Tchau, Portugal / Hola España

Crossing Spain

We chose to return to France along a part of Spain we hadn’t visited before – La Rioja. Our first stop, not far from the Portuguese Border was Zamora. We decided to stop in a Motorhome Area, FREE, along the side of the river with a great view of the walled town. The last time we drove through Zamora, heading south, but now we had time to spend visiting. Zamora is famous for its numerous Romanesque Churches built in the 11th and 12th Centuries, while we didn’t see them all, we did wander up to the Castle on the top of the hill and crossed the Poets Bridge, wandered the small bar-lined narrow streets. Zamora is definitely worth a visit!

Heading east towards France our next stop was a very pleasant surprise – Haro – the capital of La Rioja and the centre of the wine producing region. We stopped at https://www.campingdeharo.com/en, located just outside another very picturesque town, centred around a square and the old streets meandering off around. At the base of the hill there are a number of Wine Bodegas, think Caves in France, more than a store, generally the hub of the wine production.

After Haro, we continued our journey east, the intention was to stop overnight at Canfranc-Estación. We stopped for lunch close to the Motorcycle Circuit de Navarra, at Los Arcos. We did ask the Security guard if we could take photos inside but she was not impressed!

We had been watching the weather for a few days, as there were avalanche warnings in the Pyrenees and more importantly at Canfranc. Canfranc-Estación was designed in a very elaborate style and at great expense, on one of the few border crossings between France and Spain. It had a slightly chequered past, a fire in its early days, a hub for Nazi profiteering and strangely also a known route for Resistance, Jews and British Military leaving occupied France in World War Two, before closing in the 1970s, when the last train to leave actually demolished a bridge on the line (without fatality). It was left abandoned for several years, but typically is now surrounded by scaffolding and fencing as it is being refurbished and brought back into life as a Station and Hotel.

Instead of staying at Canfranc, with the threat of bad weather, we headed through the Somport Tunnel and into France…. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with our trip through France, soon!

Thirteen Days in Portugal…

Reg meets the Easter Bunny in Obidos (he doesn’t look too sure though!)

Having only spent one night in Portugal before, we planned to do a brief tour and take in a few sites. We didn’t really know too much about the country so we were very keen. Our plan was to head west along the coast and then north, before crossing eastwards back to Spain.

Crossing the border into Portugal, in the worst rain, since Finland 2019, was an adventure. We got onto the toll road, rather than a ferry (as we couldn’t find any information about the maximum size of vehicle), and over the bridge, then we were at a Toll Plaza (Portagem), where foreigners are directed to a machine to pay, but it wouldn’t accept any of our cards! We weren’t the only ones, everyone seemed to be having an issue, we tried logging in to the website, but still nothing, so last result – DRIVE!!! We have subsequently found out that there are often issues with the website and have since logged in and signed up,fingers crossed we haven’t got a letter when we get home!

We got off the Toll Road at the next junction and headed to Faro. Our first night stay was at the Faro Motorhome stop https://www.farocampervanpark.com/ Just a short walk from the town and the airport, but due to the torrential rain, we only wondered to the local shops.

Our next stop was Alvor and Camping Alvor https://www.campingalvor.com/en/ We managed to find a relatively nice pitch, but it was very cramped and despite finding an Indian Restaurant in Irish Town, we decided to head off the next day. In Portimão, we found an International Supermarket – we weren’t actually looking for English Food, but English mustard, Greg’s Steak pies and Cheddar, how could we refuse! We also found a Worten, a little like Currys/PC World at home, where we were able to buy a Portuguese Data SIM – MEO €14.99 Unlimited Data for 15 days!

We headed along the coast to Sagres, not quite the most southern point of Portugal but definitely one of the most exposed, with coastline south east and west – next stop USA! Our camping stop, Parque de Campismo Sagres https://www.orbitur.pt/en/destinations/algarve/orbitur-sagres was amongst the Pine trees, a short walk to the coast and close to the lighthouse, the Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, opened in the 1500s and first destroyed by Frances Drake in 1587.

