Paul and Lyn Trill have been organising primarily UK-based classic car tours since 2012, when some bright spark suggested that they organise a gathering for a Goodwood Revival meeting. That quickly developed and they now offer four to six tours each year, most often based in the UK. The format is around four nights/five days and sometimes at two locations. The Trills have a knack of finding ‘off the beaten track’ routes and combine them with smart hotels and interesting coffee and lunch stops.
And so it was that in May this year, the inaugural Yorkshire Dales Tour took place. The first four-day tour was booked up very quickly so a second, back-to-back tour was implemented. The routes for the tour had been created by Paul and Lyn, but the tour was hosted by me and Cliff Bloomfield.
The second group assembled at the Coniston Country Estate and Spa betwixt Settle and Skipton on Friday 20 May. The hotel was in a lovely setting – 1,400 acres of grounds with a not-insignificant fishing lake at its heart, with a new spa complex and shooting grounds on site too. It started life as a humble farm shop and grew to become the hotel it is today, which opened in 1998. Hotel owner Michael Bannister is a second cousin of former athlete Roger Bannister, who ran the first sub-four-minute mile.
After a convivial dinner the previous evening, the party of 30 E-type and XK Club members
assembled on Saturday morning for the Cream of the Dales Run. First stop was by the Ribblehead Viaduct for a photo opportunity. A Grade II listed structure, it carries the Settle to Carlisle railway over Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley. Next stop was the Wensleydale Creamery Centre (Wallace and Grommit would have approved) in the small market town of Hawes to sample and purchase from the selection on offer. The Yorkshire tradition of eating cheese with fruit cake did not go unnoticed.
Then it was onwards to a coffee stop at the charming Stone House Hotel (more cake). Built in 1867, the hotel afforded a pretty backdrop to the classic Jaguars in the car park. No lunch stop today (too full of cake) so the cars made their way back the hotel via Buttertubs Pass. The road crossed the high moorland between Wensleydale and Swaledale from Hawes over the hamlet of Thwaite. The Pass was so named because (so the story goes) farmers rested at the top of the climb on a hot day on the way to Hawes and would lower the butter that they had produced into the potholes to keep it cool. In 2014 the Pass featured as the second King of the Mountains climb in the Grand Départ of the Tour de France. It remains a very popular route for cyclists, proven by the number of lycra-clad bodies that we came across on the tour.
Day two started with a little mizzle and cloud but spirits were not dampened as we set off on the Bowland Run. This time we drove west into the Forest of Bowland and were struck by the rapidly changing landscapes. One minute lush green pastures, the next high moorlands, then tree-lined lanes and attractive villages. The Inn at Whitewell was the destination for
coffee and cake (yes, more cake). So pretty was the venue that several participants vowed to return. Dating from the 1300s, the inn was packed with character, with stunning riverside views from the rear terrace. Our lunch destination, the Bentham Golf Club, was next. A superb buffet had been prepared for us and, despite further drizzle, we gamely sat outside, overlooking the 18th hole and offering advice to approaching golfers. Then back to the Coniston for another super private dinner.
The Swinton Run had been much heralded by Paul and Lyn Trill and we were not disappointed. Driving by the villages of Grassington and Kettlewell, Cam Gill Road was a 15-mile run over hill and dale (a rest for the navigators) before some cars stopped for coffee in the village of Middleham, home of the castle and 15 horse-training stables (400 winners in the past 88 years between them). Then onto the Swinton Park Hotel, a Grade II castle in beautiful parkland, owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1880s and the ancestral seat of the Earl of Swinton. A delicious light lunch was served in a private room. The hotel featured in the Amazing Hotels TV series with Monica Galetti and Giles Coren. After lunch, and some re-arranging of garden furniture, we managed to get all the cars lined up for a photo or two.
And there it was – an excellent four days in an unspoilt area of Yorkshire, with little traffic (but
many cyclists), great company, some very wellbehaved classic Jaguars (bar the odd running
repair), excellent hospitality at every turn, a right Yorkshire welcome and a great hotel as a
base. Thank you Mr and Mrs Trill!