Saturday, July 26, 2014

Off the pavement across Britain by Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield Works Replica trials motorcycle crosses a ford.
Part II

Graham Lampkin continues his story of riding a 1959 Royal Enfield across England and Scotland — as much as possible off paved roads — to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Inspired? It's easy to contribute in honor of his effort. Here's his story:

"After nearly 10 months of gestation, the start date was upon us. The other two guys stayed at our house the night before so that we could get an early-ish start. At 8 a.m prompt we were at Watery Lane, Colne, where the stream and the lane become one for 100 yards. In the drizzly rain, the Evening Telegraph photographer took the official start pictures and luckily couldn’t find the stream, 'cos I slipped and fell.

"Glad to get that behind me, we carried swiftly on, Les riding along with me and Frank driving the back-up van.

"Another ford and some quiet country lanes got us to Salter Fell, one of the longer un-surfaced roads on the route. No problems, especially if you don’t count the large bull at the far end who agreed to let us pass through his farm.

"It was now dry. We made good progress through the Dales on quiet lanes, through lovely countryside. We met the van for early lunch at a temperance inn — very nice, try the rabbit pie! The road was full of travellers going to Appleby Fair with their horses and we had to take care passing them.

"Ravenstonedale with a small unsurfaced track, Ravenstonedale Moor (not bad at all, but fun), Orton, the Bank Head track to Crosby Ravensworth (as smooth as any jazz quartet but with a filthy look from a lorry driver on the last bit), into Temple Sowerby for Frank and Les to swap driving the van/riding with me. Re-fuel and off again.

"Track (wide, straight and good surface), Gamblesby followed by a really bad track (narrow, very deeply rutted, nowhere to put feet), Renwick, more track at Cunrew (poor tarmac and across fields with gates to open and close), Brampton, Bewcastle, another track (good going), two fords and forestry track to Newcastleton for Night 1.

"Where did the day go?

"Day 2. We started northward again, in the rain, Frank with me on the B40 and Les in the van. We took a minor road across by Hermitage Castle, up A7 into forestry. After a logging wagon driver sent us in the right direction we carried on into the forest. A forester, on hearing the bikes, chased after us in a Land Rover. As the rain ran down our necks, he just wanted to talk about old British bikes. He obviously didn’t meet many like minds in his neck of the woods (pun intended). Eventually we made our excuses and carried on through the forest — it would have been great on a good day!

"Onto a B road, diverted by a road closure, we used another track to the A708. Off piste, we went over a large hill across private land on to a private road, to meet the van for lunch at Broughton. By now Frank and I were very wet and cold. Frank got changed into dry clothes, I went in to the cafe where a puddle formed on the floor around me.

"During lunch we talked to local customers, some of whom made donations to the cause, as did the management of the Laurel Bank Cafe. Wow, this and a good lunch made it worthwhile.

"After being warmed by a good food and changed into dry clothes, I was ready for the afternoon. The next part wasn’t worth anyone else braving the weather, so I continued alone. Boy, how it rained. All day.

"Biggar, Carnwarth and C roads to Forth Road Bridge, up minor roads and a length of forest track to Bridge of Earn for Night 2. I just carried on until I got there without thinking too much. A hot bath, a good meal and a night's sleep sorted it all out. What a long day!

"The next morning was dry; the proprietor of the B&B donated some of his income from us to the charity.

"All bode well for Day 3. We were now in an area with few tracks, and the Forestry Commission District office weren’t as keen on old fellas on old bikes playing at Last of the Summer Wine. Les was on little tigger (the Tiger Cub), and it did well. Frank was in the van.

"Just after starting, Les and I rode a stretch of forest track that had established public right of way; typical forest track with some large wet depressions. Soon after we were stopped on a minor road by a farmer. He asked us to park up while they drove some cows down the road. As we waited for the herd, a lady joined us who was helping with the cows. She saw the Cancer Research UK sticker on the bike and we explained what we were doing. Without further ado, she took out the only money in her pocket, a £10 note, and donated it. These moments are precious.

"We rode along empty country lanes with great views of the Tay; all was good. Before long, Les and I pulled into a rest stop overlooking the Tay Bridge for a coffee break. While there we got a text from Frank saying he had already found a cafe in Letham for lunch. Crossing the bridge, we soon left behind the busy fringes of Dundee, swapping them for country lanes to Letham, where we found Frank, woke him up and went for lunch. Ever had African soup? we did, and it's good!

"The guys swapped driving/riding duty. Frank and I carried on with the country lanes, Brechin and Fettercairn, lovely places both, came and went. Several emails had recommended the Cairn-O-Mount road, so up it we went to Banchory.

"Great scenery, great bends, lovely views. The road was larger than imagined, but worth travelling when you get the chance.

"This leg, Bridge of Earn to Banchory, was one of the shortest and by far had least un-surfaced road, but we were ready for an easier day after the previous two. It was still a fair way, but we knew we had time."

NEXT: Goals met.


  1. Anonymous7/26/2014

    David - is your "edited for length" version of his travels the only one available? I couldn't find anything on his site, or the donation site...

    ~ Matt

    1. Matt, I haven't edited much. Maybe one sentence somewhere. There will be three installments, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They'll all have links to one another once they've appeared. All best.


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