Climbing Darracott

Climbing ‘Darracott’ on the Easter 1963 Land’s end trial, by Peter Bowler
This article originally appeared in the October 1963 edition of ‘Front Wheels’, the official monthly magazine of the BSAFWD club.


Vehicle: 1936 water-cooled 4 cyl Front wheel drive BSA three-wheeler, modified 1204c.c. engine with twin Solexes, trials tires.Crew: P. Bowler driving, W. Hasel navigating

We are somewhere east of Bude It’s pouring with rain, as it has been since 3:30 this morning, five solid hours of late winter rain, penetrating and cold, it’s already through two coats and sweaters, now I can feel the dampness on my shirt—-. It’s dull miserable and cold, even the primroses, profuse at this time of the year, seem to shrink back into the spring-green banks and hedges.
We have just made our way down a steep and winding lane, slippery with mud, 1 in 4 gradient, with hairpins almost vertical at their steepest part, we cross a small bridge and join the queue of cars  and motor-cycles  waiting to make their attempt on   Darracott. Darracott is a steep dirt track, climbing up through a wood that clings precariously to the hillside, there are two hairpins and several tricky curves, the gradient at it’s steepest is around one in four, and the surface consists of leaf mold, mud and small stones and rocks in about equal quantities, but we don’t know this, all we can see is the weak grey light being reflected from what looks like, and later turns out to be, a sheet of mud arching upwards into the murky heights of the wood.
There’s a delay, an A40 ‘Tin Farina’ is desperately trying to get off the start line, it’s motor revs furiously, and it’s tires start to smoke, but it stubbornly refuses to move, the marshall waves it back to make way for the next vehicle, a 4/4 Morgan. We are next but one—kill the motor, keep cool–There’s a queue  behind us now, wonder what the hairpins are like?.
The quiet, damp wood suddenly echoes with sound as the Morgan, tires spinning and smoking, moves easily off the line, it disappears round the first curve, small stones flying everywhere, seconds later we hear him cut off for the hairpin, then a wild burst of sound echoes through the rain-shiny trees, as, flat out,  the ‘Mog’ heads for the wet, leafy distance.
We are next!—motor fires on the button, and settles into a steady rumble–move forward to the start line—hand brake on—heart beating fast—aim the wheels slightly left–into first–hold it just off the stop–dry mouth–everything else wet—.
DOWN goes the marshall’s arm, feed in the clutch, hand brake off, feel the tires bite as more power is turned on, then foot hard down, the twin Solexes gulp in air greedily as the wheels scramble for grip on the loose surface, the engine note builds up through the scale till the trees vibrate with sound, round the curve, here comes the first hairpin, power off, full lock, power on, and the wheels throw up loose stones that clatter under the wings, and we go bounding up the slightly diminished slope, there’s a crowd at the next hairpin, we soon see why, it’s a left hander, narrow as hell, no escape road just a wall of red earth with tree roots and a ditch at the bottom for good measure, it’s rocks on the near side so we take the ditch, only a power slide will get us round, with power turned on the world turns crazily, glimpses of intent faces, of rocks, of grey sky, of cameras, then all at once we are facing the right direction, steep, steeper, wheelspin, more cameras ‘let them hear my straight-through exhaust’, into second, the rear end slides from side to side as we shoot over the top, speedo reading 25 mph, we have beaten Darracott at the first attempt, and we feel like two wet but happy mountaineers who have just succeeded in climbing Everest.

below is a ‘photo of us taken at the next observed section called ‘Hustyn’, which we also climbed, despite finishing with a flat rear tire!!. Despite many problems and adventures we finished the trial in style, and drove the BSA home to London the following day,

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