Posted in England

5th – 7th September – Threshfield near Grassington

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We had been thoroughly spoilt with good weather for our trip in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, but finally it changed and we had a grey, wet and miserable morning to drive to Threshfield near Grassington.  This campsite scored ‘Brownie Points’ straight away with fresh baked scones and small jars of clotted cream and jam in reception, we just had to have some of those!  It was spacious, tidy mown grass and a fancy new shower block giving excellent facilities including hair-driers! Thankfully it only had trees around the edge – and the significance of this is getting a TV signal after days without it.  I was already planning a relaxing night with a bottle of wine and hopefully something half decent to watch.

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Once everything was set up, the weather was with us again and it was now dry, even if the sky was dull and grey.  Walking directly from the site along a path to a back lane we walked through the immediate village of Threshfield into Grassington about a mile away.  It was so picturesque, quaint with narrow cobbled streets, many individual and original shops, 3 hotels, several pubs and numerous tea rooms and cafes in the immediate centre.  Walking around the village it was obvious its inhabitants took a great pride in floral displays, everything was very tidy and well-kept and there was no litter anywhere.

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Walking back to Grassington next day, we caught a bus to Skipton a few miles away and had time to stare out of the windows at the beautiful scenery.  The name Skipton was derived from the Anglo Saxon words ‘sceap’ (sheep) and tun (town), it was recorded in the Doomsday Book as Scepeton meaning sheep town. When we arrived we found it was market day and spent some time looking at the stalls, and the individual shops either side of the street, including a stunning fancy shoe shop.

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The start was at the canal basin where there was a statue of Freddie Trueman the England fast bowler in 1950s and 60s, also many colourful narrow boats were moored, and others were heading out on the sightseeing tours out into the countryside.

 

Heading out under one of the road bridges over the canal, we walked directly below the castle walls and they towered above us. The castle was restored after the Civil War, and today it is privately owned and open to the public, however, having seen several castles we did not visit it this occasion. The footpath was on an elevated position between the canal on one side and the Eller Beck on the other, eventually crossing via a bridge we passed a saw mill on our way to a pool.  This was created by a dam across the Beck, the whole surface was covered in tiny floating plants where several mallards and a coot swimming around in the green soup.

20170913_104930-COLLAGESeveral waterfalls provided interest along the route and eventually the path led uphill through the trees, turned sharply back on itself which gave us lovely views out across the open fields, latticed by dry stone walls and dotted with sheep over to the hills beyond. Curving downhill again we entered the town again right by Skipton Castle and local church.

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After a night of rain, the day dawned grey and dull, not very inspiring.  I drove Bessie out to Malham Cove going several miles out of our way to stay on bigger roads. We knew there were busses that serviced the village of Malham so I figured that the road would be big enough for us.  However, it was quite narrow in places and passing by an equally big vehicle was quite challenging but we eventually made it to the carpark.

20170907_113744Walking towards the magnificent Malham Cove we could hear the call of a peregrine. We had recently volunteered for the RSPB at Salisbury Cathedral to show visitors our local peregrine family on the spire, which is why we recognised its call. The day was warm enough but the rain had started and was a fine mist in front of us like a net curtain.

The limestone escarpment that was spread before us is about 260 feet high and over 980 feet wide, it was somewhat obscured by the rain, however, the peregrine was flying in circles and I watched it land high up on the cliff face. Having taken our binoculars, I was able to locate him perched out of the rain, sitting under an overhang of rock taking shelter from the elements. By sharing my binoculars I was able to show three other visitors at the foot of Malham Cove just what we were looking at and they were amazed just how camouflaged the bird was against the grey of the cliff.

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20170913_110751-COLLAGEFollowing a steep path at the side of the Cove, we climbed up purposed built stone steps to the top to see the famous ‘limestone pavement’ spreading out over a large area. It is a unique habitat formed of Clints which are the blocks of limestone and the Grykes which are the gaps or fissures.  These provide a micro climate for small plants which gain shelter from the elements and thrive, but being quite late in the season we only spotted a few different species, Herb Robert and Hart’s Tongue and Thyme being most common.

