One of my all time favourite places

The ride consisted of 3 riders :Billy (BMW adventure):John (Honda Varadero) and Paul (BMW adventure)

General map of Morocco
The plan is to ride as far south in Morocco as road or trails permit. Hit sand turn right for 250 miles following the dunes on one side and the high atlas mountains on the other. Turn right again and head back. To reach Morocco we will travel to Plymouth and then catch the NEW Brittany Ferry "Port Avon" to Santander in northern Spain. The total mileage will be in the region of 4000 miles.
  Day 01 : Saturday 10th April 04 :  
Miles : 265 Time : 3h 22m Mov. ave : 78mph  

We departed at 2pm with an excellent send of from family and friends. ( Paul's new daughter Aimee found the excitement too much and slept through the send off) We had been blessed with a dry day . We covered 265 mile in 3hrs 22mins, which works out at about 78mph average, door to door. We couldn't believe how quiet the roads were for an Easter weekend. The GPS ( Global satellite position system) was excellent taken right to the door no maps required.

Our first night was booked at the travel inn in Glouster, normal square box, quick shower few beers and a curry (two pint Paul was easily pleased 16 pompadoms and a glass of water).

  Day 02 : Sunday 11th April 04 : Plymouth (ferry)  
Miles :      
Dave Badcock Catches up with Bill With Paul Looking on
Dartmoor prison
  Plymouth Hoe  

Dave Badcock a good friend of ours was doing a 1000 miles in 24 hours iron butt ride and as he had waved us off the day before and he had  decided to set off at 3am on the Sunday to do the challenge. He telephoned me about 9am to give us his position as heading towards Bristol so I made some quick calculations and arranged to meet him, I think this pleased us all and lifted his spirits. he was to give Paul a pen that worked. (more later)

No problems here an easy run over Dartmoor (where Paul belongs) then across the moors, literally because the road was closed due to an accident.

Made Plymouth in good enough time to eat Aunt Norma's home made cake (Paul's still talking about it) and to a slight security mod to Paul's bike with the help of Uncle Bills electric drill and 100 meter extension lead.

The ferry is Brittany's new addition to the fleet which does the crossing in 17hrs compared to 24hrs.`

  Day 03 : Monday 12th April 04 - Manzanares, Spain  
Miles : 350      
a cold and wet Spanish start

Drive till we are tired .Sadly the new super ferry was an hour late and it was raining. We departed the ferry and headed south, it was Spain and it was raining as we headed south over the mountains it was snowing, we made slow progress at first but quickly pushed on covering 350miles by 8pm. Our overnight stop was at a Parador hotel in  Manzanares.

Nothing special about the town picked for its closeness to the main route rather than beauty, as it turned out the hotel was excellent with old horse stables converted into garages providing secure parking for the night.

  Day 04 : Tuesday 13th April 05  
Miles : 200      
  Ceuta and the heat is on  

Ceuta After an early start in the sunshine we made for 200 miles by 12 noon much to the delight of Paul Who now wants to buy a Corbin seat as soon as he gets home (known for pure comfort at a cost of £500). on Route we called in at Calahonda to check out the apartment belonging to Dennis, where we shall be spending 6 nights from next Wednesday.

We arrived at the ferry in Algeserias about 3.30pm and managed to get booked on the next ferry at 4pm crossing in 1 hour, this brought us to Ceuta which turned out to like a town closed . John quickly discovered that the building next door to the hotel was the joining headquarters for the French Foreign Legion. After many attempts to join they convinced him that a fat baldy b******* was not required.

  Day 05 : Wednesday 14th April - Fes  
Miles : 190      
Foreign Legion HQ
Ceuta church
  The Border from Ceuta to Morocco  

Butchers Morocco

Our guide in Fes with Paul and John

  The tannery stunk  

We crossed the boarder at about 10am which can be quite daunting even to the seasoned traveler. Its all paperwork, a man claiming to be an official guide produces the forms required but only if the right backhander is provided for him. From the 1st queue to produce passport to the 2nd for the vehicle to be imported to the 3rd to buy insurance (a type of green card to provided 3rd party cover for any accident you may be involved in, as most UK firms are unwilling to provide this) to the 4th for Customs it was quite quick this year only taking an hour or so. But what a pain, all the time around you are people trying to climb over cliffs to either smuggle goods in or out.

