Category Archives: Trips

Shaun Bowden Big Weekender

Eight weeks on from when we did this epic 1800 km weekend rally and I think the hang over has just worn off…

What was this weekend all about? well let our good friend Bobby Willis explain,

“My good friend and business partner Shaun Bowden died last March while we were walking in Scotland, leaving behind a young family. The Glencoe Mountain Rescue team was fundamental in his search and recovery and they risk their lives in awful conditions for 100′s of people each year.
I went back up to Glencoe a few months ago to revisit the area where the accident occurred and as we were driving along a very beautiful Glen, we saw a battered old Land Rover that was Glencoe Mountain Rescue’s vehicle. That’s when I first thought how nice it would be if there was a Bowden Land Rover roaming around the area saving lives. Since then my friends and I have made it our mission to raise money for GMR to have a bespoke 4×4 rescue vehicle.”

We didn’t personally know Shaun but we did know some of his friends so friends and friends of Shaun’s friends all became friends together on the Bowden Big Weekender 8 weeks ago. We had the amazing voice and guitar playing of Tom Dibb join us in Jed’s van then we all met up at The Heritage Motor Centre then on to The Lake District and after a few hours at a place via Muddy Porn at Drumclog it was then onto Glencoe. Over £18,000 was raised and Bobby has donated his own grey Discovery that you see in this video to Glencoe Mountain Rescue to be converted into a rescue vehicle with the money raised. Chris at Quickfist UK has since donated a quick fist pack to Glencoe Mountain Rescue through us as we are one of his main stockists and as soon as the new rescue vehicle is built CVC will be sending up one of our Trasharoos to store wet ropes and other kit.

Here is the Bowden Big Weekender web site for you all to have a look at http://bowdenbigweekender.co.uk/about/ Although this was supposed to be a one off event it was so good that it made us think if it could maybe be an annual event with more activities included over a few more days. I would think a lot of our CampervanCulture.com brethren would be very interested next year especially those from Europe to get the genuine UK experience!

It was great for the CVC team to get out and let our hair down and have a random encounter with a fellow Syncro owner who joined in for a while.

Shaun Bowden Big Weekender from London to Glencoe in Scotland. from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 7 – Atlantic

After a good few weeks driving across mountains, deserts and gorges we finally hit the coast. It was the first time since we left Spain that we saw huge numbers of Europeans. lots were in huge motorhomes and camper vans and has a less well traveled look about them. We soon left them behind when we drove along the coast off road across the Sous-Massa National Park and we were alone again. It was Jed’s 40th when we were caught up in a flash flood at the surf town of Taghazout and spent time recovering the crazy Swiss. The recovery kit we stock was put to good use once again and we helped recover stuck vehicles that were directly in the path of the flash flood. With a second wave expected due to the weather forecast it got us thinking how many people do go away without even a simple tow strap or recovery kit like the ones we sell on our web shop. We seriously recommend carrying one now, even just for weekend camping as you simply never know.

All along the coast was a pretty relaxing time with lots of wild camping cooking on the Bushpig, sand driving and good times. Get comfortable and check out part 7. The Atlantic,

Morocco Overland Episode 7 – Atlantic from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 6 – Rock & Stone

After being out in the Sahara for a while we were freaked out slightly when we entered the town of Tata and civilisation. We found our second bar of the trip and enjoyed cold beers as well as pigging out on awesome street food. Tata was one of those places that on first impressions seemed un inspiring, but it actually ended up being a great town that we enjoyed visiting before heading further east to Tafraoute. We drove one of the best pistes of the trip so far through a gorge with a dry river bed and up into the mountains.
Tafraoute is an amazing place where you can wild camp right out amongst the painted rocks and rugged landscape that bring people to this area. When we arrived at the painted rocks we couldn’t make our minds up if the handiwork of the artist that started this rock painting made the landscape more interesting with his work, or if he had spoiled it. It was a fairly brave move to take on such a task but as the evening went on and we cooked dinner we were still talking about it. The discussion went on long into the night and even the next morning whilst having coffee we were still talking about it. Then it dawned on me, we had spent hours analysing the artists work and although personally I have never understood art in the past I then realised the whole point of it was to get the reaction it got from us and the hours we had talked about it.

That day we got art.

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop on the CampervanCulture.com web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 6 – Rock & Stone from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara

Back when we came up with the idea to make a set of adventure travel videos of a trip through Morocco and the Sahara our minds would often wander while trip planning about sand dunes and the feeling of true wilderness. In part 5 we sure got lots of it and loved every single moment of this section. We were a long way from the nearest town or even road, we had to get our water from wells and carry enough fuel for 600km as well as food and other supplies.

