Dobar Dan Hrvatska – Good Morning Croatia!

Leaving Hungary we crossed the border into Croatia, not one of the happiest Border Check Points, having had to show passports, Animal Health Certificate and Vehicle Log Book (V5), we were waved out of Hungary, before we were stamped into Croatia. We headed to a campsite in the hills, but the amount of roadworks and diversions made it impossible to get there, so instead we headed to Camp Zagreb, on the edge of the Capital, with a shuttle bus and train into the centre, and a restaurant onsite. We were late arriving and it wasn’t on our itinerary, so we were not prepared for another city visit, but have vowed to return another time. https://www.campzagreb.com/en/

Leaving Zagreb, we headed to the coast and the island of Krk. It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge and we had chosen to stop for a couple of nights in the town of Krk, at Jezevac Premium Camping Resort, hoping they had space on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. Arriving at about 4:00 pm we arrived with a huge amount of motorhomes and caravans, so weren’t hopeful, but our fears were alleviated, when we were shown two pitches – with the ACSI card you don’t get a premium beach front pitch, but the one we chose (of the two) overlooked the town beach, which was barely used and we claimed it as our own private beach! https://www.camping-adriatic.com/jezevac-camp-krk

We loved it so much we stayed for six nights, the town is a short walk away with it’s old buildings, harbour and restaurants. We swam in the sea, such a long time since last having done it – New Year 2020 (before the world shut down, and it felt like a lifetime ago). The sea was amazingly warm! In addition, there is a dog beach, but it was a bit too choppy on that part of the peninsula, so we didn’t take Reg, maybe next time…

Krk Town was so nice, we spent days wandering around exploring. Right next to our pitch was the Piazza with a bar and street food and a 5 minute walk took you to a Restaurant, which was so cheap.

We felt it was time to leave Krk, and headed across the country west to Novigrad, where we stayed at the Aminess Sirena Campsite. https://www.aminess-campsites.com/en/aminess-sirena-campsite It is a short walk into the town of Novigrad, with it’s working port and pleasure harbour and old town, bars and restaurants. The sea was way too choppy here to swim in (I’m not a lover of rocky beaches since a childhood sponsored swim in the sea – on a very rough day – resulted in a lot of scrapes on my shins from the barnacle covered breakwaters)! If it’s flat calm I’m in, if it’s not, then no way!

We walked into the town, mooched around the streets and ate in the restaurant at the hotel, in the campsite grounds. We met some lovely people – did a book give-away with a couple who had finished all theirs – Ric was happy as the payload lightens with each item removed! And swapped travel stories with a couple who have been touring for seven months and were reluctantly heading home, to save some pennies to return.

We have been to Croatia before – almost three years to the day crossing the border, we arrived in Opatija, to surprise Sarah’s mum, who was on holiday there and Sarah has been here as a child, but this trip felt different. We have fallen in love with it and are planning our return adventure (we’re not even halfway through this trip, as we write!).

We’ll be leaving Croatia soon, and heading to Italy. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll be back with another update soon…

Two Weeks in Hungary and Romania…

We didn’t know what to expect when we chose to come to Hungary, we knew it’s capital was Budapest divided by the River Danube, but that was about it!

We bought a month e-toll pass for the roads, as so many of them are tolled or payable, without booths but cameras, it’s based on number-plate recognition, and we had been advised to keep all documentation, just in case (for a year)! Remembering to put Ditsy Daisy back on to motorways and toll roads as we crossed the border, to try and steer to the decent roads…

Our first destination was Keszthely, on the Lake Balaton. Lake Balaton, is one of the largest lakes in Europe and Keszthely has been a market town since the 1400s and is a popular holiday destination. Architecture is divided between very modern apartments and hotels, communist influenced houses, commercial centres and flats and the opulent Baroque style of the Festetics Palace, designed by an Austrian in the 1800s.

We had a walk along the lakeside and into the old town, before we headed off to Budapest. Our stop was the Camping Castrum http://www.castrum.eu/en/keszthely

We had found a campsite, in the heart of Budapest, you do pay a little more, but the city centre is walkable – we were advised by Reception to take the tram or bus, but a stroll along the Danube was pleasant and flat. We saw the River Cruise boats arriving and departing, walked up to the very touristy city centre and along to the Elizabeth Bridge (the older and iconic Chain Bridge was shut for renovation) crossing over the River, so we could say we’ve walked in both Buda and Pest, crossing back and heading back to the campsite. The roads are very busy and there is an element of smog especially in the rush hours. We found random sculptures and wall art along the way.

There is not really anything to say about the campsite – its basic – with disposal and fill up, electricity and a secure gate. There is a lack of hot water, for both dishwashing and showers and it’s cash only, as we found out on departure, resulting in a hunt for an ATM, had we been told at check-in, we could have sorted it on our trip into the city! Haller Camping https://hallercamping.hu/

Leaving Budapest, we located a motorhome accessory store and headed along the bumpy and unloved roads to the suburbs to purchase a new cycle cover, ours had ripped beyond repair during our trip – possibly due to the poorly maintained roads combined with the hot summer at home.

