Saturday 13 June 2015

Rogue Runners Day 7, Bridlington to Home

Insect collection
Another fair morning with no rain in the forecast. I popped out to minister to the car & noticed a small pool under Steve’s car parked behind mine, I mentioned it to him over breakfast & a little rummaging around found a loose jubilee clip. The bonnet & nose cone came off & some tightening was done, levels topped up & a test run to warm the engine showed no further dripping, so we headed for the sea front for a group photo, for this was the day when all the merrie blatters would go their separate ways.

The plan was to photograph the cars on the prom, then after a “leMans style" start, convoy out of town. We often have this kind of plan – it never goes well. We all strapped in, started the engines & signalled we were ready – no-one moved. After a brief wait the Road Runner moved, pulling out & reversing to film the proceedings, so another couple of cars pulled out, then a couple of tin-tops drove round the camera car, then the rest of us went in fits & starts. I reached a tee junction with a couple of cars behind me, the sat-nav said turn right, just as I was pulling out I looked left & saw a seven heading into town – so we were properly split up now.
We wound our way south through the eastern flatlands, on any normal trip these would’ve been good roads, but traffic, unnecessarily low speed limits & the absence of scenery made it blur into one. It may have been while passing through Goole that I started singing “Dirty Old Town” to myself – it was to haunt me for the rest of the trip. Then in a small village a flash of yellow momentarily caught my attention, someone had opened a garage door to get their Westfield out & was staring open-mouthed as a handful of kit cars burbled past.

About ten miles before we reached the lunch stop, we found ourselves behind a bunch of bikers on Harleys & the like – doing 35 in a 50 limit, spread all over the road & with just not enough room to get past any of them. We followed them waiting for them to turn off, we followed them praying they’d turn off, in the end we turned off onto an entertaining country lane, only to fall in behind them a mile further on. The pulled into the lunch stop before us, so there was no chance of getting served.
It was here that I found out that the car with the water leak had obviously been determined to have a ride on a lorry, because the electrics had given out, leaving our man with little choice but to call for assistance.

We re-fuelled & said out good-byes, for the easterners were going east, while us southerners went south. There was a route to follow, but time was not on our side & we made the decision to take the motorway home & so it was that as we got to M25 Junction 10 I waved a last farewell to GB, & was home 15 minutes later.

2,300 miles

Seven days

Four coasts

One speeding ticket (ahem)

The highlights were the camaraderie, the scenery, the car not breaking (except for the fuse incident & an aerocatch - replaced with a bungee), even the people we met, the lows were two of our fellow blatters not making it & the drudgery of the southern end of getting home. Same again next year? Oh YES.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Rogue Runners Day 6 Doune to Bridlington

The second stay in the hotel at Doune ended with another excellent breakfast served by another extremely attractive waitress - or maybe I’m just getting old – yes, I expect that’s it.
As we were leaving a flock of old bikes chugged into the hotel car park, causing a certain amount of distraction for the assembled blatters & while chats were going on, one of our number found that the route for the day wasn’t in his satnav “no problem” I volunteered “I have all the routes on my laptop & I have a lead”, so I unpacked the car to reach the laptop & found the route as requested & loaded it to his satnav & then we set off.

Once again I had a plan of my own as I wanted to get a picture of the Fury under my very favourite bridge – the fantastic Forth Bridge, long term readers may remember I de-toured my family to stand under it a year or so ago. So I headed off my own way & while doing a stretch of motorway I passed a gaggle of Westfields, every last one sparkling clean & doing 65. It was with some pride that I overtook them all doing 70 in my FILTHY kit car – mine has BEEN places! I saw another Westfield on my route. While crossing the Kincardine Bridge going north, I was surprised to see the guy I’d given the route to coming south, strange. Only later did I discover that the route I’d given him was one I’d modified to go via the Forth Bridge – he’d got separated from the rest & followed the satnav, fortunately he’d realised he was being misled & has deleted some waypoints. Sorry GB.

The Forth Bridge was as impressive as ever, in a previous life (previous marriage) I’d spent a lot of time in North Queensferry (where the bridge comes ashore at the northern end) as my then in-laws lived not far away, in fact I’d already passed through the village where my first wife currently lives (keeping my head down) & had a plan to photograph the Fury outside the ex-inlaws distinctive gates just for the devilment of it – but the gates were open & I chickened out.

Having taken my photos, my plan was to catch the others, a plan not helped by missing an exit off the M9, but I carried on heading for the English / Scots border, where I stopped for another photo or two & saw a man in a kilt – the only one on the whole trip, he was playing the bagpipes though.

