DERBYSHIRE DALES DRIVE : Sunday 1 June 2014 : by Marie Marriott
The impressive Abbotsholme School near Rocester was chosen for the start, lunch halt and finish of the HRCR Midlands Region’s second Derbyshire Dales Drive, held on Sunday 1 June.
The tour was supported by the school as part of its 125th Anniversary celebrations and what an excellent choice this proved to be.Some 54 cars gathered in the extensive car park on a glittering summer morning and after Signing On and collection of the Road Book and associated paper work, the participants proceeded to the Dining Room to enjoy a first class breakfast. Navigators noted that, instead of the usual tulip diagrams, the road book used descriptive notes. Also, two optional navigational exercises had been sent out with the Final Instructions which, if undertaken, enabled crews to pre-plot major parts of the route.
The first car was flagged away on the Southern Loop at 10.01am, the route passing through quiet, leafy lanes within the Derbyshire Dales area, followed by the lowland farming areas of East and Mid Staffordshire. Masses of flowering hawthorn and wild roses decorated our way. The comprehensive Road Book detailed many points of interest, just a few being Chartley Hall and Castle, built in 1100; Sudbury Hall, built for the Vernon family in 17th century and the huge factories of the internationally renowned JCB company. Crews enjoyed a pleasant coffee break and chat at the welcoming Blythe Inn near Kingstone in what appeared to be a brand new wooden gazebo – lovely on this summer morning. A further 33 miles completed the morning run back to the school for a picnic lunch and more chat within its grounds.
The afternoon’s Northern Loop passed briefly through the Dales once again before heading for the glorious hills of the Staffordshire Moorlands. The scenery here was truly breathtaking, offering distant views into the Trent and Dove valleys, the Peak District, across to Jodrell Bank and on a clear day, the Welsh hills. In the quiet of this incredible area, it is hard to believe that the city of Stoke-on-Trent is but a stone’s throw away. Returning to the lower levels, it was all change. Crowds of people, also enjoying their Sunday, filled the pavements and spilled onto the roads. The many attractions such as Blackbrook Zooological Park, the Tittesworth Water Visitor Centre and the miniature railway at Rudyard, were all doing good business. However, they were not too pre-occupied to ignore our cars, which were much admired. It is always good to see this happening, as we just love showing our cars off, for which, after all, we are merely custodians. The route then returned to quiet lanes again, passing the picturesque ruins of Croxden Abbey. Founded by the Normans in 1088, the abbey is said to be the final resting place of the heart of the infamous King John. Unbelievably, the road at this point was constructed within the bounds of the abbey itself and we must have actually driven up what was the nave. What were the planners thinking of?
Back at the school, crews received a bottle of already cooled” bubbly stuff”, a perfect accompaniment to their eagerly awaited meal. The plentiful barbecue, sufficient to suit all tastes and even the biggest appetites, was followed by an enormous bowl of local strawberries with cream, all bringing this very enjoyable day to an end.The meticulous attention to detail by the organisers and officials resulted in this good value drive being an undisputed success.