Our next stop, was the town of Eger. We chose the Tulipan Camp Site https://www.tulipancamping.com/ a short walk to the city centre, with lovely architecture and a city square, surrounded by shops and cafes.

We bought a toll ticket for the Romanian Roads and headed over the border the next day. Leaving Hungary, the Border Police will stamp your passport and check the V5, Vehicle Log Book, then you move on to the next window and Romanian Border Control do the same – they are not a happy bunch and as we waited, they smoked! In total our crossing at Petea took about ten minutes, though. We headed into the town, bought groceries and headed for our overnight stop at Camping Norac, Sacalaseni. A lovely little site, but due to the amount of rain, the pitches hadn’t been cut and the ground a little boggy in places, but the facilities were lovely. This was our first trip to Romania and the amount of stray dogs was overwhelming, making walking an over-excitable Reg a bit of a nightmare.

We headed on to Cluj-Napoca and a campsite we had found, but on arrival the entrance driveway was way too steep for our motorhome so we found another, which is now a building site. We checked where we were heading to and found another campsite at the town of Turda. Slightly quirky, but with great hosts, Camping La Foisor https://lafoisor.com/ was a welcome stop.

The next morning, we headed off again, along the motorway (do be prepared to check for pot holes on these roads too, they do tend to be highlighted by cones but several are very deep) to Sibiu. The camperstop we found, was unlocatable, we have got used to the fact that this may well be a theme for our trip, so found another, in the village of Cisnadie. Here, we first saw the warning signs for bears (and wild dogs were not as frequent – don’t know if the two are connected, but…) The campsite has amazing views of the mountains and the sunrise was great. Camping Ananas https://www.ananas7b.de/ is an ideal stop, before starting the Transfăgărășan Highway.

One of the reasons we had come to Romania, was to drive the Transfăgărășan Highway, we’d first seen it on Top Gear in 2009, and never thought it was somewhere we’d be able to get to but time is now on our side. We had a great drive south along the route (road number DN7C), crossing the Fagaras Mountains, deep in Transylvania, stopping at several places along the way to look at the view and infamous hairpin bends. The highest point of the route is lake Balea at 2040 metres. A tunnel marks the road summit joining the two sides of the lake.

Our stop for the night was in Curtea de Arges, at a little campsite called Camping Curtea Arges http://www.camping-arges.ro/ro/ another quirky little site, on the edge of the village, but back with roaming stray dogs and bears and wolves!

It was here we decided to stop our Romanian Road Trip, our hopes of getting to the Black Sea and Bucharest were set aside. The driving experience on general roads was not enjoyable. The road surfaces are unmaintained, potholes are everywhere, the locals stop at the level crossings, not just to check for trains, but also to find the safe crossing route across the tracks. Drivers do not seem to have any idea of safety, if it says no over taking – it is generally an indication that they will, blind bend, hill summit or village are no reasons to slow down! We headed back towards Hungary.

Added to the mix, the lack of campsites (either open or locatable) was making our drives longer and longer, we found a very late stop at Arad – Camping Route Roemenie, in Minis https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/romania/minis/campsite-route-roemenie-118083/Having arrived at one we had located to find it closed for the season, despite the website saying otherwise. More rain and a very wet pitch, we stopped on our traction tracks just to make sure we could leave. The showers have a warning of 3 minutes of hot water, so we used the motorhome facilities instead!

Back to Hungary, the following day and our crossing point this time was the much busier at Nadlac. We arrived to a long queue and four lanes of traffic, finding the right lane – All Passports, by walking along the lane and directing Ric to the right one – holding the traffic behind us to allow us to change lanes and about an hour to get to the border, where we were stamped out of Romania and back into the Schengen Zone – two Border Posts agan, just wanting passports and the V5, nothing for the dog! and we were back in Hungary heading to the town of Szeged, where the campsite looked amazing on the website, but was a total disappointment – on the edge of the river Camping Szeged https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/hungary/csongrad/szeged/ has amazing views of the city ad a good walk will take you to the busy centre. Our arrival was fine, with a slightly dour check-in at Reception, we located our pitch and then discovered that English Gypsy Travellers had taken over the sanitary block with their kids, dogs and washing machines! We asked at Reception, where to fill up with water but couldn’t locate the tap, so made do. As our stay continued more of the campsite was closed off, so we headed off towards Croatia.

Our next and final stop in Hungary, was at the town of Harkany. A thermal spa town with a slight Cocoon feeling (if you’re old enough to know the film https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088933/ People of various ages were walking along the streets to the Thermal baths in their bath robes! The campsite is located behind the Drava Hotel and check-in is in the Reception, there. https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/hungary/baranya/harkany/termal-kemping-harkany-100583/

The water rises from the ground at 60°F, and walking Reg in the morning, steam was rising from the manholes!

We’re off to Croatia, another Border Crossing out of the Schengen Zone beckons… As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll be back with Croatian update soon…

Back to Europe – a meander to Hungary.