You will find that part 5 is longer than previous videos we have made. We have done this longer video so you guys can get to follow us along and get to know us and what we are really like. You get to see the equipment we use on trips and how we use it, everything from our cooking equipment to our recovery equipment and of course out trusty Trasharoo. We took the chance to tag an abandoned Land Rover out in the desert with some of the stickers that the companies that have shown us support gave us. So grab a seat, get comfortable and enjoy part 5.

Part 6 to follow very soon…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness

This time in part 4 we venture further into the wilderness where the roads became more demanding and the terrain starts to take it’s toll on the vehicles. Apart from us changing a prop shaft back in Fez this was the first time we had to sort out actual mechanical issues that stopped us in our tracks.
While driving along a desert highway we got our first sighting of camels and with that we pulled over to get a closer look. We met some Berber people who took us down an ancient underground canal that was used to take water from the mountains into the desert oasis. Part of this trip was to be an educational experience for 8 year old Isaac and this turned out to be a very valuable geography lesson about the true Morocco for him. After surfacing from below the desert we had tea with the Berbers (something we had started to get used to every time we met one of these very hospitable people) and as we were about to say our good bye’s Alan and Jed noticed a small group of 4×4’s heading off the road and into the open desert. When they asked the Berber, “Where are the 4×4’s heading?” his answer was “Voth”. We had read a little about the work of “Voth” before we had left but could not find exactly where they would be online. We soon realised why as we set off into the desert to take a look for ourselves….
As the days went on we went from desert to gorges to mountains with truly amazing driving and wild camping. New years eve was spent around the Roadii Grill where we had one of our big cook ups after buying a kilo of some kind of animal hung up in a hut at the side of the road. After that we went much higher and more remote and that will take us into part 5 and the Black Rock Desert, but for now kick back and come drive with us…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christmas

Having spent time heading down through Europe and crossing into Africa in parts one and two, it was time to get off the roads and into the wilderness. Christmas was fast approaching and after driving off road for over 120 miles we found “the spot” for the big day. In part three we experience varied landscapes that were amazing to drive through and camp in. We go from Fes to the mountains and into massive cedar forests and snow capped mountain roads, then down into the start of some of the desert areas and into the palmeries at the source of the River Ziz.

And yep, we bagged the obligatory Moroccan carpet with a little help from our friends at Smiley Bobs.

So here is part three for you guys and please feel free to leave a comment.

Morocco E3Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christams from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland in a T3/T25/Vanagon Syncro. (Part 2, entry to Africa)

We finally made it to Africa.

First stop was the amazing town of Chefchaouen. We were blown away with just how amazing this place was and how cool the people the people were that we met there. It was our first stay at a campsite so far and we stayed at the only campsite just up the hill from Chefchaouen town. It’s a pretty basic campsite by European standards with cracked sinks and dodgy looking plumbing but they do have hot showers and that makes it a good campsite by Moroccan standards. There is free camping to be had across the road at the football field next to the hotel, it looked like a popular spot for fellow overlanders.

Here is a link for www.campingchefchaouen.com

Having acclimatised in Chefchaouen we ventured south and onto Fez. The drive was a learning experience and we soon realised that the donkey was still a main means of travel for lots of Moroccans and road miles took double the time by European standards. You have to adapt your driving style a fair bit because if you drive correctly you would probably cause an accident.
We opted to stay at www.diamantvert.ma while in Fez, it was a really nice campsite that has just had a whole load of money spent on it and has good wifi. We opted to take a guide from Diamante Vert and we had a great day wandering around the city. This is the first time any of us had ever employed someone to show us around a place and it has to be said it was really worth while. We got taken through tiny doorways and into court yards that we would have definitely missed had we ventured out solo.

With Chefchaouen and Fez done and dusted it was time to head out into the wilds and off road but you will have to wait for part three so stay tuned and keep following.

Morocco Overland – Entry to Africa from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Overland in a T3/T25/Vanagon Syncro. (Part one UK and Spain)

Well here we go.