20170913_110916-COLLAGEEventually back at the campsite, it started raining much harder and continued all night.  Thankfully, the sun came out by 9.30am next morning, we stowed everything away in all the cupboards, made Bessie ‘rattle proof’ and set off on our long journey home.  Calling in at Ludlow for a night to see family, it was then only a short hop of 3 hours home to Salisbury after a busy but rewarding couple of weeks.

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Posted in England

2nd – 4th September – Harmby near Leyburn

Another fine and sunny day for packing up and moving to a location at Harmby and after an uneventful drive, we arrived at a lovely campsite set in a disused quarry now completely transformed by nature.  The sides of the quarry had trees and bushes hiding the rocks, hardstanding pitches with mown grass between and plenty of room for everyone to have space to themselves.  Within half an hour we were having lunch in the sunshine when the resident peacock made his appearance.  He was a vision in his iridescent blue and green feathers in the sunlight, his tail a little short and without many of the spectacular ‘eyes’, his blue and white crest twitching while he walked around us.  As we continued our lunch he suddenly lay down on the grass beside us and spread out his chestnut wings, stayed for 20 minutes and continued on his way.  What a lovely welcome.

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Walking into Leyburn village later on it was noticeable how Autumn is taking hold, the leaves are turning gold and some had red tinges, the ragwort still glows yellow but most of the knapweed has finished flowering and is turning black.  The village itself was quite sizeable and attractive with no high street chain shops but several individual shops. There was a good display of hanging baskets and planters outside the Black Swan pub, and the village also had several hotels and tea rooms.  The walk was only about a mile but it was quite warm, we stopped outside the Golden Lion Hotel so could enjoy a beer from the Wensleydale Brewery called Semer Water, made with a citra type blend of hops.

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It was grey but dry next day so we walked over fields and footpaths, past cattle and alongside the river on our way to Middleham village.

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20170903_103725From the beginning we could see the ruined castle on the skyline and as we finally reached the village it seemed to have disappeared altogether. There was a pretty village church and at the entrance to a large house I was amused to see a tree with a bike displayed on its truck.

20170903_140355The square was unfortunately dominated by cars, parked in haphazard fashion filling the central space. Arranged around the periphery were several hotels, guest houses, pubs and tearooms, obviously a tourist honey pot.

20170910_202430-COLLAGE Walking around the back streets we found the castle and crossed the bridge over the dry moat through to the ruin of stone walls inside.  The castle is not huge but many of the walls are still in fair condition and still standing tall. The outer walls had towers at the corners and surrounded the inner keep giving an idea of the layout of the castle from long ago.  Against the outer walls were were broken and crumbled walls showing that there were many rooms of varying sizes and blackened stone could be seen where fireplaces had been. The keep originally had two rooms on the ground floor and two large upper halls above, each with massive stone fireplaces, arched windows and staircases at the corner.  Its claim to fame is that Richard III lived at the castle when he married, however he did not spend much time there during his reign.

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Chis giving the castle scale and Lucy with an ‘armless’ Richard III statue

As we were staying in Wensleydale, we decided to visit Wensley village and set off the following day on a long walk over fields and through woods with the aid of a map from the campsite.  Taking a different route out along the back lane we climbed in height, gaining lovely views over dry stone walls across the valleys stretching out to the horizon. Green fields dominated the area with grazing sheep and cattle, there were a few fields of harvested corn leaving scratchy stubble to walk over, the fields were all surrounded grey stone walls creating a lovely patchwork below us.

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We followed along a limestone escarpment known as Leyburn Shawl, steep slopes of rock falling away to our left with trees along the way.

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The pathway from the fields with wide open views, now led into mature, deciduous woodland with benches positioned for weary walkers who could only stare into the branches now blotting out any view. Falling leaves, fungi and the smell of damp decay under the canopy eventually gave way as we came out of a small gate into a long, gently sloping field of grass.

20170910_210545-COLLAGESonetime later, following a stoned track we passed by Keld Heads Smelt Mill with an impressively tall but disused chimney. Finally reaching Wensley with tired legs and very hungry, we stopped at The Three Horseshoes for a lovely cooked lunch with a cider and beer.  Having relaxed for around an hour we continued our walk through many more fields, some with horses, some with cattle and sheep, eventually coming back into Leyburn and taking the shorter, roadway back to the campsite. After a total of 8 miles I needed to sit down. Memories of those stunning views will last a long time!

