Week 11: #oneyearlate – Scourie to the Isle of Skye…

This week sees us finish our NC500 trip and we head over to the Isle of Skye. Although, there is still more NC500 to go, we didn’t want to carry on back to Inverness, but instead continue our #oneyearlate road trip onto the accessible Islands and explore areas, we’ve never visited before.

Leaving Scourie, we headed up along the Drumbeg Loop to (believe it or not) Drumbeg and on to Lochinver, where we stopped for lunch over looking the fishing port, before heading on to our overnight stop at Ardmair Point Caravan and Camping Park https://www.ardmair.com/, outside Ullapool. We had a brief trip into Ullapool as there is a service station Loch Broom Garage Services, who sell LPG and can refill our cylinders. http://www.lochbroomgarageservices.co.uk/index2.htm Ardmair Point is perfect for the NC500, however don’t be disappointed by the lack of space, the views does make up for it, but you might need to find it – if you book far enough in advance you can get a pitch with good view (we didn’t!) but be aware of the midges – people we had spoken to had great views but couldn’t enjoy it due to the midges!

From Ardmair Point we headed back along the NC500 to Ullapool for groceries and then on to Kinlochewe, driving along the coast and along Loch Maree. We stayed at the Kinlochewe Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, with its great wardens, for whom nothing appeared too much effort, and who were still trying to catch up with the chores left by a year long lockdown. The village and campsite are located on the edge of the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve, with lovely flat gentle walks and more adventurous ones. It’s a lovely place and we’re sure we’ll return.

From Kinlochewe, we headed up for lunch overlooking Loch Clair, and on to Lochcarron, avoiding the Bealach na Ba, Cattle Road, partly because the advice is not to in a large motorhome, partly because we’ve done it before and partly because the weather spoilt the views! Lochcarron is located on, the aptly named, Loch Carron and the campsite we choose the Wee Campsite https://www.searchforsites.co.uk/markerMobile.php?id=28971, which is located on the road behind the main road and there are some footpaths back down to the main road, with it’s award winning Spar, pub and restaurants, as well as access to the Loch.

Leaving Lochcarron, we got to the Isle of Skye, crossing the Bridge and into Kyleakin, where we stopped for very tasty fish and chips from the Sea Food Shop, https://www.searchforsites.co.uk/markerMobile.php?id=28971 literally just after the bridge and took it to eat over looking the bay. Kyleakin is home to the Gavin Maxwell Museum (Ring of Bright Water and Otter man), with it’s otter statue outside, hopefully we’ll get to see one… We made our way up to Broadford and Camping Skye Campsite, a relatively new campsite, outside the town, easy to walk into and along the shore to the pier.

Heading up to our next stop at Staffin, we chose to take the route to Uig and clockwise along the headland. We stopped for lunch at the Museum of Island Life (which is currently closed due to COVID) and took a short stroll up to the Flora MacDonald Memorial. Flora MacDonald assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) to escape from the Government Troops after the Battle of Culloden from South Uist to Skye, disguised as her maid, Betty Burke. Her Memorial is at Kilmuir Cemetery, where the Designer, Lee Alexander McQueen is also laid to rest. We arrived at Staffin Campsite a little later in the day, but there is no phone signal, but the campsite does have free WiFi! A short walk from the campsite is An Corran Beach, where there are dinosaur footprints. We had been here before, but not seen them, this time though we were lucky and found one or two.

We’re heading off to the other side of Skye and we’ll keep you updated. Thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back (WiFi permitting!) soon….

Week 9: #oneyearlate – Findhorn to Dornoch: Starting the NC500

Highland Coo?

Continuing our tour northwards, we made our way along the Aberdeenshire and Moray Coastlines to Findhorn, where we had found an overnight stop, similar to the aires in Europe. Right on the edge of the dunes, with facilities to empty and fill, we booked in for two nights. Walking along the beach, Reg loved the sand and the sea water. We followed the coastline around to the marina and through to the village. There is a fish and chip stand and a restaurant, as well as a village store and pottery. Local attractions also include the Heritage Museum and Ice Cave. Dolphins can be seen here in the sea, but we didn’t manage to see any. https://www.findhornparking.com/

Next, we drove to Inverness, the start of the NC500 is actually at the Castle so we headed up to find it. Afterwards we headed up to a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) at the Brahan Estate https://brahan.com/ Originally the home to the Seaforths, heads of the Clan of MacKenzie, one of the first clans to surrender their arms and swear allegiance to the English Crown, in the Jacobite Uprising. There is plenty to do and see here. The campsite is located in the trees along the main roadway to the Arboretum, which was started in the late 17th Century. We met a lovely couple, with their two Border Terriers, Stan and Ted, who were there for the Sheep Mart, in Dingwall.

A walk through the Arboretum, will bring you to the Dog Memorial, where thirteen dogs are buried including an elaborate grave for Cruiser, for faithful friend and companion of Col. Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth. He accompanied the 9th Lancers throughout the Afghan Campaign 1878 – 79 – 80, including the March from Kabul to Kandahar b.1878 d.1895.

Continuing to walk down towards the river, we saw people fly fishing with a Ghillie, all available to be booked from the Estate Office and following the River Walk, we met a lot of deer in the fields adjacent. Another route through the Estate, will take you to the village of Maryburgh. This is another little site we have on our list to return to.

Our next stop and Stage 2 of our NC500 route took us from Maryburgh to Dornoch. There is an actual marked NC500 route and although we will follow it as much as we can, we’re not planning to follow it exactly.

Following the Cromarty Firth, we travelled a route we had done many years before up to Tain and our camping site at Dornoch. Before we had stopped at the Royal Hotel Tain and the Dornoch Castle Hotel, and we drove up to find them! Nothing had changed they and the towns looked the same. The campsite at Dornoch, is located on the edge of the dunes and the Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Just behind you is the local airstrip and a short walk will take you to the town itself. We walked in to the town, before letting Reg have a run on another sandy beach, where again he chases and attacks the waves!

Stage 3 of our NC500 route took us from Dornoch to a CMC CL outside Helmsdale, at a small village called Berriedale Braes. The Kings Park, https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/highlands/helmsdale/the-kings-park/ Our drive up took us along the North Sea, and at times the cloud was below the road, and stopping us from seeing the sea. When we arrived at the CL, we were met by the owners and directed to the site, through the field with a Donkey and Sheep. The views were amazing with mountains, countryside and the sea and the sun came out and the clouds disappeared.

We headed up to Wick for a drive and to clean the very dirty Nortia, we had seen a jet wash on our first trip up for shopping, but when we arrived we couldn’t find it and thought we had dreamt it’s location! We turned around and headed back, but then discovered it – visible southbound but not northbound! Having coated Nortia in a lovely mix of sorbet pink, yellow and green hot foam, and then cold rinsed, she was looking lovely again. Apologies if we made it rain for you, we were still in lovely sunshine!

