I really look forward to the LRSOC (Land Rover Series One Club) annual International Rally. It’s a great place to meet up with around 200 or more other people afflicted with the same urge to drive their ancient Land Rovers to a remote field somewhere in the UK.
This year’s three-day event, The Down South Rally, was at Plumpton racecourse in East Sussex – and you can’t get much more Down South than that.
The notes also ‘promise’ potential bodywork scratches and even the risk of damage on some sections if we get things wrong. Plimsoll, my own Series I, is the first Land Rover away and Les Lawrence, one of the organisers, gives me some detailed pointers about one or two of the trickier junctions.
We’ve been trundling along obscure, tiny back roads for nearly an hour, so before we reach the start of lane one (Jevington to Folkington) we take a break at Birling Gap. It’s just down the coast from Beachy Head, and has a superb National Trust café and shop right on the cliff edge; there’s a great view of the Seven Sisters too.
Everything’s still running well as we enter the first lane, just past the Eight Bells pub in Jevington. The woods quickly close in and brush enthusiastically against the bodywork. Further along, we pass a group of teenagers on an orienteering trip. We slow to a crawl and share mutual greetings; everybody’s happy.
It’s only a short distance to the next lane, a simple but steep downhill trundle – but care is needed as we pass a handful of mountain bikers. Some are bravely scrabbling uphill, but most are heading down and we pull over to let them pass.
The third lane, which is harder to find due to our temporary confusion over the directions, is the longest. Towards the end, when we pass a wooden distance marker, it dawns on me that I’ve been here before; I came here to see a Defender-cum-Disco 3 pick-up, which featured in the February 2013 issue.
From here, we’re back on minor roads and lanes as we return to the racecourse and the big evening meal in the marquee.
We’ve had a brilliant day, thanks to all the hard work put in by the organisers – especially local club members Andrew Munden and Les Lawrence.
Next year, the rally is going overseas – to Donard, County Wicklow, Ireland. I already can’t wait to head over there.