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Posted in England, Uncategorized

27th – 29th August – Harrogate

We arrived in Harrogate to visit Adam and Zena after a leisurely drive of just 2.5 hours. The day was sunny and warm, and we had a nice afternoon chatting in their conservatory looking out over the field and watching a red kite circling overhead. Walking into town in the early evening we passed though a park hosting a food and drink festival.  The Tour de France came through Harrogate in 2014, to commemorate the racing is a stunning depiction made in stained glass by Caryl Hallett, and also a huge wood carving on permanent display in the centre of the town. We were heading for Konak Meze, a stylish Turkish restaurant where we enjoyed a fabulous meal with great Turkish wine and attentive staff. Heading home by taxi, we were soon tasting one of Zena’s favourite cocktails – espresso martini – this is made from coffee, vodka and Kahlua (a coffee liqueur), and very good it was too!


Heading out by car next day we had decided on a fossil hunting trip to Staithes a few miles north of Whitby. We were lucky to have a partly sunny day and made our way down hill through a quaint and pretty village where we had a pub lunch before walking by the harbour directly onto the beach at low tide.

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Dramatic towering cliffs clearly showed the various lawyers of sedimentary rock, your eyes could follow the different colours and see fault lines altering and interrupting the longitudinal lines. Soon we were discovering small fossilised remains of squid and many clam shells, occasionally partial imprints of larger organisms and what looked life plant life too. Walking across rocks and boulders making our way to the far side of the bay, there were many fossils to look at and we were all quite engrossed with our discoveries.

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After a couple of hours and much scrambling up and down rocks, trying to keep our feet dry and not wanting to slip, we had walked some considerable distance and made our way into yet another bay to head inland.

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A mighty steep, uphill scramble ensued, much sweating and panting as we made our way along a tiny track between the stumpy bushes and brambles. In places we had a rope to help us up the really bad bits, deep steps had been dug out of the mud with timber added to create an easier way up, and near the end was a form of ladder in 3 sections leaning into the steep hillside that you had to traverse on all-fours! After at least 30 minutes of this last stretch, we finally reached tarmac and after gathering our breath, headed off across a field footpath, we arrived back at the car in 40 minutes. What an achievement, an exciting and different day out.

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That ladder was exhausting!

Unfortunately Zena had to work next day, but Adam took us to Ripley Castle near to Harrogate which was very interesting. We had a look at the surrounding walled gardens which still had much colour in the long borders, well kept lawns, tropical plant collection in the hot-houses, vegetable garden and rare fruit trees. There was a lakeside walk through picturesque parkland complete with an illusive herd of fallow deer, conspicuous by their absence! However, we didn’t walk in the park because we wanted to have a guided tour of the castle and it didn’t disappoint.

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Posing with my brother Adam!

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This Grade I Listed, country house was built in the 14th century with a tower at one end, part of it was destroyed by fire and is now Georgian. Belonging to the Ingleby family since 1308, surviving plagues, civil wars, religious persecution, involvement in the Gun Powder Plot, two world wars and numerous recessions, they have lived at the castle for 39 generations. The Georgian part of the castle has lovely light and spacious rooms with many portraits of the Ingleby family, great pieces of furniture, china and interesting artefacts. The tower luckily was not damaged by the fire and survived with all the wooden panelling around the walls. It was much darker inside than the previous part of the castle, however, it was very interesting with massive stone fireplaces and smaller windows. The first floor room had a secret ‘priest hole’ hidden behind the panelling and just big enough for a man be concealed. Sir William Ingleby was a Royalist and fought for Charles I at Marston Moor. The battle was lost to Oliver Cromwell who was a Palimentarian, he spent the night at Ripley Castle so William hid in the priest-hole and was never found. A fascinating day out with beautiful garden and grounds. No photography was allowed inside the castle but I hope you get the idea!


During our stay in Harrogate, Bessie had a rest on Adam and Zena’s drive while we stayed inside spending time together after our days out.

