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since 04.04.2000

Hexrated Rally

Caldarium MCC, 27th to 29th October 2006

Plough Inn, Arncott, Oxfordshire.

JJ and I went to this one on our own, and I am putting a brief write-up onto the website in case anyone else considers going next year, and wonders what it is like. JJ received an invite when he and Jan went up in the helicopter on Anglesey with two members of Caldarium MCC, and the Plough at Arncott got a thumbs up from Bod and others, so we decided to give it a try.

The flier had advised pre-booking, and so did the lady I spoke to on the phone - and they weren't kidding. We happened to be on holiday during the last week in October, so we set off at lunchtime on the Friday. When we arrived early afternoon there were already quite a few tents pitched, but we found room for our tent and bike against the tape which marked off a central access path. We were glad of this taped-off route later.

By 8.30 Saturday morning the area around our tent was jammed, and all the way along both sides of the marker tape. We managed to go for a ride-out by lifting the tape and riding down the access path; those who had pitched tent and parked around the inner edge of the rally field were not so lucky. Many of the rally-goers were from London and the area South of Oxford, but not all - and everyone was very friendly.

JJ enjoyed chatting to our neighbour - who had a very elegant Wing, and a tepee (which attracted a lot of attention). On the other side we had a chap from North London on a 1952 C11, which he has ridden all over the globe (including Russia).

The pub and rally field are surrounded by MOD property, including a huge supply depot and a container depot. The view from the back of our tent was interesting - a plane, a tank and field artillery. I guess these were amongst the items they supplied - not quite Kay's, or the Littlewoods catalogue shop.

The pub itself served good biker grub at a good price (especially considering we were in the expensive South). The group was set up in the larger bar area to the right of the door at night, but there was a decent sized lounge bar on the left as well and a brick-built barn next to the pub where they set up an extra bar complete with barrels of real ale (including hobgoblin). Never had to wait long to get served. The brazier and food truck were in front of this and it was a popular alternative to the loud music inside.

By Saturday teatime they were turning away bikers and their tents, who had not pre-booked. Some of them were none too happy - I guess they had travelled a distance - so it definitely pays to pre-book this one. By the way, I should mention that the standard of marshalling was excellent.

A walk out on Friday afternoon soon showed us that the area was pretty desolate, although it was on a bus route. A map inside the pub listed all the places of interest within riding distance, so on Saturday we headed out on the bike. We were lucky enough to spot a kite hunting on the edge of the suburbs (recognisable after our visit to the farm at Rhayader). Then we headed for the steam museum where they had reconstructed a victorian train interior, and also Churchill's mobile war room. The covered display area is interesting and attractively laid out; they also serve a very good cup of coffee and a range of home-cooked refreshments. The one disappointment - there were no steam trains running that day, although they did fire one up later, and chug a few yards up the track.