Sunday 27 September 2015

Back in Ellesmere

We're taking as many short weekends as we can before the winter starts in anger although, even then, so long as it's not snowing or icy, we plan to use the van throughout.

This weekend was spent on a CL in Shropshire - Birch Hill - about a mile outside the market town of Ellesmere.  After picking up El Nido from storage on Friday evening, we drove down the A49 and arrived at about sunset; the owner was cutting the grass on a sit-on mower as we drove up the long drive and pointed out the pitches.  The CL is spread across 2 acres but they stick to the 5-pitch rule, so there's plenty of room. We chose to park up near the farmhouse, on top of the hill and with 360' views, including the hills of the Welsh borders. Electric plugged in, we enjoyed a glass of red wine as the stew Cathy had made earlier in the day warmed up in Oska (our Remoska oven).  The site was very quiet and after dinner and a long day we were soon nodding off.

Next morning after breakfast we made a packed lunch and headed out for a 10 mile walk; the day was surprisingly warm for the time of the year, with unbroken sunshine and no wind. The walk started from the Mere at Ellesmere (makes sense how the town got its name now I re-read this!), but we had a mile to walk to the start point.  It started with walking around the western edge of the Mere through a park and gardens.  It was at this point that Cathy had a bit of flash back to her childhood.  She always remembered visiting some old aunties who lived in three small adjacent cottages and walking down to some water to feed the waterbirds and paddle in the shallows.  But in her mind she thought this was Ellesmere Port. Now all became clear as she recalled the exact spot where she paddled around 45 years previously.  

The walk continued to the top of the Mere before heading off across rolling fields - lovely countryside with soft green hills, rarely used footpaths and, thankfully no angry cows (or 'bovins' as we've now nicknamed them after seeing a sign by a field in France).  Eventually we joined a narrow, hedge-lined country lane and followed this into the village of Welshampton.  Passing through the village, we crossed over the main road to walk out of the village before reaching a bridge over the Shropshire Union canal, where we dropped down to follow this all the way back to Ellesmere.  It was extremely peaceful and very warm in the sunshine and we stopped off along the way to eat our lunch.  After a few miles we were back in the town and had a wander around; a typical small market town with a few independent shops including a nice looking deli (we resisted!).  We walked back up the main road out of town and to the CL, arriving as a couple in a caravan were setting us.  We sat outside in the sunshine, enjoying a brew and the peace.  Chatting to the couple, they had just sold their house in Northwich and had bought a new house in Ellesmere, which was currently being finished off.  They planned to stay on the campsite for about 4 weeks, which would allow them time to fit carpets and so on before moving into their new house, close to their son and his family in a local village.  They'd over-wintered in Spain over several years to it was interesting to hear where they stayed and the best winter weather spots.

Later, as the sun started to set, we enjoyed a G&T before spotting a hot air balloon as it rose above the trees and slowly flew over - the air was very still, no breeze at all. The CL owner joined us and said they see them quite often as they're made in Oswestry, a few miles up the road.  Dinner eaten, we played a word game (I won!) and read for a while before heading off to bed.

The next morning was again clear, warm and sunny. After a lazy breakfast Cathy secured inside the van while I emptied waste then we drove off, heading for the Llangollen area but with nowhere in particular in mind to stop.  On the way through the town we spotted the sign for Horseshoe Falls, so followed the road up and managed to get a space in the free car park.  The view from there, down to the falls was lovely.  We had a walk around then followed the canal towpath towards Llangollen.  On the way we took some metal steps down to the rocks alongside the river and watched some kayakers shooting the rapids - looked fun!  Back on the towpath we eventually arrived at the marina and dropped down into the town, which was really busy.  We'd made the basic error of not taking our lunch with us, so ended up buying a couple of oggies, one of which we ate at down by the river on the way back.  Back at the van, we made a brew and chilled out for a while before driving back to storage and home.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Campervan Glossary of Terms

We've met quite a few motorhomers and hope to meet many more on our travels.  They all have various motorhoming terms for different things, problems, jobs and so on.  I follow the Our Tour blog and recently read an old post of theirs called The Dave Motorhoming Glossary.  It made me realise that we also have our own Campervan Glossary of Terms, which I've shared below for anyone interested.  A couple are cloned unashamedly from Our Tour (ie 'Go Nido Go!) - thanks for the inspiration guys! - but the rest of the terms have grown in direct proportion to our own campervan trip experiences.  I'll no doubt add to this as we go along, but for now:

“Fire and carbon monoxide alarms are about to be tested, no action is to be taken” - Royal Naval-type ‘pipe’ before testing both alarms.

