Saving the day.
A return to Land Rover Competition in the 80" does not go quite according to plan.
Upper Court Farm is a delightful site used by the Staffs and Shrops Land Rover Club for Trials and Comp Safari’s. It is a real farm with rich brown mud, as opposed to a disused quarry with yellow mud that sticks like concrete! To get there I had downloaded a map from the S&S web site and set my sat nav to take me the pretty way instead of the obvious Motorway route. As the site was about 100 miles away I left home at 05.30am to ensure I made it in time for scrutineering and signing on. The journey went remarkably well, the old 2 litre engine pulling well despite a lay up of over a year. I was soon re-acquainted with all the rattles and smells that make owning an old Land Rover such a rewarding experience as we pottered along at just under 50 mph. I was really looking forward to a great day of competition with like-minded chums at a jointly hosted Series 1 Club and S&S event.
As I got closer I did think it rather odd that I had not seen any other Land Rovers, or signs to the trial, but guessed others would be approaching on the main roads. It was as I drove down the final lane to the farm that the full horror of my error began to dawn on me. Pulling up at the gate I was the only person there. I had navigated my way faultlessly to the wrong venue!
I called my pal Tony Sinclair who laughed heartily at my mistake and pointed out that the real venue was at least fifty miles away and if I did head up there I would be far too late to compete! I cursed my stupidity and regretted all the work my son Matt had done to prepare the Land Rover and all the bloody petrol I had wasted on a wild goose chase to the southern corner of Shropshire! I poured a cup of tea from my flask, looked around me and made an alternative plan. The scenery south of Ludlow is beautiful - rolling wooded hills and picture postcard villages. I decided I would have what is called a ‘leisure drive’ incorporating as many green lanes as I could find. Stopping in nearby Tenbury Wells I bought an OS Map and realised that the famous Hillclimb circuit of Shelsey Walsh was not far away. This and some gentle green laning should rescue the day.
Green Laning in an 80 inch Land Rover can be the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
I treated myself to coffee and a sticky bun in a Tenbury Cafe and spread the map out on the table. Byways open to all Traffic were a bit thin on the ground, but there were plenty of minor roads and tracks that should yield an enjoyable ramble around Shropshire. I plotted a route in the direction off Shelsey Walsh using a combination of the OS Map, my Garmin Sat Nav and Google Earth on my iPhone. The Land Rover may be 64 years old, but the gizmo’s inside are 21st Century! In better spirits I hit the road, soon pulling off the B4124 onto minor roads that led me along a farm track just north of Woodbank Hill. My peripheral vision picked something up on the hillside and stopping to reach for my binoculars, I had a great view of a large male deer casually strolling up the hillside. Chuffed that I would not have seen that had I been trialling I carried on, reaching Shelsey Walsh just as the rain started. There were no competitions under way, but there was a Midland Car Club Classic Car meeting so, with some cheek, I parked up under the cover of the pits alongside a Caterham 7 and an MGB. My own ‘classic’ was the oldest car there and a few owners came over and made polite conversation, even inviting me inside for a light lunch with other club members. Despite not being in their club they made me welcome and were very sorry I had missed the Trial. It was most rewarding that another car club took me briefly under its wing and I hope any of us would do the same if an old MGB turned up at one of our events. Such is the camaraderie of old car owners!
Toby gatecrashed a Midland Car Club Classic car event at historic Shelsey Walsh - the oldest
operating motor sport venue in the world.
It was late afternoon when I headed for home so I opted to use A roads where I could maintain about 50 mph heading first for Stratford, then up the Fosse to Leicester. Not quite the day I had planned, but most enjoyable with a bit of adventure and the added bonus that I have not had to make any excuses for a poor performance in the Trial, just lined myself up for endless ridicule having gone to the wrong place!
Copyright Toby Savage