28th July – Near Brean, Somerset
After a weird and scary start to Spring 2020 due to Covid 19, in early July the ban on using campsites was finally lifted. As we have all our own facilities inside Bessie, we could now venture out of our immediate home area, we headed for Somerset and stayed within walking distance of the beaches of the Bristol Channel. Fortune was indeed on our side with lovely warm weather and we spent 3.5 days walking, 30 miles in all. We explored lanes near the campsite initially and the following day set off for a walk north, to the exposed and rocky peninsular of Brean Downs. There were incredible views from the top, north towards Weston Supermare and across to Wales, then south over the beach towards Bridgewater and the North Devon coastline. Some trees on the top of the hill were bent over at a right angle due to the prevailing winds, flowers were low growing and the numerous butterflies stayed down in the vegetation.
West of Bridgewater, the relatively newly created Steart Marshes was a long project by Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Local Community and the Environment Agency, commenced in 2009 to protect the area against rising sea levels. The coastline was realigned and breached in places to create new salt marsh and provide land for the high tides to flood, without endangering houses and livelihoods. Today it is a thriving area for wildlife and birds, full of wildfowl in late autumn and winter but very dry when we went, still developing and a joy to walk around at any time of year. We met up with my daughter Jen and grandson Leo to enjoy a walk around the area and have a BBQ together.
On our last day we walked 4 miles along the virtually empty beach all the way past Burnham Pier to where the River Brue meets the River Perrot and enters the sea. It was amazing to compare the relaxed scenes here, it was quiet, clean and welcoming, in stark contrast to the chaotic scenes watched on TV of Bournemouth beach. Sharing a delicious fish and chips for lunch we slowly wondered back to Bessie, this was our last day and we were feeling refreshed after our short break.
12th August – Lyme Regis
We stayed for a week at a small campsite up the hill from Lyme Regis and every day enjoyed the 2 mile, off road walk following the river, over fields past an old water mill, through a wood and into the picturesque town. Everywhere you looked there was something to see and take photos of to aid the memory! Numerous individual shops, museums of fossils from the Jurassic coast, cake and tea shops, a local brewery, a flour mill, art galleries, pubs and restaurants, quaint painted houses and parks to walk through. We thought it delightful.
As the countryside is so different and with the sea so close by, we decided to walk the Coast Path from our campsite in Uplyme, to Seaton along the Undercliffs. It started off in fields and then down numerous uneven, mud steps, steeply down and down, eventually bring us to a wood, part of the Undercliff. This had taken approximately 45 minutes and then we found a sign saying the way forward was ‘Arduous and Strenuous’ and that there was no way off it until you arrived in Seaton! It certainly was strenuous in places! Very pretty and full of lush green foliage, always under the trees with no view of the sea that I’d imagined, and always hoped for. More of those exhausting steps, 77 in one flight alone and that was up hill, so of course next time it was downhill. Emerging into the open between bramble hedges for a swift glimpse of the sea, we turned inland, crossed a golf course and after 5 exhausting hours we finally arrived in Seaton. Proud of our achievement we ate our picnic sitting on the sea wall, found somewhere for a pint and wonderful glass of Malbec to restore the equilibrium, and then waited for a bus to take us nearish to the campsite; only 20 minutes downhill on foot left to cover!
A great delight for me was a surprise meeting up with my brother, secretly arranged a few months earlier by text with my dear sister-in-law Zena. At the Fish & Oyster House we were seated in prime position looking out over the harbour with our backs to the door, ready for his entrance. He was indeed surprised and we had a lovely 4 hours together chatting and eating fine food with accompanying wine. We hadn’t been together since last Christmas and as they were staying locally too on a break from Harrogate, a couple of days later we tried out the local Brewery too.
On our own again, we resumed the walks around the area and enjoyed the towns architecture and flowers, its a beautiful area which we saw quite a lot of, we covered just short of 50 miles in total and went home for a rest.
31st August – Newchurch, Isle of Wight
An hour’s drive from home we caught the 40 minute ferry over to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, and were soon settling in to a beautiful campsite close to the village of Newchurch. In no time we’d set off to explore the area, very well served with excellent footpaths, both well signed and maintained. With woods, fields, a disused railway line, rivers and sea, the scenery was always changing and we saw a lot of the locality on our daily rambles.
Two main functions of this holiday was to meet up with friends and fellow motorhomers who live on the island, but didn’t know each other. The first part of the week Mandy and Roy joined us on the campsite and one day we walked to a picturesque village called Godshill, with lots of thatched properties and a small church at the top of a flight of steps. A delicious cream tea took the place of lunch and we returned over the fields and tracks in the warm sunshine before going out for a lovely meal with views over the Solent towards the New Forest, a great end to a perfect day. Caroline and Jeff joined us later in the week, introductions were made and we enjoyed a BBQ together in our awning. It was the only time that we had rain and we were inside, socially distanced of course! While we all chatted the evening away, drinks flowed, food was consumed and everyone had a good time.
Chris and I resumed our daily exercise routine and walked to Sandown and back one day using a route through woods and over a golf course. Another day of beautiful weather took us in a different direction to a Vineyard where we sat in the sun, drank wine and had a snack for lunch, then listened to a guy on a guitar, singing well known songs, it was an idyllic day.
Finally on our last day we drove along the south coast of the island, stopping off at Compton Chine for walk along the beach. We stopped to chat with a man who informed us there were three fossilized dinosaur footprints just around the corner, he told us the tide needed to go out a little way so we could see them. Sure enough, an hour later we had found them; huge, three toed fossils right there in the sand, what a great finale to our stay. So much to see on the Island, we will be returning; may be next year!
Sadly, it was also our final holiday in Bessie. We have had such a great time in her; stayed in England, Wales, Scotland, France, Portugal and extensively in Spain in the 3 years and 3 months we have had her. We enjoyed spending 514 nights in her comfortable accommodation, I’ve driven over 20,000 miles and been on numerous ferries to Spain, France, several around the Outer Hebrides and also to the Isle of Wight . So the sun sets on our travelling in Bessie, but we have lots of memories, photos and of course this blog to look back on. A new chapter will begin when we collect our new motorhome later in September.