3rd GIDEA PARK ROVER CREW
ROUND BRITAIN & SEVEN PEAKS EXPEDITION
On reflection it is only logical that upon returning from the 1959
trip we should look forward to doing a similar expedition in 1960.
Opinion was in favour of the same route and mountains but in a much
Dave Sixsmith the Navigator revised the whole route and timings and
after many weeks of work came forward with a complete timetable showing
we could do the expedition, with only two alterations in route, in 96
hours including the seven mountains but without camping stops.
At this stage a most important development took place that was to
alter the whole conception of this expedition. It was ascertained that
the Ford Motor Co. of Dagenham was very interested in our project and
proposed subject to hearing our full plans to loan us a Thames, 12
Seater, 15 cwt. Estate Van free of charge. The initial plans were then
speeded up and Dave Sixsmith and Ray Dallas produced a document giving
details of route, timings, gear, weight ratios and other relevant
details that we thought would be of interest to the Ford Motor Co. Mr.
Sixsmith, Chairman of the group Committee presented this to Fords with a
covering letter and we sat back and waited for results.
By now it was December 1959 and at the Crew Christmas Dinner we
decided on who the members of the expedition should be. It was agreed
that the party would number four. Only Dave Sharp was not a member of
the 1959 trip but his inclusion this time was to prove a great asset in
his close relationship with the Ford Motor Co.
In the New Year, the four members met in the Gymnasium at Liverpool
Street Station and thrashed out the preliminary details and duties as
follows were allocated out.
||Q.M. C-ear/Food & Climbing
||Mechanic & Purser
Among other decisions made at this meeting was a training run over the weekend 19/20 March, subsequently altered to the 26/27 March
because of Dave's Police duties. During the weekend a run of 1,OOO
miles and three mountains would be attempted stimulating as near as
possible actual conditions of the expedition proper. This meant of
course continuous driving except for the climbs, which resulted in the
necessity of providing two beds in the vehicle for shifts to be worked,
two sleeping and two driving/navigating. It was agreed the shifts should
be of six hours each, the driving and navigating being split as it
suited the two individuals. The overall roster would be the
responsibility of the Navigator-in-Chief as before.
Many other ideas were adopted at this meeting but more of these later.
A few days later we heard the glad tidings from Fords that they were
willing to help us and Dave Sharp was charged with the work of
negotiating direct regarding lighting, spares and other accessories for
During the weeks that followed through January, February and March
the route for the training weekend was devised by Dave Sixsmith, Gear
was made, assembled and collected at Maidenhead by Ray, Brian prepared
his photographic equipment and Dave Sharp worked in close liaison with
the people at Fords.
The weekend of the 26/27th March dawned and Dave Sharp took delivery
of a new Ford Thames Estate Van from Dagenham and we all met at King'
s Cross and proceeded to Maidenhead from where we were to start our
Very briefly the result of this weekend was as follows. We did
1,022 miles in 41 hours 37 minutes (3 minutes to spare) The three mountains
proved difficult in fact Scafell was not attempted because of darkness.
We did a major adjustment to the steering of the van instead. The
driving, navigating and sleeping routine worked fine and after eighteen
hours or so sleep came naturally at the right time!! In comparison with
last year 's expedition, mechanical trouble was nil, which is thanks
undoubtedly to Fords and Dave our mechanic.
Eating arrangement worked well and the new grub box, taking the place
of the two we had in 1959 was an undisputed success. A gallon of coffee
was made at each climb and kept in vacuum flasks, so plenty was
available for all during driving and navigating together with fresh
On Thursday 12th May we had a further meeting at Hornchurch, a kind
of post-mortem on the training trip and run through on plans for the
trip proper. The only amendments to original arrangements decided was as
follows. Start and Finish to be Marble Arch, Dave Sixsmith to amend the
route and timing accordingly Climbing rota to be altered to Dave
Sixsmith climbing Snowdon and Dave Sharp and Ray, Kinder Scout, Dave on
his own if weather good and plenty of daylight. The climber would not
use the bicycle on Snowdon as no time would be saved by cycling up the
Miners Track than walking up the Pyg Track, Cycle definitely a must for Ben MacDhue,
it will cut out nearly ten miles of walking on a road, which we cannot take the van
because of a locked gate.