The first 100 miles are not as notorious as it once was with people standing out from the trees to encourage you to buy hash and at time driving along side you with packets of the stuff handed out from the windows. Compared to my previous visit the numbers are down to about 1/10th. the 1st sights to anyone not use to it is quite overpowering.

We made a stop in a small village close to Fes which gave John and Paul their first taste of true Moroccan life, what poverty they seems to be. Butchers with meat hanging in the open air, what a sight then off to the toilet what a smell Paul's first ever hole in the ground, little did he realise that he would have to practice the use of them over the next week.

We arrived in Fes about 4.30pm with the help of the clocks being 2 hours behind and the first people we meet were 3 Brits on similar bikes doing a similar trip in reverse direction , these lads turned out to be the last Brits we seen on the trip, Which is a shame for a beautiful country ideal for biking magnificent roads and scenery.

That night we hired the services of an official guide whom gave us a guided tour of the city and the Medina, The 3 hour trip was done quickly in 90 minutes and the fact we stated that we did not wish to visit any bazaars he only took us to eight, some traditions remain the same. Now the Medina is what you could call intimidating especially if you are not used to the people and they culture. At the end of the day they just want to be friendly and then sell you something . You will not find an English speaking Moroccan unless he has something to sell you.

By the end of the first day Paul was at his nerves end with all the hustle and bushel, he refused to go to the toilet alone fearing that he would be kidnapped, but over time he came through with shinning colours, I started to think that by the end of the trip he might apply for dual nationality.

The following morning we were up early eager to progress into the desert so eager we had time for a walk before breakfast. On the walk we got talking to a lone German motorcyclist Wolfgang whom we had spotted the previous day, we agreed to meet him that evening as we were all stopping in the same town.

days mileage 190 nothing hard just a culture shock

  Day 06 : Thursday 15th April - Erfoud  
Miles : 270      

Fes in the morning light


At this point the girls thought the pens worked

So did the boys

Tea stop

the views got better

The day of the pens

I had mentioned to Paul that the children in Morocco don't have much , much of anything and a nice easy to pack gift is a pen. So Paul said leave it with me I have loads at work. We made a photo stop early in the day and as usual quickly became engulfed in children, I told Paul that this was an ideal opportunity to give the children a pen so he proceeded to hand out the pens which quickly he was to learn that the pens did not work. the refills were falling out springs clips etc what a mess so a decision was made to give the kids the whole bag, which would give the kids something to do. Well what a let down Paul's big job and it was a disaster.

The day steadily got cooler as we passed over the Atlas mountains then got hotter and we even made a stop for Paul to remove his thermal which he had worn to prevent him getting a chill.

the scenery gradually increased also and as usual the time march on and we arrived at our hotel after 7pm which was to be home for 2 nights. The Hotel was a lovely little place nice and friendly and very basic. Cold showers were order of the day, but the food was good and the bikes had good security.


  Day 07 : Friday 16th April - Erfoud (John's birthday)  
Miles : 65      
Hotel Tizini

Look at the flies

Fuel stop


General dealer


Not many miles but loads of photos

This was our off road day and we got an 7o,clock breakfast ready for an early start. Wolfgang our German companion was to join us for both his safety and for his knowledge of the tracks as he has been several times in the past, but it is unwise to go alone as we were all to learn after being stuck in the sand on several occasions.

After 10 miles the potholed tarmac road ran out and we started on the Piste, slow going at first while everyone became accustomed to the surface. The day was to get hotter and hotter and the pace was very slow  as we navigated over the sand covered tracks. The weather over the previous months had been fine in the morning and then sandstorms about 2pm so the tracks had been getting well covered.

Some signs of extreme poverty was found especially when you looked at the children.

For the evening meal john had choice as he was the birthday boy, sadly this turned out to be the worst meal of the trip and it also gave him the trots for the next 4 days. Happy birthday !

  Day 08 : Saturday 17th April - Zagora  
Miles :      


This was to be a hard day traveling in a lot of heat and covering 300 miles. I had decided that the route would take us along the road of 1000 Kasbahs with a detour to todra gorge . A sight a photograph can't do justice to.

