2020 Covid operation - a picnic in the Dales
Report by Mike Cowen
FINALLY back on the open road and we were blessed with great weather!
After months of inactivity due to Covid 19 it was time to blow the cobwebs away and a 60 mile run in to the Dales was just the ticket.
With the rules of living changed so our operation for runs has changed. Instead of starting in a car park and having a chance to admire the cars and have a catch up before getting the run instructions and heading off. The instructions had been sent out in advance and the start was as you drive under the railway bridge on Bourghbridge road in Northallerton, set the trip to zero and send a text to say you are on the run. Not very sociable but at least we kept to the “new normal”.
It had been many weeks since Jackie and I had set the run so we decided to do the run ourselves on the day setting off just over an hour before the rest of the runners and riders. Starting from Northallerton there is always a run along nice but what we call “regular” roads before we get to the real beauty of the Dale’s. After about 25 miles it started to get interesting with roads no wider than a MGB. The views made up for the lack of tarmac and by the time we turned right and headed out of Wensleydale it was pure Yorkshire Dales. Up and over the top and down in to what I feel is the best dale in Yorkshire Swaledale. When I was 18 I delivered soft drinks and snacks to the many small businesses in the dale up to Keld for the smoker’s friend Alan Brown and in my infant years Swaledale and this spot in particular was a place we came for family picnics.
With the run checked by the time we reached Gunnerside it was time to meet up with our chairman who was the official photographer for the day . Dave used to drive a tanker around the dales picking up milk from the farms and he thought he knew every road in the area but he had never traveled along the thin strip of tarmac that had brought us over from Wensleydale.
We made our way to the designated picnic site and parked up, deck chairs out and waited for the hordes to arrive. It wasn’t long before the first arrived and the only shock was it was not our secretary and Tony. The reason was they were following a cherry red Mazda MX5 and that is where the fun started. Tony was not aware that it was driven by our good friend Stuart Bulmer. A new purchase intended for the NC500 and other longer runs. Tony, second to finish is never heard of but he had not realized it was Stuart ahead of him.
It was nice to see and meet new members on the run as well as meeting up with old friends. New members means there are more cars to admire. A Fiat Spider and a Triumph Stag are great additions to the club.
Back in March when we had the first (virtual) run of the year, Mike Rothwell announced he was putting a 5 speed gear box in to his beloved E-Type Jag. So the question was, had it been a successful lockdown project? After reading the story of this remarkable car in far flung destinations I was even more interested to see if the work was complete. Was it ever in doubt? As it glided on to the grass it was clear it had been a successful lockdown or had it. After chatting to Mike yes the job was done and yes it performed well but he was not comfortable with the noise so it is now decision time, keep it or bin it.
Two more cars to make it to the start line were Ian’s newly acquired MGB RV8 (Tony is completely jealous) and making a very welcome return was Bill Burtons white MGB roadster. As I directed him to avoid the rocks he totally ignored me and headed for the only rock he could get stuck on. Five of us eventually lifted him off and no obvious damage was detected.
It was interesting to hear so many stories of members who were brought up in this quiet corner of England, Bill and Jim going to school in the area. Bills farther brought electric to Reeth and Maxwells Electrical started off in Reeth. Then there was Tina who was born in the dale.
We are truly a Yorkshire Dales family.
A dreamy day had to end and we started to drift out. Let’s hope it’s not too long before we meet again.