I knew the others would be stopping for fuel every 100 miles or so & also for coffee breaks, fuelling six cars usually takes a while, I stopped just the once in three minutes flat , so I was confident I was gaining & sure enough I found them in a petrol station, so we re-grouped & headed out. We were soon climbing into moorland & came across what was described by one of our number as a “tractor blatt”, no fewer than 31 vintage tractors in a line, miles from anywhere – wherever they were going, it was going to take them a LONG time.

So at last we descended into Bridlington, a town – and indeed a B&B we’ve visited on a previous road trip, but before wrapping the cars for the night, I trundled mine down to the sea front for a photograph of the LAST coast (east), then we headed out in search of food. The choice of the majority was curry – I don’t do curry & besides, we were at the seaside, so for me it HAD to be fish & chips on the promenade

Friday 5 June 2015

Rogue Runners Day 5, Ullapool to Doune

Morning in Ullapool
Another good breakfast, served by another very attractive waitress (by now there was a theme emerging), then I temporarily mended my bonnet (an aerocatch had broken yesterday) & I set off to find a post box with arrangements to meet the others at the petrol station in town. However, a post box can be a hard thing to find, especially with a morning sun shining over a mirror calm bay to distract me. When I got back to the meet point, a car parked in front of me obscuring my car from view & the others went past, by the time I’d strapped in they were long gone, so again I was driving alone. But the first 16 miles were the same route as yesterday so that suited me just fine. I eventually found a post box at the side of the road in Elphin - I say “in” Elphin, but the town consists of about a dozen houses strung out over a mile of road, so the postcard to my family was never going to get to my house before me. To be fair, it arrived creditably quickly considering I posted it during a bank holiday weekend

I caught up with the others while they were having a rest at a view point. As I'd been driving along a number of "classics" (Morgans, jags & the like) had gone the other way, some waved, some didn't, then I turned off their route & found the other Rogue Runners in a scenic lay by. As I pulled in an old Lancia (or possibly Alfa Romeo) pulled into the same car park - they were lost & were supposed to be a support car for the classic car run, so we looked over their car & pointed in the right direction.
With appologies to Red27 for using her pic - just too good to miss
Also at this point the immobiliser gremlin raised it's ugly head again, we tried everything that had seemed to work before, turning the key on & off, carefully NOT looking at the indicator lamp, but alas nothing worked, so GB called the man that had installed it & with some assistance from a more "agile" member of the party, the gremlin was found & exorcised.
So we strapped in & traversed Scotland heading back to Doune.  On the way we met up with a couple of members of a Scottish seven club & again blatted some of the route with them (& again they were overtaken by our man).  The sun showed its face & the scenery was again well up to the task, though not as mountainous as yesterday. We accompanied them to a nice coffee stop & then they went on their way.

Westfields both
It was while we were coming through some hilly farmland that I happened across a long line of traffic following a couple of vans pulling caravans. As the road wound through the valleys, overtaking opportunities came up & I took two or three cars at a time. Until I overtook an Audi S4, now Audi drivers have something of a reputation & this one objected to being passed, so tried to close the gap & flashed his lights as I pulled in. I shrugged & overtook the next few cars when a chance came up. At the next village both vans turned off along with most of the cars behind me – except for the Audi.
At the end of the village I accelerated up to the speed limit (yes really) & the Audi came flying passed & pulled away - thus reassuring me it wasn’t an un-marked police car – I wasn’t about to get involved in a drag race & soon the road began to twist again, so I caught up. Then in a final irony there was another queue of traffic behind two vans as the road wound into a valley with a few overtaking opportunities ……………. never saw the Audi again.


Wednesday 3 June 2015

Rogue Runners day 4, Sligachan to Ullapool

Applecross Pass
For me the best day of the trip. It was still raining on Sky when we breakfasted, so the crew decided to forego the extended blatt (to the North Coast) & instead do a tour of Skye before heading off to Ullapool. I think it was about this time that the subject of Paul’s Pants came up, it seems he’d been so excited at the prospect of seven days blatting that his entire stock of underwear was what he stood up in. Now for any of the rest of us this wouldn’t have been a problem (right side-right way round, inside out right way round, right side back to f
View from Applecross Pass
ront etc) but the traditional male approach wasn’t going to work on this occasion, because Paul had his wife with him & a more ……… socially responsible, not to say genteel solution was required. So every day we were regaled with stories of washing the sole pair in the sink & drying them with the hair drier / towel / hanging them out of the window. We of course took this problem very seriously & sympathised (not).

