THE LAND'S END TRIAL

The original long distance trial



DATE:

29 & 30 March 2024

DURATION:

21 HR

NAVIGATION:

Roadbook

CLASS:

Main / O / R

Cars / Motorcycles / Sidecars

DISTANCE:

236 miles

START:

Cirencester and Launceston

END:

Mithian

ENTRIES OPEN:

15 January 2024

Land's End Trial 2024 map

SECTION HIGHLIGHTS:

1: Felons Oak / 2: Beggars Roost / 3: Riverton / 4: Sutcombe / 5: Hackmarsh / 6: Crackington / 7: Warleggan / 8: Blue Hills


The original MCC long distance trial. This 24 hour event will take you through some of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in the UK.

Steeped in automotive history, the Lands End Trial will see competitors truly test themselves and their machines as they navigate rocky hill climbs, observed trial sections, winding roads and unique green road access.

If you only take part in one trial this year, this is the one. It also happens to be the Centenary Edition.

EARLY ORIGINS

Formally known as the London to Land’s End Reliability Trial, we’ve held the Land’s End Trial every Easter since 1908, with only the war years and Covid putting a halt to the event. We introduced steeper hills to test our competitors as vehicle reliability improved, though many of the sections have been in use since the 20s and 30s – keeping the event true to its heritage. A ‘retro’ event this is not!

THE MAIN TRIAL ROUTE

The three start locations, Cirencester, Popham and Launceston converge at Bridgwater & Albion Rugby Football club in Somerset where hot refreshments and a mandatory rest await competitors. The 95-mile ‘night run’ to Bridgwater is a throw back to the original London start and though its something of a prelude to the main event, it gives competitors the opportunity to check over their vehicles and familiarise themselves with the club’s written method of navigation. Class O joins the trial here if the 95-mile remote run isn't undertaken.

The bustling camaraderie of the rugby club soon dissipates to isolated silence as competitors skirt the coastline of Exmoor by moonlight (always a full moon), with only the rocky section of Felon’s Oak (1955) offering any human interaction. Some classes will attempt the mile long track at Porlockford, while others will climb the incredibly steep Worthy Toll Road, dating from Nepoleonic times. Refuelling is undertaken at Barbrook Filling Station, where the staff keep the pumps working throughout the night and volunteers serve tea, coffee and cake in the nearby village hall.

Next up, the test of Beggars Roost (1922), always a formidable challenge with the addition of a restart for most classes making it more so! Then the traverse over the top of Exmoor watching out for any animals appearing out of the inevitable fog.

The climb of ‘Barton Steep’ used to be a challenge to competitors in the 1930s, but now that its tarmacked. it is still included in the route as a nod to the past.

After leaving Exmoor via Molland Cross, competitors must undertake the loose stone climb of Riverton (2002), refuel at Wicketts Garage and then tackle Sutcombe (1964) and Darracott (1933) providing little respite for the weary competitor with sharp bends and loose rock that can sap momentum and reduce traction. Cutliffe Lane (1967) can catch out the unwary. All these sections are county highways. Visibility improves from Darracott onwards, though most competitors will witness a spectacular sunrise over Widemouth Bay, just south of Bude. Class O will skip the most damaging sections, but there are still plenty of sections to challenge. All competitors are checked that they are following the correct route by hidden passage controls, the location of which aren’t mentioned in the route card!

Crackington (1936) – the first true daylight section – is famed for inexplicably being doctored with slurry shortly before the event. Colourful speculation of the cause is legion, but local farmers short of amusement remain the likely culprits. Expect spectators! Then on the Tresparrent Post for the first Timed Test.

A cooked breakfast awaits competitors at Wilsey Down Hotel where another mandatory rest stop enables vehicle fettling and/or a nap. Some competitors, unable to complete the full night run, join the event here. Another timed test follows at Ruses Mill, an incredibly narrow and steep lane first used as a section in 1932. The following Warleggan (1968) is a mixture of rock slabs and stony dirt, where traction is often decided by the weather – while the new section at Pendavey is the track bed of a long abandoned railway line with 50 years worth of leaf mould. A liberal coating of rain is enough for any of them to become a ‘stopper’. Competitors must climb Trevithick and Lambriggan, before arriving at the final fuel stop at Perranporth. This sets competitors up for the crown jewels of the Land’s End Trial – Blue Hills (1936). These two sections are located on private, clifftop land owned by the MCC and attract hundreds of cheering spectators, phones in hand. Don’t forget to sign off at the finish, after (if running to time) nearly 21 hours in the saddle or seat!