 

Posted in England

25th – 26th August – Chesterfield

20170825_161248Having arrived on site at Poolsbrook Country Park in Staveley, just a few miles from Chesterfield, after an uneventful 3 hour drive I was ready to chill out for the rest of the day. However, after only an hour we found ourselves walking to the nearby lake in beautiful sunshine, admiring the wild flowers and bird life on the water. The waters edge was lined with teasel, purple loosestrife, bull rushes and ragwort creating a colourful spectacle as we walked along the gravelled path circumnavigating the lake. Many great crested grebes graced the water collecting small fish for their young, still sporting their grey and white vertically stripped necks, looking very handsome in the late afternoon sunshine. Mute swans, black headed gulls, moorhens and mallard were accompanied by a motley gaggle of farmyard geese with a few strange looking crossbred geese.

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Returning to Bessie we had barbecued chicken skewers with mushrooms, courgette and onions before walking into Staveley along dedicated walking trails. Passing by old bridges, between tall oak, sycamore and hawthorn trees the vista sometimes looked out over fields into the distance. Chris had found a couple of pubs in The Good Beer Guide noted for their real ale, so we headed inside and tested their offerings. The light was fading rapidly and I felt very nervous walking along the darkened and well shadowed path back with bicycles and dogs appearing out of the gloom.

The sun was already shining next day when we planned our walk into Chesterfield via the canal towpath.

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A lovely late summer day stretched ahead as we set off, the pathway lined with pink great willowherb, red clover and remnants of the last purple knapweed. There was also the yellows of ragwort, tansy, toad flax and some type of Hypericum which looked bright under the trees. An ornate signpost showed distance and direction, one of 1,000 erected as part of the National Cycle Way.

We saw a sparrowhawk, some pretty orange dragonflies and several butterflies including small tortoiseshell, large white, small copper feeding on buddleia, speckled wood and a solitary red admiral. The tall skeletal giant hog weed with oval seeds silhouetted against the pale stretches of river reflecting the blue skies above, while fluffy thistle down sat in huge clusters against the hedgerow. It seems the seasons are changing with red hawthorn berries, colourful rosehips, hazel nuts and damsons showing Autumn’s bounty.

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After 7 miles and a couple of stops to rest awhile, we arrived in Chesterfield. The magnificent twisted spire of St Mary & All Saints Parish Church towered above the town with its golden cockerel glinting in the warm sunshine.

20170826_140324It is so spectacular and quite staggering that with its distortions it is still standing at all. The spire was added in the 14 century, it is 230 ft tall, (70m), made from unseasoned wood and clad with nearly 33 tons of lead, today it is twisting 45 degrees and leaning 9ft 6 in, (2.9m) from its true centre!

Going inside the stained glass windows are bright and colourful, the dark carved pulpit contrasts with the high altar with its ornate gold frieze and multi-tiered chandeliers. If front of the massive organ pipes, stands the original font that was missing for around 300 years. It had been rescued and hidden by parishioners when many churches were plundered and destroyed, and now stands in its rightful place.

A ‘tower tour’ was next on our agenda and we climbed the narrow, spiral stone steps to the top, pausing to admire the 11 bells, the heaviest weighing 1.23 tons (1,270kg). The wooden structure inside the spire looked quite haphazard but the twisting has not helped.

We went further on up more stone steps, finally a ladder led us onto the narrow walkway around two sides of the spire. It was scary for me and I stayed very close to the spire, looking up made me quite dizzy!

We could appreciate the marvellous views. Looking across the town with its lovely black and white buildings, large town hall, market stalls and the 21st century shops to the countryside beyond. We were so lucky to have an amazing clear afternoon. Coming down afterwards was not so easy with no handrails for half of it and the fear of slipping, but we made it in the end, the whole experience was well worth the effort.

