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Land's End to Ness Point, Midsummers Evening 2022


Johner
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I am informed that the Police take considerable interest in anyone trying to repeat this Top Gear event and it would most certainly not be approved by the MSA.  If you enjoy the idea you should join the Club Triumph and do next years Coast 2 Coast which is an overnight run from one side of the country to the other in late June (entries are closed for this year and we have the reserve list full as well!).

This year we start at Porthmadog with a trip on the Festiniog railway in North Wales and finish with Fish & Chips for breakfast at Dungeness Point in Kent. Great roads and MSA approved.

H

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50 minutes ago, Howard said:

I am informed that the Police take considerable interest in anyone trying to repeat this Top Gear event and it would most certainly not be approved by the MSA.  If you enjoy the idea you should join the Club Triumph and do next years Coast 2 Coast which is an overnight run from one side of the country to the other in late June (entries are closed for this year and we have the reserve list full as well!).

This year we start at Porthmadog with a trip on the Festiniog railway in North Wales and finish with Fish & Chips for breakfast at Dungeness Point in Kent. Great roads and MSA approved.

H

Well, we did it in 2018, with the dire warning that the police would be waiting for us at every turn.

13 vehicles completed the run, all in time to see the sunrise, with no police attention.

 

No1 son and I completed the run with 25 minutes to spare.

We never ran above 85mph, which happened when I was driving and let the car go for about 5 miles on the A12.

For the rest . . . . .we stuck to the early 30mph limits in Cornwall.

After that, we limited ourselves to 10% over the limit.

We saw no sign of the rozzers over the 430 miles.

 

Their interest is wildly overstated

 

Edited by Johner
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5 minutes ago, Rubce said:

Not heard of that idea for a run. Sounds fun

8-)

It is.

Time for cars and a chat in the car park at Lands End and again about the trip when you get to Ness Point,  plus, if you want it, there are some good cafes locally to Ness Point.

 

Give it a go.

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13 minutes ago, Johner said:

It is.

Time for cars and a chat in the car park at Lands End and again about the trip when you get to Ness Point,  plus, if you want it, there are some good cafes locally to Ness Point.

 

Give it a go.

I might well do that next year😀

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As others have said, for obvious reasons the Club cannot officially condone or promote this or other unofficial events, but drive safely and have a good run.  A few friends and I recently drove from Ipswich to Ness Point, up to Scarborough, accross to Weston Super Mare, down to Brighton and finally returning to Southend on Sea for a curry, all in 24hrs.  Plenty of fun A-road driving, few if any speed limits exceeded and a fun time had by all!

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39 minutes ago, thescrapman said:

I was told they recorded the registrations at Lands end and again at Ness Point, knowing that it isn't not possible to do the trip in the time allowed.

Utter rubbish!

My mate David and I did it in 2014 and got there 17 minutes before sunrise without going ape-sh*t.

Go for it!

It's great fun and perfectly doable within speed limits.

Here's a spreadsheet I did prior to going all the way down to Land's End.

Lands End to Lowestoft on midsummers night 2014 - Page 1 - Events/Meetings/Travel - PistonHeads

 

Incidentally, it was a couple of guys from Pistonheads who did this first, then made Clarkson and Top Gear aware of the possibilities of doing the run themselves for TV.

In my opinion, one of the better challenges they did and one we can all do.

By the way, we didn't see Mr Plod once during the entire trip, they were so keen to "catch" us.

And here's the account of our adventures as published on Pistonheads Forum.

We’ve all seen the Top Gear Race Against God.

I thought, “I could do that.”

Even though the start is 560 miles from home, why not?

A hunt around the internet found the original Pistonheads run and report and other tales of folk who had done it.

I had a word with my mate, David and he was up for it too.

I’ve done a couple of Round Britain Reliability Runs in my 1973 Triumph GT6, one with David and we’d also done a similar run in an Alfa Romeo from Ardnamurchan, the furthest westerly point in the UK to Boddam Ness, near Peterhead for the furthest easterly point in Scotland. For that run, we made it with 40 minutes to spare without doing ludicrous speeds.

