The Outer Banks, North Carolina

It all started with the film ‘Nights in Rodanthe’. I fell in love with the landscape. The wide open beaches, the wild seas and the isolation. I was so taken with the feelings the film so brilliantly conjured that I looked it up.

I discovered that Rodanthe was situated on a stretch of land 200 miles long off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia known as the Outer Banks.

Like most everywhere in the world when you look at a place you find a myriad of reasons to visit and these islands were no different. What caught my eye was the fact that this was where the Wright brothers made that historic flight and that the part of the islands are home to a pack of wild-roaming horses allegedly descendant from Spanish Mustangs.

I told Gav all about this place and he was up for a trip there as soon as I said Wright brothers!

We didn’t have long in the beautiful place but it was worth the long drive to get a taste. And we drove past cotton fields (above) as we made our way out the bridge from mainland North Carolina across to Nags Head where we were staying. I had never seen cotton growing before.

As you can see our hotel was right on the beach!

It was amazing to be so close to the sea. After a walk on the beach and a trip out to get dinner we planned out the following day as we had lots to pack in!

We began at the Wright Brothers National Monument and Museum.

Where we saw markers showing the length of the first flights.

And the impressive monument commemorating their achievement.

And after a quick look round we headed north for a 50 minute drive to take a tour in a Humvee and to look for the wild horses!

Before I go on to wax lyrical about this experience I want to say that usually I would steer clear of any commercial venture that looks to exploit wildlife. In an attempt to try and mitigate our presence I picked what I hoped was a decent tour company that are investing in the land the horses live on and take seriously their survival. The horses that live on the land we visited are ‘managed’ by the National Park Service to ensure they are healthy and to ‘control’ over breading….. Hmm! It is a complex subject. Pop over to Wikipedia if you want any more info.

For all that I worried if we were doing the right thing taking this tour I have to admit that it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And we didn’t even see many horses because it was the end of the summer and they were headed back toward the swamp land to hunker down for the winter. I think it was the windy weather, the fast driving and that we were in the middle of nowhere that added to this adventure not just seeing the beautiful animals.

To get from the tour company office in Corolla to the land they live on, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, on took about a 40 minute drive north. Most of the drive was on the beach. It was a wild and windy adventure before we even spotted a horse.

And yes there are houses out there too. A small community of people live out in this isolated land.

And yes the only access in the beach ‘road’.

But the horses don’t care about the people……. Or their lawns!

And all too soon our adventure was over and we headed back.

Had to include this photo.

That is some sea view they have….

And here we are in the back of the Humvee. I am so glad I had a hoodie on. I was on the outside of the vehicle and got blown to bits. I didn’t care a jot that I looked ridiculous.

Back to our hire car on off we drove fill with joy at our adventure. It was going to be difficult to top that experience but we almost did it when we found Duck Donuts!

And how amazing is this chair.

Gav got up early the next day and went out running and I managed to catch the sunrise.

I also spotted a couple out for a sunrise walk and what I think were Pelicans flying at the edge of the waves. You can just make them out above the foaming water.

A last look out to sea and then we were off again.

I managed to snap a few more photos of the pretty houses.

When we reached the bridge to the mainland we had to wait for some boats to pass.

Overall this two day whistle stop trip was amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat. The caveat to that is that I would only go back at the start or end of the summer. For all its beauty and wildness these islands are set up for tourists and I would not like to see those beaches filled with folk. Even though yes I am a tourist!

I would love to go back and explore the south and to see Rodanthe which we didn’t have time to see! I would also like time simple take it in. How incredible that this stretch of land survives. Throughout all the hurricanes and stormy weather exposed and vulnerable it hangs on. Not a testament to humanity and our need to control but to this precious earth we live on and its tenacity to endure.