Thursday 25 May 2023

Dockray Meadow CAMC Site- Lamplugh

Nido's been parked up at Dockray Meadow (///lift.bibs.wardrobefor the past two nights. It's a short distance from the village of Lamplugh, a very quiet area on the very western perimeter of the Lakes, about three miles from Ennerdale.  We don't normally use the Club sites, much preferring CLs, but this one is fairly relaxed, with no toilet block.  However, it does have the ubiquitous 'pegs' that you MUST park between on pain of being drummed out of 'the club!'  To be fair the wardens are lovely here.  They're making a real effort to encourage wildlife into the site by leaving areas of grass to develop into wildflower meadows.  In only two years over twenty five different wild flowers and plants have appeared and the whole site is awash with birdlife and red squirrels. As I type this evening, I can see thousands of newly-hatched may flies floating in the still, warm air.

It took about an hour to drive here from Glenridding.  There was a slightly shorter route, but we decided to stick to the main A roads.  Once pitched, we all took a walk of about 3.5 miles towards a small reservoir with a dam and weir, nestled down in the crook of a hillside covered in pine plantation, although much of it had already been harvested.  Dinner was a tuna salad and a quiet night in catching up on some YouTube vlogs.

It was quite a chilly night and it took a while before the sun reached the van, but Thursday turned out to be a still, hot and sunny day.  It was Pete's turn to celebrate a birthday; he and I went off for a 14 mile bike ride.  Although on the western edge of the fells and much less lumpy than the main parts of the Lakes, we still managed to cycle up about 1,300 ft of height gain!  After a shower we went off for another walk with the dogs, this time a circular route taking in Lamplugh Church.  I'd booked a table at The Countryman pub, which is about a 20 minute walk from the site.  It's dog-friendly so Lola the Spaniel came along, but we left Salty in the van for some 'me time.'  We enjoyed our meal and were back in the van by 8pm.  Cathy sat out for a while reading while I sat inside with my feet up after what felt like (to me) to have been a busy day!

We're leaving early tomorrow heading for home via the IKEA in Warrington; not somewhere we look forward to visiting, but we need a few storage things for the van and house.  Our daughter and her partner have been housesitting for us for the past week, so it'll be lovely to see them before they disappear back down south over the weekend.  But first we need to battle the combined bank and half-term holiday traffic with everyone - know doubt - heading for North Wales during this spell of lovely weather.  The butties and flask of tea will be prepared in advance, ready for the inevitable traffic jams!

We've had a lovely fortnight away.  Dumfries and Galloway was outstanding and the Lakes have been quieter than we expected.  And with great weather throughout, with only one evening of rain, we feel blessed.  Once home and assuming the fridge problem is fixed (booked in for a diagnostics check next week), planning will start for a July trip to Central and NE Scotland.

Wildflower meadows everywhere

The Blue Tit next is actually under the cone!  Mum & Dad enter at the top to feed the chicks.

Cathy chatting to one of the wardens about developing the wildflower meadows

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Gillside Farm Campsite - Glenridding

Nido's parked up at Gillside Farm Campsite in Glenridding (///conveys.unrated.seatbelt), at the southern end of Ullswater in the Lake District.  He's been joined by another campervan owned by our friends - Pete, Liz and their cocker spaniel - Lola.  This is our third night camped here. It's been fun to catch up after about a year since our last meet up, with a short walk and a BBQ on the first evening.

Gillside Farm is a large campsite that caters for tents, motorhomes, caravans and also has some static mobile homes.  We're pitched together with the statics on a flat area with electric hook up (our fridge is behaving itself on EHU....for now!).  We arrived first, checked in and found a spot for both of us. Pete and Liz arrived about an hour later.  It's £27 per night for two adults, one dog and electric.  There are toilets and showers, washing machines and a washing up area with piping hot water. We're surrounded by mountains, the nearest of note being Helvellyn and Striding Edge.  We're not into that sort of hillwalking any more, so we stuck to the valleys.