We’re off on Stage 4 next… We’ll be back with another update, soon. Thank you for reading. We hope you’re safe and well and enjoying our tales.

Week 8: #oneyearlate – Scotland. Forfar to Gardenstown, we’re heading north.

Heading up along the east coast, a part of Scotland we’ve not managed to visit before and we’re not sure why! We arrived at Forfar, but not before we had a quick stop at Arbroath, we were heading up to look at a smokery we’d seen on TV and get some Arbroath Smokies, but our fridge has had a little issue – it’s not cooling, and the freezer not freezing. We’re not too sure why, but it started when we weren’t completely level for a couple of days and followed by it completely defrosting. We asked a question on a web forum and these could be the reasons… so instead of Arbroath Smokies, we bought a 12v Cool Box! We headed to our stopover at Forfar, back through Carnoustie, where they were setting up for the Women’s Open Golf Tournament.

Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) Site – Forfar Lochside – is located on the edge of the town (about a five minute walk) and a Loch (about a three mile, one hour walk around, direct from the van door! The town is an unexpected gem, and no shortage of pubs! We walked up to the Balmashanner War Memorial at the top of the hill, 174 metres above sea level, and dedicated to those who died in the First World War from Forfar and the surrounding District.

From Forfar, we headed further north towards Banff and McDuff, staying at a little CAMC Certified Location – Gamrie Bay. Just uphill (about two miles) from the picturesque village and harbour of Gardenstown. We walked down the hill, along the coast to Crovie and back up an even steeper hill three and a half miles in total! The campsite is a perfect gem, with a lovely area to walk Reg. The Host Lyn is so welcoming, we WILL be back…https://gamriebay.co.uk/

We’re heading off further north and the next few nights we’ll be without electricity, rather more nights than ever before…Thank you as always for reading, we hope you’re safe and well and we’ll be back soon with more tales of our #oneyearlate trip….

Week 7: #oneyearlate – Scotland beckons.

Finally Over the Border #oneyearlate

Apologies for the lateness of this update… we’ve been off-grid, not quite in the wilds, but without electricity and the laptop. Although we can update on the tablet, we can’t add in photos, so thought it best to wait…

Leaving the North York Moors, we headed further north to Northumberland and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site at Nunnykirk. Right in the middle of the countryside, but with a couple of towns nearby, but with plenty of footpaths to take advantage of. We stopped for two nights while heading up to the Scottish Border. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/north-east-england/northumberland/nunnykirk-caravan-club-site/?utm_source=localsearch&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmb

Leaving Nunnykirk, we headed up to Berwick-on-Tweed, passing Craigside, which we visited in 2019. Having stopped for something to eat. we crossed the border – Reg’s first time in Scotland and country number three for him! We arrived in North Berwick and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site of Yellowcraig.

Yellowcraig CMC site is close to the beach and woodlands. The John Muir Way passes the site and you can follow it to the pretty town of Dirleton, with it’s castle ruins or back to North Berwick. THe beach is a lovely sandy beach and Reg loved playing in the gentle waves. The lighthouse here, on the Island of Fidra, in the bay was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, Treasure Island. After two nights here, we headed slightly inland to the town of Bonnybridge and a CMC Certified Location (CL) Underwood Caravan Park. We later found out that our friends, Sheila and John, who we’d met in Spain had arrived the night before we left…if only we’d known; to be fair the campsite is quite large and in separate areas.

Underwood Caravan Park, is located on the Forth and Clyde Canal, and was only opened in April this year. The site is a lovely well laid-out site, right on the canal path (and about ten minutes from the Motorway). We headed to the Falkirk Wheel on our way there and had a wander around, but you can cycle along the canal to both the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, with this in mind, we will be back… https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/stirlingshire/Stirling/underwood-caravan-park/

Our next destination was the Buffalo Farm, Kirkcaldy https://www.thebuffalofarm.co.uk/. We have wanted to visit this since hearing about the Farm on the BBC’s This Farming Life and had never quite been in the right place. Heading over the Forth Bridge (we did aim for it, but it is now closed to general vehicles) so had to head over the new Queensferry Bridge instead. In true Scottish tradition, it started to rain, but arriving at the Buffalo Farm, the sun came out and we were able to enjoy some lunch, al fresco!

Our next stop is the CMC Site at Balbirnie Park. Balbirnie Park Site, is located in the country park of the same name, with a golf course, walled gardens and footpaths. It is also close to the town of Markinch, which is located on the Fife Pilgrim Way. This trail runs from Culross to St. Andrews. St Andrews was one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe. People travelled to be near the bones of St Andrew, one of Jesus’ disciples. This was considered to be the next best thing to being in the Holy Land and walking in the footsteps of Jesus himself. St Andrews joined ranks in terms of importance with the popular disciple destinations of Rome (St Peter) and Santiago de Compostela (St James the Great).https://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/walks/fife-pilgrim-way/

We’re heading further north now along the east coast… Thank you for reading and hopefully you’re enjoying our trip. We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back soon ;)…

Week 6: #oneyearlate – Heading North – Derbyshire, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire Moors.

Summer in the Peak District!

Heading north towards Scotland, this week we chose to stop in the Peak District, at a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) New Mills Marina, on the Peak Forest Canal. There are a lot more canals than we had heard of! This one, was built to transport Derbyshire Limestone to Manchester. The site at New Mills Marina, is a lovely location, on the edge of the town with access to the towpath, the Millenium Walkway, and through the Torrs Riverside Park. We walked along the towpath to Furnace Vale Marina (and back). Opposite the site is the Swizzels Factory and the smell of sweets lingers in the air! If you are going to go to this site, and you get the opportunity, book pitch 5, it’s got the best views and a bit of grass. We had to settle for Pitch 4! https://newmillsmarina.com/caravan-park/

Heading further north, we chose to to cross the Peak District on the scenic Woodhead Pass, but just as we got there, the weather changed and we were surrounded by cloud and mizzle. Heading into West Yorkshire and the Minster Town of Dewsbury. On arrival, the town looked scenic and picturesque. We found our CL at Savile Town Wharf, just outside the main town, behind the old industrial part of the town. Located on the Calder and Hebble Navigation, and part of the Marina, with easy access to the towpaths, cycle routes and footpaths. This we’re afraid to say is about as good as it gets. We were glad we’d only booked two nights, the town is unappealing, despite the architecture and promise. Apologies if we’ve offended anyone but this is our view.

After our stay at Savile Wharf Marina, we headed up into the North Yorkshire Moors and the CMC Club Site, the Howard, Rosedale Abbey. Just outside the pretty Market town of Pickering (be aware, Monday is Market Day and the town can be very busy). Rosedale Abbey is a small village with a couple of pubs, a village store and two campsites, but views to die for. There is no phone network coverage or WiFi, here! We arrived following Ditsy Daisy and over the Rosedale Chimney Route, a picturesque route over the moors, but with a 1:3 descent into the village, not for the faint-hearted (our hill assist, decided to send us warnings and the clutch and brakes were definitely glad of a rest on arrival. There are a lot of walks in this area, and although we tried a couple, there were many more…

We’re still heading north and the border is getting closer. As always thank you for reading, we continue to hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back with another update soon…

Weeks 4 and 5: #oneyearlate: Warwickshire, West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire

Being watched – taking photos of the moon. Reg on patrol.

