Having spent nearly three weeks running around the UK looking at aircraft and staying in various hotels, the next few days were certainly a major change of pace.
Once again we were in the Norfolk area, though this time we were right on the coast at Shearingham and Weybourne, rather than further inland as we had been a week or so past when we stayed in Norwich.
Additionally this weekend there was to be no two-star hotel accommodation, it was five-star camping all the way at a local camp ground! Our good friend, photographer Rob Leigh supplied all the essential camping equipment, and kitted out his own ‘canvas’ hideaway with all the essentials of modern camping, including the beer fridge!
We were in the area for the weekend to attend the North Norfolk Steam Gala—a three day event featuring a number of steam locomotives plying their trade back and forth along the railway line between the coastal towns of Shearingham and Holt—about a twenty minute train journey if it’s done non-stop. For steam afficianados this is one of the big annual events in the area, with six different locomotives running this year (four locals and two visitors).
We had the chance to walk along the track (with a special pass) and watch the trains coming past at very close quarters, and we were also able to buy a day pass to ride the trains back and forth between the stations at Shearingham – Weybourne – Holt.
This is a great way to spend a weekend, particularly because the carriages attached to each train were of quite different designs and eras—you could easily spend all day going up and down the line on completely different trains. While this gala weekend was a feast of steam for enthusiasts, the North Norfolk Railway operates year round so if you’re in this area it’s certainly worthwhile checking out their website and going for a ride.
The other surprise we had was finding the Muckleburgh Collection right next door to the camping ground we were staying at. This military vehicle collection and museum is a bit like the Norwich Aviation Museum—a bit rough on the outside, but actually pretty impressive on the inside. With a total of over 150 tanks, guns and other vehicles (many of which are still operational) the collection is a very worthwhile visit, particularly when you consider that there are also a significant number of other high quality exhibits (local military history, light weapons, ammunition, local naval history etc).
The fact that many of the vehicles of the collection are still operational means that in the school holidays during the display season (April – November) the Collection will usually display one of the main battle tanks in the outdoor arena at 2:30pm — luckily we were their in time to see the Soviet T-55 tank put through its paces. Note that this was not two-three minutes start-her-up-and-drive-100m display—the tank was demonstrated for almost 15 minutes, and at times it probably got close to reaching her to speed! This was a great display.
If you have the chance to visit Muckleburgh, you should do so, just make sure that you’re not put off by the somewhat shabby appearance of the outside of many of the (historically significant) buildings on the site. Inside the collection is great.