• Jamie Shannon

Dunkirk and its extremely large port

I thought that, this being the countryside, I would find ample opportunities to camp but this proved simply not to be the case. At the time, I was told I was still 30km’s outside Dunkirk, the light was fading and I was starting to panic, ever so slightly. The road that I now found myself cycling on bordered a canal for its entirety on the right with a fence on the left separating it from the farmland beyond.


By this point, being completely dark and with no one around I would usually opt to just pitch my tent anywhere and be away at the crack of dawn, but there didn’t seem to be space even for that. I kept on searching and searching until finally, after I thought I was never going to find somewhere, I saw a small dirt road leading through some tree’s on the left hand side.


Upon further investigation, it looked like a large park or at least a huge expanse of grass bordered on all sides by trees. It didn’t seem to belong in the area but I did feel thoroughly blessed to have spotted it. I scanned the area a little more, but as I couldn’t see further than my head torch allowed, I opted to take my bike back out and a little further down the park’s edge on the dirt track towards a farm where I spotted some grass on the ‘park’s edge.


I must admit I wasn’t entirely comfortable camping in the area, as this being so close to a major port city, I knew there might also be migrants sleeping in the area. This proved not to be the case in the end because I was still, as I was to find out in the morning and to my dismay, quite a distance from the city anyway. I was becoming accustomed to sleeping outside anyhow and so I got some good sleep.


Arriving in Dunkirk the next day, I found myself wanting to try some French food whilst I was there, but knew from previous experience that it was best just to get to the port first as you never know what might happen. I had imagined the port would be in the city, and after a lot of questions, realised that, well, it wasn’t. I found my way to the ‘entrance’ which wasn’t so much an entrance as just a very large motorway infested with trucks. I then examined a map on a board detailing the various harbours and realised that the passenger terminal was pretty much at the end. Why is this always the case? Each terminal was numbered something like 2200 – 3400 and 3500 – 4200 with about a 3-4 km ride in between. Mine, I was happy to note was something like 7200 – 8200. Oh what a joy. In all it took me another hour and a half and about another 15km’s to get there. Arriving about 20 minutes before the ferry was due to depart, I was mightily glad I didn’t succumb to gastronomic temptation.