On reaching Ouarzazate we remarked on how nice and different that town looked. This may have something to with the fact that so many movies are shot here.

The final 100 miles into Zagora was absolutely spectacular fantastic roads long sweeping bends and fantastic scenery.

That night myself and Paul braved a haircut in the local barbers, Paul insisted that I go first just in case he decided not to bother. (brave adventures Paul).

Now this is what changed the cause of the trip. After the haircut we got talking to a man Mohammed whom spoke English, which I have said before means only one thing, some think to sell. This turned out to be the start of the big adventure he talked us into a night in the desert, the following night. It all seemed so remote and different we were in his web. we were to meet the following morning at 10am, Couldn't sleep for the excitement.

  Day 09 : Sunday 18th April - Ouarzazate - Cancelled and moved to the desert  
Miles :      

The end of the road

Our Guide and driver

One of my all time favorite photographs

They don't look happy

in the rain

It looked okay except for the holes in the roof

That bike in a puddle

Our sleeping and eating Head quarters

Party on

After the 10am meeting where it was explained to us that we would be driven into the desert with a guide to sleep the night in a Berber tent we were assured that others were making the trip including Brit's and a party from New Zealand. All Provisions would be catered for and if we wished to place an order now beer could be obtained at £1 for a 250ml can of local plonk, after the removal of a deposit from us we were told to ride to M'hamid 60 miles south. This is better described by others  ..

The village which is the end of the road, the road just runs out and the sand takes over. Once their we reported to a local hotel in inverted brackets, more like a kabutz or some place like that. It seemed to be a lot of people lounging about smoking hash and sleeping on the eating room floor.

We were introduced to our guide and driver after lunch and told to be ready for 3pm our vehicle was a land rover about 7 years old with the Speedo stuck at 400 000 kilometers. Our main concern was had the beer arrived as a night in the middle of nothing with only the stars for company without a drink was a little to much to imagine. At 2.50pm the beer turned up into a cooler box loaded on the land rover with the rest of the supplies. We decided to check the water supplies and on discovering only 3.5 pints per person went to source more as it was now showing 37deg in the shade and 51.7deg (the trip maximum) in the sun.

The first 30-40 miles were quite spectacular, the landscape the scenery the remoteness to which some people lived it was all taking some putting together in the head. These Nomads live with nothing a tent a few camels or goats and this is it.

We then  made a stop at an oasis which was nicely walled and inside was a collection of Berber tents for sleeping and one main tent for cooking eating etc. Someone was setting this up as a holiday place (centers not the right word as they is nothing there).

Next was a small building built from a trust set up for use as a school by the Nomad children, honest it was in the middle of nowhere. Just then unexpected happened, it started to rain and rain it did. We were advised that if the rain continued we might find it impossible to stay in the tents and might have to take refugee in the school.

We moved on the tents and took a look for ourselves, well the tents looked nothing like the photos back in Zagora just 6 old tents stuck in sand (no sign of the other tourists ) no hanging carpets on the walls in fact nothing in the tents, and the main problem a Hessian roof which let water through better than a tea bag so after approx 40 seconds examining the tents retreated to the land rover.

There we where just the 3 off us plus the guide and driver, in the pouring rain asking if we wanted to retreat to the school. This looked like a bad option not the feeling we had been looking for. the next option back to the Oasis this was better a wall for protection and better eating and drinking facilities. So off we went some signs of life existed back there.

twenty minutes passed in the pouring rain which was now joined by lightening when we arrived back at the Oasis out we got made a run for the big tent. Big problem now was in Paul's eyes he looked around and declared that's it I am off not stopping here in this, back in the land rover he got not even chocolate cake could move him. It was now also getting dark and Paul wanted out off the desert and back to the Kabutz. we where to spend the next 90mins being thrown around in the land rover in the dark on unmarked tracks to get back. I have to say the skill of the navigator/driver in these conditions was quite fantastic.