On Monday Pete and I unhooked our bikes from the van racks and headed out for a ride.  I'd planned a rough route to take in some minor roads and 'a few hills'.  In the end we covered almost 18 miles and over 1,800 ft of climbing!  The views were spectacular and we had the chance to enjoy them as we regularly stopped to regain our breath and suck in some water!  The coffee stop back in Glenridding was very welcome.

We all later took a walk over the hill to Lanty's Tarn.  The level was low with mud exposed, but Salty managed to find a better spot to get in the water and cool off on what had turned out to be a hot day.  After a refreshment stop at the Lakeside Kiosk, both dogs had a splash in Ullswater, before we returned to the van for food and an early night.

Tuesday was Cathy's birthday and our friends' Silver Wedding Anniversary.  Cathy and I were up early and out walking with Salty by 0730.

We took route from Patterdale along the Grisedale Valley.  It was quiet and still and we were soon moving off the tarmac track and up the stony paths, heading further into the valley.  At the half way point we reached the climbing hut called Ruthwaite Lodge, refurbished in the memory of two local climbers who were killed climbing Mt Cook, New Zealand in 1988.  We enjoyed the break with a cup of tea and some snacks before heading back, following a path on the other side of the beck, with hot sunshine on our backs.

Back at the van we just had enough time to grab some lunch and shower before our friends Dave and Angie, with the cocker spaniel Fudge arrived.  We haven't seen them for about a year and I think it's several years since Pete last saw them. Both Dave and Angie also served in the Royal Navy (as did Pete) - between the four of us we had about 130 years of Naval service!  We walked down the road to let the two spaniels have a play in the lake (Salty stayed in the van for some 'me' time!) before carrying on to the Patterdale Hotel for a drink and a catch up. Returning to the van I broke out the birthday cake and cremant, enjoyed sat outside in the sunshine before they headed back to their home about 40 minutes drive away.

I cooked dinner and Cathy later had a Zoom meeting with a number of different organisations about learning Welsh.  At the end of the day we're all really tired, so it'll be an early night. We leave here tomorrow and move to a CAMC site at Dockray Meadow, near Lamplugh, on the western edge of the Lakes, for our final two nights.

A Patterdale in Patterdale!

Sunday 21 May 2023

Craig Croft Aire, Laurieston

Nido's parked on a lovely little 'aire' (more of a very small campsite really) with 4 pitches (3 hardstanding and one grass), called Craig Croft (///collapsed.cadet.backers).  It's a lovely peaceful spot just on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park, close to the village of Laurieston.  The owner - Pauline - is very welcoming and told us all about the birdlife and wildlife here; she feeds the birds and the species visiting are too many for us to count!  I found it on the Search for Sites app and the reviews speak for themselves. It's £10 per night with electricity charged separately on a meter.  We hadn't planned to use EHU as we have plenty of leisure battery power and a full-up Ecoflow, but this afternoon I noticed the van fridge had stopped working on gas and all the frozen food had defrosted; it was fine yesterday.  So I hooked up the electric and the fridge is now cooling down and the freezer is doing it's thing again.  There are no error codes being displayed, so a quick read of the user manual and a Google would seem to suggest a problem with the burner or thermocoupler (whatever that is - I don't touch electrical or gas systems!).  Luckily the remaining nights of our trip are all on EHU, so at least I won't be forced to drink warm beer!  I've emailed the company - CMS North Wales - I use for van maintenance and repairs (a husband and wife team based in Conwy, to ask Paul to come out and take a look when we get home.  The fridge is only 6 years old and we've had a few issues with it in the past.  Top tip - avoid Thetford motorhome fridges!

Our night in the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse car park was extremely quiet and peaceful.  There were only two other vans staying, plus there was no wind at this highpoint so we all slept well.  I was up at about 0630 and took Salty for a good walk around the circular path that runs on the clifftops and alongside the lighthouse and attached buildings. It was cloudy and still and a little cool. After a lovely hot shower (I'll never get over the novelty of showering in a car park!) and breakfast, we made our way back down the single track road, making use of the regular passing places to allow oncoming traffic to pass.