Another day, another racecourse. This one though, is at Stratford-upon-Avon and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. After Warwick we headed back on ourselves to Stratford-upon-Avon (the campsite was full when we had wanted to visit, as it was Race Day!) The Racecourse Campsite, is a short walk away from the centre of town but easily accessed across the course and along a Green Lane, via the River Severn. We had a leisurely stroll into the town and despite the heat and the number of visitors was a pleasant place to be. We walked up to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and back, through the historic streets. Also, close to the Racecourse was Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, so a morning dog walk took us up there too. There is a lot to see and do and we have already planned to return.

Next, our trip took us up to Solihull and the lovely Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) Certified Location (CL) of Blythe Waters. Mainly a set of fishing lakes, there are also five Motorhome / Caravan pitches set in the grounds. Fishing is available with day tickets to be purchased on the day. The fish however weren’t playing ball, as spawning and the weather wasn’t really favourable (it was very hot and the temperature was rising each day). Instead, we walked and cycled along the Grand Union Canal (care does need to be taken, though as in places the towpath is not very wide and speaking to a local, we learnt he had been in the canal a couple of times!) There are also a number of footpaths which pick up with the towpath and make a great circular dog walk. The town of Knowle is about a mile away and can be walked or cycled if you don’t want to take the motorhome out!

Leaving Blythe Waters, we headed north to Blackstone Meadow Holiday Park, Bewdley. Ric had been to Bewdley fishing on several occasions years ago, so while being in this neck of the woods, we thought it rude not to! On arrival at Blackstone Meadow, we were greeted by a herd of Alpacas, feeding in the middle of the campsite (as you do). Reg was a bit unsure, but we’re not sure he’s seen too many in his short life. He did calm down after a while though. The town is a short distance away and can be cycled along the Cycle Route, or walked along the River Severn banks. Bewdley is the birthplace of Sir Stanley Baldwin, one of the British Prime Ministers in the 1920’s and 30’s.

From Bewdley, we headed into Shropshire and the village of Highley, where we were staying at another CAMC CL, Little Netherton. It’s a lovely site, a short walk from the village with great views, but please use caution if you have a long rear overhang 😉 as the driveway is a little steep. We parked up in a neighbours driveway and were guided in by the Owner’s son and out by the owner, John. Unfortunately, we had to leave a little early as we had a poorly Reg.

A couple of days before, as the weather heated up, Reg began to be a little lethargic (well, we all were), but then he had a cut in his mouth, so we contacted a vet and were able to get him an appointment, but it was near our next site, which we were able to check in to early. In true dog fashion, as the weather cooled slightly, we noticed Reg started to perk up, but… it’s better to be safe. We arrived at the Vet in Alsager, Cheshire and he was seen by a lovely lady, who couldn’t see too much wrong. Probably a combination of heat and the stick he likes to chew up. We were advised to keep him on soft food for a couple of days and come back if he didn’t improve. We’re glad to say he’s made a full recovery and is back to being the cheeky pupster!

On the bright side, the reason we had booked the site – another CAMC CL, at Halmer End, Stoke on Trent – The Lodge, was it’s location to an Indian Restaurant, called Latif’s. Latif has a YouTube vlog and Ric follows his recipes online. The Restaurant also does take-away and is located a stones throw from the Vet! The CL is located alongside a bigger campsite, with its own fishing lake, free to fish with your booking. Nearby is Bateswood Nature Reserve and a memorial to the Minnie Pit Disaster, which occurred in 1915, killing 155 men and boys and 1 rescuer. In addition, it is about ten minutes from the M6, so an ideal stopover north or south.

We’re continuing our journey north, tomorrow, with our #oneyear late tour about to begin. Taking our time, has allowed us to head up to Scotland and check the Coronavirus restrictions lifting in each country as we go. We know we’re safe travelling in our motorhome – we don’t mingle too much with people, especially not indoors! But, that’s not really motorhome life anymore in these uncertain times. We can sit outdoors and enjoy the views, and with an extra jumper (or two) we can socialise!

Thank you as always for reading. We continue to hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon with more news on our trip to Scotland…

Week 3: #oneyearlate – Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire

Reg at the Saltworkers’ Statue, Droitwich Spa

We’re just catching up on our posts, since leaving Sussex, our WiFi connection has been very slow, so you may be bombarded with updates! We’ve been heading north in a roundabout way through the Cotswolds.

Our first stop of the week was a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) Certified Location (CL) just outside the village of Newent, Gloucestershire. It’s run by a lovely lady called Michelle and the site has some amazing views. It is close to the Newent Loop cycle route and had the weather been a little better, we would have been out for a ride. There are a lot of footpaths around and we were able to find a new one each day. This is one we’ll come back to.

After Porch House, we headed back to Tewkesbury Abbey CAMC Site, just to recharge and catch up on the laundry! It is such a lovely site that we were happy to return here. We also knew we could get a good curry here – if you’ve followed us for a while you know we like a curry! This site is centrally located in the town and with yet more walks to find but having just under 24 hours here, we knew what we needed to do!

Next, we headed up to Droitwich Spa Marina CAMC CL Site. It’s a little bit behind the Marina, but each time you leave the site, you have a great view of the canal marina and the Droitwich Junction Canal. Droitwich Spa is a place we had never been to before and it seemed to cause some confusion amongst people we mentioned it to as to wear it is exactly, apologies to all locals. Droitwich Spa is located at a junction of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and there is a towpath you can cycle along to Worcester. We walked along the Droitwich Junction Canal into the town itself and discovered that the town is built on the brine springs and there has been a history of salt extraction since Roman times, when the town was known as Salinae. The shop fronts in the High Street also appear very wonky!

After Droitwich Spa,we headed west to Warwick and the CAMC site at Warwick Racecourse. The Racecourse is on the edge of the town and the Grand Union Canal and we headed off on a walk up to the Stairway to Heaven – Hatton Locks, a flight of 21 locks carrying the canal two miles up a rise of 45 metres (148 feet). Having a walk around the town revealed a couple of Victorian post boxes and loads of historical buildings.

We’ve been enjoying our journey, through the places we normally just see on signposts in a desperate attempt to get to our holiday locations. The weather has been particularly nice (except for a drenching we got in Newent)! It seems like summer is on its way.

We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with more updates soon. As always, thank you for reading, it means a lot to us.

Our British Adventure Begins…#oneyearlate…Weeks 1 and 2: Canals, Racecourses and the Cotswolds.

Grand Union Canal

Having waited for the green light from Boris, we have been planning a trip around mainland England and hopefully up to Scotland. We planned to head north following some of the waterways that spread across the country.

