| Tour of the Grampians - 15 May 2016
Story - Jim Paterson . Photos - Kenny Cocker, Jim Paterson
sunshine welcomed the twenty three crews as they made their way to
Pitlochry and the famous Festival Theatre for the start of this tour
through the Cairngorm National Park and the Grampian mountains and
Spence 5 litre V8 Capri 'Big Bopper' chased by Bartniczek Alfa Spider
Cars ready at Pitlochry Festival TheatreA
great collection of MG's in the shape of a B/GT of Stuart and Graeme
Sheridan, F of Tom Niven and Karen Wilson, TF's of Ian Lindley and Alan
France, Tom and Marianne Dromgoole, and David and Scott Lauder, and the ZS of Lindsay Smith and Ann Johnston, as well
as Mazda MX5's. My MX5 navigator Rona was joined by Kenny and Julie
Cocker, Russell and Carol Smith in their 1996 Eunos. Stuart Cobb arrived in one of the last magnificent Toyota MR2's.
Z3's were popular with Ron and Jan Adam leading the pack. Graham
Morris and Jane Batchelor were joined by Patricia and David Robertson
in their examples of the marque. Duncan Massie brought his 4.2 litre
Jaguar XK to taking the luxury option with Jenny McKay reading the
notes. Ian and Margaret Johnston brought a 2008 Mini Cooper S, while
Tony Leese drove without navigator in his 1961 Morris Mini. Well done
was good to see Robbie and Margaret Bulloch in their 1978 Mk2 Ford
Escort, which Robbie tells me is driven all year round, as long as
there is no salt on the road. Guess it avoids bakes and other parts
seizing up during winter storage.
Signing on took place
in the Café area allowing starters to refresh themselves with an
endless supply of tea or coffee an the obligatory bacon roll. I took
advantage as I missed breakfast before setting off for Pitlochry.
the cars all dressed with their rally plates, and roadbooks open and
studied, organiser George Shand flagged off the crews, making sure they
turned in the correct direction as they left the theatre car park.
Not a good start if you make a mistake on the very first instruction!
Tom and son Tony Rae were dressed for all occasions in Tom's Pembleton
Grasshopper. One of the front wheel mudguards had decided to fly off on
the way to the start but it was safely stowed in what passes for the
boot of the car.
Our route headed through the town of
Pitlochry which was starting to wake up with visitors and tourists. We
kept off the A9 and picked up the westbound B8019 along the north side
of Loch Tummel which was a smooth as a millpond in the morning
Tummel Bridge we turned on to the road to Kinloch Rannoch before
turning north toward Trinafour, and Calvine, passing Maud Loch, and
Loch Errochty. Many of these roads were original General Wade
military roads, so at times were tight and twisty. I felt for the poor
soldiers that marched these routes as some of the climbs with a full
back pack would have been tiring. If you have a 5 litre V8 Capri like
Dave Spence, who with Roddie Main managed the climb with ease, though
hotly pursued by Richard and Yvonne Bartniczek in the Alfa Spider.
the hard work driving the hairpins we joined the A9 for a relaxing
section up to Dalwhinnie, spotting Loch Ericht on our left. Now don't
they have a distillery there? Too early for dram and much too far
to go yet. Waving at the distillery visitors as we passed we climbed up
to Laggan on the banks of the River Spey, famous for the number of
distilleries using its water. (Ed - there we go on the whisky again!)
Laggan also featured as the fictional village of Glenbogle in the
Monarch of the Glen TV series. We shall visit more of Glenbogle later
in our tour.
north east we reach Newtonmore, which is claimed to be only a few miles
from the exact geographical centre of Scotland, on our way to
Kingussie. A tricky turn in the town took the road to Ruthven Barracks,
built in 1721 after the Jacobite rising. Duncan Massie and Jenny Mckay
in their Jaguar pulled in to take in the view.
We were heading
deeper into the Cairngorm National Park, passing Loch Insch,
Feshiebridge to Rothiemurcus and Coylumbridge. Those who remember
the Carrera Caledonia days will recall great evenings when we finished
the event at the now Hilton Hotel in the village.
hugged the River Spey (Ed - back on the whisky again?) to Boat of
Garten. One or two short showers dampened down those with soft tops but
we were nearly at the lunch stop just past Skye of Curr and Dulnain
Bridge to the Muckrach Country House Hotel. The cars lined up in the
grounds while we grabbed some refreshments, while the skies
cleared again. Unfortunate that despite the hotel knowing how many and
when we would arrive, an internal breakdown in communications meant the
chef was not prepared.
Lineup at Muckrach Country House lunch stop After
what refreshments we could muster we set off again, this time crossing
the Spey to Nethy Bridge. The route took us past Broomhill, better
known as Glenbogle station on the Speyside Railway., and we
reached it just as the steam train passed though. You've worked it out
that in the TV series the village of Glenbogle was at Laggan, and the
station is at Nethy Bridge. A bit of a walk to catch the train. But
that's the beauty of film for you.
were heading east now toward Tomintoul and the infamous A939 road
to Cockbridge that we hear on the radio every winter when the snow
closes the road. Snow gates were open thankfully when we passed
and the sight of a party of Caterhams coming from Cockbridge was
a good sign that it would be a fast thrilling drive, just as the
Caterham crews seemed to have experienced.
climbed high into the Grampians passing the Lecht ski slopes, though
very quiet with no snow in sight. The six foot snow poles at the side
of the road give a hint of just how bad it can be up here though.
A good run down to Bridge of Gairn before running along the north
side of the River Dee, passing Balmoral Castle, Crathie Church (
no Royals this Sunday when we passed), and the nearby 16th
century Abergeldie Castle, home of Baron John Gordon, which was nearly
washed away in the floods of 2015.
on to Braemar and over Glenshee on another General Wade road this time
from Perth to Fort George. We drove across the Cairnwell
Pass, at 2200 feet above sea level the highest public road in the UK,
and on our tour. The new road bypasses the two S bends of the 1950's
known as the Devils Elbow, but it can still be seen.
Dalrulzian we cut the corner toward Kirkmichael, signalling the last
stage in our return to Pitlochry,the theatre and a welcome meal to
finish a brilliant day with sunburn the order of the day for those soft
tops keeping the hood down for the whole drive.
A great route
designed by organiser George Shand with magnificent scenery in
abundance. Not sure what prayer mat he uses to come up with that
weather, but don't lose it, as it seems to work just fine.
out for our next tour the August Amble, but come along to the barbecue
at Dave Barnett's in July and chat with friends and colleagues with
their wide selection of classic cars.