12 Dec 2013

Our first ever trip in December!

6th to 8th December 2013

We’ve never been away in the caravan in December before.  Or January.  Will this change in 2014?  Nothing booked, so could go either way, watch this space.  Anyway, we think we are officially winter caravanners now!

The venue this weekend, Riverside Touring and Holiday Home Park, Betws y Coed, because the weather forecast for Wales was better than elsewhere and the site is only a short walk into the village.  The weather turned out to be pretty good, just a bit of light rain from time to time, and not so cold that we had to worry about the water freezing.


There were only a handful of other caravans and motorhomes on site when we arrived, and it stayed that way for the whole weekend.  The holiday home season must have ended because they were all unoccupied.


IMG_3726We tried to get a bit festive this weekend!

After setting everything up, including a mini Christmas tree, we strolled into Betws y Coed and ended up having an early dinner in the Royal Oak.  The village was looking quite festive, but the snow in the pic below wasn’t real!



We got back to the caravan quite early and spent the night listening to the radio and reading.


Up early and a short drive to Capel Curig.  Before setting off, J put some chicken in her latest gadget, a slow cooker, and left it cooking.  The high point of today’s walk around Capel Curig was Clogwyn-mawr, 347 metres.

Route clogwyn mawr

A pretty good walk with excellent views of the surrounding hills and mountains, including Moel Siabod, which beat us on our last visit to the area when the weather nowhere near as good as it was today.  We did think about having another go at it, but didn’t have the right OS map, so we played it safe instead.

IMG_3751Our new caravan?  Actually a nicer colour that our ageing Avondale!

IMG_3763A rare pic of both of us at the summit of Clogwyn-mawr thanks to the camera self timer.


More pics in the gallery.

We got back to the car around 2pm and didn’t want to go back to the caravan straight away, so we drove to Llanberis instead.  It was pretty quiet, with a lot of the shops and pubs shut, presumably for the winter.  The train to the summit of Snowdon wasn’t running either.  We didn’t hang around and went to Beddgelert instead, which was also pretty quiet.

Back in the caravan we sampled the delights of the slow cooker, accompanied by a microwave jacket potato…delicious!  Then we walked into the village and had a couple of drinks.


Left early as we had to get home to host a family party.


Coming soon…

No caravan trips planned.  A hotel trip to Castleton, for twixmas, and in January we usually stay in a self catering apartment in Grasmere.  We might try and get away in the caravan some time in January, though, so that we can say we are all year caravanners.

18 Nov 2013

At last…a caravan trip!

15th to 17th November 2013

As reported in our last post, a new bridge has been erected.  It’s a tight squeeze but we managed to get the caravan across without any problems and headed to the C&CC site at Windermere, our third visit this year.  Our first caravan trip for two and a half months!

We wanted somewhere easy to get to because we now have a new tow car…a Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTi.  According to D, the best looking car he has ever owned!


The Insignia tows at least as well as the Mondeo did, so we arrived at the site quite early after an uneventful drive.  A bit of a panic the day before, when D realised a standard tow-ball had been fitted (after the mobile fitter had gone, obviously).  Managed to get to a local caravan service centre just before it closed and persuaded them to replace it with one that was compatible with a stabiliser for a small fee plus the cost of the tow-ball.  Entirely our fault, we didn’t specify the type of tow-ball to be fitted…duh!

The site wasn’t very full, so we got a good pitch in our usual place.


After setting everything up we headed across the fields to Staveley, then, after a quick drink in the Eagle and Child, we decided to catch the 555 bus to Ings for dinner at the Watermill Inn.  This is one of our favourite pubs, and apart from it being a bit hot inside, it didn’t disappoint.  We could have stayed longer but wanted to get to the bus stop in plenty of time to get the bus back to Staveley, which we did, only to watch it sail past.  Oh well, it was dark, so maybe the driver didn’t see us!  It’s a couple of miles from Ings to Staveley, so we walked instead.

Back at Staveley we popped into the Hawkshead Brewery, and one of the other pubs, then back across the fields to the site.


