Beeston Regis: We are now sitting in a field, just 500 metres off the coastal road which runs around the periphery of Norfolk, directly north of Norwich. ‘The field, as we always refer to it, £10 pn. inc. ehu, is owned by a local holiday company and about 3 miles away from the main park, nestled behind a very posh boarding school. Private and peaceful, surrounded by fields of highland cattle & horses.
West Runton is next door, famous for nothing, except an ancient woolly Mammoth they un-earthed from a local cliff and the site of ‘West Runton Pavilion’ where, back in the 70’s and 80’s all the top rock bands of the day performed. The pavilion has long gone, as have most of the bands which included Genesis, The Police and Def Leopard to name but a few. There’s a plaque on the wall in the pub beer-garden marking the spot where all this happened.
The Woolley Mammoth which was revealed when part of the coast fell into the sea, is housed in Cromer museum, just down the road. West Runton’s other big brother, Sherringham is constantly awash with tourists, local and a few from farther afield. Tight little streets, pubs, chippy’s and quirky little nick-nack shops abound. This is a well sought after area to live in, as property prices reflect.
You’ll not get much for under a quarter of a million up here. Cromer, with its long pier stretching out into the sea is slightly more affordable, but still pricey. If they are going to build new houses in this area, then Cromer area is where they normally shoe-horn them in. Back in Beeston Regis, with long (empty in winter) sandy beaches run along this length of Norfolk, from Wells-next-the-sea and Holkham, where the queens beach is, to Cromer, crammed with tourists in August. The beaches go all the way round the Norfolk coastline, virtually uninterrupted all the way to Lowestoft, where we have also had many a perfect family holiday in the past 16 years of living in Norwich. Working back from the beach, there’s a strip of land normally used for farming, then you’re into the pine forests with it’s millions of un-mapped trail ways and tracks, until you finally come out at the road-side the A149 which runs the periphery. Whether your choice is forests and farmland or beaches stretching for miles, the choice of walking scenery around here is endless and we love it, so we are here this weekend with friends and their dogs have exercised us well, to the pub and back of course.
For the first time, I think it’s sunk in. In the re-telling of the journey, (I think we may have gone on a little longer than was polite) but the distance and the achievement of the past 7 months. The 250 hours of driving the 8,000 miles, almost to the bottom of navigable Morocco and back again. Well… it’s beginning to sink in. These things don’t seem to have any ‘bones’ to them whilst you’re doing it. But now its done, I feel we have achieved something, I’m not sure exactly what, but something. Maybe something not everyone could do, I know loads of people would not want to do such a thing, but there’s many out there who want to, but just can’t, or just don’t have enough motivation to ‘go-do-it’ and of course there are people who have VERY good reasons why they can’t. But like the rock face climber proudly standing at the top looking down at the route he just mastered, we now do. Nailed it! What an experience.
Well, if that was part one, I can’t wait for part two. Now we are a little more used to this type of life, it should only get easier. Mmmmm I’m not sure that’s going to be the case, but we have ironed out a few wrinkles. We have some experience under our belt and that should help when it comes to the trickier countries. France and Spain are pretty benign when it comes to bureaucracy, parking and social rules. From what we’ve read, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland can be challenging (at times), but look to be very beautiful too. So we will find out what barriers lay before us. There’s different currency, there’s different laws on camping, the different shops, food and bars, accents, customs and prices. There’s thousands of square kilometres of land and relatively few people, that could be a big bonus. But the distances involves are misleading. Google maps tells me, Sidi Ifni in Morocco (the farthest south we drove) is more or less the same distance from Norwich as NordKapp, the northern tip of Norway and the most northern-most tip of Europe and what would be our first aim. After that, Finland, and heaps of ‘South’, again. I do love ‘South’.
Sitting here in the comfort of ‘the field’ it’s easy to forget the sand dunes and dryness of the edge of the Sahara at Erg Chebbi, all those months ago. The endless roads across miles and miles of land nobody wants or cares much about. There’s heaps of it in Spain too, hundreds of square kilometres of nothing. Here, in the UK, it seems, somebody owns every square metre of land and that somebody has a reason why ‘you can’t sleep there’, well… not without crossing a palm with silver. Ok, much of the time it’s only a small amount, typically £10 pn should cover it, but it’s still too much to ask for a 100sq mtr plot for 24 hours. I predict ,it’s only going to get worse and I have no idea how to reverse it. There are cheap and free places to stay for a day or two, but some ‘Aries’ in the UK want to charge you £20pn, just for parking…ridiculous. On the other hand, organisations like Britstops should be applauded, promoting free stop-overs for UK Motor-homers. In their words…”hundreds of country pubs, farm shops, vineyards, breweries, craft / antiques centres, etc. (not camp sites) all offering an invitation through the Brit Stops scheme to stay overnight in your motorhome or campervan in a safe environment – free of charge!” The provider hopes you will partake of their wares in some way. A pub, restaurant, maybe even a UK winery, free, safe stop-overs in exchange of the possibility of a sale…no obligation. This has got to be a step in the right direction or even ‘the future of Motorhoming in the UK’. If we were in the UK long enough, we would also partake in it. Twenty quid to spend all night listening to the traffic on the M25 will never fly! Stick it!