30 March, 2015

Association Socials

By all accounts, the Prizegiving weekend at Torquay in January was a great success, enjoyed by all. Many thanks go to Social Secretary Jack Adams for organizing the event. We have decided on the Mercure Hotel near Chester for our Late Summer Social Weekend, and have booked the 24th - 26th September. Looking further ahead to the 2016 Presentation Weekend in Torquay: it will be held on 29th & 30th January with optional extra nights, so please keep those dates in mind. We have reserved a number of rooms for the Association, and can adjust the arrangements nearer the time.

29 March, 2015

9 Trophies Awarded & Presented for 2014

Griffin Trophy
Alan Sylvester, who raised in excess of £25,000 for Prospect House Hospice.

Shanks Pony Trophy
Adam Dawson

Alroyd Lees Cup
Richard Naylor

Charlie Hankins Memorial Trophy
Stephen Gibbs, who set up a record for the oldest person to “bus pass” the journey, and the quickest on record.

Mabel McCraken Mug
Russell George. You are encouraged to purchase Russell’s book, Footsteps in Summer.

Names were also inscribed on the following Trophies for awardees who were unable to attend the Prizegiving Weekend:

Brenroy Trophy
Phillip Brown

Tourco Trophy
Jamie Methuen

Joan Cave Memorial Trophy
John Greer

Jack Adams/ Richard Elloway Trophy
Charlie Yorke, the youngest person of the year to undertake a journey.

  Charlie, Alex and Conrad Yorke

28 March, 2015

Welcome to New Members

Mr Paul Burley of Chepstow, Gwent, motorcycled from John o’ Groats to Land’s End, visiting the 4 extreme points of mainland UK: Dunnet Head, Ardnamurchan Head, Lowestoft Ness and The Lizard. Motorways were avoided where possible. The aim was: 4 corners in 4 days for 3 charities. He travelled with Jamie Methuen, whose story was included in Issue 85.

Mr Roy Brown of Romford, Essex also motorcycled: “I started out from Romford on Friday 25th July, stayed overnight at Darlington and met up with two friends. On Saturday we stayed overnight at Fort William, Sunday at Sinclair’s Bay, then onto John o’ Groats on Monday morning, when we started our End-to-End. With overnight stays at Benmore, Kirkham and Weston-super-Mare, we rode on to Land’s End on Thursday afternoon, with a mileage of 1,065. From Land’s End, we stayed overnight at Penzance, and I rode back to Romford on Friday 1st August. To ride a motorcycle JOGLE has been a challenge I have wanted to achieve for over 30 years, but up to now I have not had the opportunity. It was a very rewarding and interesting trip, having never been to Scotland before, and I was able to raise money for two good causes. My total mileage for the whole trip was 2,144 miles.”

Mr Michael Lawrence of Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent walked LEJOG, and blogged his journey here.

Welcome to our new Associate Member:

Mr David Mulligan of Bolton, Lancashire.

27 March, 2015

The London Marathon

Kathryn Hough is in training for the London marathon in April, to raise money for Whizz-Kidz. The organization improves the quality of life of disabled children and young people in the UK through the provision of customised mobility equipment. They also give help and advice to the children and their families, and raise awareness of mobility-related issues through national campaigning. Thank you for any contributions!

26 March, 2015

Torquay Weekend

by C.W. Parkes

You may be surprised that somebody who had never been to Torquay, let alone the Toorak hotel and had never met any of you beforehand should be asked to write a report of the social activities of members of the Association and their friends and families at this hotel on their annual dinner and presentation weekend.

Let me explain. We were invited by our host to join him and his wife for this special occasion. He has been a close friend of mine for many years even though for much of that time our contact was by correspondence and, more recently, email and Skype. This was because my career took me abroad for over 35 years and only recently did I return to the UK. I was born in a small village near Cromer in Norfolk and spent my childhood and formative years there before studying for four years in London, after which I was posted overseas and only came home periodically to the UK on leave. My knowledge of my own country is therefore woefully limited so when my host invited us, I jumped at the chance as I thought I would be able to talk to people who knew the country well and could give me some useful tips and advice, as it is my intention to do Land’s End to John o’ Groats later this year before I am too old. The invitation was conditional upon my writing an account for publication in the Association’s magazine. My host felt I would be able to view the proceedings in a detached way, uncluttered by memories of previous weekends at the Toorak which, I was informed, has been the hotel of choice for over twenty years.

The Toorak Hotel
Against this background my partner and I travelled by train from Paddington and arrived late on Friday afternoon at Torquay station where our host and his wife were there to meet us.

My first impression of the hotel was one of comfort, efficiency and friendly and helpful staff which was not dispelled throughout our brief stay. Our room was warm, spacious and well appointed. Many of the members and their families and friends had already arrived and were wearing nicely produced badges to identify themselves. Some had even arrived on Thursday including Jack Adams and his wife Theresa, their friends Val Becket and Bob Willis, Brian and Pat Dawson, Cliff and Anne Harrison and their daughter Sue and Tony and Kath Bagley.

Karen Bower and her children Imogen and Harry were badly delayed by an accident on the M4 and did not arrive till 10:30 – what rotten luck – but everybody else due that evening had arrived in time for dinner at 7pm in the main restaurant. Our party was allocated tables in an elevated part of the room, away from the many other diners who filled it but were not involved with us. It was busy but the service and food were very good with quite a wide choice. Conversation amongst old and new members was animated and lively and I was interested to hear of the adventures of others.

After this leisurely dinner, some of us went to the bar or other parts of the lounges to chat while Brian Dawson, the Chairman, called a meeting of the committee, though Jack Adams, (the new Social Secretary following the resignation of Julie Jones, who had organised this function with great efficiency for many years despite the trials and tribulations she had to contend with caused by the recalcitrant behaviour of a few of the less co-operative souls), decided to boycott this meeting, preferring to try his luck at bingo instead (at least, that’s what I was told). Nevertheless, to the surprise of my host, he did a great job and is maintaining the high standards set by Julie, who was much undervalued and is much missed. I was surprised my host was surprised, as I thought Jack Adams had done an excellent job, and he and Cliff Harrison had produced deluxe dual-control name badges which we were asked to hand in at reception on departure. That was quite enough for one day – and so to bed.

Breakfast in the restaurant on Saturday morning was a DIY affair. That’s not to say everybody had to fry their own eggs and bacon etc. but they did have to serve themselves from a wide choice of tempting items, mostly fried and of alarmingly high calorific content and bad cholesterol. For the pessimists there were adequate quantities of prunes and figs. Those who survived had the joys of the AGM ahead of them. At ten o’clock sharp, the chairman declared the meeting open, and after hearing the reports of the officers and discussing a few other points, declared it closed in record time (so my host reliably informed me) which left the rest of the day free for everybody except the hard working and beleaguered committee who had yet another short meeting. I formed the impression that Brian Dawson has a greater fondness for committee meetings than those on it. No doubt this will be covered elsewhere in your magazine.

It was a bitterly cold and windy day so how the others spent their day I know not. We walked with our hosts along the front into the town. Much had been done to the harbour and marina and pavements surrounding them, and lots of works were in progress: one of the main streets in the town centre was dug up, rendering crossing the road almost impossible for the entire stretch. Apart from spending an hour in the Haddon Galleries in Victoria Parade admiring a display of quirky pictures produced in a variety of media by some talented artists, it was difficult to find many redeeming features in this crumbling town, once the queen of the English Riviera. Too many of the shops were closed and those that weren’t looked tatty or sold tat to (mostly) tatty looking people. Not much to lure us back there, I’m afraid, and such a contrast to the Torre Abbey and gardens and the vicinity of the Toorak only half a mile away.

