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January 2015

Official Newsletter of the Cheshire Land Rover Club.

In this edition:
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A special edition this month, with
the
usual information
but also a
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level
special story from Chris and Karen
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Staniforth,
in
their
Overland expedition.

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Morocco

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Welcome to the Morocco Special
edition of the CAT.
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Contents

2

Events and Outings

3

Club Updates

4

Morocco Overlanding with
Chris and Karen

9

Offers and Classifieds

10

What's on Next Month?
Contacts, Just for fun

Events…and outings…

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28th December – North Wales Green Lane
trip for Macmillans

A cold an snowy day saw the club out in North
Wales again, this time dressed up and raising
money for Macmillan Cancer.

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8 vehicles arrives, all decked out with
Christmas decorations, lights and smiles.

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Heading out to Bala to start the lanes were a
mix of mountain passes, valley tracks and
forest tracks.

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Updates

News

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2015 Mac Challenge – TEAM
GRUFFALO Mark Birkitt & Roger
Charlesworth
Mark and Roger as Team GRUFFALO have
decided to compete in the Mac 4x4 Challenge
2015 to try and raise as much money as possible
to aid the excellent work that Macmillan
undertake in the support they give to others.

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The Mac Challenge is a test of navigational
skills, observation, on and off road driving
ability and endurance; by day and night. Each
team consists of only two people and one
vehicle.
Team GRUFFALO will be taking part in Mark’s
110, which is being fully sign written including
CLRC Livery for the event.
To donate to Team GRUFFALO all you need
to do is visit either (or both!)
Roger:
https://www.justgiving.com/RogerCharlesworth
Mark:
https://www.justgiving.com/mark-birkitt/

Over the last six years Mark has lost both parents
to cancer and would like to try give something
back to this excellent charity for all the support
that they give.

Morocco Special

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November 2014

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We are Karen and Chris, the proud owners of Marilyn, a 2007 Defender TDCi 110, and we
love to take her off road. We visited Morocco in April 2013 as part of a guided self drive tour
led by Trailmasters International, a Yorkshire based off-road tour specialist, and thoroughly
enjoyed ourselves enough to want to go again.

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In 2013 we did the Marrakech Special, a trip covering the north and east of Morocco, with
some southern areas and the famous Erg Chebbi sand dunes, which are so spectacular, but
we fancied something a bit further afield.
We met other off-roaders while on our first trip to Morocco who had been with Waypoint Tours
who provide a most unique service, a fully catered set of self drive tours both in the UK and
continental Europe and Morocco. After researching the company and impressed with the
feedback from users we decided to book for the November 2014 Western Sahara tour.

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Probably the hardest part of the tour in terms of time and effort involves getting to the initial
meeting place just north of Algeceiras in Spain. A four hour drive to Portsmouth, 24 hours on the
Friday evening ferry to Santander and then a near 700 mile slog coast to coast is hard on the car
and the passengers equally. We met two of the of the other cars at Portsmouth and travelled
down through Spain with them, breaking our journey at 3am on the Saturday night when we
finally found a hotel that was open, and back on the road at 9am to continue the journey south.

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The first day of the tour, a Monday, involves crossing the Straits of Gibraltar and making the long
motorway journey to Marrakech for the first night at a campsite – it’s amazing just how much like
home northern Morocco is. After too many cheesy 1930’s films about the Foreign Legion I
expected sand and forts from the coast on in but no, its like Cheshire and Wiltshire, green rolling
hills, lots of trees and endless quantities of sheep!!

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After Marrakech the roads turn to main trunk roads and the further south you travel, they become
single track with passing places and eventually just dirt! We travelled due south through
gradually diminishing villages until we hit the desert proper. Real desert is mostly rock, gravel
and lots of dust with only about 10% being sand, so once off the highway, tyres were deflated
and speeds reduced to on average 20mph. Our route generally drove south-south west, down to
the Mauritanian border and then father south until turning due west to drive to the Atlantic coast.
Sand driving is not too bad once you get used to the techniques; leave lots of room between
trucks; keep the revs up and maintain momentum; don’t brake hard otherwise you’ll dig in and
require extraction [ok, just the once!]; and where previous trucks have created deep ruts, try and
drive parallel to them.

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We had a number of gorges to climb and descend, and even a race across 20 miles of salt lake
which forms part of the Dakar Rally route. Lots of changing landscape to see, photograph and
get to grips with. A Land Rover drivers paradise.

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Morocco is just full of old Land Rovers, a mixture of Series II and III, some 110’s and a lot of
Santana 110’s. It says a lot for the original design and build of the trucks that they are still all still
going, and it also attests to the ingenuity of the local mechanics who can resurrect the most
terminal wreck and keep it on the road, which is different perhaps from being road worthy as we
would define it. Land Rover easily account for 80% of the cars in the southern regions, the rest
being Land Cruisers, some of which I would grudgingly label ‘adequate’ [honestly, I’d have a 100
series tomorrow if I had the cash and drive space even if I did have to hide it from all of you].

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The Western Sahara is a disputed territory, two thirds basically occupied by Morocco after Spain
withdrew its control in the late 1970’s, and there is a large, but very unobtrusive UN peace
keeping mission maintaining the existing boundaries. There is massive investment by the
Moroccan government in infrastructure, motorways being driven through the desert to new cities
and new trunk roads, hospitals, water treatment facilities, power stations etc sprouting up
everywhere and there is a huge influx of Moroccans from the north to populate what is now their
southern most province. They are gaining ownership of the land by colonisation, so when the UN
eventually hold a referendum on the issue, the landslide vote will be for the area to be legally
incorporated into the Moroccan state.

