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19 Jul 2018

A review of R11 WOTY 2017

A review by Rodney H-J of the time we spent in Northumberland during late September 2017


23rd - 25th September 2017

This year our WOTY took place in the beautiful area of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, with a base at Doxford Hall Hotel situated just to the north of Alnwick.

A total of eighteen cars were signed up.  However, unfortunately, Ian and Julia Francis had to drop out at the last minute owing to a sickness in the family.  There was a good mix of cars taking part;  Coupes, Targas and Cabriolets, including five air-cooled 911s, ranging from Roger and Christine Upward's 1986 911 Turbo SE through various Boxsters and Caymans, Martyn and Marie's 997 Turbo to David and Linda Burrow's 991 GTS.

We all drove up independently, arriving during the Saturday afternoon. Some had taken the opportunity to extend the time away staying at various places on the way to Doxford Hall, either visiting family or, as one group did, visiting Beamish in County Durham to visit the museum.

Everyone assembled together for drinks before dinner. Whilst the food was very good, most members were of the opinion that the allocated room and service needed improvement, which was disappointing. This did not, however, put anyone off gathering in the bar afterwards to exchange experiences on the journey up.

Following a hearty breakfast on Sunday morning some of the cars were assembled for a photoshoot in front of the hotel before most of us set off for Alnwick Castle to visit the State Rooms and the beautiful formal gardens, which were a project of the Duchess of Northumberland, based upon the gardens at Versailles. Some also took in a fascinating guided tour of the Poison Garden where we were reminded by our lovely lady guide that, historically, most poisoners were women – food for thought, gentlemen!

After what all agreed was a worthwhile visit, a section continued to parts of the first drive, that our worthy Regional Organiser, Martyn, had diligently prepared, which took us up the Northumberland coast road passing through Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh. The views over to the Farne Islands and Holy Island were spectacular especially as the sun was shining, and one or two did venture out on the causeway at low tide to Holy Island. Others visited the very imposing Bamburgh Castle, but some stopped off at Seahouses to take in the atmosphere of the north east’s equivalent of Southend-on-Sea. The roads that Martyn had selected for the drive were a pleasure to drive on with little traffic and opportunities to “open up” a bit.

After a most enjoyable day, we all gathered in the evening for drinks before another very good dinner where the hotel had obviously taken note of our concerns about the previous evening, which meant we were able to get to the bar earlier afterwards for exchanging experiences of the day.

On Monday, after another excellent breakfast, a number of us headed off for the second drive that Martyn had prepared. This was quite a bit longer than the previous day and took us through the Kielder Forest and alongside Kielder Water. We stopped for lunch in Kielder and then continued, crossing briefly into Scotland, before heading south east to join the road along Hadrian’s Wall. Whilst this was a great drive putting the cars through their paces along roads with many hidden dips and sweeping bends, unfortunately the great disappointment was that the weather did not allow us to view the renowned countryside and, by the time we stopped at Housesteads to visit the fort there, it had closed in and everyone decided to make their way back to Doxford Hall. Despite this, everyone appeared to enjoy the day. Those of us with slightly more mature cars worked a little harder to keep up with modern turbo models, but that, in itself, was enjoyable.

The members that did not join the drive took the opportunity to visit some of the many other interesting sites in the area such as Cragside and Craster.

In the evening, we all gathered together for another very welcome dinner at which a presentation from us all was made to Martyn and Marie acknowledging all the hard work they had put in over many months arranging, what all agreed, was a most enjoyable WOTY. Once again, the bar was well populated afterwards and the events of the day were regaled with increasing embellishment. One topic that came up each evening was the difficulty in finding petrol stations having high octane fuel. One or two who, perhaps, had left the margins a little sharp had to resort to a splash of 95 octane.

Tuesday morning arrived too soon when members departed on their various journeys. Some returned south directly, whilst others went on to places such as Scotland, Yorkshire and the West Country.

An opportunity was made by a number over the period to visit the Jim Clark Museum at Duns in the Scottish Borders, which was very interesting and informative.

All in all, this WOTY proved to be a success, especially for the rookies who were made to feel very welcome. Roll on WOTY 2018! We are all waiting to hear what the venue will be, which, if tradition is followed, will be on the Continent.

Rodney Hyne-Jones

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