Monday 30 May 2022

Blackbushe Classics

 Not home 18 hours & already out at a car show!

As the Quantum is officially up for sale I thought I ought to get it in front of some people, so took it along. It hasn't been started for at least two weeks, so I was expecting to have to put it on charge, but no! It span up & fired straight away. It's only a couple of miles away, so it wasn't much of a journey, but as usual there was a good spread of cars there.

RogueRunners 22 - Epilogue

 It's been a couple of days since I got home, what are the lasting impressions?

Northumberland is a long way to go but the roads are mostly fantastic & there's very little traffic, what there is often pulled over to let us pass & I'd like to think we returned the favour by sticking very carefully to the speed limits in towns & villages. Speaking of speed limits - for now at least there is no sign of "Nanny State" 40 limits with average speed cameras on the interesting stretches of road as seen in Derbyshire & Wales.
I did feel for one camera van crew, sitting in a village just off a beautiful moorland road, it was cold, it was wet, there was no traffic. But suddenly coming down off the moor were eight brightly coloured sportscars! At last some action! But wait - the first one is just ahead of an SUV & they're all doing - 18mph.

The hotel "The Centre of Britain" was in a great place & in a great building, the food was very good & although there were a couple of small things that should've been dealt with better, our stay was really very enjoyable.

But the thing that always makes these trips is the people & the camaraderie. The group is just brilliant fun to be with, refusing to be downcast or beaten by weather. Grabbing any opportunity to poke fun at each other & will always help out with any problems.

Thank you Rogues - you are the best!

RogueRunners 22 Day 8 - The Return Journey - or the Sundering Of The Fellowship

Sadness – the last day. Usually the group – or most of it – heads south to a split up point & farewells are bidden, but this time the Zero & the black & yellow Caterham had departed yesterday, the Elises were driving to Hull to break the journey, The MK & the all yellow Caterham were going south on faster roads, leaving only the Stylus & the Avon to wend their way on the pre-defined route.

The Stylus & The Avon left the hotel car park last, but before we’d even got to Haltwhisle’s bypass, we were joined by – the MK & the Caterham coming from the other direction. Oh how we laughed.

The four of us trundled through the Northumbrian countryside for maybe twenty miles before our routes diverged, leaving just two of us to take on the A686 Hartside again – this time without another car in sight on the way up OR down – excellent. The way up & down Tan Hill was similarly unimpeded & we rewarded ourselves with an ice cream at Brough Castle (again - two scoops of fudge). The first fuel stop was in an odd (& expensive) little place, with old British sports cars both for sale & being restored & presumably the proprietor’s small boy getting very enthusiastic about the cars that had appeared.  After that things were less good, with traffic, my throttle jammed open, but righted itself pretty easily, poor road surfaces & some SatNav strangeness that resulted in us getting split up.

I waited for a while, but Linda had gone another way thinking she was now some way behind. In fact it was I who was behind but the jammed open throttle was now a jammed closed throttle so I only had about 10% throttle travel & wasn’t going to be overtaking anything. No matter, we met up again at the next petrol stop, by which time the roads had opened up a bit & my throttle woes had eased, so we had a nice rumble to the garden centre where it all began & indulged in coffee & coffee cake & that was it – officially over.

I knocked off the last 100 miles without incident & the car got tucked up in the garage. The cleaning & fault investigation can wait for tomorrow, but the car has been a little star. Fresh out of re-build it’s covered almost 2,250 miles without complaint – OK there’s the airbox to fix, but it’s a small thing & has caused no secondary damage.

Now that's a car that's been on a ROAD TRIP!

RogueRunners 22 Day 7 - Flight To The Ford – 132 Miles

Two of the rogues had to depart today, so after breakfast we bade them a fond farewell before setting off on a short route re-visiting some of the best corners from the past week.

