A fabulous ten days was spent by a great group of Jaguar enthusiasts celebrating the 75th anniversary of the iconic XK by travelling through England and Wales in a wonderful line up of Brown’s Lanes’ best!
Our small and intimate group of eight cars were made up largely by participants from Europe, with lovely XK120 and XK140 drophead cars from Germany, and XK140 and 150 from Holland and a fixed head XK150 from Belgium.
Simon and Angie Slaffer brought their drop dead gorgeous XK120 fixed head over from Jersey. The newly restored car, Simon’s Covid project, is utterly flawless in every way and ran faultlessly too.
At various points in the tour, we were joined by Philip and Julie Porter in two of their fantastic and historic XK cars, as well as the inimitable Jeremy and Ann Wade, in another fabulous XK140.
In fact the level of preparation of all the cars was particularly impressive with the biggest issue of the tour being a failed starter motor for Peter Grundling’s XK140.
This was just as well, as over the ten days we covered just over a thousand miles of driving. Meeting at the wonderful Billesley Hotel and Spa just outside Stratford upon Avon on the 13th September, our group had a wonderful champagne reception and welcome dinner on the first evening. The highlight of the evening was that we were joined at dinner by former Jagaur, Ferrari and Ford racing driver Peter Sutcliffe who entertained our group with stories of his wonderful racing career. The following day, the tour undertook 100-mile loop of the Cotswolds, taking in the Classic Motor Hub near Bibury for morning coffee and a look around their rather splendid collection of cars. This was followed by lunch at the wonderful Daylesford Organic farm owned by Lord and Lady Bamford of JCB fame. The afternoon was spent visiting the fabulous Cotswold Distillery where our small group learnt about the fine art of whiskey and gin making. The following day was a free day for participants to explore Stratford-on-Avon and the Cotswolds with some taking in the theatre, others, visiting the newly established The Piston Club pub , and taking in various museums and castles in the area, including the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.
On the 16th of September, we left the splendid surroundings of Stratford-on-Avon and motored over 150 miles through the Shopshire and Cheshire countryside to the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel, just south of Chester for another three night halt.
The first day saw 110 mile loop of some of the finest driving roads in Wales. Despite Wales’ new 20 mph speed limit in towns and never ending average speed cameras on the mountain passes, all participants agreed that despite the slow going, the scenery was absolutely spectacular and certainly one of the highlights of our tour. After a lunch break in Bedgellert, we tackled both sides of the renowned Evo Triangle Pass and Llangoed Pass, along with exploring other iconic Welsh roads, before heading back to the hotel to complete our loop.
The following day took a similar format of having a free day to explore Chester and its surrounds with some venturing into North Wales and others into the town of Chester to visit its splendid black-and-white buildings and other attractions.
That evening we regrouped for dinner at the hotel and the following morning, undertook 130 mile journey up to our final three night stop of the tour based at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate. A tricky days driving threading our way through the major centres of the north was not that easy to stay off the highways and byways, but we did manage to find some great country roads en route.
Waking up in the splendid surroundings of Harrogate, our first day was spent with a fabulous mid-morning steam train ride from the village of Pickering East to Goathland for lunch at the Goathland Hotel before returning to Pickering, picking up our cars and undertaking an afternoon loop of the absolutely stunning Yorkshire Moors. The afternoon would prove to be perhaps the most memorable afternoon of the tour with the stunning Moors at their very best with some moody clouds and a little bit of rain thrown in just to keep our concentration levels at their maximum whilst driving the spectacular roads.
The following day, many of our participants took up the optional route of just over a 100 mile circle of the very best bits of the Yorkshire Dales, another stunning day’s driving with a halt at the world famous Wensleydale Creamery for lunch before continuing back to Harrogate.
Others took the opportunity just to relax at the hotel, visit Harrogate and clean their cars and do some general maintenance before the final days drive that took us from Harrogate down to Coombe Abbey Hotel and Spa just outside Jaguar’s spiritual home of Coventry for our final night together on the tour.
Coombe Abbey is a spectacular place for anyone to stay at, with its incredible history as an abbey and more laterally as a hotel and our group had a wonderful final dinner together before being well situated in the West Midlands to be an hour away from Whittlebury Hall for the start of the Jaguar XK weekend organised by the club
In summary, it was a fun and varied tour enjoyed by a great group of people, our small number, ensuring that we all bonded to create lifelong friendships and a resolve to undertake more Jaguar adventures in the future. Above all, the tour, the friendships created and the very few issues experienced could be no better proof of the enduring legacy the XK has 75 years after its birth!