I like to plan these things out and had prepared spreadsheets with intermediate times and distances to driver change locations and the obligatory fuel stop. Some may say that it’s a bit anal but I know from experience that when your brain isn’t running at 100% due to tiredness, a bit of paper showing you what comes next can be invaluable.

Anyway, the weekend approached and we set off from home, just north of Glasgow, David and I, in my MX5 heading south to Cornwall at 2am on Saturday 21st June.

When I picked up David from his house, I was a bit worried about his choice of shorts for the journey, particularly what could be hanging out of them, and I don’t mean legs. They don’t call him “Big Boy” at work for nothing!

Anyway, that aside, we were booked into the Travelodge at Hayle as it offers an early book-in at noon where we intended to sleep all day before the run.

Someone had sent me a note via Facebook that a guy called Christian was trying to contact me so that we could meet up at the start and, hopefully, at the finish. However, it turned out that he was doing the run on Friday night into Saturday morning.

We had looked at this but chose the Saturday start as we knew there were about 20,000 people going to be at Stonehenge for the summer solstice celebrations and were concerned that there could be loads of people strolling about on the unlit A303 when we were coming through.

However, Christian did complete the run but finished 6 minutes after the sunrise. He was delayed by roadworks on the A30 at Hayle directing them through the village into a set of temporary traffic lights that caused chaos. Plus, he was directed off the M25 near the Dartford Crossing which made his chances of successfully completing the run beyond reach.

Christian e-mailed me to let me know that the roadworks that we anticipated to come across on the A12 didn’t hold him up and would be no problem for us on the following night.

Christian must be some guy, as he had driven from Dusseldorf, crossed on a ferry, made his way to Land’s End, did the run, then drove back down, hopped on a ferry and drove home. He must have been totally knackered!

After talking to some locals at Hayle and Penzance, we discovered that the Hayle roadworks weren’t on at the weekend, which was a big relief. Plus, we were doing the M25 clockwise avoiding Dartford in any case despite the fact that we were aware of roadworks with a likely 50mph speed limit on them.

We grabbed a bite to eat at a McDonalds, then cruised down to the start at Land’s End.

The first person we met was a biker with two additional fuel tanks strapped on as panniers, who had motored down from the sunrise at John O’Groats to Land’s End without using motorways and stopping only once for petrol. And when I mean he only stopped once, I mean it. This guy had a catheter fitted so he didn’t even have to stop for a pee.

A bit too extreme for us!

I told David not to even contemplate a used water bottle. “I’m not having pee all over my leather seats. They’ll smell a treat when I turn the heated seats on!”

We then met a young couple who had hired a Mercedes C Class but were given a B Class, much to their dismay. It was her birthday treat to do the run. Why could I never meet women like that when I was younger?

Next, a guy with his wife and young son in tow showed up with a Golf convertible.

Neither of these two crews seemed to have given much thought about the run or even the route they would take other than they were going to give it a go.

Finally, two bikers arrived, Rich and Lawrence. Rich has been running a blog about the trip for the last few months and I had been passing on information relating to proposed roadworks along the route to him.

It was good to finally meet Rich and we had a good chat but we were all nervous and keen to get on our way.

We heard stories of other crews dotted about Land’s End but were unaware who they were but we would keep an eye out for them.

Slowly the minutes counted down towards the start and we settled into the MX5, sat nav programmed to our first driver change near Bodmin and the Bullitt music on the stereo to build up the atmosphere. You know, the music that’s played when the Mustang and the Charger are about to race round the streets of San Francisco.

Two minutes to go and I put the speaking clock on the in car phone through the stereo.

“At the third stroke, it will be nine thirty six precisely.” Beep, beep, beep and we were off.

