I ‘stay’ on the Black Isle so when I heard that there would be a northern starting point for the satellite run on 15 April, I thought ‘this one I could join in with’. A couple of enquiries later revealed that ‘north’ meant Montrose. I exchanged a few emails with route planner Anne Howitt about joining at Stanley (Anne kindly responding from Sri Lanka) and in the end decided I’d try to make it to Montrose for the start. I’m glad I made that decision. It was foggy at 7 am on the Black Isle but through Inverness and on the A9 passing Bogbain, the sun came out and stayed out for the rest of the day. I had a glorious drive to the rendezvous via Carrbridge, Grantown, Tomintoul, Cockbridge, Bridge of Gairn, Pass of Ballater, Dinnet & Bridge of Dye.
Typically, as ‘those who travel furthest, arrive first’ as I pulled in to the car park at Charlton Farm the only car there was Anne’s (her every-day as the TD isn’t back on the road yet). Anne & Pam gave me the very well-prepared route book, right up-to-date as a road closure near the Hunting Tower had forced a revision just the day before. Soon we were joined by 4 more MGs and there was the inevitable inspection of cars. Spotting the Airborne badge on Peter’s MGA, a little ex-Service club sprung-up (Garry, Peter’s navigator is ex-Royal Marines and I’m ex-RAF). Charlton Farm was a great starting point – rather quirky but with good coffee and breakfast rolls.
As I didn’t have a navigator, I decided to tag along behind Peter & Garry, not realizing they had their own ideas about a route, but as we went a different way to the rest at the first rounabout, the penny dropped. Somewhere near the turn off to Friockheim, gestures from the MGA indicated I should turn off and leave them (no, not that sort of gesture, more a waiving of arms). This was all very well but I had no idea where on the route I was but salvation was in the rear view mirror when I spotted Iain and Margret’s TF. I waived them past and then stuck on their tail for the rest of the drive. Interestingly, Peter’s MGA appeared in front then disappeared on 2 further occasions before a final join-up so that we arrived at the Hunting Tower hotel in convoy.
The route had been brilliant. Nearly all on quiet, small roads with fabulous scenery. After a very convivial lunch, I took the easy option home of the A9 and clocked-up a total of 312 miles. It was a great first major MG outing of the year and many thanks to Anne for her efforts.
Richard Jenner (MGF)