Our second day of the Rotary Grand Tour saw us starting with a stop at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow before heading south on the western side of England. We made a number of detours to pick up some places of interest along the way, and did make it into Wales before our return home.
Our second day began with a drive across to Glasgow and a photo stop at the Riverside Museum, one of the official stops, but at a time before it might have been manned. A crafty distillery was next door, so we had a few pictures taken there too before heading back onto the M74 to head towards the South.
Breakfast was needed, so we kept an eye out for something interesting as we headed southwards on the M74, and rather conveniently we found the Heathergyll Transport Cafe at Crawford. This served a fantastic full breakfast with toast and lots of coffee, all freshly made, and setting us up nicely for the day ahead. Refreshed and reinvigorated we continued to our next official stop, taking a couple of scenic shots on the way, before arriving at the lovely Drumlanrig Castle. This fantastic stately home is not lived in, but forms the centrepiece of a great area of walks, nature and activities, and today also had a welcoming party and Rotary gazebo. We bumped into a team who’d arrived not long before us, and took the chance to take some photographs.
With a long way to go to the next ‘official’ stop, not far from Preston, it seemed only reasonable to find a couple of other places to stop on the way. And so it was that we ended up at a distillery café (Annandale), passing through Gretna (where our wedding bears posed for a picture by a church), and the Welcome to England sign as we reached Cumbria.
Our first stop now we’d reached England again was Barton Grange Garden Centre; here there was another good Rotary presence, with a room at the rear of the garden centre showing a display of Rotary’s work to end Polio. We met three other teams here, our busiest stop on the route.
We continued south, and made a detour to visit ‘The Singing Ringing Tree’. It sounds interesting, we were told. It was in the papers. Hmmm… What is it? Well, it’s a sculpture which overlooks the town of Burnley. According to Trip Adviser it’s the #4 attraction in Burnley. It consists of a large number of pipes of differing lengths arranged in a wave like formation, and allegedly aligned to cause a low musical hum when the wind blows. Well, it was pretty windy when we arrived, and there was nothing to hear, at least not without aligning an ear with the end of a tube, akin to listening to the sea with shells. So, back to Trip Adviser. 157 out of 371 are 5* reviews. These contain such convincing accounts as “The tree itself is okay” and “we couldn’t hear a single sound from the ‘Singing’ Tree, but it was really nice to go for a walk”. It was genuinely quite disappointing, but perhaps we just got it on a bad day. It certainly doesn’t make us want to rush to visit #5 – #29 of the ‘Things to do in Burnley”. The location does have good views though, and we could pick out the football ground and other major buildings of the town.
After the slight disappointment of the detour, we continued on to the next ‘official’ stop, The Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport. There had been a Rotary presence here, but it had left for the day before we arrived around 4pm. We did manage to stop for a couple of pictures though, before heading off to detour towards Wales. We’d decided Llandudno (the official stop in North Wales) was a little too far if were to get back in time for our club sports fixture in the evening, so the idea was to find a ‘Welcome to Wales’ sign and take some pictures. Easier said than done. Finding a sign was easy enough, but one where we could stop proved a little more difficult, and we’d popped in and out of Wales a few times before finding a suitable spot for those images!
With Wales ‘done’, we drove back towards Wolverhampton, ironically staying in Wales to pick up the A5 close to Oswestry before taking the A5/M54 and then the A41 to join the rest of our club who were playing Wednesfield Rotary in the Crown Green Bowling for our District Sports competition. It was good to be back, and nice to be able to share some fellowship with the two teams. We’d driven around 900 miles, and met a whole load of people who’d seen our 100+ passengers, and hopefully now know a little bit more about Polio Eradication and Rotary.