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The Pyrenees

 

 

 

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Itinerary

Saturday
We meet at Dover very early (no later than 4.30am) on Saturday morning.  There's chance to introduce ourselves and check round the vehicles to make sure we're ready for the journey ahead.  We ask that all entrants arrive at Dover with enough fuel for approximately 175 miles.  This is to avoid having to go straight for fuel when we get off the ferry, and getting caught up in local traffic.  We catch an early morning cross channel ferry which should take less than 2 hours.  We will travel at a steady pace, aiming to drive at around 70mph, stopping for fuel and maybe a late lunch along the way, before arriving in the evening at our overnight motorway motel in plenty of time to get an evening meal nearby.  We aim to only drive for around 2 to 3 hours at a time, before stopping for a break.

Sunday
After breakfast (included in the entry fee), it's time to get out onto the French motorways to finish our journey, arriving at our week long base in Encamp, in the Principality of Andorra in the afternoon.  Time to unpack, and settle into your en-suite room in our very friendly, family run local hotel.  The rest of Sunday is left free to settle in after the long journey, or to go into town to stock up on food and drink for the week ahead.  If you'd rather not shop for packed lunches, you are able to order a packed lunch from the hotel the evening before.  There is a fully licensed residents bar for those who just want to relax.  The hotel has it's own restaurant which is open every evening, though there are also lots of other options to eat out in this town during the week if you'd like to try several different places.

Monday
After breakfast (included in the entry fee), it's on to our first day out off roading in the mountains.  Our guide vehicle will lead you high into the mountains until the tarmac roads finish, and the trails begin.  We'll take packed lunches with us, as we head into the mountains, only occasionally passing through little villages as we pass from Andorra over the border into Northern Spain.  The off roading follows a fully researched and documented route, which is followed using our guide vehicle's GPS computer mapping to ensure we're always on the right track.  Be prepared for some impressive views as we zigzag up the mountain sides, climbing to peaks of around 2750 metres (9000 feet!).  A camera is a must for this trip, as you'll want to have a record of these amazing places we're driving through.

Tuesday
Breakfast is again provided (included in the entry fee), and then it's our second full day of off roading in the mountains.  Again we will cross over the border into Spain whilst on the trails, and while these routes bypass the main road border controls and customs, we're still likely to see a Police patrol up on the mountain trails.  These routes have long been used for the smuggling of tobacco, and the illegal trade continues today, although not as much as in years gone by.  Sheep and goat farmers are also amongst the other users of these trails that we're likely to encounter, and most will give us a friendly wave as we pass by on our route.

Wednesday
Wednesday is your rest day.  After a relaxed breakfast (included in the entry fee) there's plenty to explore in the local area, and we'll provide you with a wealth of tourist literature, and can also advise on potential places to visit.  Andorra is also a shoppers paradise, and many items can be found at lower prices than here in the UK.  The shopping areas in town are lined with shops specialising in electronic goods, perfumes, and even car accessories.  Food and drink are also reasonably priced here, with wines, spirits and cigarettes being far cheaper than back home.  There are also many cafes, bars and restaurants which offer a variety of traditional local, and English foods.  A trip over the border to Spain gives the opportunity to visit countless pretty villages, perched high up in the mountains, or if a European city day out is what you're looking for, Barcelona is only 125 miles/2.5 hours away (although you may well prefer some time out of the car today).  You may decide to visit Caldea, Europe's largest thermal spa, which is only 15 minutes from our campsite.  Caldea includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools and jacuzzi's, roman baths, Turkish foot baths, steam rooms and sauna's, as well as relaxation areas.  It's a great way to unwind after a few days in the mountains.  Visit www.caldea.com for details.
On the evening, we will host a free group get-together around one big table in the hotel restuarant for a great meal (wine included) and to socialise as a whole group.

Thursday
After breakfast (included in the entry fee) we head out for day number three of off roading in the mountains!  Some of the routes starts slightly further out into Spain.  It's well worth the short drive to the start of the route though, as we climb up the mountain side on what seems to be an non stop ascent of the rocky track.  Lunchtime leaves us at a fantastic viewpoint, with views across Spain and the Pyrenees range, where on a clear day you can see for over 200km!

Friday
Our fourth and final day of off roading.  We try to make this final day a little bit shorter and more relaxed, so after breakfast (included in the entry fee) we'll set out slightly later, and head to a nearby off road route which takes in some amazing views and again gets us up to the highest points accessible by vehicles.  Some of the routes we follow are actually used for skiing in the winter months, and we'll drive amongst cable car stations, and along pistes as we travel once again through the Pyrenees mountains.  There's dusty forest tracks, exposed hill climbs, short river crossings, and muddy lanes for us to contend with on our tour of this unique area.  We usually finish off roading just after lunch, and then give an option for a drive to a tourist viewpoint with a difference!  A short (easy) walk leads us to a walkway that pokes out from the very top of one of the mountain peaks!  We head back to town by mid-afternoon, leaving some extra time for any last minute shopping, or to get packed up and sorted for the journey back the following day.
On the Friday evening, we will host a free 'last night' tapas meal (wine included) at one of our favourite traditional local restaurants.

Saturday
Saturday morning is time to pack up ready for the start of our journey home.  After breakfast (included in the entry fee), we will leave Andorra around 9am, and after climbing back over the mountains into France, we'll once again be on the motorways heading back North.  We'll arrive back at a motorway motel in the early evening for our last night on the continent.  Again, we should be there in plenty of time for an evening meal within walking distance of our motel.

Sunday
After our last night in France, and another breakfast at our motel (included in the entry fee), we travel the remainder of the French motorways that lead us back for our return ferry crossing.  Subject to a normal schedule, we should be back on English soil by 5pm.  Time to say goodbye to the new friends we'll have all made, and head off home.

 

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