Lonely Planet Writer

Record-breaking Norwegians channel the Vikings as they visit every English county in a day

Four Norwegian men have set a new world record by visiting all England’s 48 counties in 24 hours. The group started off in Cumbria, in England’s northwest, on Friday evening, reports The Local.

Lake Buttermere, Cumbria.
Lake Buttermere, Cumbria. Image by Les Haines / CC BY 2.0

They reached Cornwall in time for a seafood feast 23 hours and 34 minutes later, becoming the first people ever to visit all of England’s ceremonial counties in a single day. Trip organiser Gunnar Garfors said the expedition was a tongue-in-cheek Scandinavian invitation to the English. “Next month it will have been 950 years since the Battle of Stamford Bridge, where a Norwegian king almost managed to conquer England,” he told The Local. “With the recent Brexit vote, we figured that it was about time to gently remind the English about the offer to join Norway instead, and we planted a Norwegian flag in every county to do so. They have, after all, had 950 years to think about it.”

The Battle of Stamford Bridge saw a Viking force under Harald Hardrada defeated by the armies of the English king Harold Godwinson. Harold’s army then marched south to face the forces of Duke William of Normandy. Their defeat after nine hours of fighting ended Anglo-Saxon rule in England. The 41-year-old Garfors made his trip with his brother, Øystein, and friends Andreas Munkelien and Øystein Djupvik. Djupvik drove for most of the journey, quaffing 20 energy drinks along the way.

Garfors said one of the aims of the trip was to counter ignorance about England’s counties. “Everyone knows that there are 50 states in the US and can mention at least a handful of them,” he explained, “whereas almost no one knows that there are 48 counties, let alone is able to mention their names. To us this was a great way of discovering more of England and getting a glimpse at least, of each and every county. And 48 in 24 hours is rather impressive in my mind. That is two counties every hour.”