Tyne Cyclones MCC
The Pele Tower Rally was organised by the Tyne Cyclones MCC and was usually held in October. A Pele Tower is a fortified tower or house where the inhabitants could stay safe from border reivers, which is the name of the Cyclones other rally.
The first ones I did from 1982 onwards were held at Alston. On site there was a control tent where you could get tea, coffee, soup, hot dogs and burgers but the drinking was done at the various hostelries in Alston.
My trip up there from Bradford would have been to Penrith then up Hartside Pass and on to Alston. This is a brilliant road on a sunny day with a stop at Hartside Cafe to admire the view and have a drink and a bacon butty but on a cold dark October night after work on a Friday it was not so good!
The field we camped on was just out of the village and the road climbed up above the site along one edge. One particular wet and windy year Neil Stewart, Dean Valley MCC, had camped close to this retaining wall to get shelter from the wind. Unfortunately he had not spotted the hole in the wall just above his tent. When the rain got really heavy on Friday night he found he had camped under his own private waterfall!
Later rallies were held at Clennell Hall and we went there for the first time after a week on Islay following the Tartan Rally as a finale to the holiday. Clennell Hall is in the middle of nowhere, in the Northumberland National Park, near the village of Alwinton on the edge of the Otterburn army ranges. We arrived in the dark and managed to miss the turning. It was a wet night and we went quite a few miles further up the road where we came to a field full of army tents which at first we thought was the rally, until the occupants, all soldiers, put us right and told us where we should have turned off.
Clennell Hall now hosts a few different rallies but suited this event particularly well as the oldest part of the building is actually a Pele Tower!
I must have done 8 or 9 Pele Towers so, as usual, I can't remember what happened on which year but it was always the usual rally carry-on with plenty of beer and fun and games. At the later rallies there were some quite bawdy rally games late on in the hall involving blow-up sheep. Have a look at the later badges to get an idea of what went on.
- Ted Trett