Epic Drives of the World

Friday, 8 September 2017

I played a small part in Lonely Planet’s new Epic Drives of the World book, each chapter features a longer report on one ‘epic drive’ and three smaller features on related drives.

▲ The shattered tyre is a reminder of what can happen if you don’t take care of them when you’re driving the Gibb River Road. Crossing the Kimberley on the 440 mile (704km) long Gibb River Road is one of Australia’s classic outback drives and although I’ve driven the road (and shredded that tyre) I’ve also flown across the Kimberley in both directions and stayed at a number of Kimberley outposts including El Questro, the Mornington Camp and, my favourite, the Kimberley Coastal Camp.

I also wrote up the Simpson Desert, the Gunbarrel Highway and the Canning Stock Route, three other wonderful outback drives although, confession, the Canning Stock Route is still on my bucket list.

My other chapter traced motor races on public roads, my favourite the Sicilian Targa Florio ran from 1906 to 1977 and it’s still a wonderful circuit – with 700 corners – to drive around. Pre-breakfast is probably the best time for a Targa lap and Google Maps suggestion that it will take two hours and seven minutes (average speed 20mph, 35kph) is probably more likely than the sub-34 minute lap record.

▲ My additional public road suggestions were the Isle of Man TT motorcycle circuit, the sign is a reminder that if you don’t slow down fairly dramatically you’re going to go straight through the front door of the Creg-Ny-Baa pub. I also covered the 1000 mile Mille Miglia in Italy and the coast to coast Cannonball Run from New York to Los Angeles.

▲ In August Lonely Planet UK drove around the country for a week in an electric Tesla to promote Epic Drives and also Lonely Planet’s coverage of Britain’s national parks. I joined them one afternoon for the drive from Birmingham in the British Midlands to Brecon, beside the Brecon Beacons Park, in Wales. There I am beside the Tesla, in its Epic Drives décor, at the end of the drive.