It Already Seems So Long Ago : Clee Hills And Cotswold Clouds Trials 2020

Clee Hills Trial – Simon and Charlotte at the start

This week we would, if things had gone normally, have been getting organised for the LANDS END TRIAL in which Carlotte and I were entered with our Suzuki X90. Of course nothing, currently, is remotely normal and hasn’t been for several weeks. That trial is off for 2020 and the two which we did run in, before Covid19, now seem so long ago they could have been a year ago already!

On January 20th we enjoyed a really great run on the CLEE HILLS TRIAL in frosty Shropshire, finishing 2nd in class and enjoying every moment. It was a year on from our debut event and so the first one on which we had some prior experience of where it went and how it should be tackled! Every other event to this point has been flying blind. It made a difference.

The weather was also superb, if icy and the clear skies made for the most spectacular views from the top of the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge.

Clee Hills Trial – Spectacular Views On Route.

Clee Hills Trial – Looking Towards Wales From Long Mynd

It didn’t go entirely to plan, we had a flat tyre on our favourite section, Castle Hill, but not before ‘cleaning’ that one and luckily we could jack the car up on a handy but of level tarmac which made the process much quicker and safer.

Clee Hills Trial -Our Suzuki climbing Heywood Common . Photo by Andrew Marchant

There were some hefty delays on the route for one reason and another so by the end the light was fading fast. The final section was cancelled just as we got to the start line. It was completely dark by then and the senior official decided it was dangerous  as the reverse back down in the event of stopping(which almost everyone did) would be over a very steep blind crest with a drop off one side….. That came as a bit of a relief in fact…we had no spare tyres left by this point and another puncture here would have been a bit tricky for the 60 mile drive home!

Clee Hills Trial – 2CVs at finish

The overall winner was Nick Deacon for whom I passengered on the Allen Trial last year. His well developed Suzuki X90 was unstoppable all day.

Charlotte was impressed by the appearence, behind the wheel of an Austin 7, of 16 year old Mary Baxter who surprised everyone, senior officials included, by making use of a rule that allowed her to drive on  sections of the route that were private land while her dad drove the bits that required a driving license. Charlotte can do the same on future events it seems, and with some more practice in the fields first, is keen to . How I would have loved to compete in this way at 14!

Cotswold Clouds – Our Suzuki X90 lined up for the first section

On Februrary 2nd we tackled the COTSWOLD CLOUDS trial, 10 miles from home as the crow flies but 30 miles by road – the River Severn gets in the way somewhat . This one really didn’t go so well, it must be said, we had more punctures to deal with (Charlotte is getting very proficient at wheel changing …)  the worst of which resuted in a blown front tyre right at the start of the very last section leaving us on maximum penalties for that one as we just ploughed straight on at the first corner! A couple of other  hills caused more trouble than we hoped so our final score was unimpressive.

But the event was great to be a part of : the route taking in some very picturesque corners of the Cotswolds like Slad, the illage made famous by author Laurie Lee in “Cider With Rosie”, and some famous trials hills like Nailsworth Ladder that have been in use for well over half a century.

Cotswold Couds Trial – Our Suzuki with the Tucker-Peake’s MGF waiting on Minchinhampton Common

Heavy rain in the previous weeks made many hills something of a mudbath and there were considerable delays rescuing stranded crews. That left plenty of time for socialising and admiring the other cars entered which ranged from VW Buggies and Skodas to Ford Escorts to BMW Z3s.

Cotswold Clouds Trial – Andrew Knightly Brown’s Marlin

The saying “more than one way to skin a cat” is very apt for trialling : Large engines, small engines, front,mid or rear mounted, 2 or 4 seater, saloon or open sports car, kit cars, home built specials and so forth. It’s all evident. There is enormous variety ,and the people involved are very freindly.It’s proper old school motor sport of the pre-laptop age.

We ended up plastered in mud and with a rubbish result,  but what an experience! It had been great fun to take part in and if we could have done it all again the following day we would .

Of course we didn’t realise that was our last bit of active motor sport for the forseeable future.

Only two months on , as I write, it now seems so long ago…

Cotswold Clouds Trial – Iam Moss’s Lotus Twin Cam Engined Anglia Estate

Cotswold Clouds Trial – Ham Hill at an odd angle as seen from the driving seat!