Written 1st August
So here's a thing. We're coming home! Well obviously we were always going to have to do that at some point, but now we actually have tickets booked. Scary
But's not for a little while yet. So we all have some time to come to terms with the idea :)
What with all our adventures in distant and different lands, out in the wild open countryside and fresh air, I have been struggling to work up much enthusiasm for beyond Bergen - well western europe just seems a bit close to home and too crowded with a lot of cities and big roads for which I'm just not in the mood right now. It might also be that we don't have an lp or any recommendations yet and I'm sure its all very nice but, oh I don't know, its just where I am right now. And Will is really missing his garage.
Anyway, with this in mind, a little while ago we looked at the atlas and the lp and saw that we could get from Bergen to Scotland, our eventual destination, by way of a ferry to the Faroes and then the Shetlands. Well how cool would that be?!
Failing that, we could at least go to Newcastle which is closer than anywhere else.
But after lots of promising starts and false trails, an internet search dashed our hopes. Even a gauntlet thrown down to facebook for people with more internet time than us resulted in nothing - but thanks anyway to Ganesh, Shelley, James and Laura for being willing to take up the challenge!
Inexplicably, it seems that every ferry which ever existed between the UK and Scandinavia has been cancelled. In 2007! So both our 2009 atlas and 2009 LP and a lot of the internet are out of date.
The only ferries that now go to the Faroes do so en route between Denmark and Iceland and no longer call at Bergen or Lerwick - not very helpful - and you can only get to the Shetlands from Aberdeen or somewhere near Wick, both of which necessitate already being in Scotland. And the Newcastle option has been cancelled from every Norwegian port. Rubbish! What are poor van dwellers meant to do! Or even proper motorhomers who want a scandinavian adventure but who only have a limited time!
There is one ferry from Esjberg in Denmark to Harwich but that's not very near Scotland and the ferry company obviously don't want their fancy boat littered with itinerant poor people sprawled on their nice lounge furniture as they make you book a cabin. Even with our shocking fuel economy we worked out it would be cheaper to drive all the way to Calais, via Germany, Holland, Belgium and a little bit of France, get to Dover on a boat and then drive to Harwich, assuming we actually wanted to go there, which we don't. Crazy
We had a last ditch plan of turning up at the Bergen port master's door to see if any boats were going to Scotland and trying to stow ourselves away on one - which would have been a much better story anyway! - but pretty much it was looking like a long drive down Scandinavia then a long drive back up Britain - how dull.
But, thanks to Jude, we have a new plan! It is, as Ganesh has already pointed out to us through the miracle that is Facebook, somewhat counter-intuitive, if you look at a map. But it's the cheapest there is and gets us to our desired destination. So win on both criteria that count then! After all 'looking like a sensible plan' has never been a deciding factor since we started this venture... ;) (although admittedly it is why we didn't think of this route by ourselves)
So, new plan is: ferry from Bergen (Norway) to Hirtshals (Denmark), drive (Denmark, Germany, Holland) to Zeebrugge (Belgium) and then ferry to Rosyth (Scotland). Obvious really...
So, all we need to do, is get the c1,200km between where we are now (at the time of writing, if not posting, on the RV17 somewhere between Kilbogham and Tjotta) to Bergen by 11th August and then the c1,200 km from Hirtshals to Zeebrugge by 18th August.... So much for taking it slowly :)