“Fire and carbon monoxide alarms test complete, obey all further alarms” - when the alarm tests are done.

Secure for Sea State 7 - preparations to drive off, named after the need to secure for SS7 when a warship proceeds to sea.  EHU unhooked, all external lockers locked, step in, all skylights and habitation area windows closed, all lockers and cupboards closed, all items stowed away, main control panel off, Fridge to battery.

Go Nido Go! - when we need to get a quick move on when on the road - normally when joining a dual carriageway or motorway or when pulling out of a junction.  Could also be used when climbing a particularly steep road or starting a trip.

No Nido No! - when we need to stop rather suddenly and unexpectedly, such as traffic jams, roadworks, speed bumps or the road’s not clear to pull out.

Interweb juice - wifi (preferably free) or remaining data usage on a SIM card.

Moving juice - diesel.  The game is to find the cheapest in the area.

Cooking juice - LPG.  Same game as diesel.  Also used for heating (ie cooking us!).

Loo juice - the contents of the toilet cassette.  It’s Paul’s job to empty the Loo juice “I’m about to empty the Loo juice - all users log off!”

Anker juice - not another naval term!  This is the charging unit for powering up phones, tablets and kindles when wild camping. “My phone needs some Anker juice.”

Laughing juice - the liquid served at 'Beer o'clock' (see below) that can lead to much laughing or unprompted giggling! This is a 'guest' term suggested by Martin Dorey (@campervanliving and author of The Campervan Cookbook)

Dump the Grey - not a reference to divorcing Cathy!  It’s about emptying the grey waste tank (shower and washing up waste water).  

Fridge to battery - ready for running it off the engine alternator when driving.

Fridge to electric - when on electric hook up (normally campsites)

Fridge to gas - when no electric hook up (normally aires and wild camping)

Is it me or is it hot in here? - open some doors, windows or skylights (depending on whether driving or stationary).

Is it me or is it cold in here? - close some doors, windows or skylights (depending on whether driving or stationary).  Could also result in putting on more clothes or (last resort!) putting on the heating.

Beer o’clock (aka wine o’clock, gin o’clock etc) - the sun is over the yardarm (somewhere) so time to relax with some alcohol - always and only when stationary on a campsite or aire though!

Nagivator - the Garmin GPS or, on occasion, the person sat in the passenger cab seat!

Oska - the Remoska electric ‘oven’, used when on EHU.

Flo - a large pot that combines pressure cooker, casserole pot, steamer etc.  Named as such because it belonged to Cathy’s Mum - Flo.

Purple Bucket - a purple ‘trug’ bucket with two handles, normally used for gardening.  This has a multitude of uses including washing up, washing clothes, emptying grey water, storing muddy boots & wellies, soaking sore feet.

Paddie - the iPad.  Could also be used to refer to the Nexus 7 tablet.

Fire up the Safari - connect up and light the Cadac Safari gas BBQ.  

Brew view - the view from any of the windows or the opening sliding door while enjoying a mug of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.


Monday 14 September 2015

Welsh Weekend

We like to get away in Nido at least twice a month, even if only for a short weekend away.  It gives us something to look forward to and acts like a mini-holiday.  We keep an eye on the weather forecast but if we made a ‘Go/No Go’ decision based on that, we’d never go anywhere!  Besides, we need to give the storage site a couple of days’ notice when we take the van away, so we normally just go for it.  In the past 6 weeks we’ve only had one weekend at home and then we weren’t too sure what to do with our time.  Next weekend we have a list of outside jobs to do, but this weekend we planned a trip to Anglesey, via a visit to a friend in Prestatyn.

