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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corran Ferry

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

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

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

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

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

Week 12: Our #oneyearlate tour continues – Isle of Skye to Morvich, and our first Off-Grid Stop in the UK.

Mary Poppins and Bert, Fort Augustus

Leaving Staffin, we continued our clockwise tour of Skye down to Portree and over to Glenbrittle. The weather has not been with us this time around, we had hoped to visit the Man of Storr, but the rain and cloud prevented us from seeing it. We could barely make out the island of Raasay, just over the water (we visited there before on one of our visits, with it’s wild pigs and we were guided by a Golden Eagle along the road – it is well worth a trip if you haven’t been)! Portree is the main town on Skye but it’s not quite suited for motorhomes, the roads can be a little tight! Once through the town, with it’s coloured houses, we headed over to the left side and travelled anti-clockwise around the peninsula to our next night stop at Glenbrittle.

Glenbrittle Campsite https://www.dunvegancastle.com/glenbrittle/campsite/ is located on a black sanded beach and although no bookings, there is normally always space, that said, after nights on a few small sites, it was incredibly large. You can literally pick a spot if you don’t want electricity! The road to the campsite is another typical highland road, single track with passing places, but also a logging route and the logging lorries have PRIORITY! This was our last night on Skye, but needless to say we will be back! It makes such a difference being able to see and experience things whilst not worrying about the next stop or going back to work!

From Skye, we headed inland and up to Fort Augustus, where there is a motorhome stop. We visited Fort Augustus before when we travelled the Caledonian Canal on a boat and knew how lovely it was. We took a stroll into the town, about a 20 minute walk, looked at the flight of five locks and returned back. The motorhome stop, is also a short distance from the Golf Course, where you can pick up a footpath which will take you back to the Canal and down to the Locks, before continuing the loop back to the stopover.

From Fort Augustus, we headed back towards Skye and the charming villages of Ardelve and Dornie. We opted to stop for the night at the Ardelve Campsite http://www.ardelvecaravanandcampingpark.co.uk/ and were pleasantly surprised to discover a takeaway pizza place – Pizza Jo to Go https://www.pizzajo.co.uk/ – right opposite the campsite, that’s dinner sorted! Also, in the complex is a Bakery and a Gin Distillery in unique fairytale style buildings. A short stroll from the campsite, is the Eilean Donan Castle. The castle and grounds are open to the public and dogs can enter the grounds, we opted just to look and not enter! The village shop in Dornie, is a little Aladdin’s Cave, with proper pies, second hand books and general groceries, as well as a Post Office. Please have a visit if you’re passing.

Next, we opted to go to the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Morvich, although we arrived slightly early, we were welcomed and told about their, Premier Pitches. They have three pitches, which have great views of the Five Sisters of Kintail, a series of hills north of Glen Shiel, and where you can see the deer and stags! There was one of these pitches left, so we graciously grabbed it, pitched facing the hills and waited… The only things we saw where the clouds and rain which got lower and heavier, respectively! The Five Sisters of Kintail, Sgurr na Mòraich (876m), Sgurr nan Saighead (929m), Sgurr Fhuaran (1068m), Sgurr na Carnach (1002m) and Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe (1027m) have a legend, which says that there were two Irish Princes who were shipwrecked and fell in love with two of the daughters of the King of Kintail. The two Princes married the two daughters, promising to send back their five brothers to marry the remaining five sisters, but, alas, they never returned. The sisters waited in vain and asked the Grey Magician of Coire Dhunnaid to extend their vigil beyond life itself, whereupon he turned them into mountains (as you do!).

We had a short walk from the site down to Loch Duich, along the A87 and back through the churchyard of St Dubhthach’s Church ruins, which was dedicated in 1050, to the Bishop of Ross, St. Duthac. The church was damages in gunfire during the battle of Glenshiel in 1719, and still in use until about 1855. Alongside the graveyard is the traditional burial ground of the Clan MacRae.

