So currently not able to run, walk or work you would think I would have hours to plan and research our next Scottish adventure but as excited as I am to go I just can’t be bothered doing anything, I don’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything for long.
I did discover that the Glenlivet 10km is the first Sunday we are away and having got as far as deciding we were heading up to Loch Morlich (an hour from Glenlivet) I asked my whiskey loving husband if a side trip was possible, how could he say no to a distillery? So I have signed up to the run, have an overnight spot in mind close to the distillery and then 2 nights booked on a site at Loch Morlich.
Now from there we have an idea we would like to head to the coast, Mallaig, Arisaig, Ardnamurchan and Oban possibly but I ask for any other campervan owners for advice on stopovers, any other adventurers any suggestions for walks, runs, good coffee shops, pubs and any other places of interest that we should visit?
I look forward to seeing some comments, thank you in advance.
New Year’s Eve 2019, we didn’t fancy going out so instead went on an adventure.
Monday 30th finished work, headed home for dinner, the van was already packed up, the forecast was for a mild night the last time we checked so we decided to head off early, we had a campsite booked for NYE but would just find a parking spot somewhere near Ribblehead viaduct for the night.
The Railway pub at Ribblehead allows campervans to park up and is clearly very popular as we could see ALOT of vans parked there as we passed, we took the first right just further on and found a large lay-by to stay in. Not long after we stopped the gritter drove along, wait what, the weather people had kept saying it was to be a mild new year.
Well let’s just say we got no sleep and the first thing I did once we got home was to order us both thermal long sleeve tops and full length bottoms!
What a view we had once it was light.
We drove over to the big parking bay nearer to Ribblehead viaduct, made breakfast and wrapped up to head out for our first walk of Whernside, one of the Yorkshire 3 peaks. It was a gorgeous, yet cold, sunny morning, however just passed the surprise Tarn as we were nearing the summit the cloud rolled in, the wind got stronger and it was bitterly cold, no view from the summit at all but considering how slippery the stone path had been going up I was just glad to have made it.
The descent wasn’t too bad as the sun was shining on the stone on that side, or had been I should say, we didn’t actually get back into sunshine until we were almost at the farm. From the farm there are lot’s of options back to the viaduct, we took what looked the most direct, with the help of OS maps app.
I was pleased I had made some soup the previous weekend and brought it with us as this made a quick and warming (I went overboard with the spices) lunch once back at the van.
Warmed up it was time to head to www.langcliffe.com a lovely caravan site just outside settle. Once settled on our pitch I headed straight out for a run, I have to admit I did not feel like it after an 8 mile walk but if I am going to achieve my running goals then I have to get some consistency back and I always enjoy exploring new areas.
3.5 miles at sunset, perfect then back to half a lager and a curry or so I thought until we realised the curry we had brought was still frozen! Wrapped up again we headed into Settle hoping for some fish and chips, the chippy was shut so instead I had to find ingredients for something, anything from the garage and go back and cook.
We actually had quite a nice chicken chow mein, a Prosecco and in bed by 10.30 absolutely shattered.
Of course we were woken at midnight by fireworks, they sounded VERY close to the van, Hank, our cocker spaniel was terrified, he is usually ok but I guess the bangs were exceptionally loud, we were so tired we couldn’t even bring ourselves to rise and watch the display, as soon as they were done I was out for the count.
New Year’s Day 2020
We had a lie in and a leisurely morning, coffee and bagels then headed away from our pitch, a flying visit but a site we will return to again I’m sure. We asked a reception if there was somewhere we could park and headed off on our walk of the day from the site.
Warrendale knotts and Victoria caves was the perfect distance post Whernside and allowed us time to stop for a sandwich and be home in time for the football!
Best new year, shame Steve is on call next year and we won’t be able to do something similar again.
May Day bank holiday and we were both off, living so close to the Lake District yet having exercised from home for so long we didn’t want to go far and we wanted to avoid the crowds that head to the Lakes on bank holidays.
With not many sites open yet we felt sure our favourites would be busy so I got on http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk website to see if there were any certified sites. Sella farm at Ulpha stood out, we know this is a quieter area, a quick look on OS maps showed plenty of paths pretty much from the site so I felt sure I would be too late to get availability given that certified sites only have 5 pitches but too my surprise we were in look.