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Posted in England

4th – 8th August – Sidmouth, Devon

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We joined the Bessacarr Owners Club when we bought Bessie and thought it might be nice to go to our first ever Rally to meet fellow motorhomers with a ‘Bessie’ of their own. Driving down to Sidmouth on a Friday afternoon on the A303 in the school holidays was not a wise or well thought out route. However after 3 hours we rolled up on the site, a small golf course transformed by many motorhomes, caravans and tents of every conceivable shape, size and age. Thankfully our small group of 14 people in 6 caravans and our motorhome fitted nicely into one corner of the grounds with trees at the back of us and plenty of people watching available in front of us.
We arrived at 5pm and literally after pulling on the hand brake and locking the doors, we were immediately invited to join everyone else for wine and cheese, masses of it! Getting to know everyone while eating a cheesy banquet, trying to remember names while drinking wine, and swapping stories about trips was a wonderful introduction to the group and it past 11pm when we went off to bed.
Our first goal next day was to attempt to put up our newly acquired, and ridiculously named, Privacy Room. It is 4 meters long by 2.5 meters wide and fits onto the wind-out canopy, having two sides and a front, complete with 3 large windows and a door. Private – I don’t think so. Anyway we accomplished it in a relatively acceptable time and it means we can store the table, chairs, sunbeds, BBQ, shoes etc without having to put them away every night.

 

 

That done, we disappeared to find the bus into Sidmouth town centre to have a look at the Folk Festival and accompanying Beer and Cider Festivals. As it was sunny we had a walk along the promenade and made our way up 50 steps to view the scene below while munching a very tasty ice cream and admired the Connaught gardens which have been constant winners of various awards since the 1980s.

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As we planned to spend the following day at the festival, we took the bus back and joined our fellows campers at our joint BBQ. We all contributed food items, a couple of chefs dealt with the cooking and we were soon tucking in to 2 types of Pimms by the jug-full, and all manner of food.

 

 

After coffee and Jill’s home made cakes on Sunday morning we decided to walk down to Sidmouth and after a short bit of busy road we made our way down a footpath and cycle track with mature trees and fields beyond. There was a small Nature Reserve with benches and noticeboards and further on it developed into an open space of trees, mown grass areas and gardens as it neared the town. Having worked up a thirst we decided to visit the Swan as there was live music, with a multitude of musicians playing small accordions, violins, various sized recorders and guitars. Everyone was so relaxed enjoying the music and sea shanties and as we can’t play or sing, we tried the beer and cider which was very good. Returning to the sea front we found the promenade heaving with people and craft stalls, and the streets were decked with flags and bunting, with lots of happy, smiling people enjoying the music, dancing and food on offer. We enjoyed fresh crab sandwiches on the promenade before winding our way through the streets, visiting another watering hole, before catching the bus back.

 

 


The weather was forecast to be rainy on Monday so we said our goodbyes and headed east to find better weather. Stopping at a campsite in Osmington for one night enabled us to visit Weymouth for the afternoon by bus. The beach is a long and wide curve of sand, complete with donkeys, helter-skelter, sand sculptures and ice-cream stalls at one end and a walkway the length of it passing a Nature Reserve at the far end. It was a little grey and breezy, so we opted to walk around by the harbour in the shelter of the quayside buildings and just happened upon a handy little pub with seating outside in the sun so we could watch the boats in comfort.

 

 


On our way back next day and not wanting to waste an opportunity, we decided to visit the Blue Pool at Furzebrook just south of Wareham. It is a disused clay pit and depending on the size of clay particles suspended in the water, the colour will vary from red-brown, grey, green to a blue/turquoise. It was more green and brown but still beautiful surrounded by paths among the pine trees and flowering heather which we meandered around for an hour before finally heading home.

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Posted in England

18th – 25th July – A Busy Week

With a lot of planning, telephone calls and emails, we finally pulled together a week travelling around in Bessie. We had three days at the Norfolk Motorhome Show, met up with family and friends en-route, and stayed in five different counties.
Oxfordshire was the first county staying at a small site in Tetsworth with mown pitches, roses and shrubs among mature trees. We met up with Wendy, my junior school friend, and soon made our way to Waterperry Gardens which were beautiful with colourful long borders. There were several sculptures including one of a boy on top of a beautiful ornate gate. After our evening meal together in their garden and lots of catching up, her husband John kindly returned us to Bessie.

 

 

 


Cambridgeshire followed on where we stayed at another small site, this time a grass field with electric hook ups on posts along one edge. Although the weather was dull and grey we walked back through the village, passing a fully working windmill on our way to visit the National Trust Wicken Fen Reserve. It was a nice walk alongside a canal and narrow boat, the fens had lots of wild flowers and rare Konic ponies, we saw marsh harriers, reed bunting, great spotted woodpecker and kingfisher among others. There was a rain streaked view across fields from the campsite to the village where we met up with Chris’ niece Lisa and husband Steve for our evening meal in the local pub, returning later to Bessie we finished the evening with brandy and coffee.