Our next stop was a bit of a novelty for us, we chose to off-grid for the night and found an ideal little suitable parking place, alongside the A861. We weren’t the only ones to stay there, either! and we had a lovely peaceful night with good views.

We’re heading off again, continuing our #oneyearlate trip around Scotland. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you’re still safe and well, and we’ll be back with more news…

Week 11: #oneyearlate – Scourie to the Isle of Skye…

This week sees us finish our NC500 trip and we head over to the Isle of Skye. Although, there is still more NC500 to go, we didn’t want to carry on back to Inverness, but instead continue our #oneyearlate road trip onto the accessible Islands and explore areas, we’ve never visited before.

Leaving Scourie, we headed up along the Drumbeg Loop to (believe it or not) Drumbeg and on to Lochinver, where we stopped for lunch over looking the fishing port, before heading on to our overnight stop at Ardmair Point Caravan and Camping Park https://www.ardmair.com/, outside Ullapool. We had a brief trip into Ullapool as there is a service station Loch Broom Garage Services, who sell LPG and can refill our cylinders. http://www.lochbroomgarageservices.co.uk/index2.htm Ardmair Point is perfect for the NC500, however don’t be disappointed by the lack of space, the views does make up for it, but you might need to find it – if you book far enough in advance you can get a pitch with good view (we didn’t!) but be aware of the midges – people we had spoken to had great views but couldn’t enjoy it due to the midges!

From Ardmair Point we headed back along the NC500 to Ullapool for groceries and then on to Kinlochewe, driving along the coast and along Loch Maree. We stayed at the Kinlochewe Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, with its great wardens, for whom nothing appeared too much effort, and who were still trying to catch up with the chores left by a year long lockdown. The village and campsite are located on the edge of the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve, with lovely flat gentle walks and more adventurous ones. It’s a lovely place and we’re sure we’ll return.

From Kinlochewe, we headed up for lunch overlooking Loch Clair, and on to Lochcarron, avoiding the Bealach na Ba, Cattle Road, partly because the advice is not to in a large motorhome, partly because we’ve done it before and partly because the weather spoilt the views! Lochcarron is located on, the aptly named, Loch Carron and the campsite we choose the Wee Campsite https://www.searchforsites.co.uk/markerMobile.php?id=28971, which is located on the road behind the main road and there are some footpaths back down to the main road, with it’s award winning Spar, pub and restaurants, as well as access to the Loch.

Leaving Lochcarron, we got to the Isle of Skye, crossing the Bridge and into Kyleakin, where we stopped for very tasty fish and chips from the Sea Food Shop, https://www.searchforsites.co.uk/markerMobile.php?id=28971 literally just after the bridge and took it to eat over looking the bay. Kyleakin is home to the Gavin Maxwell Museum (Ring of Bright Water and Otter man), with it’s otter statue outside, hopefully we’ll get to see one… We made our way up to Broadford and Camping Skye Campsite, a relatively new campsite, outside the town, easy to walk into and along the shore to the pier.

Heading up to our next stop at Staffin, we chose to take the route to Uig and clockwise along the headland. We stopped for lunch at the Museum of Island Life (which is currently closed due to COVID) and took a short stroll up to the Flora MacDonald Memorial. Flora MacDonald assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart) to escape from the Government Troops after the Battle of Culloden from South Uist to Skye, disguised as her maid, Betty Burke. Her Memorial is at Kilmuir Cemetery, where the Designer, Lee Alexander McQueen is also laid to rest. We arrived at Staffin Campsite a little later in the day, but there is no phone signal, but the campsite does have free WiFi! A short walk from the campsite is An Corran Beach, where there are dinosaur footprints. We had been here before, but not seen them, this time though we were lucky and found one or two.

We’re heading off to the other side of Skye and we’ll keep you updated. Thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back (WiFi permitting!) soon….

