The SLCenic Route – Episode 4

Graham Laing decided to retire 10 years earlier than planned to enjoy an epic driving tour with his SLC. The plan, inspired by conversations with his Father, was to drive the SLC from the southern most tip of mainland Europe in Spain to the northernmost tip of mainland Europe in Norway.

When he told his children, they said ‘you should write a blog about it’… So that’s exactly what Graham is doing. Graham approached the SLSHOP and asked whether we would be interested in hosting his work, and we were only too happy to share his story. The SLCenic Route was born!

In this episode Graham performs some hot climate testing on himself and the SLC.

The SLCenic Route

Episode 4 – Caceres to Lisbon via Cabo da Roca.

Day 5:

So, what lessons did I learn today?

1  Don’t forget to put my hat on even if it is only for a few minutes to take pics. Half bottle of water wasted cooling cooked brain. Ouch

2  Don’t leave metal rimmed reading glasses in the sun on the centre console. More ouch. Hopefully no long term scarring, mental scars may take longer to heal.

3  Do leave plenty of spare time when visiting spectacular places. I would still be at Cado da Roca now given half a chance.

4  Do remember what day of the week it is, most shops are shut on Sunday, so it was American fast food for lunch, not really what the trip is about.

Cabo da Roca, the western most point of mainland Europe, is the second of the original dozen or so specific places I wanted to visit on the trip, (first was LeMans). A mini heatwave is happening in southern Spain this week, with temperatures in the mid 30’s and the SLC’s one weakness, no aircon. Glad I’m not doing this in the height of summer. At least the SLC has no metal bar between the front and rear window (pillarless to us nerds) so it lets lots of air circulate, but the run to the coast and a cool sea breeze was still taken a wee bit more hurried than usual. I was brave though and did stop for a couple of pics, one of yet another beautiful walled town and another for one of those health and safety nightmares.

I didn’t see a sign saying we crossed the border in Portugal, only real difference to start with was the farming. Not surprisingly, miles and miles of vineyards, but then, miles and miles of what looked like paddy fields. Googled this tonight and yes, Portugal does grow a lot of rice. I’m more ignorant than I thought.

But these were just minor distractions to that cool breeze that I knew would be waiting for me on the coast. Approaching Lisbon from the East is a beautiful sight, sitting on hills overlooking the estuary it is very distinctive. And a big surprise, crossing the estuary was a version of the first Forth road bridge. There were slight differences, 3 lanes instead of 2, painted red instead of battleship grey, warm tranquil blue waters of the Tagus estuary replaced the dark cold uninviting waters of the Forth estuary crashing on rocks below, but it is the same big reassuring shape and the same memorable kadumpf kadumpf as you drove over it.

And then the real reason for today’s journey, the run through Sintra-Cascais Natural Park to Cabo da Roca. What a brilliant scenic costal drive. Being Sunday it was busy, but as I’ve already said, I forgot! The park itself is a beautiful forest but the views over the coast as the road sweeps and climbs round the edge of the park take your breath away. Cabo da Roca itself was very therapeutic, I do miss seeing the sea, and the many paths along the coast in both directions were beautiful and refreshing.

However, a word of warning. If you are driving, and this was also applicable to the Pyrenees, as you cruise along, watch out for tourist busses. If there was ever a quart into a pint pot!

Finally, today’s heat and long winding drive was a real test for car and driver, one struggled and one was did it with ease, I’ll let you work out which was which.

Click here to read Episode 5