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RRSTDV8



Member Since: 12 Aug 2011
Location: Northamptonshire
Posts: 5420

United Kingdom 2008 Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE Stornoway Grey
Land Rover Party 2016 Road Trip

Just realised that I haven't actually posted my version of the Land Rover Party that I attended with Buckster (Chris).

SWMBO and I decided that we would spend a week travelling down through France seeing a few places on the way before meeting up with Chris for the event itself.

We took the tunnel and, having booked for an early PM train got there 1.5hr early. We were offered an earlier train for no charge. The place was fairly quiet as it was out of season. Bonus. Annoyed that I'd booked a flexi- ticket for the return. If I'd known they were so flexible I would have gone for a normal ticket both ways. Ah well.

Anyway, we had our first evening in Arras. Chosen solely because it's in the Somme area and I wanted to visit a couple of WW1 memorials. First pleasant surprise was how lovely the centre of Arras is. Centred on a couple of squares with some fab buildings, it's rather pretty. Plenty of eating spots too.

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We climbed the tower for a great view of the area. Nice town hall! After dark, the squares are lit and the place takes on a different feel.
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The next day we visited Thiepval Memorial and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial.
Thiepval Memorial carries the names of over 72,000 men who died and were never found during the Battle of the Somme. 72,000 who weren't found. Quite a staggering figure. Walking around reading the names, I must admit to welling up. It really is such a sad sight.
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The Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel had a different affect on me. It made me angry. Very angry. In this small field, only a couple of hundred yards long, 800 men attacked the German trenches opposite. An hour later, less than 70 returned alive. It just highlighted the senseless waste of life. Strange how the smaller numbers involved brought such a different reaction.
The site is managed by Canadians now and they have volunteers acting as wardens and guides. One chap I spoke to briefly is a school teacher and had taken time to come and volunteer. It restored a little bit of my faith in humankind.
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The photo is taken overlooking the Allied trenches with the German lines roughly where the trees are in the middle of the photo. The tree in the middle was called the Danger Tree during the battle.

Having paid our respects at these memorials, we moved south to hopefully happier times.

Next stop, having driven via Rouen in order to avoid Paris, was Orleans. We had a room booked in a small hotel on the banks of the Loire. As we got out of the Sport, I couldn't find my wallet. A few heart-pounding moments were spent frantically searching in and around the car. Eventually found down the side of the driver's seat. Never been so relieved - the last time I'd been out the seat was about 4 hours before at a fuel fill up! Having checked in we wandered in to Orleans for a look around and some food. Suffice to say, dinner was enjoyable and helped down by a nice bottle of local vin. Wink



The next morning we asked if we might leave the car and have a walk in to town for a couple of hours. The hotel were obliging so we set off on foot again. Orleans is a very attractive town with some great architecture and streetscapes. Of course, the cathedral is one of the highlights and we spent an hour taking it in (inside and out).

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From Orleans, we headed down to Limoges. Not so long a drive today as we had spent the whole morning site seeing. We didn't spend much time in Limoges but we had a brief walk around the cathedral area. It was a little late so we didn't get as long in the cathedral as at Orleans. Plenty of history in what is quite a brutal looking building by comparison to Orleans Cathedral. We did have another nice dinner, of course. You can see a theme forming here, right? Laughing

From Limoges we headed north west to Oradour-sur-Glane. This is a memorial to an entire village that was murdered by soldiers of the SS Panzer division. 642 men, women and children were killed and only a handful survived. The village was declared a memorial after the war and stands in silent testimony to Man's inhumanity to Man.

Jenny and I both found this a sobering experience and that is as it should be.


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Leaving the silent streets and roofless houses, we headed south once more. Long drive down past Toulouse brought us to Carcassonne. We had a couple of nights booked here so the Sport had plenty of time to cool its tyres.

We had a walk in to the main "new" town of Carcassonne. There is a walled city within the town, with narrow streets and little squares. We had a quiet drink in a square just outside the walled part before heading to a little street-side restaurant near to our hotel. There's the theme again! A sunset view of the castle above the town was a lovely sight.

