20 countries in a 988cc Toyota Yaris on the Poles of Inconvenience


20 countries in a 988cc Toyota Yaris on the Poles of Inconvenience

British team Deadhand Gang took on the Poles of Inconvenience 2023 and forced their elderly 988cc Toyota ‘Mandy’ through 20 countries. Finn, Max and Harry drove 9,650 miles and bagged 18 POIs from our network of carefully crafted chaos, from the highest road in the Balkans to the Moroccan desert.

They had a crash in Bulgaria. Pushed their car up a mountain in Morocco. Their engine wet its pants after they forgot to tighten a rather crucial plug. Albania destroyed their clutch.

They found so much excellent inconvenience they were also crowned Runner Up of the Poles of Inconvenience 2023, only narrowly missing out on the victory.

Here’s their excellent Poles of Inconvenience field report, written by Fin Sayce:

Foder Green POI 8 – UK

The sump guard was worth its weight in gold as Finn and Max jumped out to alleviate the beached Yaris. 300 miles later and one pole bagged we found a spot for the night in the Black Mountains. Torrential rain and wind left us cooking in the back of the wagon and piss wet through.

Strata Florida POI 6 – UK

30 mins of logging routes and no entry signs later we found the so called “daftest track in the UK”. Understatement of the fecking year.

Steep cambers, fords and boulder fields left our clutch burning through the nostrils of locals 5km away. Bagging the pole the end was surely near. How naive.

Two hours of terrain followed with a visiting off-roader in his Landy both excited and baffled as to how we’d got there. Four hours and seven miles per gallon later we’d escaped and headed off to the Lakes.

Breast High Road POI3 – UK

“Let’s grab the pole, hour tops then get to the pub”. So many things happened next and none were the pub. What can only be described as a hill climb of loose rocks and scree lay ahead.

A flaming clutch, an emptied car, a leaky valve, lots of effing and blinding and three hours later we reached POI 3. It gets so much worse. A blown tyre at the TOP of the hill left us recompressing the tyre every mile… for 15 miles while we tried to find a place to sleep.

After settling for a night in the car we found a garage, fixed up the car and got back on the road

Liz’s Phone Box POI 59 – Germany

We bloody love Germany. Woken up with coffee and fresh pretzels brought to us by @dpsg_eningen and freshened up before setting out for POI 59: Queen Liz’s postbox. With temperatures hitting 38 degrees, the car had turned into an oven. Made even worse by the fact we’d pulled the roof card out and replaced it with foil insulation. Don’t ask us what we were thinking!

Through the Hills POI 37 – Romania

We’d say we began off-roading up in the mountains but every road in Romania is like a lucky dip. But if you win the lucky dip one of your tyres dips into a metre deep pot hole and you win an expensive ride to a garage.

We wound for hours up the mountain tracks, bottom out scrapes and wheel spins galore. It’s an art keeping one eye on the lack of road on one on the lookout for bears.

We stopped for many a photo and some dinner before carrying on the winding tracks after dark. Typically here is where we would find the most traffic on this trip. A fellow 17 car strong convoy coming the other way. Joys. We bagged the pole and carried on the track that would surely be finishing soon.

It wasn’t.

We found camp at 2am.

Karagyol Reservoir POI 42 – Bulgaria

The highest motorable road in the Balkans before heading off to North Macedonia after lunch. We were met with 20% incline, potholed tracks, sheer drops to the side and over 20 hairpin bends. Mandy [the car] had put on some pounds and needed a hand up some hills. Harry and Finn braved the long walk up.

Max drove up in a style that he described as a leg of the WRC. On camera it looked like he was off to the co-op for some milk.

The summit did not disappoint and made the fact we were three hours behind schedule (shock) worth it. We lapped up the views, bagged the pole and had some lunch before heading back down.

The brakes were a tad warm at the bottom as you can imagine so we pulled over, very conveniently, next to an abandoned car pit. Luckily so as the boys from a fellow team, Trans Stan Express, noticed Mandy blowing some considerable white smoke out her back end so to speak. A CHAOTIC oil change and a very oily Max and Harry later we found a camp site for burgers, beers and Bulgarian thunderstorms.

Stelvio Pass POI 60 – Italy

Waking up we realised the wild camping spot we’d found was in fact an Italian school’s playground. Not ideal. Even less was the fact that rush hour would soon be upon us. Up and out like a shot we set out for POI 60 – the Stelvio Pass. Steep winding tracks and a surplus of 40 hairpin bends we marvelled at the views of the Italian Alps.

Col du Parpaillon POI 61 – France

Our second pole of the day. Climbing into the heights of the French Alps Mandy experienced a significant power loss at altitude and crawled up the rocky track. By a miracle the fuel lines were still holding up, now pretzel shaped. The jubilee clips we fixed to keep them up were acting as a literal knife through butter of our delicate plastic fuel lines.

Cime de la Bonette POI 62 – France

Our third pole in three days. We were on fire, or rather Mandy’s engine was. This was the highest we climbed the entire trip and it reflected by a severe loss in power in a car that boasts 3 (and maybe donkey) horsepower when fully loaded. Barely overtaking many a cyclist we crawled to the top. The views at the summit were like none other we’d seen this trip, it was something else.