As Above
For me the early Skye tour wasn’t an option as I had set my heart on seeing all four coasts, so as soon as I was ready I set off.  The view from the top of the Skye bridge as you leave the island is still stunning even in drizzle as rank upon rank of islets & cove recede into the murk, but back on the mainland, slowly slowly the drizzle stopped & the cloud lifted until by the time I’d reached the top of the Applecross pass (another ambition ticked off) the cloud was just above the road (2,200ft according to the satnav) so the roof came off.

And Again
The scenery was breath-taking & the driving slow but very technical with the road constantly changing direction & gradient. This part of the journey took much longer than I’d hoped because I had to keep stopping for photos, fortunately the Satnav had over-estimated the time I’d need & the ETA at the end of the route was counting down nicely.But it was around Lunchtime when I passed our hotel for that night in through Ullapool with the satnav saying 160 miles remaining until I got back to Ullapool.

On the road to Durness
The road to Durness on the north coast was simply sublime, bright sunshine, next-to-no traffic & stunning scenery. Again I was delayed by photography as every twist & turn of the road bought forth another stunning vista (is this arty enough for you?) & the road was wide & smooth & sweeping & fast. I stopped for a photo opportunity when I saw a road sign I’m never likely to see the like of again, it said “beach & burial ground”, sure enough there was a fantastic white sandy beach – with a grave yard just above the high water mark.

Beach with ensuite graveyard
Shortly after that I rested & took on coffee & a muffin at a cafĂ© with views over a sparkling turquoise bay, then moved on to Durness & Smoo Cave to see the north coast. It could have been Cornwall in mid-summer – except the place was virtually deserted. I would’ve liked to have stayed longer, but had to be back in Ullapool by tea time. I took the same route back & it was every bit as enjoyable.

Not a stray holiday snap, this is Scotland's north coast.
Ullapool was a nice town (a drop of sunshine does wonders) but the restaurants were heaving & we had to drink the local ale while waiting for a table (this was a good thing). But the food was excellent, & we strolled back to the Guest house full & satisfied.
It was only when I got into my room that I looked in the mirror & realised I had a very sunburned face. I’d thought to bring anti-mosquito measures, but not sun block!

Oh an of course my second & third coasts safely in the bag (camera bag that is)

That's quite a lot of brake pad spread round that wheel

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Rogue Runners Day 3 Doune to Sligachan

A good breakfast served up by the slightly strange (in a good way) proprietor & being optimistic I took the hood off, it immediately started raining so I put it back on again & we set off, but all was not well. One of our number had a problem –  the chap that worked out most of the routes & had joined us only the evening before having failed to get all the time off work. He’d driven his seven all the way from the south coast to Doune along the motorways, which is not a pleasant way to travel & had arrived saying the clutch in his car didn’t feel right, so this morning he called the AA & we got a message saying he was being trailered home. Not much of a road trip for him.
Meanwhile the rain was coming & going & we had a new playmate in the form of the only man to be a member of both SKCCs – the Southern & Scottish Kit Car Clubs. We would be driving some of his regular terrain so he led a cracking pace after suggesting we were dawdling by overtaking us, not that that stopped him getting caught by our own roadrunner.

For a coffee stop I led us into the Green Wellie Stop at Tyndrum, a little touristy perhaps, but opportunities to buy pressies for those back home had been few & would get fewer as we want north. The scenery became more spectacular & we drove through Glen Coe (in the drizzle)& Ft William where we stopped for another coffee close to the commando memorial & an excited woman burst from her hiding place in a craft centre to take photos of the cars for her face-book page. After the coffee our fellow blatteer turned for home some way to the south (I believe he may have taken "the low road"
Also in Ft William I collected my second coast. But the clouds stayed low & the drizzle persisted, so I didn’t bother with photos knowing we’d see the eastern sea further north. Eventually we got to Skye & some of the cheapest petrol on the whole trip – at which point it started properly bucketing down. Skye is a land of waterfalls, you don't have to be there to realise what keeps them flowing.

The plan had been to arrive early & take in a tour of the island, but there were delays due to traffic & the weather, so we achieved neither. What we did do was settle in the rather splendid pub attached to our hotel & have a very good meal & a number of beers.

Tomorrow looked brighter on the forecasts, so a plan was hatched to do the short tour of skye first thing. I however had plans of my own......


