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 Dales Run
September 24/25th

The route of our 3rd annual Dales run, carefully chosen by Chris Smyth, took in some marvellous countryside, certainly some of which I’d not seen before. Narrow traffic free roads and tracks were Chris’s criteria for the two day route, punctuated by an overnight campsite stop for Saturday. Having returned from holiday, on the Wednesday prior, he found himself under some pressure to be there in his Ford Jeep as it decided that this was a good time to play up. Having sorted the problems, at the last minute, his jeep then ran beautifully all weekend, as it led way for some 18 other Jeeps Land Rovers, and an RB. The hardier members of the area camped overnight on Friday in one of Maurice Clarke’s fields at Beckwithshaw. He had kindly provided a portaloo at his own expense. I understand food that evening was a BBQ.
dales1.jpg (191044 bytes) dales2.jpg (104031 bytes) dales3.jpg (124603 bytes) Travelling from Burley in Wharfedale Chris, his wife Val, and myself joined the rest of the gang at Beckwithshaw at 10.00 am. A route and instructional briefing followed. Everyone had already been told to be ready to move sometime between 10 and 10.30 fully fuelled up because of little or no provision for re fuelling on the way.
On a fresh, but dry, Saturday morning Chris led us out across Forest Moor past the Army Foundation College in the general direction of Bolton Abbey. With plenty of changes of direction by the time we could see Ilkley, on our left, I for one, was somewhat disorientated, but sat back, hat pulled down enjoying the marvellous views.  dales4.jpg (70954 bytes) dales5.jpg (119465 bytes) dales6.jpg (100666 bytes)
Full use of the club’s walkie talkies in the front, middle, and rear vehicles kept everyone together and were used to warn of problems ahead, and for a fair amount of light hearted banter by John Gray. He was on good form. With the outskirts of the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey estate reached, we took a single track road through the woods on a steep slope overlooking the River Wharfe past Storiths and Barden toward Burnsall. A call of nature seemed a priority for a few of our number here, whilst the remainder passed through the village and awaited our return.

Suitably relieved we headed north west through Thorpe and along the rolling, twisting and relatively recently metalled Thorpe Lane to the village of Cracoe for a lunch stop. It was here that we met up again with Nick Calvert in his Wright M35. He had gone his own way from Harrogate and we were next to see him in Buckden for the overnight stop. A number of us tucked into a hearty main course in the very civilised Cracoe’s café. What the other smartly dressed customers thought of the band of rather scruffy looking folks dressed predominately in khaki is anybodies guess. This was also a much needed stop to stretch legs after a good couple of hours driving. 

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Organised once more we set off, this time west toward Hetton through rolling farmland taking Hills Lane, Abbey Hill and Half Brow to Airton. I had changed jeeps and rode in the front of Ivor’s which has a new paint job. A slightly more familiar road next took us north through Kirby Malham, Malham village itself, and an impromptu visit to Goredale Scar. With space to turn around, just, and park up, one or two went to have a look at the Scar whilst in one of those rare chance meetings John Gray went to have a chat with his sister, who was out walking. 

I took the opportunity to have a pseak with our out-riding trio of Colin and Craig Dixon and Mick Edmondson. They had the tools out cleaning up plugs that apparently get clogged up with relatively slow running. Their trio of immaculate Matchless WD3GLs shone in the sunshine. They had been scooting around the convoy from the start helping us to keep moving at junctions by simply stopping the bewildered members of the public who always seem to do as they are told!

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We had about half an hour here, before backtracking to Malham, driving past either admiring or bewildered tourists sat having a drink or pottering around the village. It was here that I was asked if we were on a War Games exercise by a bemused lady. It was also here that I had begun to notice the charming smiles from lady drivers, temporarily held up as the short convoy passed. They were either struck by our good looks or simply smiling in sympathy to boys and their toys. 

Turning north we headed out over the moors, passing Malham Tarn, crossing the famous Pennine Way footpath, passing through an area famous for lots of Shake Holes to Arncliffe village. What? I here you say, well those hollows left when boulder clay is washed into fissures in the underlying limestone. So now you know. Back in relative civilisation we had some fairly level going, south east this time, down the very pleasant Littondale before joining the wide( by our standards) B6160 north to Kettlewell.
dales31.jpg (175914 bytes) dales32.jpg (171781 bytes) dales33.jpg (188715 bytes) Chris had very sensibly pre arranged refuelling here in the only garage which is up now for sale. I gather from comments that he would be closing for the day very shortly afterwards. I know that this village has lots of holiday homes and the local garage, which once fulfilled a very valuable role, is yet another of those country businesses facing extinction. If we were to pass this way next year no doubt it will have gone forever.