Such a lovely family that own the farm and campsite, it is adult only and very basic, literally a drinking water tap, bin and toilet emptying but this is why it suits us, basic sites in the middle of know where are less likely to attract the wrong crowd.
We live literally 35 minutes away so having done a couple of errands as we set off we headed to Silecroft beach as it was too early to arrive at site. A short out and back walk on the English coast path and back to the van for lunch then up to Sella farm.
We had quite a chat with the owners on arrival, admired the foal that had arrived just 3 days earlier and her Mum and got the awning up, had a cider/beer and headed out for a late afternoon walk. A 5 mile loop, following the river in part and through some woods.
Sunday morning I decided to run the same loop but in reverse as there is a road section that is best to do when quiet so I got that out of the way before 8am, I saw much more in the way of wildlife than we had the previous evening but then I didn’t have the dogs with me. Peregrine, deer, grey squirrel, a stoat and lots of little birds and of course the native herdwick. The last couple of miles it decided to Chuck it down, I hesitated on exiting the wood but when I looked around it wasn’t going to ease for sometime so I embraced it and although I got back soaked I stripped off straight away and into dry clothes and thankfully Steve had the heater on in the van. (This years addition, a diesel heater)
A lazier breakfast was then on the cards as there was no rush to get back out in that again but in actual fact within an hour or so it had faired up and we decided to take our chances.
Straight out of the site again we headed along the road a short distance before taken a path just before the bridge and off up the fell, we were soon stripping offnthe layers as it had got warm, we didn’t see a sole for the first 2 miles but as we headed down towards a road on the other side of the fell and started climbing again to Stickle Tarn we were joined by 3 walkers that looked to be doing the same route.
We headed up again taking in Stickle Pike, Tarn Hill and Great Stickle before making our decent back to Sella Farm. This section was fairly busy but it turned out to be one group of people that had split up a bit, mostly children but I have to be honest, I was glad when they took a different path towards the end, there was far too much shouting to each other, for me the Lake district and Great outdoors is all about peace and tranquility and enjoying the sounds of nature.
In hindsight we maybe should have packed up the awning after this walk because Monday morning was wet with gale force winds. The awning pegs were blowing out one at a time and while eating our lunch we decided maybe we should just take it down as quickly and safely as possible and go home. Ending a break early because of the weather is something we have not done before and is very disappointing, I hope we don’t do it again for a long time.
Anyway all in all our first certified site was a winner. Will definitely try more.
After a tough 7 mile walk on the first day we thought Hank our cocker spaniel would prefer a flatter walk on day 2. We set off along the road side shore of brothers water towards Patterdale.
We had our http://www.ascendancyapparel.com and fjalraven trash bags with us luckily as there were so many plastic bottles and other bits of litter along the path. By the time we reached Patterdale we had filled 2 bags, emptied them in the bin there and then filled them again on the way back from Glenridding to Patterdale, the bin that was empty we had now half filled. Filling one bag again on the road back from Patterdale to the car park at the end of brotherswater. Thank fully the path above the shoreline to the campsite was pretty clean.
Wednesday morning, Steven’s 40th birthday what a place to wake up. I got out for an early morning loop of brothers water, a short but beautiful run. Stopped far too many times to take photos as you will see below. After a bacon and sausage bun we headed back home. Already planning our next trip in the van.
So here we are again, after months of restrictions April 12th 2021 came around, we had this week booked off for months so as soon as the “road map” 🙄 was announced I was on it looking for availability. Not wanting to travel far we booked just one night (all that was available) at http://www.sykeside.co.uk this is one of our favourite sites, surrounded by fells the views are incredible. After the no loos announcement I checked again and there had obviously been some cancel so I contacted the site and amended the booking to 2 nights.
Normally we would travel somewhere straight after work Friday night and really make the most of our time off but not this time. Waking up Monday morning to an email from the campsite I thought the worst and the government must have back tracked but no instead they were now allowing toilets to be open! We had a quick breakfast and got on our way.
Checking in early, very kind of the campsite but being the first on site after the closure I guess it wasn’t harming anyone, we parked up, plugged in and were on our way up Dove crag, this time we were going to find priest hole cave, having tried and failed before.
