17 Oct 2010

Bakewell Tarts!

Didn’t think we would be able to get away this month due to work commitments, but thank goodness for flexible working hours!

Had to be somewhere not too far from Mansfield so that D could go to work in the afternoon, so we chose Bakewell.  Greenhills holiday park, to be precise, a new site for us.

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We arrived early, about 11am, and were shown to our pitch.  Not the best pitch on the site, near reception and the car park, but no time to complain, and they did let us arrive early.

Unhooked the caravan and D went off to work, leaving J to set everything up, which she did very well.

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A lonely afternoon alone in the caravan for J!  She ended up going for a stroll around Bakewell and came back with a couple of tarts!

D returned about 6, just as the onsite pub opened, so just time for a quick drink before dinner in the caravan.  Better than most onsite bars.  Afterwards, a short stroll to Ashford-In-The-Water for more drinks.  Very dark walking back and the wind up torch needed constant winding!

A bit noisy later, with people leaving the pub and cars to-ing and fro-ing until quite late.  Cold, too, good job we replaced the gas bottle!

Day 2

Walked into Bakewell and had a massive breakfast before catching a bus to Taddington, the plan being to walk back to the site along the Monsal Trail some 7.5 miles

A nice easy day, no hills to climb!  Even the animals seemed to be taking it easy!

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Nice views of the rolling countryside, and it didn’t rain much despite the ominous looking clouds!

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Got back just after 5.  Including the walk to Bakewell to catch the bus, we walked about 10 miles.  We were ready for a shower, but it wasn’t to be for D - they were permanently in use and the only free one was covered in mud.  Urgh!  Tried a few times but no luck.  Queuing not an option for D!

Walked into Bakewell again and had dinner in The Peacock pub and a couple of drinks.  Best beer of the weekend…Swift Nick from Peak Ales.  Chatsworth Gold was nice too.

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Got back to the site about 11.  A long awaited shower for D.

Day 3

Homeward bound.

Greenhills holiday park

Pros

  • Good location, only a short walk to Bakewell and Ashford-in-the-water

Cons

  • Pitches a bit close together
  • Lots of space for tents, so probably very busy in high season
  • Shower cubicles very small
  • Quite noisy

Not sure if we will go back to this site.  Will request a pitch well away from reception if we do.  Handy for Bakewell, though.

Coming soon…nothing this month, then a bit of luxury in a Cumbrian hotel 5th/6th November.  Will try to get away in the caravan mid November.

27 Sep 2010

The eagle has landed!

Waterfoot Park, Pooley Bridge.

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One of our favourite sites.  The touring area is quite small and it always seems to be quiet and peaceful, maybe because no tents are allowed!  Excellent toilets and showers, a small shop, a bar, and only a short walk to Pooley Bridge.  The only criticism of this site is that the hardstanding part of some pitches is very narrow.

Day 1

An early start meant we arrived before 2pm and there were plenty of pitches to choose from.  No booking in, you find a pitch and then pay later, when the bar or shop is open.

The first pitch sloped a bit so we quickly moved to another, which was much better.

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Didn’t take long to get set up, so we headed off to Pooley Bridge for tea and cakes, followed by a couple of drinks in the Pooley Bridge Inn.

No eating out this weekend, so we headed back to the caravan for dinner.  A bit of a scare when we discovered that the fridge wasn’t working, but soon realised we were running it off the battery…rookie error!

Day 2

A classic walk in the Haweswater area today…D’s favourite place in the Lakes.

Rough Crag – High Street – Thornthwaite Beacon – Nan Bield Pass…high point 828 metres, about 6.5 miles.

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This is the home of England’s only golden eagle, a solitary male who has been looking for a mate for a few years now.  We’ve been here many time but never seen it, but we think we did today.  A big bird, flying high, a long way away, and gone before we could get the binoculars out.  No pic to prove it but here’s one I wish I’d taken!

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Saw some other interesting wildlife too.

