Our England road trip from Spain, how we prepped the Mitzy and planned for the trip.
So this was going to be it, the last trip in Spain. Going home was something we were looking forward to even though we had no idea what lay ahead once we got there. A long trip like this needs planning as we weren’t just driving across to the UK we were moving country at the same time.
We had dogs and jabs to consider which needs careful timing as you only have a certain window in which to leave, the Capri needed picking up and arranged in storage at the UK end, a part load needed picking up and dropping off with family, stuff was being photographed, advertised and sold as well as chucking out half of our posessions and packing everything up too. It’s amazing how much you gather over time!
All of this was happening while we had to prep the Shogun and not just for the journey either – to make full use of the warehouse for the final time the Shogun had to go up on axle stands in order to change the headlights. I’d kept the UK lights it came with just in case we’d be going back and I’m glad I did as it would be one less thing to do once we got back to the north east. We’d need to avoid driving after dark or acquire some beam bending stickers which to be honest given it was a one way journey I was hesitant to buy.
Prepping the Shogun
Fluids: I always check the fluids monthly but oil was a concern as by the time we put another 1600 miles on the clock the oil would be due a change – at UK prices so I opted to get our local mechanic to do that prior to leaving. One less thing to worry about once we got there.
Tyres: The Falkens had been on the Shogun for a couple of years and the mileage had not been big so all was okay with them, check the pressures the day before being mindful of the extra weight we were carrying and job done. A week or so before leaving our double barrel footpump broke [never have had much luck with footpumps] so we invested in a cheap tyre inflater, cost €42.00 euros but does the job and is way more packable being a compact unit.
Headlights: It’s not every time you go on a trip that you have to change your headlights but this is something that would need to happen anyway so I made the choice to do it before we left instead of perhaps on a driveway in England [or possibly even a campsite!]. Once the lights were out it was a good time to take a look at the rust that I’d treated when I fitted the Spanish lights, some additional rust treatment was applied.
Second hand car parts are expensive in Spain and with LHD lights being of no use whatsoever in the UK we put them in the free ads to try and claw some money back.
Roof storage: The configuration on the roof was to remain the same with the exception of some additions, one of which may suprise you. I play the didg [digeridoo] and it’s pretty long, it was strapped up on the roof along side the road shower
as well as a big dive bag full of ‘stuff’.
Gear on the roof for a long journey needs some thought especially if most or all of that journey is going to be on the roads. Not only is fastening down and securing everything essential you have to think about the aerodynamics of the load, the load weight which in the case of the Shogun is 100kg recommended by Mitsubishi and the additional height [required by the ferry].
Breakdown kit: Before a long road trip I need to get my head right with absolutely everything, I need to know we are covered for every eventuality which means checking and checking again where everything is, if it’s charged etc etc. Since the head bending events of 2022 my memory isn’t the best [I had a stroke] so I also write stuff down sometimes just to be sure.
Our breakdown kit consists of all the legal requirements for Spain, France and the UK including V16 lights, bulbs, yellow jackets, triangles, extinguisher etc etc. It’s worth noting that the placement of these items differs per country – especially France so that’s worth checking out as certain items need to be ‘to hand’, stuffed in the boot is no good and will get you a fine.
Food: Food was going to need to last us 4 days to be sure, we’d be camping twice on the way up through Spain and we wanted food for the ferry to avoid the silly prices. The rear drawers on the Shogun were packed with food for camping and we decided to do a shop closer to the top of Spain for the ferry.
The biggest problem when it comes to food is having a 14 year old teenage lad who is nearly as tall as me already and eats everything, he’s like a real life captain caveman. The cooler was filled, boiled sweets and gum in the cab as well as water bottles. Luckily heat would not be a problem with it being November.
Packing configuration: I started experimenting with configurations a few weeks before leaving. There was going to be a lot more gear in the Shogun than normal, “stuffed to the gunnels” would be the right expression. Everything had to be shoe horned in with every inch of space occupied. The tent/camping gear needed to be last in, first out as we’d need it on the way. We’d also bought three new Carinthia Defence 4 sleeping bags and two new pads which needed to find a home in the back.