Funny enough the only people we came close to on the 7.5 miles loop were also looking for the cave and sounded like they had done similar to us the first time. This time we were sure we had seen in so confidently directed and followed them up, thank fully we were right. Such a cracking day to get in there, I was surprised how small and rocky the ground is inside, considering it is such a popular wild camp spot, it can’t be very comfy.
After the cave which is approximately 2 miles from the campsite we continued our ascent and paused for lunch looking across to part of the Fairfield horse shoe, there was a steady stream of walkers but not crowded at any part. The views, were just incredible, we were so lucky with the weather but then this is why we did this walk on the first day, Tuesdays forecast was not as good. We soon got cold stopped eating so got on our way, pausing for more photos looking across lake windermere towards home and then the descent back to Sykeside, shame the brothers water in is only opening Friday, Saturday, Sunday at the moment, we were ready for a pint.
Old fencing equipment, I found interesting as a farmers daughter
Almost back at site, looking at where we have been
When we got the news that Kielder marathon weekend was cancelled we decided to still travel for our 3 nights that were booked at @Kielder campsite as we love the area and I could sign up for a virtual version and still get to do it around Kielder water.
As we got nearer to the date, I was struggling with a niggle in my knee and then the forecast gave a yellow weather warning from 0300 Saturday morning to 1800 Sunday evening for wind and rain, do we still go?
Of course, what’s a bit of rain, it’s still a break away from home. I decided I would sign up to the virtual 10km rather than the half and we packed up the van ready.
Saturday morning we got set off, the weather wasn’t too bad yet but by the time we arrived at the site, 1400 bob on check in time, we chose our pitch, a small puddle by our side and got soaked getting the awning up but at least we then had space for the camping toilet and could hang the wet clothes up in there.
The rest of the day was spent watching SWAT, drinking tea and eating a delicious dinner of meatballs and pasta, a proper cosy afternoon and evening.
Sunday morning we were surprised to wake up to a glimmer of hope the sun might come out and a party of 16 ducks on the now very large puddle by our pitch 😂
We had coffee and bagels and by the time we were dressed we had blue sky ready to head off for our walk. I had used the os maps app to look up walks before we headed to Kielder, knowing there is no phone signal, I had chosen a walk that headed up the forest drive to a farm and then crossed a river and headed back down through the forest to Kielder water and downloaded the map. Simple, right? No,at the farm we couldn’t see the path at all, we followed the download and got to the bridge over the river where things got worse, we saw a sign that showed at some point this had been a path but it obviously had not been used for some time and we had to fight our way through ferns, following the little arrow on the map to ensure we were in roughly the right area. We then had to cross another treacherous section with slippy we branches and heathers underfoot working our way along a deer fence that was a boundary to a section that had been felled, I imagine the path once went through that section and this is why it was no longer used, we eventually found our way to a fire track. The toughest mile we had walked in a long time, we were in need of our sausage roll and flapjack. Refreshed we decided to follow the fire track down to where it linked up with the blue (osprey) cycle path and eventually joined with the path we had originally planned on walking again to follow the water back to Kielder castle and for us back to the campsite. Just over 9 miles walked, we had been lucky with the weather and Hank had done great for an old dog that keeps trying to get out of walks.
Kielder forest drive
Some lovely blue sky made it a warm walk but gosh the temperature dropped when the sun went in
Steve and the dogs making a path for me to follow 😬
We walked over the viaduct towards the end of the walk
So we may have walked 9 miles but I still had my virtual 10km to do so a cup of tea to hydrate a bit more and off out again I went. I wanted to stick close to the water so decided to follow the south lakeside way for 3 miles and turn back changing the end slightly to go under the viaduct.
Starting my virtual 10km
I knew my legs were tight, they had been bad and causing me knee pain when running for about 10 days, I had been doing yoga in a hope of stretching them out but from about 4miles I was struggling, this area and my knees just don’t get on, 2 years ago the Kielder half marathon had broken me and this year I was meant to beat it! I had to keep stopping and stretching every few hundred metres but I did it. 6.29 miles, I couldn’t remember exactly what 10km was so 6 miles would have got me to the van, I did the classic run by the finish to make sure you get the distance but god that last 100metres or so was a hobble, my knee was agony, I was glad it was done.
This time I went under the viaduct
A hearty dinner of sausage casserole and focaccia and another day was done.
