A treasure hunt with a difference

Crewe Hall Hotel - our base for the two days.Crewe Hall Hotel - our base for the two days.
Crewe Hall Hotel - our base for the two days.
There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of drivers; those who use their vehicles as a way of getting to A to B as quickly and hassle-free as possible and those who love to be out driving at every opportunity for pure pleasure.

Many of the latter are members of car clubs relevant to the marque of car they own or covet and regularly meet up at social events with others who share their passion.

But, although it’s all well and good parking up and kicking tyres, it’s also a really good idea to get out and enjoy the open road together and have a bit of fun into the bargain.

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That’s where the Quest Drive by Venture Bound comes into its own.

Beeston Castle entrance.Beeston Castle entrance.
Beeston Castle entrance.

At its most basic it’s a driving-based digital treasure hunt for the 21st century with more than 20 routes available to download to your tablet or phone via an app.

Each route is around one and a half to two hours and can be completed at leisure by a driver and at least one passenger to navigate and answer the questions.

Venture Bound and the Quest Drive app were created by Elise Whyte, who, along with her sister Elise, is a member of the rally team The Whyte Sisters, billed as the youngest all-female, historic endurance rallying crew.

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During lockdown, with her classic cars sitting forlornly in the garage, Elise decided to create driving routes for her family and friends so they could compete against each other and enjoy driving again.

Following the directions on the appFollowing the directions on the app
Following the directions on the app

She said: “It was really good fun and I realised the idea had potential and the development of the app grew from there.”

Elise has recently forged links with luxury hotel chain The QHotels Collection to put together a two-night dinner bed and breakfast experience and a tailored 70-mile route at either its Stratford Manor in Warwickshire or Crewe Hall in Cheshire. More hotels are expected to come on board as the popularity of the event grows.

A handful of journalists were invited to try out the experience for themselves recently at Crewe Hall.

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Unfortunately, my classic Land Rover was off the road that week so we took along an Audi SQ2 instead.

One of the magnificent bedrooms at Crewe Hall HotelOne of the magnificent bedrooms at Crewe Hall Hotel
One of the magnificent bedrooms at Crewe Hall Hotel

As it turned out that was a wise move as we drove over some of the most extensively potholed roads I’ve ever come across. My 1956 Land Rover would probably have loosened a few teeth.

My daughter Rachel was my driving companion, chosen as she has excellent observational skills and is a dab hand with a tablet.

We downloaded the app and, after some splendid canapes, set off on the route. Along the way, we were asked around 160 questions. Some were easy, others caught us out and a few were plain sneaky. Points were awarded for following the route and getting questions right.

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The trick was to keep track of every road sign, house name and number and be prepared to accurately count telegraph poles - each mistake cost points. A few were against the clock and instilled mild panic - eliciting a couple of wrong answers.

There had been a phenomenal amount of rain in the weeks leading up to our visit - hence the potholes - and the route had to be amended as some of it was flooded.

The 70-mile loop took in some beautiful countryside and we were furnished with a list of points of interest. As there was no timed element to the challenge we were encouraged to stop as often as we liked as long as we were back by 6pm.

We ate our picnic lunch at Beeston Castle and called into The Ice Cream Farm to sample one of its 50 or so flavours.

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We were the first back to the hotel and with our accumulated score of 89 per cent were quietly confident of victory (not that we are at all competitive). Turns out, all the teams did well and were just pipped at the post.

Before dinner, we were taken on a tour of the hotel, parts of which date back to 1170. It came into the Crewe family in 1608 but it was so dilapidated that it was demolished in 1615 and rebuilt - taking 21 years to complete. The interior was badly damaged by fire in 1866.

The Crewe family left the 190-room hall in 1922 and it was sold to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1936. During the war, it housed troops and during the latter years of the war served as a prisoner of war camp for 2,000 German officers.

Grade I-listed, it has accommodation in the hall and a modern wing which also houses the rather nice spa.

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The entire experience was first-class. Working together as a team, solving questions at lightning speed and driving around beautiful countryside was exciting and immensely enjoyable.

Coupled with the chance to spend a few days in the beautiful surroundings of Crewe Hall it is a great way for car lovers to come together and enjoy their favourite pastime

The Crewe Hall experience costs £650 for two and the Stratford Manor Hotel is £498.

More at venturebound.co.uk

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