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Prepping the cars

McGarrie / Anderson  Cooper

Sheridan Porsche Boxster

Lindley/Blacker Lotus Elan

Scott Golf GTi

Ferguson Dolomite

Harper  Jaguar F-Type

Adam Golf Convertible

Campbell Range Rover

Bruce/Wall MGF

Millar/Telford Peugeot

Aysgarth Falls

The girls

Anne Stewart flags them away

Alfa crew depart

Niven/Wilson MGF

Spence in Meganne

McGarrie / Anderson  Cooper

Harper Jaguar F-Type

Paterson MX5

Paton hot power unit
Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Hills Dales and Passes - 8 & 9 June 2019
Story Jim Paterson, Pictures Jim Paterson, Colin Stewart

19 starters arrived on a damp, cloud covered morning at the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village for the start of our two day adventure across the Hills, Dales and Lakeland Passes. The signing on was held at the Costa coffee shop where the team at Gretna had put on their selection of coffee and bacon rolls for the crews, while the organisers Rona & Karen setup the signing on. Crews got to grips with our new style roadbook with gazetteer, designed by Dave Spence who puts in the hours to produce not only a great route, map and tulip diagrams, but what to look out for on the way. The drivers briefing, normally held outside near the cars, was held in Costa’s restaurant this time, to keep us dry and warm. 

First out the blocks was Brian McGarrie and Sheila Anderson in their 2004 Mini Cooper complete with go faster stripes, which make the car look great. Next on the line was
Graeme and Stuart Sheridan in a 2002 Porsche Boxster. Like most their soft top was securely up but ready to lower if the weather improved. Ian Lindley brought his '99 Lotus Elan M100, with the new face of John Blacker in the left seat. Another Porsche, the 1983 911 Turbo of Joe and Hazel Norman roared off past the starters flag.

Great to see Dave and Anne Scott again in their '85 Golf GTi. We met them at the Solway Lodge on the Friday night, along with George and Elizabeth Ferguson in their '78 Dolomite Sprint. Hard to miss in its bright yellow livery, a welcome ray of sunshine on this dreich morning. Colin and Anne Stewart brought Anne's Audi TT, the E-Type being a bit low for the passes, and the XK120 probably not too watertight. Four wheel drive would be a bonus later in the day.
Ranald Bruce was in his recently purchased '97 MGF with Louise Wall. We last saw Ranald in the car on the Border Reivers that he and Louise organised as our opening event in April. The 1960 Mini of Chris and Mary Paton is always a highlight to see. Complete with twin webers this car is no slouch when it comes to progressing swiftly.

Talking of swift cars, Adrian and Sam Harper brought a 2018 Jaguar F-Type. This black beast sounded fantastic as it wound up the revs up and took off. Great to see Richard and Yvonne Bartniczek, this time in their '98 Alfa Spider, first time this year, looking in top form. Ron and Jan Adam brought Jan's 2013 VW Golf convertible, though top securely in the raised position for today. Ready for all weathers was Mag and Don Campbell in their '71 Range Rover Classic, a change from the 328 Ferrari. A wise choice given how low the Ferrari is and the amount of water we would meet on route. Mag told me that this is her 'shopping car' at home. Well where they live outside Inverness 4WD is a necessity at times.               
Pulling up the rear were Roddie and Sylvia Main in the '95 Mercedes 320SL. We were really, glad to see them, with a late call nearly forcing a rain check. Jock Millar and Linda Telford brought the Peugeot day car, as gearbox gremlins on Jock's '65 MG Midget are driving him crazy trying to fix. If its an MGF with the top down, regardless of the weather, then it has to be Tom and Marianne Dromgoole in their 2001 'mildly' tuned version....

The crews soon met challenges due to the heavy Friday / Saturday overnight rain. Standing water in hidden dips, and swollen fords were just some of the features on route. We were soon over the border into England heading south east, over Hadrian's Wall and up into the North Pennines.The scenery is outstanding on a good clear day, as it was when I did the recce a couple of weeks earlier, but though wet at least the mist had not descended.

