Sunday 18 July 2021
Our intention had been to spend several more days exploring the Northumberland coast, but we decided to change our plans due to the circumstances below. So this and the last post have been published some time after the event....mainly because I forgot to do them!
We left the THS at Coldstream having enjoyed a quiet day and evening with the Edinburgh DA Group, all very welcoming. We were aiming to visit Lindisfarne (or Holy Island) today, but had to wait for the tide to recede to expose the causeway road, as this is the only way to cross and is completed flooded at high tide. Various websites gave the safe crossing times for today so, as we were early, we found a pull over just outside Waren Mill on the coast and had an early lunch. The layby is on the coastal road and, being a Sunday, was very busy. The noise was freaking Salty out a bit, so he stayed in the van, although we kept the side door open to enjoy the view, including Lindisfarne castle in the distance, which looked a little like Mont St Michel from this range.
It took half an hour to drive to the causeway and by the time we reached the large car park on the island, it was already starting to fill up. Overnight stops are not allowed unless staying in one of the hotels or guest houses, so all were day visitors like us. It was quite busy and the walk down towards the main village in the direction of the Abbey and Castle is quite narrow, so social distancing was difficult, but we walked on the other side of the road which surprisingly nobody else did! We've visited here before, during our first ever motorhome trip in 2012. On that occasion it was quite misty - and our camera was on the blink so some of the photos we took were a bit blurred - but today was warm and sunny. We didn't bother visiting the ruined Abbey again, but just walked around some of the coastal path to take in the views. By the end the crowds were getting to us a bit, so we returned to the van for a cuppa before heading off to what was supposed to be a four night stay...
I'd tried to book a CL or campsite in this area in advance of this trip, but all were fully booked. One CL owner mentioned he was setting up a pop-up campsite - a bit like a THS - for £10 per night. This included fresh water and waste dump and would allow us to be based in one place for a few nights to explore the coast before moving further inland and finding a couple of pub stops on the way home. However, a few days before he'd emailed to say the pop-up site wouldn't be ready as they'd not had time to mow it! He offered another pitching spot on the same farm as his CL. It was in a field with views over Lindisfarne and we could use the CL facilities. This sounded fine and he provided directions which took us down to dead-end to a row of cottages. But on arrival it was clear the 'pitch' was of no use. The field was extremely uneven and covered in fresh cow pats. Moreover, it backed on to a holiday cottage and we would have blocked the view for the people who no doubt had spent a lot of money to hire the place; we weren't comfortable with doing that. So I emailed him to say it was unsuitable and we looked around for somewhere else to stay. There was a pop-up campsite nearby but they wanted £20 per night, with very limited facilities. I checked out a couple of the nearby pub stops but they weren't really suitable. So we had a decision to make. Should we try to keep finding a place for tonight and the rest of the week, or do we cut the trip short and head home? It was getting quite late in the afternoon by then and the disappointment of the 'pitch' had sort of taken the wind out of our sails. So we made the decision to drive home. This was over 300 miles though and would take several hours. We took a bit of break, had something to eat and hit the road, reaching home at about half past midnight.
This wasn't an ideal end to our trip, but finding places to stay at short notice in the UK, even pub stops or overnight car parks, isn't easy any more. We enjoy this type of spontaneous travel in mainland Europe, where Aires/Stellplatz are plentiful, but it's much less enjoyable in the UK, is quite stressful and something we prefer to avoid. Having said all that, we enjoyed our time away and look forward to seeing more of Scotland in particular. For now, I think the rest of our trips this year will be shorts stops not too far from home. We can't wait for the time when we can return to France and enjoy travelling in a country that embraces Van Life.
|Nice lunch view|
|Is that Mont St Michel? If only!|
|These boats, now used for storage, were sometimes dwellings too|
|This road on Lindisfarne reminded me of Normandy or Brittany|