Ian Parr and Ian Magill on one of the stages of their journey. SUR
England to Casarabonela by bike

England to Casarabonela by bike

British cycling enthusiasts Ian Parr and Ian Magill recently achieved their goal of pedalling to their second homes in the south of Spain: 2,500 kilometres in 30 days

Andrea Jiménez

Friday, 12 May 2023, 12:32


Ian Parr and Ian Magill have a lot more in common than their first name. They both live in Liverpool, both are cycling mad and they each have a second home in Casarabonela, a white village on the edge of the Sierra de las Nieves in Malaga province.

Now an even more special bond unites them, an "unforgettable" trip that has led them to journey through France and Spain by bicycle.

At the end of last month, after 30 days and 2,500 kilometres of pedalling, the British friends reached their destination: the village in Malaga where they spend as much time as they can. "Casarabonela is our second home; it is part of our lives," they said.

The idea for this trip was hatched a year ago in Liverpool, "after a few beers in the pub". Parr and Magill decided to celebrate the former's 60th birthday with a different experience. "We decided we would cycle from [England] to Casarabonela where we both have homes. We shook hands and that was that," explained Parr, who is now retired, but still linked to cycling from his professional life (organising tours for competitive cyclists).

In March they began their cycling adventure to Malaga. Although they are both from Liverpool, their cycling journey began in southwest England at Dawlish Warren, Devon, to be precise. From there they rode to Plymouth to board a ferry taking them to the French town of Roscoff.

"Every day we did between 50 and 150 kilometres; it depended a lot on the orography [hilliness] of each day's route," explained Parr, who described the trip as a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience.

Once in Roscoff, their route took them to Nantes, La Rochelle, Royan, Arcachon, Biarritz and Hendaye. And once on Spanish soil, the two British friends stopped in a number of towns and cities, beginning in Irún and going on to Bilbao, Burgos, León, Zamora and then Salamanca.

"We stayed at campsites and B&Bs. We have really enjoyed everything throughout the entire journey, both each other's company as well as the people we've met en route," they said.

For both cyclists, one of the aspects of the trip they singled out was the stark difference in temperature between two neighbouring countries.

"We have gone from nine degrees in France to 39 degrees in southern Spain; it was an abrupt change," said the cyclists, for whom the physical demands of this trip have been well worth it.

"We've had tough moments, and some mechanical problems, but everything was fortunately resolved and we finally managed to reach our destination," they added.

After leaving Salamanca, the cyclists continued their journey with stops in Plasencia, Cáceres, Mérida, Constantina and Écija, finally arriving in Casarabonela on Friday, 28 April. The mayor, Antonio Campos, was there to welcome them.

"We took a photo with the village's flag; it was a beautiful moment," they said.

After many years in Casarabonela, Parr is known as 'Little Ian' and Magill is 'Big Ian', a nickname that refers to the latter's build, but not his age: Magill is five years younger than Parr.

"I fell in love with Casarabonela more than 20 years ago during a trip through Andalucía, and many of my friends have visited and some have also made homes here. All of us are keen cyclists and Casarabonela is wonderfully situated to enjoy many many different routes," said Parr. He added that the Malaga village is a "very special" place.

"It's beautiful with a wonderful community. Everyone can enjoy the hiking and cycling here," he added.

Although Brexit "has complicated everything", the two Ians continue to divide their lives between Liverpool and Casarabonela over the seasons.

"Next week we fly back to England, but we will soon return to our home from home here," they said.


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