THE CLASSIC HARVEST TOUR - 21st SEPTEMBER 2014

This was the 11th annual Classic Harvest Tour, organised by Helen and Terry Schraider in association with Windsor Car Club. The tour was the 15th round of the HRCR Scenic Tours 2014, sponsored by Clayton Classics. Keeping with it’s previous format, the action started on Saturday afternoon at 16.00 hours with a complimentary session on rally navigation. This PowerPoint presentation covered all the types of rally navigation that would be found on the tour and the scatter rally. It also gave a very good introduction to entrants thinking of moving on to a higher level of Historic Motorsport. During the session, a number of practical tests were issued - just to make sure we had all been listening to teacher Terry!

Scrutineering opened at 18.00 hours for those who had elected to enter the optional scatter rally that would take place after the evening meal. 12 crews had signed up for the 1.5 hour run, with 11 of these taking their route cards at 20.30 hours. One very interesting car entered in the scatter, crewed by locals Richard White and Richard Scott, was a Volvo that had competed on the last Peking to Paris event and was still running on the same set of tyres, despite having covered over 7000 miles! Perhaps because of all this experience, the two Richards came home winners of the scatter rally. 

Now to the main tour on Sunday: the organisers had received 53 entries and 50 of these made the start control at the Comfort Hotel Padworth near Reading. A beautiful autumn morning greeted the crews and the display of wide-ranging cars in the car park was quite stunning. Running at Car 10 was the magnificent Ronart W152 powered by a Jaguar 5.3 litre V12 engine, crewed by Graham Hallet and Trent Clark. Another very interesting car was an ex-works Rover P6 B - still with the registration number of 151 FLK - which Steve Edwards was driving with Mike Edwards reading the road book.

This car has quite a history, starting life in the 60’s as a mechanical development car; it was then used by the late Tony Cox with works support to clinch two UK rally championships. Around 1972, the original 2-litre engine was replaced with the much more powerful Rover V8 and used by Gary Whitcombe and John Hemsley of Army Team fame. Current owner - dad Ken Edwards - has used the car on 5 Circuit of Ireland Retro Rallies as well as LeJog. Ken is very keen to document the history of this car - if anyone can help fill in the gaps in its life, Ken can be contacted at briars.hey@btinternet.com 

At 09.15 hours, Car 1 - the Volvo 131 Amazon of Bill and Celia Limbrick - left MC1 for Section A, entitled Reading Bypass, that would cover 35 miles. To avoid a run down the M4, the route used the very nice roads via Burghfield Common (the village here dating back to the Bronze Age) and then onto Grazeley Green. Sadly, at Tulip 34, a re-route had had to be applied, due to another event taking place which had closed the roads - a big disappointment and more hard work for Helen and Terry. Rejoining the original planned route at Tulip 57, we continued though Sindlesham and then to Shurlock Row - this part of the route containing 2 LWATs - remember yesterday’s lessons! For the uninformed, LWAT stands for ‘long way at triangle’ - get it wrong and you have missed one of the carefully-placed code boards! 

Passing through Hare Hatch and Wargrave brought the tour route to MC2 In at the Training Ship Guardian. The Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets of the Training Ship served coffee and cakes at the break - a fine place to take the first pause on the banks of the River Thames in the morning sun. Section B - named The Thames Valley - would use the area between Henley and Marlow, adding another 22 miles to the tour. This section would use the jogularity method of route description - remember the lessons once again! After passing through Aston and Hurley, we were treated to a fantastic sight of a flock of red kites flying above the car. We then traversed some splendid forest roads that took us to Holyport, before the famous village of Bray, known for gorgeous houses and an abundance of fine dining establishments. A crossing of the River Thames brought the crews to MC3. 

Leaving MC3, we now had a choice of attempting another optional navigational challenge in the form of a London Map. To those not familiar with this style of route directions, the 7 points marked on a map had to be visited using the shortest route and observing the correct directions of approach. This style of navigation dates back to the first 1951 London Rally - hence the name! We decided to try out our newly-found skills around the roads in the Burnham Beeches, but sadly our results were not good - there were 5 code boards to be recorded on the correct route, but we only found 2! We think the report will read, “Could do better”! For the entrants not wishing to take this challenge, they could follow the road book direct to the lunch halt at Bisham Abbey, which dates back to 1260. Today, the grounds house one of the 5 Sports Centres run on behalf of Sport for England. 
After a well-earned rest, Car 1 left the Abbey at 13.38 hours for Section D - Chiltern Hills – the longest section of the day at 55 miles. Another spanner was thrown into the organisers’ works, with congestion being a problem on the river bridge crossing, so a quick re-route took us through the delightful town of Marlow. The terrain had now completely changed, with a lot more hills and forest roads, which were an absolute joy to drive. The route went via Skirmett, Ibstone and Turville Heath to the splendid village of Hambleden.

Along the way, the views on this clear day were breathtaking. We then drove past the National Trust’s Greys Court, en route to Highmoor, followed by Stoke Row and Checkendon. In this section, there was also an opportunity to park and visit the Maharajah’s Well. More very quiet interesting roads took the tour route onto the main A4074 to link up with the B4526 towards Goring. After passing the Llama Farm, we arrived in Whitchurch-on-Thames for a final crossing of the river over the newly re-furbished toll bridge that had been re-opened only days before the tour. Fortunately the tolls had been waived for the first 5 days, so we could cross without paying the 40p toll! 

Just short of the main A4, was the site of Main Control 5 and the end of the tour. Less than a mile brought the crews back to the Comfort Inn for afternoon tea and the finishers’ awards. When one takes into account all the pre-event problems of “Will the Toll Bridge be finished in time?”, other events closing roads and the Highways Agency ‘helping’ by digging up a main road junction and adding 4-way traffic lights, it took fantastic organisational skills to overcome all these problems. Congratulations to Helen and Terry for another superb weekend, a splendid road book that contained 343 route directions and all the other paperwork to go with it that was first-class. 

Our thanks also go to all the marshals who gave up their time and worked so hard to make this tour take place. A final comment from Ken Edwards, “I thought it the best so far!”.  

For further information on forthcoming Tours log onto www.classictourdiary.co.uk or www.hrcr.co.uk/scenictours

Our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for proofreading and editing our report.
Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy - Car 11