Showing posts with label walking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label walking. Show all posts

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Valais Caravan Park, Colebatch, Shropshire

We've spent a few nights at the Valais Caravan Park CL in the hamlet of Colebatch, about a mile from the small market town of Bishop's Castle in Shropshire.  It's close to the Welsh border and we came here because we wanted to get away from the normal tourist hotspots and enjoy some peace and quiet - we certainly found it!

The CL has only been running for about eighteen months, but it already has some excellent reviews online. The owners - Bruce and Anne - are very welcoming and they have created one of the best CLs we've stayed on.  It's in a lovely spot with excellent views all round and, although close to the A488, we've heard nothing except sheep, horses, birds and the occasional passing tractor.  The CL has the usual five pitches, but each is very spacious, more than double the size of most we've stayed on.  Each pitch has electric hook-up and there's a well-maintained and very clean loo dump, bins and fresh water point area at one end of the CL.  All the pitches are grass, but they're well drained and level.

There are sheep and goats in enclosures on the site, with chickens, ducks and quail by the owner's house. Eggs are for sale at the entrance and, when the goats produce enough milk, Anne makes her own goat's cheese. Unfortunately we hit a dry patch so none was available, but it'll give us an excuse to return and try it!  But we did buy some duck eggs which were very tasty.

The area is agricultural, with rolling green hills, woodlands and fields of sheep and arable crops.  It's a great place to walk and the footpaths are well signposted and marked, although a few of the stiles were a bit wobbly! Bruce and Anne provided lots of local walk leaflets, as well as places to eat in the local area. There are plenty of great walks and places to visit in the area, but we chose to stay put and walk from the site.  

We arrived on Sunday and were met by Bruce, who provided the leaflets and talked a bit more about the area, which was really helpful.  We were soon pitched up and after a cup of tea, took a walk to the local market town of Bishop's Castle, via part of the Shropshire Way.  It's only about a mile or so (20 minutes) and the town is lovely; lots of independent shops and six pubs, including two that have their own brewery.  There's also plenty of other options for eating - cafe's and restaurants.  It looks like they have a great community going, with plenty of music and other events throughout the year.  Back at the van I cooked some burgers and made a salad and the weather was kind enough to sit outside.

The next day we took on one of the walks in the leaflets; about six miles of fields, quiet lanes and forest tracks.  It was really peaceful and we enjoyed the distant views across the hills.  The rest of the day we chilled out by the van, reading and just listening to the birds and wildlife.  Dinner was a chicken curry I'd made some time ago and we brought with us.  

Today I cycled around some of the local towns and villages, about 20 miles.  The roads were fairly quiet and the traffic gave me plenty of room.  Turning off the main routes, the lanes became much more hilly and I was soon puffing!  I stopped off in Bishop's Castle to buy some wine for tonight; I reckon I could carry up to three bottles in the pockets of my cycling top!  Back at the van, Cathy had cleaned and tidied up and was sat outside with Salty enjoying the sunshine, although it's been a bit windier today. We repeated Sunday's walk into Bishop's Castle, before returning to sit outside the van with a brew.  Tonight's dinner was bit of an experiment!  I recently bought a Ridge Monkey to use on the gas hob and I've cooked a few things in it, but mainly simple toasties or part-baked baguettes and crumpets.  I'd seen someone make a pie on YouTube, so I'd brought some pastry and a tin of stewing steak and combined this with some grated cheese to make a steak and cheese pie.  It turned out well, although I could have done with more pastry to seal in all the ingredients. But it ate well!

Tonight is our last night here and we'll be off home tomorrow, hopefully stopping off somewhere en-route for lunch.  I've bookmarked a couple of other CLs close to the Montgomery Canal, so might go past those to check them out, ready for a future trip.  This was a short trip away, but it was really relaxing and it's definitely an area we'll return to......if only to sample Anne's goat's cheese!

The rain's coming in...

A very colourful Bishop's Castle

Return route from BC

Very spacious pitches

I'm saying nothing!

Great views

Thirsty and covered in grass seeds



Stage 1 - not looking too appetising

Stage 2 - it's a wrap

Stage 3 - coming along

Mae'n blasus iawn! (It's very tasty!)

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Lessons Learned from our first Motorhome Trip

As this was our first motorhome hire, we didn't know what to expect. So I thought it would be worth documenting our concerns and the reality, plus share some of the things we learned along the way.
The first point is find yourself a good hire company. On this point we did really well; Live the Dream Motorhome Hire are based in the next village of Anderton, so it made sense to try them. From the first contact (when they were in fact on holiday in Germany) both Steph & Ian were very helpful. The booking process was quick, clear and transparent. They took plenty of time to explain all the ins and outs of managing the motorhome and gave lots of useful and helpful advice; they clearly love motorhoming themselves. We knew that even after we had left, they were only a text or a phone call away if we had any problems or questions.  We highly recommend them.