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The area of the former Spanish Sahara currently occupied by Morocco is awash with minerals
and some gas and hydrocarbons, and is the key to the future financial prosperity of the country.
Think Australia on a smaller scale but ever so close to the EU. So there are municipal police
everywhere, Royal Gendarmes who are a hybrid of the Metropolitan police/FBI, and lots of
military, all of whom are very courteous to the foreign visitor and who make visiting and camping
out safe.
And this is the thing about Morocco, it is very, very safe, very European and laid back. While
alcohol is only sold in the big towns and ostensibly only to foreigners, most locals love a cold
beer or glass of Shiraz if no one is looking, and tins of lager out of the fridge can knock lots off
the price of carpets or jewellery!

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We split the camping about equally between campsites, some of which were extremely basic,
and wild camping, which frankly most of us preferred. Being a catered tour at the end of each day
all we had to do was park up, put up the roof tents and have a drink and a chat around the mobile
kitchen that was the preserve of our tour leader, Barrie. Meals were fantastic, huge portions and
very tasty and the best thing was not having to cook, just washing up your own utensils at the
end of each meal. Breakfasts were a mixture, some days muffins and granola, other days full
English and all delicious. Lunches were sandwiches of varying types, depending on what Barrie
had been able to get from the last fresh food market. If you have the time, look up their website
http://www.waypoint-tours.com/ and browse their menu examples – we can attest to their
accuracy.

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Our second week was a leisurely drive up the Atlantic coast from Boujdour back to Marrakech,
driving along sand topped sea cliffs, with magnificent views both out to sea and inland to the low
lying hills that eventually grow into the Anti-Atlas. Passing plenty of fishermen’s shelters and
military outposts sited every kilometre along the coast gave us plenty to photograph and lots of
waving to be done to out hosts. In fact the troops get so bored watching their sector of beach that
they try to out do each other “Changing Rooms” style by decorating their buildings, and creating
walls, fences and markers to define the tracks out of stones and any thing blown in from the sea,
which includes a huge amount of wood and plastic bottles and rubbish discarded by passing
ships and blown to the shore.

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Technically this was a more demanding terrain, with lots of stopping to air up or down tyres as
the ground changed, and we got to see the wrecks washed up on beautiful golden beaches as
we headed back north. One night was spent at the Ksar Tafnidilt, a Casbah just outside Tantan,
a mountain top hotel and campsite owned and run by a French lady former motor racing driver
which was fantastic, and best of all boasted sit down toilets instead of squats, and showers with
hot[!!] water. Located just to the south west of the former and now abandoned Casbah this looks
like a movie set.

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We had planned to drive the famous Plage Blanche, a section of 40 mile golden sand beach but
the weather changed dramatically for the worse. A local fisherman told us to get off the entrance
to the beach and away from the river valley we had driven down to it because of the 2 metres of
water expected from the oncoming rain storm. We had no sooner turned around and headed
back inland than the rains started. Golf ball size hail stones quickly turned the parched river bed
into a small trickle that turned in front of our eyes to a stream and then to a river. Luckily we
found a rocky outcrop we could climb up to get away from the rapidly growing river, but the
plateau above had turned into a mud bath between 6 inches and two feet deep, with small rivers
flowing from all directions. Deciding that wild camping in that area that night was a bad idea, we
headed to the nearest town, but the only highway connecting the south and north had mostly
washed away by the time we got to it and traffic was chaos, causing us to drive on well into the
evening to find a flat spot of land we could camp on.

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Second level

Following our bad weather, Marrakech was on the horizon and we were booked the next day into
a small Riad, or guest house in the town centre. The city traffic is unbelievable, especially in the
warren of narrow back streets where the Riad was located. Parking was a nightmare but it was
worth it as the Riad was a proper 5* experience and it had been booked out to us exclusively.

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Marrakech is like Mumbai or Rio, vast and extravagant wealth abutting absolute poverty, but it’s
worth a trip, and the souks are well worth a visit, though they are not as cheap as they used to
be! Medina Square in the centre of the city turns out at night to be a vast open air theatre, full of
snake charmers, monkey trainers, fast food stalls and African musicians and the sights and
smells are out of this world.

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After Marrakech, the tour basically ends and there is then the long journey back to the north
coast for the ferry back to Spain. We arrived back in Spain at 5pm on a Monday, and were
booked on the 10.30 am ferry on the following day from Bilbao to Portsmouth, so that ended up
being a non stop 710 mile drive, arriving at Bilbo at 3am, for a four hour sleep at the wheel until
the ferry started to board, at which time a quick breakfast was taken and then sleeping all day.
Our holiday was thoroughly enjoyable, especially as Marilyn performed magnificently due to the
care and attention lavished on her by David Pugh of David Pugh Town and Country – indeed our
only motoring mishap was the loss of two dust caps during one of the many airup/down
exercises. We travelled 4125 miles door to door, over 700 off road, the rest mostly motorway
miles getting to the rough stuff. And the best motoring related thing about Morocco? Diesel at
around 50p a litre!

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Club Offers and Classifieds

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Club Offers

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All offers for club
members require
current membership
and production of a
valid membership card
to the company in
question.

andyboylephotography
www.andyboylephotography.co.uk
For all members
On production of a valid membership card

20% off on all family and children portraits
10% off weddings
Phone 01270629931 Mobile 07761951276

Just for fun…

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What’s on Next Month?
January
13th
27th
31st

February
Pub Meet, 8pm Red Lion,
Nantwich
Committee Meeting
Green Lane Trip
Nottinghamshire

10th
15th
22nd

AGM,
8pm
Red
Nantwich
Donnington 4x4 Show
Green Lane Trip

Lion,

Get In Touch

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Email: admin@cheshirelandroverclub.org

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