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A really nice cassoulet au confit de canard was accompanied by an equally nice cold white wine. Hic!
Next day we entered the castle and spent several hours exploring.
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It's a strange place really. Totally tourist oriented with tat-shops galore. But I looked past that and the restored/rebuilt buildings were fab.

You guessed it, we did have a very nice lunch in a shady courtyard restaurant. Whistle

Afterwards, we visited the Basilique des Saints Nazaire et Celse which is mini-cathedral in the fortress. While we were in the Basilica, a quartet were singing and I cheekily recorded a few seconds of video. They were unaccompanied by any instruments and they filled the space with their voices. Quite a magical moment.


In the evening we wandered back to the walled new, old town. We decided to take a look at the castle from the bottom of the hill. We actually ended up climbing in to the fortress up the old defended approach. Using only the torch app on my phone made it "interesting" and we felt like medieval special forces creeping in. The place looked amazing when lit up at night.
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From Carcassonne we set off to the Party in Spain. Decided to route via Andorra, just because it's there, really. Can't say I was impressed by Andorra. Lovely scenery away from the main town but the main bit was, well, yuck. Cheap fuel though - annoyed that I only needed a 1/4 tank.

The views from the climb in to Andorra were spectacular. Somewhere on that ribbon we passed DSL from Disco3 on his way to the Party. He went back by us while I was taking the photo.
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We topped out at 8050ft and the TDV8 was still pulling like a train. The TDV6 guys said theirs weren't so keen at that altitude so chalk one up for the extra 2 cylinders! Bow down

We met up with Chris just outside the event location and "convoyed" in. We were reasonably early but others had got there even earlier and many of the prime camp spots were filled. We did choose a level patch that would take two big tents and two big 4x4s and set up camp. As we're not usually ones for camping, Jenny and I had fairly basic provisions (no fridge) but Chris and Sam very generously invited us to share with them. I put my beer in Chris's fridge in part payment! Laughing Other than some midge bites, we had a comfortable evening drinking a few cold ones and shooting the breeze. The camp site was basically a car park and tent pegs were tricky to put in. Word got around that we had hammers and a Spanish family who pitched next to us asked to borrow one. An hour later it was returned along with 4 ice cold beers as thanks. The Yank who borrowed it next was not so grateful and disappeared in to the dark with only a "thank you" over his shoulder.

Saturday morning dawned and we were all up early. Some were up really early! We set off out on the routes and had a gentle bimble around on some "beginner" tracks. Nothing silly and a nice way to break in to the day without breaking the car! Then we popped in to the playground and had some fun on the obstacles. Typical was the cross axle logs which the Sports both breezed over.
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There were a number of steep climbs/descents which were more about nerve than ability, to be honest. None presented a problem to the RRS. The "big" descent was this one - a good 35-40 degrees I think, certainly enough to hang you in your seat belt and basically blind as you go over the top. A couple of the Disco3 guys spotted me over the edge and helped avoid the large hole at one side near the top.
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Here's a video of a Disco going down followed by Chris in his RRS. He did this unguided as the Disco guys had gone by then. He called for us to guide him but we were chatting and filming and didn't hear. Sorry Chris! Embarassed


Here are a couple of other shots from the play area and tracks. I really like the two of Chris's RRS, one going over a descent and the other on a log bridge on one of the morning's tracks. It almost looks like a safari type picture to me.
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After lunch and mooch around the other event sights and sounds, we ventured back on to the tracks. We decided to get a bit more adventurous and did some of the mid-grade routes. Where the morning's stuff had been almost farm track style stuff, the afternoon was a bit more interesting. For example, this video was taken by Sam. It was emailed to me so the quality has suffered but it shows some nice gentle rock crawling and cross axle stuff. Both Sports took this in their stride and made it feel effortless. Would have been trickier in the wet, of course.

You can see the wheels travelling fully up in to the arches in places and hanging in others. Good fun although I got a momentary red bar on the 4x4 info screen when one of the rear wheels was right up in the arch at the end of the little climb. At the end of the day's bimbling, a nice photo opportunity presented itself for a "group" shot:
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The evening saw us listening to the band and enjoying another beer or two (and some free cake, yum!).

