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Starting in Scotland
Starting in Scotland
On the road
Stopping off along the way

UK Drive Part I

Thursday, July 8, 2004
Ben is back on the road again and this time he is in Great Brittain and starting off in glorious Scotland.

Ben Dark and his crew are on the road again — this time driving a beautiful Rover 75 from the top to the bottom of the United Kingdom.

John O'Groats is arguably the northernmost tip of the British Isles, where all top-to-toe trips begin.

A mound and flagpole mark the site where Dutchman Jan de Groot built his famous house during the 1488-1513 reign of James IV. His seven sons quarrelled about precedence, so their father built an octagonal house with eight doors and an eight-sided table so that no-one occupied the head.

Jan de Groot ran a ferry to Orkney, charging twopence a trip. The twopenny coin was known as the "groat", hence his name being changed. His tombstone can be seen in Canisbay churchyard.

Inverness evolved from an ancient fort to the capital of the Scottish Highlands. It is a vibrant city, with the beautiful River Ness flowing through its centre. Forty-two kilometres east is the royal burgh of Elgin, founded in the 10th century by David I. A ruined castle on the road between Aberdeen to Inverness is reputedly the scene of King Duncan's murder by Macbeth.

The island of Skye off the west coast of mainland Scotland is the largest and best known of the Inner Hebrides. Referred to as the Misty Isle, it is renowned for its natural beauty, wildlife and history. Its deeply indented coastline means you are never far from the sea. Conversely, the island's hills are great favourites with climbers and walkers.

Most parts of the world have their eccentrics and Ben came across a couple on his drive. Actually, he needed to take a boat to meet one of them — the leopard man, the world's most tattooed person. Sixty-eight-year-old Tom Leppard was once a special forces soldier in Rhodesia and cycled the length of Africa before returning to London, where he spent much time in a tattooist's chair. He just wants to be left alone and live a reclusive but full life.

Glasgow has some of the UK's finest Victorian architecture, with red and honey-coloured sandstone, Italianate steeples and medieval spires next to neo-gothic towers, art nouveau and the titanium, glass and steel of the modern city. It has acclaimed museums and galleries and a year-long calendar of festivals and special events.

Glasgow and the Clyde Valley offer lots to those who enjoy opera, theatre, concerts and clubbing.

Shopping for antiques, craft and enjoying global cuisine are also options.

Just 292km across the English border is Yorkshire, the scene of fascinating history, romance, violence, heroism and adversity spanning 2000 years. It has been the site of Roman invasions, Viking settlements, Saxon successes, monarchy-changing battles, the foundation of Methodism, aristocracy and the industrial revolution. A place of great industry, it has centuries of pride in textiles, quarrying, mining, fishing and steel.

Captain James Cook set out from Whitby on his voyage of exploration, William Wilberforce set out from Hull on his mission to abolish slavery and the industrial revolution was born in the South Pennines.

York, a Roman stronghold and Viking capital, is one of Europe's greatest medieval cities and has the biggest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

It is also where Ben met his second eccentric. Jake Mangleworzl has a waterwheel pumping water to his rooftop bath. He has a tomb all prepared for his burial and 14 toilets, with a view, which cascade down a flight of stairs. The non-stop talker, who claims to be the sanest man on the planet, once went into Armley Gaol just to see what it was like!

So if you are lucky enough to be driving through Scotland and the north of England, keep your eyes open for Ben's new friends!


John O'Groats to Yorkshire


1car1 offers car hire packages which can be booked in Australia. They have 48 branches in the UK. The Rover 75 Ben drove costs $140 a day for a five-day package or $125 a day for a seven-day package.
Qantas flies daily to London, with codeshare connection to Glasgow operated by British Airways. Return economy airfares to Glasgow start at $1941 from Perth, $2003 from Melbourne, $2018 from Sydney, $2035 from Brisbane, $2047 from Darwin and $2062 from Adelaide, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.

More information

1car1 Car Rentals Pty Ltd
2/15 Blue Street
North Sydney 2060
Ph: (02) 9963 7205
Fax: (02) 9957 5800

Qantas: 13 13 13

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