Lockdown Week 13: Places we’ve been (Part 6 – Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain and Gibraltar (with a night in Portugal).

Ominous Skies

Week 13 in Lockdown. Although we can travel out, we can’t stay out overnight. The weather has not been great this week, but next week looks better!

Reg had to have a new bed, this week as he’s outgrown his! We’re hopeful that we can move in three weeks, but waiting for Boris to give us the ok.

Belgium

We headed out of the tunnel on our first trip and headed to Belgium, so we could get Nortia fixed the following day in Geel at Dicar Motorhomes https://www.dicar.be/ and despite trying we couldn’t find anywhere with space, so had to head across the border to the Netherlands for the night.

  • De Klinge – we stopped, once Nortia was fixed at Camping Fort Bedmar in Belgium. The campsite was our first one in Belgium and in a lovely place. There is a statue in the town to Gustaaf De Loor, winner of the first La Vuelta, in 1935.
  • Ypres – we stopped at the Jeugdstadion, just a short walk from the Menin Gate and the town.
  • Bredene – Camping Veld & Duin, just a short distance from the beach and the town centre. Almost next door is a Chinese Restaurant!

England

  • Richmond, Yorkshire – Richmond Hargill House (CMC) Camping and Motorhome Club site. Our very first stop in Nortia! Close to Catterick, Darlington and the Yorkshire Dales.
  • North York Moors CMC, on the edge of the North York Moors near Whitby. This site was the first we have ever stayed on without facilities, and a good way to get to know Nortia (and our limits)!
  • York – Rowntree Park CMC, on the edge of the city. We love this site! If you venture out of the back gate you come across a lovely neighbourhood, with local shops, restaurants and services. Out of the front gate and follow the river into the city centre. This site does flood!
  • Maplethorpe Camping and Caravanning Club SIte, a short walk to the beach, passed a lot of holiday parks.
  • Thetford Forest CMC – another site with no facilities, but in the middle of the forest and with the Desert Rats Memorial and designated trail. Perfect for dog walking.
  • Ashwell, Baldock, Hertfordshire – Ashridge Farm CMC, in a idyllic English Village, complete with two pubs and a cricket green.
  • Henley – Henley Four Oaks, close to the town of Henley and the river Thames.
  • Littlehampton CMC, close to the town of the same name.
  • Folkestone – Black Horse Farm, ideal for the Tunnel and Ferries.
  • Bearstead CMC – close to the Tunnel and ferries. In the countryside with a good dog walk.
  • Polstead Camping and Caravanning Club Site – a gem of a site (we’ve stayed here twice on the trips first in October and again in March). Close to Flatford – scene of Constable’s Hay Wain.
  • Oakham, Rutland – Rutland Caravan and Camping Site. Close to the town and with a lovely dog walk.
  • National Memorial Arboretum, Burton-on-Trent – As we were passing, we wanted to visit the site of National Remembrance. It was very wet when we arrived and we had a great day out here.
  • Swadlingcote – Conkers Camping and Caravanning Site, Derbyshire.
  • York – Sheriff Hutton Camping and Caravanning Club Site, a nice site, not too close to the City. We stayed here at Halloween and it was here I (Sarah), managed to nudge a caravan when reversing! If you are going to nudge a Caravan, make sure the owners aren’t sitting having a nice cup of tea, watching your every move!
  • Alnwick, Northumberland – River Beamish CMC site. We stopped here so we could visit Cragside, the first house in the world to be lit with hydroelectric power.
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – we’ve stopped here before and love the views and the town.
  • Hawes, Yorkshire – Britain’s highest market town. The campsite is a short walk for the town centre.
  • Castleton, Derbyshire – after a hairy drive over the Snake Pass in the rain – the road had been closed but was passable with care. We stopped at the CMC site in the village.
  • Shrewsbury, Shropshire – Love 2 Stay Campsite – a very modern campsite.
  • Cheddar – We stopped at the CMC Site, just on the edge of the town and close to amenities.
  • Dartmouth – Hiilhead CMC club site – lovely views of the coast and an all-purpose campsite, with restaurant and swimming pool. We left here using the Kingsweir ferry and stopped for lovely lunch in the town.
  • Truro – Carnon Downs Caravan Park. We stopped here on our way to the Lizard and Lands End.
  • Tavistock – we stopped at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site, close to the market town and Dartmoor.
  • Charmouth – Manor Farm Holiday Centre. Close to the town and the beach, but not a lot of character.
  • Wareham – Hunters Moon CMC site. A brief stopover, with a lovely dog walk.
  • Brighton – CMC site, at the edge of the city. Close to the seafront.
  • Crawley – Gatwick CMC site. If it wasn’t for the fact it is close to family, we might not stay here! The runway is literally a road away, so very noisy.
  • Moreton-in-Marsh CMC site – on the edge of the Cotswold village.
  • Leek – Blackshaw Moor CMC, in the Peak District, great views and walks.
  • Skipton – Bolton Abbey CMC on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, great views and walks and drives.
  • Harrogate – Harrogate Caravan Park, just outside the town, next to the Great Yorkshire Showground. We stopped here as Nortia, was booked into Steve Mann Caravans, to repair a fault we had with the water pump. https://stevemanncaravans.co.uk/
  • Barnes Green, Horsham – Sumners Ponds. Close to home and a gem of a site.

