In 1954 Silver Dawn HSU 485 – October 2010
2000 miles (plus 500 on the German Motorail) to cesky krumlov, eight countries and six swiss mountain passes in fifteen days all in brilliant weather.
A small city to the south of the Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov is a Unesco World Heritage Site. My wife, Mary, and I had wanted to visit the city for some years. When we were asked by fellow Rolls owning friends to join them for a jaunt over some Swiss mountain passes we decided to take in Cesky Krumlov first before joining them near Davos.
Our first hotel was the Chateaubriant near Gent. Next day we were left with a drive of some of some 150 miles to Dusseldorf before loading the car onto the DB AutoZug (motorail) for our overnight run to Innsbruck.
Salzburg was our next destination. We had a mere 100 miles to cover on pretty minor roads and until the last fifteen miles the scenery remained stunning; chalets, green fields and mountains on all sides. In the two days there we visited Hellbrun Castle with its famous trick fountains.
We stayed just outside Salltzburg in a very comfortable chalet style hotel, the Blobergerhof.
No driving the following day as we took the very efficient bus into Saltzburg and spent the day visiting the Hohensaltzburg Fortress and visiting Mozart-Wohenhaus where the great man lived from 1773 to 1780.
The following day, still in brilliant weather, we had a drive of only 140 miles to Cesky Krumlov. With our SatNav on top form we negotiated the outskirts of Linz before crossing the border into the Czech Republic. The scenery changed dramatically as we did so. Farming in Austria looked very efficient with cattle in tidy green fields. Countryside in the Czech Republic was wilder with scattered woodland and rather derelict looking fields.
Our arrival in Cesky K was surreal. Having dropped our bags at our excellent 4* hotel, Hotel Kruze, we had to take the car to a secure car park. Driving through the main square we were besieged by tourists, mostly Japanese, grabbing their cameras to photo the car. It took some time extricate ourselves – clearly a 1954 Rolls was serious album material!
Apart from the tourists Cesky Krumlov is an absolute gem and could be combined with any City Break to Prague.
Leaving Cesky K we faced two longish days driving, spending the night with good friends at their wonderful old Chalet at Kitzbuhel. We duly met up with our Rolls/Bentley pals at an hotel outside Davos. An excellent choice the Walserhuus at Sertig, nine years old in typical Swiss Chalet style. We spent three nights there.
Our friends owned a 1929 R-R Phantom 1 with a doctor’s coupé body and a Bentley Mk VI. Both cars had some serious power, the Rolls with 7.7 litres and the Bentley had an extra-large 4.9 litre engine. Our leader had devised a route over six passes in two days so I was just a little concerned that the dear old Silver Dawn with only 4 ½ litres and a heavy body might struggle to keep up.
We climbed six passes The Fluela (twice), la Stretta, Paso del Bernina, the Albulapass, the Julierpass and the Splugenpass. All breathtakingly beautiful especially in the most fabulous weather.
The Phantom was so big she had sometimes to make three point turns to get round some of the bends – at least that gave us a chance to catch up!
All the passes were over 2,100 metres, la Stretta being highest at 2,476 (8,100feet.) High enough to have the Silver Dawn gasping for breath – or to be more exact running very rich.
So to the last morning in Switzerland and we woke to the end of the incredible fine weather with a fine covering of snow. There was some serious motoring ahead and the weather had by now broken. The Phantom had to put its hood up – wet motorway driving in an 82 year old car is not for the faint hearted but the 76 year old driver managed brilliantly averaging over 60 mph!
We spent a night at Epinal, visited a Champagne house for supplies and spent two nights at our favourite Chateau Hotel at Silly-la-Poterie near Soissons before taking the ferry overnight from Caen to Portsmouth.
The Silver Dawn covered 2050 miles at an average of 15.27 mpg. We added 5 pints of oil and drank 2 litres of water. Not too bad for an old crate which has just celebrated its 57th year. I learnt a lot about driving a big heavy old car. We had no problems, starting and braking were excellent and the road holding surprisingly good. Only one thing; don’t ask about the fuel bills!
A wonderful and unforgettable trip and many many thanks to Philip Ashby who arranged the route, the restaurants and hotels.