Last week a customer in Spain called. He had purchased a delightful Mulliner Wraith previously & now wished to trade it against a Silver Cloud II I had in stock. After protracted negotiations involving the two cars, we came to a gentlemens’ agreement over the telephone, & agreed to meet near Santander to do the exchange. Accordingly I made bookings & decided to also to take a couple of extra days in the Picos de Europa “En Famille”. If you have never before visited the Picos, consider your life so far to have been wasted. It is an incredibly beautiful but small mountain range that comes vertically out of the ground on the border between Asturias & Cantabria in Northern Spain.
We duly loaded the Cloud’s capacious boot with weekend clobber & set off in the direction of Portsmouth. A good Silver Cloud represents incredible value at the sort of money they go for. The ride is soft undulating & totally insulates one from the cares of the outside world. The V8 versions have no shortage of go & effortlessly pull one down the road as if attached to a long piece of elastic. The cabin is opulent with lashings of walnut everywhere you look & a massive bench seat allowing for one to travel three abreast; an arrangement much appreciated by my daughter. The view down the bonnet is an imposing one & imparts a degree of smugness to the driver as he surveys the common masses appearing at the end of the very long bonnet. Selling typically for less then £35K they are a bargain!
The trip to Portsmouth was dispatched with aplomb via the M25 & A3 where we boarded the lesser of the two Brittany ferries craft plying the route, The Cap Finistere. After a pleasant dinner we were duly spat out onto the dock in Santander the following morning. The Rolls ran quite a bit hotter in the Spanish climes & I made a mental note to recommend the new owner fit a Kenlowe fan for additional cooling. We ran the 50 or so Kms down to Santillana Del Mar, a delightful medieval village & checked into the Hotel San Marcos which, whilst not being up to Parador standards, was a very pleasant place to stay.
The following day we made the exchange with Felix, & set off in convoy for the first 20 miles until he broke off to head home to Valladolid. We continued on & drove towards the Picos De Europa in the Wraith. Having just come out of the Cloud one could appreciate how far cars advanced from 1939 to 1962. The Wraith nevertheless provided a silky smooth ride & proceeded with the kind of silence for which Rolls-Royce are justly renowned. We left the autoroute & drove an incredibly windy road up the Hermida gorge to Potes & then on to the cirque of Fuenté De. The last 10 miles were of ever increasing gradient which taxed the Wraith somewhat, & had us seeking ever lower gears as we crawled up the ascent. This Wraith wears sports saloon coachwork by H. J. Mulliner with large opening quarter lights to the front & rear, & a huge sunroof making for a delightfully airy drive & feeling of al fresco motoring. Driving up the sinuous roads in complete silence with bucolic locals & uniformed police alike doffing their hats at our progress was pleasure in itself.
The following morning we loaded up & drove gently back to Santander.
We abandoned the Wraith in the queue for the ferry & sought a cab with instructions to take us to the best fish restaurant in town. Our expectation was to be taken somewhere rather fancy, but in fact we ended up at a working mens restaurant with a large charcoal brasier outside, over which was simmering a huge Paella pan. The cab driver knew his stuff however, & turned out to be absolutely spot on in his assessment of the cuisine. Well sated we repaired to the ferry dock & loaded on to the “Pont Aven”. A far superior ship to the other with a superb restaurant & properly run in a way that only the French can do. What a difference from the English run scows that ply the Channel. Make a note to be sure you are on the Pont Aven rather then the Cap Finistere if you do the Plymouth/Portsmouth to Santander crossing.