Back bigger and better than ever, the 2019 Sparkle and Twinkle Tours once again delivered beyond expectations
It has become the recognised Ladies of Harley® event in the UK that brings liked-minded female riders together, united in their passion for their favourite motorcycle. Here’s what attendees from across the UK had to say about this year’s tours…
Elaine Shepherd, National Chapter LOH Officer, UK & Ireland and Sparkle Tour co-founder
“Now in its fourth year, the September Sparkle Tour weekend was once again a resounding success. This year saw 64 ladies taking part in a total of five regional tours across the length and breadth of the nation. With each tour visiting at least one Harley-Davidson® dealership during the weekend, there was the bonus of retail therapy and a guaranteed great welcome and send off, along with assistance with some basic maintenance.
“This unique initiative was created for female riders with H.O.G.® membership to spend a weekend riding with their peers, to share their passion for riding, learn from each other’s experiences and inspire their fellow riders. For some ladies, it’s an opportunity to travel in a group within their comfort zone; for others it’s a chance to push their boundaries and travel to a new area as part of an exciting adventure. But most of all it’s the experience of feeling empowered.
“This was very much the case for one female rider from Holland who had heard about and was inspired by the Sparkle Tour weekend, travelling many miles to enjoy the East of England tour. For another, it was an opportunity to ride her new Harley-Davidson 400 miles from Wiltshire to take part in the Scottish Tour. And for another, it was an opportunity to get out of the busy concrete hustle and bustle of the city of London and enjoy the scenic wide-open landscapes of Somerset and Cornwall.
“Each regional tour explored scenery and offered adventures unique to its respective locality – the glens and highlands of Scotland; the lakes and winding mountain passes of the Lake District; the panoramic heights and valleys of the Peak District; the glorious countryside and seaside of East Anglia; and the enchanting myths, moors and legends of Cornwall.
“On each tour, hosted by committed female road crew wanting to ‘share their spark’ with others, participants visited places of interest, stayed in comfortable surroundings and enjoyed traditional fayre and breathtaking scenery along the way.
“Think you might be interested in taking part in a Sparkle Tour in 2020? Then watch this space for what regional tours will be on offer during the weekend of Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2020.”
Jo Green, Sparkle Tour co-founder
“When we founded the Sparkle Tour back in 2016, the idea was always to set the wheels in motion and support, encourage and enable all female Harley-riding H.O.G. members to get out there on their bikes.
“So, what makes the Sparkle Tour special? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer, but for me it’s about empowerment. Seeing ladies taking part, sometimes travelling solo for miles to join in, even though they don’t always know what to expect, is something special. But they take a chance, trust in the hosts and come away knowing that they can do more than they ever thought they could. They have new experiences and gain experience, meet likeminded women, make new friends and forge new connections. And you would not even begin to believe the laughs they have!
“A lot of ladies who take part go on to become hosts themselves and 'share the spark' with others. Sparkle Tour hosts are amazing women and deserve all the admiration they receive from fellow participants. Their hard work for others makes them goddesses in my mind.
“This year, after running three successive annual tours, I wanted to experience things from a different perspective and asked if Sparkle Tour Midlands hosts Vicki and Ann would mind if I joined in as 'one of the girls’. Fortunately, they said yes!
“So, on my fourth Sparkle Tour I had a completely different experience and I was able to see firsthand just how being away with the ladies was such a life-changing experience for them.
“We sailed through flat batteries, sticking throttles and unexpected road works with alacrity, and our reward? Stunning roads (including the Cat and Fiddle and Snake Passes), amazing views and super, varied break stops.
“Ably led by tour hosts and Road Captains Vicki Green from Sherwood Chapter and Ann Cozens from Lindum Colonia Chapter, the 13 of us toured around a wide-ranging area in and around the Peak District, Sherwood Forest and over to the Mersey.
“We were welcomed by the dealer principals and teams at Robin Hood H-D, HarleyWorld Chesterfield, Chester H-D and Manchester H-D. Huge thanks to them and all their enthusiastic H.O.G. Chapter members for the warm welcomes and miles of smiles.
Ann Cozens, Sparkle Tour Midlands
“After committing to running our own Sparkle Tour months ago, co-host Vicki Green and I set about creating a trip that would interest and entertain those who would participate in our ride. Riding, of course, but not so far that we didn’t get to socialise and enjoy food, drinks and each other’s company, while making new, lifelong friends.
“Friday the 13th arrived with 13 ladies and sunshine. We rode from Nottingham to HarleyWorld in Chesterfield for lunch. Then on to Snake Pass across the Peak District and some gorgeous windy roads from Glossop, finishing in the bar at Hollin Hall Country House Hotel.
“A few challenges were encountered on the way, but nothing would stop us. In fact, a little adversity helped to bond the group.
