JoGLEing on A Roads – June 2005
Can the JOGLE be done without using motorways? Well, yes it can. A team achieved this a few years ago in an Austin Healey Sprite, and to prove they werent fibbing, John Farrar and myself did it a couple of years ago in Johns Mk3 Spitfire and made it with an hour and a half to spare despite having had pheasant and exhaust problems (the pheasant disagreed with the front numberplate on the Spitfire and the exhaust fell off a couple of miles later in sympathy – long story).
But the challenge still remained. The JOGLE is primarily a Morris Minor event and were these antics with fast sports cars relevant? Could a standard Minor do the run in under 24hours without using a motorway?
We decided to find out. Well it was a way of justifying yet another JOGLE, a week off work and adding about 2500 miles onto some poor unsuspecting Morris Minor. Obviously the choice of car was important. I was a little short of MOT certificates for any of mine, so Johns 1098 powered Series 2 saloon looked the ideal candidate. This car is in daily use and gives the feeling that it could be driven anywhere. The downside was that due to a leaking windscreen it was bereft of carpets and the accident damage on the drivers side prevented the window from being opened. This swayed the balance, so it was his newly acquired very original 1958 saloon that headed north on the Saturday morning. The disadvantage of the smaller 948cc car outweighed by the comfort and the quietness. The journey north went quite well with the newly fitted CD/MP3 player doing its stuff we were never going to run out of music. Lunch was taken on the sea front at Morecambe, in the usual Roses Run car park, then it was back on the motorway heading strongly for the border. Glasgow looked rather distant as time went on, so ever keen to explore more of Scotland we headed for the coast and stayed at a B&B in a fine old Victorian house backing on to the sea front at West Kilbride. In the morning, after a dramatic storm in the night we approached Glasgow from the west, crossed the Kincardine Bridge and headed again for the coast to Loch Fyne for the famous sea food and oyster bar for lunch. Sticking to the west coast we motored up through Inveray and Fort William to stay the night at Dornie, a delightful village on the shores of Loch Alsh, a stones throw from Eilean Donan Castle, (a stronghold of the McKenzies) at a non too delightful B&B. Following morning after a hasty breakfast we hit the road again for Gairloch, Ullapool and on to the North West cornerDurness. Sadly not enough time left for the ferry crossing and minibus trip to Cape Wrath, the rather inaccessible far NW corner, but despite the John OGroats signs only just coming down to double figures, a rather civilised afternoon tea and scone was enjoyed at the Kyle of Tongue hotel. Just the dash along the partial single track roads of the north coast, past all the superb beaches and bays to Thurso, then on to JOG just in time for the evening dinner.
Tuesday morning started fine and sunny. Hoods were lowered on various convertibles in the car park as folk fettled and packed their cars ready for the journey. As everyone gathered down on the sea front, the rain started and hoods were raised, but fortunately it didn’t last. After buying postcards, raffle tickets etc, it was nearly time for the off and before we knew it almost it was 11am and the first cars were leaving. We may have appeared a little unprepared for this as John had the bonnet up and multimeter out to fix the horn and ended up the last ones in the car park. Eventually we just decided to shout GET OUT OF THE WAY! very loudly and set off. The casual laid back approach seemed to be going quite well, and after catching up with one car at a petrol station in Wick, we headed off through the back streets of Wick to find the Old Pultney distillery. Tuesday mornings must be very quiet down at Old Pultney, as we had to bang on the door to get them to open up! Curtains were opened, lights were switched on as the visitor centre creaked into life and before long we were back on route, just with some extra bottle shaped bags on the back seat.
Convincingly the tailenders of the event, we motored on, without another Minor in sight, marvelled at the dramatic roadworks near Helmsdale cutting through the hillsides, straightening out the twists and turns of the A9. This is one bit of road that will be almost unrecognisable in a year or two. With a tank full of petrol from Wick we made good time (considering the late start) and had a brief glimpse of the other Barnsley cars in a layby off the A9 as we whizzed by, south of Inverness. Next fuel stop was Pitlochry, a petrol station tantalisingly across the road from Blair Atholl distillery. Wondering if our bottles of Old Pultney needed companions, we decided to be firm, swapped drivers and continued on to Perth. This was where the navigation got interesting as the first motorway loomed up. After driving through the pleasant looking town centre, an M90 avoiding route was followed south to the Forth Bridge. This involved B roads, unclassified roads and a curious detour in one village due to a closed road.
Over the Forth Bridge, towards Edinburgh and round the ring road to the A68. this took us through the Lowlands through Jedburgh and across the border into England. The evening was wearing on by this stage, and the sun was low in the sky. We wished we had brought the log from the run in the Spitfire, to see how we were doing in comparison and were starting to be thankful wed only done the one distillery Many long miles down the A68, fuel was running low so we detoured into Bishop Auckland and completely failed to find a filling station. This is where motorways have advantages. With even less fuel now we carried on and joined the A1 and arrived at Scotch Corner Services with no problems, other than a severe case of numb bodyparts on getting out. From then on it was a case of trying to avoid all the A1 that is now A1M, a task we discovered is getting harder and harder as the road gets steadily motorwayised. A detour through roadworks following signs for Selby was required at one stage Before long we were passing through the centre of Doncaster, out towards Worksop, Mansfield, crossing the M1 and down the A38 to Coventry. The trouble happened on the next fuel stop between Coventry and Birmingham when the ignition warning light persistently stayed on. Fortunately, Mike at the Birmingham Morris Minor Centre was still open (it was after 2am by now) and agreed to leave a dynamo and some brushes out for us, so a rapid run across a deserted Birmingham centre using sidelights was called for followed by rebuilding the dynamo outside the BMMC.
With electrical systems restored and avoiding the temptations of the M5 we then headed south visiting places such as Cheltenham and Bath before arriving in Exeter in time for morning rush hour. After Exeter it was the usual trek down the A30 and the arrival at Lands End was clocked at ten to ten.
So we made it! With just over an hour to spare too. We probably lost about 40mins changing the dynamo brushes and could have saved about the same again had it not been for the influence of whisky. It was however a tiring drive. Obviously the quicker you do the run, the less driving you have to do and this took roughly 6 hours longer than the typical 16 hours that doing a steady motorway speed achieves. It is however more interesting than looking at 6 lanes of tarmac for many hours, though the chances of encountering a fellow Jogler on route are slim to say the least.
Next time? Well, if I got cracking with the welding on the lowlight, theres the challenge of doing it in a car with about 12 less bhp and a cruising speed in the 50s on the open road, until you come to a hill.
Hmm, we’ll see!
Video from another entrant.