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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

We Visited All England’s 48 Counties in 24 Hours

Why not celebrate in the last, and best county? Øystein Djupvik (from left, Øystein Garfors and Gunnar Garfors. (Disclaimer: Gunnar studied in Kernow (Cornwall) and may be slightly biased.)

Norwegians are known for invading the UK. Or dying while trying. Four Norwegians took aim at visiting all 48 counties in 24 hours. The mission was completed Saturday August 20 at 17:24 London time after 23 hours and 34 minutes of non-stop action.

They started in Cumbria and finished in Cornwall. Or see the route in detail in this zoomable map.

The world record was coincidentally set 950 years after Norwegian King Harald Hardråde narrowly failed to defeat England in Battle of Stamford Bridge in East Riding of Yorkshire in 1066.

– England recently said no to be part of the EU through Brexit, perhaps they have come to terms with joining Norway after all these years. We have now visited every county to invite you all, the four guys joked.

Øystein Djupvik (42), Gunnar Garfors (41), Øystein Garfors (39) and Andreas Munkelien (41) even left a Norwegian flag in each county as a friendly gesture.

They are not unknown to comprehensive travelling and borderline crazy world records, but this particular idea was born over a pint in Oslo. To most guys a traditional Saturday involves sleeping late, watching football and having some beers. Not so for the slightly restless Vikings.

– We popped by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, City of London, Greater London, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, West Midlands, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. What have you done today? Øystein Garfors smiled.

They started their not so gruesome pillage and plunder routine in Cumbria and finished in Cornwall. Most of the journey was undertaken in a supercharged Jaguar XE.

Before the start. Everyone is still awake. More photos below the article.

– Of course we had to pick an English car, but to go all-in and rent a James Bond style Aston Martin was way out of budget. But never mind, oh, what a brilliant car this Jag was to drive, Øystein Djupvik laughed. The two Øysteins took turns driving the wild cat literally all over England. Djupvik single-handedly finished 20 energy drinks during the world-record.

The Norwegians still had to leave the road for a bit. The extreme weather warning for South West England meant that the team had to change their plans last minute. An open rib had initially been booked to take the team across the Solent, but the waves were too big for them to safely follow Viking tradition, and they had to settle for a less spectacular crossing. They were saved by a high-speed ferry service that took them from Portsmouth to Isle of Wight and back. But the stressful moments are all now forgotten.

– It’s celebration time in Cornwall! Although I fear that a bottle of bubbly will be all it takes to knock us out in Bude. It has been a rather long day, Gunnar Garfors said.

And it wasn’t the first time we attempted to set or beat slightly restless world records. Øystein Djupvik and Gunnar Garfors already hold a couple of world records together. They visited 19 countries in 24 hours in 2014 before passing through 22 US states in 24 hours last year. But there is more. Brothers Øystein and Gunnar Garfors have been to all of Norway’s 19 counties in the same amount of time in 2014. Gunnar has also been to five continents in just one day, and is finally the youngest traveller to have been to all 198 countries in the world – while holding on to a full-time job.

See photos from every county further down.

Some of this travel madness has also made it into Gunnar Garfors’ book, “198: How I Ran Out of Countries“, reviewed by Tom Woods.

Rating 9.5 out of 10. When I grow up I want to be Gunnar Garfors. The book’s casually written style, breaking up each country into bitesize chunks and grouping them by common theme under 21 umbrella chapters, lends itself well to the pick-up-and-put-down reader, which as a book about travel works extremely well. Reading 198 was not only an enjoyable experience, but it made travel blues seep from the pores of my skin. At times I wanted to be just like Gunnar, a man whose ambition and burning desire to visit every country on Earth was conveyed by his written word.

This is a man who ‘gets’ travelling, looking past the two-week all-inclusive beach holidays and popular tourist attractions to try new things and meet people with different values, beliefs and behaviours, from all over everywhere. His analysis of ‘western arrogance’ is astute. Why stay in what we label safety zones, when there is a whole planet out there ready to explore? You may buy the book all over the world.

There are 48 ceremonial counties in England. To find out how they managed to crisscross into all, check out their GPS tracked route in detail in this zoomable map.

Now, photos. Finally.

County #1: Cumbria. With the Norwegian flag planted at the starting line.

County #2: Northumberland. Wet. Rainy. Windy. England.

County #3: Tyne and Wear. We even had time for a major shopping spree.

County #4: Durham.

We were so sad to leave Durham that the flag is on half-mast.

County #5: North Yorkshire. Still going strong. Sort of.

County #6: East Riding of Yorkshire. Where the Battle of Stamford Bridge took place 950 years ago in 1066. The Norwegian king lost narrowly to England. Had he won, this would have been written in Norwegian. Just sayin’.

County #7: South Yorkshire. One of four counties with the name Yorkshire in it.

County #8: West Yorkshire. I wonder if the flag is still there.

County #9: Greater Manchester.

County #10: Merseyside. Fancy an energy drink, Mr. Djupvik? He clocked in 20 of those in 24 hours.

County #11: Lancashire.

County #12: Cheshire.

County #13: Staffordshire. Oh, the view!

County #14: Derbyshire. Dancing in the moonlight.

County #15: Nottinghamshire. We justed missed last orders. What’s wrong with these rural bars?

County #16: Leicestershire. Where we had to stop to ask for directions.

County #17: Lincolnshire. Øystein’s feet hurt.

County #18: Rutland. Jag with a view.

County #19: Northamptonshire. Crisscrossing around on various crossroads.

County #20: Norfolk. Are we there yet?

County #21: Suffolk. Much farther to go?

County #22: Cambridgeshire. We’re tired! Can we go home now?

County #23: Bedfordshire. Admittedly a tiny bit too dark.

County #24: Hertfordshire. Admittedly a little bit too light.

County #25: Essex. The SOS phone was out of order.

County #26: City of London. We experienced a traffic jam at 4am. On a Saturday morning. What’s wrong with people?

County #27: Greater London. Gassed up.

County #28: Kent. The shortest county name of them all.

County #29: Surrey. And the night is about to disappear.

County#30: East Sussex. When two men gotta do what two men gotta do.

County #31: West Sussex. Both the church and the wine shop were closed, so we just kept going.

County #32: Hampshire. We even had a long stroll around the harbour in Portsmouth.

County #33: Isle of Wight. The extreme weather warning made us a little nervous, but Wightline’s catamaran took us safely here. And back.

County #34: Dorset. We even had an invitation for beer here, but our hosts suddenly had other plans when we suggested drinking it at 07:45.

County #35: Berkshire. Bushed out.

Country #36: Oxfordshire. A flag presumably does not qualify as litter.

County #37: Buckinghamshire. Are we there yet?

County #38: Warwickshire.

County #39: Worcestershire. This supercharged cat sure likes petrol.

County #40: West Midlands. Desperately seeking coffee.

County #41: Shropshire. Best view yet.

County #42: Herefordshire. But no time for steak.

County #43: Cloucestershire. You talking to me?

County #44: Wiltshire. Rural. Very rural.

County #45: Bristol. Where we narrowly avoided extremely slow traffic by taking a detour.

County #46: Somerset. Getting there…

County #47: Devon. Are we there yet?

County #48: Cornwall. Saving the best for last! Good old Kernow.

Celebrations all around in Bude in Northern Cornwall.

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