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GBU 17 - A Few Trails More - part 1

Rodger

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A Few Trails More (jointly written by Dawn [Froggy Steve’s lady] and Rodger)


October 5th saw Steve (Froggy Steve) & Dawn (LC95), Mark (Blinko) & Mel (80 series) plus Mark & Jodie (80 series) and, between them, their five dogs – Sam, Dan, Yago, Indie & Jaspi, meet at Creysse and start this year’s Good, Bad and Ugly Tour (named A Few Trails More) which would take them 3005 miles though France, Portugal, Spain and home again. They would meet Pete (Wobbly) and Suzanne at Gondesende, Portugal then travel down some of that country’s numerous trails before the 14th when Pete & Suzanne would have to return for their ferry and Mark & Jodie would leave – prior commitments - to return to France with their newly acquired dog, Porto. Steve & Mark with their respective ladies would then cross the bottom of Spain to Freila where they would meet Dave (Dave2000, 80 series), Ian (Dieseldragon) (90 series) & Ed (Ian’s dad) and Rodger & Corinne (40 series) on the 16th. Over the next six days the group would explore the Badlands and the Gorafe desert, cross two mountain ranges and have a couple of days in the Tabernas desert before we separated and Steve and Mark returned home to France on the 24th.

5th: From Creysse: the 3 Land Cruisers with 6 adults and 5 dogs

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Drove 365.7 miles on the autoroutes via Bordeaux onto Spain and reached campsite Angosto at Villanane early evening.

6th: From Villanane more autoroute driving 263.6 miles across the Spanish/Portugese border and arrived at Camp Cedo Verde at Gondesende, Braganca mid-afternoon where we met up with Pete and Suzanne so now we were 4 Land Cruisers, 8 adults and 5 dogs and had dinner in the campsite restaurant.

7th: Now the off roading trails can begin. 78 miles of fantastic twisty mountain climbs with stunning views and very, very dusty. First photo stop was high up near communication masts and dishes. The off road tracks took us through some tiny villages with narrow streets to navigate.
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Highest point of the trail was 4377ft and the trail took us through Macedo de Cavaleiros before we decided to head for a municipal campsite at Parque de Campismo de Vila Flor

8th: 96.2 miles more off road trails. From Vila Flor to Torre do Moncorvo where we found a lovely church with its own BBQ and picnic area with stunning views
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Carried on more amazing tracks with stunning scenery, picturesque villages, good steep climbs and descents, hairpin bends and dust.
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Through Freixo de Espada Cinta, Figueira de Caselo Rodrigo and then left the trail to head for a camp site at Almeida – Camping Café Rio Cao. Great site next to river so dogs had a great swim then up to the bar for a few beers to wash away the dust.
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9th: 72.6 miles today and highest point was 3661ft. Back on the tracks from campsite to Vilar Formoso and through the Reserva Natural de Serra da Malcata where we passed an abandoned brick making site with the tall chimney. Tracks started off nice and flat and open and then got narrower and narrower to a point where you had to be spotted through them to avoid the stone walls on either side. Stopped for lunch at Sabugal
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then drove through a GRN training area so the 2 80’s had a play driving up and round and down steep banks, then on to Guarda where we saw the devastation the forest fires had caused. Amazed how close to some of the villages the fires got – could only imagine the fear they caused.
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Then we headed for the campsite at Manteigas again close to a river so the dogs had another swim. It was here that Mark and Jodie took in a young abandoned dog they named Porto so now we were 4 Land Cruisers, 8 adults and 6 dogs.

10th: 87 miles today and highest point was 5120ft. Left the campsite at Manteigas in the Parque Natural da Serra de Estrela and climbed up a lovely winding mountain road with fantastic views but unfortunately at any of the parking places the trees blocked the view. Had to stop on the way up for a local traffic jam – shepherd with goats and sheep. Managed to pull in near the top and take some photos of the views – opposite they were building a hotel/apartments.
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Further on we came across a huge dam with large rocks so another photo break.
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Great trails up and over mountain Neve and through the small villages.
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Coming into one of the villages Mark Newlands who was leading suddenly yelled out over the CB radios “STOP everyone STOP”. Met a concrete mixer in one of the narrow village streets so had to back up to let him pass. Carried on and arrived at another small village near Seia called Senhora do Desterro where we found a fantastic restaurant called Restaurante A Margarida 1 for lunch, great food and very friendly and helpful despite the language barrier.
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After lunch we carried on the trails for a bit longer to Arganil, coming down a steep descent both 80’s brakes started over heating (Mark Lang’s were smoking) so pulled over to cool them down
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Then decided to head for a campsite so headed to the municipal campsite at Gois. The severe threat of the fires was made even more aware to us as when we were going to bed the sirens sounded and we were told that there were fires where we had been in the day not far from the campsite and if the sirens sounded again we would have to pack up and leave immediately to safe ground.

