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RIBBLEHEAD SAFARI 1977

 

Last year Ribblehead Safari was a gentle, albeit at times a little slippery, truck across snow covered moors, the ground all white and

nearly crisp.  This year it was the same apart from no snow, foul weather, a rough track and mud,?

 

In retrospect it wasn't the same at all it was a gooey mess with nasty diff and exhaust catching rocks.

 

The start was at ll-30am, but in my own mind I had a firm conviction that it said in Bottom Box 10-30am  (who reads Bottom Box anyway) so, from the nether hinterland of Lancashire I surfaced from between the sheets, horsehair of course, to the sounds of gas lamps going out with a gentle plop,  the tram in the distance and the smell of the night shift tub cleaner walking home, his clog irons still muffled by spoil.  Loading the flagship (that's what I call my Landie) onto the trailer. I could easily visualize the day ahead.  It was pouring down with rain, in bucket-fulls, horizontal ones, as if they had been thrown by Beaglies mate- Grape Ape and, it was cold.  However the journey to the saturated start was made safely, the only thing going wrong being that the sun shone through a gap in the clouds for about 0.05 seconds.  It was going to be a glorious day.'

 

The car park at Horton was getting a trifle full by 11-30 with decent, honest, hardworking Landies surrounding (and at times gently nudging)

other funny shaped vehicles which didn't look as though they could move in 3" of snow.  Never mind a peat bog or river bed.  So we got away, about forty Landies, a glorious sight, one that gladdens!.

 

All good looking motors with cabs, lights, heaters, radios, taxed and tested, me, I was very cold and wet with only a bit of PVC stretched over my head.  (Thinks - who makes umbrella's for Landies?). Talking about the start though, thanks are due to the farmer who let us use his land to get up to the moor.  The amount of water flowing past our usual way onto the moor had to be seen to be believed.  Even those Bedford 4X4's would have had to turn more than their wipers on.  Landies would have been on, in, and under the creek without a

paddle.

 

There isn't much that can be said about the trip across the moor, well, how would you describe a Sunday drive, stopping in a queue of traffic

every half mile or so with the motorway across the tops in a terrible state of repair  (well  there aren't so many rate payers up there- so fair do’s).

I think that Ted's (Hartley) Landie was the first to cease to function, with his fan deciding to lift and seperate, and to have a look round under the bonnet.  It must have been fed up of staying where it was, going round in circles.  But it is unfair to speak of just one motor coming to a halt, others did as well, even with bits dropping off (if the owner of the rear box and tail would like to contact me - ring Rochdale (0706) 30200 and I've got it.  If he doesn’t I'll still bring it to meetings under my Landie, keeping it warm from the inside.  There was only one tricky bit to the event (please note Carl - JUST ONE?)  crossing a gully, deeply rutted afterwards, on the right, but with 750 tyres, a heavy right boot and keeping to the left it was passable.  The rest of the track was alright, but in places very rough and hard on springs and shock absorbers.

 

One thing that does deserve a mention was the black/brown horse in the field on the right as you left the track and got onto the Hawes road. It was originally gamboling merrily where John Lister parked up to mark the track and eat his butties. We had ours there and were then joined by this frisky beast. When we set off Hi-Ho silver wagons roll etc) the horse was inclined to follow when we stopped it stopped, when we went fast it galloped, when we went slowly it walked.

 

If you've looked at the picture in the back of last Bottom Box (Nov 77) close enough it may help you to know why I was so worried about my black/brown mud covered Landie, I don’t want to loin that branch of the mounties) For 4 miles (on the map- 9 on my speedo) it kept us company, it even beat me down to the road, leading (or was it towing) Carl (Amos) into Hawes before being impounded.

 

Quite a few of us managed to 'quaff a gill or two' at lunch time, most people then moving off home after having, I hope, had a very enjoyable truck across the moor tops. Myself and a few more were persuaded to return the way we came and it was then, that for me the problems started. Returning along the track to where the moors start to open up a little bit of mud overlaying rock caused problems to the Landies shod with RK3's and TM's and we were brought to a halt while they cleared the track. Ted Hartley of the flyaway fan fame tried to get up and mingle with them but too much application when a rear wheel hit a grip-able rock caused a halfshaft failure oh dear oh dear; I tried as well oh dear oh dear;

 

Anyway the Ribblehead Safari (return) finished for us with Ted towing me- I'm not road legal-back to the start. That was another tale-which I am not going to tell, suffice it to say that if he ever offers you a tow, break off his high-low gear change in low, have a long tow rope and make sure that his clutch will let him change into a lower gear than 4th, top box.

Strewth; it was quick.'

 

Dicky Day.

