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E-type Round Britain Coastal Drive - Stages 1 - 6

Stage 1 (Day 1). Nine months ago, it was just a crazy dream. Now it is no longer a dream. It’s still crazy, though!

Fantastic sight to see 70 cars lined up at Goodwood House, TV there, loads of snappers, great atmosphere, spirit of adventure – felt like pioneers! – and the great Derek Bell to flag us away. Does not get much better.

Quite a bit of suburbia to get through first but then the joys of the New Forest. After lunch at Sandbanks, we crossed on the ferry and headed for Dorset. Breathtaking coastal drive along Jurassic Coast – that will take some beating. Not only were the views stunning but it was a perfect illustration of what this unique event is all about.

Very special to have several of the amazing Eagle E-types and their incredible variants on the trip together – surely a first – plus Henry Pearman and Paul Brace. Also have racer Mile Wilds with us, doing several days. Fabulous support.

CRY ran perfectly, apart from ******** cigar lighter not working and so no satnav! Had to use phones. In morning, navigator was Octavia Pollock from the Country Life and The Field. In the afternoon I had the first of my paying passengers who had heard of the event through a Classic & Sports Car Facebook mention. More funds for Prostate Cancer UK. Great stuff. Really nice guy, and good navigator, thank goodness.

Above: Stage 1 – winning bidder for the half day passenger ride with Philip Porter in 848 CRY, Matt Bradley.

Finished at Lyme Regis Gold Club, greeted by the Mayor. Dinner, lot of happy people, all the hard work by Louise and the E-type Club office team worthwhile, collapsed shattered and now off this morning to Penzance.

Above: Photo montage by Peter Johns

Stage 2 (Day 2). Hottest day of the year forecast. Started from seafront car park in Lyme Regis in one hell of a thunderstorm. Not the plan. Brisk trade in E-type Club umbrellas! I asked around to see if anyone had any spare goldfish because they would luxuriated in the private pond quickly developing within CRY. Headed off, virtually unable to see. Had another charity-paying passenger and, thankfully, he did not seem too fazed by it all. Gradually weather cleared and so hood came down, which caused it to rain again. Putting hood up succeeded in halting rain. This sequence was an ongoing one during the morning and was excellent exercise. Reached the delightful town of Dartmouth and caught the short ferry (second in two days: becoming the tour of the ferries) and small bunch of us stopped shortly after for excellent fish and chips. In the afternoon, we hit so much traffic it was not true. Seemed every road-worthy car in Britain was in Devon and Cornwall. Not much fun. Using traffic updates, afternoon navigator Octavia did a great job tying to beat the jams and we ended up going down singe-track lanes and, as if it wasn’t wet enough, through a ford!

Had to stop to do another radio interview en route. Finally, arrived in Penzance in yet another thunderstorm – it had followed us. Rarely known rain like it. Roads now rivers. Need bilge pumps! Superb evening at lovely, historic Trereife House, a warm welcome from the family, whose home it has been for many generations, a fine dinner and hilarious talk by Paul Abadjian completed a challenging day.

Just hope the forecast today is for horrendous storms and we should have glorious sunshine. Out photographing early and looking good.

“First of all a massive thank you for all your energy and effort in arranging such a fabulous event – all in such a good cause. We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 legs and wish we could have joined you for more. Perhaps the club could do something of this ilk again in the not too distant future; worthy cause, Iconic cars, excellent company, drives through some stunning scenery.” Neal and Talitha Brewer

Stage 3 - Day 3

Started in lovely weather for a change. As still no power to satnav, followed great friends Richard and Fatos Carter in their Fixed Head and Paul Abadjian in a red Roadster. First town was blocked by a lorry, so retraced our wheel-tracks and circumnavigated the problem. Lovely coastal scenery and delightful twisting lanes. Proper Cornish stuff. Then had to take to a couple of main roads and horrific traffic, luckily most of it going the other way. The Great British holidaying public have to realise there is more to Great Britain than Devon and Cornwall – which are full! With Brexit really kicking in next year, the mind boggles. It will be standing-room only.

Made good progress for the rest of the morning but struggled to find anywhere for lunch and then, of course, we had the added the challenge of pubs stopping serving at 2pm. I have always said: ‘Such pubs are the only businesses in the world that turn away sales.

Unbelievable.’ Lost the Carters in the search but Paul and I finally found a great 13th century pub down a long lane and had an excellent swift repast. Paul then headed for home in Dorset and I was on my own, navigating and juggling phone, cameras, map, dictaphone and sun tan lotion!

Bodmin Moor was superb. Then headed for Porlock and found a bobby in the road: turned back as three trees in the road. About 10 miles back but great roads. Finally made it to Combe House Hotel near Bridgwater and a much-needed pint. Non-motoring challenge is getting connected – no phone signal and modest wifi which keeps dropping out (four times while writing this – trying to upload photos and video but impossible). Another gripe: this is a Third World Country for such technology. How can we compete in the world until this is sorted?

Off to Tenby shortly and looking forward to the stunning scenery in Wales.

Above: E-types at Combe House Hotel

Stage 4 (Day 4) – Long day yesterday in terms of mileage – nearly 250 – but shorter in terms of time. Weather was kind and, at times, seriously hot. Left Bridgewater at 10am and headed up the east side of the Bristol Channel through Weston-super-Mud (as I recall one of my masters at school rudely nick-named the town). Appropriately, we went through Weston-in-Gordano. The significance? The first body Malcolm Sayer designed was built by a bunch of Bristol enthusiasts and named the Gordano.