After a couple of nights we headed north towards Lisbon, stopping at an unplanned location in the beautiful town of Odemira. Although not a lot more than a car park, it was right on the river and a stone’s throw from the old walled town.

Next, we stopped at a motorhome Aire just outside the walled town of Évora, the capital of the Alentejo Region. In the centre stands the old Roman temple of Diana, a twelfth century cathedral, white washed houses, cobbled streets and the Chapel of Bones.

Heading North, we stopped at another Orbitur site, just outside Lisbon, in the town of Cascais, next to a nature reserve, with view of the surfing beaches

Continuing north we headed slightly inland to another walled city – Obidos, home to a Chocolate Festival and Reg met the Easter Bunny.

We headed to the Catholic Pilgrimage Site of Fátima. There is a motorhome stop at the Cathedral, The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, but we chose not to stop as we’re not believers and the bells rang every fifteen minutes, without knowing whether they continued all night it was too much to consider! Fátima, is the fourth most popular catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. It is a place of pilgrimage, which celebrates the memory of its founding event, the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little Shepherds, who are honoured in the Cathedral – Lúcia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.

Instead we stopped at a campsite in he town of Coimbra, before heading to Estrelo Paxio de Varzim and a campsite right on the Atlantic, with a fabulous sandy beach, next to a golf course, which is great until Reg chases a seagull shadow up the rocks towards the green (Don’t know which hole, as he came back before reaching it!). Estrelo Paxio de Varzim is also on one of the Camino routes.

Our last night in Portugal, was in the town of Chaves. We had stopped here before on our first trip to Spain, back in 2019, but had never ventured into the city, it was another fabulous old walled city.

Now our journey takes a turn back to Spain, we’re heading homeward, but looking forward to touring areas we haven’t seen. Portugal has surprised us, there is so much history and countryside to explore, we will be back, in the future to hopefully explore the areas we haven’t yet seen. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon with news from our second Spanish Leg…

Back on the Road 2022: ¡Hola España (a brief trip to Gibraltar) and Hasta Luego!

Our trip through Spain

Spain, we’d been looking forward to returning to Spain for two years, having left just as the pandemic started to break in 2020. We had hoped to return later the same year, then last year and we had planned to return after Christmas but that wasn’t to be. It feels so good to be back on the road and head towards some sun. Although we only have a three month window this time and the Schengen Shuffle (dipping in and out of the Schengen Zone,there is a little explanation here: https://motoroaming.com/the-schengen-shuffle-for-motorhome-travellers/) isn’t really an option, for us, at the moment with the crisis in Ukraine, we have planned to visit some of the places we’ve previously been and some we hadn’t!

We crossed the border from France on the Mediterranean, between Cerbere and Portbou, having chosen a good weather route, not over the Pyrenees or across the Spanish plains, where we knew the weather could also be bad, and travelled along the coast of Cataluña, stopping at a lovely site in the town of L’Estartit https://www.campinglesmedes.com/en/ where the sun shone for all but one of our four days. The site is a short walk from the beach and the town.

We left L’Estartit and headed south to Cambrils and a site we had stayed at before – Camping La Llosa https://www.camping-lallosa.com/en Right on the beach and a short walk to the town, with a bakery / patisserie/ cafe on the doorstep. We took a stroll to the town and enjoyed an ice cream on the beach, before wandering around the old town. The weather was still on our side and we enjoyed a few more days in the sunshine.

Continuing our journey south, and into Communidad Valencia, we headed for another site, we’d stayed at before, in Peñíscola, but this time we were unlucky and the site was full, so we had a brief check on the interweb and the guide books and found a lovely site slightly further along the coast, along two miles of unpaved track, in lovely wooded grounds at Alcossebre https://campingribamar.com/?lang=en. A definite little gem and a short walk to the rocky beach, you could hear the waves crashing onto the beach from the campsite.

