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problems at the start

Ian Dixon in Tulip MGB/GT

Rose Midget on test 3

Heirs Saab on a charge

Duncan Massie in TR7

McGee Escort on Test 3

John O'Kane Escort from Skye

Fraser Avenger on Regularity 2

MacInness Subaru on the Cairngorm mountain

Rose MG and Heirs Saab on Cairngorm

Leese Mini on Cairngorm

BMW Mini ready to go

Sunset over Cairngorm Mountain 

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Great Glen Rally - 28 September
Story and photos - Jim Paterson.  

Lineup at JJ's in Fort William
The heavy rain forecast for the Sunday passed over on the Saturday night so the event enjoyed a some great 'highland' weather with blue skies and the occasional burst of autumn sunshine. 20 cars started at Fort William looking forward to 10 tests along the 120 mile road route, which included 2 regularity sections.

I was helping to marshal the event and left home near Edinburgh at around 4.30 in the morning enjoying making good time on empty roads on a dry run north, until reaching Glencoe, where the heavens opened with horizontal rain and visibility down to several yards. Thankfully reaching Fort William the dawn rose with a clearing sky. There I met fellow CCHMSC member Tom Niven and we would work as a team along the route.

George McGee from Erskine was the first competitor to arrive at JJ's Café in his Escort Mk1. His crew  and a friend had camped overnight. Bad idea as the rain had poured all night! Soon all the crews had arrived and were tucking into hearty breakfasts care of the JJ team.

Tom and I headed of to our first assignment at test 3 Ceannacroc where we met fellow CCHMSC member John Stuart. He had brought his camper van and slept overnight nearby. Like our campers he also woke during the night as the roof seal failed and the rain dripped on to his forehead.  HCC's Charlie Munro was running the test site and we were allocated our positions. We avoided radio confusion over hearing the marshals at test 2 down at Cluanie Dam by quickly selecting another channel.

The first of the cars arrived as the sunshine broke through. They had already driven the first regularity at Brackletter and missed out test 1 near Invergarry which was cancelled. Our test was tight and very slippery in places, with more than a few crews making a wrong test by skirting the cones on the wrong side! I recognised quite a few of the crews, some from the Crofterra earlier in the month with Tony and Shona Leese driving a mini in place of their Honda S2000 earlier in the month. Ian and Gladys Dixon brought the MGB/GT, last reported on driving the Tulip Rallye. Car 20, the Vauxhall Corsa of Donald and Harris Wilson from Pitlochry kept up a fast time on all the tests, which would secure them the overall winners trophy come the finish.

Some of the cars by now had expired, including Norman Macfarlane and Richard Bartniczek in their Mk1 Escort had experienced misfiring soon after leaving Fort William, and despite changing plugs and trying a few other things had to succumb to stopping. We met again at the final test as spectators.

After closing the test our next marshal station was test 7 at Farr Wind Farm. We took the easy route along the north lochside to Inverness and down the A9 to the Garbole road. Inverness however proved a nightmare to get through as roads were closed and lengthy diversions in order to support the Baxters River Ness 10K, part of the ‘Festival of Running’
event. What should have been an hours run turned into nearly twice that.

The Great Glen crews missed all that heading back to Fort Augustus for a lunch break, then into Glendoe for a couple of tests. At least that is what they expected but the second run had to be abandoned. A great test 6 at the Corkscrew made up for the loss. Like an alpine climb this road is always a great blast.

We were setup at test 7 Farr Wind Farm just in time to meet the early runners. My next stop was ITC on the second regularity along the Garbole Road.By now it was getting chilly and a little cooler on the high ground. Most were keeping good time over the regularity section, but one or two decided they had lost the plot and drove straight through without stopping for a time! Oops.

Two more tests, one at Tomatin Distillery (no warmup samples on offer), and Carrbridge old woodyard set the crews up for the final bash at the Coire na Ciste Car Park at the Cairngorm Mountain resort. The clouds were almost below us and the rain seemed not too far away. More slipping and sliding on the slick surface was great for the spectators.

Another Escort crew, Davie MacRae and Paddy Munro form Glenshiel collected the class H1 trophy, while Ranald White and Karsten Brown won the first in class T1 trophy driving Ranald's great looking Rover P6, the '2000; in sky blue. It was still in good fettle despite being out on the Doonhamer the week before, which had some really rough test surfaces. Bryan and James Morrison from Elgin took first in class T2 prize in their MGB/GT, Class T3 prize was lifted by car 25, a BMW Mini.

Final lineup at Cairngorm Mountain
After refreshements it was time for us all to head home. Just over 400 miles for me, by time I reached home, looking forward to a long sleep.

Another great HCC event, with tribute to the organisers for their selection of a wide variation in test sites and a making the navigator work on the regularities.

Clouds on Cairngorm

Wilson winning Corsa

Howie Imp

Updated 1 October 2014