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young Westie rear end fix

Smith Riley fix too

Robb Hotrod  on Garbole road

Campbell Sunbeam on Skye

Smith Vitesse Portree

Alexander Cobra Replica

Ron Adams BMW325i

Porsche on to the ferry

Hugh McGouran beaches Elise on ferry ramp

Westfield at Applecross

Author's Mazda on Skye

Morrison Tiger on Skye

MacRobbie Elise
Whisky prize donated to nearest coin. Raised another £50 plus for Highland Hospice

Hawkeye determined to win!
Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Crofterra Pandemonia - 6 & 7 September
Story - Jim Paterson. Photos Jim Paterson, Andy Thomlinson, Dave Spence

The 10th running of this event attracted over 50 crews to retrace the route of the original Crofterra back in 2005, over the sea to Skye. The Highland Car Club organisers had designed two routes on to Skye, one over the bridge, the other on the Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry, a small 4 to 6 car community run ferry that crosses the 600 odd metres of water at that point . The event was also fund raising for Highland Hospice, the only hospice serving adults with incurable life limiting disease in the Highlands of Scotland, 

A cloudy morning greeted the starters at Fairways in Inverness, but the softops were all folded down on the selection of MG's, MX5's, Honda and the like. The promise of driving west into clear skies awaited us. The start was not to be for the  Fiat 126 BIS of Jonathan Smith and Scott Erskine, complete with ice cream cone on the roof. The car suffered terminal problems before moving on to the start line. "Just one more cornetto"  was the cry as the crew struggled in vain to fire the car up.

Joanna and Jonathan Young carried out some 'pre-flight' checks as the rear suspension looked suspect on their Westfield SE when it rolled of the trailer. This would be overcome and the couple drove the route completely open to the elements, with smiles on their faces the whole way. That's what I call 'real motoring'! Our friends from the north east of England, and regular Crofterrans, Colin Wilkinson and Barry Thompson, brought their Ginetta G15. The pair had overhauled much of the machine in the week previous but the cold overnight had the engine cranking slowly for a while before it finally fired into life. Tracy Smith in the Riley Elf was fixing a rubbing rear tyre on the wing. Roddie Main, being the gent he always is, put his weight behind a few 'minor' adjustments to solve the problem.    

Leaving Inverness we headed east then south to Tomatin toward the Garbole road, our first taste of the highland peaks, and once a special stage on the Scottish Rally. A few quick stops for the soft top cars to wind up their tops, as the heavens opened and visibility reduced drastically. The single track road  has its fair share of blind summits and potholes (all cautioned in the excellent roadbook), but one or two fell into the odd pothole. Charlie Donaldson was driving Jimmy Macdonalds Alfa Romeo as the course car heading to Skye Bridge. Over enthhusiasm caught Charlie out as he took a pothole too quickly, to hear a loud 'crack' from behind. That was not good, and inspection discovered a broken rear axle! Return to Fairways and on to the trailer while firing up Charlie's MX5 to complete the trip. Ian Smith was true to form when he drove his Imp deep into a dip after a blind summit, tearing the water pipe off the front mounted radiator. Never one to be flustered Ian made running repairs and was soon chasing the pack again.

By now we were heading north west and by time we reached the shores of Loch Ness to head back west the rain had passed over and back to tops down again. Sticking to the scenic route down the south side of Loch Ness we reached Fort Augustus, and Invergarry where we picked up the A87 Road to the Isles. A stop for lunch in the shadow of the 5 sisters of Kintail prepared us for the final mainland stretch, for some to the Skye Bridge, and others, including me, to Glenelg for the ferry crossing.

The trip across to Skye on the little ferry was interesting. Run by the community this ferry is the only one I have seen with a deck that can swivel 90 degrees, allowing the boat to tie up alongside the pier and rotate the deck to enable the cars to drive on and off. The six car capacity would mean very small cars, with four, and a motorcycle filling up the capacity for our crossing. The ferry has to negotiate the tidal flow through the straights of Kyle Rhea, which meant a sharp left turn half way across to drive head on into the flow. At the selected point the captain cuts the power and the ferry simply rotates to point directly at Skye and is washed with the tide toward the pier. I prefer to think it was skill rather than luck that we arrived intact to see Dave Spence and Roddie Main in the mighty 5 litre Capri waiting to welcome us. How they made cattle swim across from Skye to Glenelg, on their way to lowlands cattle sales in past centuries, beats me.

Another single track with blind summits awaited us as we headed to the head of Glen Arroch  to pickup the A87 crews arriving over the Skye Bridge. As we crossed the River Sligachan we took a left toward Dunvegan to be rewarded with a terrific view of the Cuillins.

Driving up the west coast of Skye along Loch Harport we turned right before reaching Dunvegan Castle, eventually picking up the
A87 north of Portree and driving up to Uig, near the north end of the island. In the MX5 I had fallen in behind Tony and Shona Leese in their Honda S2000, who were maintaining a good rate of progress across some exciting single track sections. From Uig we returned to the east coast of Skye at Staffin for the run down to Portree. Views to the islands of Rona and Raasay to our left were complimented by The Old Man of Storr to our right.

A welcome beer and meal awaited us at our overnight and the organisers put on a raffle to raise money for the Highland Hospice charity.

Sunday start at Portree headed straight for the bridge and back to the mainland. Ian and Catherine Higgins MGB started to suffer misfiring which a fellow Crofterran provided a spare rotor arm. Unfortunately not the problem so it was a limp back to Inverness as things got worse. Compression loss on number 3 cylinder turned out to be the problem,      

Over the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh we turned off to Plockton, made famous in the TV series Hamish Macbeth. Pressing on to Kinlochewe passing the Stromeferry bypass, supposedly the most expensive road in Scotland, being frequently closed due to rockfalls. Heads down and don't hang about just in case!

Reaching the climb over Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) we met Andy Thomlinson in his MGB/GT looking back across at Skye from the summit, before heading down to Applecross and lunch at the Inn where we caught up with some of the crews.

Passing the Submarine and torpoedo testing range in the waters between the mainland and Skye we reached Glen Torridon and the mountains finally reaching Kinlochewe.  

Back on normal roads our group of cars headed by Tom Dromgoole in his MGF, followed by Tom Niven in his new MGF, purchased just days before, due east to Achnasheen and Tarvie, before heading for Muir of Ord and the Glen Ord Distillery. Oh the temptation to take some refreshment!

Last leg home and back to Fairways for the presentation of awards, the buffet and the final raffle for Highland Hospice. In total over £1300 was raised over the two evenings by Crofterrans for the charity.

A fantastic route from HCC, offering great places to visit and sights to see. Skye in the dry is a rare thing and everyone enjoyed their time on the island.

Looking forward already to 2015, and where we will visit.

Updated 11 September 2014