cas­tle… but NO sand

An at­tempted Range Rover beach ad­ven­ture is scup­pered. Maybe next time…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Out & About - GIL­LIAN CARMOODIE CON­TRIB­U­TOR ’I had to ac­cept re­al­ity – I don’t ac­tu­ally know how to drive off-road’

I felt as though I wanted to con­quer some­thing as soon as fel­low scribe Calum Brown handed me the keys to his Range Rover, and soon set­tled on the idea of a bit of off-road­ing. But where should I go? Some­times un­lim­ited op­tions are the hard­est to nar­row down. Hav­ing spent a happy evening brows­ing old Land Rover mag­a­zines, I cer­tainly felt in­spired to try some­thing dif­fer­ent. Thoughts of the P38 plough­ing through a deep ford with wa­ter spray­ing far and wide ran through my head, fol­lowed by im­ages of driv­ing through mile upon mile of rough fo­liage be­fore clam­ber­ing up a steep mountain. Clearly I wasn’t lack­ing imag­i­na­tion, but as I scanned nearby place names on the map, I had to ac­cept re­al­ity – I don’t ac­tu­ally know how to drive off-road, and even if I did there are no moun­tains to climb in East Anglia’s ru­ral fens.

I fired up the 2.5-litre diesel en­gine and opted for a slightly more mod­est jaunt for the P38 and its novice Range Rover driver. I headed out in the di­rec­tion of Wis­bech on the A47, giv­ing the P38 and I an op­por­tu­nity to get to know one an­other. I im­me­di­ately warmed to the high driv­ing po­si­tion and a dif­fer­ent kind of power from the high revvy petrol en­gines I’m used to. Per­haps it was thanks to the P38’s mass, com­bined with the most com­fort­able in­te­rior I’ve ever en­coun­tered, that I felt no pres­sure to get out of the way of im­pa­tient driv­ers speed­ing past in their tiny rep­mo­biles.

I de­cided to be­gin my off-road life­style in Nor­folk, by pulling into an un­gated field for a pic­nic. With boot open and tail­gate down, I climbed into the back of my bor­rowed off-road com­pan­ion to en­joy a won­der­fully soli­tary coun­try­side stop. It was idyl­lic. I drank green tea from a tin mug and watched quails run round in what was left of a har­vested hay field.

Then I drove up to­wards Cas­tle Ris­ing and parked the P38 un­der the im­pres­sive 12th cen­tury walls. The P38 and I were the only visi­tors to this his­toric site for about an hour, dur­ing which time a storm passed through and thun­der echoed around the cas­tle walls while I pho­tographed its an­cient ar­chi­tec­ture. From time to time, I spot­ted the P38 from be­hind the cas­tle’s barred win­dows, look­ing as though it was await­ing my re­turn like a trusty steed.

The Wash was my next des­ti­na­tion – I’ve been liv­ing in Cam­bridgeshire for three months now, and I still hadn’t seen the coast. And be­sides, I was hop­ing that it would give me the op­por­tu­nity to try some se­ri­ous off-road­ing in. Sadly, though, fol­low­ing a road down to the beach near Snet­tisham left me dis­ap­pointed – it was blocked off long be­fore I could get on to the sand. Dis­ap­pointed, I sought con­so­la­tion in a bag of hot, salted chips at the Snet­tisham Beach fish and chip shop be­fore head­ing for home, hu­mour­ing my­self that the con­quest of a cas­tle per­haps wasn’t bad go­ing for a begin­ner.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing the P38 and I were on the move early, head­ing for the Shut­tle­worth Sprint in Bed­ford­shire to nav­i­gate in a 1913 Mercedes ‘Grand Prix’ Ren­nwa­gen. The event fea­tured cars from all eras, along with im­pres­sive air dis­plays which I watched from the com­fort of the P38’s tail­gate. Were this Range Rover my own car, I could en­vis­age pic­nics in the back be­com­ing a firm and reg­u­lar habit.

All-in-all, I felt as though I had com­fort­ably stepped into the en­joy­able Range Rover life­style – even if the tyres didn’t ac­tu­ally get muddy on this oc­ca­sion.

Gil­lian sur­veys the con­quered king­dom of Nor­folk from the com­fort of the P38’s tail­gate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.