Week 10: #oneyearlate – Berriedale to Scourie, along the East and North Coast NC500

True Highland Coos

We left Berriedale and headed north along the NC500 to Wick, stopping at Lybster Harbour for lunch and then up to John o’Groats. We managed to get a photo of Nortia, lined up with the signpost, and a lot of other people, too! We had wanted to get a photo here, as we had taken Nortia to Lands End in 2019, when we did a whistle stop tour of the southwest.

John o’Groats is the most northerly inhabited point of the mainland of Britain, but not the most northerly point – that accolade belongs to Dunnet Head, which we went to next… The route to Dunnet Head is narrow, but there are several passing places so it’s relatively easy, when everyone collaborates. Located at Dunnet Head is a lighthouse, which was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. Originally manned, it is now automated and controlled from Edinburgh. Many years ago on our first trip to Scotland, we ventured up to Dunnet Head, but the weather was so bad, we couldn’t get out of the car, the wind was so strong and the doors closed as hard as you could open them! This time we arrived in bright sunshine and a gentle breeze, we had hoped to cycle up the next day, but in true Scottish tradition we didn’t have the weather, there was drizzle and low cloud, not much wind so midges in great supply! There is space to stop up here overnight, but we chose to check-in at the nearby Dunnet Bay Caravan Club Site.

The Club Site is very popular with NC500ers and families alike. The beach, literally through the gate is great for surfers, paddle boarders and swimmers, we saw a lot, along with the surf school, but didn’t venture in, too! The following weekend it hosted a junior surf championship. We walked along the beach to Mary-Ann’s House http://www.caithness.org/community/museums/maryanncottage/ Mary-Ann Calder moved out of here original family home, built by her grandfather in 1850, in 1990, just before her 94th birthday. Her cottage has been preserved, as the working practices used by the family (including her children) had been unchanged. Just for reference, Dunnet Bay is further north than Moscow.

From Dunnet Bay, we headed west continuing along the NC500 to Talmine on the Kyle of Tongue. Talmine is a small village, with a shop/ Post Office and a campsite. Bayview Campsite https://www.bayviewcampsite.co.uk/ is right on the beach (well separated by a road) with lovely level(ish) pitches and a great view. We were welcomed on site by the free-range cows wandering down the road. The lady who owns the site kept it immaculately clean and tidy, the bins were cleared with such regularity.

We continued our trip along the NC500 to the village to Scourie, having first travelled along the very northern edge to Durness, stopping overlooking the bay for lunch and a quick grocery shop. We passed the Cannonbawz Run 2021, you can read about the event here: https://www.northern-scot.co.uk/news/supercars-and-heroes-turn-out-for-liam-249798/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3XFN_8Xmv6l1yEjhTMk_J0PGThRv217pCyWk7AuRSKnRs9RyZ2qoLbxnM Before heading up to the Cape Wrath Ferry.

Many years ago we had toyed with the idea of walking the Cape Wrath path, but these days, we’re a little more laid back so a trip to look at the peninsula was enough! Cape Wrath can only be accessed by foot or ferry and that also depends on the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as the majority of the land is used for live firing and it is the only range in Europe, where forces from land, sea and air can carry out combined exercises and where the RAF can train using 1000 lb bombs. There is a sign at the ferry point informing you whether there are exercises being carried out. Training times are also available online https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/scotland-firing-times

From the Cape Wrath Ferry point, we started to head south west along the NC500, through Laxford Bridge to Scourie. Our stop was at the Scourie Caravan and Camping Site, overlooking the bay and the harbour. https://www.scouriecampsitesutherland.com/ The village has a garage and outdoor store, family-run shop with Post Office, hotel and sculpture studio. We took a lovely stroll along the headland and upto the school, before returning down the Back Road.

We’re heading off again along the NC500. We’re trying to keep up to date, but we’ve had some bad WiFi / 4G connections up in these extreme places… We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with more of our trip soon….

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 ;)…

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…