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Tasty treats for Bear Grylls, but we had even tastier chicken paste sandwiches!

Even the rocks were smiling!

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Made it to the top of High Street and tucked into our sandwiches as we sheltered behind a wall.

“Way aye what a fookin view” we heard from the other side of the wall.  He wasn’t wrong.

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Next stop, Thornthwaite Beacon.

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Pretty cold, so we didn’t linger too long, and headed off down the Nan Bield Pass to Haweswater.

Near the bottom, several cyclists raced past us.

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One fell off, got back up, went a bit further, then fell off again.  He didn’t move for ages and we feared the worst, but he was ok.

Stopped off at the Haweswater Hotel for tea on the way back, but after waiting for about twenty minutes we gave up, got a refund and left!

Dinner in the caravan again.  Just managed to cook the pasta before the gas ran out!  We’ve had the same bottle for two years so we suspected that it was probably quite low!

Headed off for the warmth of Pooley Bridge and decided to try a different pub tonight.  Regretted it instantly, no real ale, loud dance music!

Went back to the Pooley Bridge Inn, much nicer.  Got chatting to a couple of locals, one of whom was from Liverpool.  Talked about the decline of L8.

Day 3

Pretty uneventful journey home.

Coming soon

Work, work, work, work, work…don’t you just hate it when work gets in the way of life!  Probably wont be able to get away until November now, when the clocks will have gone back and it will be dark by 4pm and cold and wet and miserable…!!!

21 Sep 2010

Hawkshead

Phew, the road closure is not a problem and the diversion is caravan friendly.

We stayed at The Croft, Hawkshead, a few years ago in our pre caravanning days, in a tent.  The “highlight” of the weekend was a fight that broke out in the early hours of the morning.  A noisy, inconsiderate group of campers were set upon by a lone camper who wanted to get some sleep.  A tent was flattened, there was lots of shouting, and from the safety of our tent it sounded like blows were exchanged.  Can’t remember how it all ended, but the solo camper left very early the following morning.

On the principle that lightning never strikes twice we decided to give the site another chance.  It’s easy to get to and is right next to Hawkshead village.  A great location, very handy for pubs

Arrived early, around 2pm, and told to choose our own pitch.   Pretty good reversing from D, for a change.  The pitch sloped a bit from left to right, but as usual we didn’t notice it until everything was unpacked and set up.

A mixture of caravans and campers who wanted electric hook-ups.  Not a problem, we thought, even as a huge tent was erected right behind us by two men.

Strolled into the village for a quick drink.  First the Sun Inn, then the Red Lion our pub of choice for the rest of the weekend.  Decided to return later for dinner.


The Red Lion dates back to the 15th century

Popped back to the caravan to discover that the people in the tent had been joined by a caravan and another car.  Pretty noisy already! A couple of small children crashed their bikes into next doors caravan and then cycled right across our pitch.  Were told off by the dad - but only for cycling too near the guy ropes on their tent!

Shower / toilet block immaculate, always looked liked someone had just been in there to clean it.  Only downside was the push button shower – 7 seconds it stayed on for! Now do you press it 10 times a minute, or hold it in and shower with one hand?  It’s a tough one!

Lamb stew in the Red Lion.  D impressed with the local beer…Windermere Pale.


Got back to the caravan about 10.30.  The group of people behind us were chatting away, and some other people in a caravan opposite were talking noisily, too.
Oh well, the no noise after 11pm rule would kick in soon, or so we thought.  The caravan people did quieten down, but the group behind us carried on…and on…and on.  At about 1am somebody complained and about half an hour later everything was quiet!

Day 2
You may recall from the last post that we bought a watercolour of Blea Tarn, and we thought it would be a nice idea to go there and get a pic…


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“If you see a black and white dog answering to the name of Flo…” a man asked us in the car park.  Poor Flo had been missing for about three hours.  We never saw her.  Wonder if she ever turned up?  Guess we’ll never know, unless her owner reads this blog…!

