27 Nov 2011

Wet and windy in Wales!

25th to 27th November 2011

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Riverside, Betws y Coed, a site we first visited back in June.  An excellent site in the centre (almost) of Betws y Coed.  We would have preferred Cumbria or Derbyshire but wanted somewhere with lots to do within easy walking distance and there’s not much else open at this time of year, at least not with vacancies

Friday

Arrived about 1.30 to find the site half empty, so we got a good pitch.

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Had a quick look in the model railway shop on the way into the village and very nearly bought a starter set, but the cheapest one at £75 put us off.

There are plenty of pubs in Betws y Coed (none of them are particularly good, D has been spoilt by the Cumbrian real ales!) but we had a quick drink in one of them anyway and then went back to the caravan for dinner.

Back into the village after dinner and ended up drinking San Miguel in one of the hotels.

Saturday

A very half hearted attempt to get to the top of Moel Siabod (872 metres) today.  Apparently it’s a bit challenging even in good conditions with a section of prolonged scrambling to get to the summit.  And conditions were not good!

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Out of the way sheep – the path to Moel Siabod

We made it to the lake at the start of the final climb, but by then the showers had turned into heavy rain and it was very, very windy!  Instead we walked around the lake, which wasn’t much fun as it was wet and boggy, and retraced our steps.  We weren’t the only ones who turned back, a group of half a dozen men did too, although we did see an elderly couple disappearing up into the mist.  We will re-visit Moel Siabod in better weather.

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All the rain turned the paths into rivers, so we had to walk on the wet grass.  Very slippery and  J fell over several times and got covered in mud.  D did ask her to do it again so he could get a picture but she wouldn’t!

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This was a path earlier!

First outing with our new camera, a Canon Powershot SX130, but we couldn’t really take many pictures because of the heavy rain, hence no gallery this time.  It does seem much better than the old one however.

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D’s favourite pic of the day, making full use of the 12x optical zoom in glorious monochrome…

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We were well and truly soaked by the time we got back to the car, despite wearing waterproof jackets and trousers.

No pub stop on way back this time, but straight back for showers and a hot drink, and a look on eBay for that train set (found it for £15 cheaper)  There may be another blog in the near future!

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In the evening we headed into the village for something to eat,  but it was so busy we ended up having a fairly expensive dinner in one of the hotels, followed by drinks in another.

Sunday

Homeward bound, so of course a lovely day with clear blue sky and just a few clouds!  Still quite windy though.

D drove straight through a red light at some roadworks only to find a stream of cars coming towards us along a single carriageway!  Luckily they didn't include a caravan or a bus so we were able to get over onto the grass verge to allow them to pass, it could have been much worse.  Very embarrassing, though!

Bear Grylls on desert island discs.  He wouldn’t have given up halfway up Moel Siabod, he is the youngest person to have climbed Everest!!

Back at the storage site we discovered that we had bought the key to the toilet block home with us, so will have to post it back to them.  The new occupants of pitch no. 17 will have to cross their legs!

Coming soon…

That’s all for 2011, we wont be caravanning again until 2012.  That’s assuming it (and us) survives the winter!

We do have a couple of trips planned in December, to Cumbria and then Scotland for Twixmas, but we will be staying in hotels for the first time this year.  I wonder, will we be pining for the caravan or enjoying the luxury…?

Oh well, see you in 2012…have a great Christmas and New Year.

14 Nov 2011

November sunshine

11th to 13th November 2011

Fallbarrow Park, Bowness-on-Windermere.

Another new one for us.  This is a very commercial site right on the lake with just a few minutes walk into Bowness.  It boasts an onsite pub, cafe, deli and private launch area.  It’s mostly for statics and lodges but there is a small touring area.  Not the sort of site we would normally go to, but as the days are much shorter now we wanted somewhere where we knew there would be plenty to do in the evening.

Some excellent (empty) pitches for caravans or lodges, but way out of our price range!

