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…

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

Grand Union Canal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunset at St Mary in the Marsh

Wow – six weeks already!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Week in Norfolk…

A wet and windswept sandy dog!

Monday and the sun was shining. After a quick breakfast and walk for Reg, we headed out towards Norwich and a Hand Car Wash! Finally, we were able to get Nortia cleaned (outside) for the first time since France in February! We had meant to clean her while in lockdown, but there always seemed to be another day available until we left, then the opportunity hadn’t happened since….

Tuesday and we headed up to the coast and Cromer, famous for dressed crab and the Seacroft Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. It’s a great site, just off the Norfolk coast path. A short stroll and you are on the beach, which is lovely and sandy as the tide goes out. We met a couple with a young dog and Reg and Pippa were soon running around in circles along the shoreline.

Wednesday and in true autumn fashion it rained (again). Reg however, wasn’t unfazed by another trip on the beach and enjoyed playing in the waves.

Thursday, one of the things we’d looked forward to whilst in Cromer was visiting No 1 Cromer. https://www.no1cromer.com/ This is an award winning Fish and Chip Restaurant and Takeaway owned by Galton Blackiston. We’d heard about it so many times watching him on James Martin’s Saturday Morning. This place does not disappoint! This was possibly the best we’d ever had. If you are in Cromer, we would recommend this highly.

We headed down the coast from Cromer to Great Yarmouth and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at the Racecourse. This site is another so close to the beach and the town, that it’s great for a stay. There is a monument to Lord Nelson, which is now located in the industrial zone, but commemorates Nelson’s birth in the county of Norfolk.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll have more to share soon. Stay Safe and well…