So it was back to the hotel for a little relaxation prior to the high spot of the evening – the Presentation Dinner. We started by assembling in the bar at 7pm before taking our places in the adjacent Arlington Suite, reserved exclusively for us. A table plan outside indicated who sat on which table but we were left to sort out who sat where on each table, which skilfully and thoughtfully blended old and new resulting in good humoured conversation. There was certainly a happy buzz in the room, and after old-timer John Desborough had said grace, we combined gossip with eating and drinking – a recipe for merriment. There was no choice tonight; it was a fixed and perfectly good meal which was leisurely although the Chairman with a microphone and a twinkle in his eye, decided it was time for the climax of the evening: the presentation of cups and trophies to the deserving and worthy winners.

I counted 17 in total up for grabs but only 9 were awarded, and of those 9 only 5 members were in attendance to receive their awards plus a handsome replica for them to keep. I was told that all winners will have their names engraved on the relevant trophies, but they will only receive a replica if they attend to receive it, or give a plausible reason for their absence, in which case it will be posted. This makes sense to me, as our host said that of the winners in the past, some did not renew their membership after the first year, thus costing the Association more than they contributed.

Looking at the criteria for being eligible to win the various trophies, I was interested to see that apart from three based entirely on fact, the rest were awarded after applying a subjective test to each particular achievement. The three I refer to are the Griffin Cup awarded to the person raising the greatest amount for charitable causes, the Alroyd Lees Cup awarded to the oldest motorist, and the Jack Adams/Richard Elloway Trophy awarded to the youngest End-to-Ender under the age of 25.

Brian Dawson at this point handed over the mike to Treasurer Jeff Chambers, who announced each award and the criteria relating to it, and the winner thereof. He then passed the mike to the Route Advisor, Chris Hatton, who gave a bravura performance talking to the winners as they came up to collect their awards. He had never done this before but soon established a fruitful and amusing rapport with them, and by coaxing and probing, produced some interesting anecdotes and remarkable stories. The mike flew to and fro between him and the awardees with great panache so we could all hear the questions he posed and the answers he was given. Well done, Chris. You are destined to become a permanent fixture of these proceedings, I’m sure! My host said nothing like this had ever been done before. Without doubt, he said, this was how a presentation should be done – slickly, searchingly and with good humour. If only Paxman were like this.

The first award was the Alroyd Lees Trophy to Rick Naylor (not for the first time) whose story of his journey with his sister Gill Ward is on pages 41-49 of issue 85 of QV? Rick is hardly old, but he was the oldest motorist last year. I noticed from the trophy that it was not awarded in 2014. I wonder why that was... Maybe there were no motorists that year? Strange, as I understand that was the year when several members participated in the successful 3013 event and drove their cars from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. Somebody must have been the oldest among them! I imagine this must have been carelessly overlooked. Anyway, well done Rick and Gill. At least you weren’t!

Rick Naylor and Gill Ward
The Charlie Hankins Memorial Trophy came next and Chris resumed his banter, this time with winner Stephen Gibbs who told us he raised £3200 for Children in Need by riding on public buses from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 12 days, 8 hours and 21 minutes, using no fewer than 68 buses in total. He said one of his highlights was riding on the top deck through the Lake District with its wonderful views. His companion throughout was Pudsey bear without whom he would never have been able to blag his way through Scotland where, unlike England, there is no free travel for the more mature traveller. What an achievement!

Stephen Gibbs
The Shank’s Pony Trophy was next on the list and here Chris, no mean walker himself, met his match in Adam Dawson. Last spring, Adam walked 1500 miles in 79 days unsupported and carrying a backpack, from Lizard Point to Dunnet Head via Land’s End, Snowdon, Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis and John o’ Groats! How about that! Talk about a glutton for punishment. In the process he raised £11,000 for the Scouts Association. As I believe your Mr. Tetley might have said, “Terrific Effort.”

Adam Dawson
This award was followed by the most prestigious of all: The Griffin Trophy. It went, without any competition as far as amount raised was concerned, to Alan Sylvester. Alan served in the RAF for 31 years and used the last six weeks of his service to walk in memory of his fellow RAF Mountain Rescue colleague, Dean Singleton, who died of cancer, aged 43. His final three weeks were spent in Prospect House where he died with dignity and hence Alan’s choice of charity. He walked completely unsupported carrying a pack weighing 42 lbs. every day, averaging 22 miles, having camped wild or in a campsite, which explains the huge amount he raised. His low point was the first four days of horrendous weather, climbing out of Cornwall, with a high point being his view of the end of mainland Scotland with only 2 ½ miles to go. It was simply breathtaking. Alan thought LEJOG was the perfect ingredient to conclude a fantastic career in the RAF. He will treasure it forever.

Alan Sylvester
The Mabel McCracken Mug was awarded to Russell George for an interesting article he wrote for QV? (Issue 85, pages 58-63) not only about his End-to-End walk in 2013 (for which he received the Committee Cup last year) but also his decision to write a book about this undertaking and the logistical problems he had in getting a publisher to put it into print for retail sale. It was fascinating to read about the difficulties which beset him, too numerous to mention here, but it was decided that the combination of these two aspects were worthy of this prestigious award. He succeeded, and the book, entitled Footsteps in Summer, is now available for you to buy. He had brought some copies with him and I along with several others took the opportunity to do so. If you are interested – and you jolly well should be – it is available, price £9.99 (call that a tenner) from Matador, phone: 116 279 2299. Alternatively, try www.footstepsinsummer.com. All proceeds go to Cancer Research UK.

Russell George
The final award – not a cup or trophy but a certificate which was not actually there to present, so imagination was necessary, went to Dave Loud, enjoying a good dialogue with Chris, who, for once, was not bantering with a fellow walker. Look at QV? Issue 85 (page 50) and you’ll see Dave did the journey in a 1969 ex-police car. He is an authority on doing the End-to-End in vintage vehicles, having previously done so in a fire engine and an ambulance. Some of the tales he told were amusing and his current project is to do it in an old RNLI vehicle – so well done, Dave, and watch this space!

Dave Loud
Four other trophies were awarded but none of the winners was in attendance so Chris was unable to elicit background stories and anecdotes from them. Jeff Chambers read out the bare bones of what they had done as follows:

The Brenroy Trophy was awarded to Philip Brown for cycling south to north and raising £9,500 for the charity, Tommys.

The Tourco Trophy was awarded to Jamie Methuen for motorcycling north to south including the four mainland extremities in four days.

The Joan Cave Memorial Cup was awarded to John Greer for walking south to north in 90 days and raising about £5,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

The Jack Adams/Richard Elloway Trophy was awarded to Charlie Yorke who cycled with three members of his family from south to north in nine days and helped to raise £2,800 for SSAFA & Avon Valley Community First Responders. Charlie, at 22 years old, is probably the oldest youngest cyclist there has been for many years, and arrangements were made for the Chairman to present the trophy to him in person in the cycle shop in Stratford–upon-Avon where he works on Saturdays.

I was disappointed not to see more awards being made but there were simply no eligible members who could meet the conditions required for the others, and if there had been, it would have been a very long evening once Chris Hatton got to work! My host informed me that the number presented this year was lower than last and, for the first time since it was presented in 1989, no winner could be found for the Committee Cup. That is regrettable. I noticed that none of the winners was female. I discussed this with my host who seems to know about these things and he reckoned that in the last five years there had been ten ladies who had won trophies compared with 45 men.

This more or less wound up the proceedings, though there was still the raffle to be drawn, Theresa Adams and Val Becket having previously gone from table to table and persuasively induced the diners thereat to part with their lolly, very successfully, as I was informed that well over £200 was collected though I don’t remember what it was earmarked for. There were two final prizes to be awarded – the Most Smiley Face, of which Gladys Mackridge was the happy recipient, and some sort of bag from Cotton Traders which went to Jack Adams.

