Monday, 2 November 2009

Reached 50 and reached Killhope Cross

(PICTURES, done in reverse, first two Killhope Cross, next two coming to Cowshill, last yours truly (left) with Chris Phipps). Yes, folks, the long held ambitions of certain members of the erstwhile DUGIA (Durham University Group for Industrial Archaeology) were fulfilled on Saturday 31st October 2009. Despite many hours over the 1970s/80s/90s being spent chasing and occasionally riding Weardale Motors Leyland Titans, not one of us had managed a Leyland Titan ride over Killhope Cross between Weardale and Alston. This punishing climb has only occasionally enjoyed stage service. My 50th birthday (1st November 1959) bash and the co-operation of Dreadnought Coaches enabled this to happen. The original intention had been to use Bristol Lodekka XSL 228A of 1961. A before dawn hiccup meant this had to be replaced by 1952 Preston Corporation Leyland Titan PRN 761. Both are detailed at . The Titan was very similar in outline to Weardale Motors vehicles like ex Warrington BED 732C. Heads were turned in Weardale. The Lodekka would have been my sentimental choice as I grew up in East Anglia. Previous posts outlined the route we followed. Granted a 30 minute late start at Newcastle Central, everything else went to plan. Weardale put on its autumn best. The climbs from Cowshill, up the Killhope Burn to the Cross are punishing and the bus did it with extensive use of first gear. We were not utterly fully laden and there were numerous children. This was perhaps just as well. A breather was taken at the summit 2056' ASL. Auden's The Watershed was read beside the stone cross to which it refers. It was then onto Alston for lunch and South Tynedale Railway train rides behind Helen Kathryn. More tough driving followed in the dark over Whitfield Moor and the hairpins at Staward in Allendale. A good singsong took place with Hot Asphalt, Jerusalem and I Vow to Thee My Country along with The Wheels on the Bus being belted out. Thank you Andy Clarke and Rod Donaldson for bringing along the guitars. Two hours were enjoyed with a Pennine party tea in Stocksfield Institute catered for by the ladies of the Snod's Edge Church Hall Sunday Afternoon Teas. Our chosen charities were Tiny Lives, Sarnelli House and Tynedale Hospice, all benefitted (to the tune of £783). Thanks for all who turned out and especially Mr and Mrs Fuller of Dreadnought for looking after us on the day.

The Newcastle Journal have written the day up at . Two nice photos are in the printed version.

Here's to the next hire!