From Alcossebre, back along the unpaved track, we headed along the coast to Oliva, and a campsite, which in the book sounded great, but was a big disappointment, despite being right on the sandy beach, the rest of the local area was a bit deserted and run down. Being shown to our pitch, which was just about big enough, we had to clean it before we could get sorted, but it was ok for one night! https://www.camping-ole.com

Our trip now took us to the Murcia Region, and a site we’d also been to before at Mar Menor, https://www.camping.info/en/campsite/camping-caravaning-mar-menor, between the towns of Los Alcázares and San Javier, right on the edge of the Spanish Air Force Base, and the planes take off regularly every day! The site is located next to a nature reserve but with good walking and cycling routes into the towns and right on the beach of the Mar Menor – a coastal inland lagoon, protected from the sea by a peninsula.

Continuing south and into Andalucia, we found a lovely quirky campsite in the town of Adra. Camping Las Vegas, situated at the end of a road surrounded by greenhouses and small residences, it is a lovely spot to stop.https://campinglasvegas.jimdofree.com/ The sea is just over the road and although not much of a beach, ideal to let Reg run! This is one we will return to!

We continued on to Málaga, and had hoped to stop in a Motorhome Aire, but it being a nice, hot, sunny Friday the place was full, as was the next place we tried, the third was closed and we finally found a place to stop in Estepona, not exactly our cup of tea but ok for the night (what was more disappointing was the fact that we didn’t use our ACSI (cheaper camping) card, as there was no signage stating it was an associated site, but found it in the book a day later and about five minutes down the road there was a free camper stop, but lesson learnt…

Hello Gibraltar, moving further south we arrived at La Línea de la Concepción, and the motorhome stop on Alcaidesa Marina. We walked into Gibraltar, after being told off by the Border Guard, for not having our passport stamped when we entered Spain (or Europe, we’re not sure which) but made sure it was stamped when we left, took a trip to Morrisons, for some English bits – Bacon, Sausages, Walkers Crisps… and a bottle of water – in GIbraltar (and some of Andalucia) you are expected to wash down dog wee!

La Línea de la Concepción, is a beautiful Spanish town, in its own right, and we spent a couple of days wandering around the old streets and squares, before heading west to El Puerto de Santa Maria, near Cadiz. We had Christmas here in 2019 and met some wonderful people, this was high on our list to return to (and still is)! Arriving in glorious weather we made a lovely long term camp, and enjoyed the sun, before the rain arrived, followed by two more glorious days and then more rain…. Although it stopped us exploring out and about on our bikes, we still ventured into the town and along the port. https://www.lasdunascamping.com/el-camping/

Continuing west, we found an absolute gem of a Motorhome stop https://camperpark.es/en/home-3/ Camper Park Playas de Luz, in the small village of Pozo del Camino, just outside the fishing town of Isla Cristina, ten kilometres from the Portuguese border. On the edge of another nature reserve, complete with flamingos that you can see from the window and walking and cycle routes along a green lane. What a find, although when it rains, it rains!

We have fallen in love with Andalucia and it will be sad to leave but we’re continuing our adventure into Portugal, before we return to Spain, so for now it’s, ¡Hasta Luego España! – we’ll see you soon.

As always, thank you for reading and following our journey. We hope you and your families remain safe and well and we’ll be back with an update from Portugal, soon…

Back on the Road 2022 – Heading to the Sun: Week One

We headed home and booked our tickets for the Eurotunnel, arranged the vet appointment for Reg’s Animal Health Certificate (AHC) and booked our Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). We had opted to have our LFTs carried out at the local drive-in, but their website was down and there were no available appointments, so instead we opted for C19 Testing, who will send you the equipment (usually next day – we ordered on Saturday and they arrived on Monday lunchtime), then when you’re ready to take the test – check whether the time you need is arrival or departure! get ready to log in to the website with your identification and a clear photo, and the results will be back within 12 hours- ours came back in 2! https://www.c19testing.co.uk/

Next, the vet – of all the things we thought would stop us heading off the vet wasn’t one, but we had a phone call on the Monday to say our vet was sick with COVID could we reschedule to a week later? We were found an appointment locally with the same group, but a day earlier – better for us and a relief.