This is the first video in a series of videos we will be making of our recent trip from the UK to The Sahara Desert. We set off Friday 13th of December 2013 (Yeah I know but we are not superstitious! (yet)) after a busy year at CampervanCulture.com looking for adventure. We were invited by CampervanCulture.com subscriber Dave (AKA Orcecaveman or Dave L Orcecaveman) to call in on him in the south of Spain on the way down to North Africa. Dave told us he lived in a cave house in a place called Orce and he owned a VW Syncro like us and was keen to meet us. Orce was a couple of hours off route and after Alan and Jed spoke for a while about who would actually choose to live in a cave it has to be said we did have our reservations. I can’t remember who said it but one of us said, “When will we actually get an offer like this again?” so we agreed to go, after all we were looking for adventure right!

So we set off to Poole and got the LD Lines ferry to Santander on what turned out to be a vomit comet. It was 28 hours of the roughest seas any of the crew had ever sailed in with plates being smashed and what ever wasn’t screwed or stuck down developing a mind of its own and moving around the ship like it was possessed. To be fair to the LD lines staff and the actual ship they were both very nice with really clean cabins and at £267 each way it is a total bargain, its just the ship is too small for the rough as hell Bay Of Biscay in January. Saying that a few weeks later we met an English couple who were on the Brittany Ferries super dooper cruise liner style ferry with stabilizers that left 4 days after us and they got dropped off in Brest, France and left to make their own way down to Spain as the big ferry thought it was too dangerous after hitting “The Horn Of France”. Anyway… with that little mission out of the way we hit sunny Spain and after an amazing over night wild camp near Madrid we found the crazy guy who lives in a cave.

We would like to dedicate this first video to Dave and Carole, two of the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. It’s refreshing to meet people this cool and after spending some time with them you know they deserve the amazing life style they chose because they are just so bloody nice… We left Orce with three new good friends, Dave Carol & Chuck (the dog). We are now the sort of people who would want to live in a cave house, they are amazing.

Hopefully this should get your foot tapping…

Morocco part 1 from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Morocco Expedition – Chefchaouen to Fes

We left Chefchaouen heading south for Fes. None of us were sure what Fes would have in store for us as it would be the largest city that we would have encountered on our trip so far. The night previous we had used the campsite internet to have a look at what campsites are available in Fes and there are basically two main choices, the better of which was called ‘Diamante Vert’.
We were able to get a fairly good location for the campsite however you can never be sure how easy it will be to find somewhere once you actually arrive.

The journey down to Fes was a great drive with constantly changing scenery from mountains to wide open plains, many villages along the way with wonderful smells of food cooking by the roadside, of course there were the standard crazy drivers and slow trucks to deal with but once you are used to how the mayhem works it becomes fairly easy to negotiate the chaos. We happened to be traveling on market day which added a few unexpected road users into the mix, the most notable of which was a donkey and cart traffic jam near to a large market about two thirds of the way to Fes.

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Finding our way to the campsite in Fes turned out to be easier than expected, there were signposts for the camping all the way from the main roads to the site on the outskirts of the town. We followed the signs around the town but we passed by the campsite in search of a supermarket called Marjane and just before we reached our turn off much to our surprise Olly and Heidi pulled onto the road just in front of us! They were also heading for the supermarket so we parked up together and said hello. They were actually heading for the other less reputable campsite so were glad they had bumped into us and decided they would follow along to camp with us for the evening. (they were heading into Fes the next day as they had booked a hotel in the medina for a few nights over Christmas).

The campsite itself was nice and spacious with lots of trees offering shade. There were about 20 Dutch T5 owners there on a 10 day tour of Morocco, to see that amount of pristine looking near identical camper vans on any campsite would be quite strange but in the heart of Morocco it was very odd.

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We drove to the far end of the campsite and spotted a T3 that matched the description of a van we had read about on the internet a day or so earlier. A club80-90 member had posted a thread on the forum about how he had bumped into an American guy broken down on the side of the road in a yellow aircooled T3 Westfalia. It had been filled with Diesel by the guys at a garage a few kilometers away and inevitably the engine hadn’t like it very much.
We were pretty sure that it must be the one so when the owner strolled by and said hello we asked how his van was running now after being filled with Diesel, much to his surprise!
He was quite confused until we told him how we knew about his troubles! Turned out he had asked for Gasoline which the pump attendant had translated as Gasoil (Diesel), Sans Plombe was what he actually needed (Petrol).

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Later we were approached by the campsites official tour guide who offered his services for a tour of the Medina the next day. It seemed reasonable and he assured us that it wouldn’t be a retail based tour of all the local pushy carpet sellers. We took him up on the offer as we were all keen to go and see some of the historical sites of the town and be lead around the medina by someone who knows the way and can answer historical questions about the surroundings.