After catching up with family, we set off, heading north to the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site at Wyatts Covert, Denham, Buckinghamshire. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/south-east-england/buckinghamshire/wyatts-covert-caravan-club-site/

There are several footpaths to walk from here as well as a view of the HS2 rail link groundworks. The Grand Union Canal is also about a 15 minute walk away. From the campsite you can watch small planes and helicopters taking off and landing, or you can watch from the side of the runway about a five minute walk away.

From Denham, we travelled north to Leighton Buzzard and a CMC Certified Location (CL) on the Grand Union Canal at Grove Lock Marina, Bedfordshire. https://grovelockmarina.com/ It also has its own campsite in addition to the CL site. We walked along the canal to Leighton Buzzard (once navigating the narrow lock gates, with a very nervy Reg. You can go up river to the next lock at Church Lock and cross over the bridge if you wanted to cycle along the towpath.

After two nights at Grove Marina, we travelled north to Oxfordshire and another CL at Epwell Grounds Farm, outside Banbury. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/oxfordshire/banbury/epwell-grounds-farm/ It was a shame the weather wasn’t more favourable, but the campsite is right on the edge of a Bridleway with routes into Epwell, Shutford and Balscote and despite getting very soggy, the views across the countryside were magnificent.

Heading into week two of our adventure we’re spending more time touring the Cotswolds.

Firstly, we arrived at Moreton-in-Marsh and the CMC site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/moreton-in-marsh-caravan-club-site/. We stayed here before, last year before the pandemic locked us down, but we were en route to Harrogate and we didn’t have time to explore, but this time we were able to. The town has a market on Tuesdays and it is a very typical Cotswold-style town. From the campsite you can walk to the Batsford Arboretum or right into the middle of the town.

We were reminded of how we assume that everyone who arrives on a campsite knows what they are doing. Our neighbours arrived in a newly bought VW California. They had been given some information by the seller, but not the correct power lead and as they looked puzzled, we asked if they were ok and they showed us the power lead they had but it was a domestic, 240V plug and not a Commando Plug. They were ok, we ran through a few basics with them and charged their mobile phones, before they headed off on their way the following morning.

Next, we headed west to Cheltenham Racecourse CMC site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/cheltenham-racecourse-caravan-club-site/. This site was a little confusing on arrival and with a slight level of disappointment we checked in. The campsite is the car park of the Best Mate Enclosure and on first impression, it looks like a big tarmac car park. However, don’t let first impressions fool you! We had a great pitch, with views over the racecourse (and with the torrential rainstorm we had on Sunday, we were grateful to have been on tarmac). The Wardens were so helpful during our pitch selection and throughout our stay. The weather again had its moments, including the rainstorm. The site itself is a short walk from the town centre, there is a park about five minutes walk away and a footpath runs around the edge of the racecourse.

Our tour will take us further into the Cotswolds tomorrow. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are well and we’ll be back in touch soon (internet permitting – we’ve been in some of the most wi-fi unfriendly places recently!).

Back on the Road: Weeks 8, 9 and 10 – Kent, Dorset and Sussex…

Another Mileage Milestone 30000 miles – it’s been a while since we’ve managed one!

Apologies for the combination of posts, we have had really poor internet connection over the last couple of weeks and trying to upload anything was a real chore! Instead of bombarding you with loads of posts, we chose to send just one.

We left our base at the Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site and headed back to Kent and the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Sevenoaks. We had not stopped at this part of Kent before and were keen to complete our tour of the County. It is fairly close to our home and probably one of the reasons for not stopping here before! The site at Oldbury Hill, is in National Trust land and opposite the site of an old Iron Age Hill Fort. There are plenty of places to walk and once, you’ve negotiated the hill up the walks are particularly flat.

Internet signal was not too great here (nor phone signal), but the views and the site were great. You will need some great chocks though to get level, especially if you’re in the top two rows – we weren’t able to choose a pitch as there had been a lot of recent rain and the ground still drying out. We had a walk to the local Farm Shop at Chart Farm, a short 10 minute walk (or so)!

Thursday, after four nights, we set off again, back to Sussex and one of our favourite sites – Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. Although, it has no facilities, the atmosphere, staff and location are just so welcoming. No doubt we will return again, later in the year. From the site, there are several footpaths off the Downs Link and we spent some time wandering along some of the most beautiful. We saw deer in the woods and fields, woodpeckers on the site and a little cheeky squirrel outside the door.

One of the reasons for stopping here, again, was for Sarah to have her second COVID vaccination. Once complete we are both fully vaccinated! We managed to clean half of the very dirty Nortia, before leaving too, (the rest will have to wait).

We left Slinfold and headed back to a little Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location, we had stopped at before, last year – Omaha Meadows,https://omahameadows.com/ just outside Bournemouth, in the little town of Verwood. Omaha Meadows is on the edge of the Moors Valley Country Park https://www.moors-valley.co.uk/, plenty of dog walking, golf, trails through the woods, Go Ape, Segway Hire and a Gruffalo Trail, perfect for all the family!

We had two cycle rides and numerous walks through the Park. Note to self – don’t think it’s a short circular walk through the park and around the seemingly short road back (two hours and six and a half hours later – needless to say the dog was tired out for the rest of the day)!

From Omaha Meadows we headed to Sumners Ponds,https://www.sumnersponds.co.uk/ we still have credit for the lockdowns here – it’s our Bogey site, each time we arrive and Boris has an announcement, we are forced into Lockdown. This time though we were lucky and we still have the green light to travel. We spent a birthday afternoon with Sarah’s mum, Ric spent some time fishing on the lakes and in a horrendous rain storm we headed back home for two nights for a family Barbecue, to celebrate Sarah’s Birthday and Father’s Day. This time our stopover wasn’t enforced!

We’re heading off on a proper tour next. Our appointments have been kept and we can head off. Our plans for last year are still in our minds and hopefully we’ll be able to fulfil them this year. Where we are heading and how we get on will be our next set of updates. As always, thank you for reading, stay safe and well and hopefully we’ll all be able to fulfil our dreams…

Back on the Road: Week 7 – A tour of Kent (and back to Sussex)

a Victorian Post Box, Lydden, Kent

We left our campsite at Pluckley and headed to Lydden, just outside Margate. En route we stopped off at Headcorn Aerodrome, where about 30 years ago I did my (Sarah) one (and only) parachute jump! Our little tour of Kent, took us up through Sandwich and along the coast.

Lydden Farm Campsite https://www.lyddenfarm.co.uk/ is one of the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Certified Locations and it is another gem. £13 a night, maximum of five pitches and a short walk to shops and Margate, however our walk was curtailed by a busy main road and fly-tipping! We chose to have a driving tour around the Isle of Thanet, down to Ramsgate (again a cycle ride away on the Viking Coastal Trail) up to Broadstairs into Margate and on to Herne Bay.