11th: 89.4 miles today and highest point was 3970ft. Left Gois on some good tracks through the forests with good climbs and descents, some steep, and again we were struck by the damage the fires had inflicted but also the miracle of Mother Nature at how things were starting to regrow.
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Saw 2 groups of goat herders again today. On one of the small tracks we found a JCB digger stationary at the side with a huge pile of stone behind it – it was the men building the road that was currently a track.
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The 2 80’s managed to squeeze by the digger and get over the stones (hard left straight after the digger). Steve in the 95 had the trailer on the back which dug into the pile of stones and lost front right wheel traction so had to be self-winched over. The route took us up and over the mountain Neve, passed by Pedrpgao Grande, Figueiro dos Vinhos, Alvaiazere and Ferreira do Zezere. After lunch we decided to head for a campsite at Tomar. Mark Lang had trouble starting his 80 but after a bit of rocking it went. Not far from the campsite Mark Newlands had a puncture so had to quickly pump the tyre up and changed it at the campsite. The campsite was called Camping Lake Portugal and the owners were very friendly, had a fantastic restaurant so we all agreed to treat ourselves for a gastronomical evening and booked a table.

12th Mark Newlands had to get his tyre repaired this morning Whilst the kind owner was trying to let them know where they could go to get it done Mark Lang had a problem starting his 80 and it couldn’t be jump started either (auto) which meant it could not be towed anywhere. So the kind campsite owner rang her mechanic who gave her a number for a car electronic engineer who came out in 20 minutes. Turns out it was the solenoid so he managed to get the 80 started for Mark and showed him how to do it until it could be repaired properly. After telling Mark he could do it in 3 hours it was agreed to let him get on with it, not a problem as was not too long a journey planned for the day. Whilst waiting Steve, Jodie and Dawn in the 95 and Pete and Suzanne in the Hilux decided to go shopping in Tomas for supplies. Garmin took us onto an unpaved road which turned into a dirt track that was used for motocross and then it became an almost vertical drop with loads of deep ruts to contend with as well which was impossible with the 95 and its trailer.
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So had to unhook the trailer, turn the 95 round, re-attach the trailer and then let Pete turn round to get back to the road to go to Tamar on tarmac. After waiting most of the day and it getting to mid-afternoon it was decided that Mark Newlands and Steve would head off to the campsite by the coast via the autoroutes and Mark Lang and Pete would come on later when the repair was finished. So we hit the autoroutes and arrived at the municipal campsite of Alcacer do Sol and Mark and Pete turned up later. Unfortunately later that evening Porto the rescue dog was howling in pain so Mark and Jodie had to rush him to an animal hospital in Lisbon – they didn’t get back till 1:30 and had to leave Porto there for more tests but as least he was comfortable.

13th: 108 miles today driving tracks along the coast. Bit of road first then onto the sand. Steve’s first time driving on sand and he was surprised how different it was. Everyone took air out of their tyres including the trailer tyres.
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The sand trails were brilliant fun and enjoyed by everyone. Driving through the Reserva Natural das Lagoas de Santo Andre e da Sancha passing Vila Nova de Santo Andre and Sines. Then we stopped and walked across to the beach and WOW absolutely breath taking.
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After dogs and people had enjoyed the stunning beach we went back to the dunes and had lunch.
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A bit more of the sand trails after lunch into the Parque Ntural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, then we hit the road and pumped the tyres back up. Pete and Suzanne decided that they would leave us at this point and go onto Sagres and then head to Seville. Jodie and Mark had heard that they could collect Porto from the animal hospital so they also said goodbye and we were down to an 80 and a 95 so we headed to the campsite Camping Villa Park at Zambujeira

14th: 85 miles today along the coast. Went to the local beach first at Zambujeira
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Then headed south along coastal routes, some dirt, some sand. En route we came into Aljezur and went to see the castle built in the 10th century during Muslin occupation of the Gharb al-Abdalas. Stunning views.
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Carried on and found a fantastic spot for lunch on a cliff edge to the beach and sea. Then travelled on passing Vila do Bispo to the southernmost point of Portugal – Sagres – but it was too crowded so went to the westernmost point at Cape St Vincent
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The campsite we were intending to use was far too big and crowded for us so we looked for another one but in the end we decided to wild camp and found a discrete spot.
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15th: 388.6 miles today all main road and autoroutes. Left wild camp (with hunters all around!) and drove through Portinao, through the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, passing Seville and into Sona de Protection de la Reserva Natural Laguna de Fuente de Piedra into Andalucia. Passed close to Granada into the Parque Natural Sierra de Huetor then into the Arque Natural Sierra de Baza and onto the campsite at Freila.
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16th: Rest day today on camp waiting for Rodger to arrive in his 40 and Ian in his 90. Took dogs to the reservoir for a swim then waited for our fellow adventurers
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Matthew1955

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A thoroughly enjoyable read plus I tracked your route on Google maps and it looks a great journey to take.Looking froward to Part 2.
 
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