Friday

The worst thing about the site is the earliest arrival time…2pm.  We phoned and asked if we could get there a bit earlier, but was told not a chance.  We arrived 15 minutes too early due to the traffic being very good, so hung around in a lay-by till 2 eating sausage rolls!

The pitches are a good size and have their own water and waste water disposal, and we especially like the way they are all separated by hedges, albeit pretty bare ones at this time of year.

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It’s right on the edge of lake Windermere…

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Lots of hungry swans and ducks…

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After a quick wander around the site we headed into Bowness and had a look around the shops and a quick drink in a couple of the pubs, our favourite the Old John Peel Inn.  Nothing to do with the much missed DJ of the same name.

Then we went to the Crown Carvery, which overlooks the lake, for a £3.89 dinner.  Not exactly busy, there were only half a dozen people in there after 9.30 0n both nights, but the food was very good and rivals the Toby carvery at more than twice the price. The Marston’s EPA was very good too (says D).

Saturday

Up earlyish for a low level walk in the hills around Windermere.  High points Brantfell (191 metres) and School Knott (232 metres), so nothing too strenuous.  Excellent views of Windermere and the surrounding area…

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And some colourful sheep…

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More pics in the gallery.

After about 3 hours, we ended up in the village of Ings, and had a late lunch in the Watermill Inn.  D had the Collywobbles – not caused by the salmon sandwich,  but a fine beer from the onsite brewery

The bus only comes once every hour, so we had to keep an eye on the time.  D a bit tipsy after his 2 pints, (one was quite strong), and  armed with a couple of pilfered beer mats to add to the collection and one of their own fridge magnets (bought, not pinched) we made it to the bus stop with minutes to spare.

After a rest and showers we went into Bowness and ended up back in the Crown Carvery, our (surprising) pub of choice for the weekend.  No food, just a few drinks, then chips and a giant sausage from the chippy next to the site.

Sunday

Left about 10.30.  Remembrance Sunday, so no Archers omnibus to listen to on the way home, just Nicholas Witchell describing the outfits of the wreath layers and lots of military music, would have been much better to see on TV

Fallbarrow Park

Pros

  • A very short walk into Bowness, which has lots of pubs, restaurants etc.
  • Easy to get to
  • Onsite pub and cafe (both looked ok, although we didn’t venture in)
  • Large pitches with own water/hookup, separated by hedges for added privacy.
  • Large play area for kids
  • Good toilets/showers (although the layout in the gents was a little strange)

Cons

  • Earliest arrival time 2pm
  • Site dominated by statics and lodges
  • Very expensive, £35 per night plus extra for awning/pets in high season!

Overall a pretty good site which we will probably go back to around the same time next year, but not in high season.  Good for families.

Coming soon…

Nothing planned.  We’ve drained all of the water out of the caravan in case we don’t use it again until next year but if the weather stays nice we might try to get away again.

Or we might consider hiring a static here for three nights…only £128, so cheaper than a hotel.

1 Nov 2011

Herriott country

28th to 30th October 2011

Brown Moor, Hawes, North Yorkshire,  a new site for us.

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Great location, just a few minutes walk from the town and facilities up to usual CC standard.  See review at end.

Friday

30 or so miles of A and B roads made the journey seem longer than it actually was, but at least it was nice scenery!

No awning this weekend, so a very quick set up and plenty of time to answer a question that has been troubling us for a while…DAB or FM radio, which is best in a caravan situation?  We brought a really old FM radio with us this week, to compare with the DAB one we usually use.  In a poor signal area we didn’t get a single station with the DAB radio, but perfect FM reception.  Which confirms what D has always though, DAB is rubbish unless you are in a good signal area or have a really good aerial, which we haven’t!  We are showing our age now and think new technology sucks!

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Then we headed into Hawes, Yorkshire’s highest market town

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First, a craft fair and second hand book shop.  Didn’t buy anything though.