 


Norfolk was where we headed after breakfast, stopping off at RSPB Lakenheath with its fens to the side of the path, and huge poplars to shelter us from the wind and later on rain too. The only good birds we saw were a family of four marsh harriers including one parent making a food pass to a youngster. Continuing on to the Norfolk Show Ground near Norwich, we arrived around 4pm at the Motorhome Show for three days of fun. Apart from all the motorhomes to look at, there were many accessories, merchandise and sales goodies to investigate. Each night there was a music show which included Motown and Soul music, tribute acts too with Diana Ross, Four Tops, Michael Jackson, and lastly the original Jimmy James & The Vagabonds.

 

 

It was such good value for money as the three days including entertainment only cost £50, we took all our food and most of our drinks and made a couple of friends who we spent each evening with.

We also had an afternoon trip into nearby Norwich City and joined a walking tour with an enthusiastic guide showing and telling us about many historic highlights. It is a beautiful city with cobbled streets, stone and flint churches, city hall and the largest 6-days a week permanent market in the country, sadly there was no time to visit the cathedral so we will be going back!

 


Suffolk was our fourth county to visit my college friend Sue and husband Ron. Arriving in the small village of Woolpit our campsite was called Swan Lake and had a small paddock sheltered by tall trees, the good sized lake was to one side with several mallards but no swans! Having eaten lunch at the village pub together, we went back to their home for a cup of tea and chatted for a couple of hours, reminiscing about our agricultural secretarial course among other things.

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Surrey was the final county on our week of rambling. Arriving at Hoe Farm in Worplesdon to a mown camping field surrounded by pony paddocks, stables and trees, it was hard to imagine we were on the outskirts of Woking close to London. Taking the train after lunch we arrived at Guildford after 5 minutes meeting up with Chris’ cousin Ann and husband John. Following the River Wey and a canal called The Wey Navigation we headed into a park with a bronze sculpture and a family of swans, stopping at a couple of pubs as we went by. Later having caught up with each other’s news and holidays, we enjoyed an evening meal together before returning to Bessie for our last night.

 


It was a busy few days and very enjoyable too. The journey home was quick and the weather improved too, the sun finally coming out which had been lacking for most of our days away. We just have to book up Sidmouth in early August now ……

Posted in England

Bessie – Bessacarr, June 2017 …..

An unplanned series of events has lead us to change our motorhome sooner than planned. The idea was to investigate a shorter vehicle to change to in a few years time.  On our way home from Devon in May we stopped off at Chelston Motorhomes in Wellington, Somerset to look for a model we had researched.  Having looked around and weighed up various pros and cons, we eventually moved away from our previous ideas and instead of moving on ourselves, we continued looking, it was like kids in a sweet shop!

A Bessacarr took our attention and although the plan was only to look, we ended up ‘doing a deal’ and we were suddenly grinning like Cheshire cats 😆

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We unimaginatively nicknamed her ‘Bessie’, and took delivery in mid June, stopping for one free night at the dealership to test everything out and then moved on to Glastonbury for a a further night.  She is crucially shorter in length and at only 7.04m long she is easier to manoeuvre and position on a pitch. Her lighter weight at just 3.5 tons and a Low Profile model will also make fuel economy more efficient.

She has a pale coloured, modern interior with plenty of light coming through big windows. A well equipped kitchen with full cooker, grill, 3 gas rings and one electric, microwave, large fridge and good sized freezer section, this means we can continue to enjoy cooking while travelling. There is a dedicated shower room with great facilities that is  light and has plenty of floor space to move around comfortably. With access to two separate wardrobes and a small set of drawers there is also plenty storage for shoes and boots too.