“Day two (sun again, hurrah!) and we were on urban roads as we headed toward the Manchester H-D dealership, where so many people were ready to greet us. It was awesome to get such a welcoming, complete with food and coffee on the house!
“Onwards to Chester H-D, but never a direct route of course – gorgeous windy Cheshire roads making for an exciting ride. On arrival we were greeted by the local Ladies of Harley, who’d brought us lunch. We then headed for some culture at Little Moreton Hall near Congleton, a stunning Tudor building that looks somewhat drunk!
“Our timing was spot on. It was National Trust open day so entry was free and we indulged in ice cream and photo opportunities! The final road of the day was stunning; winding and picturesque. Once back at the hotel we changed for dinner; delicious food, loud chat and daft games.
“On the final day the weather failed us. We gave a fond farewell to our hotel and the lovely staff, and then rode off into the drizzly cloud. My sat-nav didn’t want to go home and threw a spanner in the works, but even so we enjoyed a slow descent on the Cat and Fiddle Pass back towards Nottingham, where the Sherwood Chapter and the dealer welcomed us with a barbecue, cake and lots of fellow riders to video our arrival.
“We cannot thank the dealers and riders that came to greet us enough, and of course Elaine and Joanne for coming up with the initial Sparkle Tour concept. It confirmed what a family H.O.G. is and hopefully showed the people we met what it’s like. Maybe one day, some will join us! Thanks, too, to the ladies who trusted Vicki and I – we had an absolute ball!”
Jules Butler-Waddon, Sparkle Tour South West
“Our Sparkle Tour began in Bridgwater on Thursday night, with everyone introducing themselves and breaking the ice. Day one was easily our longest ride. We’d arranged an early breakfast at the Riders of Bridgwater H-D dealership and were warmly greeted by Gill Mogg, Bridgwater Chapter Director, and Andy Hayman, the dealer principal, with ‘sparkly’ gifts.
“We then rode through some stunning scenery to our first stop, the popular bikers’ cafe, Union Road Moto-Velo. After coffee and cake, we continued through Devon and Cornwall towards Land’s End, taking in some amazing roads and lunch at Sam’s Diner in St Austell.
“We arrived at Land’s End at sunset, perfectly timed to enjoy the spectacular views. Then on to the hotel where we were greeted by the animated staff who were rather excited to witness our arrival, and allowed us to park in front of the main entrance.
“Day two was all about north Cornwall coastal routes. Riding along narrow, winding roads and through breathtaking scenery via St Ives to Portreath really made for a sense of occasion.
“Saturday night was spent at the famous Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor, and once again the hospitality was superb. There was such a great atmosphere at dinner, as we shared our stories and wondered if we’d see any ghosts during our stay.
“Our final day took us along the West Devon Drive and down into glorious Dartmoor, passing sheep, wild ponies and gorgeous Longhorn cattle. We had a fabulous cream tea at the Two Bridges Hotel and then continued south to Slapton Sands and one of the most spectacular views in Devon.
“After lunch on the beach and a quick swim for one of our ladies, we headed to Plymouth Harley-Davidson. Members of the Plymouth Chapter greeted us and the dealership had laid on cake and goody bags.
“We all had an amazing weekend: the weather was beautiful, the riding was excellent and we’ve all made some lasting friendships. Long may it continue!”
Lorraine McGuire, Sparkle Tour Scotland
“This year's tour saw eight ladies gather in Glasgow on the Thursday night for a pre-tour get-together. Departing the next morning, with our goody bags from West Coast H-D, we crossed the River Clyde via the Erskine Bridge in glorious sunshine, heading to our first port of call, Inveraray. After the obligatory coffee it was onwards to Oban for a lunch stop and refuelling. The afternoon saw us head to Fort William where we would be based in the Alexandria Hotel for the next two nights.
“Unfortunately, our planned trip to Mallaig and Skye on day two had to be cancelled because of severe winds and rain, but the ladies didn’t let this little setback put them off visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter fame. A train journey was quickly organised and mission accomplished, with a trip over the viaduct thrown in for good measure. There was also the added bonus of a few refreshments on the way.
“By day three the bad weather had abated and the ladies were eager to get on their bikes and ride. Our journey would take us south to the Green Welly Stop, where on arrival we were greeted by members of the Dunedin and Clyde Valley Chapters waiting to escort us on our journey home. One lady rider from the south of England, making her own way home, took extra time to visit the Falkirk Wheel rotating boat lift and the Kelpies sculptures, as they were on her route.
“In spite of the weather, a fantastic time was had by all the ladies, who definitely ‘shared their spark’!”
Trish Gillespie, Sparkle Tour North East
“This year’s North East Sparkle Tour took 13 ladies from Gateshead Harley-Davidson on a 350-mile tour of the beautiful Lake District.