On arriving back at the village of M'hamid we noticed that the whole place was in darkness the lightening had knocked out the power supplies so our Kabutz would now also be dark. Dark it was candles and the odd torch was the order of the day. First thing we had to look at was Paul's bike had falling over sinking in the now soft mud. Damaged panniers was to be the only problem six people where required to drag the bike bag to upright.

the main eating hall was now quite busy with other guests who chose to stay on the campsite at the kabutz and use the main hall for eating. In total about 30-40 other guests including a German group of 15 who where about to start a trip of 40 days and nights in the desert. Paul was not into this at all as our guide said after a few beers which is illegal for him to have, Paul the baby with us had not lasted 40 seconds, poor Paul used to too many home comforts not a camper, a lover not a fighter.

The meal prepared for us was absolutely fabulous and in such conditions was a marvel. No choice just meat Tagine (national dish) but cooked to a fantastic standard. By this time John still trotting about in the dark enquired as to where he was sleeping. He was shown with Paul to a out building where a rug was placed on the floor no lights no nothing.

Paul returned to hall for more drink (our smuggled cans) leaving John as he was to discover when the candle went out with no torch no toilet paper no water and next to him a pile of food for the camels. He thought Paul was to return with his belongings, but Paul had other ideas no floor for the baby he had decided to sleep on the seats in the main hall. My problem when he fell asleep was that he was the guide for me. I continued joined by a couple of Nomads whom enjoyed a can or six and a bit hash well in to the night what fantastic people with fantastic stories guided by the stars for most of there lives and now noticing that tourism might be the future. I finally fell asleep when the last can had been emptied, shared by myself and the two remaining Nomads and the last candle had burned to nothing.

20 or so people had returned to sleep on the hall floor because of the floods the tents where not fit for use. So there I was in room with many different people from many nations all sleeping together on the one floor.

The water never did get drunk.

What a fantastic night this memory shall live forever

  Day 10 : Monday 19th April - Marrakech  
Miles : 293 = 2311      
John was found sleeping next to a camel just here

Tichka pass wonderful

and down

We were up from the camp about 6am a quick shower in the communal douche a glass of orange a few good byes and off for a 7o'clock start. The rain had stopped the roads were dry and we wanted away from the desert before it got to hot.

Most of the ride was a repeat of the previous two days backtracking  to Ouarzazate, straight on to Marrakech via Ait Benhaddou The ksar at Aït Benhaddou is simply stunning. As the locals will gleefully tell you, it's regularly used in adverts and films, the most famous of the latter being Orson Welles' Sodom and Gomorrha and David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia; indeed, to keep its appeal for filmmakers, it's been restored and maintained while others have crumbled into the dirt from which they were made, and the result is a truly amazing sight. pushing on to make up for the day taking out for the desert trip.

The highlight is the ride over the the Tichka pass at over 7000 feet it is quite spectacular. The drop in temperature to 11deg had Paul searching for his thermals one again. Sadly the stone sellers hassle you to make a purchase somewhat spoil the view.

This hotel proved so difficult to find that we employed the services of a lad on a moped to guide us through and over pavements across market squares in fact anything to get us there quick enough to earn a good tip.

The city of Marrakech is somewhat of a spectacular one by night with all off the food sellers plying for your business. The only ingredient missing was the beer as usual in Morocco.

  Day 11 : Tuesday 20th April - Meknes  
Miles : 296 = 2606 Time : Mov. ave : 52mph  
He does nought for himself

A nothing special day just starting to make tracks towards the ferry so today's job was just to cover some of them miles. In fact we only managed one photograph today goes to show not much happened. The photograph was of Paul making a little African boy clean his boots usual style for Paul, long live slavery.

The hotel was what we decided and voted on as the best of the trip lovely facilities and a wonderful view of the town.

This was the only town in which we found a couple of shady pubs not much glamour full of men and the odd prostitute. Paul managed a spectacular entry missing the step and clattering into the bar.

  Day 12 : Wednesday 21st April - Calahonda, Spain  
Miles : 270 = 2876 Time :    
The border is always hassle

Calahonda, Spain Stop here for 6 nights. We arrived after the normal hustle at the boarder and the ferry crossing and the 2 hours that Spain are ahead at about 7pm to the delight of our families. they had arrived the previous day in time to stock up the fridges with the necessary amounts of beer. Just in time to start on our piles of dirty washing. So kind we are.

we managed one ride out to Ronda while based in Calahonda clocking up 116 miles.

Time was spent visiting Gibraltar, Puerto Banus and basically taking it easy catching up, washing bikes eating drinking etc.

