Yorkshire Dales 22nd to 25th May 2009
By rights, this should be a very short article; words cannot adequately convey just what a great trip this was. However, I have tried to capture the essence of it - not just for the benefit of those who were unable to join in, but also to remind those who did go, just what a great trip it was and how much hard work went into making it the success that it was.
This was P&D's 5th Annual long weekend away, (previous sorties have included Scotland, the Isle of Man, CumbriaandWales), and for this trip, the hotel in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales had been booked for 2 years to make sure that we could get as many members as possible accommodated in the same hotel (In fact, we took all the rooms and still had to take a couple of rooms in a nearby B&B!).
Whilst we hoped for good weather, we never expected the best weather of the year thus far - but we certainly got it!
Thirteen MGs plus Graham & Julie's Porsche were booked on the trip but work commitments and a lighting fault meant that three cars had to join the party further down the road. The age of the MGs spanned over 60 years (from Bill's '39 TA up to Mick & Chris Bamber's 2001 F) with engine sizes ranging from Mark and Karen's small but perfectly formed 'A' series right up to Andy's mighty 4.6. Whatever your poison, we had it covered!
Day 1 (Friday 29th May; weather - sunny)
Muster was 9.00 at the Swallow Hotel on the A59 at Salmesbury with the first day comprising 4x 'Tulip' style navigation exercises split by coffee/tea stops during the morning & afternoon and a most agreeable lunch at the Tennant Arms pub in Kilnsey (just north of Skipton). The fourth exercise concluded at the Kearton Country Hotel in Thwaite - our home for the next three nights and by this time, we had a full complement of cars.
After a hot day on the road, a shower before dinner was the order of the day before we dined 'regally' from the Kearton's excellent menu; (everyone vowing to 'eat light' at breakfast).
Day 2 (Saturday 30th May; weather - very sunny)
After cooked breakfasts all round, suntan lotion was liberally applied and the crews were split in to two teams - the Testosterones and the Tortoises - for a convoy run to a late morning coffee stop at the Tan Hill Inn (the highest pub in Britain and the location for those Everest double glazing adverts). The Testosterones set off first and arrived in double quick time, but the question remains - did they see as much of the scenery as the Tortoises who arrived (not too long) afterwards? The landlady of the Tan Hill Inn picked her favourite car and Bill's TA took the honours.
The Testosterones and the Tortoises then set off in the irrespective teams for convoy runs in to Richmond where the afternoon was free for sight seeing, shopping and generally resting up ahead of the following day's marathon (or 5 marathons to be precise).
Day 3 (Sunday 31st May; weather - very sunny again)
The Sunday run was a circular route of around 135 miles which the crews had to plot themselves based on grid references (and using maps) provided by Bill. (This had been Saturday's 'homework'!)
The route headed north - west from Thwaite, once again climbing the 1:4s and over Tan Hill again before by-passing Appleby (and its horse fair) as we headed towards our morning coffee stop at the Stag Inn in Dufton where we were joined by Jeff Reid & his son, David in Jeff's roaring 4.6. (With all this horse - power, it's just as well we didn't stop in Appleby. We might have demoralised the gypsies so much that we put an end to a centuries old tradition!!!).
After Bill's TA picked up another 1st (this time from the landlady of the Stag Inn), we headed further north - west and then east via Melmerby, Garrigill and Nenthead, across stunning mountain roads before the lunch stop at Allendale - where we were honoured guests at the Allendale Fair. They had set aside reserved parking for us, and after driving as a cavalcade through the village square, we put on a colourful, static display of shiny cars whilst we enjoyed the fete - complete with an excellent junior 'karaoke' (where do they get the confidence?) and a bar-b-que which was doing excellent trade.
Only a minor hiccup with an overheating battery prevented Bill's TA from leading us in to Allendale, but a bit of good fortune with a garage owner (who owned 2 MGs himself) who came up with a new battery saw Bill arriving shortly after everyone else and taking his rightful place in the 'line-up'.
With 70 miles still to run, we pointed the cars south - east towards Barnard Castle (and the only fuel stop on the route) before heading due south and then east on the home run.
What a day! Stunning scenery, great roads, fabulous weather - and we all still managed to eat like locusts when we sat down for dinner at 7:30.
Day 4 (Monday 1st June; weather - very, very sunny and set to get hotter)
After one last cooked breakfast (diets starting on Tuesday) the cars were packed, yet more suntan lotion was applied, we bade our farewells and headed for home. Many opted to drive over the spectacular Buttertubs Pass towards Hawes - so another 'impromptu' convoy formed up. Heading from east to west, Buttertubs Pass is a great driving road; if you haven't driven it yet, what are you waiting for?
The Ribblehead Viaduct, alas without steam locomotives, provided an impressive backdrop and a convenient rest stop for an ice cream and a last photo opportunity before we headed back in to the real world.
So what made this trip so great? In short - everything. Bill Ryding had put in a huge amount of effort in arranging every detail of thi strip - and it showed. Thwaite is a lovely village in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and the hotel staff worked tirelessly to make sure we had a good time. The food was excellent and if the bedrooms were not quite as palatial as we might have come to expect - they were certainly adequate. The weather just got better and better, the roads were quiet and the scenery was stunning. Each day's activities were different; day 1 - Tulips, day 2 - convoys & freetime; day 3 - route plotting and navigation; day 4 - a fast run for the border (and home). The rest stops were well planned, everyone was keen to mix and get to know one another better - the list just goes on.
But the foundation remains Bill Ryding; without his immense effort, hard work and meticulous planning, it could have been a very different story - if, indeed, there had been a story to tell.