Indemnifying Farm is a great site to play in but it can be a right cold spot at this time of year. And for our first trials of 2018 it was colder than ever!
Things weren’t too bad for on the Saturday when Paul, Gareth, Dave Collins, Rob McCausland and myself arrived to set up. It was raining steadily and had been foggy for most of the trip up from Cheltenham but that was just a taster of worse things to come. Nevertheless we soon had 5 good TYRO sections and a good few RTV sections set up. Conditions underfoot were pretty soft and it looked as if Sunday could prove even muddier if the forecast heavy rain arrived. The drive home was quite interesting too with lots of standing water and more mist.
No need to have worried about heavy rain for Sunday though. It decided to snow instead! I had checked the BBC Weather website late on Saturday afternoon, there were warnings in place for heavy snow across central England, but I don’t think it had been anticipated quite so far south. At 8am on Sunday morning it was raining quite heavily in Cheltenham but as I drove through the town it was rapidly turning to sleet and then, as I started up the A40 towards Andoversford it was really snowing hard. By Tunnel Hill the road was well covered and got steadily worse as I drove across the higher parts towards Bourton. The windscreen wipers were just about keeping the screen clear, even with heater on full blast visibility was very limited and it was a slow crawl for the rest of the journey.
Despite the bad conditions there were alread
y several vehicles on the site and the numbers increased slowly to give a very good turnout although several drivers were very delayed getting there. We eventually had 13 signed on for the TYRO, 7 RTV and 4 CCV. We also had 3 new drivers for the TYRO (taking advantage of the new special rate entry fee). We were also expecting a photographer from LRO but it was sometime after 10am that he managed to get there. As suspected the ground was even softer than on Saturday, made even slipperier by the inch or so of fresh snow but was still just about driveable. It was incredibly cold though, even through several layers of clothing, finger numbing cold!
We were a little late getting things under way and by that time the snow was give way to more sleety weather. But not getting any warmer!
The first two TYRO sections weren’t too difficult even though traction was at a premium in a couple of places. The first section also showed up the deficiencies of a Freelander on road tyres. It was going nowhere! Fortunately the driver, James Pollock, was allowed to use his old man’s Disco for the rest of the day. I was also wishing I’d taken my waterproof camera!
With such a large group and with very slippery conditions progress was very slow so we had only completed three sections by 1pm when everyone wanted a break for food and a warm up. By that time even ‘waterproof’ clothing was feeling the strain. Most of us stayed in our vehicles for our ‘picnic’ with heaters on full blast. My 90 Hard Top wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine what it was like in the Series vehicles or the 2 Rag Top 90s!
By now it the sleet had turned to very heavy rain. This was not yet doing anything to wash away the snow and it was still absolutely bitter.
By the time we had finished the remaining two sections the thick mist was beginning to come down again, everyone was cold and wet and the general feeling was that enough was enough so it was time to call it a day. Even the ‘big boys’ in the RTV/CCV had decided to call a halt, only doing seven of their eight sections. By the time everything had been cleared up it was also starting to get dark.
Things were so bad by now that several drivers decided not to hang around any longer and made a ‘run’ for home and warm, dry clothing. There were so few of us left that we didn’t even bother holding the raffle! Even leaving the site was quite a challenge for the CCV guys with their trailers, all needing assistance to get off the top field and to the gate. Luckily Gareth was on hand with a long rope.
Without doubt this was one of the coldest, wettest events I have known in a long, long time but it was still a great fun day out. Amazingly, given how muddy the site was, I haven’t had to wash my motor, I think the rain and standing water on the roads has done it for me!
Let’s just hope that we get slightly better weather for the February trial when we will be making another attempt on Aggs Hill.
Thanks to all the brave (crazy!) members who made the journey on such a foul day and for making it all worthwhile.
Right, I’m off to “Go Outdoors” to get a new pair of waterproof boots!
*** Editors postscript: Apologies for the lack of CCV/RTV pics, no one has sent us any - but look out for LRO in February as this event will be featured. Also for the record my rag top 90 was quite warm even with the rear flap open!