 

A Tale of Five Tykes  (OR how we nearly won the Weavers 100)

 

November 25th 1977, 10-30pm, Ml Motorway, temperature the wrong side of zero, 8)4 litres of turbocharged Dutch diesel slows down behind a Land Rover and caravan and Range Rover, "Looks like we got us a convey" said driver in best Yankee drawl, (None of yer actual plastic chicken here;') and being a flash sod he overtook in a blast of air horns and flashing lights, the only reaction to this manoeuvre being one very eloquent and obscene gesture from the driver of the Land Rover, none other than Mr Millington our club chairman.

 

Thus it was that for the next couple of hours Neil, Harry and Linda towing large mobile home, and Johnathan Oldfield running Dave Simmonites Range Rover solo, chewed diesel smoke following a forty foot outfit carrying John Wrights Range Rover, Dave Rae’s Lightweight end my own Series 11.

 

All was going well as we hit the North Circular at London, Neil, carrying ace navigator Harry Haigh (complete with 24 maps and wife Linda for reading the big words) slipped into the lead with the Rangey on his tail and myself bringing up the rear just as arranged, I'd had the upper hand on the Ml but now Neil came into his own, drifting the (my) caravan round roundabouts, muscling in on double deckers and generally rushing in where Angels fear to tread. Luckily he didn't have the satisfaction of being in the cab with me swearing and cursing as I crashed and crunched my way through 9 or 10 gears and attempted to keep the  trailer wheels from playing footsie with pedestrians toes.

 

He eventually slowed the pace a little and enabled me to relax. We were just about to get on a motorway when Johnathan and Range Rover came to a halt, I pulled up behind and Land Rover, caravan and maps hurtled on into the night to be swallowed up by the rushing motorway traffic, A minor problem with the RR was soon rectified and we were ready to go, the burning question of course being, where's our pathfinder? It was decided by an unanimous vote of four that, 'He who never uses mirrors' had in fact scarpered.

 

A quick scout round the cab produced a 1963 map, price one shilling and six pence would you believe it? and with this out dated route finder and Nick White attempting to point me onto the Black bits, we set off

 

Two hours later, deep in the Hampshire country side, on a narrow, winding tree lined lane the squirrels watched as a red Range Rover reversed slowly, followed by a large wagon in order that they might make yet another missed turning. White line running was the order of the night as the trees were starting to close in and John Wrights Range Rover happened to be the first in line for decapitation by any unusually low branches, while tiny hamlets were awoken by air brakes as we stopped and pondered over another sign post by the time we finally reached Weaversdown the temperature was well below freezing, a clear night, bright moon and sparkling frost, magical it was Caravan party had already landed, but true to form occupants were all organised ...  ... hard asleep.', I haven't time to go into the terrible

scene that followed, the recriminations and the swearing the accusations and lies . . and that was only me.'

 

There must be at least 40 acres of land on the camp site at Weavers, but needless to say when the legions of the AWDC landed to mark out on Saturday morning they decided that we had camped up on the start line so we were moved, chuntering something chronic, to another site, I think they were shocked at finding 4 fifths of Team Pennine wandering about looking human at that time of the morning that they gave us the task as a kind of intelligence test to see if it really was us,

Richard Beddall and 3ohn Hilton were behind it all. We got ourselves indecently well organised for the early start the following morning, then all 7 of us piled into   the, "Pennine Land Rover Club Number One in Europe", flagship and cruised off to see the sights the sailors see at Portsmouth and Southampton. HMS Victory will never be quite the same again.'

 

And so to the events, a 10 mile comp safari round Weaversdown to be done 10 times starting at the unbelievable time of 5-Oam (yes I thought that time only happened once a day too') Better still scrutineering started at 3-30. Insomniacs had a head start on this event'

The cold had to be felt to be believed, even nipping behind a bush to answer natures call was fraught with danger.' .

 

The 'Team Tyke' entries were, John Wright in his Range Rover and Graham Cockell in the eighty with of course 'Ratman and Bobbin' as navigators, or handicaps depending on your point of view Dave Rae and Paul Harqreaves in Daves turb-charged 2 1/ 4 Lightweight,Johnathan Oldfield and Margaret Hartley entered Dave Simmonites Rangey and Myself and 'Arry in my Series 11.

 

Bang on 5am the first one was away in a blaze of quartz halogen and wheelspin The butterflies were starting already. I've had a hankering to do a comp safari in the dark though 'Arry wasn’t as enthusiastic as me (surprise, surprise;) and there was also the fact that I wanted to try my sooper dooper spot-lamps. We pulled on the start line accompanied by many corny cracks from one of our old sparring partners the mighty Paul Doliin who was doing a fine commentary of the proceedings. (He's such a celebrity now, appearing in many famous magazines, that it won't be long before he's actually charg ing to come and insult you')

 

3,2,1...,. up comes the clutch, down goes the the 'go' pedal out goes the half shaft My description of that half shaft involved doing something unnatural  with it to whoever had made the damn thing. This however didn t help forward movement at all, so I plopped it into 4 wheel drive and carried on, for all of a mile  The first hill we encountered was impossible for something as heavy as Land Rover without 4 wd. So bitterly disappointed and teaching  ‘Arry new words constantly we tried to return to the start only to get stuck on a deep sandy track.