Blea Tarn – Side Pike – Lingmoor Fell…high point 497 metres, only 3 miles.  A gentle stroll!

A bit of a squeeze, though…

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The pic of D squeezing through is too embarrassing to publish!!

On our way down we passed some fell runners who seemed to be having a great time…not!

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Dinner in the caravan, then back to the Red Lion for a drink.  No Windermere Pale, tonight…sold out!

Who let the dogs out?

We were expecting another noisy night and we weren’t disappointed.  When you are tucked up in bed you don’t want to have to get up, get dressed and go out in the rain to argue with a load of drunks.  Thankfully, we weren't the only ones being disturbed - the site owner had got a call from another caravanner and stormed over at 1.30am to tell them to shut up.  Ignorant, inconsiderate, selfish…argh, that’s enough moaning!
It rained all night, too, so all in all a pretty miserable night!

Day 3

Still raining in the morning, so we got soaked putting everything away.

It’s worth noting that the stabilizer didn’t creak once on the way home, presumably because it was wet.  Will pour some water over it before we set off next time!


The Croft

Pros

  • Very close to Hawkshead village
  • Plenty of toilets and showers
Cons
  • Based on two visits, seems to attract noisy groups.

I don’t think we will return to this site because the owners don’t enforce their ‘no noise after 11pm’ rule.  The group behind us should have been asked to leave after the first night!
Coming soon…Waterfoot Park, Ullswater.

5 Sep 2010

Last trip for a while?

After a three week break it was back to the Lake District, to the Windermere C&CC site.

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A bit of a misnomer, because Windermere is a good fifteen minutes drive away, but we like this site.  It’s easy to get to, quiet, and has great toilets and showers.

Day 1

The village of Staveley is just about walkable, so on arrival (after a very poor display of manoeuvring skills) we set off across farmland for a pre dinner drink.  A choice of pubs – we chose the Eagle and Child, where we sat by the river and watched the local fishermen in action!

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Then back to the site for another not very successful BBQ.  The problem this time, disintegrating minted lamb kebabs, which fell into the coals and put them out!!  Next time it’s back to basics - burgers and sausages…serves us right for trying to be adventurous!

Because there are no pubs within easy walking distance, we decided to give the on-site pub a try, The Whispering Pig.  We don’t really like on site pubs, they always seem to be full of static caravan owners bragging about their expensive foreign holidays, and this was no exception.  Not that we’re jealous, you understand!

Day 2

Weather forecast good, so after a hearty breakfast we set off for Grasmere.

Fairfield (873 metres) was the high point of a circular walk that also took in Great Rigg and Stone Arthur.  About six miles, very hot and humid to start with.

Wonder what this is?…

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The final climb to the summit included a short but steep section of loose scree, much harder than the pic below suggests.

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Much cooler at the top!

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After tea and no scones (sold out!) in Grasmere, we popped into the Heaton Cooper gallery.  Couldn’t resist buying a couple of watercolours, of Wastwater and Blea Tarn.

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D very tempted to stay for the Grasmere Guzzlers real ale festival, but as drink driving is frowned upon these days we thought better of it and headed back to the caravan.

After splashing out on the artwork we needed to find somewhere cheap for dinner, and you can’t get much cheaper than the Crown Carvery in Bowness…£3.59 for as much as you could fit on your plate (and some diners could have won a prize for it!)

Stopped off at the Watermill Inn in Ings on the way back.  Very impressed.  Not within walking distance of the site, but only a short taxi ride away.  We’ll be back.

Day 3

A good journey home.

Must explain the title of this post…last trip for a while?  The road to our caravan storage site is going to be closed for 6 weeks, starting tomorrow!  We have been assured that we will still be able to get in and out, the advice being to contact the contractors or local police if we have any trouble!  I can’t see it being a high priority for the police, so who knows…!