The Shogun isn’t a big 4×4 so by the time you get the cooler, boxes, tent and sleeping bags in there it’s pretty much full in the luggage area. One thing we did have to be mindful of was anything that was going to be regarded as dangerous. You do get searched at the ferry port so the axe, whittling set and my EDC knives etc all had go with the part load we were sending back separately.
Any other item considered dangerous weapon such as bows and arrows, knives (including chef’s knives, multi-tools), swords etc. must also be declared prior to departure and will be treated in the same manner as firearms and ammunition.– Brittany ferries
For the Shogun we had standard cutlery which we’d need for camping on the way up and we took one old kitchen knife, sharpened but one we could throw away at our last stop before getting to the ferry port. For knives in the vehicle we’d have to declare them with the authorities, fill out paperwork etc which is a whole lot of hassle you don’t need.
Insurance/breakdown: Checking the insurance was a wise move as I was reminded that I needed an IMIC [formerly known as the green card]. Breakdown cover was also in place in case we needed it.
Wash & polish: Not critical to the prep really but I do like setting off in a clean vehicle both inside and out. Bugs on the windscreen can be a real issue in Spain and the local jet wash is the best option to get rid of them.
Taking the dog
Taking a pet out of Europe and into the UK is all about timing and paperwork. Your four legged friend also needs to be secured in the vehicle by law although in Spain you wouldn’t think it. We tie up the dog in the Shogun using a lead, Oz always heads directly behind the drivers seat where he hides out until the journey is over so we simply clip the lead on and he’s secure. In reality there is no room other than the rear footwell anyway and the rest of the space in the rear including the back set is taken up.
It’s worth noting that if you plan on taking your dog on a ferry that it will need to be muzzled whenever it is not in your cabin [or the kennel]. This is standard policy on most ferries.
Ferry or tunnel?
Originally we’d planned to drive up through France and go through the tunnel however after looking into the ferry from Santander and weighing up the costs vs hassle factor we opted for the ferry. The break would be good and see me fresh for driving as soon as we hit the UK so a six hour drive from Portsmouth to Newcastle would be the final leg of the journey.
|Ferry ticket + cabin||£690||–|
|Toll roads [approx]||–||£55|
Looking at the approximate numbers above, we calculated that driving through France would be £278,00 pounds less expensive than the ferry from the top of Spain but we’d need to have an overnight stopover [possibly two] at a campsite which has to be found plus another 1200km of driving before you hit the tunnel for another 600 miles driving in the UK almost immediatly. I prefer to get my head down on the boat and approach things from a less stressful angle!
Getting familiar with the approach to the port and getting onto the ferry itself is a useful thing to do, this is where Youtube comes in. There are plenty of videos showing how to get there, where to go, boarding etc so a valuable and free resource if it all sounds a bit daunting.
England road trip from Spain – Route planning
Our England road trip from Spain would certainly be easier than coming down here back in 2004. All those years ago we did the whole journey using a road map proper old skool style! This time however would be different with the use of Google maps, we’ve ditched GAIA gps as we didn’t use it that often and found Google did the job well enough for us.
After signing at the notary we’d be driving back to the village to pay a cheque into the bank then it would be ADIOS Orce, a short drive to Baza then heading north up towards and through the province of Jaen. The journey time is 8hrs 37mins but we’d be taking it easy and spreading it across a couple of days. The England road trip from Spain would be underway.
The Shogun is not a motorway car by any stretch and you do feel it after a long journey hence splitting this one up across 3 – 4 days. There was absolutely no rush, this was our final road trip in Spain – where we took the final photographs, the very last video clips and said goodbye to the last two decades of our time in the country. It was also the longest journey we’d planned in Spain.
So that was our prep for the England road trip from Spain, we’d organised everything we could and there was no doubt that moving house, moving country and navigating all the moving parts was a challenge. It all felt very odd too, even at the planning stage nothing seemed real until it was. 19 years in one place is a long time…
Coming up… our final journey in Spain, ferry crossing and back in the UK – read the post here.