Monday, my right leg is agony I can barely walk with pain in my knee and a muscle I just couldn’t stretch, I had a good go at stretching hamstrings, quads and glutes in the toilets though, so glad no one walked in, it didn’t really help walking back to the van was still painful.
Today is Steven’s day to get out on the mountain bike, something he doesn’t do often, he headed out with an idea he may do a harder shorter loop and then the easier osprey loop that we had seen parts of on our walk the previous day, no phone signal and no idea how long the ride will take I am left at the van with the dogs in limbo a bit.
1310 great timing for lunch, he was back. Quick sandwich and flapjack and it’s my turn, I wanted to do the multi user lakeside way but did I go South where I had run? But go a bit further or try what had been described to me as the harder North, I went North.
Less than a mile in I had my usual gear mishap, it takes me a while to figure out which side is which and off comes the chain, so I could push the bike a mile back and give up on the thought of a bike ride, hope some mountain biker comes along and sees a damsel in distress or man up and tackle it myself. No option really I had to figure it out myself and this might sound stupid to a lot but I am proud that I managed to get it back on and useable again. So off I went, my tired legs powering me up hills and being rewarded with long swooping downhills, “keep off the breaks” in my head the whole time, of course I did use the breaks, probably more than most people but less than I used to, I think I’m getting braver 😂
I had an idea of doing 4miles then turning round but I was enjoying it so much, even in the heavy rain showers that I carried on to just over 6, I would love to do the full loop sometime but at 26 miles, I think I need some practice first and maybe to do it with someone who can fix punctures etc just in case. The bike had developed a squeak which was part of the reason I decided I had best turn back, I didn’t want anything else going wrong, it would be dark if I had to walk back. 12.7 miles and I was back at the van, muddy but happy, that was my kind of mountain biking, none of this carrying the bike up a mountain to fly back down malarkey.
A very short walk to the castle and back with the dogs and it’s time for chilli, nachos and more SWAT.
Tuesday is time to head home unfortunately, while packing up the awning we were treated to an raf fly by though, a huge aircraft flew over the campsite 5 or 6 times.
Before leaving I spoke to Steve the campsite manager to clear up a couple of queries for my stay next year for Kielder half when I will have to come on my own and he is so helpful, if you are staying on the site and have any queries, just go and speak to him but allow some time, he can talk 😂
Then we were off, we stopped at the National trusts Allen banks for a lovely short walk and lunch in the van before going home.
Midweek and we are moving on, driving North to Barnard castle. This site has no facilities except for the lot wash open due to COVID 19, so all guests must have their own toilet within their unit or be able to erect a toilet tent with in their pitch. Luckily we have a camping toilet, this would be the first time it was used😬 We had booked to have our awning up which has a sleeping pod within it, this would be our bathroom.
After lunch and setting up we headed out of the site into the nature reserve behind for a walk, it comes right up to the campsite but unfortunately you can not get onto the path there, instead you take the track immediately to the left as you walkout of the exit and follow it down to a bridle way and into the reserve
As you can see we managed a good distance and were ready for a beer when we got back to the van
Next day we walked from the site again down the same way into the reserve but this time following the path down to Barnard Castle, the forecast had been for an overcast day but the sun kept popping out and by the time we got to the castle we were hot and shedding some layers.
There are lots of walks around Barnard Castle, definitely recommend for walkers. Running however not so great, the nature reserve is so muddy, I like a good trail run but this was not one I fancied and it was difficult to do road as the road the campsite was off was pretty busy, I think if you wore trail shoes and did a combination of road and trail you might be ok. I made the mistake of wearing road thinking I new what the bridle way would be like having been on a section of it earlier in the day but actually ended up walking a section through a cow field and struggling on mud in an eerie wood section 🤦🏻♀️
Friday and it’s the day we go home, we wanted to do another walk on the way so we were packed away and on the road around 10am heading for Bowlers visitor centre car park to do high and low force, a lovely walk, we only did the short option but will definitely be back. Steve took photos but it would be nice to see in different light and I would like to run it too. There is also a bigger walk option taking in some fells so plenty of options to explore another time. Shame there is no overnight parking allowed.
That is us done, I would say the first post lockdown trip was a success, our old boy Hank did brilliantly walking so hopefully we can get more trips and bigger walks done soon.