We’ve set off on our next tour – we’re heading to Hungary, but we’re not in a rush to get there! Our route will take us through France to Germany, across Austria and into Hungary. As always, we don’t have a set route but a vague idea!

We arrived at the Tunnel in good time and headed to the Pet Check-In, where we hit our first problem, Reg’s Animal Health Certificate (AHC) didn’t have the date of his microchip so there was no proof he’d had it inserted before he had his Rabies vaccination. Luckily, we had his puppy and vaccination records with us and we were able to prove the date of both. We were on our way, a quick stop for a breakfast bap at Leon and we were on a much earlier train than we’d booked. As normal, the crossing was eventless (not a bad thing, baring in mind the week before there was an evacuation of the train) and our arrival in France was upon us.

Leaving the tunnel, we headed on the autoroute to Felleries and a Camping-Car Park Aire, https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/ , on the edge of the village, on the site of the old municipal camping ground and the old station. At the entrance is a monument of the elephant, Jenny, who was brought to the town to aid the German war effort in the First World War, by moving logs and even righting an overturned train. She must have meant a lot to the people of the village, as an elephant is part of the town logo. In the town itself, there is a cafe, grocery store and museum. A little further out of the village is a bakery, it’s a short-ish walk, perfect for a dog walk!

Our next stop, was at Charny-sur-Meuse, another Camping-Car Park Aire, next to the river Meuse and not far from the town of Verdun. We walked around the town of Bras-sur-Meuse, along the canal into the village via a French National War Cemetery and along the high street to another bakery, before returning back to the stopover.

Heading further south, we stopped at the thermal spa town of Contrexéville, in the Vosges mountains and the Camping-Car Park Aire, just outside the town. It is next door to a large campsite, and a short walk down to the spa town. After Contrexéville, we travelled towards the German border and the Camping-Car Park Aire at the Île du Rhin, right in the middle of the Rhine River and on the border. A short walk to the local town, took us into Germany and the town of Breisach.

Germany beckons and a trip through the Black Forest to Bavaria. The first part of our journey was thwarted with roadworks and diversions, including a 16 Km one through the mountains! We arrived at our chosen campsite, to be met with a site, which we didn’t really like the look of, so we set off again and found a nice site, Campinghof Salem https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/ outside the town of Salem near Lake Konstanz. There are a number of walking and cycling routes from the site and the local town is within walking distance.

Onwards to Bavaria, and the lovely camping site Campingplatz Dummerhof https://www.campingplatz-demmelhof.de/ right on the lake, with a lovely restaurant and bar, fresh bread is available in the morning. The lake has a beach area and is safe for swimming and paddling. This is one we’ve added to our list to return to! On our route we passed close to the Zeppelin Museum and in the sky there was a Zeppelin flying – not something you see every day!

Austria beckons and we’ve headed to the town of Mayrhofen. Over the border there is a big dam and reservoir, the Tegernsee, with a big viewing platform. We travelled through the Tyrolean mountains into Mayrhofen and the campsite https://www.campingplatz-tirol.at/en/. Located at the edge of the town, it’s a short walk up to the town centre, with a lot of shops and attractions, including the Mountopolis attraction, with summer and winter activities. https://www.mayrhofen.at/en/pages/mountopolis-mountain-experience-summer

Next, we travelled east to the town of Maishofen, and the campsite Camping Bad Neunbrunnen https://www.camping-neunbrunnen.at/ where they now offer a stellplatz style camping stop, be aware it is cash only, and Austria doesn’t seem to have many free cash points – and they vary in cost of transaction! The campsite has a large lake, which can be swum in (and people did, but….)! The views of the mountains were spectacular and the morning sunshine poked through the clouds.

Continuing our journey eastwards, our next stop was in the village of Aigen im Enstall https://www.camping-putterersee.at/en/ I think I came here as a schoolgirl skiing, but 40 years is a long time to remember! There are a lot of walks, hikes and cycle routes around and a short drive away is the mountain activity centre, Dachstein. A walk into the village, will take you along the lake, where there are various activities taking place – including swimming – the lake is the warmest in Austria, apparently, Further reading informs us, that the water quality is excellent due to the boggy bottom (that’s enough to put me off swimming in it – along with the midges around the lake edge) and it was used to dispose of armaments, at the end of the Second World War, as the Allies approached.

Our final stop in Austria, was the village of Burgau, and the campsite Schloss Burgau – we have been here before on our trip south in 2019. As we put our destination in to Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, she informed us that we would enter an environmental zone (like the LEZ – low emissions zone – in England), checking on the internet, Austria doesn’t sign these zones, but there is a fine for not having the appropriate badges displayed on vehicles. We made a trip to a local authorised seller, and added another badge to our windscreen.

As we awoke on our last morning in Austria, we were greeted by the sight of hot air balloons above the village, a fitting farewell. So for now it’s Tschüss Österreich – bis später (Bye Austria, see you soon)!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll update you from our next stop – Hungary!

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….

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 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…