“Setting off on Friday the 13th, very much a day to remember and not fear, we were soon on the military road, which runs alongside Hadrian’s Wall. In fact, some stretches are actually built on the foundations.
“Of course, on a weekend like this it's customary to include coffee and cake stops wherever possible, and our first diversion was at Talkin Tarn, a glacial lake and country park. From there, we skirted around Carlisle, before entering the Lake District at its northern point, with the magnificent mountains of Blencathra and Helvellyn coming into view.
“We were all soon getting the real feel of country life with its narrow roads, sheep, 18th-century farmhouses, ramblers and of course cattle grids! I did start to count them but soon ran out of fingers as we rumbled slowly through numerous sleepy villages, soaking up the stunning scenery.
“Heading towards the busy market town of Keswick, we couldn't miss a photo opportunity at the famous stone circle at Castlerigg, spontaneously making our own circle to get into the spirit of things.
“Arriving at our overnight stop, we freshened up before dinner, the friendships already forming. It was lovely to sit back and listen to the conversations reflecting on the day's ride. Sue had some 'ice-breaker' games, which were great fun and had us laughing into the night.
“Day two for me was the most picturesque. The ascent and descent of Honister Pass (where there’s a working slate mine) was truly breathtaking, as were Whinlatter Pass and Corney Pass. We meandered slowly around lots of narrow, twisty lanes, which finally led us around the popular Coniston Water and on to Hawkshead to catch the ferry across Windermere. Disembarking from the ferry we were soon at our evening hotel in Kendal.
Day three had us up bright and early for our ride back towards Gateshead. Leaving Kendal and the Lake District behind us we were soon enjoying the open plains of the North Pennines. And whilst a chill kicked in to replace the beautiful sunny weather of the previous two days, the forecast rain thankfully held off.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the ladies for coming on the tour – the spark was definitely shared. Thanks also to Gateshead Harley-Davidson for their support and BBQ on our return; Dawn for leading day one; Barbara for leading us over Corney Pass and for being back marker; and Mandy for being our official photographer.”
Betty Saint-Quentin, Sparkle Tour East
“Sparkle Tour East saw ladies from Iceni, 1066, Lakeside and III Rivers, along with a lady from Holland’s Delta Chapter and a Nuneaton lady, all meeting at Norwich H-D. Although a busy Friday afternoon, the Lind dealership provided great hospitality, geeing us up for the first leg of our journey.
“Once Norwich rush hour traffic was tackled, a leisurely ride along country roads was enjoyed as we cruised towards our destination, the Ufford Park Hotel, Woodbridge. With true camaraderie, the ladies helped each other park up, unload and lock the bikes.
“And so began the bonding of a group of like-minded riders, who were making the most of the opportunity Sparkle Tours provide, building friendships and confidence and having fun. Dinner was suitably noisy, with lots of chat and storytelling, which rounded off a great start to the tour.
“The following day, after a ride to Newmarket H-D, we were welcomed with delicious refreshments and were grateful for technical support. We then headed cross-country, bypassing Cambridge to encounter particularly enjoyable roads that served up a variety of riding challenges. This was coupled with breathtaking scenery and the opportunity to immerse oneself in the moment – 16 ladies riding together in glorious sunshine. After an al fresco lunch we headed to the final dealership on our tour.
“The staff at Sycamore H-D, together with a member of the Rutland Chapter, did not disappoint, providing a most hospitable reception, and of course there were refreshments and valued technical support. Our last riding leg that day was to the Bull Hotel, Peterborough.
“Sunday arrived and onward we cruised towards north Norfolk and the coast road to Sheringham. But first, a slight detour and surprise – a welcome party of partners and riders waiting for us at Holkham Hall. They then joined us in rumbling through the impressive estate. It was such a special moment!
“The tour’s finale was arriving in Sheringham for the 1940s carnival. Some participants added an extra night’s stay to make the most of this annual event, whilst others headed home from here. But no matter what the direction, the Sparkle Tour East 2019 ticked all the boxes.”
Lorraine Seedhouse, National Chapter Associate LOH Officer and Twinkle Tour co-ordinator, Twinkle Tour Central
Twinkle Tour Central started from Oxford this year, five ladies and their steeds arriving on the Thursday evening to kick the weekend off as we meant to go on, with plenty of laughter and conversation.
Friday morning saw our tour start from Harley-Davidson® Headquarters in beautiful sunshine, with the Bar and Shield logo glittering and twinkling, as if it knew what awaited us.
First stop Oxford H-D® dealership, where we received a warm welcome from Brian, Merchandise Officer for the Oxford Chapter, who obliged with a photoshoot for the official Facebook page.