During our trip we made notes as we went along and I've listed these below, in no particular order:

- Take your time driving - if you’re unsure slow down or stop. This was particularly relevant on the smaller, windy roads with dry stone walls, such as in the Lake District.
- If you’ve built up some traffic behind you consider pulling in to let them pass - they'll appreciate it and you’ll feel less stressed.
- Practice manoeuvring, particularly reversing. We had good wing mirrors, a rear view mirror and a rear camera, but we still had the passenger get out to guide the driver in. This is useful if you’re on a pitch with overhanging trees,
- Always top up & empty out at every opportunity; although we had full facilities each night, if we hadn’t booked up we might have wanted to stay at a Brit Stop site somewhere and doing this every day gives the flexibility and endurance to do this.
- Take clothes for every eventuality - we didn't take enough hot weather clothing (we didn't expect to need them in Northumberland in May!).
- Get rid of rubbish, particularly food waste, at every opportunity.
- Before setting off make sure everything is put away & secured, with doors & cupboards locked (or as Paul said, secure for Sea State 7!). We put together and used a checklist and then we checked each other. It sounds overkill but we had no incidents and in time I’m sure it would become second nature.
- If you see a nice pull-in off the road, then stop, put the kettle on and enjoy the view - what's stopping you!
- Top up with food, drink and fuel whenever you can - you might end up somewhere where these are scarce.
- Slow down, take your time, enjoy the views.
- If you're unsure of anything, ask - most site staff (and other motorhomers) are very helpful and happy to help.
- Take an aromatic candle in a tin - not only does it add a lovely ambience when eating or relaxing at night, it's also a great air freshener.
- Know where the fuse box is sited - you can guarantee a fuse will blow in the dark when you least expect it (so also take a torch).
- Take plenty of small plastic containers - great for keeping food in the fridge or small items in one place; they're easier to stow away and less likely to move around.
- Kitchen/bathroom wet wipes make it easy to clean quickly. They can also be used for wiping down the toilet cassette before refitting after emptying.
- Antiseptic hand wipes or gel can be useful when emptying the toilet as a few of the sites had no hand washing facilities at the chemical toilet disposal point.
- Booking in advance is fine (and this reduced the stress on our first trip) but if out of high season try leaving a few days free to stay on at a site, or perhaps try one of the stopovers available through Brit Stopovers. We would have happily stayed at a couple of the sites for longer than the one night we actually booked, and having booked all nights in advance, we had no option to change our travel plans.
- Take a micro-fibre towel to use as a floor mat for the onboard bathroom. Steph also suggested using it in the onsite facilities as sometimes you have nowhere dry to stand and dress after showering (we can vouch for that!).
- Clothes hangers can be bulky but also noisy when driving if made of metal or plastic. Wilkinson sell some flat hangers that are also felt-covered so silent.
- We took a small gas stove for cooking outside which worked well for things like breakfast sausages and also warming up the Craster kipper! It reduces cooking smells in the van as well as cleaning and is also fun.
- If you plan to use a public car park, get there early. It means you can chose your spot in your own time without the stress of other users waiting for you to manoeuvre. It also means you can pick a spot that will be easy to get out of when you leave.
- Consider taking paper plates and disposable cutlery. We stopped for a quick lunch a couple of times but didn’t want to leave dirty plates so washed up the few items we used, whereas throwing away disposable plates and cutlery would have been much easier and also saved both water and gas.

That covers the notes we made along the way. If I can think of anything else in the meantime I’ll add it later, but hopefully this gives you some idea of what we learned on our very first motorhome trip. We loved the experience and look forward to many more adventurers. We've already booked and are starting to plan a two week trip to France next year as part of our 30th wedding anniversary celebrations. No doubt we’ll learn lots more on our first foreign motorhome trip.

Monday 29 August 2011

Two old gits walking

That's what we were yesterday - two old gits walking.  For the first time in ages we went out for walk in the countryside - Anglesey to be exact.  For days the weather's been rubbish - heavy, constant rain and cloud, so we decided come what may we're going out for some fresh air.
It turned into a lovely coastal walk, which stayed dry and the sun actually shone for a while.  I picked the walk from the Anglesey Tourist website, which has some interesting walks and maps.  We chose a walk starting from a car park by the beach at Cemaes Bay, a circular walk taking in both inland countryside and the rugged coastal path with several ascents and descents with a view of the waves crashing against the rocks.  We also passed Cae Owen, which produces local wine from vines planted on the south facing slopes (sadly we did not stop and sample them!).

On the way we passed Hell's Mouth (or Porth Cynfor) which looked a great place to swim but unfortunately was at the bottom of a steep cliff path which had been fenced off.  We carried on and stopped for lunch (our usual walking food of tuna, onion & mayo butties) on the pebbly beach at Porth Llanllenia).  This included a snooze, listening to the waves crashing on the rocks and pebbles as the sun eventually broke free; we both woke ourselves up snoring!

Further along the route we came across the tiny Eglwys Llanbadrig Church, perched on the top of the cliffs with a large number of very old (and very new) gravestones - some sad history of the families of Cemaes, with large groups of children dying young.  But surprisingly, many gravestones showed those of advanced years; perhaps the sea air, fresh fish and hilly walks kept them fit and healthy?

We returned to the car park and wandered along the prom for a brew, planning to have a quick paddle before heading home, but by the time we'd finished our drink the sun was gone and we'd cooled down in the brisk sea breeze.  So we returned to the car and headed home via a quick tour of Anglesey and fish and chips in Llandudno.

As we walked the coast we talked about our plans for the future, mainly buying a campervan and travelling in both this country and abroad.  This gave us the idea of starting this blog to capture our travels and thoughts, if only to act as an online diary for our own use, to remind us of where we've been and what we plan to do in the future.  But if you come across this we hope you enjoy it.