With that, the attendees called it a night and retired to bed, except for the hard-working committee members who carried the silverware back to the cabinet on the lower stairs where it has been housed for many years, by courtesy of the management of the Toorak; and here the cups, trophies, shields and mug will remain, undisturbed, for another year.

After another DIY breakfast on Sunday morning, followed by the opportunity to purchase some of the Association’s attractive merchandise, we bade farewell to old and new friends and dispersed to our homes at greater or lesser distances and all points of the compass (except south which would have landed us in the sea).

The prize winners were truly inspiring in their different ways and what they achieved was amazing. It has definitely encouraged me, and I am determined to have a go myself later this year. My partner did it four years ago when he cycled north to south. I will probably go south to north on a motorbike. I relish the prospect.

My partner and I are most grateful to our hosts for this wonderful weekend which we will never forget. At their request, and following the usual custom, I set out below, those in attendance at the Presentation Dinner on Saturday night:

Jack & Theresa Adams
Rob Willis & Val Becket
Rick & Kath Naylor
Bill & Gill Ward
Peter Hume-Spry
Brian & Pat Dawson
Don & Margaret Cannon
Stephen Gibbs
Adam Dawson
Karen, Imogen & Harry Bower
Geoff & Anne De’Ath
John & Gill Blanchard
Graham & Kay Brain
David & Jacqueline Loud
Meriel Shotton
Tony & Kath Bagley
Adrian Cole, Henry Cole,
Eldon & Gladys Mackridge
Eddie Sedgemore & Sarah Evans
Kathryn Hough & her husband
Jeff Chambers & Jenny
Russell George
John & Margaret Desborough
Richard Popplewell & Gloria
Neville Tetley
Liz Bowen & Jem
Chris & Anne Hatton
Cliff & Anne Harrison
Don & Jean Dyer
Sue Fernee Colin Jones
Brian & Maureen Robertson
Eugene Michaels
C.W. Parkes
Margaret Cole & her granddaughter Zoe
Alan Sylvester & Clair Sylvester-Wyness
Trevor Payne & Linzi Singleton-Myall

Imogen Bower, Zoe Hayne, and Membership Secretary Adrian Cole, with Harry Bower at the back

25 March, 2015

Torquay Letter

from Neville Tetley, a.k.a. Tea Bags,
Association Travel Correspondent

2nd February 2015

Dear Katharine,

I have been instructed to inform you of my experiences at Torquay this year by Emeritus (the previous editor of Quo Vadis?) and endorsed by Jack who acts as a sociable secretary. As we have never met I feel I must let you know that my grammar is not always up to standard and I have difficulty in distinguishing between humour and seriousness which in some circles gives the impression that I am a bit dim. I have attended 31 AGMs, only missing two – a wedding & inclement weather. My first End-to-End was in 1979.

Mr Tetley at last year’s Torquay Weekend

Some 10 years ago I was asked to join the Committee. Actually, I was press-ganged into it by certain committee members who forced my arms behind my back giving me great pain until I pleaded for mercy and screamed the words, “Yes, I will, I give in.” This attack happened outside the Rougement room after an AGM and was seen by various people who cared less about my suffering. I would tell you their names but I dare not for fear of reprisals at the next AGM.

On arrival at reception, the computer had a glitch. The documents that I was given stated that I was a female (Mrs ?) and that I was in a double room. On reaching the room, I took the two key cards out of the envelope and duly inserted one in the key slot – red light. I turned over the key – red light. Eventually I decided to seek advice from my friends Liz & Jem, who after reading the instructions, told me that I was trying to get into Room 105 and not Room 103 which the keys fitted. Needless to say I was called what Del Trotter calls Rodney. A Senior Moment, of course.

At Friday dinner I was told by “Mr. Chair” to look after a young couple so I put on my refined Brummie accent and apprised them of the virtues of the Association. At the Saturday morning AGM’s “Other Business,” I said that I was finding difficulty in remembering peoples’ names and apologised to everyone for these annoying Senior Moments of mine, as the frequency was causing me concern. Imagine my surprise when, before I had finished speaking, everybody in the room (well, nearly everybody) shouted out words to the effect, “Oh! Don’t we all”. Phew, what a relief that I was not the only one.

Mr. Emeritus beckoned me to see Eddie Sedgemore’s prize for winning the previous QV? puzzle; about half a dozen of us were close behind but it all depends where a comma was placed - well something minuscule. This, I treated as a wind-up meaning, “How about that, then?” After pressing the light button to go up in the lift, a face appeared before me, we both smiled, said nothing, and the door closed. At home, whilst looking through QV? I see a photograph of, I think, the face I closed the lift doors on, so if it is yours John Blanchard, please accept my apology for my ignorance.

Finally, I discovered that I had made the biggest mistake of my life – when Adrian, our friendly tax collector, told me that I had not paid my subs for 2015 saying, “Ya ain’t gimme ya subs yet. No subs – no QV?, no nuffin, nor nowt else, zilch, zero”. I paid up pronto. I enjoy being a member of the Land’s End – John o’ Groats Association its members & friends and Quo Vadis? All these things make me – a very happy Tea Bag.

Yours Aye,
Neville Tetley a.k.a. Tea Bags

P.S. Now to relax listening to CDs of Xavier Cugat, Harry James, Percy Faith, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman & Tommy Dorsey. If members do not recognise these names they are young, but if they do then they are getting on a bit.

24 March, 2015

Presentation Weekend

by Jack Adams, Social Secretary

The 2015 presentation weekend trek started for us, that is Theresa, Rob, Val and me at 06:00 on a very cold Thursday morning with a couple of inches of snow. However, the journey was not too bad until we reached the M42. We decided on a comfort break at Tamworth services; unfortunately the traffic had different ideas and it took us 40 minutes to cover the last 3 miles. Needless to say we were all relieved when we pulled in.

We arrived at The Toorak at 13:15 and our rooms were ready for us; after unpacking our luggage it was down to the sports arena for a well earned drink or three. Thursday evening was only attended by 11 people so we enjoyed a relatively quiet meal in the main restaurant. We then embarked on the starlight room for bingo and a few drinks. The bingo players in Torquay must be much better than the north east, as we never won anything.

On Friday morning after a very filling breakfast we walked - the other three walked while I limped - into Torquay. I was pleasantly amazed to find an old motor torpedo boat, along with other old naval vessels, moored up in the marina. It was just a pity they were not open, as I would have loved to look round them. After the girls had dragged Rob and me around the shops, Rob and I decided to retire to a Weatherspoon’s pub, only for a sit down, I promise.

By the time the girls arrived, we were all feeling a bit peckish. As we were having a large evening meal later, we decided on a small snack, and I chose a hot dog with a small potion of chips. I don’t know if any of you have tried one of Weatherspoon’s hot dogs, but they are an experience: when it arrived, we all just stared at it as it was over 18 inches long and the width of a savaloy. By the time I was finished, I was absolutely stuffed. So much for a light snack.

Our Friday evening meal was attended by almost all our group. Unfortunately, Karen Bower and her delightful children, Harry and Imogen, were delayed and did not arrive till after 22:00 due to a motorway crash; thankfully they were not involved. After another unsuccessful game of bingo, we were entertained by a group who must have been on an all-inclusive booking, as every one of them I saw had a wristband on and signed for their drinks. Unfortunately my help-for-heroes band did not count.

We returned to the Arlington bar and met up with Eddie and his delightful friend Sarah, and later my old mate Colin Jones. We managed to make it to around 23:30 before bed called.

Saturday morning was the AGM, and then the following committee meeting, with Tea Bags Tetley commenting he missed out on emails as he did not own a “tippy tappy.” For the more technically-minded, that is a PC. This meeting was the quickest I have experienced and we finished around 11:30. During the meeting we recruited two new committee members in Meriel Shotton who is our new Minutes Secretary and Russell George who will take over from Jeff Chambers as Treasurer: Welcome to the pair of them.