We headed out of town going north & turned left onto the Military Road, then south onto the lanes & at Lambley we began the first of many loops – this first one was something of a disappointment as the lanes were narrow & the surface was poor. There were just two of us in the lead group as we returned to Lambley then headed south on the A689 & then the A686 past Hartside, this is a fantastic road that we’ve driven in previous years, it was so good, that at Melmerby, we turned round & did it again in the other direction, just in time to see the rest of the group following a police car through the last of the bends! After that we returned to Alston, then roughly north east on an A road across the moors, so long straights punctuated by hairpin bends.

After Bearsbridge & it’s series of hairpins we stopped for a coffee, then some continued with the route, others went for lunch, then to see Hadrian’s Wall after which I traveled alone to Housteads to see more Roman Ruins.

When I returned to the hotel I found the airbox I'd made from some GRP resin & a pair of tights had split. I taped it up with duct tape, but I hadn't heard the last of this ........

Sunday 29 May 2022

RogueRunners 22 Day 6 – Duncan’s Route (220 Miles)

After the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages I got up & wandered down to the main A69 bridge to take some photos of what appeared to be a waterfall as we drove out yesterday. In fact it’s really just the river tumbling over the foundations of the railway bridge, but quite attractive anyway.

Today we elected to drive a route Duncan had written, the weather was looking foul to the south, but the route headed north. With hoods up we set off from Haltdrizzle & immediately broke the record for the fastest time for the group to be split up. I don’t think we’d even left the hotel grounds! But although we were on different roads we were in radio contact, so weren’t far apart & within a couple of miles we had all joined up again. Heading north on some roads we’d already driven, we soon found ourselves crossing the border & heading for Hawick (Hoik) on the lovely B6399, but turned off just before we arrived in town.

A suitable stopping point was found & as the sky was looking brighter the hoods got stowed & that was about the last we saw of any rain – there was even a little sun – the first proper sun we’d experienced on this trip. Duncan had chosen well & the route featured superbly wriggly, smoothly tarmac’d roads & just about no traffic.

We stopped in the Old School Hub & Tea Room for cake & coffee, then got as far north as Selkirk, where at some road works traffic lights we became the star attraction for some school children. We got separated at a junction & I found myself behind four cars, the front one of which was managing 45 on a very wide, open A road, so I picked the cars off one at a time & eventually caught the lead group & was caught by the group behind me – perfect.

Then heading past St. Mary’s Loch near Moffat we stopped again for more coffee, cake & photos as the sun now well & truly had his hat on. 

Shortly after this was a stop for a photo with an old AA phone box - pity about the post box, but none of us had a hacksaw wit us.

There were more deserted winding roads & we crossed back into England, heading for the Keilder Reservoir visitor centre, once again the car park entrance eluded me, so like last time I went across the grass. I probably parked in the very same space I parked the Fury in in maybe 2017?

After MORE cake we persuaded Linda to sit on an oversize park bench for comic effect & just as we were strapping in a whole bunch of original minis pulled in & their owners seemed to be dismantling them? Strange folk. Just as we were lined up ready to leave a coach went past, fortunately it didn’t hold us up much as the roads are pretty straight & deserted.

So after some more excellent roads, we ended up back in Haltwhistle.

Discussions have already started about RogueRunners ‘23

RogueRunners 22 Day 5 - Not At Home (242 Miles)

Named for whoever it was who went to Barnard Castle for an eye test, there was a short & a long option of today’s route. The weather looked better in the direction this run took, but it was still pretty wet up on the moors as we set off for Brough Castle Ice Cream parlour. Yes again – what of it?

The first half of the run was marred not only by the weather, but also by ponderous drivers pootling along at 30 in a 60 limit, some of them on wide A roads. They seemed to be everywhere, but after a frustrating time we arrived at the cake stop & I had MY FIRST ACTUAL CAKE OF THE TOUR! It was raining very slightly when we emerged, but I elected to keep the roof off & was rewarded with a little sunshine, but no more rain.

