Trekkers Diary - John O'Groats
The Trekkers have now completed their Lands End to John O'Groats run, read all about it here at www.vapormatic.com
The Tractor Trekkers have now completed their marathon Lands End to John O'Groats tractor run!
"After another night in a hotel kindly sponsored by Davy, we were picked up by Alistair and taken for another brief tour of his tractor shed while we let the rush hour traffic die down, they definitely would not be prepared for us at 14 mph!! Leaving the farm, with waterproofs on, water was going to play a big part in our day, crossing over the Forth Road Bridge which spans the Firth of Forth being one, and the rain falling being the other.
"What a spectacular drive over the bridge, pity for the rain as it did spoil the views a little but nevertheless was a fantastic experience; 600 ft tall are the bridge stanchions but we were told of the deterioration of the wire ropes, which suspend the bridge and will not last forever. Well it had to come sometime really, all the rain, feels like all at once, lashing against our faces and flicking up from our front wheels.
"As we climbed up through Dunfermaline towards Knockhill race track and out into the hills the rain stopped enabling the birds of prey swirling above our heads to spot their next meal. Another couple stopped us telling how they were following our progress in the Tractor and Machinery magazine and by chance spotted us and gave us a donation. As we arrive near to our stop over we pass a wet Gleneagles Golf Course and lots of wet golfers - are they thinking the same as us as we ride past - who is the daftest to be out in this weather?!
"Well we arrived safely, fuelled up and did our other usual routine checks before having tea then meeting the Perth Tractor Club. We were kindly presented with a cheque for our chosen charities then some photo's to accompany the donation. Well, a good days drive ahead tomorrow which should take us up towards Inverness nearing completion of our run.
"After our night in a hotel, a change from the caravan which was welcoming, we met up with the guy's again who were raring to go escorting us onward and upward. The meeting point today for another handover was the Mosspaul café located on the A7, where we met Davy Jamieson and lads from the Borders Vintage Club. A cheque was presented to us from the members just showing the continued support for our charities.
"Having not known the Canonbie guy's for long it was soon established in our departure that we had made a big impact on the club's members and likewise with ourselves, people like this are friends for life and people that make a difference to society. So, with a cheer and a wave we were off again accompanied by a Leyland and MF135 trundling along (that's what tractors do best!), heading into some lovely scenery that has captured the eyes and thoughts of many an artist and poet. Still no rain, the forecast was for showers coming in at about 2pm; "Murphy's law" we were told, bring a tractor with a cab or wear waterproofs and it'll not rain, true it was!
"Arriving in good time at Edinburgh the night's schedule unfolded. First was the job of refuelling the tractors, greasing and general maintenance. Lee changed the oil in the Allis as paraffin over a period of time gets into the sump and reduces the efficiency of the oil. Off for tea where we met Alistair Robertson who advised us to get the tractors along the busy city bypass later that night, closer to the following day's drive over the Forth Road Bridge. We got wet! Yes we really did this time, spray from the lorries and cars moving at 14mph along the still busy bypass at 8pm -I think they were surprised to see us, and also a surprise form a gentleman who stopped and passed a donation in a layby. The nations generosity goes on. All parked up safely for the night, tucked away in a dry corn shed, we went back to see Alistair's excellent tractor collection. Another memorable day full of excitement from the friendship's we made and there encouragement and enthusiasm for us."
"Leaving Kendal heading towards Shap; ok, people rave about how notorious the hill is and how many lorries in years gone by it has killed off. Were we worried? Nah, our tractors just soaked the hill up while we soaked up the scenery and collected photographs of our journey. The weather was fantastic; warm and sunny, great for us two guys without cabs. After getting nearer to Penrith, the village of Clifton appeared and also the layby where we met up with the Eden Valley Tractor boys. I'll call 'em boys, they'll like that!
"After some photo's from the press handing over money raised for the charities it was off for breakfast. A lovely campsite located in amongst a forest, complete with red squirrels; very rarely seen these days. The lad's and their tractor's escorted us up the A6 through Penrith then reaching Carlisle where we met the Canonbie Tractor lad's for our handover. What an occasion. A layby full of tractors and friendly faces greeting us with a welcoming handshake that needed no words.