 

There was nothing for it but to leg it back to the start and fetch Millington & White (no there not a new singing pitman duo.' ) tackle box and spares. So it was that November 27th at 5-40am found the 4 of us removing a rear diff, up to our mufflers in sand, it soon became obvious that the diff would have to be stripped down to get the broken lump of shaft out,.  Dischuffed to the knickers we were, by the time we had stripped and rebuilt the diff on the tail board of the Landy, mutiny was beginning to show in the ranks and enthusiasm was definitely waning, volunteers to crawl underneath in the frozen oil covered sand to refit the diff were not forthcoming so I got on with it.

 

About 6-45 and we were mobile again with a new half shaft lubricated by a mixture of sand and Duckhams 20/50  and the diff lockwired with electrical cable  (I don't need to say that it's still in and as quiet as a clockwork orange.) and I never did get to use those bloody spotlamps; All we could hope for now was to get on with it and hope that some of the others would get a maximum.  The course was, according to the All Wheel Driver, and I quote, "Not extremely arduous and no deep water sections will be included" I would love to know John Hilton's definition of arduous, not that I'm knocking the course, it was great, but you'd only to look at the bent motors and cream-crackered crews to realise that it wasn't a picnic?   Apart from the usual Land Rovers end Range Rovers there was a Commer 4wd wagon, which did go round much to my suprise, and the usual collection of buggies which expired at the usual rapid rate   Dave Ray and Graham Cockell both had to drop out before they had completed their ten runs, and Johnathan Oldfield managed to lose a rear coil spring somewhere along the way. Not that it held hin up to any great extent !!.

 

Memories are many and varied, like passing Graham Cockell looking -under the bonnet mystified, coming round a corner into a narrow gully to find arch rivals from the AWDC deliberately blocking our path by putting their lightweight on it’s side, hanging on to the tail of a certain Range Rover for a couple of miles and nearly having heart failure at the reaction caused by a timing error which gave us the fastest run of the day, the crew of the aforementioned Range Rover nearly bursting a gut to get to the control caravan to sort it out , still, it did feel nice while it lasted!

Seeing the Commer wagon leaping about the course was a sight to remember, the constant banter with Paul Dollin, watching 'Arry's face as he toiled back up the hill after running all the way back to the start in order to raid Neil's motor of e much needed hub end..If he hadn't been so kn... I mean tired...he'd have showed me exactly where to put it?

The feeling as the day wore on that the course was now at least 15 miles long, the harness straps chafing already sore shoulders on the 9th run, the frustration of having to do en extra run because some prize clown had forgotten to time you through the finish line and then the final satisfying exhausted feeling as you cross the finish line for the last time. You sit there relishing the silence and comfort, eyes half closed, your ace navigator sucking the end of his pencil for comfort while watching various people come to reclaim bits of Land Rover purloined off them during the day. Suddenly you realise that you’re the wrong end of England and before the day is over there's a 240 mile trek back 'Up North' so you stir your stumps and proceed to load the trailer while Beddall & Co attempt to bring some semblance of order to the results,'

 

John Wright, as always, had done very well with his usual flair for keeping it all together and in the right direction. He was pipped for first place by Alvin Smith which left John with second in class and second overall, Johnathan Oldfield came a very respectable 5th overall with his first outing in a Range Rover and a borrowed one to boot, the only trouble is the lads now got a liking for it!. David Rae and Graham Cockell both had to retire and although we finished it was in a position I find too painful to relate here.

 

By about 6-30 the Pennine convoy was cleared for take off, so with a final farewell and thanks to the lads we set course for home. A mile later  we were parked up again looking at a Range Rover engine with no oil pressure,' Various suggestions were made as to the next course of action, some were even sensible' The only course left to us eventually however, was to leave it there and Johnathan had to return the day after with a trailer.

 

Fog greeted us on the Ml just to help us on our weary and it was a hollow eyed yawning bunch of Penninites who exploded on Mirfield in the early hours of Monday morning  ...  ........  , . I bet they'd all go again though;

 

Thanks to the AWDC for a damn good event, well worth the travel and effort, P.S.  (You see Richard, you can get Weavers right if you REALLY try!

 

 
 
MSA and ARC club members are welcome to come along and join our events. Phone Mark on 07866 506521 / 01282 703718

 

 

Pennine Land Rover Club, Pennine LRC