We collected up some fire wood from around the camp and got some embers burning, Olly and Heidi joined us for a few drinks around the fire too, telling us about the Roman ruins they had been to visit and the immense market they had been to the day before. We were feeling excited but also anxious about what our tour of the famous medina the next day would have in store.

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All of us having traveled in some quite hectic countries in Africa and Asia before we are all well accustomed to just how hectic things can be, but having never visited any city in Morocco so far the intensity of the hassle, hustle and bustle was completely unknown. All we could be sure of was that we would be visiting the leather dying tanneries that Fes is famous for, so with camera batteries put on charge and memory cards emptied ready for the day it was time for bed.

Morocco Expedition – Orce to Chefchaouen

We left Dave’s cave house full of ideas about saving money and finding a cave to live in, fantasising about a life full of olives, oranges, almonds and all the other delicious fresh produce available locally to Orce. But the draw of the desert was pulling and although six or seven weeks away seems like a long time, in the back of your mind you know time is precious so we said our goodbyes to Dave and Carole and began our journey to Algeceiras to board a ferry to Tangier Med, our entry into Africa.

Our next main port of call was to see a guy called Carlos who runs a ticket agency called ‘Viajes Normandie’ selling ferry tickets for our selected crossing. We had found Carlos via various online recommendations as being a price you can trust and it seems that the going rate is €200 for the return crossing. Feels quite expensive for a fairly short crossing, but how else are you going to get there?

We found Viajes Normandie agency quite easily, it’s also right next to a few supermarkets meaning its a good place to stock up on the little home comforts that might not be available whilst on another continent.
After a few tense moments of misunderstanding and sense of humour failure Jed had purchased his tickets for the crossing, Harriet was next and with her slightly better language skills she had purchased ours with relative ease.
We took up on the opportunity to stock our cupboards with essentials, some of which being some select items of booze….well.. you cant have a proper Christmas day without a glass of booze in your hand really can you?

Shortly before arrival on our route to Algecieras we had spotted somewhere on the beach that looked like it might make a great place to camp up for the night. We backtracked along our route and pulled into the spot to find a few other vehicles there that looked as though they might also be on their way to or from Morocco.

That evening turned out to be the warmest on the trip so far. We all sat outside to eat and conversation was unsurprisingly gravitating toward what our next day would have in store.

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Not only were we going to be entering Africa, but we had another ferry crossing ahead of us and if there’s one thing with Ferries its that you can never really know what’s going to happen. Different ports, different staff, different languages, different protocol etc etc. It all boils down into a big melting pot of ‘Not knowing what on earth is going on’. This ferry was no different.

After passing through tickets, customs and passport checks we were set free into that no mans land of ferry queuing lanes that every port has. It was a little harder than usual at Algeceiras to find your lane as it was hidden behind loads of parked lorries, but having found the way and boarded the ferry, forwards this time, we grabbed our various documents that we thought we might need and made our way up to the passenger lounge. It quickly became apparent that we needed to fill in some forms while aboard so Harriet and Louise took the filled in forms to the police counter where there was a queue tailing back a fair way already.

Approx 15 minutes later a flustered Harriet arrived back to where we were sitting ushering us off to the police desk. Unknown to Louise and Harriet each individual passenger had to be present with their respective passport. After a few tuts and moans we got what we needed and were one stage closer.

The crossing lasted around one hour, by the end of that hour i think we were all bracing ourselves for what lay in store. This time all the vehicles had to turn around whilst inside the ferry before disembarking…see what i mean about ferries?

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Passport control etc wasn’t too difficult but its worth noting that whilst on the ferry to Morocco and going the police desk onboard they stamp a number into your passport along with a stamp for the country. The stamped number needs to be filled out on your D16 vehicle importation document before you reach the people who want to check it upon arrival in Morocco.
Vehicle insurance is available in a small white hut amongst a load of others offering money exchange. The insurance isn’t cheap by any means but compulsory so we went ahead with it. Three months insurance was approx £200.

With everything ship shape we set off for our first campsite in a place called Chefchaouen roughly a couple of hours from Tangiers. If you looked on a map at the route, you also would probably think the time estimate for it was quite accurate however, once you factor in Moroccan roads and drivers you might as well double it. A mixture of complete lunatics over taking on blind bends, generally driving on both sides of the road and heavy trucks moving at 5-10kph on the steeper roads makes for interesting driving!

It was quite overcast when we arrived and some time after dark we had a couple of hours of rain, not quite what we were expecting but we were quite high up in the mountains after all. The next day the sun was out, temperatures were still quite cold though, below zero at night and not much warmer in the mornings.

