Organiser Tim Court reports:
Stunning scenery, some fascinating history and gentle motoring challenges in between to concentrate the mind – what more could you want? Undeterred by some atrocious weather, 15 356s gathered in August for a 52-mile tour of Derbyshire and the Staffordshire Moorlands along narrow but spectacular lanes.
Starting from the small village of Atlow, on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District, we headed towards Tissington, famous for its Ascension Day well dressings, a tradition that may date back to the 14th century. En route we crossed a wide and quite deep ford. Although it had been swelled by the recent rain, it proved no problem for our 356s.
From Tissington, we made our way via Dovedale, a well-known Derbyshire beauty spot, to another local landmark, Throwley Old Hall in Staffordshire, which overlooks the wild and beautiful Manifold Valley. Now an isolated but still spectacular ruin, it has a 17th-century link to a Christian sect known as the Muggletonians, who believed heaven was about six miles above Earth and that God was between five and six feet tall. There are stories of ghosts in the ruins and the single-track gated road to the hall is said to be haunted to this day.
From there we headed towards Oakamoor to sample the recently re-established hillclimb course. The village, which is close to Alton Towers theme park, was the location of a competitive hillclimb staged annually up to the outbreak of the First World War. At that time, speeds of 35mph up the hill were more than respectable!
Restarted in 2016 on a demonstration run basis, with a charitable fundraising aim, it is now a major attraction for an eclectic mix of veteran, vintage and classic sports cars hailing from the 1900s to the 1970s. A new and twisting 0.8-mile route, which is closed to normal traffic for the event, starts with a one in five section, quite a challenge for a car of any age.
From Oakamoor, our route took us along very narrow roads through dense woodland with few passing places until we finally emerged at the village of Croxden. After pausing briefly at the stately ruins of Croxden Abbey, once home to around 70 Cistercian monks, we left the narrow lanes to pass the headquarters of JCB, with its fields full of yellow diggers ready for delivery. Now an internationally famous company with 22 factories worldwide, its Rocester HQ is just a few miles from where it all began at Uttoxeter in 1945.
The next section, on mostly quiet country roads, took us to the pretty village of Sudbury and spectacular Sudbury Hall, home of the National Trust Museum of Childhood, which became well known when it was used for internal shots of Pemberley in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
Good motoring roads from Sudbury to Tutbury gave us a passing glimpse of yet another ruin, Tutbury Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was famously imprisoned on several occasions, and finally to Burton upon Trent.
We ended the tour at the National Brewery Centre. During the 19th century there were dozens of breweries in Burton, supplying one in four of all the pints sold in Britain. It is still the home of the only Marmite factory in the world, the love-it-or-loathe-it spread made from brewing by-products.
As we arrived, marshals directed us to line up for a display in front of the beautiful three-storey brewery building at the centre of the site. After photographs, we enjoyed a well-deserved carvery, complemented by real ale from the on-site brewery, before the opportunity to explore the museum.
This event was organised by volunteers from the 356 Register and Region 8 – East Midlands. Together, we organise hundreds of events for our members throughout the year. Join today and see how far you’ll go.