"After a 'bit of banter' between the two club's members, we were on our way being escorted again towards the border. What a pleasant surprise to find on the border, all arranged by the club, a Bagpiper piping and welcoming us into Scotland. We felt like royals for a moment. Another photo opportunity and a chance to speak to the members about all sorts of things, including Lee G, who couldn't help himself but ask "is it true about men in kilts?" The answer and physical response Lee got definitely made things clear!
"So, back onto the road we go, A7 this time leading us to Canonbie for our stopover in the Cross Keys Hotel sponsored by the club members and hotel itself. Then came the night time with both club's, the Eden Valley boys got "day tickets" across the border to join us for a fantastic meal and presentation of monies raised for the charities. From meeting the all guy's today we were quite overwhelmed with the support and enthusiasm that the tractor fellowship has. A few more beer's and stories of old had taken us to the end of another day and memories never to be forgotten."
"Now, there's not many journey's made where you leave your loved one's twice, but we did as we set off today from our stop over with them. Calling in at John Bownes' for a quick photo shoot, then heading towards Warrington, our first major town through the section of busy areas to negotiate. Getting further north, the road signs seem to improve, following the A49 for Newton-le-Willows and Wigan.
"We pulled up to let some traffic past and we met two other lads on push bike's who are also going from end to end, so after a quick chat we were on our way. Then it was up to Preston picking up the A6 for our journey further north. Just south of Garstang we had a phone call from a chap who wanted to meet up with us. So in a layby we met, little did we know that he wanted to take us for a roast dinner! Off to the pub we went, cracking dinner, but all we wanted to do after was sleep!
"The weather has turned for the worst, the wind has got up, keeping the rain off, until we got up near our further than planned overnight stop just north of Kendal. Only a very short drive to our meeting point in the morning at Penrith to meet George Braylock and members of the Eden Valley Tractor club. Just hope the weather picks up as it would spoil the occasion and then the onward journey to meet for our busy schedule to meet Peter Hannah and the Cannonbie Vintage Tractor Club."
"Well a surprise for one and all! Some say we cheated a little, we say we took advantage of the dry night! Last night at Harper Adam's we had heard the threat of wet weather was coming in Saturday, and the bar was shut! So, with a dry night, we headed off for our Saturday drive to Spreadwise near Nantwich which was only 20 miles away. Could we find a chip shop in Nantwich? The answer is no! We drove round looking for some supper, lots to see in the way of young adults out on the town wearing belts (skirts apparently), but still no chip shop!
"After tearing round to and fro, stopping by at an agricultural dealers with a vintage tractor in the show room, we found a burger shop. By this time it was 10.00pm, finally landing at the stop over with full lights on at 10.45pm!
"Woken this morning by pouring rain at 6.30, was quite pleasing to think the weather man had predicted right this time and we had made the most of the dry the night before, plus the opportunity of a lie in until 8.00 was even more appealing. Family and friends started to arrive at 9.30 to join us for a trip to John Bownes' who now owns all the Roadless tractor spares. We were made very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed our tour looking at his collection.
"More friends and family arrived later this evening for a barbecue and general catch up as the location is very close to home. It's been a wet day here but luckily we had the facilities of an empty barn to house our little party in. A few beers later, then a few more, and the odd piece of left over chocolate cake too for our balanced diet! 400 mile's done so far, so only about another 550 to go according to our plan."
"Another bright sunny morning, with a heavy dew mind; we wonder how long we can go without seeing any rain if anyone is willing to bet! Leaving Birdlip at 8.00am, yes, there is a place called Birdlip, and no, we didn't see any, we headed north west over towards Gloucester itself, then moving north up to Malvern taking breathtaking scenery on the way.
"Lot's more impatient drivers today, is it because it's Friday we wonder, or just the fact it's two slow old tractors holding them up and it's an excuse to press their horn in road rage! Tractors are still going extremely well so far, even though towing the trailer and caravan up some of the hills can be challenging, its a real credit to the tractors and their makers as to how these old machines were just built to last.
