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Ron and Jan Adam lead the starters in quick BMW Z3

Dromgoole MGTF sets off

Z3 twins resting before they start

Graeme and Beth Cargill with newly refurbed
1973 Toyota Corolla

Bulloch Mk2 Escort

Sheridan MGB/GT

Cocker MX5 sets off

Bartniczek Alfa departs

Johnston Cooper S

Lauder MGTF ready to go.

Massie 4.2 litre Jaguar XK with Leese Mini following behind.Tony Leese - now can I overtake that Jag in my 1961 Mini?

Tom Niven given a handicap. No cheating now.

 George chats to Lindsay Smith and Ann Johnston in ZS

Ralph Forbes brought Kia as Fiat and '38 Vauxhall didn't!
train passing Glenbogle

Abergeldie Castle - John  has the front garden gone?

Westie joins the Caterhams

Ian Lindley and Alan France in MGTF Sunstorm

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Tour of the Grampians - 15 May 2016
Story - Jim Paterson . Photos - Kenny Cocker, Jim Paterson

Brilliant 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 glens.

Spence 5 litre  V8 Capri 'Big Bopper' chased by Bartniczek Alfa Spider   

Cars ready at Pitlochry Festival Theatre
A 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.

BMW 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 too.
It 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.

With 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 sunshine. 

At 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.

After 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.

Continuing 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. 

We 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.

We 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.

We 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.

Pushing 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.

At 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. 

Look 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. 

Updated 17 May 2016