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The front seats swivel to face the two long comfortable side seats giving plenty of space for daytime relaxing and a wall mounted TV for evening entertainment.  Having moved away from a dedicated bedroom to get a shorter vehicle, we have been very pleased with the seating that quickly and easily converts into a large double bed, or two separate single beds if required, both with ample storage beneath. Add to that, the dedicated bedding called Duvalays, that have a memory foam mattress contained within purpose made cotton covers zipped to the quilts which throw over you as in a regular bed, we are ‘snug as bugs in a rug’. The bed is made in 3 minutes, while storing under the seating during the day means no clutter either.

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As you can tell, we know we made a good decision to change our motorhome sooner rather than later. We gained valuable and lengthy experience with 7 weeks travelling around Spain in Della,  but it was time to let someone else enjoy her.  The things we learned will enable us to keep our dreams of adventure going for many more years with Bessie as our means of transport and mobile home.

 

Posted in England

11th – 13th May – Barnstaple, Devon

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We left Lydford behind after 3 days, we headed north to the Barnstaple area and a small site on at Collacott Farm near Fremington.  These ‘Certified Location’ sites only allow a few ‘campers’ and it was full with only 2 caravans, 2 other motorhomes and us, we all had ample space around our pitches and a field in front of us with 3 alpacas to keep us entertained.  There was also a lovely view across many fields to the estuary of the River Taw beyond and a few wind turbines completed the picture.

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While we were in Spain in March earlier this year we met a lovely couple, Ro and Ian, who live in Barnstaple, hence our visit to this area.  After our lunch they came to the site to meet up again and they took us out to Instow a small village where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet with Appledore on the opposite side of the estuary. We walked along the beach with Cassie, their lovely cocker spaniel, it was a blustery, grey day and after a while we all decamped to a pub overlooking the beach.  Rain soon followed but we had a great time catching up with each other inside.

The weather had changed next day and although there was a lot of cloud around, the sun also put in an appearance for a while.

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We walked down from the campsite into the village of Fremington between the flower filled Devon hedgerows, predominantly blue with blue bells, speedwell and violets, and white with stitchwort, hedge-parsley and jack-by-the-hedge.  We heard the skylarks singing high above us, while lower down the jackdaws were being blown around by the wind. Further on at Fremington Quay, we saw the abandoned old skeletons of wooden boats stuck in the mud and brightly painted boats further beyond, a real vision of the timescale involved in the life of a quay.

20170512_105416We spotted shelduck, mallard and two whimbrel on the tidal mud flats before stopping off for coffee and flapjack at the café overlooking the estuary. After our refreshments, we walked all the way to Barnstaple along a coastal path with vast areas of salt marsh, swallows skimming the ground for insects, curlew, cormorants and gulls dotted around and cattle in the fields behind.

 

20170512_135505Eventually the old and the new Barnstaple bridges came into sight and we admired a few of the buildings on our way to finding lunch at the Rolle Quay.  A real taste of the past, with proper bubble and squeak made with vegetables from the Sunday roast, two sausages and an egg.

 

The walk was 7 miles from the campsite and with tired legs our pre-arranged meeting with Ro and her car was most welcome.  We enjoyed the rest of the day with her and Ian at their home, including a wonderful evening meal of salmon and several glasses of wine eventually arriving back on the campsite at midnight!

We all got together again on our third and final day, Ian drove us out to Hartland Point west of Bideford and north of Bude.  The scenery is dramatic with the rocky outcrop standing at 325ft with fascinating rock layers moved in multiple directions, contorted and twisted over the passage of time.  There was pink thrift and yellow kidney vetch everywhere making a very pretty backdrop as we sat down to admire the view and have lunch and a drink in the sunshine.

 

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The tide was out showing the rocks leading out to sea, there was once a harbour here but the terrible storms took their toll and eventually after years of repairs the old pier head and wall were destroyed in 1887.  The route home took in Appledore and an ice cream on the sea front, doing a spot of people watching, looking over the sandflats at people walking out there as the tide was coming in, foolish to say the least.

 

Back in Barnstaple Ian fired up the BBQ and we were soon enjoying a feast with a few glasses vino tinto to help the party along!  We had such a great time with Ro and Ian; a chance meeting in Los Escullos, Spain a few months ago and a shared interest of motorhome travelling, has developed further with our visit to Barnstaple and more plans for Spain in the Autumn!