Scotland

  • Edinburgh – CMC Site. We had hoped to go into the city and have a look around, but the weather turned and rain set in. Be aware, there is a lot of cycle theft up here and the site have lockers for you to store them in, safely.
  • Dalbeattie – Glenearly Caravan Site. We followed the South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) around the south west of Scotland. We found this campsite almost by accident and it was lovely.
  • Stranraer – Low Glengyre Farm Certified Location – a gem on a working farm.
  • Moffat – Moffat Camping and Caravanning Club Site – on the edge of the town.

Wales

  • Llanberis – Morris Leisure Touring Caravan Holiday Park. Right at the edge of the village, close to the Snowdon Mountain Railway and walks.

Spain

We started our tour of Spain on the Costa Verde travelling along from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Campostela, before heading south.

  • Zarautz – Gran Camping Zarautz – our first night in Spain, this campsite was right on the Atlantic with a lovely view of the sea and beach and a walk right around it.
  • Loredo – Camping Loredo Derby – Right on the Atlantic, sand was blown along the campsite roads. We discovered in the night that we had parked side on to the wind, so a fairly sleepless night ensued. The facilities were incredibly basic.
  • Onis – Camping Picos de Europa – a campsite right in the Picos de Europa Mountains. This is where we heard the wolves in the morning.
  • Castropol – Camping Vegamar – due to the amount of rain they had in this part of Spain, the grass pitches were not available, so we were allowed to camp in the car park.
  • Santiago de Campostela – Camping AS Cancelas – a lovely site close to the centre of the city and a hypermarket and shopping complex. We didn’t get to see much of the town, as it was here we spent the night (almost) in the hospital.
  • Salamanca – Camping Regio – heading south we crossed into Portugal, then back into Spain and spent the night here. The campsite is behind the hotel and a reduced price fixed menu meal was available.
  • Cáceres – Camping Cáceres – Our first campsite with a private bathroom.
  • Hinojos – Camping Doñanarrayan Park – we arrived to a closed campsite after a horrendous journey in heavy rain. The Barman, came out and explained we could camp but we had to wait until the morning to pay etc. We were given a basic map. After walking the dog, we found the only sanitary block, but it did have heating and hot water.
  • El Puerto de Santa Maria – Camping Playa Las Dunas San Anton – this is another site we don’t want to share but…. we arrived for two days – then Christmas and left 16 days later. We made some lovely friends here and will return.
  • Tarifa – Camping Valdevaqueros, The time had come to say goodbye to the friends we had made and head off on our adventure. Heading south we stopped outside Tarifa on the beach and contemplated asking to go to Morocco, then we heard from our friends www.rewindthegap.co.uk that the Erwin Hymer Insurance wouldn’t cover us, so we couldn’t go. The campsite is close to the beach accessed via subway and home to a lot of kite surfers.
  • Marbella – Camping la Buganvilla. We found this campsite just outside the town hoping we could cycle in, but without cycling on the busy A7 there was no way.
  • Viñuela – Camping Presa La Viñuela – Up in the mountains above Malaga, behind a restaurant. There are walks along the river.
  • Granada – Camping Suspiro del Moro, Otura – This is another lovely gem of a campsite, just outside Granada and you can get the bus or cycle into the city.
  • Roquetas del Mar – Camping Roquetas del Mar – we were going to stay for two nights, but this is where Albi fell sick and passed away. We stayed for another night whilst he was in the vet clinic. We did manage a cycle out along the sea front and will probably return to explore further.
  • Mazarrón – Camping los Delfines – we stopped here in desperation of somewhere to stop and were contacted by Karen and Colin – Rewind the Gap, to say they were nearby and did we want to meet up?
  • San Javier – Camping Mar Menor – after a Burger King Brunch, we arrived at this lovely Stellplatz. Our place had been held by Karen and Colin (much to the dismay of others who’d been turned away). The campsite has the best facilities, we’ve seen for ages (especially for a Stellplatz). It is behind the former Airport – now home to the Spanish Air Force display team
  • Villajoyosa (Benidorm) – Camping El Torres – a must on our to do list. Neither of us had been to Benidorm before and we had heard the tales. A short cycle ride from the campsite and you are in Benidorm!
  • Moraira – Camping Moraira. This is another hidden gem. We cycled out from here to Cova des Arcs at Cala del Moraig. The beaches and bays around here are fantastic. Even better, at the bottom of the hill to the campsite is an Indian Restaurant and takeaway!
  • Valencia – Camping Coll Vert, El Saler. We arrived for two nights, so we could cycle along the beach to the city. Then we were hit by Storm Gloria, and the two nights turned into five. Sand and water was everywhere.
  • Benicassim – Camping Tauro – a one night stop over and we found ourselves in a Caravan Club rally. The campsite was full of Brits! We could have stayed at home.
  • Peñíscola – Camping El Eden – close to the beach in a gem of a town, overlooked by a castle (in Game of Thrones) with cycle routes around – when the sand is cleared. When we were there the sand was over a metre high in places!
  • Amposta – Parque Natural Delta del Ebro – A free spot with Motorhome Parking (services are payable – water and disposal), in the heart of a natural park, with Flamingos.
  • Cambrils – Camping La Llosa – we loved it here. You can cycle into the town and on to Salou. We picked up an Indian takeaway and met some more lovely people here. We stopped for two nights and left after five! We got the train from here into Barcelona.
  • Prades – Camping Prades Park – Up in the mountains, with stunning views and walks. We walked up to La Roca Foradada, the holed rock. Another weather warning was in force when we arrived, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad
  • Taradell – Camping La Vall – still in the mountains, the weather turned colder and we headed back to the coast. We liked this site and will return!
  • Palamos – Empord’Area Palamos – A Motorhome stop just outside the town and with more cycle paths into the town and around the countryside. A supermarket is within walking distance.