Might have to rough it in hotels for a while!

8 Aug 2010

From Gozo to Ravenglass

Our main caravan trip of the year, hot on the heels of a week in Gozo      

click here

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Day 1…Wednesday

Travelling mid week is great…no traffic problems!  Still took just over three hours though, a lot of it on winding roads with only the sound of the creaky stabilizer for company.  Very poor radio reception in places.  Replies to a question about the stabilizer on UK campsite suggest that creaking is normal, but D remains unconvinced!

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Four nights (instead of the usual two) at the Ravenglass C&CC site.  We’ve been here a few times and it is one of our favourite sites.  Quiet, lots of mature trees, a couple of pubs in easy walking distance.  In the past we have requested and been allocated a specific pitch, but not this time.  The pitch we were given was ok, although a bit near the owners house and the toilet block for our liking.  Although a couple of motor homes, obviously in last resort pitches got a raw deal, and were sited under the owner’s living room window and about 10 steps from the toilets!

Weather ok on arrival, so we thought a BBQ would be nice, and it probably would have been had we been able to light it!  All we had was an old disposable BBQ tray full of damp coals we found in the garden at home.  But no matter how many lighting cubes we threw on, it wouldn’t heat up properly.  After half an hour we gave up, threw a bottle of water over it and stalked off to the pub in search of a hot meal!

The Ratty Arms is nice but the selection of beers this time was disappointing.  Afterwards, a stroll around Ravenglass.  Nice sunset.

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Ravenglass is a very quiet village, although it seems they were experiencing a crime wave.  A notice in the post office warned of a conman who was posing as a not very good artist and charging up to £50 for a poor biro portrait. The title of the notice was ‘CON ARTIST’ A bit of a play on words?!

Saw signs everywhere for a second hand book fair in the village hall for the following Saturday.  J very excited.

Day 2…Thursday

Weather not great, but undaunted we set off for Buttermere.  Nowhere near Ravenglass, about an hour’s drive away.

Haystacks (4.5 miles, 597 metres) was our objective, final resting place of Alfred Wainwright’s ashes.  Despite getting caught in a a shower of hailstones halfway up, we made it, and only got a bit lost coming down!  Views at the top weren’t great, with the bigger mountains obscured by cloud, but a nice walk nonetheless.

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Then tea, cake and a pint of “Haystacks” in the Fish Hotel, Buttermere, followed by a long drive back to the caravan.  The hotel looks like a nice place to stay but for £92 a night, probably not (we paid less than that for 4 nights!)

Stopped off in Whitehaven and picked up a couple of disposable barbecues.  Slightly more successful this time, but still had to use the microwave a bit! Always a worry having a barbecue – you wouldn’t  want to be stuck up a mountain the next day with tummy trouble!

Where to go for a drink?  The poor selection of beers in the Ratty Arms made us look elsewhere and we found a bar (open to non residents) in the Pennington Hotel.  Better beer and nice, comfy sofas.

Day 3…Friday

Awoke to the sound of rain.  No major walk planned for today, so we got the Ravenglass and Eskdale steam train and got off a couple of stops before the end so that we could walk the rest of the way.

IMG_0711 Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway

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Only a couple of miles, but we got very wet!

Lunch in a pub in Boot and a couple of drinks, then got the train back to the site.

A night in tonight.  Lancashire hotpot for dinner, a bottle of wine and Absolute 80’s on the radio.  Very cosy (just ignore the dirty trainers under the table!).

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Image0239 We know how to have fun!

Polished off the wine, then collapsed into bed.  J looking forward to tomorrows book fair at 10.30am

Day 4…Saturday

Weather forecast much better today, so off to Wasdale Head to climb Middle Fell (3.5 miles, 582 metres).  First stop though, the much anticipated book fair.