Then the Wensleydale Creamery.  Lots of free samples, which we gorged ourselves on!  Ended up buying £15 worth of cheese.  Had a look around the museum, but we were too late to watch the cheese being made.

Then we tried three of the four pubs in the high street.  All pretty average, with the Crown probably the best of the bunch.  Well, it had a cat with no tail, so no contest really!  Best beer was in the Old Board Inn, but overhearing the landlady talking about how disgusting the gents toilets were put us off a bit.  D didn’t venture in, so can’t confirm how disgusting they actually are!

No time to visit the Dales museum or Herriott gallery, maybe next time.

Dinner in the fish and chip shop, which also has a small seating area.  Excellent, but not exactly cheap.

Back at the caravan, we discovered that the gas had run out…and it was a pretty cold night.  Luckily we had remembered to bring a halogen heater with us for just such an emergency, so we didn’t freeze.

Saturday 30th

Lots of good walking straight from the site, so no need to use the car.  We headed into the hills to the north of Hawes.  No summit of note, just a walk in the hills, in rapidly deteriorating weather!

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IMG_2526A soggy J

 

Ended up in the village of Hardraw.  After eating our packed lunch in the church grounds followed by tea and a cake in the local tea room, we ended up in the “legendary” Green Dragon Inn which dates back to the 13th century.  It  has Hardraw Force waterfall in its grounds and charges £2 per person to get to it.  Just about worth it, we thought.

Green Dragon Inn

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And what a fabulous pub the Green Dragon is!  Loads of character, stone walls, plenty of space, log fires, nicely lit (maybe too dark for some), and great beer!

After dining in the caravan, we headed back to the Green Dragon Inn, J volunteering to drive as we thought it was just a bit too far to walk given the current weather conditions.  Definitely walkable in better weather, though.  Not exactly crowded, just a few locals and people staying in the hotel.

Sunday 30th

We remembered to put the clocks back, so got up early and had time for a bacon and egg breakfast and a stroll into Hawes before heading for home.

Brown Moor, Hawes

Pros

  • Good facilities, usual CC standard.
  • Large hard-standing pitches, nicely laid out.
  • Only a short stroll into Hawes.

Cons

  • Struggling to think of any!

We will definitely return to this site next year, if only to re-visit the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw.

Coming soon…

Back to the lake district…Fallbarrow Park in Bowness, another new site for us.

17 Oct 2011

Second visit to Castleton

14th to 16th October 2011

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We really like this site.  We discovered it a few months ago and it instantly became one of our favourites.

Only downsides…a bit of road noise during the day and we couldn’t get anything on the radio.  TV reception is probably bad too, but we didn’t try.

You may recall from our earlier post that last time we came here we ended up spending loads on drink, and we were determined not to do the same again!  We weren’t entirely successful!

Friday

Arrived mid afternoon only to discover that we had forgotten to bring towels!  So off we dashed to Morrisons in Chapel-en-le-Frith about 6 miles away. 

Back at site, we had a bit of trouble getting in.  There is a swipe card entry system and it just wouldn’t recognise our card.  After half a dozen attempts, the driver behind  got us in, very embarrassing!

With the awning up in record time, we  popped into Castleton for a couple of drinks.  Ended up staying for an early bird dinner in the Castle Hotel.

Went back to the caravan for a bit and discovered that the blown air heating had stopped working (luckily, we can still run the gas fire ok), but it didn't bother us that much,  so we then back to Ye Olde Nags Head for the Friday night pub quiz.  26 out of 50!  Oh dear!  We do particularly badly on the sport round.  The winning score was 37.  Last time they brought out trays of sandwiches and chips after the quiz had finished.  We waited and waited and waited…but none this time.

Saturday

A walk up to the Kinder Scout plateau from Edale today.  The plan was to ascend via Ringing Roger (what a great name for a hill), walk along the edge for a bit, and then descend via Grindslow Knoll.  High point 601 metres but less than 5 miles, so not especially strenuous.  However, a mistake early on meant that we ended up going around Ringing Roger rather than over it, which was a bit disappointing.