Ottery St Mary – 14th May

For the last 3 days of our break in Devon, we left the north coast and headed south to Putts Corner near Ottery St Mary, inland from Sidmouth. We relaxed after setting up and enjoyed a bottle of Rosé in the sunshine, the forecast for the next few days is not so good so it would be rude not too!

20170515_161100The British weather finally showed her cards when it poured down all night which was very noisy on Della’s roof. We had large trees behind and to the side of us and the debris in the morning was plain to see over us and everyone else. There was a mist over the campsite and it was like looking through a veil.

Using the time wisely, I continued learning my Spanish (ready for subsequent visits) and eventually progressed to writing this blog.  Eventually cabin fever took over, the rain stopped briefly around 4pm, and Chris and I legged it through a beautiful bluebell wood to the pub for a change of scenery.

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After only one drink in a near deserted pub we retraced our steps back to the campsite to watch TV.  The weather had beaten us virtually all day.

 

This morning we listened to the forecast which turned out to be more of the same and decided to abandon our last day in Devon and disappear back to a hopefully sunny Salisbury.

Well it has certainly been dryer, except for a couple of short showers, and this afternoon I have been able to paint more of the fence!!

Posted in England

8th – 10th May – Lydford – Devon

May 2017

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Having found an opportunity to get away and explore some of Devon in springtime, we decided to visit three areas.  We planned seeing an area on the edge of Dartmoor, the north coast to visit friends in Barnstaple then travel down to south Devon.  After a three hour drive in beautiful sunny weather we arrived at the edge of Dartmoor and set up on the Lydford Campsite. 

Very soon we disappeared on an exploratory walk in the lanes nearby and found a beautiful wooded area by a river, the beech trees looked amazing with their new leaves in soft green glowing in the sunlight.  The small river was very picturesque and had a bridge over it inviting us to explore the far side.  There we found a sunken footpath leading us uphill between the trees which grow on top of the walls.   These are known as Devon Hedges and are built with earth and stones between the walls and the shrubs, trees and plants grow on them making a very secure barrier, providing shelter to animals in fields and nice calm walking conditions in the lanes.  Walking under a viaduct that used to carry a railway line, we came out at the top of the wood and walked along the field margins into the lane and back to the campsite for an alfresco meal in the sunshine.

Next day we walked Lydford Gorge which belongs to the National Trust, it was really beautiful with swathes of blue bells and wild garlic under mixed woodland.

The walk itself was along small pathways high above the river in the bottom, and along the way we noted around 30 different species of wild flowers and 20 different birds, including the elusive pied flycatcher which is nesting in the woods.

20170509_12594020170509_133847 AAfter around 90 minutes we had been descending steadily downhill we admired the wonderful The White Lady Waterfall which is 30 meters high.

Carrying on towards the end of the walk, The Devil’s Cauldron could be heard before it was seen.  The sound of water roaring against the rocky gorge was quite loud and the black rocks were worn smooth by the action of the water which formed the deep cauldrons.

20170508_160227On the way back we stopped to look the pretty and very well kept village church. Next to it was a ‘Lydford Castle’, not so much a castle really, but a tower for imprisoning ‘naughty tin-miners’ so the plaque informed us!

As the weather was so pleasant, the next day we ventured out again in warm sunshine to walk the Granite Trail, leading among other places to Okehampton, a distance of 10 miles.  The walk was level and easy along a decommissioned railway line, with a tarmac surface between the trees, hedgerows and fields offering tremendous views across open countryside beyond. Here we heard a cuckoo, the first of the year for us, the lambs were well grown and a few cattle dotted around the fields completed a beautiful day in the countryside.

We had our picnic when we entered Okehampton and later had a walk around the small market town looking at the local shops.  However, shopping is not our ‘thing’, and after 3 hours of walking we needed a rest. Having found a pub with a lovely sheltered garden located on a high point in the town, we enjoyed a well-earned drink and enjoyed views across the town to the hills beyond while waiting for the local bus that whizzed us back to Lydford in 20 minutes. That evening we treated ourselves to a meal at The Castle, a pub in the village with real character, excellent cooking and only 15 minutes walk back to Della waiting on the campsite.

Our three days at Lydford was at an end, next stop Barnstaple ……