Our party drove up to Babbacombe to visit Bygones. This looks like a normal shopfront until you get inside, and then it takes on the proportions of a Tardis. It covers three floors of memorabilia from the early 1900s, even a penny arcade with authentic slot machines, Rob was particularly taken by the extensive model railway. All-in-all it was well worth the £15 per couple entrance fee. After calling in at the old station sale rooms, it was back to the hotel for a session in the Jacuzzi and the sauna before taking a dip in the pool, after which Theresa looked like Shirley Temple as her hair goes into tight curls when wet.

The presentations this year were conducted by Jeff Chambers and Chris Hatton, our new answer to Ant & Dec. They did a fantastic job, especially Chris who was very nervous as this was his first time. Theresa and her side-kick Val went around selling raffle tickets, and were helped by Henry Cole and his cousin Zoe, and Imogen and Harry Bower, to pull out the winning tickets and stick them on the prizes. By the end of the night they had raised £235, a fantastic amount for the number of people present.

As usual, Sunday morning comes around all too soon, and after a large breakfast it was time for saying our farewells to everyone and heading home. The journey back was a lot easier than the journey to Torquay, with sunshine most of the way and no traffic hold-ups.

So that is it for another year. It only remains for me to thank all those who attended, as without their continued support the Association would cease to exist.

23 March, 2015

Second Time Lucky

Ted Lawson of Worcester Park, Surrey, began his motorcycle LEJOG in 2012 with his partner on the back, but they had accident on the A9. He always wanted to begin again and complete the trip, and in September 2014, he was successful. Ted travelled up the east side of the country to John o’ Groats and down the west side to Land’s End. His favourite times were driving through Glencoe and the Lake District. 

by Ted Lawson

My journey started in September 2012. I had a Honda Goldwing which I thought would be an ideal touring bike, so my partner and I decided to try the trip from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. We rode from London to Land’s End via the A303 and on return we stayed in the Jamaica Inn for the night. Then we went on to Wales, and camped in north Wales. The next leg was the lake district, and we stayed at a campsite in Keswick, a beautiful place next to the lake.

From there, it was up to Scotland the next day, and we rode to the Highlands via the Erskine bridge, through Glencoe to Roybridge. We stayed the night in the Roybridge Hotel, and the next day we were off to John o’ Groats, past Loch Ness, onto the A9, up to our goal. Unfortunately, we never made it past a place called The Mound near Brora. Something happened to the rear of the bike as I was overtaking: it started swerving violently and I lost control . My partner was airlifted to hospital, unconscious, and I went by ambulance. She had broken both wrists, and I’d broken one of mine, with heavy grazing on my back and stomach. We both healed up, but spent a few months in plaster with family looking after us.

The damaged Goldwing

After this accident, I’ve had a lot of flashbacks when out on my bike. Determined to undertake the journey again, and face my demons if you like, I did it this year, this time sadly on my own as I am still not comfortable with my partner on the back.

This time I travelled up the east side on the A1 toward Yorkshire. I stayed in Thirsk in the Three Tuns pub for two nights as I wanted to Ted Lawson at John o’ Groats see Whitby and Yorkshire. Then I rode up to Scotland via Northumberland I stayed in the Glen Hotel, National Park, on to Edinburgh over the booked in for two nights, Forth bridge and up to Newtonmore. and travelled up to John o’ Groats the next day and back the long way via Loch Ness as the scenery was so beautiful. The loch waters were so still, they were like mirrors reflecting the glens.

Ted Lawson at John o' Groats

The next day I decided to go back down through Glen Coe (the picture says it all) towards Glasgow and on to the Lake District. I got to Keswick and again camped the night there. As I had already done the journey through Wales, I motorwayed to Exeter on the M6 and M5, a mundane journey, making me very saddle sore. I set up camp in Cornwall for the last stop, and on to Land’s End, then home.

Glen Coe Pass

I must say, I loved the trip: eating out at different pubs - venison casserole, Yorkshire pud with steak and ale stew in it, a seafood platter, fish and chips in Whitby (yum). The scenery, people, and accents were always changing, and I was lucky: the weather was great.

Ted Lawson at Land’s End for the second time, having completed his end-to-end. 
This time, he rode a Honda Deauville which went well, with no problems.

22 March, 2015

The Toorak with a Twist

by Michael Riley

Greenway House Tour Bus

During the 2014 AGM weekend, Janet spotted a poster offering an Agatha Christie Break in either June or September. We thought this would be good fun and tried to book when we checked out on the Sunday. However, the computer decided to say “no” and the poor receptionist was most embarrassed. Eventually she managed to phone someone who told her how to override the system and we reserved our places for June.

Finally the start day (Monday) arrived. After an enjoyable snack lunch at the Blue Ball Inn, we arrived at the Toorak and were given a very pleasant room looking over Torre Abbey Gardens.

We then went for a stroll into Torquay which was much busier than we normally see it. Janet remarked on how many mobility scooters there were, and this is from someone who lives in Bournemouth! That evening there was a drinks reception and a murder mystery dinner. We didn’t work out who dunnit so there’s no future for either of us in the CID.

On Tuesday, we took a bus and steam train to Kingswear and then a ferry to Dartmouth. After a look around and a welcome coffee, it was back by ferry and train to Cherston and then the bus to Brixham. The weather was now bright and hot and the boat trip across the bay back to Torquay was great. All this got us to the hotel in time for cream tea and a film about Agatha Christie. Much of the narration was by her grandson who spent many of his younger days at Greenway, and it was very interesting.

Wednesday was the highlight: we were collected by a vintage single-deck bus after breakfast for a ride through the lanes to Greenway. Then there was an excellent tour around the house and gardens and time in the café. We were told that if you arrive by boat and warn the captain in advance, he will radio ahead to Greenway and you can be collected from the jetty in a minivan taxi to save a long climb to the house! Finally it was back to the hotel on the vintage bus with a couple of diversions and extra commentary from the driver.

The bus is a 1947 Leyland Tiger. 
The bodywork was built by Barnaby, and it’s the only one of its kind still in existence.

On Thursday we were given free tickets to the Victorian Museum at Babbacombe. We made our way there by bus and thoroughly enjoyed the museum. I only have old cars in the garage and model railways in the attic; I have not bought a full-sized steam locomotive and had to make a storage building around it! We also took a short walk to the model village which is amazing, especially the miniature garden areas. Then we took another short walk for a ride on the cliff lift (it’s been years since I went on one of those), and finally back to the Toorak.

On Friday morning it was time to go. We called en route at Bridport to see a family friend for a cuppa and a natter, and finally home. All a great success.

19 March, 2015

Breckon Beacons

by ‘Blind Dave Heeley’

On the 21st November 2014 at 6am, Tony, one of my guide runners, picked me up and we drove towards the Breckon Beacons. Our intention was to complete a training run of around 23 miles, up and over the Breckons, in preparation for next year’s Marathon Des Sables event. We pulled in to the car park of the Tal-y-bont Community Centre and despite having checked the weather forecast the previous evening and read that it should be a dry, cold day, it started to rain! Kit on, including wet weather gear, we began our run at around 8:30, off the car park and onto the canal tow path. The tow path would take us 2 miles, then we would turn right and hit the Breckons; we were not disappointed!