So it is normal for our first night in the van to be disrupted, Hank (cocker spaniel) struggles to settle and then wakes at first light so we were up about 6, a cloudy gray day. We had made plans to walk in Dalby forest and then call at a friends for a garden tea and catch up. So we set off fairly early and made breakfast once we were at the car park, Bridestones, one of the more northerly car parks and we were the first vehicle in it. We ate breakfast and set off to walk the National Trust Bridestones. It must have been about 10am when we set off, not a long walk, less than 3 miles but a nice walk and great for social distancing, only saw one family and that was about 1/4 of a mile from the end 😊
Next we drove down to the visitors centre to use the facilities and pay our £9 toll road/parking fee, as this is pretty steep we wanted to make the most of the forest so drove north again to the final car park, had lunch and then did the Jerry Noddle trail. A bit of a disappointing walk really, it said it had spectacular views, they were nothing special but it gave us more exercise and passed some time.It turns out that the toll at the north end has been moved and in actual fact if you arrived from the North you could park in two car parks and not pay the toll.
After this we headed down to Pickering for Tea and a catch up and then back to the van for dinner.
Final day at this site and we had a leisurely start to the day before driving over to the coast, RSPB Bempton cliffs was our first stop, however the whole of Yorkshire seemed to have arrived just before us and we got turned away.
Instead we drove down to North Landings at Flamborough head, turns out we had parked here before, a large car park, not many here yet and only £1.80 all day, although we were stopped from buying a ticket by a man who had just loaded his boat back up, there are some kind folk still out there 😀
We made a mug of tea and then headed off on our Puffin searching walk, it wasn’t long until we had spotted a few, not many amongst the gulls and kittiwakes but they were there. Top tip, look out for the bright orange feet. Seeing puffins never fails to make us smile, they are so cute, we stopped at a few spots for Steve to take photos then continued our walk round to Flamborough head light house. There are actually 2, one traditional on the cliff and a second, the original is a hexagonal shape but a lot further from the cliff’s, it is on the edge of a gold course and a good way off the coastal path so we didn’t go to investigate further, maybe next time. We walked back the same way, of course stopping to watch the birds again, this time we spotted a hole in the cliff and a little head looking out. We didn’t hang around as long, by now we were starving.
We made lunch back at the van and looked at a map to figure out our next move. Bridlington wasn’t far so we decided to have a drive down there. We should have researched, we found a closed road meant we could not get to the beach we thought, we were being stingy and didn’t want to pay to park as we didn’t want to go in shops or anything really so we ended up in Tesco car park to decide what to do, here we were asked by a man about our pop top roof, he was thinking of getting a van. Of course we said the pop top gives us more room and recommended Skyline North up in Chester or street.
A decision was made to head to Scarborough, we knew where to park and it was a short direct route back to the campsite, it would be tea time by the time we got there so we could just get the chippy tea we had been craving.
Parking under the castle we paid (after 6 it is free) and walked along to the harbour, I was checking out chip shops along the way, eyeing up what people were eating. The closer we got to the beach the busier it got and I started to feel uncomfortable so we went to The Anchor fish and chip shop near the harbour. They had a great set up, sanitiser as you entered, place order at a till with a screen, your receipt has a number on it and then you can take a seat outside at a large spacious table or for takeaway wait in the large area between, I guess normally this was filled with tables too. Unfortunately they don’t yet do gluten free but they do have measures set in place and were about to start this when COVID hit and so everyone needed training and the shop needed altering so understandably they didn’t want to have to also train there staff in Gf matters. Our number was shouted, I collected the fish and chips and we took them back to the van to eat with a sea view.
A short drive back to the site for our last night at Vale of pickering a great site, we really like it here an would definitely recommend.
So it is Sunday July 12th 2020, last weekend some campsites and hotels etc re opened and as I was told at short notice I couldn’t have the long weekend off that I had had booked off since December this week off was booked instead, thankfully Steve could get the week too.
So we got our thinking caps on, where to go that was spacious with plenty of walks with hopefully not too many people. I looked up Vale of Pickering, a site we have been to before and they had availability for the nights I checked, we decided to have Saturday at home to sort the van and chill a bit thinking Sunday may be quieter on site.