Part of our reason for visiting Margate was to view the Anthony Gormley Statue, Another Place. A word to the wise… Check the tide times! At high tide the statue is completely submerged. We, also, headed past the Amusement Park of Dreamland. We did manage to just see his head, when we came back on Friday, heading off.

From the campsite there were various walking and cycling routes and dog walking for Reg was great. On Wednesday, we were informed that our weekend stop in East Hoathly, was waterlogged and we had been cancelled! What now, it’s a Bank Holiday…

Leaving Lydden and Margate we made our way to Bearsted, Maidstone. We had planned to stop here and complete our laundry after having had no facilities on site for a fortnight! It is a short walk from the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site to Leeds Castle, where we had hoped to see views of the castle from the grounds, where the footpath will take you, but no such luck!

Now, for the Bank Holiday, Bearsted had no availability so we had to move on, but where to? Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of course! Why? A curry! and potentially a motorhome wash (no such luck, it was too hot on our arrival day and the next, and the day of departure, everyone had the same idea, so we’re a little dirty, but…

We love a curry from our home town and the Raj Tandoori (Crawley’s oldest) never fails to deliver. Now they are on Just Eat too and will deliver to the campsite. http://www.rajtandooricrawley.co.uk/home/3496265

We also managed to meet one of our Facebook Friends (and follower) Great British Bake Off’s Karen Wright and her husband John. https://www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk/

Karen, her husband John and fellow GBBO Contestant Terry Harthill set off on a European Tour in two Etrusco Motorhomes in 2019. https://www.freedomtogo.co.uk/watch/travel-vlogs/gbbos-karen-terrys-european-motorhome-adventure/

We’re heading off again on Monday, back on our tour.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon (internet dependent!).

Back on the Road: Week 6 – East Sussex and Kent

Sunset at St Mary in the Marsh

Wow – six weeks already!

We’ve been enjoying our jaunts around the south east of England, areas we have seen on signposts while getting from one place to another or on the M20 signs. Reg is getting back in the swing, settling down behind the driver’s chair and chilling when we’re on the road. He has his seat belt to restrain him and apart from once last year, he hasn’t managed to escape (perhaps he’s a little older, or just a bit fatter in his harness!

Monday and we left our lovely weekend site at Norman’s Bay and headed into the Garden of England, Kent. Driving through Bexhill-on-Sea, and Hastings. Hastings is somewhere Ric and I have both spent time working but we saw some sites we hadn’t before and hope to be able to go back and investigate! Out of nowhere, the heavens opened and a torrential rain shower greeted us. Our first stop of the week was Shingle Hall Farm, St Mary in the Marsh, in the Romney Marshes. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/kent/hythe/shingle-hall-farm/

What a find and what lovely owners. David and Susan, were so knowledgeable and friendly. We had planned to cycle up to the Old Military Canal and along the seafront to Dungeness, but the weather was not playing ball. Instead we walked to the village, with it’s 12th Century Church and pub. Just down the road is a lovely self-service (vending machine) Farm Shop at Honeycroft Farm. We bought some cheese, asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a couple of home-made Cheese and Bacon Twists, but there is milk, butter, cakes, pies etc – they have a facebook page if you’re planning a visit!

We also walked down the road to Dymchurch. The campsite is just off the National Cycle Route 2 and the Romney Marsh Meander Route 5. Instead of cycling in the rain, we took the opportunity to change the brake pads on them. On the last trip out on them, my brakes were so squeaky it was embarrassing to pull the lever! Not great, when there was a really steep hill on our route.

After four nights, and just as a weather warning was in place for wind, we headed along the seafront to Folkestone and the Battle of Britain Monument. The Battle of Britain Monument is located right on the cliff top overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover along the coast. The monument is free to visit (check the days of opening) and the car park does have a cost – depending on the length of your stay, but, if you’re passing by and monuments are your thing, it’s worth a detour! We headed along the coast stopping at Deal for lunch, before heading inland to the pretty picturesque village of Pluckley. We stopped for the weekend at Watercress Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/kent/ashford/watercress-farm/.

Tony and Penny were another lovely pair of hosts and the site immaculate. It’s a short walk along the road to the village, with its shop and Butcher. We also walked to the local pub (about 15 minutes away) and another Farm Shop, selling lovely local meat and vegetables. Pluckley is in the Guiness Book of Records as being the most haunted village in Britain.

We’re heading off again tomorrow to continue our tour of Kent. Find out where we go and what we find on our way. As always thank you for reading, and we hope you’re safe and well. We’ll be back with more next time….

Back on the Road – Week 5 Sussex: (East and West)

Reg enjoying the sea (again)

Not a lot to write about this week, but we have sorted a variety of things!

We left Slindon Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site and headed north to Gatwick CMC Site. Gatwick is close to our home and we knew we can get a decent curry here, along with the fact that Reg needed to have his booster vaccination. We can’t believe it’s been a year since he was fully vaccinated and nearly a year since we could start to walk and socialise him! In addition, we have a repair to carry out on the motorhome which, our friendly local mechanic can sort out for us; but true to form, the standard part you can order, is not the one we need, so we’re awaiting news of the part’s delivery!

After Gatwick, we headed south to Brighton CMC Site. A well earned and overdue haircut was on the cards!

Next we headed east to the Norman’s Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site. What a lovely site! It’s a walk over the road to the beach, which although stone and shingle, has a great walk to the little village of Pevensey Bay, with a few shops,restaurants and the train station. A walk in the opposite direction takes you to the railway station at Norman’s Bay, passed the restored Martello Tower.

Walking Reg each morning was great as it was low tide and he still loves the water, he does go a little more nutty than normal but… He was able to be off lead, as the only restriction on the beach was to be under control – but with no other dogs or people around he was as good as gold (or as good as a 15 month Border Terrier can be!) Our only restriction was as the tide was still going out, the sand was a little quick and the rip looked a bit too strong. I didn’t fancy a cold early morning swim to rescue him!

We’re heading off to Kent, next week for a tour around and hopefully being able to see some sights we couldn’t the last time we wanted to (when the country went into the November Lockdown and the Kent variant of COVID-19 had just been identified. We’ll let you know how we get on and where we get to soon.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope that you and your families are safe and well.

Back on the Road: Weeks 3 and 4 – Salisbury, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and back to Sussex

Our blog this week will cover two weeks, as we had very poor mobile signal and wifi connection at the start of the week!

Having left Winchester, we headed west to the City of Salisbury. Salisbury Hillside Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is located 8 miles from the city centre and unfortunately not the site I thought it was! Still that site will remain on our list for another trip! Salisbury Hillside is, however, a lovely peaceful place, with a dog walk through the countryside and an ideal place to relax.

The weather was in our favour most of our stay and on the day the rain arrived we took a road trip to Warminster and Westbury.

After five days on site and chores completed (we were going off-grid for our next stop and we’re unlikely to have access to a site laundry for a week or so), we headed along the A303 (at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend – are we nuts?) past Stonehenge and into the Cotswolds.

