Derbyshire Glass Weekend
I packed “Weasel” (my series IIA) with all the necessary camping gear on Thursday night and drove to work on Friday just to get rid of any annoying rattles and squeaks. You may say series vehicles always rattle and squeak, but there’s nothing worse on a long journey to suddenly hear a new unfamiliar noise which then sends messages to the brain. Will the wheel fall off? Is there a major oil leak and other such nasties? Knowing my track record of vehicular disintegration I wasn’t taking any chances.
With everything packed and my friend Ade in the passenger seat there wasn’t much room for my brother Ant (aka “pants” or on this trip soon to be known as PRAMBO). After an evening at Iands with Chinese and beer we agreed to travel early Saturday morning to avoid the Bank Holiday traffic, so we got up at 5:30am and left by 6:00am. A huge convoy of two vehicles left Milton Keynes namely “Sally” with Pip in control, Ian navigating and the motley crew of “weasel”. Eddie and Shirly had left earlier with caravan in tow to meet Chris also with caravan at Rothersthorpe services on the M1. Here we exchanged pants with Chris for a more comfortable ride. (take that last sentence in your own way)
A journey without incident saw us arrive at the Bull i Thorn pub/campsite where we met Neil, Maddy and family in his newly acquired “Henry” stage 1 V8. We set up camp and found that most of the people were working on a lane a couple of miles away. We drove there to be confronted by about 40 people armed with shovels who had dug a path 8 feet wide for about 100 yards. It looked like a scene from the film “A Bridge Over The River Kwai” the path had been partly filled with type 1 roadstone, the idea being that the walkers, horseriders and mountain bikes would use the path leaving the rutted track for vehicles
MK 4X4 quickly assessed the situation and decided that some organisation was required, so we went to the end of the path and started digging throwing some of the soil into the really deep ruts on the track. After two hours of digging we had accomplished what the other group had done in a day. The park ranger was very impressed with our efforts. We left the lane around one o’clock this was all the lane work we had to do the whole weekend – so off we went greenlaning ourselves.
The first few lanes of the afternoon were great, no thick mud but lots of green undergrowth which you could hear scratching at the paintwork. One particular lane I had been told was a bit tight!. Tight was a bit of an understatement it was tighter than Ant peeling an orange in his pocket. The lane had five foot high stone walls either side with the occasional overhanging tree just for good measure, definitely first gear low box and crawl very slowly. Sally took a knock on the roll cage but hey that’s what its there for, Weasel passed through unscathed taking full advantage of its narrower body, Neil made it with some steering guidance from Ian, Chris and Pants had no problems. After an afternoons laning it was back to the campsite for a meal in the pub.
Sunday morning appeared with more glorious sunshine and a few sore heads, I suggested a walk with a difference that I knew nearby. We drove to a place called Gradbach where deep in the hillside is a cave/crevasse which you can walk through. It is about 80 feet deep and 15 feet wide, truly breathtaking. All of a sudden Ant appeared complete with desert camouflage carrying a pram across his shoulders he roared and growled and PRAMBO was born. Stick grenades was the order of the day whilst walking back to the vehicles and Ian demonstrated the true art of hurling an 8 foot branch down a hillside but forgetting to let go!!. After another brew a quick check of Neils brakes revealed that he had none, Ian did a temporary repair in the carpark and suggested a stripdown back at the site oooh-eer.
After lunch we attacked Stanage Edge which from my walking days is a very steep track cut into a rock strewn hillside with breathtaking views. Some of the rocks had obvious diff mark scratches I learnt very quickly how to pick a route over the stones and was thoroughly pleased with my efforts. Some really steep sections required a gap of about 20 vehicles just in case you popped out of gear which Weasel did on two occasions making even the coolest customer sweat. An excellent day was finished off at the Castle pub in Castleton.
Monday morning arrived with another glorious day, more lanes were driven over rocky ground especially down one where I believe a previous MK 4X4 expedition had gone down “the steps”, we were to go UP them!. First we stopped by a stream for another brew and a demonstration of 1/10th scale dry stone walling was given by Ant and Ade. Several walkers and mountain bikers started to gather ready to watch our attempts. Pip went first and after only one reverse was up, all of us applauded. Me next, Ade wanted to get out at this point, I just told him to hang on.
My first attempt failed as all four wheels dug in to the loose rock so I reversed and in true Andy Gollins style floored Weasel and bounced up the step. Ians face said it all and informed me that both front wheels had been airborne at one point. Eddie had a few attempts and was up, the long wheelbase of the 110 seemed to cope better than the 88 and 90. A little further up this lane there were more steps about two feet high, again ramblers gathered for a ring side seat, we all got up eventually but was met with a comment from a rambler that said that the first vehicle namely Sally/Pip had done it a lot smoother than I had. I wasn’t about to go into the differences between coil sprung and leaf sprung suspension and laughed it off.
It made a change from the usual rambler response of aggression towards our sport, in fact the whole attitude of people we met in Derbyshire was completely different. It was nice to hear a thank you from one group of walkers when we were working on the lane on Saturday. We packed up about 4pm and had a leisurely drive back through the traffic jams of Ashbourne which sparked off a strange game of I-SPY over the CB radios.
I had a fantastic weekend with excellent weather and great company. I came away feeling more confident about my vehicle which had covered 400 miles during the whole weekend without a hitch. A big thanks to everyone who attended especially Ian for navigating most of the time.