El Rocko POI 71 – Morocco

We set out for our first Moroccan pole El Rocko. The world’s smallest land border at just 85m between the Spanish enclave guarded by soldiers and mainland Morocco. Harry and Max struggled away to convince the soldiers to let the car past. We put the refusal down to a language barrier only to find the road really ran out and a steep footpath up the mountain led to the pole. Shock.

Tizi n’Tamtdit POI 84 – Morocco

The first team in Poles of Inconvenience history to bag POI 84. We were chuffed at the mornings exploits. Led by our mountain tour guides who demanded the exorbitant fee of 2 digestive biscuits per hour, they showed us their favourite views and mountain caves.

We were greeted by a lovely man who described his exploits mining the mountain for silver, gold and even diamonds. His dog either loved or hated Finn’s water bottle. We’re not sure, either way it no longer retains water. We were invited to stay for a lunch of lentils, bread and tea before heading four hours back the way we came.

POI 84 - Tizi n’Tamtdit - Morocco. Team Deadhand Gang on the Poles of Inconvenience 2023

Noor 3 POI 86 – Morocco

On our way to our second pole of the day the heat got silly. The hottest yet at 42 degrees. A solar project boasting a huge concentrated solar power tower. Some very confused Moroccan military looked on as they decided whether we were a threat or stupid tourists. The latter because quickly obvious.

Tizi n’Takchtant POI 77 – Morocco

Ascending into the Atlas again the trail is described as a “super high dirt track pass” and listed on ‘Dangerous Roads’. We were informed not to drive it alone.

We did.

Rising 2,943m Mandy felt the loss in power and nonetheless charged up the rocky (lack of) road. Some local wild and not so wildlife showed their faces. Many a goat, some angry mountain dogs, camels and a cricket the size of Harry’s big toe (we tested it).

POI 77 - Tizi n’Takchtant - Morocco. Team Deadhand Gang on the Poles of Inconvenience 2023

Erg Chigaga POI 78 – Morocco

On our way into the desert we were hailed by a motorbike asking us what we were doing. After explaining our plans he told us it was impossible to attempt until 5pm when the sand was cooler. He invited us for lunch to show us the best routes in and out of the desert.

Informing us someone had died a few days prior in the same route and unable to comprehend why we would want to take a Yaris he offered to accompany us in a 4×4. We got a crash course in sand driving: “keep it in second and dance on the sand”. Brilliant.

The four hours of desert driving were equally disconcerting as they were incredible. Rock fields bent the sump guard in ways we didn’t know it could, the tyres slipped and sunk in the sand and the oasis was populated by goats, camels and frogs. The views made it all worthwhile.

Pulling up to a desert camp we were welcomed with food and tea with camels to take us up onto the towering sand dunes for sunset. One camel took a particular disliking to Harry and threw him off at its earliest convenience.

A night ‘under the stars’ was quite literally three beds in the middle of the sand. Every nook and cranny now full of sand we hit the head.

POI 78 - Erg Chigaga - Morocco. Team Deadhand Gang on the Poles of Inconvenience 2023

Five times it all went gloriously wrong…

Lake District, UK: A popped tyre with no spare at the top of a hill in the lakes! This left us recompressing the tyre every mile for 15 miles to save the rim. We eventually found a campsite a 3am and thought we could forget about our troubles for a while… Then the lady at the campsite told us to bugger off and pointed us in the direction of a lay by for a night in the car. Fab.

Hungarian Motorway: Finn forgot to tighten the sump plug after an oil change. The result was dire as Mandy lost all 3 litres of oil in about 2 minutes.

Bulgaria: Harry had a crash (T-bone central). Fortunately no one was harmed when someone pulled out straight into the oncoming path of our car Mandy. We thought the rally was over. Fortunately and somehow Mandy was unharmed by the incident.

Albania: The clutch went kaput! We managed to source and fit a new one on the same day and all for £160 and a crate of beers. Not bad eh.

Morocco: Windscreen and Finns arse. While Finn was riding on top of the car much like a throne driver, Max had forgotten Finn’s whereabouts. When navigator Harry shouted ‘POLE!’ Max initiated a full emergency stop sending Finn flying from the roof rack straight into our windscreen. Nice one.

£4,024 raised for charity

Last but not least the reason that sent us on this crazy adventure. Charities. Across our 4 chosen charities we managed to raise a total of £4,024. The totals are as stands…

Cool Earth: £505
Ovarian Cancer Action: £2799
Oddballs: £75
Meningitis Research Foundation: £645

Finally, we are enormously grateful to those who donated and followed us on our adventure, we hope we offered some entertainment value along the way!

Over and out,


Full list of 18 POIs bagged:

UK, POI 8 Foder Green
UK POI 6 Strata Florida
UK POI 3 Breast High Road
Germany, POI 57 – Pylontastic
Germany, POI 58 – Spreuerhofstrasse
Germany, POI 59 – Liz’s Phone Box
Romania, POI 36 – Pole of Toxicity
Romania, POI 37 – Through the Hills
Bulgaria, POI 42 – Karagyol Reservoir
Italy, POI 60 – Stelvio Pass
France, POI 61 – Col du Parpaillon
France, POI 62 – Cime de la Bonette
Morocco, POI 71 – El Rocko
Morocco, POI 84 – Tizi n’Tamtdit
Morocco, POI 85 – Creepy Petrol Station
Morocco, POI 86 – Noor 3
Morocco, POI 77 – Tizi n’Takchtant
Morocco, POI 78 – Erg Chigaga

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