Our stop for the weekend was a small Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location in Slaughterford. Toplands Farm CMC CL is located just outside the villages of Slaughterford, Biddestone and Giddeahall, 5 miles west of Chippenham. We loved it’s rural location and the ponies as our neighbours with the pheasants running around. The weather was kind, despite a weather warning for our departure day. We followed the Biddestone Heritage Trail in two halves, firstly walking to Biddestone and around, and then walking to Slaughterford and Ford. This is definitely a site we’ll be back to, there is so much more we could have done and seen.

In addition, this was our first time off-grid in England and it was also our test to check everything still works! It was not as warm as it was the last time in Spain, and the sun not quite as strong, but we survived. The gas heating and water was a dream, and the battery lasted until we left. We learnt a few lessons and we were pleased with our achievements. For reference, we needed to fill back up with LPG, our first top up since we left on 12th April – 3 weeks earlier, and it cost us £7.00.

After the glorious weekend at Toplands Farm withe the Cotswold countryside, a weather warning had been issued – yellow warning of wind for Monday and part of Tuesday, making the drive to our next stop a little hairy at times, one of the hazards of open countryside in a large metal box!

We arrived at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of Bladon Chains, just outside Woodstock, and on the edge of the Blenheim Estate, just before the rain arrived. Bladon Chains, is due to be handed back to the Blenheim Estate in September, so we had wanted to see it before it is turned into a lodge park. Blenheim Palace is the home to the Duke(s) of Marlborough and Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (British Prime Minister 1940 – 1944 and 1954 – 1955.

We walked to the Burial Sites of the Churchill Family and in particular the grave of Winston Churchill. It is located in the graveyard of the Church of Saint Martin, Bladon, Oxfordshire and about a 20 minute walk from the campsite.

The next two days we walked into the town of Woodstock, past the impressive entrance to the Blenheim Estate. The town of Woodstock has a number of historic wall plaques, which we managed to locate all of. Woodstock town dates back to around 1185, founded by King Henry II and expanded in the Eighteenth Century during the building of Blenheim Palace, which replaced the Royal Palace. https://www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/dbimgs/Walk_WoodstockWallPlaque.pdfhttps://www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/dbimgs/Walk_WoodstockWallPlaque.pdf

We discovered that although a fee is due to be paid to enter the Blenheim Estate ( the house was still closed when we went due to the pandemic, and several of the outside garden areas do not allow dogs, and £36.00 for the privilege was a little steep!) there is a gateway open and unmanned allowing entry to the Estate grounds, and we had a great look at the landscaped lands.

We headed back to Sussex, and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Slinfold. We were here at the start of this mini-tour and loved it so much, we thought we’d try and stay when we have tasks to do, close to home! Ric had his second COVID jab booked, the motorhome needs a little fix, Reg needs his booster and I need a haircut! We were also able to catch up with family, outside the campsite. We’re heading off again, still local to complete our list of tasks before we begin another mini-tour.

As always thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and the Bank Holiday wasn’t too much of a washout. We’ll be back with more soon.

Back on the Road: Week 2 Sussex to Hampshire

Photobombed by Reg!

We left our weekend stop at Northbrook Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Worthing and headed along the coast to Bognor Regis.

We were surprised to find just up the road, there is a Monument to a Racing Driver we’d never heard of – David Charles Purley, GM. David Purley was the son of the founder of LEC Refrigeration and in our opinion, did not have the best of luck. His parachute failed to open, while training with the Parachute Regiment, but fortunately landed on his Platoon Sergeant’s parachute and both survived the landing. He was awarded the George Medal (GM) for trying to save another racing driver from a crashed car, which was on fire in the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix. He survived a crash in pre-qualifying at the 1977 British Grand Prix. After retiring from racing he took up Aerobatics and died when his plane crashed into the English Channel off Bognor Regis.

We were able to enjoy the sunshine and the heat, sitting outside, reading and relaxing. There are several nice places to walk to from the site, including Bersted Brooks, a nature haven and very popular with dog walkers!

Moving on we headed north-west to Winchester and the Morn Hill, Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We had a stroll into the city on St George’s Day and were glad to see the Cathedral had the Flag of St George flying. The city was the first capital of England and there is a statue to Alfred the Great, who prevented the country falling to the Danes.

We’ve been very fortunate in our second week on the road to have had great weather and we have both welcomed sitting outside in the sun (after an endless winter in Lockdown)! We had a couple of visitors each evening, a pair of partridges.

Hopefully, next week will continue to be as pleasant as we move on further west. As always, thank you for reading. We hope that you and your families are safe and well and able to plan your journeys out of Lockdown. We’ll be back soon with more updates from our mini tour, while we wait for our second vaccinations and the final two announcements on the route out of Lockdown. We’re planning our great escape but, you’ll have to wait to find out more….

Back on the Road: Out of Lockdown 3 (at last!).

We’re back on the road! We’ve left our Lockdown spot, much to the joy of one neighbour and the disappointment of others! After a weekend of cleaning and preparation (the last two times we left Lockdown, we left it to the morning of our departure and the heavens opened both times), we were ready – this time we awoke to snow!

Incidentally, 13 years ago, this week, we took our first camping trip together to the Lake District. We had a few days to spare and I (Sarah) was between jobs. We were slightly under prepared, we bought decent (but heavy) rucksacks, more for style than practicality, mummy-style sleeping bags, which we’d never tried before and subsequently didn’t allow us to move too warm up on the cold nights and an equally impractical Bivvy tent. Our next trip away camping, we were more prepared and thankfully, as you can tell, it hadn’t put us off!

Heading off we arrived at our first stop, Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We have cycled passed this site, before but knowing it had no facilities, we weren’t able to stay in our last van. We were looking forward to being local and enjoying the location. The site is right on the Downs Link – a 36 mile cycle and walking path, following two disused railways from St. Martha’s Hill (near Guildford), Surrey and Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. During our stay, we walked up to the Double Bridge – a brick arch bridge with an iron girder bridge on top. The iron girder was added as the original gradient for the railway line was too steep for trains. We also cycled up the track to Cranleigh, passing the old restored station at Baynards.

After a three day stay we headed south to Worthing, and Northbrook Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We have never been here before either, but again another local-ish site. On the first day a long walk to the beach at Goring, made us realise we had headed slightly in the wrong direction to get there and Gloria Google Maps helped out on our return to the site. We also took a walk up to the South Downs, for a picnic lunch at Highdown Hill, just a short walk from the site, but with amazing views along the coast to Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters and to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

It’s been a great week, we’re heading off again tomorrow, along the coast. We’re trying to stay local-ish as we’re waiting for our second COVID-19 vaccinations. We have plans for this year, fingers crossed and Coronavirus permitting, we really hope we can get there!

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you’re all safe and well. We’ll be back to share our trips soon…

100 Days and Still in Lockdown, but, Brighter Days are on the Horizon!

Brighter days on the horizon?