Leaving Land’s End, in front of us were a Mitsubishi GTO and the guy in the Golf convertible but no sign of anyone else. The folk in the B Class weren’t even in their car!

We started down the narrow twisty section of the A30 towards Penzance at a fair lick between 40 and 50mph, where possible. After about 5 miles, the Golf got past the Mitsubishi, who showed no signs of backing off and we tucked in about 100 yards behind.

We were through Penzance in no time at all and out the other end. There was no sign of the Golf, just the Mitsubishi.

We followed him for a few miles then on went his indicator and he pulled into a lay-by and we drove past. I started to wonder why he had pulled over then looked in horror at the sat nav. We were on the wrong road!

We were so intent on following the Mitsubishi, that we had missed our turning on a roundabout. What a schoolboy error on my part since I was supposed to be navigating!

A quick u-turn and back up the two and a half miles to pick up the route again.

Faux pas over, we made the decision to pay more attention to the sat nav in future.

Much quieter roads than expected and a clear dry night meant we had no trouble making up about 3 minutes on our scheduled time to the first driver change. I took over for the next stint to Exeter, virtually all on dual carriageway and an easy run for me, making a little more time in hand in case we ran into trouble later on. If only we’d known what was coming.

David took over for the next leg and at the traffic lights going from the M5 onto the A30 at Exeter, the B Class suddenly appeared beside us along with two motor bikes but not Rich and Lawrence who were taking the M5, M4 route.

The lights went green and all three took off like a bat out of hell.

We hung back and let them disappear into the distance. We were making up time in any case and they looked like they were heading for a big fright or even tangling with one another.

This may be a quick run but it’s no sprint and we still had a long way to go.

On the twisty section at the Blackdown Hills on the A303, we caught up with three slow moving cars and no prospect of passing. We sat back until one pulled off and then a section of dual carriageway saw us past them and on our way again without too much time loss.

David then remarked how we had less than half a tank of fuel left. Despite doing just under 30mpg, we were indeed less than half full. A quick calculation and I decided that we would make it to our scheduled refuel point, a large petrol station, the Buck Services east of Andover with a little fuel to spare.

We backed off a little to save fuel and finally, the Buck Services came into view and with a sense of relief, we cruised up to the pump.

Then the big shock. They had no unleaded fuel in any of the pumps!

I had made a contingency plan in case of a problem here and knew there was another Esso station a few miles further on, so we changed drivers again and drove at about 50mph until we reached the petrol station, brimmed the tank and headed off into the dark again down to the M3.

However, after a few miles at a good speed, we encountered roadworks and the dreaded specs average speed cameras with a 50mph speed limit. They went on for miles and it took what seemed ages to reach the M25 where we changed drivers at the Junction 17 off ramp.

Back up onto the M25 maintaining a steady 70mph with the sat nav pinging at every overhead gantry warning of fixed speed cameras and every other car whizzing past us at up to 85mph. Do they know something we don’t?

Then we hit more roadworks and mile after mile of specs cameras. We finally came out the other end of them and a white Transit passed us on the inside and put on his hazard lights for a few hundred yards.

I had been aware of a hissing sound during the last stint but couldn’t work out what it was. There must be something wrong with the car and he’s seen it, so we pulled over onto the hard shoulder.

Sure enough there was. At the petrol station, David had tried in vain to pull the boot opening release before giving up and using the key fob. In his unfamiliarity with the car, he’d pulled the bonnet release. Still, no harm done and we were on our way again.

At the last driver change, I had dropped the folding hardtop and the cool night air reinvigorated us. We felt more confident that we could do it despite losing time due to the roadworks and were now about a minute down on our planned schedule for a 4:20 finish, 10 minutes before sunrise.

Making up some time earlier on had been our saviour with our fuel problems, motorway roadworks and specs cameras whittling away our time cushion.

However, even the intermittent fog around Ipswich couldn’t slow David down and I took over at Woodbridge for the final stint.