A fortnight prior to the trip proper final preliminary publicity
sheet, smallar to last year's "Blue sheet" was produced.
This gave full details of the route, what we we're setting out to do,
Emergency details, and an acknowledgement Ford Motor Co. This was
distributed on the "Woggle" scale, approximately 100 copies.
The eve of the trip proper saw the van with roof rack, bicycle, an
added reversing light, and two dormant figures reclining on two lielos,
the camp beds having been discarded as unsuitable due to road vibrations
being felt. The two who were driving/navigating first slept in the Rover
Den, and at 4.15 am the van and team left together with an Austin 'Big
7' and four occupants as escort. These occupants were to film. our
escape from London at the Marble Arch and for a short time afterwards
on our way South West for High Willhays. On the stretch from London to
Exeter our way was easy as traffic was light. At Exeter we paid a visit
to Vernon Hood who is at Exeter University. Dartmoor soon came into
view, and in no time we were Oakehmpton, off the main road, and bumping
along a track that affords a good leaving point for High Willhays. Brian
and camera set off for the summit while the remainder busied themselves
with maintenance food and cleaning. Brian returned on time and we set
off with time in hand, The 'tripper' traffic had increased by this
time and was even more noticeable on the narrower roads of Cornwall.
At Land's End postcards were sent, a meal prepared and consumed,
and with the van turned round we were off once more to Exeter. The
weather was still fine the afternoon having mellowed slowly into evening
until somewhere, just after Exeter, the setting sun saw us eating a
mixed grill at a transport cafe. This stop lasted barely an hour before
we were off again for the labyrinth of streets that is Bristol, The
route then took us to Gloucester where we cut across B roads to the A. 9
and Leominster. This road was to take us through the valley made by
those ancient rock outcrops of Long Mynd and the Wrekin until the A5
and Shrewsbury by-pass. The A5 carried us through wooded valleys and
mountain passes in the early hours of the morning until the rising sun
found us at the foot of Snowdon. The trip to the summit and back was
made by Dave Sixsmith - the bike not being employed.
Again Warrington produced its traffic problems, but we were able to
make up time on the Preston, and later on, the Lancaster by-passes.
Just before the Lancaster by-pass there was a happy reunion with
"Minnie", who on this occasion had not been waiting more than
a flew minutes
Scafell Pike was reached without incident, Ray making the ascent.
Good stretches of road both on this side and over the boarder all owed
for fast driving until Glasgow and the A82 which was to take us nearly
to Inverness. It was still dark upon our arrival at Glen Nevis at the
foot of Ben Nevis, The darkness was accompanied by the rapturous snores
of the navigator, who had not cared less since the moonlit scenery of
Loch Lomond. Dave Sixsmith made his way to the cairn strewn summit that
afforded a marvellous view of snow for a least 25 yards where every
thing merged into mist.
After the climber's return there was a short visit to Fort William
for petrol, and having stocked up we sped North West through the Great
Glen on our way to Ben Hope with the scenery lost on at least two of the
"goldfish". Next call on route was Lairg in Sutherland, where
we were pleased to pick up a vast quantity of mail. We left Lairg for
Altnaharra where the road was to be exchanged for track which took us to
the West flank of Ben Hope. Brian and Ray immediately took to the
heather their progress watched with interest by the other two who wore
later joined by a Mr. Winstanley, who was cycling in Mickey Everett
fashion to Cape Wrath. The climb successfully completed, the main road
at Hope Lodge was attained, Mr. Winstanley dropped off, and the journey
continued fast along the northern coast of Scotland with glimpses of
surf breaking on the beaches and cliffs to relieve the confinement of
the "goldfish bowl"
Through Thurso and on to John O'Groats where we had a chat with the
local constabulary on relative speeds. Thurso was an extremely short
stop at the John O'Groats Hotel before we turned south on the A9. Hemsdale and. Wick were
passed, before dark and the coastal road was
left for the moors just as the sun was going down. The A. 9 was regained
and took us through Inverness to Carrbridge where left it for Grantown
on Spey, Tomintoul, Braemar and the start for Ben Macdhui. The cycle was
then taken down, assembled, Dave Sixsmith put on it, pointed the right
way and sent off. The track took him for about four miles to Derry
Lodge where the bike was reluctantly parked, and the spreading feet took
over carrying him to the mist shrouded summit via numerous minor high
parts. The bike was thankfully retrieved and sat upon, and the scramble
to the van recommenced. On reaching the van he was placed inside with
his boots still on and we set off again, this time for Kinder Scout.
