Spring: that special time of year when the sun begins to poke through the winter gloom and for those of us less inclined to rally in the mud and the grit, the time to get back in the saddle and put rubber to road once again.
Next Spring you’ve a choice to make; drive your freshly awakened classic machine on the same old roads, in the same old traffic, or, alternatively embark on a 2800 kilometres adventure from London to Lisbon. 2800kms of quiet roads, 2800 kilometres of the best countryside the continent can muster, 2800kms from valley floor to mountain top, over and over again on sun-blushed asphalt and far from the madding crowd of the peak tourist season. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We leave from Brooklands on the 25th April next year…
This is the seventh edition of the London to Lisbon and it is now a bona fide classic, an integral part of HERO-ERA’s calendar and for many a must-not-miss event in the motoring year. The ten-day trip has built this reputation as an essential event through consistently offering some of the most incredible driving roads, through some of the most enduring locations the continent has on its books, and most of it is plotted on the lesser-used grid squares of the atlas.
This almost all but guarantees two things; the driving is some of the best you will ever experience and the roads are quiet, so quiet you will sometimes think you have them to yourself. The navigation too, whilst not being mind-bogglingly difficult, this is a blue event after all, is challenging enough to retain interest across the duration of the journey as the tulips transport you through England, France, Spain and Portugal.
Rated as an intermediate event, the competition section will cover 35 regularities and eight tests over the ten days with an average distance of 300kms per day.
Each year the route planners manage to blend in new roads with old favourites, and on this seventh edition the roads take us down the west coast of France, through the mountains of the Castille and Leon region of Spain and then into Portugal’s stunning national parks. For those that have never been to these places before, they will be amazed at just what they have on offer, Spain in particular always seems to blow stereotypes out of the water, and even after several visits constantly offers breathtaking moments.
Of course, this rally isn’t just about the journey, but the destinations on route as well and particular highlights include Salamanca, a city in Spain so beautiful the architecture moves many to tears. There are planned overnight halts in country hotels that back onto vineyards, historic towns that were once the domain of the Nights Templar and seaside settlements that offer up gastronomic treats that are complimented perfectly by the wine-making traditions of the places we visit. This is capped of course by the journey through the Douro Valley and the lush landscapes of the Quintas which are a sight to behold even for those that don’t enjoy the local tipple.
Yes, this is certainly a sociable rally, but you will have to ensure you aren’t sucked in too much by its gregarious nature, as you will still want to be fresh enough to enjoy each day’s incredible route as the final destination of Lisbon gets ever closer. At the beginning of this rally, it really does feel like a proper adventure, ten days is after all a fair length of time on the road and it seems like you have all the time in the world to enjoy it. Before you know it though, the miles are eaten up and by the time the Portuguese border is crossed, time is moving quicker than you would want. April next year also feels like a long way off, but it will soon be here and time, that ever-fluctuating constant, will soon accelerate to the start of this wonderful journey.
The only question to answer then, is will you be with HERO-ERA next Spring, on the London to Lisbon 2024?