russell Irvine. Car 24 - a 1960 Healey 3000 driven by Colin Weekley - had 12 year old granddaughter Jade Griffin guiding him round. This was Jade’s first event; she thoroughly enjoyed it and would now like to do more! A car we have never seen on the road before was running at Number 38 - a right hand drive Tatra 613-5 - another very stunning example with a crew of 4. Also on the starting list were 5 Lancias: 4 Fulvias and - one of our dream cars - a Delta Integrale. This must be the most Lancias we have had together on a tour.

The organisers had produced a very concise, clear road book, which included OS Maps of the whole route, a very useful aid to new tour entrants. There was also a separate booklet of points of interest that we would be passing, entitled Traveller’s Tales. The places to be passed were cross-referenced in the road book with the tulip numbers – so, no excuse for missing a single sight! To add another feature to this tour, the organisers had produced a quiz sheet that required answers to 16 items being seen during the day. This was another good idea and added another dimension to the event, whilst keeping all the cars on the correct route.

At 10.00 hours, the first car left the start for a 125-mile tour of the quiet country roads of Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire. Leaving Bromham to the NW, the route continued west past Bowden Hill and Lacock with the stunning NT Abbey there. Continuing to the west at first, the route then went due south, passing through Gastard - the home to a great number of the underground workings for the mining of the stone to build Bath. Shaw and Great Chalfield came next on the agenda. From here, a clockwise loop of yellow roads took the tour route past South Wraxall and Kingsdown to a crossing of the main A365. Now going north, the route skirted Corsham, followed by Biddestone, Yatton Keynell and Grittleton. Then an anti-clockwise loop of yellow roads took us past Hullavington Airfield and Norton, followed by a short section of the Roman Road – the Fosse Way. Leaving the Fosse, more interesting roads via Alderton, Luckington Court, Sherston and Knockdown kept the route going in a northerly direction. We then drove past the much-visited Westonbirt Arboretum, which looked stunning in the morning sun, to the small village of Doughton. Another very clever use of the roads in this area now followed that kept the tour away from the tourist towns of Tetbury and Malmesbury. First going south through Shipton Moyne, then north past Long Newnton, took the crews to the main A433 for the short run to Kemble Airfield. This first leg of the tour was 61.1 miles long.

At the airfield, there was a 1.5 hour break for our picnic lunch, whilst being kept amused by the small planes and helicopters arriving and departing. Leaving Kemble behind as the most northerly part of the route, we toured south passing the Neigh Bridge Country Park and then onto Minety followed by Braydon Wood and the road across Somerford Common. Still continuing south, the route went under the motorway to Grittenham and Foxham. An easterly loop then skirted Lyneham Airfield and subsequently via Bushton to Broad Hinton. The crossing of the Hackpen Hill was a road to die for - the views and the White Horse on the chalk hills a real delight. Using the road across the Marlborough Downs brought us to the charming town of Marlborough that looked delightful in the afternoon sun. From Marlborough, the route went west via Beckhampton, using the A4 past Cherhill. Leaving the A4 behind, a zigzag of more interesting yellow roads through Heddington brought the tour back to the start venue at Bromham. This second leg had added another 64.8 miles to the total.

Due to the large entry, there was some delay in our pre-ordered meals arriving, but this gave us a chance to have a good chat with the other crews about the day’s drive. The wait was well worth it - the best fish and chips we have eaten in a long time!  As to the quiz, there were a number of clean sheets (ours was not one of them), so the organisers brought the tie-breakers into play. The eventual winners were in Car 12 - the 1960 Morris Minor of David and Doreen Richards.

Congratulations to Mike Halliday, John Rogers and the DDMC members for organising this tour. The choice of mostly quiet country roads was a delight to drive the old cars on, coupled with a warm friendly atmosphere, good food and sun all day - what more is needed? For an entry fee of just £50 (£45 for DDMC and HRCR members), this tour was extremely good value.

For more information on forthcoming Scenic Tours, log on to the HRCR website and www.classictourdiary.co.uk

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

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy - Car 41