Day out in Gibraltar

Marbella - Look at that reg plate and car


  Day 18 : Tuesday 27th April - Segovia  
Miles : 418 = 3408 Time : 5h 38m    

Birthday Girl

Parting shot

This was also Karen's birthday once again I was to leave her on her birthday..risky..

I had decided long ago that I would not leave until noon at least my conscious would feel better, so 12 it was ready for the off my temperature monitor showed 30 deg in the shade and 42 deg on my saddle this was to make for a hot ride. I got the whip out and set my mind on the first 2 hours we managed 155 miles before making the first stop, this also helps when you can crack a large chunk in one hit. the day went well and we managed to cover the 418 miles to Segovia in 5hrs 40min ride time which is not bad saying we had to go round the Madrid ring road during rush hour then caught in the rain for the last 50 miles.

The hotel was a Parador which I must admit was top notch with one of the finest choices of breakfast you can get.

The evening had an unusual hitch in that we refused to pay for the meal because of the poor quality. The walls were covered in pictures of pop stars, presidents football hero's etc who had eating previously, without complaint I presume, and also probably without paying. 

  Day 19 : Wednesday 28th April - Potes  
Miles : 208 = 2614 Time :    

  Normality and returning home except this was in Spain  

Oh my god fog can't see a thing from the bedroom window. John had set his alarm for 7.30am why I do not know this was a lie in day he woke woke everyone else then went back to sleep snoring that much that I just got up and got ready. Paul had his usual 45 minutes in bathroom pruning himself and doing his peacock strut , Truly in love with himself.

Well the fog did not stop us and we quickly lost height until we were clear the fog the run was problem free and sadly the fog attacked us again at the Bear, a great view point on a clear day at 5500ft but sadly today we couldn't even see it. We were off road on a piste 1.5deg and hail stones were falling, time to make haste to Potes 12 miles sadly spoilt by wet roads. It was our earliest finish at 3.30pm which made room for an afternoon pint then off to bed for an afternoon nap for Paul ( he tells me he needs his beauty sleep).

Tonight is the blow out we have been good all the trip early nights not to much to drink but tonight no sightseeing no nothing just drink. Paul's off for a shower at 5.30pm as it takes him 1 hr for the full works bets are on he will be asleep by 10pm. Tomorrow we don't have to be on the road before 1pm if desired. So we have open playtime.

  Day 20 : Thursday 29th April - Santander , Ferry back to Plymouth at 4pm  
Miles : 66 = 3680 Time :    WX:wet

As usual the 2 morning people are still asleep and I am using the opportunity to catch up on the Maps Photographs and web site. It is Raining its 11am and John has gone back to bed. Paul is lying on the bed with about 4 layers of thermals on.

John's tyre now moving towards the bald stage, just like his head. Not good in the wet.

Safely on board this was to prove a rougher crossing than the inward leg, both of my companions have retired to bed and its only 4.30pm. Paul has also declared that he is feeling sea sick. This should be a good night!

The night was a disaster . It was little celebration of mine for 25 years in business and it went with a a a ..... We were at the bar by 7.30pm just and by 8.30pm it was all over. Now I have lost many good mates at sea and had to do the crossing without them. Such stars as Badcock (ex ships engineer) - seasick, Wardle - red wine , and now Nelson - cucumber causing wind a problem 

By my working these 2 have since arriving in Potes at 3pm the previous day until 7am Plymouth (40 hours ) have been in bed 4-6, 12-10,10.30-11.30, 4.30-6.30, 8.30-7.30.that's 26 hours from 40 hours.

  Day 21 : Friday 30th April - GREY HEN, SOUTH SHIELDS  
Miles : 420 = 4100 Time : 6h 30m    

Total mileage 4100 as said by the GPS. The speedometer on the BMW's are a little overstated at 4320 but used as a comparison for other trips.



Always leave home on new tyres. John had decided to risk it and paid the price by having to spend 6 days in Calahonda trying without joy to source a tyre. Not worth the risk, and definitely not worth the saving.

Paul has already decided that next year he is going to St Ives for an easier ride more rest more pasties. I have thrown him the challenge to plan a trip with a little more excitement.

  Paul is either looking at himself....  
or asleep !!!!!

Very short clips from Video

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