Friday 11 September 2015
On our last trip away in Yorkshire, we had a couple of water leaks - one on the sliding door (felt covering overlapping the rubber seal) and one in the bathroom (dodgy tap).  Nido was booked into A&E (the name of the company that built him, not a hospital for campervans!) for last Monday to fix both; the former was done but they had to order a new tap, so he went back in on Friday to have the new tap fitted.  Cathy managed the A&E visits and brought the van home later in the morning, packing clothes, dry food and filling up with fresh water.  We have space to keep Nido across our drive for the odd night, but couldn’t keep him there permanently unless we made some changes to our drive and got rid of a car, not an option right now.

I returned from work at about 1730 and, after a quick turnaround and loading up the fridge, we hit the road.  Our first night was going to be spent ‘wild-camping’ at Prestatyn Golf Club.  Our friend - Julia - runs the Yew Tree Restaurant at the club, which is open to members of the public.  She’s been there a few months but is already getting good reviews for her food.  It was a warm evening and the traffic wasn’t too bad, so we made good time and arrived just over an hour later.  Coincidentally, Cathy’s sister - Maggie - was spending the weekend with Julia, so it was lovely to see her too.  On arrival we called them to find out where best to park - the answer was outside Julia’s flat, which would provide maximum protection from rogue golf balls!  Once we’d settled in Julia took us all off in her car for fish and chips, which we ate sat on the concrete wall on Prestatyn beach.  It was still warm although a bit windy and we could see a lot of dark cloud building to the west (ie in the direction we were heading tomorrow!) but we didn’t get rained on and Cathy & Maggie enjoyed their barefoot walk on the sands, with the tide out.  

Back at the golf club, we sat in Nido for a brew and a chat before moving to Julia’s flat; she wanted some help with restoring an iPad to factory settings - it’s very rare I’m asked to help with anything technical and some of my work colleagues would laugh reading this, given my ‘technical dyslexia’!.  I also had the chance to have a look around her galley (naval speak for kitchen).  It’s quite small for such a large operation but she’s planning to replace some of the equipment soon which will really help her.  All of us were feeling weary so it wasn’t a late night and we soon retired to Nido.

Our 'wild camping' spot at Prestatyn Golf Club
Saturday 12 September 2015
It was a wet and windy night outside.  The sliding door didn’t leak, but we were in quite a protected spot, so we need to test this properly in the wilds - shouldn’t take too long for the opportunity in this country!  After breakfast in the van, I filled up fresh water then Julia invited us up for a bacon buttie and a brew - how could we refuse a second breakfast!  She was gearing up for what would be a busy day; we had no idea that a wedding party would be arriving at 1800 that evening and had we known we’d have left her early to focus on that.  She seemed very calm about it all whereas I would have been in panic mode by then!  Still, she seems to be enjoying the challenge and we have no doubt she’ll be successful.  Eating our butty, the rain lashed down outside but eventually started to tail off, so we took the opportunity to say our goodbyes to Julia and Maggie and continue our journey to Anglesey.

Our first stop on Anglesey was the Halen Mon sea salt centre.  They have recently opened a new store and visitor centre and increased their opening days, which meant we could visit on a Saturday. It’s in a lovely spot in the south east of the island, just across the road from the straits. They do tours of the manufacturing process for £6 per adult, but we only wanted to look around the shop.  We bought a variety of lovely sea salt; they also sell other related products and it’s well worth a visit.  Leaving Halen Mon, we drove through the middle of the island, along some fairly narrow country lanes, but with plenty of passing places, before arriving at Lligwy Bay.  The car park is large and a bit bumpy in places, but there was space overlooking the beach.  We parked up next to a coachbuilt motorhome; there were about 4 motorhomes already there and looking like they stayed overnight.  I went into the cafe to pay for our overnight stop - £10 - quite expensive for a basic car park with no facilities but the view is great and, hey, UK isn’t cheap for motorhome stopovers.  Once settled in we enjoyed the handmade pasties Julia gave us - delicious - with a brew, looking out over the beach and the sea.  The tide was out, so we decided to take a walk along the coastal path, heading towards the village of Moelfre.  The weather was good and we were soon down to t-shirts and shorts, stopping occasionally to take a look at the rock formations and out to sea, before passing the RNLI lifeboat station and walking into the village.  Moelfre is quite a large village, with a small waterfront with a pub, cafe and a restaurant - Ann’s Pantry - which we ate at a few years ago, very good it was too.  After a loo stop we reversed our route and returned to Lligwy for a brew.  Later in the afternoon we took our seats down to the beach, with a G&T (Cathy) and a beer (me) to enjoy the sunshine.  But soon the clouds were building so we returned to the van, making it in time to avoid the heavy rain.  But we enjoyed the view, sat in the cab seats overlooking the sea, including some a great rainbow later, which fell on the beach and gradually moved out to sea.  Despite the heavy rain the sliding door didn’t leak, so hopefully that’s now fixed.  I cooked dinner in the van - lamb chops with a greek salad made by Cathy earlier.  We shared a bottle of Portugese Rose and then, perhaps foolishly, opened a bottle of red.  Washed up and everything put away, we watched the sunset over the cliffs before heading down to the beach in the dark, with a little light left in the sky, for a walk and a giggle!  Then back to the van for some hot chocolate before sleep.

