The seed was sown after the 2018 LAC Coast to Coast run. We had taken part in our Triumph TR4, our son Mark with his wife Katy in their Morris Minor 1000 (nicknamed Cherry) and our Grandson Kyle with his Dad Paul as navigator in his Morris Minor 1000. Mark and Kyle said they wanted to do the Highland 3 Day and I got roped in. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Kyle wasn’t able to enter and Katy had to be home with the children. We roped in my brother, Michael, as navigator for Mark and Linda would navigate for me assuming she could stay awake! For backup, I would follow Mark and we fitted CB radios.
Team’s Lewin Team Livesey and Brown on top of the world
Linda and I were already in Scotland having been to the Bo’ness Revival and Hillclimb and then on to a TR Register Highland Tour so we arranged to meet at the Rosslea Hall Hotel. Fortunately, the weather had changed for the better as it had been a miserable couple of weeks weather wise.
Saw us leave the Rosslea Hall Hotel in thick mist, equipped with our tulip diagram Route Book, an alternative route for later in the day and a diagram of the Glen Coe Auto Test. At this point, it is probably important to say it is advisable if you or your navigator can have a quick read through these documents to save, in my case, embarrassment later. We soon left the main road, joining the Glen Fruin road where, as we descended to the main A82, the sun started to burn through and we had glorious sunny weather for the rest of the day. At the top of the Rest and Be Thankful Pass, we took the single-track road heading for Loch Goilhead followed by Inveraray, Glen Orchy, Rannoch Moor and the head of Glen Coe. The Glencoe Mountain Resort was the venue for lunch and the first part of the “Gymkhana”.
The rest and be thankful Glen Coe test Malaig Ferry
The test consisted of two runs through a course of cones, the object being to achieve the same time on both runs. Having watched a couple of cars do their first run, Linda remarked that “they didn’t go very fast, we can beat them”. Never having had the green light before, the blood rushed, I missed a cone and then found out what the rules were. Ah well, there would be another chance on the final day.
After lunch we took the Corran Ferry before passing along the shores of Loch Sunart through the ancient oak forest on single track roads heading for the 3pm ferry at Mallaig. At this stage, we realised time was tight if we were going to make it and a particularly slow driver who antagonised even the locals didn’t help. Once clear, Mark unleashed all 48 horses (well, some may have escaped over the years) under the hood of Cherry and we managed to catch the ferry over to Skye by the skin of our teeth with Stuart and Linda Mason who had been following us. Some drivers were already on board and some had to catch the later 4pm ferry.
Glen Elg Kyle Rhea Ferry Dinner at the Balmacara Hotel
From the Isle of Skye, we elected to take the alternative route over the last remaining manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland. The main route was over the Skye Bridge. The Glenelg ferry runs from Kyle Rhea to Glenelg and generally takes six cars. Loading was tricky as, being the last car to load, my exhaust locked onto the quay and didn’t want to board. The crew’s experience showed and by getting the two cars in front to reverse and then coordinating a simultaneous move forward, we were on. Final destination of the day was at the Balmacara Hotel where we arrived soon after. A Navigation Exercise was available which many completed but we opted for a much-needed drink in the bar. With, hindsight, we should have done it.
Loch Carron Bealach na Ba
Inner sound of Harris
Was another glorious sunny day with not a cloud in the beautiful blue sky. Again, the day’s route book was handed out after breakfast along with an alternative route taking in the Applecross Loop over the classic Bealach na Ba pass (Pass of the Cattle). In addition, there was a navigation test for the morning and afternoon sections. These would be the first we had ever done but, being fairly competent with maps, we were confident we wouldn’t make total idiots of ourselves. As with the Glenelg Ferry, we were determined to do the Applecross alternative and were confident that both cars were up to it. The reasoning was if we’ve come this far, we’re going to see the highlights. And what highlights they were. The climb up the pass was exhilarating with hairpin after hairpin up to the summit at 2000 feet. Both cars performed admirably with Cherry leading the way showing you don’t need big powerful cars to take part. As Mark said, back in the sixties, these were the everyday cars making the climb. The views over to the isles of Raasay and Rona, set in beautiful dark blue to shimmering emerald seas were magnificent. I accept that we had the perfect day but, on a day like that, I challenge anyone to find better, more majestic and magnificent scenery anywhere on earth.
Just before the lunch stop at the Loch Ness Hotel, we undertook our very first Navigation Exercise. Fortunately, Mark and Michael studied the map before leaving the Balmacara hotel in the morning and all we had to do was take the correct turns on the road and spot the relevant marker boards to prove we had gone the right way. Great fun with added confusion and self-doubt when cars were passed going the opposite way.
An excellent buffet lunch was served at the hotel following which we set off for the run to the afternoon Navigation Exercise and Nethybridge. It turned out, Linda and I were still looking for marker boards several miles after the exercise had finished and the route re-joined. If only Linda could manage to stay awake!
Overcast and a little gloomy, we checked the cars and were surprised to see two Trabants in the car park. Their rally boards stating “Bugger Bognor. 50th Anniversary Road Run Sussex to Cape Wrath”. All credit to them!
Soon after the start, there was a scheduled round of the gymkhana arranged and a chance to redeem myself. Unfortunately, there were two Motorhomes parked up on the car park and it appeared they were still asleep. It was deemed prudent, to save the good name of the Club, to abandon the test rather than wake them up to the screeching of tyres and revving engines. The morning route took us through Dalwhinnie and over the Drumochter Summit on the A9. On the way to the lunch stop, we passed somewhere in the region of 30 – 40 Maserati cars travelling in the opposite direction, their number plates showing they were from all over Europe.
After another excellent lunch in Kenmore we left and were soon into another Navigation Exercise. By now, the rain was continuous staying with us as we passed through Crianlarich and along the shores of Loch Lomond till we were arriving back at the Rosslea Hall Hotel where it had virtually stopped.
Overall, the cars performed perfectly, only needing a little oil top up. The scenery was breath-taking, the roads challenging and remarkably well surfaced in the main ranging from single track roads to fast A roads. The hotels and meals were first class and welcoming. The weather was fantastic up to the last day so yes, the sun does shine in Scotland and when it does, you are in for a real treat. The company was warm and friendly and the organisation was outstanding. It is difficult to express our thanks to Mike Raven and his team adequately. It is obviously a well organised team that he has and it must take an enormous amount of time to organise. Thanks again to everyone involved.
Would we do it again?
Definitely. Hopefully next time with three generations in two Morris Minor 1000s and a TR4.
Only the one.
Mike is taking a well-earned rest in 2020 after 21 years organising the tour. Hopefully, he will return fully reenergised in 2021 and we will definitely put our names down.
Thanks again for a great weekend.
Keith and Linda Lewin.