After about 10 miles the boots were off and the windows opened. We
descended from the magnificent hills to the Central Valley, Kincardine
Bridge, Edinburgh, and the A68 which was to take us through Jedburgh
and over the border at the Cheviots, then down to Scotch Corner via a B
road, and the A1 The day was exceptionally warm and was ideal for
driving with little traffic about to hinder us. Refreshments were taken
shortly at a transport cafe at Leeming Bar, but that produced little let up for shortly we were off again along the open road for Castleford
and the minor roads of the industrial West Riding.
Although we had made up time, we were still about an hour down on
reaching the Snake Inn departure point for Kinder Scout. The climbers
left equipped with two torches at about half an hour before sunset.
After a meal at the roadside, the party left again for Glossop,
Buxton, and the A515 to Ashbourne where sleep again robbed us of the
correct route. 20 minutes were lost in regaining the right route, but we
were soon to ran out of petrol; after refuelling from the roof rack
stores we jammed the starter motor. This necessitated our waking the
Mechanic, (it was his turn to sleep) to unstick the thing. Litchfield
again came into view, and soon we were rolling along the A.5 and the
Motorway along which we averaged 61 m.p.h. We arrived at Marble Arch at
6.10 a.m. one hour, ten minutes overdue.
NAVIGATION By D. S.
This year' s route gave less navigational problems than were
encountered in the 1959 Expedition. By using a larger proportion of well
signed 'A' and 'B' roads there was less trouble in navigating
correctly, which is just as well as the major problem for the navigators
was keeping awake.
Our greatest time loser was the mountains where we lost time on them
all except High Willhays where we managed to keep the schedule. The
times for the mountains included not only the climbing time but also in
some of the cases time for preparing for the climb and also a meal for
the climber on completion of the climb.
Having meals other than at climbing stops lost us 2 hours 47 minutes.
The stop of 1 hour at Lands End could have been reduced by having
pre-written post cards, which are admittedly less personal but must
inevitable reduce time.
The meal outside Exeter was had at a transport cafe and was very
substantial and welcome. The term fuelling is somewhat misleading for
although we stopped to refuel on these occasions the majority of the
time was spent on other matter such as making small purchases. At
Ashbourne we ran out of Petrol and refilled from our supply on the roof
rack, this led eventually to our one mechanical stop of the starter
motor sticking. I hasten to add not a fault of the vehicle.
Only 32 minutes were lost due to navigation, 8 minutes in Bristol
which is a city apparently without any major roads, and 24 minutes at
Ashbourne where our enemy (sleep) had its grip on the navigator, causing a
marvelous feeling of indifference and subsequent faulty map reading. I
was navigator/sleeper at the time.
Road condition not including traffic stoppages accounted for
1 hour 2 minutes, all except one were in mountainous districts where
the hills and bends sabotaged our efforts at keeping our average up. The
other occasion was in the SW Peninsular where the road surface
deteriorated, and the width was reduced, this combined with added
tourist traffic lost us 2 minutes over 18 miles.
Every place that we anticipated lo sing time for traffic congestion
we did so, They were in built up areas and unless they are traveled through in the early hours they will always cause a reduction of time.
Owing to our preference of reaching the mountains during the daylight,
altering the times for these places is not possible.
The only opportunities we had to gain time was on the mountains or
during the driving time. As the mountains were very tightly scheduled
and our times on them were not as was hoped our only chance to make up
time was during the driving. This we did to the extent of 11 hours 7
minutes, leaving 1 hour 10 minutes to complete the trip by driving over
For future attempts I would emphasise that the major problem is
indifference to time wasting induced by tiredness from constant traveling
and irregular sleep.