Halen Mon sea salt visitor centre and shop

Brew view

On the coastal path towards Moelfre

Fisherman's cottages in Moelfre

Sundowners on the beach!

Sunday 13 September 2015
We woke to grey skies but it felt quite warm out.  I made a brew; Cathy had hers in bed and I stepped out to drink mine looking out over the beach.  Breakfast was bacon and egg muffins, cooked on the Cadac Safari BBQ outside, and enjoyed sat at a table and chairs on the grass in front of the van.  We took a morning walk along the beach, with a paddle in the ebbing tide, as the cloud gradually broke to give us warm (occasionally hot) sunshine, with hardly any breeze.  Families were arriving to enjoy the beach time and it felt like mid-summer, not mid-September.  We took our chairs down and I later made lunch (more pasties - thanks Julia!) which we enjoyed out in the fresh air.  After a bit of a wander along the beach and a read, it was time to pack up and head home.  We enjoyed our short weekend in Wales, somewhere we always seem to return to.

Great breakfast spot

Sunday 6 September 2015

Blue skies

Sunday 6 September 2015

This morning it's blue sky, hot sunshine and no breeze - must be home time!  It was cold in the night so Cathy flicked on the heating for half an hour before I made a brew.  I took my mug outside, enjoying the peace and quiet.  While Cathy sorted out the inside of the van, I set up for breakfast outside - toast (using our new dry frying pan method - I think I had it too hot as Cathy's was better!), fried chorizo and baked beans.  We're just about out of fresh food and little milk, so it was a last day improvised breakfast, eaten outside in the sunshine with huge views - this truly is an amazing place.

We'll be making our way home in a couple of hours, back to clean the van inside and out, put everything away and prepare for back to work.  Nido's booked in to A&E tomorrow to sort out the water leaks.  We've had a really good week in Yorkshire, mainly good weather for this part of the country and time of the year, just a couple of days rain.  We've stayed in some lovely places, had some great, sometimes challenging walks and I cycled some of the Tour route I rode with Ray last week.  Again, it feels like we've been away much longer than a week, we've really relaxed and enjoyed our last holiday before our next holiday in July next year.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Peaceful Gordale

Saturday 5 September 2015

We slept well last night, no doubt due to the inky darkness and quietness.  Cathy went off to walk up to the end of the gorge to take some photos, while I put the kettle on.  We tried a new trick for breakfast - making toast in a dry frying pan on the gas ring.  This worked out fine so if we want toast in the future when not on EHU, we have the option.

We left for our walk at about 1000, turning left out of the campsite and up a steep road - got the blood flowing!  At the top we crossed the hillside, passing the site of a Roman marching camp, although there was nothing remaining to see.  We eventually met the road we walked on yesterday, not far from Malham Tarn, this time taking a slightly different route than yesterday to bypass Malham Cove. We stopped on the way for lunch, sat on the limestone pavement.  We reached the road and walked down into Malham village, which was busy with walkers and others eating and drinking outside the two pubs.  This morning we did the equivalent of searching down the back of the sofa and cobbled together about £12 in change - this meant we could do some shopping, not that Malham has much!  But we found a bottle of Italian red in the gift shop cum cafĂ©, so bought this plus a packet of crisps each - last of the big spenders!  We followed the road back to Gordale Scar and the campsite.

