By Paul Allen
After the first 12 car this winter being canceled, it was nice to get 7 entries for John Ross’ event, north of the border. It seemed a long way for me to be coming from Kendal, even more so for Tony from Bentham I guess, but we headed up wondering what might lie in store. We were rewarded with a very good slick event, nice and hectic, just how I like them.
We started in Gretna centre and looped up to Springfield via a NAM in a layby. Then after TC1 came the only white of the night. There was only one, but it was over a mile long! luckily, Tony was trying out his new knobbly tyres so this was heaven to him. We passed 2 cars along here alone and then turned south back to go anti-clockwise around Gretna. After Rigg, we approached Kirkpatrick Fleming and found John Ross himself at TC2. We were now 1st car on the road even though we had set off at car 6.
The first clue had been tulips, then grid lines, now we were faced with a CAR herring bone, so where we started it on the map was critical to it’s success. This took us round by Creca to just down the road from Kirtlebridge. Next was a join the dots by passing through a list of spot heights. This took us away up to Waterbeck and back toward Chapelknowe on the B6357.
The roads in Scotland were certainly proving to be just as good as the ones in England. Tight and twisty and only the occasional dog walker. The next clue was to cross grid lines 7 times and one touch. The way it was worded confused some navigators, looking for 7 river crossings or 7 spot heights. The correct route involved a loop to the east before finding a NAM triangle, but this section probably caused more missed codeboards than any other.
The final section was simply 4 grid refs, but they had subtle App and Dep directions that made quite an intricate loop up. We used sections of the old A7 around Canonbie before finishing along a yellow to the south east of Evertown. John Ross was marshalling again at TC7 to collect time cards in and we all headed off to Smithfield for refreshments. It was a windy night with lots of standing water and fallen leaves on the roads. There were also many twigs and even a couple of branches.
Apparently the route hadn’t been more than 9 miles from Gretna as the crow flies all evening. It was a lovely compact route, well thought out and very well organised on the night. We dropped time on 3 sections and were pretty close to our minute on the remainder. A big thanks to John Ross for all his meticulous efforts and the marshals for turning out and getting all controls exactly right.