We weren’t even a mile into our run when suddenly the strap on Tony’s backpack snapped; not a great start, as the packs carried food, drink, spare gear and importantly: a 5 kg weight, simulating the packs we would carry in the desert next year. With the rain now falling quite heavily, we tried in vain to fix the strap but it wasn’t to be, so we trudged on regardless, what had to be, had to be. The hills that faced us certainly lived up to Tony’s description: steep! We climbed, running where we could and walking a great deal. The idea of the day was: strength in the legs. We went up! And up! And up again! We passed through and over many farm stiles, the land levelled, and just as I caught my breath at times, it went up again. It seemed an eternity climbing that mountain! (Well it seemed like a mountain!) The top was a relief, but then mixed with the heavier rain came the wind. The top held no shelter: the wind was fierce, strong and biting, and our bones seemed to shiver.

Dave on a slippery stile

Coming down to me was worse than climbing up. It was steep, and my legs were in permanent brake mode. I was literally climbing down the hill, more stumbling than walking, and certainly not running. My legs were screaming at this point, and welcomed the valley floor. 7 miles and 2 hours into our trek we actually had a good running surface. My legs, body and mind welcomed it - such a relief to actually run. But the running was short lived! The climbing began yet again, this time not quite so steep, and in fairness it gave us an opportunity to walk and get food inside us: wet and soggy sandwiches, but who cared? It was fuel!

This climb was rockier, dispersed with gravel, slightly awkward underfoot but at least it led on to another bout of running on tarmac road, bliss! It was at this point we came across some army vehicles; we guessed there was some manoeuvre going on. We stopped to ask if they had anything we might be able to fix Tony’s bag with - sadly not, but it gave us a breather and the opportunity for a couple of photos. I did think about a lift, but the offer never came, so we trudged on.

Tony and Dave by the army vehicles

The tarmac took us on for about another mile, and then we once again hit a rocky, uneven surface, with rolling rocks as I called them, taking our feet every which way. It could have been a recipe for disaster. Tony said we had a few miles of this, first a long incline up and then 3 miles down! It was at this point we encountered the soldiers coming back from their own trek. The first chap Tony said was looking strong, carrying pack and weapon, and he gave us an enthusiastic greeting. Over a period of an hour we were passed by some 200 soldiers, and although I’m guessing they are very fit lads, it was quite surprising the different fitness levels for fit men. The distance between the first- and last-placed soldier was almost an hour. The continuous hellos from them kept our minds occupied.

We hit the top of the incline and once again Tony wasn’t wrong! The 3 miles that followed were a rocky nightmare, with moving stones, rocks, streams, the wind, the rain, and my chilled bones. I was so glad to reach the bottom, although then, for about half a mile, we followed what I can only describe as a nature-made trench, a foot wide and filled with rocky boulders in parts. It was a case of my hands on Tony’s pack and following, carefully!

We eventually hit a gravel road, soaked, tired, but pleased to be able to run; at least it gave us the opportunity to warm up. We then moved on to farmland. We followed the fields, through many gates, over stiles, through mud and ankle-deep streams, through a wooded area and then an actual road, and once again what I call proper running, with only 4 miles to go to the carpark and the car! We ran through a small village and up and over a stinker of a hill, with not a car passing us and not another person in sight. The rain was now relentless. Over the brow of the hill, we turned left onto the canal, my spirits rising slightly as Tony told me it was just 2 miles to go. I splashed my way down that tow path, Tony running on the grassy bank and as he stated there was only room for one in the continuous puddles - that was me! Wet feet, cold feet, but every step was a puddle closer.

After 23 miles and 6 and a half hours , touching the car was wonderful. 30 minutes later we were in the local pub, hogging an open fire, holding a pint, and eating home-made cottage pie that was fantastic!

The Breckon Beacons Route

Dave is raising funds for The Albion Foundation. You can donate here.
Dave also has a YouTube channel, and you can see one on the Tri Albion Challenge here.

Member Dave Heeley, and Rob Lake, director of the Albion Foundation

18 March, 2015

MDS Tough

by ‘Blind Dave Heeley’ 

Training for the Marathon des Sables, MDS, is now very intense. We are running almost every day, cycling and walking. Although we intend to run as much of the event as possible, listening to many who have undertaken the event before, especially Tony one of my guides, there will be parts we will have to walk, as the terrain dictates. For the last few months when out walking with Seamus, my guide dog, I always have a pack on with around 10kg of weight, even more when the shopping is added! The goal is stronger legs, and using all muscle groups. Over the past couple of weeks we have introduced at least one day of walking the hills and valleys, carrying extra weights in our packs, and I have to say it brings up the heart rate!

We have walked the hills around Shropshire: up and around the Wrekin and Much Wenlock. These seem to be instant hills: we get out of the car, and a couple of steps later, you’re climbing hills! (I’d call them mountains!) In January I was rudely introduced to the Wrekin - the top of it - although a few weeks before then, we had run around it. There’s a good old Black Country saying, “Running round the Wrekin,” but I must admit I never thought I’d actually run round it.

On Sunday 18th January, we drove 80 plus miles to Helsby, to run a half marathon up there. However, after arriving and getting kitted up, we were informed the race was off due to the bad weather. Rather than waste a day’s training we decided to walk up the Wrekin. In fact, we were greedy - we did it twice. With packs, weights and heavy coats, we certainly added a layer of sweat, and the legs knew they had done some walking. I was surprised by how many people were around on a Sunday afternoon, and it’s amazing who you bump into! Half way down my name was shouted, and low and behold, another guide dog owner and her husband were there walking: young Tina whom I met many years ago in Leamington, whilst training with my second dog, Carla.

Tony was talkative, describing various sights and landmarks as we walked. At the top there was the obligatory tabletop sign, detailing the direction and distances of various towns. I didn’t realise West Brom was quite the distance away! The views were described to me as breathtaking; Tony could see for miles all around.

There is also a small structure at the top which is allied to giving a bearing when Ordnance Survey maps are calculated. Mind the difference in the weather between our two climbs: on the first as I said, it was clear for miles, but on the second it was so misty Tony couldn’t see past the ridge. The weather on our second descent also changed, from cool but dry, to snowing and freezing cold. With the surfaces underfoot also changing - grass to gravel, rocky and then soft - it was certainly an interesting climb.

Last week we ventured towards Church Stretton and Much Wenlock, attempting another couple of hills: the Lawley and the Caradoc. At 7am the weather was fresh and the ground somewhat frosty. We dressed warmly, and loaded the backpacks with 10kg weights, a sandwich and a drink. Because we were walking we took Seamus along with us, he doesn’t know it yet but he’s signed up for any walking! We headed for the top, and it was a good steady climb that got the heart rate up. Tony told me the sun was just starting to rise.

Towards the top, I found a steep icy patch, and with the weight of the pack and slipping feet, I went backwards. Being tied wrist-to-wrist with Tony, I pulled him along too. In a flash I had thoughts of the two of us going back down that hill, rolling over and over with feet, arms and legs flailing. As luck had it, we slid around 10 foot, and unceremoniously hit the ground. It all happened so quickly. Dave Lewis, Tony’s friend who was also walking with us, found it highly amusing, until Seamus, running behind him, caught the back of his legs and he also hit the floor. With all three of us down, at least we had something to smile about! We reached the brow of the hill without further incident. Away from the cover of the slope and suddenly exposed, the wind howled, strong and chilly. We walked on and over the top, Tony giving me a description of the views, once again breathtaking. Standing listening, I realised that 45 years ago I actually did my field study course from school in this district. I never thought I’d revisit and use these hills as a place to train for such an event.

Reaching the top meant we had to go down the other side. It was steep, and slippery at times, and the descent is the part I don’t like too much as it gives my knees some pain. But if you go up, you have to come down.

At the bottom we passed through part of the village of Much Wenlock. At this time of the morning it was quite sleepy; with the smell of log fires and the sound of flowing water, it seemed so peaceful and tranquil. We trudged up the road a little way and then began another climb, the Caradoc. Now the sun was up, the air fresh, a few more people were walking and also some running. We climbed. When crossing fields on this hill, we were confronted with stiles, a couple of which Seamus easily got over or through. However, the final one which would have taken us to the very top, Seamus would not for any persuasion go over, so Dave Lewis continued the 200 yards to the top, and Tony and I waited with Seamus; I will get there next time.