After a brief stop in the Red Deer Range car park (///rock.feasting.areas) for a cuppa (we were in tea deficit again!), we arrived at this place. Pauline had emailed to explain the road up was signed as closed, due to a bike race (not any old bike race - it was a qualifying event for the UCI World Gravel Bike championships!), but we could carry on up as the road has been closed after the site entrance.  It's a cosy little aire and again very quiet with no artificial light.  The sun came out when we arrived so we took her advice and followed a circular walk that took us through the forest, which is mainly temperate rainforest, as seen by the beautiful green mosses everywhere. We stopped off at a bird hide where the locals feed the many species of birds.  We didn't spot any of the red squirrels, pine martens, adders (thankfully!), slow worms or deer, although Salty did try to roll in a few patches of fox poo!  Luckily I was on the ball and got him away in time.  But just in case we carry a tube of Fox Poo shampoo for dogs, plus the aire had a fresh water hose and I wasn't afraid to use it on him - he had a lucky escape!

Apart from a couple of walks we've not done much here.  There's no mobile or internet signal, so we've both been reading and after a simple meal, we walked the circular walk again, only anti-clockwise this time.  It's cooled down a little and there are a few spots of rain, but nothing to worry about.  We've been very lucky with the weather over the past week.

Tomorrow we leave Scotland and head for the Lake District to meet up with old friends for a few nights on two different campsites.  We've loved our time in Dumfries and Galloway and I've no doubt we'll return in the future to visit some of the areas we missed this time.  Initial thoughts are to return to Scotland in July for a tour based on the Heart 200 and North East 250 routes.  It's my 60th birthday (eek!) in mid-July and it would be nice to be away in the long as the fridge can be fixed in time.  

Temperate rainforest - there's not much of this left in the UK

Craig Croft aire

Friday 19 May 2023

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

Nido's in the car park at the most southerly point in Scotland at the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse (///flattery.seatbelt.iceberg).  It was very hot and sunny when we arrived but it's now cloudy and has cooled down quite a bit.  Despite that, the 360' views from this highpoint are stunning.  There was just us and another van for most of the evening, although one more has just turned up.

After about half an hour of rain last night, it was warm and sunny as I took Salty for a walk at Whithorn at 0700 this morning.  We'd had a recommendation from Carol Kubicki to visit the Logan Botanical Garden on our way to the lighthouse.  She'd kindly sent us a link to one of her blogs listing some gardens she'd visited in Scotland.  I had Logan on my list and was happy to take her advice - diolch Carol!

It was about an hour's drive to get there and the drive up to the gardens was lined on both sides of the road with hundreds of palm trees (///catching.exists.acquaint); we thought we'd been transported to Spain or Morocco!  The garden's aren't too big to walk around and the entry fee is reasonable at £8 each.  We really enjoyed our tour, admiring the many specimens of trees and shrubs from as far afield as Chile and New Zealand.  It's definitely worth a visit.

Just a few minutes down the road is Port Logan (///roadblock.taken.trying).  We parked up for lunch, before walking along the beach to the old harbour, with a quay and bell tower designed by Thomas Telford.  Salty enjoyed being back on the beach, with lots of zoomies into the surf and sand.  If you ever watched the BBC series 'Two Thousand Acres of Sky', starring Michelle Collins and Paul Kaye, it was filmed in Port Logan.

Once parked up in a level spot at the Lighthouse, Cathy had a snooze while I sat on the van step enjoying the heat of the sun.  Dinner tonight was a chicken madras, followed by a short walk around the cliff tops and up to the lighthouse.  It's weird to think that from here John o' Groats is almost as far as London - Scotland is a BIG country!

Now enjoying the peace of the evening, in the warm of the van and after a hot cup of tea. it's time to settle down for the night.  Tomorrow we move on to a pre-booked aire close to Galloway Forest, which will be our last night in Scotland (for now), before we head for a campsite in Glenridding in the Lake District to meet up with old and very dear friends.

Port Logan