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2015 Taith Cymru - 29 March

Dippy’s Report - Taith Cymru 2015

“I am full of petrol and oil and I have been checked all over.  I am ready to go with two keen entrants.  It will be great to be out and about again - I can hardly wait!  We had a little test run yesterday and all went well - only one or two little crashes of my gearbox.”  Dippy.

Susan Butcher and I arrived with Dippy in Aberdare for our overnight before the Taith Cymru Scenic Tour on Sunday 29th March, starting at the Ty Newydd Country Hotel, Hirwaun.  This was to be the opening round of HRCR Scenic Tours Series, sponsored by Classics by JSWL.  It was to be a very early start as summertime had arrived on the Saturday night, so we lost an hour’s sleep, but the lighter evenings will be very welcome.

The journey to Wales had been on the M5 and M4 and then over the Severn Bridge - now £6.50! Signing on at the hotel from 7.30 am was followed by bacon butties and the usual road book marking.  At the drivers’ briefing, there was a touching tribute to Mike by one of the organisers.  As we moved around to take up our position at the start, we remarked on the wonderful array of cars gathered in the car park, ranging from the oldest car - entered by the Farringtons - a 1956 Austin Healey 100/6, to the Waddington’s 2008 Mazda MX5.  With number 1 on the car, we set off at 09.16 for a baptism of water rather than fire, as the road through Ystradfellte was more like a stream, with water pouring off the fields onto the road.  Happy days!!

Travelling on through Crai to Trecastle, along the A40 to Llywel and PC1, we then headed up the dual carriageway onto Mynydd Bwlch-Y-Groes, known in the rallying world as the road across the Epynt Military Ranges, - and into fog!  It was a good job that the speed limit was 40 mph. After PC 2 in Llanwrtyd Wells, the fun really began.  Turning left in Abergwesyn on to the famous challenging mountain road pass, we recalled the sound advice from a fellow competitor and first gear was engaged for the “Devil’s Staircase”.  Not for the fainthearted, but tackled with gusto by the driver as were the overflowing fords all along this section of the route.  We were glad to safely reach the coffee halt at Tregaron.

Refreshed, we set off on the next section from Tregaron towards the university town of Lampeter. The day had brightened up - some entrants even put their sunglasses on! - but the road was littered with many tree branches that had been blown down overnight.  We then headed through the Brechfa and Caio forest complexes, known to both crew members from their work on the Quinton Stages Rally over the years.  It was then into Llandovery via Llansawel for another brief halt, before we wended our way over Mynyd Myddfai to Trecastle and the A40, A4215, A470 and A4059 with their spectacular views over the Welsh hillsides.  Somewhere on the afternoon route we were glad that Dippy is pretty slim as, before passing over a very narrow bridge, we went through a metal measure to indicate whether the car would fit over the bridge.  Great care was taken to not to scratch Dippy’s sides!

At the finish, Dippy met up with his two new best friends, a lovely 1967 red Mini Cooper S driven by Terry Schraider, supported by his wife Helen and the Houghton’s 1969 Morris Mini.  There was an excellent 3-course meal, where everyone was able to recall exploits from their day’s adventures.  A big thank you must go to the organisers for a very challenging route, especially for someone who has hardly driven in the last few years.  A great day was had by Dippy’s crew - hopefully the first of many - but the 3 of us were very tired after our 150-mile Tour with Dippy having to wait until the morning to be topped up with petrol!
Hilary Stratton and Dippy Car 1

“Hilary ‘Pat Moss Carlson’ drove a blinder was a comment made by another entrant.  She put me through some hairy, wet and windy roads and made me muddy but it was fun.  Now she will have to clean and check me over ready for our next adventure.”