Our first time on Kinder Scout, and some interesting rock formations…

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A meerkat on the left?

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A pig?

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D on a waterfall

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After a quick drink in Edale (can’t remember the name of the pub) we went back to the caravan and lazed around.  Rain forecast for Sunday morning (correct for a change), so we decided to take the awning down.  We didn't really use it this time, but it got a good airing as it was packed away damp last time.

A bit of dinner and some light reading for J

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J happy to read but D a bit restless by 8.30 - he couldn't face another Pan horror story - so we headed back into the village for a couple more drinks.  Lots of groups of young people wandering around the village and filling the pubs up, so we didn’t stay too long!

Sunday

A bit of a damp start, very pleased that we had taken the awning down on Saturday.  Left about 10 and got back to the storage place by 12.

Coming soon…

Brown Moor, Hawes, Yorkshire…a new site for us.

3 Oct 2011

Waterfoot Park

30th Sept to 2nd October 2011

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Our first trip of the year to Ullswater.

We joined the Caravan Club earlier this year and have become accustomed to massive hard-standing pitches.  Camping & Caravan Club site pitches are usually pretty big too.

Waterfoot Park is neither, so the narrowness of the pitch we had to make do with was a bit of a disappointment.  It does have excellent facilities, though, and a very relaxed atmosphere, and is only a short walk into Pooley Bridge.  Still one of our favourite sites, just not in the top three anymore…probably C&CC Ravenglass, CC Park Coppice, CC Castleton, not necessarily in that order.

Friday

Arrived mid afternoon after a very uneventful journey.  Decided not to bother with the awning this weekend as the pitch was very narrow and the grass on which it would have to go was very wet and muddy, so a very quick setup.  Excellent reversing from D!

Walked into Pooley Bridge and along the river for about a mile, then popped into the Sun Inn, one of three pubs in the village, for a quick drink.  Took some bread for the ducks that congregate around the bridge and are quite happy to eat out of your hand!  No pic (not sure why), so you will have to make do with one of J looking at something in the water!

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Back at the site, we had our first barbecue for quite a while, and very successful it was too, despite a slow start getting the coals lit

Then back to Pooley Bridge for a drink in the Pooley Bridge Inn.  Just one, we are trying to cut down after the recent excesses of Castleton!  Warm enough to sit outside in the dark, even for J!

Saturday

No major walk planned for today, just a stroll along the shore of Haweswater reservoir.

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As we drove along the road that leads to the reservoir a herd of deer shot across the road in front of us, causing D to slam on the brakes!  Actually it was just two deer and D just slowed down a bit, but still not something you see every day!

Very warm and humid, but Haweswater is always a pleasant place to be.  This is one of the first places that we visited when we started coming to the lake district in our pre caravan days, and is partly responsible for getting us into walking, so we couldn’t let the year go by without a visit.  No sign of the resident golden eagle.

 

Stopped off at Pooley Bridge on the way back for a cream tea and then a quick drink in the Crown Inn.

After a rest and showers we drove into Penrith, the plan being to have dinner in a Mexican restaurant there.  It was fully booked, so instead we bought a couple of pizzas and headed back to the caravan.  Couldn’t be bothered walking to the village so we just lazed around listening to the radio and reading.

Sunday

Just managed to pack everything away before it started to rain, so all in all we were very lucky with the weather.  Whiled away the hours listening to the Archers and Desert Island Discs which is back after a break of a few months.  This week, the creator of the Teletubbies who is actually 74!

Coming soon…

A quick return to the CC site at Castleton, to see if it is as good as we thought it was just over a month ago.

19 Sep 2011

Rainy Ravenglass

16th to 19th September 2011

Three nights in the sleepy village of Ravenglass, especially sleepy this time!

