By Eric & Linda Ritchie
10am on Sunday morning 6th of September, saw us in our 1960 Austin Healey Sprite on the M74 heading North. Nothing ahead of us on the road, and one car approaching very fast from behind. Mind you when you are 65 in a 55 year old car doing 45, everything around you is fast! Four Eddie Stobbart trucks, one caravan and a car heading South, so clearly the M6 is going to have congestion problems soon. “Gosh, “ said Linda, “the motorway is busy this morning!”.
There is not a cloud in the late summer sky. Certainly the best day of September, and arguably one of the best days of our Cumbrian summer. Helen’s day of prayer yesterday obviously worked a treat. Gretna at 10.20 and we were the first in the car park. A few minutes later, Helen and Nigel arrived, minus Geoffrey (working on his car)……. Followed by Kool Kenton in his Speedo’s……and the entire Lindsay family, sadly minus Barry (also working on his car)……… Rossi minus Christine who was checking out the last of the 100 overnight guests from Surrone House……and finally Clive, who added an amazing “Italian Job” presence with his immaculate and original left hand drive Alfa.
I’m not quite sure why, but Linda and I were chosen to lead away the “Run to the Sea”. Perhaps it was because the following pack wanted to chill on the wafts of Castrol R40 from the Froggie. Helen’s comprehensive road book had the reassuring comment that if you get lost please call her! I don’t think we had mobile reception for more than 300 yards after our Gretna start during the entire journey! We cruised through Rigg, Eastriggs, Annan, Cummertrees, and Bankend and eventually arrived in Glencaple, and our half way halt at the tea room on the harbour. I say harbour, as there was a derelict boat berthed, and apparently being used as a 365 day holiday home by seaside squatters!
The lovely tea room was bursting with cyclists and visitors. John and Christine seemed to be the couple to team up with, as the owners obviously knew them, and gave them a hearty greeting. Carrot cake, green tea, more cake and some home-made caramel shortbread added a few pounds of ballast to the Frogeye before we set off towards Dumfries. However, as we had been leading the event for 25 miles, it was time to pass the pathfinder route on to John and Christine.
We had completely lost Clive and the Alfa who was last reported as having diverted for fuel. No phone signal meant that we moved on “Cliveless”.
The sun was bursting the sky and according to those who had 21st century cars with gauges and gadgets, the temperature was approaching the 20 degree mark. I knew it was getting hot, as three hours of constant wind buffeting was giving me the first symptoms of Frogeye Forehead. It became a bit harder for Linda and I to keep up with Rossi and the Lindsay family Audi, as the average speed has risen to almost 48mph. Or was that the oil pressure gauge I was reading?
Dumfries passed in a flash and we crossed over the River Nith on a bridge. Something of a novelty for those more accustomed to 12 car rallies plunging through Sleetbeck Ford at daft o’clock. Relentlessly on through New Abbey and the romantically named Sweetheart Abbey. Helen’s comprehensive road-book told us that the abbey was built in 1273 by Lady Dervorgilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John Balliol. Try finding that kind of detail in the Pirelli road-book.
Our next instructions were succinct and simple. TURN LEFT Sp: Southerness. We had arrived. Remove bucket and spade from the boot……”Run to the Sea”.
Southerness lighthouse beckoned us to climb the steps, and there were many and steep steps, to take in the fantastic views along the Solway coast. We could see from Whitehaven to Port Carlisle and lots in between. The stunning September sun on the Solway was spectacular. Clive joined us in the Alfa. We were a full team again.
I think it was the Lindsay family who started it all, and Mike was undoubtedly the ringleader. We started with a long jump competition! The over 60 club were doing quite well until the ultra-Kool Kompetitive Kenton came along and blasted our best efforts into the late afternoon sun. Christine led the ladies challenge; well she was the only lady daft enough to enter, whilst Helen appeared to take great delight in taking photographs of our insanities. What followed the long jump was a form of curling, but without ice and curling stones. We threw stones into a circle! Why, I don’t know! Then came the boy’s highlight of the afternoon with beach football. I was carried off in a stretcher whilst the next generation of mega competitive sporting Lindsay’s eventually brought John, Kool Kompetitive Kenton and Mike to their knees.
We all enjoyed Helen’s alfresco late lunch on the beach and gradually gathered our faculties together again.
It was decided that as we were having such a ball (no pun intended) that we would drive along the coast to Rockcliffe. However, before we set off on our next adventure, a photo shoot took place in the car park with two very excited pretty young Polish girls who did some selfies in my Frogeye, (photographs that is for those of you racing ahead). Clive was gutted, as the girls didn’t even appear notice his stunning green Alfa. Sorry Clive, but it just goes to prove that small is often more attractive! John, Clive and I drove off leaving the rest of the entourage filling their faces with ice cream!
Rockcliffe was an inspired choice for the end of an incredible day. The tide was fully out, and the beach was bathed in the falling afternoon sunlight. Ice cream for the breakaway group courtesy of John and Christine. However, Kenton, Helen, and Nigel followed and gorged themselves on even more ice cream. (In our defence it was a “Mr Whippy”! –Helen)
We said our fond farewells and headed home. The Frogeye was running on fresh air and John and Christine followed us as tail gunners to Castle Douglas to refuel. £24 to fill the tank and we cruised home to Aglionby.
A Great Drive; Great Company; and absolutely Great Fun.
A huge thank you to Helen and Nigel for organising such a great “feel good” day.
Where are we going next year Helen?