Sitting beside the A66 between Penrith and Keswick is a piece of history. Focused on one of the main east-west routes through the English Lake District, it’s easy to miss the sign pointing to Greystoke.
Unless you’re a rally fan.
Granted, in terms of time, the village’s church has been around a bit longer than M-Sport’s test site (St Andrew’s Church has been there since 1255) but the woods which will reverberate to the sound of our sport starting up once more on Saturday, have definitely had more world champions passing through.
Greystoke is well known to rally fans. Before Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship moved lock, stock and barrel into Wales, Greystoke was a regular feature on the itinerary, linking other great Lake District stages like Comb and Wythop to the nearby M6.
More recently, it’s included as a stage on the Malcolm Wilson Rally and as its own single venue event – this year’s Greystoke Stages was lost from its July date due to coronavirus.
But it’s a place most synonymous with Malcolm Wilson’s team. For Wilson himself, it goes beyond being the place where his Dovenby-developed WRC challengers are set free between the trees.
“This is the place where I came watching rallying when I was young,” said Wilson.
“I remembering standing in Greystoke spectating on plenty of events. I think my first memory of it as a competitor would be an RAC in the late 1970s; maybe 1977 did we go through there then?
“But the best memory would have to be the 1981 Lakeland Stages, which was the forerunner of the Malcolm Wilson Rally.”
Wilson won that 1981 event in a Group 4 Escort at the start of a season which marked the step-up to international competition.
“Greystoke’s a special place,” he said. “There is a lot of history there, rallies have been going through for a long time and the nice thing is that, while the roads are in a lot better condition than they were all those years ago, they’re the same roads.”
In more ways than one, Saturday will be a trip down memory lane for Wilson.