Monday 1 June 2015

Rogue Runners Day 2, Kendal to Doune

Up with the lark & down to breakfast with the rest of the crew, then off to get the car – Load all the luggage, take off & stow the soft top, change the full side windows for deflectors, take off the steering lock & the solar charger, get in, do up the straps …. And ……. it wouldn’t start. Great.
Fortunately there was another member with me & we realised that the fuel pump wasn’t turning, a brief search found a dead fuse. But then though I’d flattened the battery, so I got jump started & we rumbled round to the hotel.

A proper brooding sky
As soon as we were out of Kendal the roads became magical, twisting both side to side & up and down and with no other traffic.
In Carlisle everyone seemed pleased to see us & waved enthusiastically. Over the border & we had 45 motorway miles to cover, we pulled on to the motorway behind a black Audi with a strange box fitted to a bracket beside the rear view mirror. It was driving perfectly, between 70 & 72mph & keeping to the inside lane unless overtaking. I ask you dear reader does that sound like any Audi you’ve ever seen? Deciding it was likely to be the constabulary we maintained a discreet distance & a sensible speed for every last one of the 45 miles.

Then back to the foot-hills & a wonderful blatt through some properly twisty roads until we arrived in a town call Sorn.

This was too good an opportunity to miss & we had a long photo op / coffee break in the Sorn Inn. After that the roads got even better until we arrived at out hostelry for the night in Doune.

Here parking was not a problem & we spread out & covered the cars up for the night. It was here that we experienced out first tartan carpet. I think there must be rules about tartan carpet in Scottish hotels.

Food arrived & beer flowed, another member of our crew had arrived, driving direct from Eastbourne(!) to be with us. It was he who had written most of the routes, but alas he was not to sample them – see the report for day 3.

Rogue Runners Day 1, Guildford to Kendal

Day one
This required an early start, I was to meet one other blatter on the A3, then the rest od the southern group on at the M25 junction, Mrs blatter wasn’t keen on being woken at 04:00, so I gallantly slept downstairs.

The alarm went off.
I quickly put the bed away, collected my luggage & headed off into the gloom of early morning.

I had heard the day before that the guy I was to meet on the A3 had reversed his car through a hedge at some speed only the day before, so would not be joining us, I drove to the A3 junction & lurked under a flyover waiting to pounce. After not long at all barely silenced engines announced the arrival of the southern contingent & I pull out behind them – just in time for the traffic lights to change, hmm – not much of a pounce really.
After a couple of minutes I caught them rumbling along the M25 & having waved a cheery greeting, fell in behind the leader.

We toiled along the M25 to put some miles behind us, but soon enough we headed into the countryside & the more winding roads – heading for the point we’d arranged to meet the folk from the east – which we did, just as they pulled into the meet point.
We re-fuelled & the man behind the till said “are you going off to Silverstone?” Erm no – a little further than that.

Having said our hellos & thrown around some insults we headed off to a garden centre for breakfast, they had only just opened but the cars caused quite a stir
GB not looking in case the light starts flashing again
Then it started to rain, but we were in the Peak District, so it was only to be expected, we pulled in for a photo opportunity with a fine view over rolling hills & one of our number said “my immobiliser’s not flashing”. Turns out this means the car can’t be started, but while we were stood about wondering what the appropriate amount of time was before we could say “well – see you then” someone noticed it was flashing again, the engine was started & we headed out.
Shortly after this we were rumbling along Snake Pass – I was leading – just flowing with the traffic, when there was a crest ………. & a camera van. I had a nice “welcome home” message from Derbyshire Constabulary when I got home, but I’ve not had a ticket since 1983, so I guess I’m due one.

To add injury to insult, it then began to hail & let me tell you hail when driving an open car HURTS!
After some city driving, which was just horrible, we hit Cumbria, which wasn’t. Almot as soon as we crossed the border the roads got interesting & the scenery changed to match. AND the sun came out.

Out target for tonight was Kendal & the Premier Inn. We had seen the parking on street view, but on arrival it turned out that there was none. What we had seen was a private car park - £5 a visit and there weren’t enough spaces, a suggestion that we could all cram up one end & block each other in was frowned upon & we were assured that parking outside the marked bays would get us clamped. We discussed using the clamp removal as an interesting engineering project & looked into what tools we were carrying, but in the end played safe & parked outside the police station overnight before retiring for a so-so dinner & an uncomfortable bed (if I EVER see Lenny Henry ……….)
I took my revenge by charging every single device I had with their electricity, the laptop, two Tomtoms, two GoPros, two GoPro wifi units, an SLR & a GoPro remote (Grrrrrrr).