We started back down the Caradoc, back through the village and up the Lawley with no more incidents, just a lot of heavy breathing, and legs beginning to feel they had worked hard. We spent a good few hours over there with the hope that it would all be worth it. Once again, it’s amazing who you meet on these occasions: at the top of the Lawley, having a couple of photos taken with a monument, a chap began chatting about Seamus. It turns out he is a puppy walker for guide dogs and so conversation started.

He then, as a local, went on to give some history about the surrounding hills, in particular the Caradoc. Back when the Romans invaded there was a battle at that hill and the Romans won. They took the King or leader, who was called Caradoc, back to Rome, and because he fought so courageously, they named the hill after him. If true, I don’t know, but one thing I must say is I’m glad I didn’t come across any soldiers in those days. Fighting and climbing these hills, they must have been fit lads!

As always, it was a fruitful morning’s training, but whether we’re running or walking, the best part is when you’ve finished and you’re sitting in the warmth of the car. Regardless, there is a lot more training in front of us until we depart for the desert on 3rd April.

Editor’s note: Dave’s guide was right: The Battle of Caer Caradoc was the final battle in Caradoc’s, or Caratacus’s resistance to Roman rule. Fought in 50AD, the Romans defeated the Britons and secured the southern areas of the province of Britannia. Caradoc escaped, and fled north to the lands of the Brigantes (modern Yorkshire) where the Brigantian queen, Cartimandua, handed him over to the Romans in chains. In Rome, he gave a speech to the senate which persuaded the emperor Claudius to spare him and his family.

17 March, 2015

Over and round the Wrekin

A training outing for the Marathon Des Sables with Dave Lewis and Tony 

by ‘Blind Dave Heeley’

On Saturday morning, 31st January at 7.30, the Wrekin was bleak, wet and windy. Our intention was to do a run-walk training session. Tony suggested we do a 6 mile run within the Wrekin, off-road but flat, and good underfoot for me. So we took no packs, thinking we’d just have a slightly faster run to start, and then walk the Wrekin. Yes, flat were Tony’s words and good underfoot for me. The first five minutes were interesting: mud up to my ankles, puddles which I swear had fish in, tree roots and low branches, along with the odd rock or two, and a few slight slopes and rises! By slight, I would say they resembled the Grand Canyon!

We climbed a stile. I was wet, freezing and definitely moaning, and then we hit a good running surface, according to Tony. If this were flat, I wouldn’t like to play him at snooker - inclines down, and inclines up! I would say it was more like a small hill. Then we ran out of the good running surface and to stop me getting my feet wet and muddy (Who was kidding who? My trainers were now 10lbs heavier and there were fish in them too), Tony said “We’ll go up there.” “Up where?” I thought. Then hearing Dave Lewis’s reply and the way he said it, made me wonder, “Up there, Tony? You sure!?” So we started “up there.” It was rather steep, covered in snow, and my feet were sliding everywhere, but I was reassured this was the best option.

The hill got steeper as we carried on up, clambering over tree trunks and fighting the snow. When it became even steeper, Tony let go of my connecting running cord. Our feet were sliding every which way, and Tony said, “You’re on your own now. This hill’s not good for a blind man! I’ll just shout left or right.” I was also on all fours; it made for better climbing. Is the sand in the desert going to be this cold? My hands were freezing. Our “short, fast run” meant that we took no top coats and no gloves. “Out and back,” I was told and now I found myself impersonating a mountain goat. In fact, a rope, hammer and crampons might have been more in keeping. But we kept going up. I was frightened to ask how much further, but I did, and the reply came first from Tony: “Only 100 yards to go,” then from Dave Lewis: “Only 200 yards to go!” Which one failed maths at school? With the pair of them behind me, shouting instructions through laughter, I veered left, then right, but kept going up, and finally there was a hilltop.

We were wet, freezing, with burning legs, but was I glad to feel the wind at the brow: low and behold, we had reached the summit of the Wrekin, the hard way! We did have a laugh at our intended 50 minute supposed run, and then we made our way down the other side of the Wrekin. With snow in places, the different terrain underfoot determined whether we walked fast or jogged. It was a mile or so down. Our intention was to put our packs on when reaching the car, and then walk back up again. How things changed this morning! Instead of turning left to the car, we decided to turn right and do a faster run around the Wrekin on the road.

After the first couple of hundred yards we warmed up instantly! A hill we normally come down, we went up, pretty quickly, with heart-rates up and even sweat on the brow, and there was definitely not too much chatter. Until the top. Then we ran our normal route round the Wrekin the opposite way. It still brings a smile when I think of the saying, “Round the Wrekin.” It was wet and slippery at times, but faster. After some three hours of running and walking it was nice to get to the car and sit having a drink in the warmth. As lovely as it is to get out there training, it’s always nice when you finish.

The day wasn’t completely over, the pain in my legs, body and hands was made worse by a visit to the Baggies, where we lost three-nil. Still, as I say: keep the faith, and we’ll all get there in the end.

16 March, 2015

The Breakaway: My Story, by Nicole Cooke

Review by Geoff De’Ath 

For many years I have been a big fan of Nicole Cooke, undoubtedly the finest woman cyclist to have come from Wales and arguably the whole of the United Kingdom. I well recall watching her on television winning the road race in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

It was therefore a happy chance that I spotted a small paragraph in the Daily Telegraph reviewing her newly published autobiography and advertising a book launch on the 5th August at Waterstones in London Wall in the City timed for 12.30pm. As luck would have it, I intended going to a lunchtime recital at 1 o’clock in St. Lawrence Jewry, no more than five minutes away. Such an opportunity would not happen again so I left home a bit early in order to be near the front of the queue. Nicole arrived punctually and having bought my copy, I had a brief chat with her before she signed it with her best wishes and I headed off to the recital.

The Breakaway is over 450 pages long and I am a slow reader but on this occasion I read it in record time – for me! She writes of a remarkable cycling career and of the constant difficulties she encountered, mainly in the running and administration (or lack thereof…) of women’s cycling at the time, the dark period when drug-taking was rife in the sport, broken contracts and unpaid wages, and a chronic knee injury which perhaps deprived her of even more success than she achieved.

Nevertheless, her accomplishments were without parallel. They included the rare distinction of Olympic, Commonwealth and World gold medals, as well as being a ten times victor of the British national road race, the first of which made her the youngest-ever champion at the age of 16. She won more than 70 professional titles in Europe, North America and Australia, highlighted by twice winning the UCI Road World Cup in 2003 and 2006, as well as triumphing in the prestigious 2004 Giro d’Italia and being a two times winner of the women’s Tour de France in 2006 and 2007. She was ranked No. 1 in the world and appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 2009 for services to cycling. Nicole retired in 2013 at the age of 29.

This unique list of triumphs never really received the publicity and recognition she deserved, and certainly not financial riches as cycling at that time was largely a sport for men and run by men. There was far more coverage, for example, of the latest revelations of drug cheating by a man than a notable victory by her, though her televised success in the 2008 Olympic women’s road race in Beijing will always remain in my mind, as will news of her victory, only weeks later, in the women’s world championship road race in Varese which I heard on the radio in our bedroom just before going down to dinner in the Winnock Hotel at Drymen where we were staying for the Association’s late summer weekend. I felt elated at this news. These are merely the bare bones of her successes.