  • LFT complete – both negative, and uploaded to Eurotunnel website;
  • Sworn Statement – completed, signed and uploaded;
  • COVID Travel Passes, both downloaded and paper copies, sorted;
  • AHC complete.

We’re ready to go! We sorted all our paperwork for travel, booked the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Black Horse Farm, 8 minutes from the tunnel, said our goodbyes and headed off.

Arrival at the tunnel was relatively smooth, a little hitch with the automated check-in but soon sorted and off to the Pet Reception – complete, we’re ready to board and head to the sun! After almost two years waiting, we couldn’t believe we were this close, just Passport Control and Border Control to go, a quick chat to the English Police, Gas confirmed off and France Border Control – all we needed to do now was show our passports and COVID Passes and YES, we’re off….

Our trip south, we chose to use Camping-Car Parks -a one off fee of 5€ and you have access to their secure locations, electricity, fill-up and dump and in some cases WiFi. You receive a card, the Pass’Etapes which you can top up on-line or at the terminals to their sites. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/search/areas/map

Our first night was at the lovely Normandy town of Formerie, near Forges-les-Eaux and about 2 hours from the tunnel, a perfect stop, just on the edge of the town, with its local shops and typical Norman atmosphere, this is one we’ll definitely be back to. The site was a remarkable 10€ (inc Tourist Tax).

Day 2 and a journey through Normandy and into the Loiret region and the pretty village of Lailly-en-Val, a lovely site popular with the French and relatively busy (it was Friday). and right next to a lake, another perfect stop at 10€, until three sets of bells started at 07:00, what a wake up!

Day 3 from Lailly-en-Val, we headed to the lakeside resort of Lac du Saint Pardoux, Razès in the Haute-Vienne region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The site is in a large wooded area with plenty of paths and cycle routes, the lake is open for swimming in the summer, but there is a pool next door. Again 10€ for the night!

Day 4, still heading south, we chose to stop at Lamagdelaine, in the Lot, in fact next to the River Lot and a Boulangerie. Lovely gravel pitches at the top end, between the trees, The river end had grass pitches and was closed off – as it was fairly wet. Slightly more expensive at 11€!

Days 5 and 6, we chose to stay at a campsite for a bit of a relax. We had stayed at Camping Toulouse Le Rupé, just outside the City, we had been here before (in fact, two years to the date – thank you Google photos and Facebook), this time however, it looked a little unloved and uncared for. The people were still warm and friendly but… We did have a quick clean up, shop and relax before heading south again. 18€ a night. WiFi extra and poor!

Day 7 – wow a week on the road already and the sun was beginning to come out – despite a weather warning for avalanches in the region – we weren’t heading up tot the mountains, though. We travelled through the Occitanie region and to another Camping-Car Park at Elne. Here we recharged our Pass’Etapes and paid for the night 11.47€. A short walk away is the pretty village of Elne and a spectacular view of the snow-topped Pyrenees.

Day 8 – Over the border and another new country for Reg! We took the coastal D194, skirting above Collioure and Port Vendres, through Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère, before crossing the border into Portbou. We had our passports and COVID Passes ready, but they weren’t required! We headed to the coastal resort of L’Estartit, where we planned to stop for a couple of nights at Camping Les Medes. https://www.campinglesmedes.com/en/

2022 – Back on the Road

Sunset at Southport

We spent the time between Christmas and the New Year at Henley Four Oaks Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site, which is just off the River Thames and a short walk into the town of Henley-on-Thames. From there we headed off to Chertsey and the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC) Site, where we saw in the New Year. The Chertsey CCC Site, is also next to the River Thames and a short walk to the town and we had a long overdue meet up with friends and walked along the river to Shepperton.