Sunday was again dry in the morning and Jenny and I packed our tent away as it was nice and dry. Glad we did as it rained a bit later. I had planned to just leave on the Sunday - not wanting to chance my luck on more tracks when we had nearly 1000 miles to drive home! Jenny, surprisingly, persuaded me to join Chris and Sam for a gentle bimble on some low grade tracks. It was a good call and we had a nice couple of hours. Jenny had a go driving off road and, amazingly, did what she was told... Whistle

We then went back to the centre and had a good look at the new Discovery 5. We weren't as impressed as we might have been - we got a few funny looks when we lay on the floor checking out the underside protection and the towing points! Laughing 2012 SDV6
2008 TDV8 - it's a labour of love

Last edited by RRSTDV8 on Thu Oct 20 2016 11:22pm. Edited 1 time in total

Post #508232 Thu Oct 20 2016 10:46pm
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RRSTDV8



Member Since: 12 Aug 2011
Location: Northamptonshire
Posts: 5420

United Kingdom 2008 Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE Stornoway Grey

After leaving the Party in the early afternoon, we headed to Girona to get a head start on the drive home. A pleasant enough town with some nice pedestrian shopping streets. Had a fabulous chocolate ice cream as we wandered around. Yum yum!

Having planned the route down well in advance, the route home was a bit on-the-fly. I wanted to see the Milau Viaduct so that gave me the start of the route. Leaving Girona early on the Monday morning, we got to Milau and spent a good couple of hours looking at the viaduct from all angles. It's an amazing site, stretching almost daintily across the valley.
These views are from the north from a viewing point at a service area.

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Fabulous!

We spotted this little chap crossing the footpath as we walked back to the Sport. Didn't know Europe had Praying Mantis.


On the approach to the viaduct, I wanted to replicate Chris's photo from the previous week. So I figured out where he'd taken the photos and here are my versions:
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Click image to enlarge

Childish, I know, but it made me chuckle. The only difference is that we had sunshine!

We spent the night in Vichy. Got there late so didn't see too much. Had a great meal in the hotel restaurant. Went a bit mad but, hey, you can't take it with you! In the morning, Jenny got up a bit early and, while I showered myself awake, she went for a look around Vichy. Apparently there are some fabulous buildings and parks. I was slightly jealous to have missed that. Ah well, next time.

We planned to spend our last night back in Arras, so we headed north and stopped for an hour in Troyes. Again, a lovely town centre with old, timber framed buildings galore. Very picturesque. Next up was a brief detour to Reims and the old racing pits. We had a good look around but, in deference to the signs stencilled on the walls in the buildings, I stayed at ground level.


I did, however, replicate the ever-popular shot of my car in front of the buildings. I've seen versions of this in car magazines over the years.
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A strangely moving place, really. I guess it's built up in my mind over the years and it didn't disappoint.

We headed on to Arras for our last night. Some nice beers and a bite to eat was followed by an early night. We were up early and were greeted by the sun slowly rising over the squares.
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The freshest, tastiest pain au chocolat I think I've ever eaten was taken with a welcome cup of coffee and we headed for Calais. We stopped at a supermarket for some wine and cheese (well, you have to really) and we were on the train by 10am. Tucked in with the camper vans in the "tall" carriage was us and another, foreign-plated RRS. His was cleaner than mine. A lot cleaner! Rolling with laughter
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I'd opened a bottle of water at 8000ft in Andorra and decided to see what affect the pressure difference would have. Quite a lot:

I do love a bit of science - makes the journey fly by. Thumbs Up

Anyway, we got home and sprang the dogs from kennels a day early which was great.

10 days, 2185 miles and a fair few litres of diesel later, the RRS proved itself to be an excellent eater of miles as well as being great fun away from the tarmac.

Jenny had confided in a friend, before we set off, that she couldn't believe I wanted to do a road trip in "the most unreliable car in the world". Well, proved her wrong this time! Rolling with laughter Thumbs Up 2012 SDV6
2008 TDV8 - it's a labour of love

Post #508233 Thu Oct 20 2016 10:47pm
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Cobstar



Member Since: 26 Aug 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 14

United Kingdom 

Thank you for sharing your road trip report complete with photos and videos. A good read - and sounds like an amazing trip.