THE CLIMBS by R.D.
With the exception of one, all the climbs were to be the same as the
1959 Expedition. The exception was High Wilihays in Cornwall, Yes Tor
was last Year's target. Also we aimed at as far as possible the same
climber climbing the same peak as he did last year. Dave Sharp of course
who was a newcomer to this trip and also to mountain and hill walking
was to attempt Kinder Scout in Derbyshire. In two cases the climb would
be done by a pair of climbers i.e. Ben Hope and Kinder Scout. The other
five would be attempted solo, firstly because of our restricted number
and secondly because each climber knew "his" mountain well
from previous attempts. In chronological order the story is as follows.
HIGH WILLHAYS Brian Hood.
Weather fine and Brian set off at the time
scheduled. Allowance was 2.5 hours but he covered the ground well within
this limit. High Willhays is used as an army firing range but enquiry to
0kehaimpton Police during the previous week had given us the okay to
climb. Little to be seen from the top except the rolling Cornish
Moorland. This point is the highest in the South West Peninsular
although many other heights like Yes Tor come very near it.
SNOWDON Dave Sixsmith
An early start this time and at 07.00 hours saw
Dave make his way up the Pyg Track from the Pen-y-Pass Hotel. Not
another climber or hiker did he meet as he made his way up passed the
peak of Crib Coch to the saddle below the summit of Snowdon to finish
via a short length of the mountain railway track. Signs of life in the
hotel on the summit but too early for tourists yet. 2.5 hours allowed
but this proved too conservative an estimate and Dave needed to return
to the van.
SCAFELL PIKE Ray Dallas
Determined to beat his own best time of 1
hour 55 minutes Ray set off up Longmill Gill, the best route from the
Wastwater side. Although mid afternoon the sun was exceedingly warm and
the self imposed pace became slower. At the top of Longmill Gill looking
over to Green Gable and Great Gable prior to the climb proper on Scafell
Pike Ray left his spare clothing in an attempt to move faster. No time
to admire the scenery at the top but down again via the same route,
collecting his gear on the way. However he was unable to beat his own
best, 2 hours 4. minutes had elapsed since his start;.
BEN NEVIS Dave Sixsmith
With a so called recovery from Snowdon Dave
set off on the long grind that Ben Nevis entails. The path zig zags and
with this being the highest mountain in Great Britain, and at these
latitudes he was soon crossing large patches of snow. Again a deserted
climb but he did see evidence of the surveying camps for the proposed
cable car to the summit.
BEN HOPE Brian Hood & Ray Dallas
Our failure last year, but this
time we started from the correct spot although to an initial mistake we
nearly didn't again. Picking an exact spot on a deserted road is not
so easy. The beginning of the climb is the most difficult and as this is
not a popular mountain there are no footpaths, actual or on the map.
Using compass and following the flow of mountain streams in the reverse
direction we quickly gained height to a spot where we were soon able to
look due south as far as the cairngorm Mountains. Reaching the main road
one finds on a high plateau sloping up towards the north like a huge
wedge pointing into the Atlantic. At the apex surrounded practically on
all sides by drops of 2,000 ft of precipitous rock is the summit and
Trig. point. By now the mist was descending and a bitter wind was coming
off the sea not so many miles away. The summit with its inscription
crudely carved "Scotland for the Scottish" was not therefore a
very inviting place and we quickly descended being careful to go far
enough south before turning west and descended to the road. Time taken 3
and 3 quarter hours.
BEN MACDHUI Dave Sixsmith
The climb where we used a bicycle!! Dave
set off pedaling to Derry Lodge a distance of four miles where he left
the bike and set off to ascend Ben MacDhui, the highest mountain in the
Cairngorn by the direct route. Thick mist and more snow on the top so
sometime was spent finding the actual summit. Five hours later Dave came
pedaling furiously back along the Derry Lodge Road.