Only reading the book will give you her unqualified rejection of drugs and cheating in the sport, her condemnation of those who transgressed, her dedication – obsession, some might say – with the sport, her determination and highly developed competitive nature and her generosity of spirit towards her rivals. She was well aware of her abilities, and rightly so, but I did not perceive this as arrogance and am full of admiration for her. She was argumentative, certainly, but only when she considered she had just cause, and invariably she was proved right – and it was hardly her fault that for much of the time the organisation by the Welsh Cycling Union and indeed GB Cycling was no better than a shambles. If she ruffled feathers on the way, so be it. Luckily she had a tremendously supportive family particularly her mum and dad, and, when he was there, her younger brother Craig.

It is an inspiring story by a young woman who made the most of her gifts of great intelligence and physical strength allied to enormous perseverance, resilience, determination and courage that enabled her to reach the heights she so richly deserved. I heartily recommend it. Buy a copy of this frank and outspoken autobiography and read for yourself: how she left home at 18 to pursue her goals in Italy. It costs £20 and is published by Simon & Schuster.

15 March, 2015

Member News

Eddie Sedgemore and his friend Sarah attended the Torquay weekend, and sent me this lovely picture:

Eddie also wrote, I made good use of my W. H. Smith prize, [from John Blanchard’s Christmas Puzzle] a storage box for my collection of Quo Vadis’s (or should that be Quo Vadi!?) since issue no 47:

Harry Waugh took part in last year’s Ride To The Wall on this flagged Trike:

RTTW is an annual group motorcycle ride to The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, a place of remembrance for serving and fallen servicemen and women. The Ride raises funds for the purpose of perpetuating their memory. Harry is a multi-End-to-Ender and is planning a trip this year which includes visits to many waterfalls across the country:

Shirley Rippin, author of One Woman’s Walk, and her husband Michael drove their Land Rover ‘Defender’ from John o’ Groats to Land’s End last year, leaving on 27th September and arriving on 1st October:

Michael Lawrence of Bearsted, Kent, walked LEJOG and wrote about his trip online, with many photographs:

John Greer, of Oundle, Peterborough, is the recipient of the Joan Cave Memorial Cup:

14 March, 2015

Vintage Police Car

by Dave Loud 

The Fire Engine next to Loch Ness, on Dave’s first Vintage challenge

After driving a vintage Fire Engine and Ambulance from one end of the country to the other and back, I started to look around to purchase a vintage Police car to complete the triple challenge. This was not as easy as it seems; there are a few about, but to get the right age, low mileage, good condition, and as original as possible, was a challenge. Too young, and it wouldn’t be vintage (also, the last thing I wanted was to be arrested half way to Scotland for impersonating a police officer); too old, and it wouldn’t stand the two thousand mile journey without major issues. However, eventually I found one that fitted the requirements: a 1969 Wolseley. It was being used in the film-making industry near London, and after some lengthy negotiations it was sold to me on the condition that it could be used to complete some scenes in a film about the Kray twins.

So a couple of months later, I caught the train to Horsham where the car was being stored, and after being assured that it was in reasonable condition mechanically, and thinking it would be easier than the two other vehicles to drive, I set off back to Somerset. For the route back I choose A and B roads so I could take it steady and not be a nuisance to other road users. I chose the A272 so I made my way across to it, and having driven for about forty minutes I came across a place I’d never heard of called Uckfield. I then realized I was on the right road but going the wrong way, so I turned around and headed back the way I came. Although some would say it was a waste of 40 minutes, I enjoyed the drive and I went to a place I’d never been to before!

Once I was going in the right direction on the right road, everything seemed to be fine. It wasn’t until I was half way back that I noticed the temperature gauge going up, and all of a sudden a plume of steam came from under the bonnet, and the car died... I might add, on a blind bend and in the middle of a bridge, bringing traffic in both directions to a screaming halt!

A kind gentleman offered to tow me to the nearest layby which I readily accepted, where I realised I didn’t even know where the bonnet catch was.

After a phone call, I lifted the bonnet to find water everywhere, and a leaking hose. I managed a temporary fix to the hose, the engine dried out and started, and so I ventured forth again. Within half an hour it stopped and died again. This time it was something else and I couldn’t get it going again. So much for being mechanically sound! So, I had no option as it was getting dark: I called my son. I was very lucky, he was home and told me to stay put, and he would find me and tow me back home.

Eventually he did find me, and with a piece of rope that was hardly long enough we began our way, limping, back home. However, as my son had never towed anyone before, and with a rope only long enough to allow 4ft between the vehicles, I found we were doing 60mph and passing everything that had passed me in the previous half hour. My instructions before setting off were to go steady, and if there was anything I felt that was wrong I would flash my headlights. Having said that, it wasn’t until we started off that I found I didn’t know how to switch the lights on. The more I waved, the more he waved back! Having brakes that wouldn’t stop a push-bike, it was the most frightening journey I had undertaken, but, bless him, we made it back in one piece with no incidents.

This was a very stark reminder of what could happen on the journey from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It is one thing being close to home with people you can call on, but totally different on the lonely roads in Scotland. Having got the car back to Somerset, I set about with a fellow vintage Wolseley owner and local mechanic, Roger Curtis, repairing or replacing parts that may cause problems on route. This took about two months to complete. Then it was just a case of waiting for the weather to be clear in most of the country for a few days. Driving in rain with an old car is not fun: the windscreen wipers are not as efficient as more modern cars, and tend not to clear the windscreen of rain and spray fast enough, so a period without rain was preferable.

The first leg of the journey was from Somerset to Land’s End and back to Somerset, which is about 450 miles. This was a testing time with new parts that had been fitted and old ones that had been checked over. I was listening to every squeak and rattle, and I was sure that I was going to break down, but as it was I only had to replace a snapped clutch pin and a side light bulb. The car was checked over mechanically again, including brakes, etc. before I attempted the journey from Somerset to Perth, and then on to Inverness.

Just north of Inverness on the A9, I was conscious of a car tailing me for some time. All of a sudden, all the lights in creation came on, and I was stopped by an unmarked Police car. I saw many Police cars on the way up that put their lights on, waved and smiled, but this was the first time I’d been stopped. I sat in the car waiting to find out their reason for stopping me. I was sure it couldn’t have been speeding, although the speedo was about as accurate as using your finger for a thermometer. Maybe a brake light had failed.

Well, I was about to find out: it was only curiosity that got the better of them, and they just wanted a look and chat with the driver, and to ask why he would want to drive a Police car from Somerset to Scotland. They made it plain that I had been a great source of interest since I left Somerset, having been on camera most of the way (most motorways these days are monitored by C.C.T.V.). Having told them what I was doing, they wished me good luck and a safe journey and said, We’ll see you on your way back.

The A9 north of Inverness, as many of you may know, is very remote, but has lovely scenery with the coast on one side and mountains on the other. It crosses several estuaries and I saw otters and red deer. I stopped in Wick that night, and then went on to arrive in John o’ Groats the following morning, where I was greeted by my brother-in-law who works in the area, along with people I met though the Fire Engine and Ambulance trips. They heard that I was coming back, but this time with a vintage Police car.

Dave Loud with his vintage Police Car 
Start: 17th September, 2014
Finish: 9th October 2014
Mileage: 954

Having completed a good part of the journey, and feeling well-rested, I starting to plan the journey back with the confidence I had built up with the car, and I decided to take a slightly different route back.

The journey back down though Scotland was absolutely fabulous: the weather was kind, and along with the breathtaking views that Scotland has to offer, the journey went well. During my journey back down through Scotland, people waved and were fascinated to see the vintage Police car. Everywhere I stopped, a barrage of questions greeted me. I was surprised at the number of people I met that had never been south of the border, let alone to Somerset or Cornwall. People were really interested to hear of my journey and of my previous journeys.