Portugal

We only spent one night in Portugal, hoping to return later in the year. We will be back, just in a little while!

  • Chaves – Guest House Chaves, on the back of a park and on the edge of the town. The campsite is in the garden of a guest house. It was a lovely taste of the Country, especially having driven over the mountains and through the countryside.

Gibraltar

We should have stayed longer. We actually stopped in Spain but it was so close to the Border, that we’ve added it under Gibraltar.

  • La Línea de la Concepción – Alcaidesa Marina Motorhome Parking. On the edge of the marina, close to the town and the border and an ideal cycle ride onto the Rock.

Week 19: Scotland to Wales (via England)

Scotland and the South West Coastal 300. We left Edinburgh (without visiting the City as the weather was so bad) and headed off towards Moffat and the SWC300 heading clockwise to Lockerbie and on to Dumfries, before stopping at Dalbeattie. Despite the weather the views were stunning. We have driven this part of Scotland before but always on the motorway in order to get somewhere. It was so nice to be able to view it properly.

After Dalbeattie, we headed of again towards the Mull of Galloway, the most southerly point of Scotland. We’d stopped for lunch in the very pretty, typically Scottish-looking village of Newton Stewart, then headed over to Garlieston, where the Mulberry Harbours for WWII were tested, as the beach was similar to the Normandy Landing Beaches. We found a lovely, little Caravan and Motorhome Club, Certified Location at Low Glengyre Farm. We had the whole site to ourselves! Here, we found that our video from Latvia had been published by Erwin Hymer and Etrusco UK.

We carried on the SWC300 and took a sight detour to Kilmarnock, as this was on Ric’s wishlist. We headed up the coast to Stranraer and Cairnryan, then on to Turnbury Golf Course which had held the Open four times, the last one being in 2009, before being bought by Donald Trump.

From here we headed up to the Royal Troon Golf Course, which has also hosted the Open, nine times, the latest being in 2016. We ate our lunch looking over the golf course. Kilmarnock, was a surprise, not knowing what to expect the town was a beauty. We returned to the SWC300 at New Crummock and headed through Sanquhar, where the oldest Post Office is located, to Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village on to Moffat, where we chose to spend a couple of nights to recharge our batteries and clean up the MoHo. It was lucky we chose to stay here as the weather turned and it rained solidly for the night and the following day, so a short walk into the town was off the cards! However, we did discover an Indian Takeaway, which delivered! It would be rude not to!

We crossed back into England and down to Cumbria, avoiding the motorways. We travelled down to Kirkby Stephen and up to the Yorkshire Dales to Hawes, the highest Market Town in England. Hawes also has the tag in our memory as our expensive town, as the first time we had been there, we left having purchased two coats, a pair of Toggi boots and a pair of Barker’s Brogues! The Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Hawes is situated about a five minute walk to the town (Albi still has a poorly foot so a long walk is still off the cards). We drove to the car park in the town centre as we left, to have Fish and Chips from the Chippy.