It was much busier on the campsite, but mainly with what appeared to be day trippers in their cars - bit strange for a campsite. El Nido was closely surrounded by about 6 cars - a large group of Middle Eastern people - men sat on a rug making tea on an open fire and the women separately, behind a windbreak, with lots of children running about, clearly enjoying the freedom and adventure of the countryside.  We sat outside with a brew, but these families were very noisy, also playing loud music, making it hard to enjoy the peace and quiet of the campsite and the surroundings, so we sat in the van to read and try and get some quiet time.  The clearly enjoyed their BBQs and it was good to see families out enjoying themselves, but a little more respect for those around them would have been nice.

Dinner tonight was vegetable fried rice, cooked outside but eaten inside due to the cold, although clear evening.  Once we'd washed up and it was getting dark, we took a walk to the end of the gorge to see and hear the waterfall in the fading light.   Our noisy neighbours left at about 2230 and we stepped out into the cold and very dark night to look at the stars - amazing with no light pollution.

No better bath than a Radox bath in the sunshine!


Friday 4 September 2015

Gordale Scar - Amazing!

Friday 4 September 2015

My buddy Dave Bonas reminded me this morning that it's 36 years to the day that we joined the Royal Navy at HMS RALEIGH at the tender age of 16 as Junior Assistant Writers (2nd Class) - you couldn't get any lower than that!  Where has the time (and our hair and six-packs!) gone?

El Nido is parked at the campsite at Gordale Scar.  This is an amazing place, a deep, steep-sided limestone gorge with several waterfalls.    We woke quite early this morning and were up and about by 0800.  I'd not slept well - ill in the night - so I felt a little out of sorts.  All packed away, waste dumped and topped up with fresh water, I paid for our stay - we'll definitely return to Kettlewell.  The drive took us over the hill tops, along narrow, winding and very steep roads.  Luckily there were plenty of passing places so that made it less stressful on the driver - me!  We drove straight to Gordale Scar but I forgot to stop at the Farm Shop to get some Yorkshire Chorizo, chicken and wine - my bad.  I thought we'd be able to get some groceries in Malham during our walk - another poor assumption!

The campsite is very informal - no pitches - just go where you want.  The owner is a bit......eccentric is probably the kindest word.  The entrance is full of junk, bags of old newspapers and hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of empty disposable BBQ trays.  I eventually tracked him down to what I thought was an abandoned caravan; I think he lives in it.  At £10 per night this is a bargain, even with very basic facilities.  So we drove down, found a level pitch, close to the beck and surrounded by sheep and prepared for our walk.

Leaving the van with our rucksacks we walked up the gorge to the waterfall at the end.  The guide said we could scramble up the left side of the waterfall to climb up to meet the path at the top.  Maybe 20 years ago!, although Cathy was keen.  There was an alternative route, back out of the campsite and climbing around the spur of the gorge side, to meet the waterfall path at the top.  We stopped at the summit for lunch, overlooking the campsite, with Nido a tiny toy van down below by the stream, surrounded by sheep.
End of Gordale Scar
On we walked, at a high level with great views all around, before dropping down to Malham Tarn, a large lake.  We walked alongside this for a while before rejoining the Pennine Way and walking through a dry river bed up to the top of Malham Cove.  The view from here was amazing and we enjoyed walking across the deeply-creviced limestone pavements.  We stopped here for a brew before descending via the steep steps to the bottom of the cove.  We walked to the end, with the stream water coming up from an underground spring at the base of the cliffs.  Above us a few madsters were rock climbing.  We followed the path out into Malham village, hoping to buy a few groceries - no joy, just a couple of pubs, tea-shops and a little shop selling not much except for ice cream and frisbees!  So we'll need to make our victuals last for two days.

Top of Malham Cove - great place for a brew and a chill

Cathy's always wanted to walk the limestone pavement
Cooling feet but what she *really* wants to do is wild swim!
On the way back we stopped at Janet's Foss, a waterfall surrounded by trees and with a great swimming pool at its base.  Cathy had a paddle but really wanted to swim.  In the ash trees were about a dozen bee houses made out of books about bees - all a bit beezarre ;-)

Back at the van we sat outside with a brew until the sun disappeared behind the gorge, before preparing dinner outside (pork & Apple cheeseburgers, salad, sautĂ© potatoes) and eating it inside to avoid the midges.  Washed up and locked away, we sat in the van as night quickly descended.  With no artificial light here at all it is proper dark by 2030.  We finished off with some hot chocolate before crashing after another enjoyably physical day.