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Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif mountains and the name literally translates to ‘look to the mountain’ Chef meaning ‘look’ and Chaouen being the ‘mountain’.
Its a stunning town with a mixture of white washed and deep blue walls. The medina here is not large but is a tightly packed maze of ups, downs, in’s and out’s and just enough hustle and bustle. The population here isn’t big which makes the town very pleasant to meander around.

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We met a couple called Olly and Heidi who were parked next to us in a long wheel base Sprinter with UK plates, the first we had seen in a long time. They had also just arrived in Morocco but had been in Spain and Portugal for a few months previous. They gave us a few bits of info they had found out about the town and we had the usual chats about the UK and how we were all glad to be in a slightly warmer climate. Ollie and Heidi had already been at the site for a day or so and were leaving to head south, so we said our goodbyes and wondered if we would see them again on our travels.

On our walk into the town we met a man called Mustafa who showed us the way down the hill to the medina. He took us past some of the towns famously beautiful spots on our way and took us to meet a friend of his that runs a carpet shop in the town.

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At this point we thought this might be turning into one of the many cunning ploys the Moroccan culture has developed to empty money from travellers pockets, however this turned out to be nothing like it, we were offered our first mint tea (whisky berber as they call it, it does not contain alcohol) and to our surprise the shop owner spoke perfect english.
He was very knowledgeable and a pleasure to talk with and not once did we feel pressured to buy anything in the shop. Jed, Louise and Isaac had gone off wandering so once we left the shop we headed for the main square to find a cafe, sit down, relax and after getting a taste for it, drink some more mint tea.

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In retrospect we would have all liked to have spent a bit more time in Chefchaouen and i think in the future we all will but this time we decided to leave the next morning. Christmas was looming and there was a unspoken pressure to get to somewhere warmer at least for the celebrations.

Morocco Expedition – Madrid to Orce

From the Gorge near Madrid we headed South towards a place called Orce to meet up with a fellow Syncro owner and Campervan Culture subscriber Dave, we nickname him Dave the Cave, makes perfect sense as he lives in a cave but more on that later.
The journey was smooth and interesting, passing through many beautiful and mountainous regions as we knocked mile upon mile off of the journey.

We finally arrived in Orce in the early evening just after dark. Dave had said it would be difficult to find his house (no surprise there really) but he had previously sent us his address which Alan had put into his Sat Nav. Unsure as to whether the Sat Nav would actually manage to get us to Dave’s actual address we decided it would be worth a go, so we set off into the hills from Orce.

Twenty minutes later we had arrived where the Sat Nav suggested Dave’s house was, but it didn’t look much like a cave. We gave him a quick phone call and found that we weren’t in the right place, we were close but not close enough. Now that Dave knew we we’re nearby he said he’d keep an eye out for us on the road and after about 5 minutes a man leapt from the darkness out into the beams of our headlights wearing a Campervan Culture Difflock T-shirt!

We did some quick hello’s on the road and set off for Dave’s cave. One dusty dirt track later we pulled up outside and were warmly welcomed into Dave and Carole’s gorgeous dwelling. The houses in and around Orce were originally ancient farm workers homes carved into the hillside. But when the water dried up in the valley everyone left in search of better working and living conditions. Since then the cave houses have been gradually bought up by people wanting something a little bit different from the norm for a home or holiday accommodation.

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The idea of someone living in a cave conjures up all manner of images in your minds eye, but none of which would probably be close to the reality of these houses. From the outside they have an almost ‘Hobbit’ house feel to them in that they are a fairly normal looking house frontage, however all the rest of the property disappears into the hillside. Inside they are cosy, warm and very welcoming. Barely a straight line is to be found with the render on the walls gently smoothed into arched ceilings, original features such as a large bread oven carved into wall of what is now the bathroom (originally the kitchen in times gone by).

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Carole had prepared us a delicious feast of chicken and chorizo paella ready for when we arrived so we all sat down for the meal and swapped stories of the local area for our account of the ferry crossing over to spain. Amongst these stories was talk of a place nearby called Castril and a spectacular walk that follows a deep gorge along the path of the river that formed it.

With full stomachs and after probably a few too many Rioja’s we all left for our respective beds with thoughts of what the next day would bring.

The next morning, once the sun was up it was possible to see everything in the area surrounding us. Once again whatever it was that we might have imagined wouldn’t have come close to the reality of it. There are literally hundreds of cave style dwellings in the area, all blending subtly into the landscape with only the chimneys giving away their locations.