Look out for yourself online in one of the videos taken at Blue Hills or Crackington, and either head back to Blue Hills to watch your fellow competitors attempt that most spectacular of climbs, or head off to the celebratory meal in Newquay for a well earned drink and refuel!

CLASSIC ROAD TRIAL ROUTE

The main trial has now been joined by the Classic Road Trial which is run at the same time but all on asphalt. This started in 2019 and is ideal for classic machinery too precious to take off road, those used to running in road rallies, or even a daily runabout. It is a test of timekeeping and reliability and it’s challenging and fun. Based on the way our event was run pre-war, it has three start locations converging at Bridgwater & Albion Rugby Football club in Somerset where hot refreshments and a mandatory rest stop await competitors. The 95-mile journey to Bridgwater is something of a prelude to the main event, though one which gives competitors the opportunity to check over their vehicles and familiarise themselves with the club’s written method of navigation.

The bustling camaraderie of the rugby club soon dissipates to isolated silence as competitors cross Exmoor by moonlight, with a new route by-passing the famous Porlock hill for a testing section at Porlock Weir where a stop-restart test on the slippery lane will test the ability of car and driver. Refuelling is undertaken at Barbrook Filling Station, where the staff keep the pumps working throughout the night and volunteers serve tea, coffee and cake in the nearby village hall.

Barbrook is one of a number of time controls that ensure competitors are neither early or late. These and passage controls which can be either manned or unmanned keep competitors on their toes. The time allowance leaves no room for breakdowns or navigational error.

After leaving Exmoor via Molland Cross, refuel at Wicketts Garage and then follow the route to Sutcombe time control where tea and home-made cakes are on offer. Dawn should be not far away which may dispel the mist that often accompanies the early hours here. Visibility improves as competitors head into the Hartland peninsula. Little glimpses of the sea will appear from Darracott onwards, leading to the fabulous views and sandy expanse of Widemouth Bay, just south of Bude. The route follows a twisty and narrow road hugging the coast to Crackington Haven, a real Cornish gem. A timed test at Tresparrett Post where setting a time compared to your competitors will help decide any class award.

A cooked breakfast awaits competitors at Wilsey Down Hotel where another mandatory rest stop enables vehicle fettling and/or a nap. Competitors then head south to take in the amazing section at Ruses Mill. This used to be a real stopper until it was given a sealed surface. Many parts of the route used today were previously unsealed observed sections used on pre-war Land’s Ends. A final fuel stop at Perranporth sets competitors up for the crown jewel of the Classic Road Trial – Old Blue Hills. This section has been in our event since 1924. Alongside it are Blue Hills 1 & 2 which are major obstacles in the main trial and attract hundreds of cheering spectators, cameras in hand. Don’t forget to sign off at the finish!

Look out for yourself online in one of the videos taken at Blue Hills or Crackington, and either head back to Blue Hills to watch your fellow competitors attempt that most spectacular of climbs, or head off to the celebratory meal in Newquay for a well earned drink and refuel!

A UNIQUE CHALLENGE

Following the setting sun might seem like a straightforward task but navigation becomes trickier at night, and the near-inevitable Exmoor fog can disorientate competitors unfamiliar with the route. The night sections are all held on damp, rocky hills where a lack of concentration is often sufficient to induce failure.

Fatigue may set in during the daylight sections, which provides good entertainment for the many spectators who dutifully frequent them each year. Competitors must remain resolute and focussed after a night of navigating between observed sections which ordinarily may be considered unremarkable – though as the event is anything but ordinary, nightfall, fatigue and the presence of spectators will all play their part in transforming the character of the sections in this, our longest event!



FIRST TRIAL? SEE OUR MEMBER'S TOP TIPS

Read the advice from those with experience...
Steve Hand

From Steve Hand, on Facebook

"Remember when you're doing the sections that you're bike or car needs to last afterwards too. Lol. If you're on a bike take spare tubes! And a small can of reserve fuel plus good battery life on a mobile. Come to terms with the fact that you will be cold. Get some good gloves and water proofs."
Caroline Ugalde

From Caroline Ugalde, on Facebook

"Don't forget to thank the Marshalls as you pass. Take plenty of energy drinks (you will need wings on some sections.) Good luck."

SEE YOU AT THE START LINE


 
 
 
 

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