Having travelled, lived and worked extensively throughout the world, from America to Australia, Brazil to Thailand, South Africa to Peru and lots in between, it occurred to me that I had probably seen and travelled more outside of Britain then I had inside of this green and pleasant land. Now I’m not saying I hadn’t ventured out of London (my birth town) as I spent time in my later years at University in Chester, Worcester and ending up in Cambridge where I have now settled. Also in my youth I spent many a weekend or bank holiday visiting the coast up and down Britain with a car full of mates or two up on a scooter of some description, although those weekends now seem a little blurred when I look back, except maybe riding two-up on a Vespa 50 Special from Ilford to Weymouth and falling asleep on the way back and ending up in a hedge. But, getting back to the point, what I realised is that I hadn’t got to know the true Britain, the villages and towns scattered across the country with their quirky buildings and unusual attractions, such as ‘The Crooked House’ in Dudley or ‘The Devils Arse’ in The Peak District. It was only when I met my partner Lisa and her love of scooters that we decided to put the passports away and start a new love affair with Britain and all it has to offer.
So how do you really get to see Britain? Well it seemed to us there were a few options. Firstly, we could jump in a car and drive to our destination in a few hours and then visit the attractions that are on offer, seems like a reasonably good idea. Secondly, we could drive up and down Britain visiting different places on the way, also nothing wrong with that. However, do you really get to see Britain, or do you see it too quick and not get to take in everything between points A and B? Our solution was to jump on a classic scooter and just ride through country lanes and B roads stopping in villages and towns that we had never heard of before and seeing Britain between points A and B. So myself and Lisa put our thinking caps on and came up with a few places we either had never been to or wanted to see again.
Our first tour was in 2012 on the Vespa Rally 180 (210 kit) and was quite ambitious. We planned a mid-way destination (Cardiff) and then planned the journey there and back. We started in Cambridge on a Sunday afternoon and rode down to Ilford to drop in on my mum and get an early start on Monday. Monday morning we rode down to Worthing for The Music Mania Scooter Rally, then travelled west along the coast and up to Salisbury. Then headed north to Glastonbury, through Bath and then Weston-Super-mare to visit The Lambretta Museum. We crossed the Severn Bridge into Wales and rode on to Cardiff for our next stop and a couple days relaxing watching the Olympics on the big screen in Cardiff town centre. Then back on the road into England via The Forest Of Dean and on to Gloucester and another break, before heading to Oxford for our last B&B and then a 90 mile ride home to Cambridge. We covered over 800 miles in nine days and not without our mishaps – a hole in the piston near Yeovil and a snapped clutch lever near Oxford. However, with a scootering fraternity spread far and wide all over our shores there’s always someone out there to help you get on your way. So a big thanks to South West Scooters for having a Malossi piston in stock and then loaning me a corner of their workshop to fit it and also to Sacha in Abingdon for bringing me out a clutch lever to replace my broken one on a Sunday afternoon.
In 2013 we took the Series 2 and toured west to Stratford Upon Avon, then north to Stoke on Trent and then east through The Peak District and the surrounding areas, before heading back to Cambridge. A big thanks to Mike at Obsession scooters for fitting me some clutch plates near Dudley and the guys at NS Scooters in Stoke for sorting me out a back hub and not forgetting Russell at Lincs Lambrettas for the clutch springs and gearbox oil. These little hiccups send you places you may never have thought of going (The Crooked Inn) and meeting some class people along the way.
Last year we jumped back on the Rally 180 again and travelled to Newbury, turned south and headed to Bournemouth for a couple of days on the coast. Then it was off for a day in Beaulieu before heading to Southampton and on to Petersfield. A bit to eat at Fez and a few beers in The George and then to bed as we had an early start. The next day we rode down to Portsmouth to visit the maritime museum and HMS Victory, which is still the offical flagship of the Royal Navy. (Make sure you set aside a good 6 hours for Portsmouth as there is so much to do.) Then it was back to Petersfield ready to leave in the morning for Paddock Wood and ‘The Big Seven’ event. A fantastic night of music, beer and everything scooter before heading back to our last B&B and then north and home to Cambridge.
This year we’ve just returned from ten days in the South West, staying on the Rame Peninsula, just West of Plymouth. We took a slow route down, taking two days, via Buckingham, Devizes, Wells, Lyme Regis and then took the Torpoint ferry across to Rame. Cornwall was a fantastic scootering location, attractive windy roads and fabulous views everywhere you turned. Next year I can hear the north calling, so maybe a visit to Chester and North Wales or even up through God’s country and onto Newcastle.
So having toured around Britain over the last four years and with future plans in mind we thought wouldn’t it be good if there was a website to help people plan their own tour. Firstly, this would hopefully get more people out and about on their scooters rather than just for the odd scooter rally or event. Secondly, we hope it would give scooterists the confidence to make a bit more of a holiday of their scootering rather than a very rushed two day weekend or occasional bank holiday. And lastly, it would give people advice on planning a tour, what roads to take, Cities, towns and villages to stay or visit, places to see and things to do as well as a comprehensive map of British scooter workshops and mechanics just in case you you run into a bit of trouble. Happy scootering!