We’ve reached another milestone, today is 100 days since we left our campsite and returned to our parking spot. We won’t lie, it has been hard. We’ve had long dark nights, snow, ice, hail, wind and this week, beautiful sunshine. Our Facebook pages, like to remind us of where we’ve been in years gone by and (with the exception of last year, obviously) we like to go away over the Easter Break, so there are a few reminders of what life used to be like!

We’ve filled our days with puzzles and books, computer games, tv, streaming box sets, trying new skills and dog training. Reg is improving with his obedience and slowly his recall, not enough to be off the lead in a town, but we do have a five metre training lead. Reg has also been meeting lots of new friends. We’ve discovered all but one of the Historic Blue Plaques and several pieces of street art, locally, on our morning walks.

We’re still talking and getting on and we’re contemplating and planning, where we will go next, when we’re allowed to do so.

We’ve both had our first COVID jabs and whilst I have an appointment for my second, Ric is still awaiting his date – we are sure it will arrive the moment we are able to set off, in true accordance with Murphy’s Law!

This week, lockdown has eased slightly. We no longer have to Stay at Home. We can meet with another household, outdoors (or in a group of six). The weather had brightened, but today the wind has a chill and the sun is yet to show up.

On Monday, we will find out whether we can get back on the road the following week, but in anticipation, we’ve cleaned up the garage, and started sprucing up Nortia. We’ve had another clear out and left behind another set of stuff, we haven’t used, since setting off! There are still more things to do

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. Fingers crossed, Monday’s announcement will give us all the news we want/need! We’ll be back soon with an update…

Lockdown 3 Continues…With a Hint of Hope on the Horizon!

An unexpected find!

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, the English Government have released a road map out of the current Lockdown. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to get out and about on 12th April, but subject to all the previous stages meeting their targets, starting with the schools on 8th March. We will know more by 5th April! Tentative route planning is in progress.

The Historical Blue Plaque hunt is becoming a bit of an obsession, this week we’ve found a few more: Frederick Knott – who wrote Dial M for Murder which was originally a play before being filmed in 1954 by Alfred Hitchcock; James Pulham – a Landscape Engineer, who designed a Pulhamite (type of artificial rock) water feature as well as features in Buckingham House and Sandringham Gardens; The Greyhound Pub – World Marbles Championship, formally held on Good Friday and possibly dating back to Queen Elizabeth I reign, but reintroduced in 1932; Philip Webb – an Architect who co-founded (with William Morris) the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings; Elizabeth Fry – Quaker and Prison Reformer; and Sir Malcolm Campbell – World Water Speed Record Holder.

We also found various bits of street art and a Timeline Totem, carved from a fallen tree.

Some of the things we’ve found this week also remind us of places we’ve been (and where we would like to be), Sir Malcolm Campbell – Bluebird Coniston Water, Lake District; William Morris – a pub in Keld, North Yorkshire, where we found the inspiration for the wallpaper in our last home ( a feature wall, not a whole house)!; Daffodils – the Lake District.

We have to admit the last couple of weeks have been hard, we’ve both felt it, at different times, but we’ve weathered the storm and can see the light on the horizon. The change in the weather has helped, we’ve had some lovely sunny days, although the temperature does drop as the sun sets but… We are lucky to have a safe place to stay, vaccinations are approaching and we can plan the next part of our adventure, picking up from where we left it almost a year ago, at the start of the first Lockdown.

As always thank you for reading. We hope you are safe and well and that there is hope on the horizon for you too. We’ll be back with more updates from our Lockdown Hidey-Hole, soon.

Blue Plaque Hunting is wearing me out!

Almost Eight Weeks into Lockdown 3…

I can’t have a bath, if there’s no towel…!

We’re still in our parking spot, awaiting news from the English Government as to when and how Lockdown 3 will come to an end. We’re not hopeful but better to expect the worst! We have been told our booking for March has been cancelled, so we’ll leave that in the bag as it’s now the fifth amendment from the start of the first Lockdown, almost a year ago. We’ve booked to be away at Easter too, but…

Over the last week, we’ve discovered blue plaques depicting people from the town and their claim to fame, around the local area and the dog walks have been an opportunity to discover more. Some of them are surprising. There are a few more to find, but they are a little too far to walk to and back, we might be able to cycle to them though, in the future, when the weather is a little nicer.

So far, we’ve found plaques for Mark Lemon – the first Editor of the Magazine, Punch; Richard Marsh – Author; John Leech – Illustrator (he actually illustrated the Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens; Richard Brown – Sculptor (along with his sculpture – Family Group); Sir Charles Court – the 21st Premier of Western Australia; Roger Bastable – Author, local historian and founder of the Crawley Festival; Francis Thompson – Poet and Essayist; John Goepel – famous for naming the streets of Crawley; Jim Pitts – Musician, Artist, Sculptor; and Dame Caroline Haslett – Electrical Engineer. There is also a green plaque from the Brewery, Hall and Woodhouse dedicated to the actor Peter Vaughan.

We have also discovered more street art along the way too.

The weather has slowly improved and the snow turned to slush and ice before the sun came out and cleared it all up, now it has started to warm up a bit, we actually had some sunshine yesterday which was more than welcome and we were able to have a proper airing of Nortia. Hopefully, it’s a good omen and we’ll be able to have more good weather soon (although typing this it has now started raining!). We’ve celebrated Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) with Yorkshire Puddings, rather than pancakes and Ric has been lucky enough to have had his first vaccination (I’m still waiting for my turn)! Reg had a bath too (well a shower really), but he did decide he was going to steal the towel first, he’s not as adverse to a shower as Albi was, but it’s only number 2! Time will tell.

Fingers crossed we’ll have good news soon and we’ll be able to get back on the road soon. As always, thank you for reading, we really appreciate your support. Please stay safe and well, Ric, Sarah & Reg

Week 12: Our #oneyearlate tour continues – Isle of Skye to Morvich, and our first Off-Grid Stop in the UK.

Mary Poppins and Bert, Fort Augustus

Leaving Staffin, we continued our clockwise tour of Skye down to Portree and over to Glenbrittle. The weather has not been with us this time around, we had hoped to visit the Man of Storr, but the rain and cloud prevented us from seeing it. We could barely make out the island of Raasay, just over the water (we visited there before on one of our visits, with it’s wild pigs and we were guided by a Golden Eagle along the road – it is well worth a trip if you haven’t been)! Portree is the main town on Skye but it’s not quite suited for motorhomes, the roads can be a little tight! Once through the town, with it’s coloured houses, we headed over to the left side and travelled anti-clockwise around the peninsula to our next night stop at Glenbrittle.

Glenbrittle Campsite https://www.dunvegancastle.com/glenbrittle/campsite/ is located on a black sanded beach and although no bookings, there is normally always space, that said, after nights on a few small sites, it was incredibly large. You can literally pick a spot if you don’t want electricity! The road to the campsite is another typical highland road, single track with passing places, but also a logging route and the logging lorries have PRIORITY! This was our last night on Skye, but needless to say we will be back! It makes such a difference being able to see and experience things whilst not worrying about the next stop or going back to work!