Off to Bowness for a walk along the western shore of Lake Windermere.  We left the car in Bowness and got the car ferry across, which is excellent value at only 50p for foot passengers.  Not such good value for cars.


After walking along the lake shore we returned via High Blind How (269 metres).  We tried to get to this summit once before, via a different route, only to find it closed due to forestry work, but we made it this time.


Excellent views of Bowness and Lake Windermere in surprisingly good weather for this time of year.  Lots of lovely autumnal colours.



IMG_3685Interesting funghi

Stopped off at the Crown Carvery in Bowness for a cheap dinner before heading back to the site for a quiet night in, reading and listening to Jazz FM.


Left early, around 9.30, and back at the storage site well before midday.

Coming soon…

No more trips for at least 2 weeks due to work and another (non caravan) trip for J, but we might try to get away early in December if the weather is ok.

13 Nov 2013

Still no caravan trip

7th to 9th November 2013

Good news, bad news…there is a new bridge…but it is very narrow and longer than the old one, which is not good news as you have to turn sharp right when you have gone across it.  Apparently they are going to do something to it to make it more accessible to caravans, but I’m not sure what they can do except replace it.  We’ll see.  We might give it a go soon if the weather is ok.

In the meantime, a two night trip to Lancaster, staying in a Travelodge in the town centre.  Room a bit pokey, but you can’t complain when it’s £77 for two nights.

We had a weekend in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, too.  Probably too late to do a blog about that now, memory not what it used to be.


No car this weekend, we let the train take the strain.

After checking in we had a wander around Lancaster.  There are lots of nice pubs, our favourites being the Robert Gillow, named after a famous Lancaster furniture maker, and Merchants 1688, basically just an old wine cellar with no windows, but much nicer than it sounds.

A pianist and drummer were performing in the Robert Gillow, so we watched them for a while before going for dinner at Teatro.  We chose it because they take Tastecards, then discovered we had left ours at home.  No problem, they gave us the discount anyway.  It wasn’t exactly busy.  Great food.

Afterwards we headed back to the Robert Gillow but couldn’t get it, so we ended up in Merchants 1688.


A walk along the canal to the aquaduct over the river Lune, then back along the river.



In the afternoon we got a bus to Morecambe, but it was pouring with rain by then and there isn’t much to do in Morecambe in the rain, so we didn’t stay long.


Back in Lancaster we had a cheap dinner in the Wetherspoons next to the hotel, then managed to get into the Robert Gillow to watch a jazzy three piece band.  Can’t remember their name.  Seems to be live music all the time there.


A late checkout meant we could leave our luggage in the hotel and have a look around Williamson park and the Ashton monument, followed by a tour of Lancaster castle.

Williamson park is a nice place, in addition to the monument there is a butterfly house and small “zoo”.  Just birds and small animals really.



IMG_3643Reflections in a large sun dial in Williamson park

The guided tour of Lancaster was quite interesting.  The courts are still in use and it used to be a prison until a couple of years ago.  We got to see some of the cells.

IMG_3653The Travelodge room was a bit basic!


Got the train home about 2.30.

Coming soon…

D is determined to get away in the caravan before Christmas, so we might have a go at getting across the bridge soon, even if we have to unhitch the caravan and push it across!

6 Oct 2013

Not a caravan trip!

04/10/2013 to 06/10/2013

No caravan trip for over a month, and here’s the reason why…


This is the bridge leading to our storage site.  The lorry has been removed but the bridge hasn’t been repaired and there are no signs of it being repaired any time soon!

There is another, smaller bridge further down the canal but it is locked and you have to make arrangements to use it, and the path leading to it is very narrow, and we are worried that we wont be able to find anybody to unlock the gate when we get back, leaving us stranded!

All very frustrating, especially as the weather has been pretty reasonable recently.  At least two trips cancelled so far.

So the luxury of a hotel this weekend, courtesy of KGB Deals.  Two nights at the Ambleside Lodge for £99…not bad!

The hotel had pretty bad reviews, but we really couldn’t fault it for the price.  A superior room with a separate sitting and dining area.


