Putting the Fun into Fundraising !!
The Mac 4x4 event ran from 6th March 2015 to 8th March 2015 and it was Sylvia's 60th birthday on the 7th. In view of this we attempted our own personal challenge to coincide with the main Mac 4x4 event.
The basic concept was quite simple, start from Lands End at the same time as the Mac 4x4 started and drive to John O'Groats by the time it finished. While not being part of the Mac 4x4 all the funds we raised were presented to Macmillan Cancer Support through the Mac 4x4.
The shortest route from Lands End to John O'Groats is over 837 miles, but we did not go by motorway. We asked a number of 4x4 groups along the way to construct special stages which could be any type of challenge from navigational, treasure hunt, off-road driving course etc but one for which points could be awarded.
There was only be one vehicle in our challenge so it was quite likely we would win (possibly the only way we would win) but those wishing to sponsor us were be able to base their sponsorship on the points we gained and also have a go at predicting how many points we would achieve.
How did it go?
We made an early start from Lands End, about 10:00, the only time we were ahead of schedule! After a few photos of the cliffs, sea etc we started our route North to the Cornwall/Devon border for our first challenge. This turned out to be navigational exercise across some beautiful Dartmoor scenery with fantastic blue sky. Thanks to Lanes Tracks and Trails for this stage.
No time for lunch we aimed for the Severn Bridge into Wales and Hay-on-Wye to meet Kieran from Free Spirit 4x4 who had laid on a treasure hunt along the Welsh border. We had some navigation issues here which slowed us down so the sun was setting as we completed the off-road section.
Just 200 miles or so on tarmac now to the heart of the Peak District in Derbyshire for our overnight stop. We were predictably late arriving but were welcomed by a party from home to start Sylvia's birthday celebrations.
No time for a lie in this Saturday we were up at 6:00am and were presented with a challenging set of cryptic navigation clues with questions to answer along a set of Derbyshire green lanes. These devised by the slightly warped minds of the GLASS Organisation.
Again no time for anything but meals on wheels for dinner and after heavy traffic near Huddersfield early afternoon saw us arrive at the Tong off-road site for a very muddy and challenging driving section. Sylvia also collected some birthday champagne but this was stored for later!
From Yorkshire North the weather changed dramatically so that by the time we made it to the North East Rovers Club section in Northumberland it was freezing wet and very windy. The fantastic warmth of the welcome more than made up for the weather as the entire club had turned out to man an off-road section with people at various points stopping us to ask questions. Thanks guys, we now know that a Disco 4 does not have a timing belt but a chain! The final part of our time here was an open air birthday party in the freezing rai, cutting a beautiful cake and thanking our hosts for a very generous donati9on for Macmillan.
Tiredness was now setting in making the road to Stirling over the Scottish border seem very long in the dark and continuous rain. Our stop was in a great hotel that had originally been a castle and it was a very welcome sight. Our luck was in regarding meals since we arrived just five minutes before they stopped serving so enjoyed the best meal for some time!!
On the last morning again an early start was in order and although still cold the sky was blue. Perfect weather for Scotland with snow on the mountain tops. The final special stage was organised by the Scottish Green Road Club who guided us up some high climbs stopping first by a fallen tree. This was cleared by one of their members use of a chain saw and our recovery winch! Finally our way to one summit was blocked by deep snow but by this time we were looking at our watches and working out the time to John O'Groats
Sadly we left a great bunch off Scottish Land Rover owners who had a collection and made a huge donation to Macmillan.
It was a straight run from the Trossachs to the far North with just one stop in late afternoon to meet up with some friend near Inverness. We had aimed to be at John O'Groats by 16:00 but we were a couple of hours late so it was completely dark on arrival.
We were still able to take some photos that night and more the next morning after a very good nights sleep.
Was the trip a success? Absolutely !! Our Discovery didn't miss a beat along the whole route we completed the route in time (nearly) raised about £3000 for Macmillan but best of all made some great friend along the way. Most of the people who supported us at each stage were unknown to us before this but all put in a huge effort to challenge us and make the whole venture about the best birthday either of us have ever had.
Thank you, to everyone who supported us at home and along the way.