Boots recovering as the sun sets

Not a bad dining room view is it?

To those free-climbing up Gordale Scar, this is much, much harder! ;-)

Great lunch spot on top of Gordale Scar - can you see Nido on the campsite below?

Thursday 3 September 2015

Hooray - I rode the Cray!

Thursday 3 September 2015

We both slept well after our huge meal last night.  It was a bit chilly in the van (the wind had increased overnight and it was fresher outside), so I put the heating on and snoozed for a bit longer.  I made a brew and also my breakfast - toast and peanut butter, yum! - while Cathy stayed in bed with her tea.  It had been dry overnight but started to spit with rain, but I really wanted to get out on my bike today.  So I changed into my kit, unlocked the bike from the rack and filled my jacket pocket with all the usual cycling stuff - pump, phone, cash, inhaler, banana! 

I turned left out of the campsite and then left again after crossing the river.  This took me on a quiet backroad out of the village and towards Kilsney.  It was fairly quiet with only the odd car, postvan driven by Stirling Moss (they all drive like that!) and one horse, but no other cyclists.  I had intended to cycle over to Kilsney then back along the main road, but realised this minor one would take me all the way to Grassington, so carried on for a few more miles.  I recognised the middle of Grassington from last year and rode out to the main road, back towards Kilsney.  This took me past the Wharfedale Caravan Club site and I was soon approaching Kilsney, with the marquees from this week's show still up in the Velofest fields where Ray and I camped last year.  Opposite is the Kilsney Park Estate, which includes trout fishing where you can catch own.  I stopped to watch some fly fishermen and witnessed one land a lovely trout of about 3 pounds.  Carrying on, I passed the spot Ray and I stood for four hours waiting for the Tour riders and was soon back in Kettlewell.  I carried on, riding up the road through Starbotton and Buckden, where we had a fine sausage buttie and cup of tea in the church hall on our bike ride last year.  From here the road starts to wind up the hillside, getting gradually steeper and windier closer to the summit.  I was starting to feel the effects of the climb, breathing hard and trying to stay in a nice cycling rhythm.  I reached the last big twist and climb, a real kick needed to get over onto the top of Col de Cray again!  I took a photo, sent Ray a quick text then spent a while catching my breath, eating the banana and drinking water.  By now it was getting a bit chilly in the wind, so I turned around for the steep descent.  Unlike Ray, I'm a descent chicken so took my time, particularly those sections of the road that were both wet and covered in cow shit!  But past this I enjoyed the fast, winding descent and was soon back at the campsite, having really enjoyed my 25 miles riding.

Bike and kit put away, I used the campsite shower then sat in the van (out of the rain) with a pot of coffee.  Cathy had done her usual clean and tidy up so all was in good order.  I set up the iBoost to piggy-back on the BT Fon wifi signal and we had an hour catching up, particularly with our friends who are on a long trip in Spain and were watching some of the Vuelta stages - looked lovely and warm there! I also had an email from Steve at Britstops.  He'd checked with the landlady of the pub we tried and failed to stay at.  It appears they're still involved but perhaps the man I spoke to knew nothing about it.  Lesson learned - always ask for the named contact at any Britstop when enquiring about staying over.

Although it was spitting with rain on and off, we went for a stroll around the village, mainly to stretch Cathy's aching legs!  We wondered around, down narrow streets and lanes, looking at the lovely stone -clad cottages to find a small one with parking for Nido!  We stopped off at the village shop for some milk, marmalade and some Yorkshire curd tart for Cathy; they also had some funny birthday cards that will suit some unsuspecting friends! Back at the van, with it still raining, we had a brew (and Cathy her tart), then I started on this post while Cathy spread out on the cab seats to read.  A little later a small Murvi campervan turned up, doubling the van numbers against the tuggers on the site.  

