Exploring the Shere Hill Climb, 2019

Black and white photograph of a classic muscle car
The Shere Hill Climb has become an established part of the motoring social calendar but remains relatively small. Knowing little about the event, I took a chance and headed over to the Surrey hills.

This was another solo trip for me, and I’m more than comfortable visiting shows on my own. I’m happy to turn up to an event on my own as it means I have no responsibility to anyone other than myself. It gives me a chance to take my time and take photographs without any concern that others are OK. It allows me to hide behind my camera and chat and make new friends when I feel comfortable. With the address set in Waze, I headed off to Surrey in the 911. I’ve been using Waze for a while and the routes it suggests usually take in some great roads, even without changing any settings. I’ve said before; it’s not the speed of the drive but the quality of the route. I can have plenty of fun within the speed limit on technical roads, I love a good set of B-roads, maybe that’s the biker in me? The drive over to East Clandon was a good one, there were a few tight spots on the couple of single track roads I took, but on the whole a good route.

There’s a local country fare feel to the event with various stalls set around a central stage. Parked up between a Caterham and a Triumph Dolomite an MGA, and Audi R8 gave a hint at the great mix of vehicles that attend the Shere Hill Climb. The actual course runs up Staple Lane, a closed public road which ascends 300 feet over a distance of nearly a mile with a series of challenging corners. Marshals lined the hill at critical points, including the spectator crossing which reminded me of the ones at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The road is flanked on both sides by high hedges, viewing on foot is not great, but the organisers had kindly put some raised platforms for spectators in the main field. Standing on the viewing platform at the top of the show field and above the hedges, allows for a good view down to the start line for head-on shots. While it was a good spot, I didn’t want all my images to be the same, so I took a walk up the hill. It’s a fair slog up the hill, and there’s little chance to see anything due to the hedges. When I did find a break in the greenery it was so small I could only see flashes of colour as the cars passed. Continuing up the hill to the finish line the hedges thankfully get shorter opening up a panoramic view across the Surrey countryside, London, and the Wembley Arch in the distance. At last a chance to capture some more images, but once again limited by the angles, so challenge accepted.

The Shere Hill Climb is exceptionally well run with a great selection of cars and bikes. I bumped into a few friends and had some great conversations too. It’s certainly a challenge to create some interesting images, maybe I should have spent some time on detail shots or focused more on the people, but I’m a little disappointed with the images I captured. This shows how important it is to prepare, have an idea of the layout and landscape of an event, and be prepared to change your approach when faced with challenges. I didn’t and ended up with a selection of very similar images.

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