Myself, Brian (Caterham) & Neil (GBS Zero) made good progress & the roads were empty of all the dawdlers. There was some confusion over a fuel stop & we lost Neil, but Brian & I continued together & after a ford found “Colliary Lane”. It started well enough with a long stretch of smooth tarmac, then it wound down into a steep valley & the surface became a little more broken. Then as it climbed steeply up the other side, it was like driving on railway sleepers, I was laughing like a drain, thinking “there’ll be hell to pay for this in the bar tonight”, but the Stylus coped admirably, just winding its’ way up in second without issue.

After that was a swift run over the moors following a Seat Leon that wasn’t intent on doing 30 – very definitely not, followed by a quick refuel & into the pub for tea & discussion of all our adventures.

RogueRunners 22 Day 4 - On The Doorstep (268 Miles)

Devil sheep!
Today we headed out of the village going north & then west to avoid the speed camera & were straight into the good roads, passing hamlets by the name of Foul Town & Gap. At Longtown we took a very short detour to avoid another speed camera before briefly following the A7 & then back onto the smaller roads. At Lockerbie, we were going to meet our Scottish contingent, but he had other commitments, so I refuelled & moved on. We bypassed Dumfries on the Dumfries bypass & took the unfeasibly wriggly A712 roughly north west, then due north on the B7000. At Carsphain, we called in at a small tea room (clearly making the proprietor’s day) & while we were there it rained – quite a lot. I rushed out & put the roof on the car.

Nice pictuaaaarrrgh!
Passing into Ayrshire at Loch Muck, we headed into the wilds with B roads to New Camnock, then the A76 through Kirkconnel, before turning north on B roads again.

Turning south at Biggar the land was getting hilly, we got to Tweedsmuir & turned off the main road to run alongside the Talla & Meggit reservoirs & St Mary’s Loch. I was on my own at this stage having skipped the last fuel stop, so had the chance to pull over & take some atmospheric photos of the car, also taking time to fall arse-over-tit about 6ft down a grass & stone bank to end up spread-eagled on the tarmac – at the age of 61 ½ - tch). A bit of pale sunshine had provoked me to take the roof off again.

Just after the last of my photo stops I was caught up by the others, still with their hoods on & we drove in the dry but on mostly wet, mostly fantastic roads. We must’ve passed at least a dozen “road ahead closed” signs over a 15 mile stretch – no other information, I trusted the SatNav & sure enough it wasn’t our road that was closed.

Back on the minor roads The SatNav said “Turn sharp left” - & it WAS sharp, not a problem for the Stylus which has the turning circle of a fork-lift truck, but the others would struggle. After 400 yards there was a gate, I got on the radio & shouted “STOP STOP DON’T FOLLOW THE SatNavs”. There was nowhere to turn round, so I had to reverse 400yds to a field gate, but I’d prevented a rather embarrassing traffic jam.

By now it was properly raining & I still had the hood down, so I just set the destination to Haltwhistle & got there as quickly as I could. I was very wet by this point but just as I arrived, the sum came out & it was a beautifully sunny evening from that point on.

RogueRunners 22 Day 3 - Over Hill & Under Hill – 233 miles

There were two choices on this route, a 233 mile route taking in Tebay to buy cake & beer & 213 miles for those less inclined. The route got straight into the good stuff, zig-zagging a bit before taking the A689 south, it had good sight lines & long straights punctuated by sharp bends. At Raise we took the A686, which was a real corker, fast rolling bends & a good view.

At Langwathby we crossed the river Eden on a single track box girder bridge immediately after a blind left hand bend, fortunately traffic lights had been installed since the StreetView car was there last. Next was the Whinlatter Pass, where we stopped for coffee & put the hoods on as the weather had come over inclement. Then the Honister Pass, followed by Keswick for a fuel stop on the way out of town.

The Lake District - it's green for a reason
We were supposed to head south & turn off the main road to run down the far side of Thirlmere, re-joining the A road for the Pass of Dunmail Raise, but a closed minor road meant we had to take the trunk route where all the traffic was – but at least it was pretty, then Windermere & Burnside – there’s not much choice in the roads in that area, so again we had to sit in the traffic. 