Dinner tonight is cassoulet, including some Phil's sausages, smoked sausage, chickpeas, puy lentils, passata, onions and garlic.  As we're on EHU it'll be cooked in 'Oska'. We also have the red wine I bought yesterday.  With all those beans, we could be in for a windy night!  We move on tomorrow.  The plan is to try and stay at the campsite at Gordale Scar, but I was unable to book; I phoned and left a message but the owner never got back to me.  So if that doesn't work out I'll do some research later on to come up with a Plan B - maybe a Britstop close by - there is one near there which is a farm shop where they make 'Yorkshire Chorizo'.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Kippered in Kettlewell

Tuesday 2 September 2015

El Nido's at Causeway Croft Caravan Park, Kettlewell, in the depths of Wharfedale.  Ray and I cycled through here (at speed!) last year at the Tour de France.  We camped at Kilnsey Crag and cycled up the first real climb of the Tour - Col de Cray - which took us through this village.

We woke to warm sunshine and had our breakfast sat outside at the CL by Jervaulx Abbey.  All packed up, we drove out, stopping on the way at Berry's Farm Shop, where I bought some large field mushrooms, red onions, local goat's cheese, pork scratchings and brandy snaps - what a mixture - and I only went in for bread which they didn't have because it hadn't yet been delivered!  We started to climb a 25% hill with some 'Go Nido Go' encouragement, pulling over regularly for oncoming traffic. We eventually reached the top of Cray and descended through Buckden and Starbotton to Kettlewell, all very familiar from last year.  We pulled into the campsite and the very friendly owners pointed out the available pitches, electric and facilities and left us to it.  While Cathy sorted out I walked to the village shop for some bread and red wine.  

We'd already prepared our packed lunch and were soon heading out, very quickly climbing the steep hill towards Middlesmoor Pasture.  With a bit of a scramble through the rocks we reached the first ledge and stopped for lunch.  Fortified, we continued to climb, stopping now and again to admire the view (and get our breath back!).  We reached the top and started to descend into the next valley.  Reaching some trees, we faced some serious downhill scrambling over rocks, before stopping in bright sunshine for a brew and flapjack.  As we approached Arncliffe the rain started and stayed with us, on and off for the rest of the day.  Leaving Arncliffe, we followed the path along the River Skirfare and at the hamlet of Hawkswick, started to climb again.  We topped out at Knipe Scar, with a view over the fields in Kilsney where Ray and I camped last year, following the shoulder of the hill around before starting a slippery descent into Kettlewell.  By now the sun was out again and we were drying off.  As we approached the village the heavens opened again though, and we arrived back at the van in heavy rain.  We got the heating on, hung up our wet clothes wherever we could and had a quick beer while the water heated up.  

 Both showered, clean and changed, with the inside of Nido looking like Widow Twanky's Laundry, we left the heating on and walked the short distance to the Bluebell Inn.  This is a typical, local and friendly pub, with an old dog who clearly owns the place! The woodburner was lit and it was very cosy.  We had a beer then ordered our food - shared potted shrimps, then Cathy had the speciality - homecooked meat and potato pie, which was enormous and delicious.  I had a pork chop from 'Colin' - I have no idea if Colin was the pig or the breeder!  It came on a bed of mash with mustard sauce and was both huge and very tasty, very much like the 1/4 of free-range pig we bought a few years ago.  We shared a bowl of veg and at the end were stuffed.  We wobbled back both tired from our long walk and full from great food, back to a bit of a steamy van - it'll be dry in the morning!  I'm hoping for a dry spell tomorrow so I can finally get out on my bike and repeat some of the riding I did with my wingman last year.  Until then, I need to rest this food-filled belly.  I think we'll both sleep well tonight in this dark and silent corner of Yorkshire.

We've got to climb up there!?

Great lunch stop view

I think we're gonna get wet!

Brew stop - overlooking Arncliffe

Grouse Moors


Now that's what you call a meat and potato pie

Colin's pork....or is it Colin the pig?

Still signs of last year's Tour de France celebrations

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Jervaulx Abbey

Monday 1 September 2015

El Nido's parked on a CL at Park House, by Jervaulx Abbey near Ripon.  We hadn't planned to stay here, but more of that later.  However, all turned out well in the end, as we're the only ones on the well-kept site, with views over the parkland of a large estate, with hills in the distance. The RAF keeping flying over at speed in Typhoons - I'm surprised as firstly I thought they'd all still be on long-weekend and, secondly, it's past their tea time!