From Chertsey, we had to head to a FIAT service garage to have the motorhome looked at, following a recall notice. HTC Croydon, looked at and fixed the issue in a matter of minutes, before we were able to be back on the road. After an overnight stop at Gatwick CMC Site. we headed off for a short trip this time we headed to Ashwell and the Ashwell Farm CMC Site;which we picked as we didn’t think we had been before and it was local-ish. On arrival, we have been here before – on our first trip in the lovely Nortia, returning south from Darlington. Ashwell, is a charming English Country Village, with three pubs, a butchers, bakers, village shop and church overlooking the cricket field. There are a lot of footpaths and places to walk from the club site too.

Heading back homewards, we stopped at the CMC Site in Welwyn Garden City, Commons Wood. There are so many lovely places to walk to, the site backs right onto woods. After an appointment with the Doctors and a short catch-up at the Gatwick CMC Site (it was lovely to see / hear so many more planes this time and hope we would be able to travel abroad again soon.

As France had closed its borders to all but essential travel, we had booked to stay in the Lake District, rather than just pop here and there! We stopped over at the Chapel Lane CMC Site, Birmingham, not far from the M6, be aware heading north the lovely Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, took us through the Clean Air Zone. We have checked and at current our engine is compliant, therefore charge free! Next we stopped at Southport CMC Site.

Neither of us had been to Southport before and the town is a lovely example of a Victorian Seaside Resort, although the sea has receded by several metres over the years and the end of the pier is now not near the sea! We were greeted with a lovely sunset over the bay. Southport is also home to several cycle routes including the Trans-Pennine Route Irish Sea to North Sea.

Back to the Lake District, via Blackpool, which I had never been to before and it was as expected, but surprisingly not as tacky (in our opinion) as Benidorm! We stopped at Meathorp Fell CMC site, with the expectation of walking back into Grange-over-Sands, but the weather didn’t share our optimism and so that was washed out, but we did find a little footpath route from the campsite to let Reg have a good walk instead. Next we stopped at a lovely CMC Certified Location Holmside, outside Seascale, with a lovely village and walks all around, before heading to one of our absolute favourite sites – Keswick Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

Keswick CCC Site was our treat for not having been able to travel to Spain in December. It is a gem, right on the edge of the town, views over Catbells and Skiddaw and Derwent Water and walks all around. We had also hoped to catch up with our friends, John and Sheila, who were heading home from Spain, but despite blustery, stormy weather – Storm Malik hit us that weekend, there were no spaces and for a third time our catch-up was thwarted! Fourth time lucky, fingers crossed!

Heading south, we stopped at Chatsworth Park, CMC Site, right in the grounds of the house, with extensive parkland to walk, and the village on the doorstep. Reg was excited to see so many deer, so close (he was kept on the lead though)! Storm Corrie arrived with avengence here, we’re beginning to feel a little jinxed! Further south and a quick one nighter at Broadway CMC Site- the village is a very short walk and so picturesque, before heading to Bristol and the Baltic Wharf CMC Site.

Baltic Wharf is another of our favourites, and we’ll be sad to see it go, but we were so lucky to have been able to sneak a midweek break in here. We found so much more to do this time including the street art along North Street, Bedminster and the aray of little shops and cafes. We had an excellent lunch at Sandwich Sandwich, Baldwin Street. If you’re going to try a stack, we would recommend not eating before and possibly cancelling any dinner plans! But just so good!

Finally our tour came to an end in Brighton at the CMC site, and a Birthday catch-up with family for my mum’s birthday. We had a few other bits to do but we’re pleased to say we’re off to Spain very soon! We’ll keep you posted and let you know all about our trip, very soon!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you’ve managed to stay safe and well and you too have plans coming to fruition….

Happy New Year – “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”

As we prepare to welcome in the New Year of 2022, we have our fingers crossed we can carry on with our adventure, see some new (and old) places, meet up with family and friends, while continuing to be safe and well.

We’re looking back at what the last year has brought us and some of the places we have been.

We stayed at:

  • 32 Caravan and Motorhome Club Sites;
  • 34 Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Locations;
  • 5 Camping and Caravan Club Sites;
  • 16 Independent Sites;
  • 2 Motorhome Stopovers;
  • 2 nights Off Grid; and
  • 3 nights at home.

