'We don't stop at borders anymore': Merseyside bikers dodge corruption and fires

Video report by Granada Reports Journalist Jennifer Buck

Two Merseyside bikers are well past the half way point as they ride from the Wirral to Cape Town.

Derek Charlton and Paul Gee, are eight weeks and about 7,000 miles into their mammoth 10,500 mile journey all to raise money for Claire House Children's Hospice

The friends set off from Merseyside on 2 January 2024 and are expected to arrive in the South African capital in April 2024.

The first challenge for the pair was flooding in France before they reached Morocco after about a week.

Crossing through Morocco they enjoyed some of the last good quality roads, but enjoyed sharing their path with some passing camels

Derek and Paul enjoyed watching the passing camels as they rode through Morocco Credit: Derek Charlton

Crossing the Western Sahara gave them a real challenge, describing it as "nothing but desert, sand and wind ....followed by more sand and more wind" the terrain became more barren and the roads more difficult to navigate.

The pair had been using 'fixers' or local people to help them cross some of the more difficult borders through Africa, but after a few 'nerve-wracking' situations decided to try and go it alone.

"In Senegal we were stopped on the road by corrupt Police, they took our drivers licences and visa forms and demanded £500, it took a lot of argument to get all our documents back, in the end for £20 and even a handshake," said Derek.

"Paul and I work great together, he guards the bikes fending off all the fixers while I deal with the authorities."

Walking with lions in Senegal Credit: Derek Charlton

The pair have been trying to find local places to stay, but in the vast areas they are travelling through, wild camping is often the best option.

Derek and Paul have been wild camping in the desert throughout their journey Credit: Derek Charlton

In Guinea the pair had to avoid wildfires and find a hotel to shield them from the flames.

Derek said: "With both bikes loaded with fuel bladders and water bottles full of petrol we couldn't risk camping, the fires were everywhere and the acrid taste of smoke went on for miles and miles."

As well as enjoying the local wildlife Derek and Paul say they have met some of the nicest and most generous people on their journey

"We have met some lovely people over the last few weeks, we met some local school children in the Ivory Coast, we couldn't communicate with them but we got them on our bikes and were rewarded with some lovely smiles," added Paul.

Making friends with local children Credit: Derek Charlton

The epic adventure is all to raise money for Claire House, a children's hospice in Merseyside who provide end-of-life care and offer support for families affected.

Hannah Shannon from Claire House said: "We are really grateful because we can only keep the doors of the hospice open because of people like Paul and Derek who are doing this amazing challenge to raise money for such a good cause.

You can find more on Derek and Paul's challenge here.