It rained hard last night and we found more water leaks.  We already have one in the bathroom, which I think is where the water hoses connect to the basin tap, but I can't get to it.  It's constantly leaking about half a mug of water a day onto the bathroom floor.  The heavy rain last night started to leak through the felt covering of the inside of the sliding door.  We've seen this once before, but thought it was because we hadn't closed the door properly, but last night it was was well and truly closed.  I think it's caused by the felt lining overlapping the rubber door seal, so the the felt acts like a wick and the water takes the easiest route - inside the van.  It will certainly need sorting, along with the other leak, so Nido will need to go back into A&E  soonest.  It did put a bit of a dampener on the evening though (pun intended!) and, with the combined effect of listening to the fast-flowing river outside, it's no surprise we both had watery (ie swimming) dreams!

We woke to relatively clear skies, a bit of a breeze and a few clouds scudding across, so it gave us the opportunity to throw open all the skylights, doors and windows to vent the van.  We both made use of the free, hot showers with no push button - a luxury on most campsites and a change from our 'submariner' dhobies in the van.  Feeling (and looking) clean, we enjoyed our breakfast sat outside overlooking the river.   Then it was chores time.  Cathy gave the van a good scrub out and did the washing up across the road.  I had my usual outside jobs - fill up the fresh water, empty the 'loo juice', pack away the seats.  All sorted, with fridge on battery and fully secured, I plugged in the coordinates for our next overnight, a Britstop near Aysgarth.  The 'satnag' sent us the wrong way initially, so we ended up in Keld, where we walked the other day.  We reversed our route from there and stopped off in Muker for bread and eggs, with a side of very tasty homemade flapjack. Shortly after we turned off onto a 25% uphill road, heading over the pass into the next valley.  With a few encouraging shouts of 'Go Nido Go!' he made his way up the hairpin hill, luckily meeting nothing coming down.  It was a bleak hill top, nothing but moor and sheep and we eventually turned into the main road.

We arrived at the Britstop just before opening time and when the doors opened I popped in with my Britstops book to ask if it was OK to stay.  The old chap behind the bar told me they were no longer part of Britstops, which surprised me a little as they only joined the scheme in July (I've since found out that they are indeed still in the scheme but this chap wasn't aware). So we drove off to a close-by CL next to another pub, but they were full.  So, two attempts to stay overnight, two strikes. I found another Britstop that said it could take 3 vans, but the very narrow car park was rammed with cars, so we carried on. Driving along the road, we saw the sign for Jervaulx Abbey and as we passed the car park and tea shop, saw a sign for a CL.  I turned around just up the road and returned to the car park.  I popped into the tea shop to ask about the CL, but it was very busy, so we decided to take our pre-prepared lunch over to the Abbey.  Jervaulx Abbey was home to Cistercian Monks who grew rich from sheep shearing and horse breeding (or was it sheep breeding and horse shearing!?).  They also made a cheese which, over time, became the now famous Wensleydale cheese.  Now in ruins, there's enough remaining to see this was a very large and prestigious Abbey in its day.  I'll google it when home to learn more.  We enjoyed our lunch in hot sunshine before slowly walking around the Abbey - very atmospheric and probably quite scary at night!

Back at the car park, Cathy popped in to see if we could book into the CL - success!  So we're pitched here on electric hook-up, charging all things electronic.  We enjoyed the sunshine sat outside with a brew, until the clouds built and the rain started.  No longer raining, it's threatening more, so the planned BBQ lamb with Greek salad may now be some form of pasta cooked inside - I even 'purloined' some wild majoram from the Abbey for the lamb - it'll keep in the fridge!   We're currently sat inside the van with a G&T, listening to the crows in the trees and hoping tomorrow will bring good weather.  At least we're booked into a campsite at Kettlewell (home of the yellow sheep I saw at last year's Tour) for the next two nights.  So hopefully a good walk, a decent pub dinner and a repeat bike ride of the Tour route for me.  Such are the risks of a holiday in England, where wild-camping is illegal and the idea of an Aire is quickly shot down by the local council (campsite owners perhaps?). 

Eventually the showers stopped and we managed a short walk through the enormous hazel trees to watch the sun set.  It also meant I could cook the lamb chops on the griddle outside and they went down well with the salad and a bottle of Lidl's finest Chilean white wine!  Washed up and all secured, we're now sat inside, heating on, listening to a large murder of crows roost for the night in the surrounding trees.  All turned out well in the end.