We were then welcomed by Ann Grey, LOH for Oxford Chapter, who had been in touch prior to the weekend. Although she was participating in a Sparkle Tour elsewhere, she provided cakes for us, with one large one in particular, complete with sparklers, adding to the occasion.
Next it was our official coffee stop in Lechlade, located by the river, where even the ducks and swans swam over for our welcome. With the sun shining it was time to relax and catch-up – even though we’re members of the same chapter it’s these relaxed moments that allow you to really get to know someone.
Suitably refreshed we headed off to Bourton-on-the-Water for lunch, once again riding through gorgeous scenic countryside, as the wind whistled past, the senses fully engaged. On arrival, and after the obligatory photo session, we refuelled then set off on a wander to explore the area.
Stratford-upon-Avon was our first overnight destination and specifically the aptly named Royal Shakespeare hotel, where we spent the evening celebrating the togetherness of the group with good food, conversation and a generous portion of laughter and giggles.
Radiant sunshine greeted us the next day as we prepared to ride through the Malvern Hills. And just when we thought the tour couldn’t get any better, the scenery and roads converged, providing a beautiful backdrop, before we stopped for lunch at The Boathouse restaurant, then on to the Cheltenham H-D dealership, before departing to the hotel at the Cotswold Water Park, where massages awaited as part of our overnight stop.
And while some hit the spa, others set out on a countryside walk, though the bar was the ultimate destination for both groups to party our last night away.
Sunday dawned and once again the sun gods were shining on us, perfect for an excursion to Blenheim Palace through the magical countryside. Our tour of the palace breezed by as we spent several hours discovering this historic building. But sadly, all good things come to an end and soon it was time to say goodbye and head home, friendships and memories made... until the next time.
Penny Weeks, South West Twinkle Tour
“Wow! Wow! Wow! Where do I start? What an outstanding couple of days of great company, excellent routes and, of course, some very beautiful ladies twinkling on the way!
“From the moment we met at Plymouth H-D the sun shone. Greeted by Penny who gave us our purple Twinkle Tour t-shirts, complete with patches, we quickly drank up our complimentary drink from the Plymouth team, and the belly laughs started.
“We encountered some great roads on day one, led by President Paul, aka Babe. It was lovely to also have Bertie and Julie join us on the tour!
“The first stop of the day was at Moto-Velo cafe in Crediton – what a great place to relax, with very friendly staff and delicious cakes. After a quick photo, we were on our way and the ‘buddy buddy system’ was working well. No one got lost.
“On arrival at our accommodation after seven hours of riding we were greeted by the fantastic staff of the Best Western Walton Park Hotel, who had provided a bespoke menu for our evening meal that was finished off with a sneaky plum gin, courtesy of Kathy!
“The breakfast in the morning was very entertaining and a certain Chapter member – mentioning no names of course (what happens on tour stays on tour) – almost burnt down the breakfast hall by burning a couple of croissants! Since our resident fireman (Chris) was unavailable, two brave Chapter members dealt with the blaze so we were then able to continue with our day.
“Day two began with our new ride leader Shaun giving an excellent brief. We headed out at 9am on the dot. Our first stop of the morning was Clifton Suspension Bridge where breathtaking views provided the obvious photo opportunity.
“Continuing on to Riders of Bristol, we topped ourselves up with complimentary hot beverages. Our lunch stop was at Gillingham, Café Newt, and then with the sun still blazing down on us, a short ride to Shaftesbury, Gold Hill, for a monumental photo.
“Have you heard of Zig Zag Hill?! H has renamed it as the sweeping curly C Hill – he bottled the corner and for a brief moment we were riding parallel with Paul. Oh my days, someone was looking out for us at that moment!
“Stopping at the Bat and Ball Inn in Braemore is a must, highly recommended! We then checked in to our hotel in Andover. The reception staff were very helpful, and we all settled in (for what we thought) would be a nice relaxing night. Let’s just say dinner was a minor disaster, in part because a private function seemed to take priority! No matter – we retired to the lounge, where the spiced rum magically appeared and a game of ‘Scabby Queen’ kept the laughter flowing.
“On the final day, blinded by the glorious sunshine and invigorated with the anticipation of a lovely ride, our first stop was Southampton Harley-Davidson. Along with getting the flags out, the team were ready for our arrival with generous gifts, more complimentary drinks and 20% off purchases.
“Stopping for lunch at the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum (one of the world’s largest) we had a cracking lunch, with most partaking in a generous portion of cake. From there we headed homeward bound towards Exeter, where we said our goodbyes after a fabulous excursion.
“Both H and I have to give special mention to the efforts put in by the Road Captains Paul and Shaun, in both research and riding, delivering a faultless weekend. Thank you to Penny for the t-shirts and patches, and to all fellow Twinklers. We make one ’elluva family!”
Visit the HOGUKandIreland Facebook page to see a full album of photos from the weekend.