We finally reached the place we were dreading, Blythburgh, where we knew there were temporary traffic lights. The roads had been completely deserted save for one Jaguar which we were now sat behind. We waited for about a minute for the lights to change to green but we knew that, barring a disaster, we were going to make it. As for the Jag, we had to wait for a short section of dual carriageway to get by as he clearly knew the roads. Clarkson wasn’t driving it though.

And now we were on the outskirts of Lowestoft. Every traffic light was at green as we cruised the streets of Lowestoft except for one that changed within a few seconds.

We were now in the industrial estate where the finish was located. The sat nav said turn left.

“Rubbish! I know where I’m going!” I said as we promptly turned into a cul-de-sac. A lesson not learned from my earlier faux pas.

Then I thought, “Maybe the sat nav has a better grasp of the situation than me.” and we followed the route round into Gas Works Road and the finish came into view.

We had done it!

We arrived at 4:13, a full 17 minutes before sunrise.

Waiting for us was the B-Class, which despite going like a bat out of hell earlier on, arrived only 3 minutes in front of us. They looked knackered.

Also, the two bikers from the A30 junction at Exeter, the Golf convertible, a Honda Civic Type R and a BMW Coupe were there too.

We moved all our cars down to the Euroscope at Ness Point, the furthermost eastern point in the UK and everyone shook hands on a job well done.

It was quite an uplifting moment, all these total strangers coming together with the same idea and intent of purpose.

Shortly afterwards, an elderly large Citroen estate arrived but still no sign of Rich or Lawrence.

We all stood and watched a magnificent sunrise at 4:30, mimicking Clarkson’s calls of “Loser!” ringing through the morning air.

After that, it was all strangely subdued as we waited to see if anyone else would arrive, but no one did.

We left at 5:00am and headed for our hotel in Great Yarmouth and a good sleep and cracked open a couple of bottles of Stella Artois from my luggage in the hotel room.

Neither of us finished them.

We were too tired.

Next morning, we headed home to Scotland with another challenge crossed off the bucket list.

We had averaged 65.1mph and 29.7mpg over the route and the MX5 never missed a beat.

I later contacted Rich via Facebook and was relieved to find out they were okay.

An emergency petrol stop and a wrong slot on the M25 roadworks taking them south down the M11 meant that they arrived at the finish 45 minutes late.

When you’re so tired, it’s too easy to make a wrong slot as your decision making processes become more and more confused. Especially when you can’t change drivers every 50 minutes or so like we could.

Still, much respect to two young guys earning the iron butt award for the longest time in the saddle on the run.

I must thank David for his great company and our respective wives, Ruth and Kirsteen for putting up with yet another hair-brained scheme that I came up with.

I would also congratulate all those who took part on the night and the previous night.

I feel happy knowing that there are people out there, like me, who have that can-do attitude and are up for a challenge.

Whether they were successful or not doesn’t matter a jot. The fact is that they did it for the thrill of it all and the love of the open road.

I’m glad that I finally did this run as it’s been at the back of my mind for a long time to give it a go.

I would thoroughly recommend this run to anyone on here.

It is achievable but there is also the distinct possibility of not getting to the finish before sunrise.

It seems easy. Drive just over 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways but once you get out there, you quickly realise that this is no cruise along deserted roads.

Now, what hair-brained scheme for next year?

Just go for it and get it off the bucket list

Jim

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20 hours ago, thescrapman said:

Were we not in the middle of a lockdown last mid-summers day? May be why there was little Police interest, lot less money to be earned.

I was told they recorded the registrations at Lands end and again at Ness Point, knowing that it isn't not possible to do the trip in the time allowed.

 

We did it in 2018

If they do record registrations and times, they have not yet contacted me in almost 4 years.

 

That suggests that either;

They don't, or,

I did the impossible of completing the run within the time constraints and without arousing the interest of the officers of the law.

 

I would like to suggest that, with care and attention, it is possible to do the run, within the speed tolerances allowed by those who watch us.

Edited by Johner
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