Through Alston to Barnard Castle then up into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Many blind summits on narrow roads with water filled dips on the other side meant a keen eye at all times for the driver. The real challenge came at Bleaberry Gill ford. On the recce run it was a mild trickle, today it was more of a torrent. The Bartniczek Alfa drowned out and needed to dry out on the other side, and my MX5 came out in a cloud of steam, fortunately only from the exhaust pipe. The Sheridan Porsche Boxster broke their exhaust and continued with slightly more roar than they would wish for. The Harper's F-Type decided, quite rightly, not to chance it and rerouted. The ford
was also used on the Endurance Rally Association 2014 Flying Scotsman,  and features in the opening credits of the first episode of All Creatures Great and Small in January 1978, with Robert Hardy and Christopher Timothy. You can watch it . The countryside still looks the same today, 41 years later!

We progressed through the National Park, crossing the River Ure at Aysgarth Falls, where we met some of the cars at the nearby Coffee Shop for a bite of lunch. Thanks to Colin Stewart for walking all the way to the Falls to get this photo!  

Fully refreshed we continued our tour through the Dales National Park, through Hawes where the Wensleydale Creamery makes that wonderful cheese made famous by Wallace and Grommit.    

We were making our way west to our overnight, passing through Sedbergh, Kendal, Ambleside, Keswick, to Cockermouth. passing alongside Lakes Windermere, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Derwentwater, and Bassenthwaite. 

All arrived at the Cockermouth Saturday finish
Headcount to make sure we had all arrived, including the Sheridan's who had managed to find a Kwik Fit fitter to repair the Porsche exhaust. Top marks for ingenuity.

Day 2 - Sunday 9 June

Lined up ready for second day start
Regathering at the Auction Mart on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning we set off for our foray into the Lakes and the main 'Passes' part of the event title.  The route length today was shorter but the challenge greater.

We headed out of Cockermouth, taking the country lanes back toward Keswick, then into the Honister Pass, our first of the day. Great to have the sun in our face, and the soft tops were all down and the sunglasses on.

We passed the Honister Slate Mine, now a Café stop, passing Lake Buttermere, and Crummock Water. A call from Ranald and Louise with bad news. Clutch failure alongside Derwentwater had forced them to call the good old RAC. Loss of hydraulic fluid would be the problem and a top up got them started. Ranald took the option to head for home, probably wise, as another failure on top of the Hardknott would not be funny!

The rest of us were heading down the west coast of England passing Sellafield nuclear power station in the process of being decommissioned. Passing Ravenglass we swung east at Muncaster Castle,running alongside the River Esk. Just how many Esk's are there? We have one too, near our house south of Edinburgh.  

Soon we were climbing the Hardknott Pass. With a maximum gradient of 1 in 3 the Pass reaches a maximum elevation of 393 m (1,289 ft). Meeting traffic coming the other way at one of the many hairpins makes for challenging manouveres to avoid hitting a rock. Getting a puncture up here is no fun. The Pass also descends steeply, again at 1 in 3 into the Duddon Valley. Selecting a low gear took the strain off the brakes. 

With Pass number 2 in the bag it was onto the Wrynose, between the Duddon Valley and Little Langdale. Gradients a mere 1 in 4, so getting a little easier, but not a lot. The top is at 393m or 1,281 feet, only 8 ft lower than Hardknott.

Back at civilisation at Troutbeck it was on to our last pass of the day, the Kirkstone Pass, highest in the Lake district at 1490 ft, with 1 in 4 gradients in places. As a main A road it is easier than the single track Wrynose and Hardknott Passes.

A pleasant easy run east toward Penrith and the Rheged Centre where we all gathered for our finishers meal, and swap tall tales of our adventures over the past two days.


Updated 16  July 2019