"We arrived in good time again, 4pm to be precise, at our stop over in Shropshire's Harper Adam's University Farm. We have estimated that a few more miles have been done today, our starting point being slightly different from our original planned stop. But, when the opportunity of a friendly stop over at a like minded enthusiasts farm arises, it would be a great shame to miss. Well, we're all fuelled and greased up ready for tomorrow, the weekend!"
"Woke up to a glorious morning in the surroundings of the school, had rain in the night but soon dried up. Had breakfast then a final photo shoot with the principle, Mr Lloyd, who took some notes to present a small speech to pupils in assembly. Off we set at 8.15; Bridgewater, Burnham on sea, up over the Mendips through Chedder and then the notorious job of navigating around Bristol. Now, either somebody has removed the signs for scrap or we just found that once in Bristol the A38 signs disappeared!!
"After passing underneath the Clifton suspension bridge we had a steep climb up past Bristol zoo, then steadily worked our way around the outer ring road following our noses! What a surprise we had when a car driver pull up, jumped out, (at this point we thought "another irate motorist speaking his mind" but no), a gentleman thrust, wait for it, a handful of change and said well done!
"After about another 5 miles heading out of Bristol we pulled over in a layby to let some traffic past, when a chap came talking to us and offered to buy us a sandwich for the marvellous job we were doing. We also had a couple more people donate in the bucket (loose change of course) to add to our total. Sun still shining and making excellent progress we arrived early at our next meeting point to be guided into our overnight stay.
"Through Stroud and into the Cotswolds we found some glorious scenery and hills to match. We arrived at Dave and Edith Hannis' with the warmest welcome at 3.30pm for the night. They also own a Allis Chalmers tractor which did Land's End to John O'Groats in the 70's, so was a nice occasion to have the two tractors together. We fuelled, greased and checked over the tractors to prepare for the following, Day 4."
"Left Jethro's club at 7.30 this morning, waterproofs on as the weather was threatening already. Climbing steadily up towards Okehampton to join the A30 again, Lee G pulls in to report that the fan belt was slipping on his tractor, thus losing cooling efficiency in the radiator and making it boil up on the hills. After a little tinkering, like you do, we were soon on our way again.
"Joining the A30 the sign posts reading 42 mile's to Exeter for our visit to the Vapormatic company who have sponsored us many parts, making the trip possible. Also the chance to shake our donation buckets around the offices proved to be very generous from the employees! Also greeting us at the head office was Richard Sivil [Marketing Manager] and his crew along with Bill Vellacott who helps with the BOAT charity and other members of the East Devon Vintage Tractor Club. To our surprise Ben Wright [Marketing Assistant] in marketing had got the local media there to take photos and do his report in the local Exeter Express and Echo.
"After a tour of the premises and an insight into the business we had a quick bite to eat, then after our 3 hour visit hit the road for our journey to Brymore school near Bridgewater. Arrived at Brymore at 6.00 pm to a warm welcome from students and lecturers, who helped us to refuel the tractors and ask any questions about two old relics... and then they wanted to know a bit about the tractors too! We're both raring to go and start day 3, still enjoying the scenery and driving our tractor's ever closer to reaching our destination in 11 day's time."
"Up at 6.30, breakfast for 7, and then final checks and good bye's to loved one's. 8.45: we leave on the 1st leg of our epic adventure!
What a great journey, the miles seemed to fly by, Launceston on the sign posts being the one catching our eye most as is near to Jethro's at Lewdown for our stop over. The sun followed us for most of the journey but only the odd light rain shower dared to come near us. As I sit and write this the heavens have opened; fingers crossed it'll clear up for the next leg tomorrow!"
"Left the yard bright and early, 4.00am to be precise, heading south west away from the rising sun. Great journey down, little traffic allowed us to make good time. Had trouble finding fuel for the lorry due to the recent drivers strike, but managed to get sorted before the needle was off the red!
"Got the tractors off-loaded and met local tractor club lads from St Buryan. Made us very welcome and came with all sorts of different makes of tractor to help see us off from Lands End after the photo session."