I had discovered one of our favourite cafe’s had re opened with tables well spaced out so a decision was made to leave home at 9am to get to Goat go cafe for opening time and have breakfast en route. Good job we got there as they opened, by 10.30 all the tables were taken.
I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of the food to be honest, a massive plate full of 2 of everything, slices of toast, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, tomato,3 sausages and a small dish of beans, proper good local meat, £9.50 but bloody good, we didn’t need another meal until tea time. We continued our drive through Ripon and Thirsk and just before Pickering, although knowing we were nearly at our final destination we stopped for the dogs to have a comfort break and came across this lovely scene.
We carried on arriving on site at 1330, it looked quite busy but then we remembered a lot of caravans are here for the season and actually, there isn’t that many people here or not enough to be uncomfortable given the circumstances. The toilet and showers are open, although closing more frequently for cleaning and I soon discovered that actually the unisex block is much nicer than the ladies, the ladies is dated, the unisex is modern wet rooms.
After getting set up, the first time using the awning with a proper fixture to the van, we sat and had the obligatory cider, it was hot so we didn’t fancy walking the dogs, we kept Hank in the shade but after a while I decided I should run, turns out the combination of awesome fuel (full English and a bottle of rekorderlig) and a road busier than you realised makes you run quite fast. Thankfully although still warm it had cooled down quite a lot and I enjoyed my run.
B1258 is quite busy so if you stay at this site and run do take care, there is a grass verge which I jumped up onto a couple of times when a car was passing each way.
When I got back to the van it was time for tea, I was starving, nothing exciting just burgers and then retired into the van for a cup of tea and an episode of Gracepoint (American Broadchurch) and bed. First day done.
Friday 18th October, finishing work at 5pm now on a Friday instead of the 6pm it used to be makes such a difference, we were on the road by 5.30 heading down the M6 to Cheshire, half way there I realised I had FORGOTTEN MY PARKRUN BARCODE!!
When we arrived at the camping and caravan club site Delamere Forest, we found that all though we had left Cumbria in Sunshine, in Delamere it had rained heavily and parts of the site were flooded, this wasn’t a problem, the staff put us on a different pitch and it was not long until I had the sausage casserole warming up nicely.
I often make something like this, a curry or a chilli through the week and freeze it so when we are heading off in the camper van we can quickly have a hearty meal once we have arrived on site.
Saturday 19th October
After a brief chat with my run spire team mates I took a screenshot of my barcode, the reception wasn’t open to ask them to print me a copy so after a quick coffee I headed off into the forest to find the start of Delamere Parkrun, it is a nice course, 1km out from the visitor centre, a 3km loop of the water and 1km back down to the start/finish.
A lovely girl at the finish tried scanning my screenshot but of course it didn’t work! She advised me to go and see the time keeper who was jotting down lots of people park run numbers but she stuck with the no barcode rule, which is fine I know there should not be exceptions but when you have travelled a long way it is annoying you want to have evidence that you have been to different Parkruns, what did annoy me was the lady in front of me was added to the list because hers wouldn’t scan because it was a screwed up mess, surely if you can’t look after your barcode you should go down as “unknown”too.
Back to the campsite for a shower, bagel and coffee, it started raining so we delayed our exploring until the rain had eased and then we headed off to Cheshire Smokehouse near Wilmslow, a lovely farmshop, which is clearly popular there were lots of people coming out with bag loads of shopping as we arrived.
We got some smoked bacon for breakfast the next day, some venison sausage to take home and some other bits and bobs, all of which was lovely.
On from there we went to Dunham Massey for a lovely walk round the parkland, looking for a photographing deer (photos below are just from my phone)
Heading back for another night at Delamere Camping and Caravan club site
Sunday 20th October
We pack up and drive for an hour to Lyme Park for more Walking and Deer stalking, the car park said it was full when we arrived which was disappointing having travelled so far but good old google maps re routed and we found ourselves on a quiet country lane with parking on it, we got the last space.
I am gutted I forgot to start my Garmin and track the walk but we had a lovely couple of hours walking and watching the deer, it is rutting season so the stags were fairly vocal
We arrived back at the van, starving, made a brew and had some cake and set off home, collecting a curry from our favourite indian take away on the way home, finishing another great weekend right.