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My next adventure
Have I lost the plot?

Having just about run out of big hills to climb around here, I thought I would try a different tack. Some friends of mine have walked the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in Western Spain. Sadly my many years of sport and motorcycling has meant that my knees aren't up to much more these days than a gentle stroll to the boulangerie or our local hostellerie, so long distance walking is out, I'm afraid. However, with a view to trying to emulate the worthy pilgrims, I'm going to do it in my RP saloon. The challenge is to do it as close to the designated pathways as is reasonably possible in a vehicle, and I will be setting off on 19th September.

Pilgrimages aren't meant to be easy and this run will be a test for both me and the car.

As you probably are aware, the engine has recently been rebored and is going very nicely. I'm now in the process of going through the car from front to back, checking everything over and making sure all is shipshape for what is going to be a 3000km return journey that will take me 8 days. Not quite as epic as going across Russia, but I'm going to do it alone and without back-up. Why? You might ask. Because I can.

The first day is going to be a long one, as I need to get as near to the Pyrennées as possible because day 2 will take me over the mountains and I'll not be going very fast (not on the uphill bits anyway). I've booked my first overnight stop near Lourdes which is 262 miles from here. I shall set off early!

Day 2 will take me over the Col de Pourtalet (1794m) and then on to Calahorra, a journey of 211 miles.

Day 3 will get me to Léon (239 miles) but it's mainly flat running.

Day 4 should get me to Santiago de Compostella after a further 200 miles.

The return journey will take a slightly different route, although for Day 5 I will backtrack to Léon as there aren't many options in that part of Spain. However,

Day 6 will be another long day of 265 miles to Tudela, to get me ready for

Day 7 which will be through Andorra to Ax les Thermes, including the Port d'Envilara at 2407 metres (can't pass that up can I?), another long day of 276 miles, but I should be used to it by then and the car should be nicely run in.

Day 8 should get me home. It's a fairly flat run of 215 miles.

Your advice is sought for what tools I should take with me, and what spares might be a good idea. I've got most things but I don't want to overload the car trying to take everything that's on my garage shelves. I've got breakdown cover should something happen that I can't fix myself, and I think I can cope with most things.

I'm hoping that with preparation for the worst I can hope for the best, as Jack Reacher says.

Wish me luck!

(I'm thinking of changing my pseudo to Mad Jack Mac Mad the winner of last year's Mr Mad competition....)

I will post a daily update once I'm under way, hopefully with some pics as well.

Good luck, take oxygen (for you or the car, whichever works)
Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think!
What a great adventure, I look forward to seeing the photos. I'm sure by the end of it you will have even more respect for your car than you do now.

I know several people who have walked it, including my minister friend who maintained a steady 30 miles a day. He says the experience will stay with him for a lifetime, as I'm sure will yours.

The very best of luck Bruce.

For what it's worth, those strike me as rather long days, especially if you have mountain climbs in the mix. (OK I've just converted Km into real money and it's not as bad as I thought - but you might still be driving non-stop, unless you are taking the big roads).

My personal approach is to carry as little as possible. Travel light (as light as you can) and go gently on the pedals. For sure ignition spares, rad hoses, oil, an inner tube and basic tools, but I don't load the car with parts and I try to avoid fiddling with anything that can survive till I get home. The tool kit includes all my old friends but nothing fancy. The 'secret' if there is one is to know the car is reliable before you set out.

I love travelling alone with my Seven, what finer company could you ask for? And I'm sure you will make friends enough along the road.
Under the front seats of my Seven I carry my Austin Seven survival kit consisting of:

1. Under the front passenger seat

A tool roll consisting of: A set of combination spanners (1/8 to 1/2 in Whit), a set of 1/2 in sq drive sockets (1/8 to 1/2W) with  long and short extensions and T bar, 3 flat head screwdrivers (electrical, small and large), a sets pf pliers (pointy nosed and ordinary blunt nosed), 10in adjustable wrench and a special piece of wire for poking out big end jets. Roll of insulation tape.

Foot pump

Hub puller.

2. Under the drivers seat:

Screw jack and folding handle

Wheel brace


Plastic box (the sort your Chinese takeaway comes in) full of assorted nuts, bolts screws and washers (should that not be nuts screws washers and bolts? - I'll get my coat!) plus a set of points and a roll of insulation tape.

1 litre of motor oil and several pieces of clean rag.

In four thousand miles of motoring, I have used it twice: Once to remove all the wheels whilst my tyre fitter mate replaced the tyres and the other time  when a manifold stud blew out.

It pays to be prepared!

As to spares, I would have thought a set of points and plugs, condenser, coil, distributor cap, roll of electrical wire, some fuel hose and clips.... and a 19mm ball bearing. I keep my eyes peeled for one but haven't come across one yet. Would a marble do I wonder?

Incidentally, I always carry my Swiss army knife, but that is always in my pocket.

Good Luck and Happy Motoring!
Have a great trip. If you have not got a handy scallop shell then perhaps a Shell petrol can would be a suitable accessory!

A long package was posted to you this morning - I hope you don’t need to use it!

Good Luck Reckers

Send us a post card!

One of the things I have done is to make a box out of some spare plywood, which will go on the tunnel between the front seats, to carry bits and bobs. At the front end of it there is a little compartment with a 12v cigar socket and a double USB socket so I can charge my phone and sat nav on the move. I have bought a 6v to 12v transformer widget that will power it up. I did try the sat nav on 6v but it wouldn't work, and the usb socket for the phone wouldn't either.

I will hopefully have replicated the tools and spares already suggested but intend to travel as light as possible. When I drove the car down here in 2001 from Sheffield, we were three up with luggage and spares, and I did that trip no bother in three and a half days. The run from Sheffield to Dover was about 280 miles avoiding motorways so I'm not planning on doing any more than that in a day although day 7 WILL be a long one! I plan to take a break every two hours if only to stretch my legs. I won't be using motorways or fast dual carriageways. I prefer to keep a steady cruise of 40-45mph wherever possible. Fast roads just tend to make you push the car too hard.

It is a long way to Santiago, and some of the days will be long and challenging for us both, but I always have Jackie Stewart's comments at the back of my mind:

"The man who wins finishes first, but first you've got to finish".
You are slightly mad but I am a little envious and I wish you the very best of luck.
Looking forward to seeing your reports of the adventure. As Chris says travelling alone in your A7 is very pleasant.

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