At one point we were on a minor road & rounded a corner to find a traffic jam, at the front of which was a herd of sheep & a bunch of Caterhams, two of whom spoke to us - but obviously only the Caterham drivers. I think I may have got a surreptitious thumbs up from one when he thought the others couldn't see. 

After that came the planned visit to Tebay to pick up lemon drizzle cake & local ale, however all the trouble with the minor road had baffled a couple of SatNavs (mine was asking me to turn round for 70 miles) so we followed those whose SatNavs were still working, but naturally as these things go they had opted for the short route, so I had to go cakeless.

At Hardraw we turned north for the specially requested Buttertubs Pass to complete four passes in a day, then traveled north towards Tan Hill as another special request, but again a closed road confused our devices. We stopped to discuss the problem & then realised we were right outside an almost tumble-down farmhouse selling coffees & snacks from the back door. The lady said they had only been open 5 weeks & had no “official” loo, but allowed us to use hers if we could negotiate the building site & vicious man eating dachshunds.

After that it was deserted moorland roads more or less all the way back to the excellent Brough Castle Ice Cream Parlour (double waffle cone – fudge & custard cream flavours) then some more brilliant & deserted roads back to the hotel.

It is very noticeable in Northumberland that when you come up behind a slower moving vehicle they often pull over to let you pass. We like this.

RogueRunners 22 Day Two- The Road to Lindisfarne (245 Miles)

You’ll have guessed where we went already.

We headed out of HALTWHISTLE on a windy back road going north until it crossed the only road called “Military Road” I’ve ever seen that isn’t EPIC – because it follows the route of the Roman wall so it’s pretty much straight (though it does go up & down a LOT). Apparently it was built by the infamous General Wade (I expect he had some help) & a few courses were taken off Hadrian’s Wall to make the foundations. 

After a B-road over the moor we took the A68 past Catcleugh Reservoir (“cat clue” I believe) & shortly after we entered the land of the Celt & the Pict, there’s a lovely series of fast bends & somewhere around there we turned into a road with a sign that said “GATES”, I thought “It’ll be fine, it’ll just be a set of gates because someone didn’t want to put a cattle grid in”.

It wasn’t, there were many gates. At the first one I opened it, drove through & closed it behind the last car. On the other side of the gate the surface was a bit worse & this pattern continued until we were driving through a farm yard. But it got worse, through the next gate we were on a cinder track across a sheep field. I switched off my barely functioning radio so the others could swear at me in peace.

That's not mud

After what seemed like two hours our wheels hit tarmac again & at Jedburgh we took on some fuel.

After putting the hoods up due to some rain, next stop was Duns where we were hoping to see the new Jim Clark museum & get a drink – maybe some cake – I like cake. But this museum stands out from every other museum in NOT having a cafe. The man behind the desk directed us into town to “The Jim Clark Bistro” – it was closed. Fortunately there was a small coffee shop open & we were able to get refreshed. By now I was feeling that my first route wasn’t going terribly well. 


Leaving DUNS we passed the hamlets of West Blackadder, Blackadder Mains, Blackadder South Lodge, Blackadder Mount & Blackadder Bank before re-entering England at Berwick-Upon-Tweed. There’s not much choice in roads around here, so it was the A1 until we turned aside for Lindisfarne – as we approached the causeway some of our number were heading back saying there was a £5 minimum car park charge, so we also just drove on & off again.

Back to the A1 for almost no time at all as we were heading for Bamburgh where I stopped to take a photo of the Stylus very similar to the photo I took of the Fury on it's first road trip in 2012 - ten years ago! Then the coast road into Seahouses where I caught up with some of the others in a petrol station.

After passing through Alnwick we turned inland with hills on the horizon.  The roads became slowly more EPIC & from a purely driving point of view this was the best part of the day, finishing off with the A686 & it’s hairpins.