The town of Orce is also a stunning place with it’s large and very impressive church, well kept castle ruins and unspoiled streets with people going about their daily business. We happened to arrive on market day which provided a good mornings worth of meandering and perusing of all the produce on offer, later we headed to Galera to have a look around the most densely populated area of cave houses. There’s barely a piece of hillside without some form of house built into it, every inch of the rock faces seem to have a house frontage.

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Castril is positioned just on the edge of the Parque Natural Serras de Carzorla and was our place to visit. Dave took us to a walk along a gorge that he had been to many times, he asked if we were all good with heights before we set off so we wondered what was in store for us when we arrived.
The heights weren’t too bad, but we could still see why he asked. An elevated boardwalk along the cliff walls of the first half a kilometer or so of the trail, providing a stunning aspect to the steep sided gorge carved from the rock by the river below.

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Further along a small suspension bridge has been built and tunnels have been carved through the rock face to enable the path to continue following the river as it winds it’s way along the valley floor.

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After a good wander around we made our way back to Orce to get some dinner on, sort out a few maintenance niggles with the vans and hide away from the cold night by Dave’s toasty wood burner.

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Morocco Expedition – Poole to Madrid

After a busy year planning everything for our trip across Europe and into North Africa we made the decision to take a ferry to Santander with LD Lines from Poole. We did this for a few reasons, the main ones being that it would get us further south in a shorter amount of time and it would mean there would be less stress put on the vehicles before we reached Morocco. A new ferry crossing had appeared that was a much cheaper price than the usual Brittany ferries offerings, £270 one way including a cabin. We couldn’t really resist trying out this option as it seemed as though it would even work out cheaper than driving down once the fuel and tolls etc had all been added up.
We worked out our dates of travel taking into account when we wanted to arrive, how much time it would all take and when Jed and Louise’s son Isaac was able to be taken out of school……Friday the 13th of December……unlucky for some they say…

We arrived in Poole the night before our ferry to overnight at a place called Sandbanks. The 13th of December also happens to be Isaac’s birthday which was celebrated in style with presents and a cake with candles. It took Isaac a few go’s to blow all the candles out but he got there eventually. We have no idea what he wished for but it would seem that it wasn’t a calm ferry crossing.
The next morning everything looked great for the crossing, the sunrise was beautiful, skies we’re clear and we were all in good spirits.
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We boarded the ferry with no real dramas, customs ran some sort of check on our passports that many others didn’t experience and much to our surprise we had to reverse onto the ferry!

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Shortly after this is when everything changed, almost as soon as we left the harbour the seas became quite rough. A few hours in and we were rounding the horn of France, Harriet, Louise and Isaac were all feeling very ill and the waves were getting worse.

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Some time later we all decided to retire to our cabins to lay down but even this was difficult as the motion of the ship was so extreme by this point just staying in the bed was difficult.
What felt like an eternity later after much broken sleep, colossal vibrations through the ships hull and a change of course nearer to the coast to try and get out of the enormous swell we awoke to calmer conditions, there was still quite a bit of movement going on, but nothing compared to the night of what felt like purgatory we had been through.

We spoke to some of the staff on the boat and they told us it was the worst they had ever experienced.
Unfortunately the change of course meant that the crossing was now going to take even longer than the original twenty five hours, it actually took twenty eight in the end. The sight of Santander and dry land was certainly something to behold….we couldn’t wait to get off. Poor Isaac has probably been put off for life!

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The exit from the port was uneventful and we got straight on the road heading for our first wild camp destination of the trip, a park up by a large gorge just north of Madrid that we found on the Furgo Perfecto website . The roads heading south from Santander have to get over the Cantabria mountain range, this is no mean feat, we were climbing continuously for around 2hrs by which time it was also dark and the last hour we were driving in the clouds, finally crossing the range at over 1300m just skirting along the snow line of the dramatic peaks.

A few hours more and we eventually arrived at the camp spot after a bit of head scratching to make sure we were on the correct dirt track to lead us there.

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It was a spectacular evening with the moon and stars out very bright in the night sky, it was also cold, below zero in fact which flagged up the first equipment issue of the trip, Alan and Harriet’s Eberspacher heater was refusing to keep running for more than about 10mins. But after the ordeal we had been through to get ourselves that far it seemed fairly insignificant at the time. So we all hunkered down to get a well earned nights sleep in our familiar, stationary comfy beds.

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