Saturday 29 August 2015

First stop - Muker

Saturday 29 August 2015

El Nido is parked up in the Usha Gap campsite, just outside the small village of Muker, in Swaledale, Yorkshire.  This is a very popular site, with a small camping area by the river, then two larger fields.  We're in the second field with long meadow grass but, as the lady owner said, no sheep poo in this one! We're pitched with our back to a dry stone wall, facing the setting sun, sat outside with a drink before thinking about what to have for dinner.  Since we arrived it's filled up with many more tents mainly; families and a few larger groups of friends, all out to have a good time.  It's about 15'C, a bit blowy but warm in the sunshine.  It's a very peaceful spot to just chill.

We had a lazy start this morning, waking up just before 0800.  This seems to be our natural waking time, which will be fine when we no longer have to work and we're long-term travelling. Breakfast done, van loaded up and the bike on the rack, we drove out and up the M6, coming off early enough to enjoy a lovely drive through Lancashire (past where we stopped in Worston) and into Yorkshire.  There were signs for the Tour of Britain road closure in a week's time - shame we'll miss it.  We arrived at Usha Gap at about 1230, parked up, fridge to gas and put the kettle on.  A quick sandwich lunch and we headed out for a walk. We followed the road into Muker, then the footpath through the meadows to the bridge over the river Swale.  We took a higher path onto a tarmac road, looking down on the river and the meadows with their stone barns.  Eventually we dropped back down to the river for our return.  On the other bank we spotted an adult otter, which ran over the stones and gracefully entered the water, swimming upstream and no doubt hunting for supper.  The path took us back to the bridge and into Muker.  We stopped off at the Farmer's Arms to quench our thirst with a quick pint of Farmer's Bitter, then popped in the shop for some bread before following the road back to the campsite.  On our way we saw loads of polka-dot barn doors, even sides of houses, plus yellow bikes on walls, a legacy of last year's brilliantly successful first few days of the Tour de France.  Stage 1, which Ray and I watched from the roadside, came through Muker and directly passed the campsite.

We sat outside the van reading and enjoying the sunshine, before I prepared dinner - a one pot of chicken, vegetables and potato.  By the time it was cooked it was chilly out, so Cathy packed up and we ate inside.  Washed up, we sat with a mug of hot chocolate, watching the sunset and other campers cooking their meals on BBQs. It was quite buzzy outside, with everyone enjoying being outside, lots of smoky BBQs on the go.  Although we haven't used them yet, the facilities are very good here.  Warm and clean toilets, free showers and washing up facilities.  We have a couple of days to enjoy the walks and cycling.  So time for an early night, reading and chilling in the van.

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