We left Lockdown 3 on 12th April, 2021 and have had a great time, travelling up to the Northern Coast of Scotland, completing the NC500, travelling along Hadrian’s Wall across Northumberland, down the east coast of England, discovered the Meridian Line, caught up with family, just missed meeting friends (who were on the same campsite, but arrived as we prepared to leave!).

We had an emergency trip to the vet, nothing serious as it turned out, but still a worry; found some great places to eat (and some not so great!) and followed whims as to where to go. We stayed at a variety of Racecourses, fishing lakes, Marinas and even an Aerodrome, followed the Grand Union Canal north and retraced our steps to the Bristol and Somerset.

We’ve rediscovered places we thought we knew, but found better weather really helped! Taken time to relax and not rush around, and seen some sights. We’ve learnt some good lessons (the hard way), if a site looks too difficult to get into don’t bother – this would have prevented an argument with a fence post/ LPG Lorry and a couple of sleepless nights working out how to get out of a site!

We have tried to think of our best places of the year (in no order):

  • The Lodge CL, Halmer End, Stoke;
  • Omaha Meadows CL, Verwood, Hampshire;
  • Grove Lock Marina CL, Leighton Buzzard;
  • Blythe Waters CL, Solihull;
  • Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site;
  • Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Bunree Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Seacroft Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Cromer;
  • Gamrie Bay CL, Banff, Scotland;
  • Findhorn Motorhome Stopover, Scotland;
  • Minehead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Lochgilphead Caravan Park;
  • Boston Aerodrome CL, Lincolnshire;
  • Lost Acres CL; and
  • Baltic Wharf Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Bristol.

We don’t know when we’ll be able to get to France and Spain, but we’ve got our fingers crossed. For now, we’re happy to be safe and well and hope you are too. As always, thank you for reading, wishing you a happy and safe 2022, we’ll be back soon…..

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…

Weeks 15 and 16: North East England – North Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Norfolk

Sunrise at Wells-next-the-Sea

We’ve tied together two weeks here, we’ve been in some really poor internet (WiFi and 4G) areas and are desperately trying to catch up. Despite being in some fairly affluent areas, proof that the internet is not as great in all the country.

Leaving the pretty village of Sedgefield, we headed into the Yorkshire Dales and the home of James Herriot, Thirsk. We were staying at another racecourse site, https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/yorkshire/north-yorkshire/thirsk-racecourse-caravan-club-site/ It’s right on the edge of the town and a short walk to the old practice of James Herriot, now the James Herriot Museum. James Herriot’s actual name was James Wright, but he was a real vet! Thirsk is also, birthplace to Thomas Lord, after whom, Lord’s Cricket Ground, London is named. As well as, the surgeon Thomas Eshelby who amputated Lord Nelson’s right arm when he was wounded landing at Santa Cruz. In addition, there is a great market square, with a selection of shops, cafes and bars and the remains of an ancient castle. There is so much to see and do here, we will definately be back.

Heading back to the east coast, we were going to stop at an off grid site, in the village of Helmsley, but the weather was so awful, we headed to our next stop, just outside Scarborough at Cayton. Cayton Village Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site, is a short walk to the village and the sea.

Leaving Cayton, we headed into the East Riding of Yorkshire a CMC Certified Location (CL) in the village of Patrington. Mill House CL is located walking distance from the town and the Meridian Marker. Patrington sits on the Greenwich Meridian Line, who knew there was such a marker? Indeed we didn’t and set off to find it! It actually cuts across the East of England from Peacehaven in Sussex, up through London (Greenwich) and onto the east coast where it disappears into the sea at Sand le Mere, East Yorkshire (the marker really did fall into the sea when the cliff collapsed)! http://www.thegreenwichmeridian.org/tgm/markers.php?marker_type=|%20all%20markers%20|

Heading over the Humber Bridge, and along the coast to Cleethorpes, where we found another Meridian Marker. Through the Lincolnshire Wolds and through the city of Lincoln, we arrived at Skybarn Farm. A CMC CL located a short drive from the city centre, but with a perfect dog walk (on lead) around the working farm. There are views across the countryside. This is another site we’ve added to our list to return to.

