A challenge from assistant editor Mark Saville to display my Land Rover alongside the LRO fleet for last year's LRO show was the perfect excuse for me to take my 1997 Camel Trophy Edition Discovery and hit the road. After two long days of driving on motorways from my home in Portugal, the moment I reached UK soil it felt immediately like I was in Land Rover Land – and the journey to Peterborough was a breeze.
If you were at the East of England Showground, you know why this is the biggest and best Land Rover show on earth. As well as meeting friends old and new from around the world who share your Green Oval passion, there are hundreds of Land Rovers on display. Then there’s the amazing off-road course, the action-packed central arena, loads of parts to buy, and – around the UK; I had planned to see some historical places belonging to the National Trust.
My first stop was Woolsthorpe Manor, Sir Isaac Newton’s Lincolnshire birthplace, followed by a relaxing walk in the gardens of Calke Abbey, wonderful country house in Derbyshire.
This dream weekend soon ended and on the Monday morning I was back on the road for the second part of my tour – both a must for any Land Rover enthusiast. Time to head west to a certain place in Wales where it all started nearly 70 years ago...
Just after crossing the Menai Bridge, I was greeted by a ‘Welcome to Anglesey’ sign and in no time I was taking advantage of the low tide at Red Wharf Bay. I walked on the sandy beach where Maurice Wilks had created the Land Rover.
Standing there, I reflected on the significance of that place and the amazing history of the brand. Magical! Needless to say, I didn’t leave without sketching my own Land Rover on the sand, then watched it being washed away by the waves.
After more than 2000 miles of trouble-free motoring, the next morning the Discovery’s fuel lift pump refused to work; but thanks to a local and the helpful staff at Elias Garage in Bangor, I was back on track in no time.
Having admired the beauty of the Welsh hills, I then headed to the second milestone of this Land Rover pilgrimage. It was eight years since I had been to the Solihull factory, but with the Defender reaching the end of its life I had to see the Celebration Tour – and boy, how special it is.
The second show I attended in the UK was the Adventure Overland Show in Stratfordupon-Avon, where I met many overlanders including our own Sam Watson and lots of people who showed interest in coming to Portugal. After almost two weeks in the UK and 2300 miles of driving, it was a perfect end to a memorable overland trip.
I’ll certainly be at the 2016 LRO show. Will I see you there?