Our Tour of Wales 2022 – Week One: Sussex to Powys

Setting off on a slightly overcast Sunday morning, having said our farewells to family, we headed north west to Wiltshire and Royal Wootton Bassett. We had found a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) at a Fishery. Flaxlands Fishery is a short walk to the main town and the CL is located at the top of the site, with spectacular sunsets, but it’s not very dog friendly. There is a dog walk which is along the side of the M4 (it is fenced from the road, but I always worry there might be a gap and a return walk inside a conifer corridor. The back of the CL leads to a footpath, which given the time of year was through haylage awaiting harvesting – Reg loves running in the long grasses, not to good for his new found hay fever but.. As the next footpath was unwalkable in shorts (nettles and brambles adorned the stile) we could only walk a straight walk out and return the same route, according to the fishery map, dogs are not allowed to walk through the fishery even on the roadway! so a round trip was not possible walking along the road.

Leaving Wiltshire, we headed north to Gloucestershire and our happy place, Tewkesbury. Staying at the CAMC Tewkesbury Abbey Site (again), we relaxed, had some lovely walks, some we’d done before and others not. We walked part of the Battle Trail and River Walk, but not the Severn Ham (this time)! On one of our walks, we even saw a couple walking their…..tortoise! https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/tewkesbury-abbey-club-campsite/

We did venture into the Abbey, however! It was a very hot day, and for the first time in all our visits to Tewkesbury, the doors were open, so we were just going to have a sneaky peak, but it’s dog friendly – dogs are welcome INSIDE! A great relief from the rising humidity and heat outside. Tewkesbury Abbey in parts dates back to the 12th Century, and was built to house Benedictine Monks. The build was started in 1102 and it was almost complete when it was consecrated in 1121. As always, Ric is fascinated by engineering and found two Gurney Stoves, made by the London Warming and Ventilation Company in the 19th Century, to provide heat by burning anthracite, and have now been converted to gas. https://www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk/visiting-the-abbey/

Our next stop, and we’re still not in Wales, was the World’s First Book Town, Hay-on-Wye. Home to over 20 bookshops and a castle. We had a wonder around the town, walking up the little roads and twitterns. We ventured up into the castle – again dog friendly – and home to the oldest set of working defensive doors still in situ in the UK, having been first installed in the 13th century. We walked along the river walk as well as through some of the fantastic countryside. There is even another gold post box (our second one found), for Jody Pearson, a paralympian discus thrower.

Our stop for the night was a lovely CAMC CL – Dark Orchard. It is off grid, but in a large secure field about a 5 minute walk from the town centre and so peaceful, with a stream running along the edge. The owners Linda and Chris are so welcoming as is the official welcome you will receive from Linda’s father, Pete the Greet. This is on our list to return to (especially as we have had a whole list of more things to do and see)! https://www.no10dulas.co.uk/dark_orchard_cl/

Leaving Hay-on-Wye, we crossed the River Wye and into Wales! It was only a short drive to our next stop and a short detour to Brecon first. Each time we have arrived at Brecon, we have been drenched and this trip was no different. Stepping out of the motorhome and taking two steps, prompted the biggest downpour yet! Having stocked up with food and essentials, we headed to our next stop, Aberbran CMC Site. A short drive from the A40 and alongside the edge of an old railway line, unfortunately the old railway is not a walkway, like Slinfold CMC, but we did manges to find a walk through the countryside. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/wales/powys/aberbran-club-campsite/ The weather has yet to improve, although the rain has abated, the wind has picked up, gusting up to 30+ MPH, the awning was safely stowed early in the morning, having read it is only tested up to 20MPH!

As always, thank you for reading and we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be continuing Our Tour of Wales, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep you updated as we go!

Merry Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas!

We must apologise for our lack of content since October, we have been ok and on the road, but the lack of WiFi signal in some places in England, including the outskirts of Cambridge and Salisbury, made life a little difficult. Since we last wrote, we finished our tour of the East Coast, coming from Cromer, down through Norfolk and Suffolk, stopping off at Aldeburgh and seeing the Giant Scallop Shell Sculpture https://artuk.org/discover/stories/maggi-hamblings-scallop#:~:text=On%20the%20beach%20near%20Aldeburgh,coastline%20between%20there%20and%20Thorpeness.&text=Hambling%20sees%20Scallop%20as%20more%20than%20just%20a%20sculpture. in tribute to the Composer, Benjamin Britten, by the artist Maggi Hambling and over to a wonderful Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL), Lost Acres. A smallholding with pigs, sheep and chickens, wonderful hosts and access to the Fens. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/cambridgeshire/cambridge/Lost-Acres2/ Before heading for home via the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at East Horsely https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/surrey/east-horsley/horsley-camping-and-caravanning-club-site/.