Leaving Mill Farm, we headed through the Lincolnshire countryside, passing a lot of past and present RAF bases. We weren’t lucky enough to have a display by the Red Arrows, though. We arrived in Boston (another on the Greenwich Meridian), but we didn’t find the marker! we had a quick drive through the town and found our overnight stop, at Boston Aerodrome, right on the edge of the runway!

Leaving Boston we headed along the coast to Wells-next-the-Sea and our site for the weekend. A short walk from the harbour and village centre, at a CMC CL Site, Mill Farm https://www.millfarmwells.co.uk/ We have stayed at some different places, but this one you can bring your horse with you! It’s a lovely peaceful site and the dog walk took us into the harbour as the sun rose and the mist began to clear.

We’re heading off again tomorrow, continuing our trip southwards. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll let you have an update of our next leg of the journey, very soon (fingers crossed and wifi willing)…

Week 14: #oneyearlate – Out to Kintyre, a couple of glitches and south to the border…

Leaving Oban we headed south along the A816 towards Lochgilphead, until just outside Kilmartin, there was a serious road accident, which had shut the road, so we headed back to Oban and along A85 and A83 instead. Arriving at the Lochgilphead, we headed up along the Crinan Canal to the sea lock, where we’d seen a motorhome stopover, but on first inspection of the road to the car park, we were put off by a sharp, steep right hand turn and headed back along the canal to a lovely stop near Dundardry Locks. We were parked alongside one other motorhome, but at the next lock down, there were six. Another lovely off-grid stop, with a towpath to walk along up to the sea lock or down towards Lochgilphead.

Leaving the Crinan Canal, we headed onto Kintyre, filling up with LPG at the garage on the way past. On Kintyre there is an Antony Gormley Statue, called GRIP. It was made to be located at Saddell Bay, we travelled around looking for the statue, but a lack of phone signal and internet, meant we missed it, we will be back to find it…. (maybe)! Stopping for lunch overlooking the Isle of Arran, we headed down to Campbelltown and onto our prebooked overnight stop.

Following the directions to the campsite, we had to guess at a couple of road junctions, and then as we headed down a single track road (with passing places) we pulled over to allow a high speeded LPG Lorry, but misjudged a hidden fence post. LPG truck & Fence 1: Nortia 0. We eventually arrived at the CL, it was little more than a high hedged circle of land, which we just made our way around, before catching the underside of the gas locker on a hidden boulder. Kintyre seems to have it out for us, so we decided to leave and stayed instead at the wonderful Lochgilphead Caravan Park. https://www.lochgilpheadcaravanpark.com/ Despite having not booked, they assured us that they have a spillover place, as they know that stopover places are sought after. To make us feel slightly better we found a local curry house, the Raj Tandoori (not quite as good as our favourite but definitely good enough to make you feel better!). TOTAL SCORE: Kintyre 3: Nortia 0

Putting our previous day’s mishaps behind us, we headed back to the central belt, passing up over the mountains, through the aptly named Rest and be Thankful on the A83 (apparently so named by the soldiers who built the old Military Road and engraved into a stone there), before stopping for lunch at Luss. Luss has changed in the 10 or so years since we were last here and is now quite touristy. We carried on our journey, and onto the Motorway and into the city of Glasgow. We’ve been in Scotland for seven weeks and since we left Edinburgh six weeks ago, hadn’t been to either a city of motorway! Our stop for the night was the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site – Strathclyde Country Park https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/scotland/glasgow/strathclyde-country-park-caravan-club-site/. It was a lovely open club site, right next door to the Country Club and the Loch. A complete loop of the Loch from the Club Site is approximately 4.5 miles – we did walk it the following morning, and found the Roman Bath ruins, the Rowing Centre and one of the memorials to the Piper Alpha Disaster. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_Alpha

Continuing our journey south, we left Strathclyde and headed to Dumfries and wonderful CMC Certified Location (CL) Hemplands Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/dumfries–galloway/dumfries/hemplands-farm/ Run wonderfully by John and Nessie on their sheep farm, with views over the countryside, we were upset that we hadn’t booked longer – we WILL be back…!

