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Stirling Castle Section S & T Rally

On the last day of July we loaded two bikes into the BMP Renault Traffic van, my 1930 KTT Velocette and Pat and Shelley Rowbotham’s 1929 Ariel ready for when I collected them from their home the next day. So about 10.30 on Wednesday, 1st August we were fully loaded with provisions, riding gear and other necessities and set off up to the M6 on our expected 5½ hour, 330 mile drive North. We skirted around Glasgow and on past Stirling Castle to Auchterader where we were to stay, just outside the town for four nights in self catering accommodation, essentially a log cabin with two bedrooms and the usual facilities.
It actually took us just 4½ hours so very good going. The cabin was very spacious and comfortable proving to be better value than any local hotel. This was because of our proximity to Gleneagles Golf Course with an event taking place the next weekend. The local hotels were full and also very expensive too. The golf course was just a couple of miles away and on our route to where the first event was due to start at Crieff Visitor Centre, about 17 miles away the next day.

Thursday morning arrived with some cloud but no rain.  We found the Visitor centre, signed on, unloaded the bikes and were ready for the start. This was delayed because a road we were to use was normally closed due to winter deterioration and was opened for entrants only to pass and were then shut again by our organisers. I had forgotten my route holder and so had to follow Pat and Shelly as my navigators, we passed along a narrow road with passing places to the east side of Loch Earn to Lochhearnhead and up to Killin. Where the “Killin Games” take place, yes really! I wonder who survives?  We then turned off the main road onto the single track road leading to the specially opened section and for well over an hour we never saw another rider until we got to the gated section where we were waved through in some beautiful and wild scenery. The road surface was now very decrepit and the reason for the road being normally closed. It was a challenge on rigid bikes with girder forks and just a tyre width of tarmac in some places, often in the wrong place!!  Eventually we came upon the upper end of Loch Tay and ran along side the River Tay toward Aberfeldy. We stopped for lunch at a remote café cum Post Office cum local shop next to the river and doing better business than normal. Then on much better surfaced roads towards Amulree and finally back to Crieff. We were all quite saddle sore with some 96 miles covered riding the oldest two bikes in the event. Pat was struggling for petrol and each time it misfired I thought he is going to stop, but he made it on fumes.


Friday was a rest day so we decided to visit the Grouse Whisky Distillery just on the far side of Crieff. Grouse is a blended Whisky and the volume they produce is much larger than the distillery output because they use output of other distilleries. I was amazed to find they have just five full time employees on site plus two cats to catch the mice? The Renault Traffic van complete with smelly petrol vapours from the bikes was our means of transport when not riding bikes. Shelly kindly drove us back to the digs, hick, I am pleashed to shay.drunk

Saturday we headed for Cultybraggan Camp near Comrie, a WW2 POW camp which housed over four thousand German prisoners from 1941 to the end of hostilities. Many of the Nissen huts are still there.  This is where we signed on and later had the Prize giving and a buffet meal. This was the main event called The S&T Rally, which originally stood for Strathendics and Trossachs Rally I believe.  Being a timed event early starters were flagged off at precisely one minute intervals by the Comrie Town “Conservative” Mayor, a rare beasty. That was until his arm ached as he gave a great flourish each time he waved the flag. There were 84 entries in the programme although a few did not turn up. We had riding numbers 69 and 70 so were flagged off at about 11.00 am. The route was very similar to the Thursday run so stunning scenery but better road surfaces in the main. We again went well over 1½ hours without seeing another entrant until it started to rain (What!) and we missed a junction and found two other riders looking lost coming out of the intended road. They turned and tagged on behind us, but turned right at the next junction where we went left followed shortly after by the lunch stop at the Woodside Hotel in Doune where a pre-ordered hot meal awaited us. Refreshed we set off again not bothering about the timing and got back to Cultybraggan Camp after 84 miles and some lovely scenery. Saddle sore again, but not quite as bad as on Thursday. I wondered if the lost riders got back? The bikes were then displayed until 5.00pm for any visitors to view as other events were taking place at the Camp.

Later that evening we returned to Cultybraggan for the evening buffet which was excellent,  The Prize Presentation took place with Pat being asked to present them, so ending an amazing couple of rides. We had decided to hit the road home the following morning after breakfast rather than ride in the Sunday Social run because of the long distance. The Stirling Section of the VMCC did an excellent job of this whole week's events and worth the trip for the scenery alone.  The VMCC camaraderie is the bonus.

The drive home was uneventful except I got caught by a camera van going a little too fast in a 50MPH zone, all donations gratefully received!! The van covered 772 miles and driving was shared by each of us so not quite so arduous as it might have been.  Thanks to Pat and Shelley for their help and friendship.
John Goodall.


The Camp
An aerial shot of the camp

Parked at the start
John and Pat's bikes parked at Cultybraggan Camp.

flagged away 
John and Pat ready to be flagged away.


Jimmy Steel’s 1922 Sunbeam with pigeon basket and bird on the S&T start line.


Just after the first gate on the closed road, John on his cammy Velocette follows Pat and Shelly on their Ariel.

grouse
The huge Grouse in the car park at the Famous Grouse distillery.


John and Pat taking refreshments.  Pat seems to be holding his head.  Is this after the visit to the Grouse Whisky Distillery?