By Chantal Greenslade
A new millennium, a new trials’ season and a new (or rather revamped Clee). Sunday 23d January 2000. The day began (or was it still the middle of the night?) at 4.15am, alarm clock ringing, time to get up for the first ‘one day’ trial of the season. At 5.00 o’clock having dressed, filled a flask and grabbed a quick cup of tea, Giles and I, almost half-awake started our journey ‘up north’.
Just over three hours later at approximately 8.15 am we arrived at the Boyne Arms, Burwarton for the start of the Clee Hills Trial. Our start time being 10.22am we had plenty of time to scrutineer, sign on, drink coffee, and eat bacon rolls. In fact another hour in bed wouldn’t have been out of the question. A full entry meant that we had a good class for the day, with no less than nine class 4 entries. The familiar faces of Richard Peck, Murray MacDonald, and Neil Bray soon arrived, Neil unfortunately having already had a puncture. Not too unusual we thought until he informed us it was in one of his spare tyres. (Work that one out if you can!).
A minor last minute snag at scrutineering, the passenger side front light wasn’t working. As you would expect Giles with all his mechanical expertise and a gleaming (probably never been used) tool kit soon had it fixed and we were ready for the off.
10.22am route card collected from Pat, we left the car park to head for the first section of the day, ‘Starvecrow’. A rather PCT like section around some trees which caused no end of problems. The route card stated that this was ‘likely to be very slippery’, and on turning into the field we could see that was no understatement. Many competitors seemed to he having problems just getting to the section, and from the section to the first special test, although Terry Coventry couldn’t see what all the fuss was about with a rather exceptional climb in his front wheel drive Citroen AX.
Next onto ‘Allez Oop’, a steep shaley section with the friendly face of John Blakeney marshalling, Not that Giles worries about a lack of power on steep sections, but it’s only the second hill I’ve ever stayed in the front seat for. He obviously thought grip was not going to be a problem. It was here that David Haizelden’s trusty Golf GTi gave up the ghost for the day with a broken gearbox. David remarked at the start that he had never done the Clee before, well David you still haven’t. Better luck next year.
From Allez Oop we then wound our way along the side of Long Mynd to Section 4, Stanbatch, which the route card said was easy and it was, although we could have come to grief if I’d had my way. The hill was extremely long and about 2/3rds of the way up I wanted to stop to admire the fabulous views, but thankfully Giles was astute enough to realise that, at this point, we had yet to pass the section ends board.
As we trundled on through the countryside to the next section, who should we pass with the bonnet up, yes you’ve guessed it – John Cox, who I believe at this point had a broken McPherson strut, followed later in the day by a broken accelerator pedal, possibly a diff and on his arrival home later that evening found that he only had three wheels on his trailer! John was very honoured recently with his award from the ACTC of the ‘Tractor Tug Trophy’ for overcoming mechanical adversity, and all I can guess from the day’s events is that John intends to win it again this year.
Adstone and Ratlinghope caused little or no problems and we were then off to Gatten’s Gamble. The section itself, a steep muddy track, did not pose a problem for us although it did catch Neil Bray in his Skoda. Whilst we were waiting to attempt the hill some French ex-army lorries were noticeably attracting the attention of some of our competitors. Murray MacDonald was very interested in how one would fare in Class 4, that was until Richard Peck pointed out he may have even more trouble getting hold of tyres than he does now.
Harton Wood followed, and then Hungerford, a rather rough section with a restart for class 8 only. Although slightly easier than last year we had a rather nasty puncture with the tyre coming off the rim.
Only five miles then to Longville, which although seemingly easy for the lower classes did catch a few of the ‘special boys’. Nigel Allen and Terry Ball were the only Class 6 entries to come out unscathed making Nigel the only Class 6 still with a clean sheet.
Railway Special Test followed and was a novel idea but too complicated to explain! Onto the dreaded Ippikins Rock, dreaded by Greenslades anyway after last year’s abysmal attempts, where both Giles and Dad narrowly avoided rolling their cars. (John Blakeney has the photos to prove it!). This year the sharp hairpin right did not cause a problem, although I noted that neither Giles, nor Adrian Marfell, another classic last year, had entered the same car in this year’s event.
Ippikins Rock behind us and we were on the home run now. Ditton Special Test, a short forward and back blast. Fastest time of the day went to Nigel Moss in his Cannon Special. Last but by no means least, Hillside, the sting in the tail you might. say. Only seven cars went clean here. An outstanding climb by Paul Bartleman in his Ford Escort, the only saloon car up, meant that Paul went on to win the trial outright. We were reasonably pleased to only drop a seven and obtain the highest Class 4 climb.
All sections completed we drove the 2 miles to the finish, back where we started at the Boyne Arms, for a quick drink before the long journey home. A good day was had by all.
Congratulations to Paul Bartleman and also the class winners, Adrian Dommett, Tim Lakin, Nigel Alien. Richard Peck, Terry Coventry and David Lucas.
Thank you to Jonathan and Pat Toulmin for an enjoyable event.