28.08.23 Liveryman Martin Derrick

An epic road trip to Orkney

A brace of Past Masters, the Senior Warden, Renter Warden, Court Assistant and three Court Stewards, plus seven Liverymen and their partners joined the Master on an epic road trip to Orkney in late July, superbly organised and planned by our Clerk Cdr Mark Leaning.

The merry party met up at Wetherby in Yorkshire where the car park revealed three Bentleys, three Jaguars of various vintages, a Porsche, Range Rover, Aston Martin Vantage, two Mercedes SLs, Audi Avant and Mazda MX5, plus a pair of motorcycles bravely ridden by Mark and Rachel Leaning (Moto Guzzi California) and David Manchester and Caroline (BMW R1250GS).

Day two saw us driving to Queensferry for our first night in Scotland. Next day we visited Glencoe – scene of the infamous murder of the MacDonald clan by the Campbells – and enjoyed a drive in the awesome scenery of the Scottish Highlands before arriving at the second overnight stop in Inverness where a fine black tie dinner was enjoyed.

Next day a wonderful scenic drive north through Caithness took us to Gills Bay near John O’Groats where we boarded the ferry to Orkney. Happily the MV Pentalina reached St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney without incident – unlike earlier in the year when the same vessel went aground in Scapa Flow after a fire in the engine rooms.

Once in Orkney we first visited the famous Italian church, constructed around a Nissen hut by Italian prisoners of war during WW2. From there a short drive took us to the Barriers Exhibition describing the wartime defences ordered by Winston Churchill after the sinking by the German submarine U47 of the battleship Royal Oak while at anchor in Scapa Flow.

At a fine dinner we were joined by Bill Spence, former Lord Lieutenant of Orkney who arrived in a splendid Lagonda, then regaled us with stories of the island. He also invited the group to visit his wonderful car collection and spectacular man cave the following day.

Next was a day of architectural wonders as we visited the Ness of Brodgar – the remains of an ancient civilisation that preceded both the Pyramids and Stonehenge; and also the Ring of Brodgar, a stone ring situated in the most magnificent natural amphitheatre of the surrounding hills. Our thanks to our guides Nick Card and Sandra Miller who provide the fascinating history of these monuments.

Our final stop on Orkney was a visit to Twatt, (no sniggering at the back!) the former RNAS air base HMS TERN and a guided tour by William Shearer, an aviation enthusiast and Chairman of the Birsay Heritage Trust that looks after HMS TERN.

Leaving Orkney on day six we drove to Pitlochry for our last evening together before visiting the Jim Clark Museum in Duns on the Scottish borders and finally heading home.

Our sincere thanks to the Clerk and Assistant Clerk Rachel for organising a memorable, relaxed and fascinating tour. Though there was much to see and do, there was also plenty of spare time to enjoy the truly wonderful natural beauty of Scotland and of Orkney. There was, however, one rule that was set in stone: in true naval style, we were requested and required to muster each evening at 7pm sharp for drinks at the bar before dinner. No excuses acceptable.


“I was surreptitiously passed a wad of money by Bob Wilson who had organised a whip. I was charged with choosing and dispatching some Red Burgundy to Cdr & Lt Cdr Clerk for so expertly choreographing our wonderful trip to Orkney. I did enjoy the trip so much and it was lovely getting to know fellow Liverymen a little better.”

The Master Julian Leach

“A superb trip. Mark and Rachel planned everything perfectly and supported us all throughout, as we have all come to expect. It was a delight to get to know other Liverymen properly. Everyone was so very kind and friendly.”

Senior Warden Bettine Evans

“This was our first trip to Orkney but it won’t be our last. The trip was fantastic and very well organised, with special thanks to Rachel and Mark. Apart from the stunning scenery and amazing places we visited our overriding memories will be the fellowship and friendship from the trip”.

Renter Warden Stephen Fitz-Gerald

“The prospect of learning how the ancient Britons of Orkney pre-dated Stonehenge and the amazing archaeological digs that are in progress simply emphasised the enormity and importance that Orkney could easily have been Britain’s Ancient Capital.”

Past Master Martin Payne

“Anne and I had long wanted to visit Orkney, so when the Clerk announced the road trip it was a no-brainer to join in. The highlights for us were the visits to the stone-age archaeological sites on Orkney and visiting the remains and history left by two World Wars. But the real enjoyment came from the comradeship of fellow Coachmakers and in getting to know some of the other members of the Company better. We will return.”

Court Assistant Eric Wallbank

“This was my first visit to Orkney and indeed only my second to the Highlands and I thoroughly enjoyed it all especially the fellowship with the participants and though there was a considerable amount of driving both the scenery and the roads were the other highlight for me. Many new friendships were made and it is a pity that we cannot meet more often. However, I have now made some good livery friends and I look forward to seeing them again at future livery events”.

Liveryman Alec Davies

“This was our first trip to Orkney and the whole tour vastly exceeded our expectations. The fellowship of the Coachmakers, regardless of the length of time you have known each other is very special, normally experienced over a few hours for a dinner, to experience this on a tour lasting nearly a week was amazing. We found Orkney very relaxing, stress free and peaceful. All in all, a memorable trip – for so many reasons!”

Court Steward David Manchester

“What a special “run” that was! It’s definitely one of those trips which we surely will remember for a long time. Most of all, thank you for your comradery and friendship!”

Court Steward Lyn Litchfield

“A most enjoyable and educational experience and a great opportunity to spend time with other Coachmakers.”

Liveryman Hugh Mayes

“It was a most enjoyable and interesting road trip. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their companionship, banter and friendship during the trip.”

Liveryman John Boyes

“Can I also echo the sentiments expressed by everyone else. It really was a superb trip, great driving, wonderful scenery and best of all excellent company. Thank you also for making Rowan and myself feel so at home with the Coachmakers.

Our ‘unofficial’ photographer Phil McCarthy