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Friday

Arrived early afternoon and allocated pitch no. 19.  A good pitch, which we’ve been on before, but we’ve been spoiled recently with huge Caravan Club pitches.  C&CC pitches are a lot smaller.  Took a while to reverse in, and a fellow caravanner even came out, to ask if we would like him to move his car – the shame!

Spent a lot of time putting the awning up in preparation for the heavy showers forecast;  correct tensioning, positioning of poles and storm straps paid off, with no water pooling problem this weekend.  And it did rain quite a bit!  There was a bit of panic when the electric wouldn’t work, but it turned out to be a tripped switch on the hook-up.

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Afterwards we headed into the village, to the Holly House Hotel, for a quick drink.  Full of very noisy locals so we didn’t hang around.  Saw a really big cat, so big we thought it was a dog at first!

Got back to the caravan to discover a leaking water pipe.  Not sure how, but a jubilee clip had come loose, perhaps from travelling over bumpy roads.  Anyway, it was easy to fix, just a bit annoying.

Stayed in the caravan in the evening listening to Absolute 80’s radio over the heavy rain and drinking red wine.

Saturday

Rain, rain, rain…!

A bit of a lie in today. We had originally planned to go walking  but after seeing the weather forecast we changed it to Sunday. 

D has cut a piece of card to go under the skylight mesh as we were waking up too early.  It certainly did the trick as we didn't  get up till 9.30.  Had a cooked breakfast instead of the usual rushed piece of toast, as we usually have to leave early to get a car parking space at wherever we are starting our walk from.

Caught the steam (actually diesel) train to Boot and had a wander around between showers.  The journey was courtesy of Tesco as the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway has been added to the clubcard deals.  Good job too as they wanted £24!

Boot is a nice little village with two pubs and not much else.  We did discover the Eskdale Watermill, though, a working mill open to the public and only £1.50 admission.  Managed to get past the guard cat!

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Stanley the cat!

Lots of old stuff inside, including a mangle which D gamely had a go of

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The watermill in action, note the torrential rain!

Had lunch and a couple of drinks in the Brook House Inn, one of our favourite pubs anywhere, then back to the site.

Found a battered Scrabble board in the information room and had a game as the rain hammered down.  J won by a mile!  Lots of tiles missing was D’s excuse.

Lost track of time a bit, so we didn’t go out until about 9.30.  Went to the Ratty Arms, which was very quiet.

Sunday

Up early(ish) for a long walk.  8.5 miles, including the summits of Haycock (797m), Scoat Fell (841m) and Red Pike (826m).  Lost our way a bit as the clouds descended,  but once they passed we managed to get back on track.  Might look into getting a GPS.  Very wet underfoot after Saturday’s downpours, so we spent a lot of time avoiding deep puddles which added to the time.   7.5 hours in total with just a few breaks for something to eat.   3 pins for the Wainwright map! A very welcome drink in the Wasdale Head Inn (another of our favourite pubs), then back to the Ratty Arms for dinner.

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More pics in the gallery.

Tried to cut down on the drinking a bit this weekend, so we left about 9.30.  As did everybody else!  The barman said he was expecting some locals later on, so a quiet night’s work for him!

Monday

Up early again, so enough time for a couple of award winning local sausages before packing everything up.  Uneventful journey took about 2.5 hrs.

We have done pros and cons for this site many times and it always scores well.  However, after being spoilt by the Caravan Club facilities they could do with a bit of cheering up.

4 Sep 2011

Castleton

2nd to 4th September 2011

Out first trip to Derbyshire this year.

The reason we go to Cumbria so much (apart from the scenery) is because all of our favourite sites are there and we haven’t found any we really like in Derbyshire, Wales, Shropshire etc.

But the Losehill Caravan Club site just outside Castleton gets a big thumbs up from us.

