In 2009, JASONSLAPHEAD and I participated in the Scally Rally; driving 2,200 miles to the Arctic Circle in a Fiat Cinqucento that we paid £100.00 for.This year, the challenge won’t be quite so demanding- the drive is from Wales to Scotland and is loosely based on the 3 Peaks Challenge. Further information can be found on the Scally Rally website but below is the itinerary, which I have copied directly from the Scally Rally website– I am not claiming that it is my own work!
The drive will be over 4 days; from 29th June to 2nd July.
Caernarfon – Lytham St. Anne’s
Estimated drive time: 6 hours 15 minutes/180 Miles
Our start will be from the Roman town of Caernarfon in North West Wales. We hope that this convenient starting point will appeal to our Irish friends and make it easy for them to get across to Holyhead and the start line (30 miles).
The exact start will be confirmed shortly, but with many stunning backdrops in the town we are planning on making it something special.
We leave Caernarfon heading straight for the Snowdonia National Park, driving along the Llyn Padarn lakeside road. You will have time to stop at the Snowdon Mountain Railway. A return trip takes 2½ hours (with 30 minutes at the summit) which is possible if you don’t plan many other major stopovers for the rest of the day. We suggest booking in advance if you want to include this diversion into your day (http://www.snowdonrailway.co.uk). Even if you don’t visit in person, the views along this road are breath taking and there are lots of opportunities to pull over and take some snaps.
As we continue along our first leg we meet another lake in Llyn Peris, again with stunning views, heather covered rock and inky blue waters.
We start to head south now to take in the rest of the Snowdonia National Park and all that it has to offer. Leaving the lakes behind we head towards the sea and the sheltered shoreline roads of Cardigan Bay. We then loop back around to head North via Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), Denbigh and Mold. As we say goodbye to Wales after a a stunning mornings drive and into another world (also known as Liverpool) – we plan to miss the worst of the traffic and cross from Birkenhead into Liverpool via the Mersey Tunnel. Leaving Liverpool behind we continue to head north touching the outskirts of Preston and finishing Day One to rest over night in Royal Lytham St. Anne’s. We considered stopping overnight in Blackpool, but concluded that a stag party and a comedy scally car would be too tempting at 2am so thought better of it. If you fancy heading into Blackpool to complete the Rimini comparison then it’s a short taxi ride away.
Lytham St. Anne’s – Dumfries
Estimated drive time: 7 hours 30 minutes/250 Miles
With day one under our belts, we’re ready to continue to face the jewel in the crown of English roads and the Lake District. We leave Lytham heading East and pass around the northern tip of Preston before picking up the A59 towards Settle and then enjoy the scenic roads that escort us along the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
With the Dales as a taster we soon wave to everyone sitting on the M6 as we pass and head to our gateway to the Lake District. Picking up the A5074 towards Bowness and Windermere. The roads start to take the shape of the rolling hills ignoring modern methods of slicing into them, each corner offering a new landscape to enjoy .. and a couple of sheep here and there.
Plenty of local hostels are available to stop at and grab some lunch and with the expectation of some great weather a proper Scally ploughmans and a pint of the local brew is the order of the day.
We take in as much of the Lakes as we can by looping around passing Windermere, Thirlmere, Derwent Water, Buttermere, Crummock Water and finally Bassenthwaite Lake, bringing us back to Keswick where we head East towards Penrith on the A66. These lakes and roads compete with the best Europe can offer, with hidden waterfalls and over-hanging rock. A word of caution though, many of these roads have cattle grids which can take you by surprise (!), GT drivers take it easy if you have” farmers”.
Heading up via Carisle, crossing the border into Scotland. Through Gretna, we hope to see some Weddings and some Scally Car/Wedding photos would be a great opportunity missed. If anyone wants to actually get married on this trip I’m sure we could pick up a hat along the way!
The final leg of the day into Dumfries at the mouth of the River Nith. We’ll find a suitable hostelry to sample the local brew and plenty of beds to rest before the next day’s adventure.
Dumfries – Inverary (tbc)
Estimated drive time: 6 Hours/180 Miles
We’re up early to travel west out of Dumfries towards the coast of Wigtown Bay and up into the Galloway Forest for some fun hill climbs. Forgetting sheep now as we pass through “The Queens Way” Wild Goat Park!
With hills and lochs for company we head up towards Ayr and Prestwick. Onto Largs and out on to the coast side road toward Greenock.
At McInroy’s Point, Gourock we jump aboard the ferry across the Firth of Clyde waves to Hunter’s Quay, Dunoon. It’s just a 20minute crossing to get some air, photos and stretch your legs. With 4 sailings an hour we shouldn’t need to wait long.
We then drive up towards Loch Eck and enjoy driving it’s east side road before we cut across to lap around the edge of Loch Fyne before we arrive at our destination of Inverary, the gateway to Argyll and the Islands.
Inverary (tbc) is a small town with a few hotels and lots of B&Bs! So we will probably be scattered across the town tonight, but meet somewhere central for a drink and it would be rude not to sample some fish tonight … or at least kippers in the morning for breakfast.
Inverary (tbc) – Fort William
Estimated driving 6 hours 20 minutes/270 miles (including optional loop to the Mull of Kintyre)
So, the last day is here. You’ve met new people, seen some stunning scenery and now time to finish off the rally in style with some of the best roads in Europe. Today there shouldn’t be one road that doesn’t have the wow factor.
With the optional leg down to the Mull of Kintyre to wave across to the Emerald Isle then back up to rejoin the road to the mountains. We skip in and out of the coastline along the A816 towards Kilniver and the beautiful Oban before heading back inland. With flashbacks to the road into Cortina D’Amprezzo, these Dolomite like roads don’t disappoint. The hills are glowing with the colour of the heather and wild flowers which make every scene a photo opportunity.
With more Loch side roads to enjoy we climb up a little higher towards to the highest mountains in the British Isles, where there aren’t many roads at all so our journey hugs the mountains and sits mainly in the valleys.
If you have room for a Mountain Bike then you may consider some time on Glen Coe or Ben Nevis and the stunning mountain side paths they have on offer. No bike, then just take the road up as far as you can and enjoy.
We finish up that awesome day in Fort William and we’ll celebrate into the night at a local hostelry and the finish of Scally Rally GB 2012.
As of yet, we haven’t worked out how we’re getting back. In theory, we will drive back but in 2009, our car was not mechanically fit by the time we’d arrived in Norway. However, this journey is considerably shorter. We will probably look to book a train back from Scotland and scrap the car there. We’re looking to buy a small Fiat; either another Cinqucento or a Seicento as the car we used in 2009 was very economic!
Whilst writing this, I have just realised something. I’ve booked 29th June to 2nd July off work, which is Friday to Monday. However, I haven’t taken into account that the starting point is in Wales and that we’ll have to drive there first. This means I’ll either have to take 28th June off work or we’ll have to drive straight to Wales when I finish work at 5pm on 29th June- that could be interesting. It will be even more interesting trying to get to work in Chatham for 9am on Tuesday 3rd July…
Phew! I’ve been able to get Tuesday 3rd July off as holiday, so will not have to drive to Chatham straight from Scotland on Monday night. I wasn’t looking forward to that…!