They are clearly a superior crowd around Bristol as, in a matter of a few miles, I waved to a Spridget, an old Mini and a Rover 105 (or similar) and all declined to reciprocate. They clearly looked down their noses at a bunch of E-types. Finally, a Morris Minor treated us as equals and gave a generous wave!

Had a nasty fright late morning. Pulling away from some lights in heavy traffic, a cloud of steam, or smoke, burst out of the right hand bonnet louvres. Immediate thought was, ‘My God, I’m overheating.’ Instant look at water gauge suggested all was well. Watched it like a hawk for some miles. My theory? A generous puff of exhaust smoke from the car in front percolated through CRY’s bonnet mouth and liberated itself through the louvres!

Most unfortunately, a weary driver filled up with diesel by mistake when we stopped for liquid replenishment. Most fortunately, he did not start the engine and the AA did their stuff and he only lost an hour or so. I had been following these chums. As I was on my own, I lent my map to another car and followed them. As they headed off in the wrong direction and then made a number of mistakes, I questioned my wisdom but had no choice but to follow as they had my only map. Tricky.

However, all was well and we arrived at Trefloyne Manor at Tenby in good time for a pleasant evening. Incidentally, I forget to mention that the previous day’s proceedings had concluded with eminent racer Mike Wilds, who was with us for a couple of days and great company, entertaining us with some stories of his 51 years of racing. One of the biggest joys of this event is the camaraderie. Today, the really serious scenery starts as we head round the Welsh coast to Criccieth.

Stage 5 (Day 5): Best day so far. Superb. The driving was really enjoyable, the scenery spectacular and the weather pretty kind.

Headed off from Tenby at 10am and found myself following three red E-types – there in a row and a bonus red E-type! The red brigade.

We soon saw the sea which is the whole point of this exercise and did so many times throughout the day. Route took us down some exceptionally narrow lanes – well off the beaten track. There was not just grass growing in the middle of the road but long grass! And mud. Went past a farmyard and heard someone shout, ‘Look, E-types, five of the them … six.’

As our book printers, who have just printed Stirling Moss, The Definitive Biography Vol 1 for us, were virtually en route, they kindly invited us all for lunch and a quick tour which everyone seemed to find very interesting. Welsh TV were there. Not sure what they said about us!

Then it was up the coast, past Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Dolgellau and then west through Barmouth and Harlech, and finally to the finish at Criccieth. Although I know quite a lot of Wales and often use it for tours and drives, much of this was new territory and terrific.

Definitely the best day yet. Off to the original home of Swallow/Jaguar – Blackpool – today.

Hi Louise,

Just wanted to say what a fantastic time we had on the RBCD stage 5.

It’s such a shame that we could only do one stage – we have really got the bug now and if this happens again (which we are sure it will) we will endeavour to do many more stages.

Kind regards and good luck with the rest of the trip.

John and Deborah Shepherd

Above: Deborah Shepherd & E-type at Fishguard Harbour, photo by John Shepherd

Stage 6 (Day 6): We started with breathtaking scenery and views as we were led by local XK member David Watson to the point of the peninsular at Aberdaron – fabulous.

Lovely run up the coast and on to Bangor. Briefly joined the A55 but soon came off to go through Conwy (dreadful traffic) and Llandudno (rather stylish), through Towyn (ominous!), caravan land (must be several million, or probably more), Rhyl, Prestatyn and up through Wallasey to the new tunnel under The Mersey. We got lost in Liverpool due to road closures but were soon on our way to Southport (very stylish) and Blackpool (what can I say that is not libellous?). Took half an hour to do three miles along promenade. Don’t think I ever want to come back here again, even if it is the place in which Swallow/Jaguar has its roots.

Hello Louise,

Thank you for all your and your teams hard work in organising the round Britain run. We really enjoyed our stage of the event.

Best regards

Robin and Jane

Hello everyone.

Firstly thank you to everyone who was involved with the organisation of the RBCD, we thoroughly enjoyed our three legs from Holford to Blackpool.

Secondly we have just watched Heno on S4C for Monday 19th via BBC Iplayer about 10 minutes into the programme, and seen the report for the lunch rendezvous. Frankly we didn’t understand much of the dialog but the report was very well produced with some great pictures of all the E Types. Many thanks to those who organised a fantastic lunch and factory tour.

Thirdly it’s a small world in an E Type. We arrived at Blackpool on our third day after a fabulous drive along the welsh coast and through Cheshire and Lancashire. We entered the lounge at the Hilton Hotel for some refreshments and to our total surprise standing on the other side of the room were Geoff and Sheila, friends for many years and fellow participants in the sport of Speed Hillclimbing. Geoff lives in the north and we live in the south and except for one foray to Croft Racing Circuit all our meetings are at Shelsley Walsh not far from the home of the E Type Club. Geoff drives a Triumph TR3A or Cougar Jaguar at the events and I drive a Triumph TR6. The surprise of it all was that I didn’t know that Geoff had an E Type: it must have never come up in conversation!

Thanks once again, sorry we can’t still be with you.

Roger and Sally McEwen

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