KINDER SCOUT Dave Sharp and Ray Dallas
Owing to delays en route and
being two hours down on schedule it was 21:30 hours when we arrived at
the Snake Inn with only an hour left of daylight. Ray and Dave set off
in a great hurry, carrying in addition to normal equipment a rubber
torch and a Pifco signal lantern. It was essential to get along the
lower path parallel to the "Edge" to a point where the rock
face ends before dark. They just made it and as darkness finally came
down they were just reaching the Edge of Kinder Scout Plateau with the
sheer rock face to their left To find the 2,046' Trig. point is
difficult enough in daylight so careful compass bearings were taken from
the signal lantern which they left high up on a rock. Walking as it was
backwards, continually taking compass bearings they came across the
trig. Point first try. After a short rest, bearings were again taken to
the "Edge" where we had left the lantern burning. Down to the
lower path and back to the Snake Inn was accomplished without
With all seven peaks accomplished we considered that side of the
Expedition a 100% success. We were the first to succeed in all seven
attempts in the time and it is very interesting to note that our time
for the famous three peaks, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis was ? hours including all stops etc. This is indeed a good effort even
though different climbers attempted each peak and the record for these
three mountains was not meant to be attacked by this Expedition.
EQUIPMENT by R.D.
The problem of equipment of all types was a lot easier than previous
expeditions because of two main factors a reduction in the members
to four and no camping involved.
Lessons learnt on the training trips and much discussion among all
members of the Crew, led us to this Expedition's equipment which is
listed in full later on. The two main considerations for me was
providing sleeping and cooking facilities and these were met as follows.
The routine as explained elsewhere was for two members to be asleep
while the other two drove and navigated. We decided to leave the side
facing seats installed in the Ford Estate Van and upon these we
constructed a rigid wooden platform six feet long and stretching the
side of the van from seat back to seat back. Upon this we laid two
rubber air beds. On the training trip we tried one air bed and one
"Safari" canvas bed but rejected the latter in favor of air
beds for the trip proper. Between the two air beds was screwed a cage
holding six vacuum flasks and soft drinks easily reached by the driver
and navigator and also by these on the beds. Behind the navigator's
seat and at the foot of one bed was positioned the portable radio. The
four sleeping bags rested on the air beds each member of the
expedition sleeping in his own when it was his turn to rest.
Between the beds and the rear doors was another framework upon which
rested the galley. This was designed specially for this expedition and
incorporated all the ideas gained in previous trips such as this.
long by a proximately 18" wide and 18 high it consisted of four
main compartments, one each for food, cooking utensils, with cutlery
box, paraffin stoves together with spare fuel and a final compartment
for washing bowl and other sundry items. This was lined throughout with
laminated plastic for easy cleaning and the front hinged down to provide
a meal preparation surface. The top was also hinged so access could be
gained from inside the van while moving. Cooking was done at the rear of
the vehicle while we were stopped for climbs.
Under the seats was stowed more food in cardboard cartoons, two
gallons of water, climbing boots, personal gear in four army type large
packs, the mechanics tools in three boxes and the "emergency
box". In this was kept the torches, spare batteries, first aid kit,
compasses etc. etc. Maps and navigation impede were kept in the
dashboard pocket and two other pockets alongside the side doors.
The van came from Fords equipped with a very large alloy and wood
roof rack upon which we stowed 4 gallons reserve petrol, paraffin,
petrol funnel and spare engine oil in one box. An additional spare
wheel and the bicycle.
One item of equipment was not taken because the source of supply
did not materialise at the last minute that was the fire extinguisher.
This omission must be strongly condemned and further expedition must
ensure they are so equipped.
Another item not taken owing this time to haste in packing, was the
entrenching tool, more inconvenience than anything, we could not bury
our rubbish and finished up by carrying unburnable material on to
garages who provided a dustbin.
A tent and spare air beds were taken in case of failure and/or a long
delay which might have meant camping. Of course these were not required
but are a wise precaution.
In conclusion I would like to mention the "Pifco" lanterns
we carried one had a red flashing dome and a white beam. This was
indispensable when we had our only mechanical stoppage at 3 o'clock in
the morning in a very narrow country lane. Placing the lantern in the
middle of the road fifty yards behind prevented us being run down while
effecting repairs. The other had a white continuous illuminated dome and
white side beam which was used to great effect on Kinder Scout which was
climbed in darkness.