Today, after seven weeks and one day, we crossed back over the border to England and into Northumberland. Stopping at Carlisle for some groceries, we found our first fuel queue (we didn’t need any so we didn’t join it!) #panicbuying Turning left, we followed Hadrian’s Wall into Haltwhistle. Haltwhistle is the middle point of Britain (according to their village sign) and on to our overnight stay at Hexham Racecourse https://hexham-racecourse.co.uk/page/holiday-park/caravan-camping-site, Britain’s most scenic, and the views were amazing!

Our next stop is another CL, Donnewell Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/county-durham/sedgefield/donnewell-farm/ Located just outside the village of Sedgefield – Tony Blair’s constituency and where he took George W. Bush ( in 2003 to the Dun Cow Inn! We walked into the village and followed the Heritage Trail, found out about the pickled Parson and his ghost and discovered that Sedgefield has one of the Shrove Tuesday Ball Games.

We’re continuing our journey south and will be back to let you know our tales (hopefully not as woeful as this week)! As always, thank you for reading, We hope you and your families continue to be healthy and well. Stay Safe…

Week 13: #oneyearlate – the tour continues: The Road to the Isles, Roy Bridge, Bunree and Oban.

Corran Ferry

Leaving our first UK off-grid stop, we continued along the A861 and the peninsula to the ferry port at Ardgour, where we chose to take the ferry to Corran and drive up to Fort William to fill up with diesel and groceries, rather than the longer return along the A830, before heading back along the A830, past the Glenfinnan Viaduct (a seen in Harry Potter) and the Locks at Banavie – Neptune’s Locks and on to Arisaig and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) The Small Isles CL Caravan Site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/highlands/arisaig/small-isles-cl-caravan-site-arisaig/ I had been looking to find the campsite, we stayed at near here many years before and when I found it there was no availability! I looked on the CMC website and found this one, thinking it would be a good substitute! Well, on arrival, it was NEXT DOOR! What a find and perfect for Birthday Celebrations! Access to the white sandy beach is direct from the campsite and you can just see the steam of the Jacobite Train, a.k.a. Hogwarts Express. We did actually catch up with it on our journey back to the Mainland! This site is one we wouldn’t want to share but that is so unfair to the owners, who have made it lovely!

Returning back to the mainland, we saw the steam of the Jacobite Train (Hogwarts Express) https://westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/steam-train-trip and managed to get some photos (and a video of the afternoon train). We headed back up to Ben Nevis and on to Roy Bridge, where we had opted to stop at Bunroy Park https://www.bunroypark.co.uk/. There is a perfect river walk right along the edge of the campsite.

After Bunroy, we headed back to Fort William and the CMC Club Site at Bunree. On our way we stopped for lunch alongside the Loch Leven, before joining the ever increasing queue for the campsite. The prime pitches are lochside and not bookable, so there is a scramble to get them, but in our usual manner, we were hopeful but not expectant…. We got a great one – home for three nights and with differing weather (including a big gust of wind one early morning, which saw us and others, putting away our wind-out canopies! Despite arriving in sunshine, we were lucky over the next two days to get a break in the rain, but the views were spectacular when there was a break.

Moving on, in persistent rain, we headed south along the coast to Oban and Oban Caravan Park https://obancaravanpark.com/. Oban is a lively town and ferry port, the ferries from here go to a lot of the smaller Isles as well as the Outer Hebrides. The town has a slightly more cosmopolitan feel than many of the others, we’ve visited, probably due to the number of visitors it gets each day, along with the number of shops, restaurants and bars. Oban Caravan Park is located on a slight hill, with views down over the Loch and the countryside.

We’re heading south again tomorrow, find out how we got on soon! As ever, thank you for reading. Hoping you and your families are safe and well…