Got there at 10.31am (didn't want to appear too keen) Not a soul about and the doors closed.  Picked up some essentials at the shop (a Twix) and walked back.  This time a few people milling about.  Walked around the block again to find the small crowd had vanished but the doors still closed and no signs of life inside.  J very disappointed.  Ah well, Onwards to Wasdale

Not very popular with walkers, so not many people about.  A steep climb in places but excellent views of the big mountains around Wastwater and the sea from the top.  The pics below and in the gallery really don’t do it justice.

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Steep coming down as well, the flock of sheep we came across made better time than we did.  They stayed ahead of us for ages, and we did think at one point we would have to buy them all a drink at the pub!

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Lamb casserole in the Wasdale Head Inn, and three pints for D.  Ennerdale Blonde followed by the holy grail of beer (in D’s opinion), Loweswater Gold.  J drove back to the site…a first for her as she’s never driven on Lake District roads before.  A tipsy D offered plenty of helpful advice though!

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Another nice sunset in Ravenglass and a drink in the Pennington Hotel, followed by a final drink in the Ratty Arms.  D a bit worse for wear, will sleep well tonight!

More pics…

*It appears the book fair started a little later than planned, but they’d packed up and gone home by the time we came back!

Day 5…Sunday

Homeward bound.  An uneventful journey home.

 

Ravenglass C&CC Site

Pros

  • Quiet, even when full.
  • Good sized pitches with lots of trees.
  • Excellent showers - no push button and adjustable temperature.
  • Pubs within easy walking distance

Cons

  • A bit hard to get to.
  • Could do with more toilets and showers.

Coming soon…well, nothing planned at the moment but we will probably go somewhere in a couple of weeks.

11 Jul 2010

Hosepipe ban…I don’t think so!

As the southern half of the country basks in a heatwave and a hosepipe ban is introduced in the drought hit North West, it’s off to Ambleside for us.

Skelwith Fold to be precise, which we’ve been to a few times before click here.  After a long journey due to traffic on the M6 we arrived.  Took us a while and a quick argument to find a good pitch as the first one we chose was too uneven.  Then had an early dinner inside the caravan.

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A walk of about a mile and a half took us to the Drunken Duck Inn.  Sat outside under a canopy and had a few drinks...beer called Catnap or Catnip or something like that!  J wanted tea and cake, but alas we were too late.

Walked back to caravan about 9pm, just as it started to rain.  Rain was to become a feature of the weekend!  It rained all night…

Day 2

…and all morning, until we couldn’t take it any more. It was so loud, we couldn’t even hear the radio, so we set off in the direction of Grasmere, which is where we were intending to climb Fairfield.  But it was not a day to head into the hills so we carried on to Keswick, then decided to head to Buttermere, which we've not been to before because it is a bit of a trek.

After almost an hour’s drive we arrived mid afternoon.  Held up a bit by a sat nav that needed a sat nav, and a sheep jam

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The weather was still pretty awful but we donned our waterproofs, gritted our teeth and set off to walk around the lake.

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IMG_0327 No water shortage here!

IMG_0350A soggy moggy we befriended halfway round.

IMG_0356 Mind your head – a very low narrow tunnel

After 2 hours and five and a half miles of easy walking, we arrived back at the Bridge Inn where we had a giant pot of tea (no cake unless you bought a main meal) We really couldn't face going back to the caravan to eat, so stayed for a delicious Lancashire hotpot, a pint then back to the van.

The sun was trying to come out after we got our showers, so we dashed to the Skelwith Bridge Hotel for a quick drink before it started up again. Then it really started to rain!!!

I’m a wet caravanner - get me out of here!

After a very disturbed night, we bolted down a cup of tea and a croissant and packed up before the heavens opened again.  As soon as we passed the ‘Welcome to Lancashire’ sign on the M6 the sun came out.  Arriving back in Liverpool, we discovered they hadn’t had a drop of rain all weekend – Hmmm.

Ah well, all good fun and beats being at home!

Coming next…a week in Gozo, followed by our main caravan trip of the year, Ravenglass for five days.