All equipment stood up to the wear and tear except the switch on the
navigation lamp but this was replaced and no further trouble was
FOOD by R,D.
Due to the continuous activity of the expedition lasting 96-100
hours all pretext of keeping regular meal times and, eating usual
meals had to be abandoned from the start. The plan was to have a hot
meal consisting of soup, meat vegetable etc. at every climb, that is
at intervals of 12-13 hours and coffee, sandwiches prepared at
each climb and fresh fruit available at any time while driving. Between two of the climbs the interval was
much longer that 12/13
hours so we stopped at a transport cafe on these two occasions, time
consuming but necessary.
The climber was meant to finish his climb and then have his meal
but in practice he usually refused it upon his return and came to life
an hour or so afterwards and replenished his inner man on the coffee
and sandwiches etc. The climber took chocolate and Kendle Mint Cake
with him on the climb.
On the training trip various types of filling for sandwiches were
tried, including meat but the overwhelming preference was Jam!!
Consequently jam Sandwiches were the order of the day for the trip
The Mechanic's report is, of necessity, quite short. The vehicle
behaved. extremely well throughout the trip and the only work
necessary on it was routine servicing.
The map light switch broke and was replaced during a coffee stop
between Bonar Bridge 'and Dingwall.
During the last night at about 03.00 hours the petrol tank ran dry
and after filling up from the reserve tanks the driver pressed the
starter button whilst the engine was still turning and jammed the
starter motor The Mechanic was rudely awakened to release it.
The fuel consumption was 102 gallons over 2,240 miles, giving 22
m.p.g. which considering the terrain and the rate of progress is quite
good. It is also commendable that less than 2 pints of oil were used
throughout the trip.
PHOTOGRAPHY - B.H.
Our objective with regard to the photographic aspect of this years
expedition was simply to provide a satisfactory record of our trip. It
would not be possible within the short period of time we had in mind for
the completion of our tour (96 hours) to provide anything other than the
briefest of cinematic accounts. It would not permit the detailed
features of last years journey when long day and night stops enabled the
photographer to spend much more time over the composition of his
subjects, checking exposures, and, most of all the
use of a large number of sequences taken from a static position, it is
these shots which give the eyes some sight from the rocking movement of
pictures taken from a moving vehicle. This year there were few stops except those for
mountain climbs. With our reduced manpower this year shorter periods of
time were necessarily available for filming.
A major disadvantage this time was the fact that
much of the photogenic scenery was passed through during the hours of
darkness. This unfortunately was the case with much of Wales, Loch
Lomond etc. all of which are of great photographic interest. The route
in Scotland this year was much more direct in its approach to Ben Hope,
it did however lack the wild, attractive, beauty which had such a
distinctive feature of last years film. The sequence shot on Ben Hope
itself is lacking in detail and is also rather short. The lack of detail
was due to the fact in common with many other mountains of this size, it
was subject to mist clouding out the sunlight, from Tongue, and towards
to John O'groats filming was not possible due to bad weather and
lighting conditions, Rain blotted out much of the landscape.
Invornesshire was traversed during the night though a few brief scenes
were taken at the end of the track to Derry Lodge, those being shot
whilst the climber was up Ben MacDhui. No filming was possible of our
next and last climb, Kinder Scout, since it was ascended at 12 midnight!!
The film in its present un-edited state is about 500 feet long
which would give it a short time of about 41 minutes This is compared
with 54 minutes last year. It will of course be greatly reduced by the
time of its final premiere. It is hoped once again this year to make a
soundtrack with the appropriate background music Editing has been very
much helped this year by the acquisition of an editor/viewer which is a
great improvement over last years "squinting session" with a
magnifying glass. Another great assent this year is the use of a new and
much improved system of splicing the film. The basis of the new process
which is imported from the U.S.A.. is an extremely thin plastic called
"Mylar" which the film is joined together in much the same way
as selo tape. It is quicker simpler and gives far lees noticeable joints
than the conventional method of welding the film with acetate.
Whilst the film will probably not comply with the tiptop standards of
Mr. J. A. Rank it will at least give some impression of the
enjoyment and interest which we had in making our record trip.