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From Bilbao to Leon

We headed south-west out of Bilbao staying off the motorways as far as possible and sticking to the minor roads.  Driving in this part of Spain is a pleasure in that all the roads are in excellent condition (no doubt as a result of European grants) and the traffic is incredibly light.  Our original plan had been to head for Burgos but we opted instead to drive through the Cordillera Cantabrica which has mountains rising to a couple of thousand metres – a few of which still had traces of snow on their peaks.  We plan on visiting the Picos de Europa, which were just to the north of our route, on our return journey to Santander.

We spent Wednesday night on a municipal camperstop at Cervera de Pisuerga.   Perhaps not the most salubrious of locations being next door to the council dump, but it was convenient and quiet – except when the local cowman brought his herd through the site.  We met a couple in a Land Rover ambulance who were heading to Portugal to watch the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship; if time allow and it’s not too far out of the way we might take a look.

On Thursday morning we headed off towards León sticking once again to the back roads.  Our route took us through Guardo and Almanza, much of the time following the sides of valleys that have been dammed to form lakes which feed hydro-electric projects.

We were fortunate to find an overnight space at the camperstop in the centre of León allowing us to walk through the old part of the city up to the cathedral which by all accounts has some of the most spectacular stained glass in Europe.

Classic Le Mans 2018

Despite seemingly performing a complete circumnavigation of the city of Le Mans whilst trying to find the entrance to the circuit, we somehow managed to time our arrival from Brittany to coincide with the appearance of the rest of the Tufty Club who had driven straight from Le Havre – via a good lunch, of course. The TSSC setup at Tertre Rouge is the envy of many other clubs who eye our location, loos, showers and bar with more than a touch of ‘green eye’; and the Gloucester group is especially well served by having a couple of self-elected resident chefs who ensure that the rest of us don’t starve over the three day event.

Our activities over the long weekend followed a now well-established pattern which included a jaunt into the city on Friday for a good lunch, a trip around the club areas and retail park on the Saturday and a visit to the paddocks on Sunday. In the intervening hours we watched a fair bit of racing, including the Le Mans style start for the Group 1 racers (cars from the 1920s and 30s) and several sessions involving some of the later cars. As 2018 happens to be the 70th anniversary of Porche first appearing at Le Mans the meeting included large numbers of Dr Ferdinand’s best, both on the racetrack, on the club stands and just about everywhere you cared to look around the circuit.

Although personally I can’t see the attraction of paying upwards of £160 for a couple of track laps (and in truth I’m not sure the organisers would have appreciated having a Ford Motor Home thundering down the Mulsanne straight flat-out at 65mph) I do understand the motive of those who enjoy beasting their beloved classic whilst at the same time hoping that it doesn’t disgrace itself too publicly. This year the only significant Gloucester casualty was a very nice Staaaag which decided to commit hari kiri at the far side of the circuit and had to be recovered back to the campsite – much to the evident amusement of all the onlookers. Still, what are friends for? At least the resident bishop (Dave Hardy in clerical drag) didn’t go so far is to administer the last rites.