The 2010 Lands End Trial
Having had this year's Exeter Trial cancelled due to unusually bad weather and the team Trojan scribe being absent whilst visiting Australia for five weeks during January/February, we only managed one trial as a team this year so far. So having entered this year's Lands End Trial we were looking forward to the event very much.
Then, as things have a habit of doing, Sods or Murphy's Law came into play whilst moving some furniture. I had the misfortune to trip and fall sustaining an injury to my left elbow, which left me unable to drive and so my hopes of driving in the trial were over. I may not have been able to drive my Trojan but there was nothing to stop me navigating as long as I took things carefully. A couple of phone calls and an e-mail to the organisers and I had changed the driver from me to Richard Potter and we decided that I should accompany John Wilton in his car and my brother Phil would go with Richard.
Setting off for the start at Popham Aerodrome at about four thirty on Good Friday afternoon, we had an uneventful journey. Formalities such as scrutineering and signing on completed, we chatted with other competitors and left at our due time of seven twenty for the first stage of the trial which was a run of about ninety six miles incorporating a regularity test en route to the control at Bridgewater in Somerset. Here the cars were checked again and the trial itself started properly.
Departing at our due time of twenty minutes to midnight, we headed off to the first section of the night, 'Fellows Oak', arriving on time at ten minutes to one, a fairly gentle introduction which we climbed easily. Onwards to 'Crook Horn' special test, this should have taken us about fifty minutes but shortly before our arrival Richard's car started running erratically and we had to stop to investigate. After stripping and cleaning the carburettor the engine ran properly again and we set off not before we had lost half an hour from our time schedule and about forty places in the field. Test achieved successfully we headed off to the time control at the 'Culbone Inn' on top of Exmoor.
We left the time control about an hour behind and headed off to 'Beggar's Roost' travelling down Countisbury Hill and through Lynton and Lynmouth; we successfully climbed the hill and made our way through Simonsbath to 'Rodney's Revenge', set deep in Forestry Commission Land. The hill is very steep and slippery and has only been climbed once in a Trojan by John Wilton.
Our first failures of the day, we moved onto 'Cutliffe Lane', another steep and slippery track. Although we both had a very creditable climb, it wasn't quite good enough, much to our disappointment. Exiting the woods, we had slipped another half hour behind and it was twenty miles to the next section.
Arriving at our next hill which is Sutcombe, our spirits were lifted as we both cleared the section, stopping at the top for a cup of tea and piece of cake, kindly laid on by the local villagers.
Off next to Darracot in deepest rural Devon, the hill has a left and a right handed hairpin on the way up and can be quite deceptive initially but once you're going well it's usually climbed by most competitors. Both successful here, we headed off to the control at Widemouth Bay. By now having done 260 miles since leaving Popham, on leaving the control at Widemouth Bay, we took the glorious coast road along to our next section which was 'Crackington Haven'. This is a long, fairly steep climb starting in a ford, the last hundred yards of the climb is usually spiked pretty badly with a large bowser of water or even worse, animal slurry from the local farmer creating great amusement for the locals as they watch the cars struggle to claw their way through the mire. This year things didn't seem too bad, perhaps we had had enough rain to make things wet enough. In the normal course of events we don't manage to climb the section, running out of power close to the end of the section; this year success for both of us much to our delight.
We set off for 'Wilsey Down' straight into another heavy shower of rain looking like a wet afternoon. Here we have a rest halt for one hour and a chance to check the car, do some gearbox oils and get a meal. This year we had a noise test, making sure that we weren't causing a nuisance as we travelled around the countryside. Both Trojans just passed, creeping in at 98 decibels, the limit was 100.
Another twenty miles or so and we were in Bodmin heading for the Forestry Commission land at 'Cardinham Woods'. We successfully climbed our next section which was 'Warleggan', a very rough lane with plenty of loose rocks and boulders. Further into the woods we tackled a hill called 'Ladyvale', fairly steep but lots of grip available, successful here once again.
Still further on in the woods we came to 'Hoskins Hill', steep and normally very slippery. In most previous years we have only managed to climb about halfway up due to the lack of available grip. The heavy rain of the previous few weeks and the rain during the trial had washed the track back to bed rock and we both cleared the hill, the Trojans hauling themselves slowly to the top, another unexpected success.
Leaving the woods behind we headed off into deepest Cornwall for another fifteen miles towards Padstow and a special test and a section at 'Bishops Wood', we were both successful here and things were looking good for a bronze award, having only failed two hills and knowing that we were capable of success on the remaining two hills.
Heading out on the A39 we had twenty five miles to do before reaching 'Perranporth' and our route check. By this time we were about three and a half hours behind our scheduled time, we had another enforced stop as we left 'Bishops Wood' to change the dynamo on John's car. Having been caught out previously, I carry a spare in case of emergencies, as good as the electrical systems are, one must remember the equipment is over eighty years old.
We duly arrived at the last two sections at the beautiful and scenic 'Blue Hills Mine' overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The first section is a little diversion from the track and up a steep cobbled gateway, catching out many weary trialists. Section two is from the base of the valley and up a steep cliff track to the summit on the far side of the mine area. As previously mentioned both Trojans usually manage to get to the top. This year however, the upper reaches of the hill were muddy whereas normally things would be dry and stony up to the restart box, from then on things were impossibly muddy and needless to say we failed in our attempts dashing our hopes of a bronze medal.
Not too disheartened, we set off for the finish at Scorrier near Redruth, signed off and prepared ourselves for the fifty mile drive back to 'Launceston' and our own bed and breakfast for the night arriving at eight thirty Saturday evening. After about twenty eight hours driving and about four hundred and fifty miles we could finally relax before our return trip of around one hundred and eighty miles on Sunday. Looking forward to next year's Land's End Trial and flying the Trojan flag once again.