Once back home we had flu jabs and boosters booked, staying at the CMC Gatwick Site, before it closed (lack of staff – we completely understand, the staff have all worked so hard through the pandemic keeping the sites running and looking good), we’ll be back when it re-opens. We hired a car, which allowed us to get about and see family. https://www.gatwickcarandvanrental.com/

As the Gatwick CMC site closed, we headed west, our destinations were Longleat CMC Site – right next to the Safari Park, a CL outside Bath, Willow Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/bath–north-east-somerset/bath/willow-farm-1/, Bristol Baltic Wharf CMC site – this has had a reprieve from closing for the time being but… another CL, Rowberry Farm, Priddy, Somerset, Minehead CMC site (perfect for the town, sea and a chinese), Cadeside CMC Site, Wellington, Somerset https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/ecommerce/uksites/booking/listing?region=Southern+England, before heading to the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Salisbury. This was perfect to explore Old Sarum and the City, there are cycle and footpaths into the centre of the city.

We headed home (again), via Waterwells Farm CL https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/hampshire/winchester/waterwells-farm/ A lovely site, with super hosts, a pony and barn owls, close to footpaths and the countryside and a short drive to Winchester and on to Hayling Island and Stoke Farm CL, we have stayed here before but this time the ground was relatively dry and dog walking a joy in the countryside and along the Puffin Billy railway line (disused), https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/hampshire/hayling-island/stoke-farm/.

Since then, we have alternated between Sumners Ponds and the CMC Site at Brighton. Our plans, along with those of many others, have gone awry, we had hoped to head to Spain after spending Christmas seeing families, we’d booked Reg into the vet for his Animal Health Certificate, located PCR tests to enter France and then the French President closed the border to non-nationals for non-essential travel. Not wanting to be stuck in a lockdown abroad, we’ve chosen to wait for borders to reopen and travel freely.

As always, thank you for reading, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and hope that you get to spend time with those close to you. We WILL be back with an update and more tales, soon…

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 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.

The Lake District, Britain’s Highest Pub (Yorkshire) and south to Leek.

We chose to cycle to Maryport along Hadrian’s Cycle Route, National Cycle Route 72. From the campsite it is almost all off the road on a cycle path and the promenade (there are signs warning not to use the promenade in bad weather – it is so exposed to the sea). Luckily, it wasn’t on the road as in a catastrophic failure, I managed to cycle into the trailer when Ric stopped, landing face down in the grass – it could have been so much worse, though! We do have hand signals warning that we are stopping or slowing, but thinking he’d dropped something he stopped dead!

From Allonby, we headed into the Yorkshire Dales, via Carlisle. We were due to stop the night at the Tan Hill Inn, outside Reeth. It is the highest pub in the British Isles at 1732 feet (528m) above sea level. We had pre-booked and booked a meal in the pub – our first real night out since Sweden! The views are amazing, it is right on the Pennine Way and the footpath leads right down to the village of Keld. We walked up to the top of the path before returning back to Nortia! It was freezing and wet underfoot, but the views were stunning. Motorhome parking at the Tan Hill Inn, is unmarked, so literally, where you can! It was somewhere we’d wanted to stay, but wasn’t the place we’d thought it was!!!

We set off back through the Yorkshire Dales to Kendal, back in the Lake District. Our trip back took us up towards Skipton and back down to Kirkby Lonsdale, the scenery is amazing and we love this part of the world. The campsite in Kendal is about four miles outside the town, although it is possible to walk it, we walked to the Farm Shop at Sizergh, instead!

We set off again, heading south. Our plan was always to move south at this point, but it also coincided with the threat of a new COVID lockdown being placed on the North West. An announcement was due tomorrow.

We arrived at Leek in Staffordshire, a site we have stayed at before, but I didn’t recognise either by name or location, but Ric did – I was adamant we’d never been here before, until the Warden checking us in recognised me! Then the penny dropped! We stayed here in March, on our way to Harrogate. We had arrived in the dark and without a dog to walk around the site, we hadn’t really taken it in. I’ve had a nightmare of a week, hopefully next week will be better!

As always, thank you for reading. Stay Safe. We’ll be back soon…