In September 2001, Ernst and me took some days off, on to England. Our plan was to reach Exmoor, and we succeeded, but it was a ridiculously long ride in a couple of days.
The UK is fantastic: it's simply is the most beautiful motorcycle country in the world, because of the roads, the corners, the small-scale landscape, and especially because the traffic, where going fast is appreciated (and because the English, as everyone knows, just are crazy).
The sun was shining on the chalk of Dover (which I had never seen before), so it was clear that this trip wouldn't fail.
We drove through Folkestone, Romney, Rye, Hastings and Bexhill along the coast, which is a perfect way to discover the "Englishness"
there are the red phone boots,
there is the ridiculous idea of driving on the wrong side of the road instead of on the right side,
there are the signs of the pubs, that we Dutch only get to see in comic books where the artist wants to show you that the story is situated in the Middel Ages, with names as "the King's Arms", "the White Horse", "the Black Horse", "the Hunter's Inn" and so on,
and there are the Really Old Houses, in far greater numbers that we are used to, for instance.
More subtly English is the concept of a "family butcher" (What do you do with your family with Christmas this year? Well, I think I'll have them done by the family butcher...).
And then there is the delicious tackyness of the coast: pedal boats in the form of swans, with one pink one between them.
Riding along this coast reminds me somehow of the Atlantic coast of northern Spain: sometimes you ride through forest, sometimes you have a full view on the sea, you pass towns and villages, and all along the way you go up and down, through curves and hairpins.
After Bexhill, we left the coast, and after a while picked up the A272, a very agreeable road, with hedges and curves and pubs to add to the atmosphere. This day ended in Halfway Bridge, in a pub with Bed & Breakfast.
More photographs of this trip on the Dutch nl Day 1.
On the second day, we rode through the New Forest, and we decided to stay there the night on the way back.
The New Forest is the home of the New Forest pony, and once, it was my very favorite dream to be the owner of such a pony.
When we rode through the woods, I tried to avoid disappointments by telling myself that the ponies wouldn't show themselves: they would hide from the tourists, of course.
A few moments later, we reached the heath, and there were ponies everywhere: we had to slalom around them.
On the third day, we spent the night in Beaulieu, in Montagu's Arms, a very luxurious, very old hotel.
More photographs of the New Forest on the Dutch nl Day 3.
In Exmoor (more about Exmoor below), we ended in Porlock Weir, a very picturesque fishermans village. A few (old) houses, many boats, some in pristine condition, some wrecks, a harbour which is dry half of the time, a view towards the Pemborkeshire coast, and behind you, high up, the forested rim of Exmoor.
We spent the night at the Anchor Hotel, and had our dinner in the Ship Inn. I don't think there is a more romantic place on earth as Porlock Weir.
The South-West Coast Path runs through Porlock Weir, so you can stroll for a while, in the evening, along the path. It's a great way to experience the steepness of the coast here, and to see the places where earth and tress tumbled down.
You could dwell for weeks in Exmoor, discover narrow roads and paths, and visit every fisherman's town or village, but we had only one afternoon and one morning to do so, so there is much more to see than we did.
There are very steep climbs in Exmoor, though Dunkery Beacon, the highest peak of Exmoor, is only about 500 meters high.
There is heather (with Exmoor ponies, a bit like small Przewalski horses), there is forest, there is the coast with Porlock Weir or Lynton, you can walk here endlessly, you can ride with enormous view over the sea or inland, you can take very steep winding roads down or up, there are sheep, it's a great place to be...
On the way back, we discovered Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole, strange geological phenomena, used by divers, and providing us with a splendid view while enjoying the breeze of the sea.
More photographs of Exmoor on the Dutch nl Day 3.