Post #508262 Fri Oct 21 2016 2:50pm
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RRSTDV8



Member Since: 12 Aug 2011
Location: Northamptonshire
Posts: 5420

United Kingdom 2008 Range Rover Sport TDV8 HSE Stornoway Grey

It was a cracking trip, thanks. Thumbs Up The Party event was an excuse, really, to get a road trip in. SWMBO enjoyed it too - apparently I picked some good hotels and locations for our sight seeing stops! Cool 2012 SDV6
2008 TDV8 - it's a labour of love

Post #508285 Fri Oct 21 2016 8:17pm
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DrRob



Member Since: 23 Feb 2011
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 1361

United Kingdom 2012 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Orkney Grey

Superb Thumbs Up GONE - SDV6 HSE MY2012 in Orkney Grey.
1993 200Tdi Tdi Range Rover - a proper Rangie!
1949 Series One 80" in family since 1975! Where it all began.....

Post #508286 Fri Oct 21 2016 8:19pm
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Buckster



Member Since: 05 Mar 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 1087

England 2013 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Orkney Grey

Fantastic write up Wayne. I didn't realise that you stopped at so many great and historical locations Bow down many of which will be on my to do list in the future.

I had forgotten about the Safari shot you took but I think it looks awesome Cool Thumbs Up 2003 BMW M5 - 5 Litres of V8 Optimax Slurping Goodness in Carbon Black

2013 SDV6 HSE Black Edition- Orkney Grey with Ebony & Ivory. LR Facelift RAI, Genuine G4 Expo Rack, 4x Warn SBD-160 Spotlights, Warn 9.5XPS Winch, Mantec Underbody Protection, LR Light Guards, 19"s on Goodyear Duratracs, ARB fridge, TuffTrek awning 😎

Post #508292 Fri Oct 21 2016 9:19pm
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nigel52



Member Since: 20 Nov 2013
Location: Farnham
Posts: 270

United Kingdom 2011 Range Rover Sport 3.0 TDV6 HSE Stornoway Grey

Great write up and pleased to hear no break downs Current Merc GLE 3.5d 2016 model, 2011 RRS HSE standard
Previous 2012 FL2 liked but boot too small
Previous to LR's 3 x Merc E320 estates - fantastic load carriers and long distance cruisers, ultra reliable. Only changed as needed a 4x4 high tow vehicle. Did have a 1955 early LR drop down windscreen and fuel tank under the drivers seat; again very reliable and super rugged.

Post #508294 Fri Oct 21 2016 9:31pm
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Tim in Scotland



Member Since: 30 May 2005
Location: Driving along in my automobile
Posts: 15640

2013 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Stornoway Grey

Guys both threads about this road trip have been eyeopeners. The desire to head south rather than north to Iceland is increasing! I'm off to Norway for 2 weeks on Monday on a Hurtigruten Ro-Pax ferry as a foot passenger rather than with the car. 2015MY Corris Grey SDv6 HSE Dynamic, preceeded by a 2.7SE RRS, a 3.6TDv8 RRS, several FFRR's and 2 Evoques.
Also in my garage is a 1996 TDi300 Defender 90 County HT made into a fake CSW.... my fun car to enjoy bashing and denting 20 years old and still giving loads of fun

Post #508315 Sat Oct 22 2016 8:08am
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Buckster



Member Since: 05 Mar 2015
Location: Hampshire
Posts: 1087

England 2013 Range Rover Sport SDV6 HSE Orkney Grey

Thanks Tim, there's always next year for a forum meet at the Land Rover Party. Its back in my diary. Enjoy Your trip to Norway Thumbs Up 2003 BMW M5 - 5 Litres of V8 Optimax Slurping Goodness in Carbon Black

2013 SDV6 HSE Black Edition- Orkney Grey with Ebony & Ivory. LR Facelift RAI, Genuine G4 Expo Rack, 4x Warn SBD-160 Spotlights, Warn 9.5XPS Winch, Mantec Underbody Protection, LR Light Guards, 19"s on Goodyear Duratracs, ARB fridge, TuffTrek awning 😎

Post #508324 Sat Oct 22 2016 10:26am
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