Sidecar Safari Rally

Organised by Bill Strickland and held on early 1970s bank holiday weekends in the Lake District

They were always damn good rallies to go to mainly because they lasted that extra day being on the bank holidays. There was, if I recall right, nothing special organised, apart from some talk of "storming the passes", which from what I could gather was an informal round trip covering all the passes, a trip of over a hundred miles. Maybe not so bad on a solo but on an outfit in the bank holiday traffic not fun at all. Pass the valium. If I remember correctly I think Bill lived in Moor Row and was in some sidecar club. He enjoyed organising the rally, watching us youngsters having a good time and sometimes making prats of ourselves. Bill was in his early-mid 60s, a nice chap not at all grumpy as a lot of other people his age were. I don't recall seeing any other people helping out but there must have been.

The rallies tended to be held in the north/west area of the Lake District and in later years around the Ennerdale Water, Cleater Moor, Egremont area between Workington and Sellafield. The spring bank holiday, if early, could find your tent covered in snow and the midges could drive you mad in August. I now find it impossible to say which rally was which but that doesn't matter. What I do remember was the protracted journey to get there on old English motor cycles. My old 1960 BSA Gold Flash/TRIBSA outfit and my 1948 Ariel Square Four outfit both of which struggled to maintain a 60 mph cruising speed and a trip to the lakes could take a good 6 hours.

Cros (Crosby Johnson) posted this photo on Facebook and admits a couple of names he cannot remember so he'll ask Dave, Ted or Roy Watkins. Cros took the picture so he won't be on it! It could be the 1973/4 Sidecar Safari at Cleader Moor, Egramont, or maybe the Bulldog.

One year I went with Steve Porter and Pete the Snuff on the Friday. I had to drive the M6 section as Steve had not yet passed his test on his 1950 solid rear end A10 outfit. Pete was as normal (how can I use that word when talking about Snuffie) mounted on one of his aged beloved Norton singles. We stopped for a pint or two and a cigarette just outside of Kendal at around 21.00 and got talking to an American chap who was touring England on his new Triumph 650. Well we told him of the rally we were going to and he decided to join us. By the time we left the pub it was nearly 22.00 and we finished up running low on fuel. No stations open that time of night and as the mist/low clouds closed in we had no option but to camp on Wrynose pass for the night. If we had have pressed on we would have found the next petrol station at Eskdale Green closed for the night or gone off the road.

We rose early and had a fry up but no coffee as we had no water. We made our way over the Hardknott Pass and re-fueled at Eskdale Green and pressed on to the rally site where we found the police checking over the people who had over-nighted there. Some local girl had been assaulted. After a short time the American chap chose to continue his tour of England without a sample of a Saturday night at a rally.

On another occasion about 1975 early on a Saturday evening we were sat in a pub in Egremont and something was starting to go down. Some of the local lasses were flirting with a few of the rallists and about 4 or 5 of the local young bloods had taken exception to this and had offered them out. Up jumps Mad Jimmy who declares he'll take them on on his own, no need for us to interupt our drinking. So out he goes on his own. He was the only one to re-enter the bar less than a couple of minutes later.

Ronnie Burgess took us out for a ride the one year down a dead end track to a pub at Wast Water and pointed out the remains of a light aircraft that had crashed on the top of the screes. We weren't going to have a look at it while the bar was open or after it had closed. Sod the hill walking, I'll do my sightseeing from the saddle. And if you like sightseeing then by all means visit the lakes and do the passes but not on a bank holiday weekend. In fact you're better going mid week to avoid the prats in cars.

One Saturday lunch time in August, at a pub in Cleater Moor, the place was heaving ralliests to the ceiling! Out on the pavement! Everywhere! The weather was hot and there was a drinking frenzie going on (they used to shut at 2.30pm). The landlord was selling Newcastle Broon by the crate and of course he was charging a deposit. The full crates were in a secure locked store. The fool was putting the empties in a locked walled yard at the rear of the pub which was overlooked by a window in the lounge. He must have repaid the deposit on the one crate about 8 times. Cheers gaffer!

- Les Hobbs

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