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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

We Visited All England’s 48 Counties in 24 Hours

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.

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.

– 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.

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