Our recent GT Classic, which took place between the 5th and 9th of October, will be remembered as a tour with a difference, in fact it was probably the most challenging trip that we have done.
We went off up to Northumberland and on to Scotland just at the time the storm hit the country and even though we were driving around the outskirts of the storm, it still provided challenges with a number of road closures, floods, landslides, and even a washed away bridge.
However, our intrepid drivers and their Co drivers managed to navigate the many diversions that were set up to confuse everybody and we are pleased to say that we did get to each of our destinations at the end of every day, even if we didn’t keep to the specified route that was in our route book.
There was tremendous camaraderie amongst everybody as we tackled these challenges and in the evenings it provided lots of great conversation and hilarity about who managed to get through the deepest flood and who didn’t. The two E types that were on our trip were nicknamed the Eel Types as they seemed to manage most of the floods that were presented to them.
So, we started at the fantastic Bowcliffe Hall, which is a lovely wonderful property located in Bramham in West Yorkshire owned by a motoring enthusiasts with a wicked sense of humour with many light hearted items around the house and gardens set to make you chuckle. Everybody congregated in the Potting Shed where they were welcomed and got the chance to meet their fellow participants over teas and coffees, and a look around the estate. After a delicious lunch, we all headed off to Croft circuit, managing to arrive within minutes of each other so we were able to maximise our time on the circuit. After a drivers’ briefing, we all headed out onto the track for a few sighting laps before being let loose for more spirited running, which was great fun, in fact, we had more laps than we ever intended, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our hotel that night was the Aldwalk Manor arriving in time to settle into our rooms and have an early evening drink followed by a lovely dinner.
The following morning, we were due to drive through the Yorkshire Dales heading towards the Schloss Roxburugh hotel via the Buttertubs Pass, but sadly we were unable to drive the Pass due to the weather, however, we did manage to get to the Bowes Museum, an amazing property located in the middle of Castle Barnard, the town made famous for politicians visiting to have their eyes tested during COVID. The Bowes Museum holds one of the most amazing displays of China and Art and we were able to enjoy a tour of the exhibitions followed by a light lunch. Our afternoon drive took us across the Pennines to the Schloss Roxborough Hotel which again provided some challenges, but we made it and enjoyed another lovely dinner, again sharing stories of our slightly re-routed trip.
On Saturday we left the hotel by about 9:00 heading straight to the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum, a lovely museum celebrating our much-missed two-time Formula One World Champion. The museum houses pretty much all of his trophies in a fantastic trophy cabinet alongside a number of his cars, pictures and other memorabilia. There are also several fantastic visual presentations charting the life of Jim Clark and his racing exploits. After our visit to the museum we headed off to Scotland via Biggar and Douglas and up to Loch Lomond to Cameron House, however again we were unable to follow most of the routes and upon arriving at Cameron House discovered that their car parks were underwater and we had to take a different route around the hotel to reach the front of the house by which time the lake was already lapping at the edge of the driveway. Our evening was spent at the Boathouse a short walk from the Hotel.
On Sunday we went to visit our next race track, Knockhill and to do this we were going to head towards it via the Dukes Pass but the weather had worsened even further and we never managed to get to the Pass due to the road closures and diversions around it. Even the existing roads that were signposted as diversions had diversions themselves! But we had a very interesting drive through some very narrow country lanes to get to our next stop the Lindores Distillery. We were almost thwarted by the most enormous flood which had claimed a white Mercedes sprinter van that had clearly misjudged the depth of the water! On turning around, we managed to find a narrow lane that took us up around the top of the hills which gave us a fantastic view across to the other side where you could see all the flooding around and the road luckily dropped us down just short of Lindores Distillery where we were able to enjoy a tour and sample their Scotch Whisky. Our final destination was Gleneagles Hotel where we enjoyed a fantastic meal in the Shooting Lodge made famous by Jackie Stewart who used to hold all his briefings there when he ran the shooting school.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip despite not actually managing to do what we intended to do! Everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves and it will go down in memory as a trip to remember.