It seems a long time since I’d slept in a tent on the ground… I think the last time was the Les Series en Helvetie Land Rover event in July.

With Autumn well and truly here, it was time for a last weekend away before it’s either too cold or… really too cold for camping on the ground. Things are somewhat different with the Defender and the roof tent as I have somewhere warm to sit in the evenings before going to sleep.

With sunny warm weather forecasted for the weekend, I decided to take LGL on this trip rather than the Defender.  There’s always an element of trepidation heading off on a long trip in a Series vehicle especially when there’s motorways involved but I wanted to try out my “tarp” and do some decent mountain bike riding.

Roof rack was fitted, LGL loaded up and with ear plugs screwed in, we headed South East on surprisingly quiet motorways to the excellent camping site at Morteratsch, Pontresina…. aside from the speedo cable braking, the journey was largely uneventful.

Whilst I was stocking up on groceries in the picturesque town of Pontresina, LGL was comparing DNA… Seems they’re related!


A 5 min drive up the valley from Pontresina, is the camp site…

This looks like a likely spot. 


I’d been messing around with the idea of fitting some sort of tarp to the side of LGL for shelter. I’d originally thought of a tarp with stitched in piping and fixing an awning rail along the roof edge. However, this wouldnt work as the roof rack couldn’t be fitted. Fitting the awning rail below the roof gutter, would mean the drivers door couldn’t be opened.

Without the roof rack installed, a quick proof of concept a few weeks ago proved the top of the tarp could be effectively fixed to the roof using suction hooks.

Remarkable “suck” on these things…

However, with the roof rack in place, I needed another solution… which came to me one morning on the train to work!

It was a hastily made solution and will need some refinement but it’s what I had to hand. A 2m piece of sawn batten with corresponding studs for the eyes in the tarp would do the job. A couple of bicycle toe straps on the cross members of the roof rack to secure it and we’re in business so to speak…

Batten fixed to the roof rack 


Counsersunk M4 bolt with washer and wing nut to fix the tarp down.

I’d bought some 1.9m long extendable poles from Transa a few weeks before and used my hiking poles for the lower part of the set up. I also made some guy lines from a kit of parts…


Tarp components (I obviously didn’t use the suction hooks)


Short edge of the tarp fixed securely to the batten

Some time later….


Camp is set. At nearly 1900 meter above see level and the Morteratsch glacier just around the corner (literally), there’s always a cold wind blowing down the valley in the afternoon and I’m pleased to say everything stayed where it should be. 


From the other side…


Time for a beer 🙂


Dinner was cooked on the gas stove from the Defender. With a lightweight down jacket it was comfortable to sit outside..


… until it wasn’t and I retired to my 4 start Hilleberg tent.


That was Friday… Saturday and Sunday were spent mountain biking on the amazing local trails.

Saturday morning heading up the Bernina Pass


From the Bernina Pass to the Livigno Pass. Single track… so much single track 🙂


Some of it very technical…


Some of it less so…

Saturday evening was spent much the same as Friday…

Sunday morning…


Suvretta Pass. No cars, no tupperware boxes, no people, just single track and a stupid grin 


Spotting in Bever. Aveling & Porter steam road roller. Made in Rochester England. Sadly not in working order. All the chrome shafts and gears have been crudely painted with silver paint, so it would be a major job to get steam up on this old thing. I wonder what its story is… it’s a long way from Rochester to the Swiss Alps.


Sun set on the glaciers and peaks of the Bernina ridge from the camp site

All too soon it was Monday morning. Time to pack everything away and head home. It was noticeably cooler and required the heating to be turned on!

Goodbye Pontresina, see you when the snow comes for some Langlauf