I also told them of my great-great-grandfather who was killed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, and they were all very interested until I explained that he wasn’t actually in the battle; he was camping on the other side of the hill, and was killed when he went over to complain about the noise! This and other stories kept me busy most nights in a lot bars in Scotland - great fun.

One of the most amusing events was when, on the return journey, I reached a service station north of Manchester and decided to take a break and fill up with fuel. Having parked the car in the car park and gone inside for refreshments, I came out to find a crowd of people around the car, one of whom asked me if it was mine, and proceeded to tell me that he had seen one on TV but never in real life. Being in no hurry, I offered the gentleman and his family of two sons a ride in it, which they readily accepted.

Having driven around the car park, I heard a conversation coming from the back of the car which went something like this: ‘Hello Mum, I’m in the back of a Police Car.’ I don’t know what the reply was, but it must have been something like, ‘Where’s your father?’ The answer was, of course, ‘He’s in the Police car too.’ The phone was passed over to the boy’s father, he endured some high volume words, and when they died down he explained the situation. We all couldn’t stop laughing. Mothers!

The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful, but still with people waving and smiling. This was uplifting, and made the journey seem that much shorter, and I arrived back in Somerset to a family gathering. The experience of driving from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and back in three vintage emergency vehicles has been a serious task: about 5,600 miles in total. With no major incidents or even near-misses, it was all achieved safely. I believe this was due to a lot of thought, planning, and many safety precautions adhered to, and also just good luck. The whole thing has been very rewarding for me. The challenge itself is unique, and as far as I am aware, has never been achieved before. I still can’t believe I’ve done it.

I must mention the people I met on the way: so many kind and helpful people. I met some from all three emergency services. To those who encouraged me when I wasn’t sure it could be achieved: thank you.

On a sad note, my mother passed away shortly after I finished this challenge. Mother was fully aware of what I’d achieved, and followed it with great interest, and I would like to dedicate this challenge to her.

An angel came down from heaven and touched my face, 
Then took my hand and led me to a better place.
June S. Loud 1930 – 2014

13 March, 2015

1970: An Under 30-Hour Drive

Craig Lincoln

Craig Lincoln contacted us to share the adventure of his late father, Alan, who broke the LE-JOG-LE driving record in 1970. He writes, “Basically my father, his brother and a friend drove the round trip in a Ford Cortina that had been prepared and tuned by a local garage, doing the round trip in less than 30 hours.” I have transcribed the original press clipping from the ‘Packet’ Newspaper, and included photographs provided by Craig: 

Three Break Cross-Britain Car Record

Les Deakin, Alan Lincoln and Norman Frogget, all from Hayle, have broken the Land’s End – John o’ Groats – Land’s End car driving record. They completed the two-way journey, a distance of 1,759 miles, in 29 hours 41 minutes and 47.8 seconds, thus knocking one hour 18 minutes off the two-way record and 25 minutes off the one-way record.

Les, Alan and Norman at the end of their trip

They left Land’s End at 8pm on Saturday evening in a Ford Cortina 1600 GT which had been tuned and prepared by Mr Andrew Smith, of Dover Service Station, Connor Downs. The attempt was sponsored by the Texaco petrol firm in aid of charity.

Left to right: Craig’s uncle: Norman Frogget, Les Deakin, and father: Alan Lincoln, setting out. Behind the car is Craig’s mother (with dark hair), holding Craig as a child.

The three men had a very good journey up to John o’ Groats, though they very nearly ran out of petrol. They had planned to make their first fuelling station on the motorway but unfortunately the station closed at 11pm. As a result, they had to drive into Birmingham to find an open service station.

They crossed the border into Scotland at 3:25am and arrived at John o’ Groats at 10:05am. Once again they had to contend with the problem of refuelling; nothing was open and there was nobody up to meet them. Despite going into a ditch in Scotland, the three men arrived back at Land’s End at 1:41am on Monday morning, tired but triumphant.

Their average speed was 59.7 m.p.h., but they did not break this record by shattering every speed restriction between Land’s End and John o’ Groats. As Mr Andrew Smith, who has himself done quite a lot of rally driving, told the ‘Packet’: “It is possible to adhere to the speed limits all the way and still break the record.” He added: “Had they been able to collect petrol where they originally intended, they could have knocked considerably more off the record.”

Les, Alan and Norman with their banner of Congratulations

The letter of arrival from The John o’ Groats House Hotel

Mr Les Deakin said that now they have got the record under their belts, “we’d like to get into something bigger.” The ‘Packet’ asked Mrs Alan Lincoln and Mrs Norman Frogget what they felt about their husbands’ venture. Mrs Lincoln said: “I’m glad it’s over from the point of view of them getting home safely, but it was very exciting and I would like them to try something like it again.” Mrs Frogget echoed these sentiments.

All three men expressed gratitude to Andrew Smith for having prepared the car so efficiently and to all the people who were at Land’s End at both the start and finish of the run.

12 March, 2015

Profile of Kathryn Hough

Newly Co-opted Committee Member

I became a member in 2013. I spent seventy six days and two rest days walking 1395 miles through mainland UK between mid-March and the end of May. I averaged 19.7 miles per day for the first fifty four days but overall dropped to 18.4 miles per day because I decided to carry equipment to camp if needed north of Glasgow. The long distance was partly because I actually walked from The Lizard to Dunnet Head via Land’s End and John o’ Groats and partly because I included the whole Pennine Way and wove between east and west to pick up footpaths. My account of “The Scenic Route” was included in Issue 83 of “Quo Vadis?” (Spring 2014).

I missed the Toorak Weekend in 2014 and was unable to attend even for presentation of my certificate. Although I live in nearby Exeter, I had inadvertently booked to work a Devon Doctors out-of-hours shift on the Friday and Saturday evenings. However this year the rota team was slow off the mark so the invitation to the annual dinner and presentation weekend arrived before the work rota was booked. I enjoyed a happy and interesting weekend in Torquay, meeting many adventurous and enterprising individuals who made the epic adventure from end to end by a myriad of methods. I was also co-opted to the Committee within hours of the amendment to the Constitution made at the AGM. I gather my name was put forward by Chris Hatton (Route Advisor), whose bed and breakfast in Porthcurno was an overnight stop for me in November 2010 when I walked the South West Coast Path, and again in March 2013 on the second night of my long walk.

I have worked as a locum and out-of-hours GP in the Exeter area since 2006 and am also a GP appraiser. Before we moved to Exeter, I was a GP partner in a practice in Evesham for thirteen years, apart from the one year I took a sabbatical and worked for Lerwick Doctors (Shetland). In my “free” time I’m a school governor, perform clergy reviews (a bit like appraisals for Church of England clergy) and run for South West Road Runners as well as trying to edit the running club newsletter. I will be running the London Marathon (injuries permitting!) for the sixth time this April with a good-for-age place. My best time is just under three and a half hours in 2011. This time I’m raising money for Whizz-Kidz – an amazing charity that provides tailor made wheelchairs to disabled children [Ed: See page 4].

I’ve been married to Adrian since 1986. We met at Oxford University in 1980 when we were both reading Chemistry. Adrian worked as a research scientist for several years after his Chemistry Doctorate, building a computer model of the chemistry of the lower atmosphere. However he has been a Church of England clergyman since 1992 and currently works as Chaplain and Episcopal Vicar to the Bishop of Exeter. Amongst his other talents, he masterminded a trip from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on B roads in 1994, planning a route and organising much of the fundraising for the charity now known as CLIC Sargent. Adrian travelled from end to end in a Mercedes van as part of the support team for a parishioner who rode his vintage motorbike from end to end in memory of his daughter who died of cancer in childhood. Adrian is also a keen photographer (LRPS) and is now putting together a travel-based portfolio to submit for ARPS.

Our daughter Rachel was born in 1996. She is reading Geography at Oxford University and has a particular interest in environmental issues.