As we left familiar territory and headed north west again towards Buckden, our overnight stop, the cloud base began to decend and rain was in the air. Whilst the campers faced the prospect of pitching tents on a sloping rocky site I could relax in the knowledge that I was going to the warmth and comfort of Hartrigg House in the village. Chris and Val were doing likewise. 

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Nick Calvert being first to the Heber farm campsite had grabbed what looked like the only flat bit of land, which by the way was shared with a number of sheep. Toilets and showers were a little way away but vital when you are roughing it. We were treated to a low level fly past down the valley by a Chinook at dusk. Chris clearly has some influence!

Dave Reape and Nev Johnson, along with some others, decided to eat out at the White Lion pub in nearby Cray and later recommended it. A couple of beers in the dreary Buck Inn (closing the following week) preceded a fairly early meal with Chris and his wife in the Village Restaurant entertained by its unique owner. Everyone else had a BBQ in the rain, but under a shelter, with stoves provided by Nev, to background music from Nick’s lorry. It was pitch black with a torch being an essential piece of kit. It gave us some idea of Wartime blackout conditions.

We woke next morning to a very low cloud base and that fine rain which gets you very wet, very quickly. Luckily it eventually eased and stopped, for a couple of prizes to be given out. Brian presented the Best Jeep prize to Mark Turner and Howard Slater travelling in a 1951 M38. The prize had been kindly donated by Mark Askew of Jeep promotions and was a years subscription to his new jeep magazine, which is a high quality glossy publication selling for £45.00 I believe. A book and goodies prize, donated by Four Plus Four, was also awarded to the best Land Rover, and this went to Colin and Elizabeth Parr who had travelled all the way from Southampton in their 110 to join us! Very well deserved.

dales37.jpg (167766 bytes) dales38.jpg (121829 bytes) Setting out north past Cray we began to climb steadily before going off road and over the moor tops toward Hawes. The initial section proved a bit tricky after all the rain and which to me looked like a rockery without any soil. Under Mike Hemingway’s direction each vehicle made it up in turn. I had transferred once again into Dave Reape’s 1959 Series 1 Land Rover which was Tail End Charlie. Well, he took a short powered run at the pile of rocks and we came to a very abrupt stop with a bang. 
You’d have thought we’d have lost the front axle but no, reversing up for a repeat I braced myself and this time we bounced over the worst bit and found traction. We stopped on the tops to take in the view, prior to a gradual and better tracked surface down to picturesque Semer Water. This is the largest natural lake in Yorkshire. Here we parked up for another breather and some photos.
A steep climb away from the lake followed, before dropping down into Hawes to meet up with a couple of mv’s that had not gone the off road route. Treating the tourists to a drive past, we headed out past the famous Wensleydale Creamery over a slippery ford and began a long climb out over Wether Fell moorland before dropping down to a beautiful valley bottom to run alongside Oughtershaw Beck through Deepdale and Yockenthwaite back to Buckden. 

Kettlewell was our next stop for lunch, then off again, in beautiful sunshine, this time north east toward Leyburn. We climbed out of the village up a 1 in 4 and faced another such hill about a mile further on. Just after the first hairpin bend Dave’s Series 1 boiled up and we stopped to investigate. There was certainly some amount of steam - to me it resembled a steam engine blowing off at a station. As Dave gingerly opened the radiator cap he disappeared in this spectacular cloud of steam as boiling water spewed out, completely emptying the system. Gary Docherty had stopped in support as everyone else disappeared over the horizon. Dave radioed through and they waited up ahead. After allowing some time for the system to cool down he filled up again and off we went. Despite plenty of climbs further on we had no other trouble.

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dales45.jpg (121654 bytes) dales46.jpg (118710 bytes) dales47.jpg (171483 bytes) It may have been the sunshine, but I found the journey down Coverdale one of the most beautiful of the weekend. We left the National Park at the picture postcard village of East Witton before joining the A6108 near Jervaulx Abbey. We had a brief stop here before setting out on the last leg of the weekend over moorland once more via Healey and Lofthouse to Pateley Bridge via Nidderdale, and then onto our last stop Ripley Castle. Lovely scenery again.
We said our farewells and parted company on the warm Sunday evening having enjoyed vast vistas and a most varied, challenging in parts, journey through some of the most beautiful scenery in England. Special thanks must go to Chris for all his hard work in making this an undoubted success. It was absolutely brilliant.

Mike Humphreys

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