castle… but NO sand
An attempted Range Rover beach adventure is scuppered. Maybe next time…
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.