Where we've been...
Portugal/ Spain trip 2022 was the highlight of our year by far. The trip began on the 5th of September. we met Sam and Elliot in their Mitsubishi in Axminster, South west Devon. We filled the trucks up with diesel and the spare jerry cans too, made final checks on the vehicles before setting off down to Portsmouth ferry port. Half way down to catch the ferry disaster struck as Sam spoke through the CB saying they needed to pull over as his truck was overheating. Swiftly pulling into a lay by we lifted the bonnet to find the truck either had a coolant leak or air-lock. we topped it back up with the attitude that we needed to get the thing over to Spain and deal with it later on, which of course is always the best way to deal with things.
We boarded the ferry and made our way to the lounge where we sat down with a cold beer to start the holiday and we spoke about all the places we would like to visit while on the trip.
Knowing we were 2 days earlier than the rest of the group we had a bit of time to relax once we arrived in Spain so we travelled from Santander West along the North coast of Spain and set up in a campsite nearby to Llanes a small fishing town. Once camp was set up we set off exploring the nearby cliffs and the beach before soaking up the sunshine and listening to music at camp. The group decided to visit Llanes one evening after getting a recommendation from one of the resteraunt workers at the campsite, he said ‘big party, you must come along’. As a mid twenties group of lads away from home we simply couldnt resist and joined in the party in the town, big stages with very talented Spanish singers and musicians playing all night the town had a very infectious buzz about it and everyone seemed to have a smile on their face, as did we.
The others arrived at camp which was a good opportunity to meet some new faces and look at the 4X4’s that would be joining the convoy. We set off for the picos de Europa, a mountain range that covers approximately 20km in the North of Spain. We traversed up the side of the mountains with not a huge amount of space to let anybody pass but with the roads being used only really by the farmers and a few villiagers we didnt exactly expect the M5. Just as we got to the top everyone got out the trucks and lost their attention to the stunning views of the lush green mountains and listened to the eagles soaring hundreds of metres above us, this really felt like the start of an amazing trip. Unfortunately we were intercepted by a park Ranger at the peak and told to turn around and go back down as the area we were in was now a national park, with nowhere else to go we had to go back the way we came. everyone stocked up on food in the supermarket once we were back in the town and we set off for the North of Portugal. With one of the Land Rovers breaking down and having to wait for a part to be ordered to a nearby garage we set off for Furadouro and left the lads in the defender to fend for themselves sitting in the sun eating bread and olives in a small town. Unlike travelling in Africa, Places in Spain and Portugal usually have resteraunts, garages, supermarkets and other facilities so leaving them behind wasnt as bad as you may think.
While we waited for everyone to get organised we spent a few days in a few different towns meeting with the locals and enjoying the food and drinks not to mention the sunshine. On the 13th of September we set off for the sand dunes in Marinha Grande, West coast of Portugal, half way between Porto and Lisbon. After letting the tyres right down and taking our side steps off we had a few trial runs on the dunes to check everyones truck could manage. Everyone was fine and the automatic gearbox trucks were outshining the manuals. The heavy Ford ranger i was driving had to be towed by Bens Hilux a few times, some times the sand boards just didnt provide enough grip for the truck to pull itself up the steeper dunes.
We travelled South more through Portugal and decided to peel away from the group, with one truck out of the game with a gearbox issue and Sams truck overheating frequently we chose to lay off the intense off roading and instead stuck mainly to roads. Our group travelled firstly to Nzare and then to the Algarve where the off roading trip turned into a luxury holiday. This is one of the main benefits of travelling 4X4, you can adapt the trip however you want to.
After relaxing and taking it way too easy we set off back North to make sure we made it to the ferry on the 21st September. Stopping in some stunning locations including Sao Juliao which is where we found a hidden waterfall that we had to get to on foot not to mention a snake that we had to remove gently from the footpath. Another incredible town called Salamanca we came across with every building built years ago to absolute precision. One of the lads said it was similar to Venice although Jake and i have never been.
