7am start, and we have a 800 km drive ahead of us. And there isn't very much to relate about it. I pass the time between checkpoints listening to Radio 4 downloads (and somehow pre-election topical comedy doesn't feel quite so topical here...). All of this Hejaz area of the Kingdom is lava plains.

I'm shattered and beheadached by 3pm, when we finally reach Al-Ula and corral our driver to the surprisingly nice hotel where we have a lunch of Meat with Meat. We also meet our guide Abdul from Chad, and a Mysterious Person Of Undisclosed Job Title who needs to be with us. First stop is the mud village, which is helpfully being rebuilt. Al-Ula is trying to bring up its tourist industry, hoping first to appeal to pilgrims going to Medina, and then to international tourism. They're building an airport and a highway to Petra, which is only about 300 miles away.

The mud village - the old town of Al Ula - has a handy basaltic outcrop in the middle for picture taking. The houses themselves are connected both at street level and roof level - the gentlemen have to use the roof for getting around while the ladies use the street level.

Next the museum. A nice size and the only complication comes when the staff switch the aircon off because it's nearly prayer time and they want us to leave.

Sunset sees us in the desert, by the Elephant rock. It's a great location, very similar scenery to Wadi Rum, nearby in Jordan. You feel this place has great tourist potential if they can persuade TPTB that it's a good idea. It's all rather stunning, and to top it off we're treated to an exhibition of abject failure to control a camel.

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