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Like all CC sites, the facilities are excellent, and there are plenty of them.  But the best thing about it, is that it is less than half a mile from Castleton, along a road which has pavement and street lights, which is handy after a few drinks!  The village is at the western end of Hope Valley and is popular with tourists with four show caves as well as Peveril Castle.

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Friday

After a two hour journey due to roadworks in Stockport, we arrived early afternoon and chose a quiet pitch (no. 89) just off the main site.  Plenty of empty spaces when we got there but it soon filled up.

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Got the awning up, complete with extra roof pole to prevent water pooling…not entirely successful but more about this later! After a quick sandwich and a piece of locally made bakewell tart, we strolled into Castleton to have a look around the castle.  It’s on a steep hill and it was a bit of a trek up the winding path

IMG_2262 The only part left was the keep built by Henry II in 1176

Halfway up was a welcoming bench, with a ginger cat that D took an instant shine to

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J not too keen though, as it wasn’t particularly cute!

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Swotting up on the history of the castle

Couldn’t find a bank anywhere.  It seems D got the village mixed up with one that did have one.  Just one free cash machine in the post office, but D’s bank was one of the few not accepted, so he had to get a loan off J.

So many pubs to choose from, it was difficult to know where to start.  But we had to start somewhere, so we popped into Ye Olde Nags Head, tempted by a sign saying that there was a pub quiz later.

Then into the Cheshire Cheese Inn.  Another nice pub, the early bird special (2 meals for £10) caught our eye and we stayed for pie and chips x 2.

After retreating to the caravan for a rest, we headed back to Ye Olde Nags Head for the pub quiz.  Didn’t do very well (31/50), but spirits lifted considerably when the barmaid came round with a large tray of complimentary sandwiches, followed by a bowls of chips for each team.  We were hoping for dessert too, but it never came!

Saturday

Up early (7am!) and off for a walk up Mam Tor (517 metres).  Back Tor, on the way, was actually more impressive (below).

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Horses for hobbits?

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Made it to the top!

Returned via Cavedale, with excellent views of the castle and the ridge we walked along earlier in the distance.  The castle is virtually unreachable from this side back in the olden days, so it was almost certainly never attacked

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Lots more pics in the gallery.

After a drink in the Castle Inn, another nice pub, we popped into a small cafe.  A cherry scone cream tea made J’s day, then back to the caravan for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening we returned to the Cheshire Cheese Inn.  A lot busier than yesterday, but we still managed to get a table and noticed some games dotted around the place, so we played a couple of games of backgammon.  A couple a few tables away were playing scrabble.  How good is that?  No TV, no games machines, no loud music, no pool table, just people sitting around playing traditional games and chatting.  All of the pubs we tried in Castleton were excellent and thoroughly recommended, and the other three looked okay too.  All served nice beer, with Goldblade (O’Hanlons brewery) being D’s pick of the weekend.

Perhaps the pubs were a bit too nice, we worked out afterwards that we spent about £50 over two nights on drinks alone, does that make us binge drinkers?!

Sunday

Awoke to the sound of light rain.  Great, thought D, an opportunity to see if the extra roof pole had made a difference.  But it hadn’t, and there was a massive pool of water in the roof.  All it needed was a duck swimming in it!  Not sure what else to try.

Popped into Castleton for a sausage and bacon barm, then packed everything away (in the rain) and headed for home.

All in all, a very good trip with this site added to our list of favourites.  We will definitely be back, although we had to book this trip several months in advance so availability might be a problem.

Losehill Caravan Club site, Castleton

Pros

  • Excellent toilets and showers and plenty of them
  • Pitches well laid out and spacious
  • Only a short stroll to Castleton
  • Lots of good pubs
  • Lots of walks from the site, so no need to use the car

Cons

  • Struggling to think of any, maybe road noise a bit intrusive (why do middle aged men feel the need to buy motorbikes and race up and down country roads on them?) Moving to a different part of the site would sort that out.

Coming soon…

Three nights at Ravenglass C&CC site, still our (well, D’s) favourite site.