The last stop was exactly where we arrived originally, we spent the last night before heading home in the campsite near Llanes where we sat and talked over the funny memories from the last few weeks alongside planning where our next trip would be.
Portugal and Spain was an amazing trip because it was the perfect mix of an off road adventure and a lads holiday, we really did get the best of both worlds in two amazing countries which are only a day away from the UK.
… a long ferry journey from Plymouth to Santander, we convoyed down through the heart of Spain not taking much time to stop unless totally necessary, after a frightening night in a thunder and lightening storm we made it to Southern Spain and caught another short Ferry into Tangier, North Morocco. We continued down the West coast of Morocco stopping in various places along the way including Rabat and Essaouira which is known as the windy city, I bet you can guess why. After we travelled in land to Marrakesh where we visited the markets for the day. we continued moving inland into the Sahara desert where the temperatures were as high as 50 degrees C. Whilst moving through the extreme conditions of the desert we crossed paths with the Dakar rally, it began in Lisbon, Portugal and passed through Spain and the western Sahara, coincidentally this was exactly where we were. The race continued south through Mauritania and ended in Senegal, we were very lucky to have witnessed this in the flesh as the 2007 race was the last to take place on that route the 2008 rally was cancelled. Next after the desert were the Atlas mountains which stretch for 2500km across North western Africa. The breath taking views and interesting wildlife kept everyone in amazement and made up for the on going fear of the dangerous roads which were not only steep and made of loose material but were painfully narrow. I remember my parents in constant discussion through the CB radio we had communicating with the other drivers, this was essential throughout the trip to ensure everyone was in view of another driver. After manoeuvring the Atlas mountains we headed North back to the ferry port to sail back into Spain. The group decided to have a day visit to Gibraltar where we climbed the rock and met the local monkeys who inhabit the area. Steve the organiser reminded us to leave anything we don’t want stolen in the trucks, the monkeys would grab anything they could get their little hands on. We slowed down through Spain and used the last 4/5 days to wind down, staying in a few camp sites and hotels along the way eventually timing our arrival back to Santander with our ferry departure. I remember thinking when I was 8 years old coming home on the Ferry that I was going to do this when I was a big boy in my own truck. Morocco 2007 was the first 4X4 trip I had ever been on and at 8 years old as you can imagine this was the coolest thing I had ever done. Although the trip had a schedule and a planned route to take it really had an adventure feel to it and Steve the organiser and navigator allowed group decisions on where to venture throughout. The main challenges were the tough conditions, making sure all the trucks could manage the dry heat was an on going task and we were reminded to drink more than enough water. The lack of roads was of course a problem especially in the desert where it is easy to lose your bearings. Luckily I had my parents to take role of navigators along with child watch. My cousin Elliot (10 at the time) and I made it extremely difficult for the adults, the second we stopped for a water break we were out of sight, either playing football with the locals, looking for Lizards to catch or exploring, but that’s what its all about at that age right? Morocco all in all was an unforgettable and inspiring trip for all who went and a replica trip is in talks for the future.
Wales 2005 was the first trip i had heard about as a youngster and i had always heard it being brought up in conversation over the years as quite a few of my older family members were involved including three of my uncles, my mum, step dad and a few cousins. With so many of my family members owning 4X4’s i had to spend alot of my time in and around them which as a kid was overly fascinating. I remember my step dad kitting out the purple discovery for this trip in particular.
As you can see this Land rover dominated trip wasn’t as tropical as the ones later on down the line. with the usual welsh weather this trip was alot wetter and a coat and wellies were needed as you can see from the photos. Taking the convoy across rivers is always an added bit of fun to a route especially when youre watching a mate pannick as water comes up over the bonnet. Although wales isnt as glamourus or exciting as other destinations if you live in the UK its the perfectb place to test our your 4X4 on a weekend to see how it copes with the muddy, wet rocky terrain and some of the places are quite scenic.
Jake goes to wales in his Defender 90 on the occasional weekend still and has failed to get it stuck anywhere so far maybe we will see how it copes in Morocco…