John Spiller carried out the recce for the Spanish and Moroccan portions of Round the World Part One during August. Here is his report.
It is difficult to describe the ingredients of the event – that is the route, the sights, the places, the people and the sporting elements of Round the World Part One, London to Casablanca, without resorting to tired, clichéd adjectives and superlatives, a thesaurus and much repetition but I will try.
Starting from Greenwich in May 2020, with the Trip Meter on Zero and Zero degrees East/West reading on the GPS, the event leads from the land of roast beef and fish and chips through the tapas of Spain to the tagines of Morocco taking in, as a truly global event should, a broad spectrum of civilisation along the way.
It is rare that the horizon is not dominated by an historic castle or monastery, ruined or otherwise; in fact, use is made of many as control locations or overnight rest halts. From the Portland stone of London to the mud walls of the medinas, the architecture is constantly changing as is the countryside, as every mountain range in western Europe and North-West Africa is traversed with sinuous climbs and corresponding descents, with regular respite as the lowland roads wind through fields of sunflowers and seemingly, endless olive groves.
The landscapes never fail to impress; the mountainous Basque country leads into Castilla. Castilla leads to Andalucía. Then onto Africa where the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara await. In parts, the remoteness cannot fail to remind one of the unspoilt panoramas of Mongolia. It is no coincidence that countless Hollywood films have been set in these places. Scenes from Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones, among many, were produced along the route. Our luxury overnight camp amongst the dunes in Erg Chebbi will be one of the event highlights, although we will leave it to the camels to negotiate the soft sand sections.
The sporting element is just as entertaining; the driving is demanding and technical while the navigation is a good test with a variety of demands on concentration and time keeping. The occasional tests will clear the cobwebs of those looking for a “bit of a blast”. The roads are quiet and many sections are a drivers’ delight. Traffic is rarely encountered and the extensive gravel sections are generally smooth and well noted in the Route Book.
The overall route has been designed to take in the best in terms of accommodation and hospitality, which ranges from notable, historic establishments to full, modern resort hotels. Where convenient or possible, controls have been located to afford that brief respite, a wash of the hands and a welcome coffee, but not always; there are some remote sections that simply do not pass even the most basic facility and a degree of self-sufficiency is required.
In summary, the event is a great opener for the Round the World series and those checking in to the final control, some 5,300 kms later, on the shores of the Atlantic in Casablanca, will be itching for more as they cast their eyes westward toward Boston and the next tranche of this great adventure.