Mongolia-bound for fundraising Hopton couple

AN adventurous couple are embarking on an epic 18,000 mile trip, crossing continents and time zones, to one of the world’s remotest countries.

Mike Storeton-West and Louise Mitchell will be leaving their Hopton home next week to drive to deepest Mongolia.

The 10-week round trip will take them through Europe, Turkey, central Asian countries including Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and into Russia before reaching Mongolia.

Mike, 26, is musical director at Potters Leisure Resort, and has his own successful function band performing throughout East Anglia. Girlfriend Louise, 27, is training to be a midwife in Norwich.

Driving in a 20-year-old Land Rover Defender, the couple will be tackling potholed roads and rough tracks to reach the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

Starting from Potters on Saturday, April 16, the journey will take around 10 weeks to complete. Mike and Louise are hoping to raise at least �10,000 for the Stroke Association by taking part in the journey of a lifetime.

They have been together for just over a year and met through an internet dating site. Both share a love of travel and driving, and have spent the last few months organising the journey.

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“Mongolia is more than twice the size of France, yet only has around 160 miles of sealed tarmac roads,” said Louise. “This huge, sparsely populated land encompasses a fabulous array of pristine landscapes, where people still live a nomadic lifestyle, depending on the natural world for survival.

“Many of the other countries we will be travelling through are ex-communist states of the USSR. Our main challenges in these countries will be tackling torturous border regulations, corrupt police, government officials and crime.”

Sleeping in the vehicle and a tent, they will be packing supplies of food and drink and stocking up with 50 litres of diesel, 60 litres of oil and 50 litres of water.

Mike has had an ambition of making a long distance road trip for many years and was inspired by the journey of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in the BBC TV show Long Way Round.

He said: “We both have a spirit of adventure and enjoy driving, although neither of us are good passengers. One of the things I particularly want to see is a gas crater in Turkmenistan. It has been burning since the crater was dug 30 years ago.

“Louise’s dad was very ill with a stroke and in hospital for several months. My grandmother died from a stroke in 2009, and my late granddad suffered a stroke many years ago. Stroke is the third biggest killer and leading cause of severe disability in the UK so this is a very important cause.”

To sponsor Mike and Louise, and for more information about the trip, visit