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2014 Lavender Run - 20th July

Round 10 of the HRCR SCENIC TOURS sponsored by CLAYTON CLASSICS

The organisers had received 55 entries, but sadly 5 did not make the start due to mechanical woes - perhaps the hot humid weather is affecting these old timers! Out of these entries, 6 crews were members of the Organising Club, 20 were HRCR members and a further 15 RDCC members were on hand to make sure the tour ran like clockwork. The area to be driven was within the counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, which of course included the beautiful Cotswolds. 

There was a new start venue - the Evesham Country Park on the main A46 - an ideal place with lots of parking, fuel station and a Premier Inn right next door. The usual car and paperwork checks was seen off by the efficient team of marshals before superb breakfast baps and drinks. Now time to take a look at some of the cars entered - there were the regular HRCR Tour crews but also some very interesting vehicles to be seen, including the very famous ex-works Mini Cooper  977 ARX driven by Patrick Walker with Colin Goler reading the road book. A new crew to the Lavender Run, Neil and Michaela Goldspring, from Hertfordshire had brought along their unique classic Mini Clubman, powered by a Honda CRX engine - a very nice self-built conversion. Adam Tibbs had changed seats for this tour and was behind the wheel of a very smart Triumph TR with Graham Tibbs guiding him around. The Evans families had entered a brace of Austin A90 Atlantics, but sadly one of these broke down so they all returned home and came back with a 1950’s V8 Chevrolet Pickup truck complete with hay bales to complete the tour - real dedication!

At 09.01 hours, Car 1 was flagged away by local rally legend Russell Brookes. We arrived under the start banner with Dippy and Russell commented he had rolled one of those cars in the Sixties to which the response was, “You must have rolled most cars!” Section I, a distance of 33.85 miles, started to the north and did a clockwise loop of the picturesque villages around the Lenches, bringing the route back to Harvington - very close to where we had started. Then it was to the north-east, crossing the A46 to Broom and then crossing the Avon via the very old bridge at Bidford. The very pretty villages of Honeybourne, Pebworth and Mickleton were passed through before an anti-clockwise loop of the Chipping Campden area with its rich abundance of Cotswold Stone houses that looked gorgeous in the morning sunlight. 

The first rest halt was taken at the much-visited NT Gardens at Hidcote, where we were served drinks and very tasty homemade cakes. During the break here, dad Peter Machin was spotted taking a careful look at the family Austin Cooper ‘S’, just to make sure Will had not put any scratches on the nice red paintwork during the tour so far! 

Section 2 was to take the crews from Hidcote to the Heritage Motoring Centre at Gaydon. The route left Hidcote to the north, skirted Lower Quinton and then passed through Admington and Ilmington to Pillerton Priors. Then through Walton, Moreton Paddox and Moreton, bringing the route to Lighthorne. A very clever use of the roads in this area first took the route back to the Fosse Way, then to Kineton in the south before turning back north for the second halt of the day at Gaydon. Section 2 had added another 33.6 miles and the roads for this part were quite open and a real joy to drive the old-timers on. 

Gaydon was the lunch halt where we could all take our picnic lunches, whilst being entertained by the Morgan Club Members taking part in their autosolo - another added bonus. After 1.5 hours rest, Car 1 left Gaydon behind at 13.30 hours - Section 3 to the Lavender Farm was to add another 33.35 miles to the tour route. After passing through Northend, the route used the cattle grid-controlled road through the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park that gave some stunning views on the climb and descent to Avon Basset. On route to Willington at Tulip 328, there was an amazing vista and these quiet roads were a pleasure to be driven. Via Todenham, we came to the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, famous for its very large weekly Tuesday markets. From Moreton, the route circled the famous Batsford Arboretum - one of the jewels of the Cotswolds. 

The sky had now cleared completely and, as we turned towards the Lavender Farm, the hills lit up with colour. This area is 1000 feet above sea level on limestone soil and is ideal for the growing of lavender. The idea here was take a quiet ice cream break but, sadly, there were 2 coach loads of happy snapper Japanese tourists, but they did not spoil the wonderful sights. 

Section 4, back to Evesham Country Park, was to be the longest of the day at 38.75 miles. Once again, the organisers had made the best use of the roads in this area. First there was a loop round the much-visited Broadway Tower, with far-reaching views over the counties, the tree-lined roads with dappled sunshine being another joy. Then there was the run down the well-known Fish Hill to another Cotswold gem - Broadway - as usual thronging with tourists. The route then took the steep climb through Snowshill to Taddington, with the next place of note being Stanway House with its fantastic gatehouse and a little further on we viewed a traditional English cricket match taking place on the green. The now more open roads took the route via Wormington, Saintbury and Bretforton to Honeybourne. Another loop in the route returned us to the other side of Bretforton followed by Offenham and over the town border of Evesham. There was now just a very short main road run back to this morning’s start venue. The organisers were there to greet the crews with their finishers’ awards - a note pad, lavender soap and a tyre pressure gauge - all packed in a lavender-coloured bag – most appropriate! 

There was now time to sit and talk with the other entrants, whilst enjoying a superb carvery meal, followed by delicious desserts. Our thanks go to Peter, Tony, Mary, Nick, Phil, the Redditch and District Team and all the marshals who helped to ensure this 5-star tour took place. The choice of quiet roads - a mix of open and country lanes - was perfect, the venues chosen very good and that road book - need we say more?! Just a few entrants’ comments: Carolyn and Robi Tyler-Morris Car 55 – “Fabulous event - really enjoyed it - road book superb!” Fred and Frances Wakeling in their Porsche 911 reported, “Great event and good views”. Stuart Harrold out in his Morgan 4/4 with Mitsuko guiding the way said, “The road book was one to die for!” These comments were echoed by us and many more competitors.

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

Hilary and Mike Stratton – plus Dippy - Car 20