We continued our journey south, through Burnley, Accrington and Oldham before turning towards Glossop and the Snake Pass. All along our route the signs had said that the pass was open so we carried onwards until we were met by a sign stating the road was closed. After discussions with the locals (who were keen to use the pass) and checking the Highways Agency App, which said the Pass had been reopened, we gingerly headed up and over. It was easy to see that there had been a problem as there was a lot of water on the road, but it was now passable with care. We arrived at a campsite in Castleton in the Peak District, in the dark, so we had to wait until the morning to see the true beauty of the area.

The Peak District didn’t disappoint. The following morning, the views were stunning. It was a cold and crisp Remembrance Sunday morning. We had been advised to either leave early or later due to road closures in the village, for the Parade. We headed up the Winnats Pass towards Chester and the snow-capped mountains of Snowdonia. We were heading to a site we have stayed at before in Llanberis (we’ve found a deal 3 nights for the price of 2, so were here for a while)!

Llanberis was just as we remembered, except this time there was snow on the mountain tops. We’ve chosen to have a roast dinner tonight, complete with Yorkshire Puddings.

Thank you again for reading and apologies for the delay in our posts. We’ve had hardware issues, hopefully now all fixed. The next episode of our adventure will soon be live…

Week 18: England to Scotland

England Bound

After spending the night at the Bearstead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, we set off to Southend-on-Sea. After a few weeks in the relatively quiet roads in Europe, we found ourselves in the busy traffic of the M25 heading through the Dartford Tunnel. Once through the tunnel, we turned onto the road towards Southend and were promptly stuck in a road closure!

After a time, we arrived at the lovely seaside town of Southend. We’d been here several years before and enjoyed a drive along the Promenade and looking at the sites, including the Pier, which has had a facelift in the past few years.

After Southend, we headed up to Maldon and then on to Polstead, Suffolk. We arrived at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site just as dusk was setting in and the site looked lovely – it was a small but lovely campsite with a decent dog walk. In addition, there was a local curry house which delivered – after a few months without an English style curry, it was too good an opportunity to turn down, and the curry was well worth the wait!

From Polstead, we headed up north to Rutland and towards the Peak District. We headed off through the Suffolk countryside taking in the lovely views and villages. We chose to stay at the Rutland Caravan and Camping Park in Oakham. Another lovely site with a small village within walking distance. The weather has definitely started to turn and there was frost this morning. We’ve started counting English Counties and so far, on this trip, we have been to Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Rutland.

From Rutland, we had a change of plan and headed off to the National Memorial Arboretum, outside Burton-on-Trent. It has linked in our trip last week to Dunkirk, the Belgium Cemeteries as well as family history. Due to the recent weather in England, there was a lot of water and flooding at the Arboretum and the Memorial we wanted to see was typically under water – we got wet feet, visiting it! After the Arboretum, we headed to the Conkers Camping and Caravanning Club Site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. We have added a few more counties to our list – Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, taking out total so far to 10.

From Derbyshire, we headed north again to York and the Caravan Club Site in Sheriff Hutton. The site was a little further from York than we had thought but it was still a lovely site and we decorated Nortia for Halloween. Two more counties for the list – East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

From York we headed further north to Northumberland and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of River Breamish. Three more counties for the list – County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland the total is 15. After we set off from Sheriff Hutton, we went to the Yorkshire Village of Thornton-le-Dale to see the Matthewsons Shop and Auction Site, as featured on the TV programme of Bangers and Cash. However the village was very busy as they had one of their Auctions in progress, we will return with a little more planning! We had a traditional lunch of fish and chips outside Whitby Abbey. We arrived at the campsite in the dark, after a road closure and diversion. Nortia looks like we’ve been off-roading (honestly Erwin Hymer and Etrusco we haven’t, but its very wet here).

The next day, we headed to the National Trust property of Cragside. This is somewhere we have wanted to visit for a long time and finally we had the opportunity. Cragside is the first property in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power. It also has a number of electrical gadgets to make life easier back in the Edwardian period. The house is also decorated with a number of William Morris wallpapers. After a morning here, we set of to the town of Berwick-on-Tweed.

Berwick-on-Tweed didn’t disappoint, again we’ve been here before on a previous trip (we hired a boat and toured from Laggen Locks to Inverness and Fort William, before returning home down the East Coast of England). We had a lovely pitch with a view of the harbour. The weather was favourable and we saw the fireworks as they were set off around us. We’re very lucky as Albi doesn’t mind fireworks and will actually watch them, too!

The next morning, the weather changed again. We left in the rain and took a scenic tour up the Scottish east coast to Edinburgh. Our hopes of exploring the city were hampered by the heavy rain and the threat of bike thieves, so we decided we would explore the South West Coastal 300. We will set off in the morning for Moffat.

You can see how we got on in our next instalment. As ever, thank you for reading and commenting. We hope you’re still enjoying our little tour…..