From Skye, we headed inland and up to Fort Augustus, where there is a motorhome stop. We visited Fort Augustus before when we travelled the Caledonian Canal on a boat and knew how lovely it was. We took a stroll into the town, about a 20 minute walk, looked at the flight of five locks and returned back. The motorhome stop, is also a short distance from the Golf Course, where you can pick up a footpath which will take you back to the Canal and down to the Locks, before continuing the loop back to the stopover.

From Fort Augustus, we headed back towards Skye and the charming villages of Ardelve and Dornie. We opted to stop for the night at the Ardelve Campsite http://www.ardelvecaravanandcampingpark.co.uk/ and were pleasantly surprised to discover a takeaway pizza place – Pizza Jo to Go https://www.pizzajo.co.uk/ – right opposite the campsite, that’s dinner sorted! Also, in the complex is a Bakery and a Gin Distillery in unique fairytale style buildings. A short stroll from the campsite, is the Eilean Donan Castle. The castle and grounds are open to the public and dogs can enter the grounds, we opted just to look and not enter! The village shop in Dornie, is a little Aladdin’s Cave, with proper pies, second hand books and general groceries, as well as a Post Office. Please have a visit if you’re passing.

Next, we opted to go to the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Morvich, although we arrived slightly early, we were welcomed and told about their, Premier Pitches. They have three pitches, which have great views of the Five Sisters of Kintail, a series of hills north of Glen Shiel, and where you can see the deer and stags! There was one of these pitches left, so we graciously grabbed it, pitched facing the hills and waited… The only things we saw where the clouds and rain which got lower and heavier, respectively! The Five Sisters of Kintail, Sgurr na Mòraich (876m), Sgurr nan Saighead (929m), Sgurr Fhuaran (1068m), Sgurr na Carnach (1002m) and Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe (1027m) have a legend, which says that there were two Irish Princes who were shipwrecked and fell in love with two of the daughters of the King of Kintail. The two Princes married the two daughters, promising to send back their five brothers to marry the remaining five sisters, but, alas, they never returned. The sisters waited in vain and asked the Grey Magician of Coire Dhunnaid to extend their vigil beyond life itself, whereupon he turned them into mountains (as you do!).

We had a short walk from the site down to Loch Duich, along the A87 and back through the churchyard of St Dubhthach’s Church ruins, which was dedicated in 1050, to the Bishop of Ross, St. Duthac. The church was damages in gunfire during the battle of Glenshiel in 1719, and still in use until about 1855. Alongside the graveyard is the traditional burial ground of the Clan MacRae.

Our next stop was a bit of a novelty for us, we chose to off-grid for the night and found an ideal little suitable parking place, alongside the A861. We weren’t the only ones to stay there, either! and we had a lovely peaceful night with good views.

We’re heading off again, continuing our #oneyearlate trip around Scotland. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you’re still safe and well, and we’ll be back with more news…

Week 10: #oneyearlate – Berriedale to Scourie, along the East and North Coast NC500

True Highland Coos

We left Berriedale and headed north along the NC500 to Wick, stopping at Lybster Harbour for lunch and then up to John o’Groats. We managed to get a photo of Nortia, lined up with the signpost, and a lot of other people, too! We had wanted to get a photo here, as we had taken Nortia to Lands End in 2019, when we did a whistle stop tour of the southwest.

John o’Groats is the most northerly inhabited point of the mainland of Britain, but not the most northerly point – that accolade belongs to Dunnet Head, which we went to next… The route to Dunnet Head is narrow, but there are several passing places so it’s relatively easy, when everyone collaborates. Located at Dunnet Head is a lighthouse, which was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. Originally manned, it is now automated and controlled from Edinburgh. Many years ago on our first trip to Scotland, we ventured up to Dunnet Head, but the weather was so bad, we couldn’t get out of the car, the wind was so strong and the doors closed as hard as you could open them! This time we arrived in bright sunshine and a gentle breeze, we had hoped to cycle up the next day, but in true Scottish tradition we didn’t have the weather, there was drizzle and low cloud, not much wind so midges in great supply! There is space to stop up here overnight, but we chose to check-in at the nearby Dunnet Bay Caravan Club Site.

The Club Site is very popular with NC500ers and families alike. The beach, literally through the gate is great for surfers, paddle boarders and swimmers, we saw a lot, along with the surf school, but didn’t venture in, too! The following weekend it hosted a junior surf championship. We walked along the beach to Mary-Ann’s House http://www.caithness.org/community/museums/maryanncottage/ Mary-Ann Calder moved out of here original family home, built by her grandfather in 1850, in 1990, just before her 94th birthday. Her cottage has been preserved, as the working practices used by the family (including her children) had been unchanged. Just for reference, Dunnet Bay is further north than Moscow.

From Dunnet Bay, we headed west continuing along the NC500 to Talmine on the Kyle of Tongue. Talmine is a small village, with a shop/ Post Office and a campsite. Bayview Campsite https://www.bayviewcampsite.co.uk/ is right on the beach (well separated by a road) with lovely level(ish) pitches and a great view. We were welcomed on site by the free-range cows wandering down the road. The lady who owns the site kept it immaculately clean and tidy, the bins were cleared with such regularity.

We continued our trip along the NC500 to the village to Scourie, having first travelled along the very northern edge to Durness, stopping overlooking the bay for lunch and a quick grocery shop. We passed the Cannonbawz Run 2021, you can read about the event here: https://www.northern-scot.co.uk/news/supercars-and-heroes-turn-out-for-liam-249798/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3XFN_8Xmv6l1yEjhTMk_J0PGThRv217pCyWk7AuRSKnRs9RyZ2qoLbxnM Before heading up to the Cape Wrath Ferry.

Many years ago we had toyed with the idea of walking the Cape Wrath path, but these days, we’re a little more laid back so a trip to look at the peninsula was enough! Cape Wrath can only be accessed by foot or ferry and that also depends on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the majority of the land is used for live firing and it is the only range in Europe, where forces from land, sea and air can carry out combined exercises and where the RAF can train using 1000 lb bombs. There is a sign at the ferry point informing you whether there are exercises being carried out. Training times are also available online https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-firing-times

From the Cape Wrath Ferry point, we started to head south west along the NC500, through Laxford Bridge to Scourie. Our stop was at the Scourie Caravan and Camping Site, overlooking the bay and the harbour. https://www.scouriecampsitesutherland.com/ The village has a garage and outdoor store, family-run shop with Post Office, hotel and sculpture studio. We took a lovely stroll along the headland and upto the school, before returning down the Back Road.

We’re heading off again along the NC500. We’re trying to keep up to date, but we’ve had some bad WiFi / 4G connections up in these extreme places… We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with more of our trip soon….