Tour of Britain Stage 1 – The West Country

Following the success of the Lands End to John O’Groats convoy the GOCC was formed and the inaugural event for the new club was The Tour of Britain – Stage 1 which was set in the South west, travelling through Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon over 3 days.

Being the inaugural event we wanted to make it a special one and thanks to the massive amount of work put in by Dan & Katherine Rodway, who hosted the event, it was a huge success raising over £3,000 for the chosen charity which was Eyesight 4 Eli.

Although we only had just under 80 vehicles in attendance there was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the site, with old acquaintances coming back together and new faces joining in and becoming instantly part of the GOCC family.

Having a permanent campsite for this event meant that there was no rush in the mornings to pack up ready to move on which made for a far more relaxing weekend than the LEJOG trip.

The single campsite on this trip enabled us to have a bar, food vendors and live entertainment each night for the entire weekend.

The Hilltop Campsite.

Weather as is often the case in the UK was not exactly the best summer sunshine we had hoped but although the site was damp underfoot at times, spirits remained high throughout the group.

Before the trip we had the opportunity to buy an old parachute which we thought would make a good cover for socialising or a kids play area to offer some shelter, little did we know that it would in fact become the makeshift service area where a number of repairs were completed, sheltering from the wind and rain. The most adventurous of which being a replacement head gasket, which was successful and the discovery completed the tour. Most ordinary people would think that sort of issue would be a game stopper, but for the members of GOCC it was merely a small challenge and diy mechanics and professionals alike worked together in the evenings and through the night to ensure no man was left behind… This spirit was one that came straight from LEJOG and shows the true can do attitude many of our members have.

Head Gasket Replacement.

Each morning a drivers briefing was held to reveal the plan for the day. Dan and Katherine had come up with a good way of making the trips each day a little different by not actually setting a route as such, instead they gave a list of famous and interesting sites and buildings to find by setting our own route. For those not wanting to plot a route there was a backup map available in a sealed envelope.

Groups of up to 10 vehicles set off at staggered intervals to find the waypoints in whatever order they chose. Photos needed to be taken of each and shown at the end of the day to prove where they had been and in what order, points were awarded to each with a bonus point for the nearest route taken to the one still in the sealed envelope. If the envelope was opened no points were awarded. After the 2 days of self-guided trips the winning team was announced and their prize was free entry to the 2018 Stage 2 Tour.

Throughout the two full days touring the South West of England we passed, Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor, Cheddar Gorge, The Willow Man, Tarr Steps, Dartmoor and much more besides.

Tarr Steps
Tarr Steps

Before the final days travelling a charity auction was held where gifts, tools and spare parts that had been donated by members and local businesses were auctioned off to raise more money for the chosen charity.

The final day was a single convoy on mass from the campsite in Chard to Portland Bill Lighthouse. Once we had arrived at Portland Bill people started to disband and make their way home or onward to continue a holiday in the area.

A motley crew at Portland Bill.

During the weekend we discovered that one of our group had had to drop everything and return home due to a sudden bereavement. This incredible lady and her daughter who had completed the LEJOG with us the year before somehow managed to come back and join us for the final day. As a tribute we asked if she would lead the convoy out of the site towards our final destination.

As a mark of respect from the GOCC we invited the family to select the charity for the Stage 2 event in memory of their lost husband/father. The 2018 chosen charity was the Midlands Air Ambulance.

Written by…

Simon Chapman

Green Oval Convoy Club Wordsmith