Day 1

We arrived mid afternoon after stopping off to look at a car.  The search for a new car is becoming a bit of a saga, suffice to say there aren’t many low mileage diesels capable of towing a caravan around at the moment.  Not in our price range anyway.

It was raining when we arrived, but it soon brightened up and didn’t rain again all weekend.  The Ambleside Lodge is just a short walk from the town centre, so we had a wander around the town and popped into a couple of pubs.

Then dinner at Fellini’s, a vegetarian restaurant.

Day 2

Got the 9.30 bus from Ambleside to Dungeon Ghyll, after a full English breakfast, to tackle Pike O’Blisco, 705 metres.  Bus rather than car because whenever we have been to Dungeon Ghyll in the past we have had trouble parking, although this time there seemed to be plenty of spaces.


Followed another couple, and a man with two dogs (who was also on the bus), most of the way up, but they went on to tackle Crinkle Crags, which we have already done.  We descended to the Wrynose pass and returned via Blea Tarn.  One of the dogs had a lot of trouble on the bits where you had to scramble up, and needed a helping hand.  No such trouble for J, who skipped up like a mountain goat.




Got back to the bus stop at 2.45, next bus due at 5!  We deliberately hadn’t packed any lunch because we thought we would be able to get something to eat in the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel, but discovered they only serve until 2pm.  Instead we walked about a mile to the New Dungeon Ghyll hotel, which is a much nicer place and, hurrah, they serve food all day.  And nice beer!

In the evening we went to Zeffirelli’s, Fellini’s sister restaurant with upstairs wine bar.  We didn't eat there but sat upstairs and watched a jazz quartet.

Day 3

A bit of a mixup at breakfast.  We were given someone else’s toast, and then a breakfast with two eggs which somebody else had requested.  Breakfast was served by an elderly couple and almost every table was occupied, so must have been pretty stressful for them. Not as stressed as D though who worried he was going to get a beating for eating other people’s breakfasts!

Early check out of 10:15, so we were home by noon.

Coming soon…

D is determined to get away in the caravan before winter arrives, so if the bridge doesn’t get fixed we might try the other bridge in a couple of weeks.  Ravenglass or Coniston are front runners at the moment.

3 Sept 2013

Nearly a pitch with a view!

31st Aug to 2nd Sep 2013


Castlerigg Hall, Keswick, a last minute booking – we’ve tried many times to get into this site in the past only to be told it is fully booked, but we were lucky this time.  Not lucky enough to get a pitch with a view, but a pretty good pitch anyway.  Our first visit to north Cumbria this year.


Arrived and settled into pitch 18.  A nice spacious pitch, but not as good as pitch 22, opposite, which has a great view and was vacant.


IMG_3497 A visitor to a nearby pitch

The weather was a bit iffy but we donned waterproofs anyway and set off on a short circular walk from the site, picking up a few geo-caches and admiring the local wildlife on the way.



Stopped off for a drink in the neighbouring Heights Hotel on the way back.  The bar is small and quite dated, but has a certain charm.  A totally vegetarian menu, including crispy duck without the duck, but no food tonight because the owners wife was ill.

Pitch 22 still vacant.


Three Wainwright’s today…Sail (773 mtrs), Scar Crags (672 mtrs) and Causey Pike (637 mtrs), total distance just under 6 miles.  With hindsight it would have been better (but not easier) to do the route in reverse, starting with Causey Pike, but it was still an enjoyable walk.


It rained a bit, but that is what waterproof coats are for, and there was quite a lot of blue sky between the showers.

IMG_3431The not very impressive summit of Sail

IMG_3449 J enjoying the view of Derwent Water from Causey Pike



More pics in the gallery.

A bit of excitement when we got back to the car, with a mountain rescue landrover racing up the path we had just come down.  This is what happened according to the Keswick Mountain Rescue report:

“An 86 year old lady, walking with family, fell awkwardly on to rocks near the Stoneycroft track. She suffered head and arm injuries. The Team's assistance was requested, and they administered First Aid at the scene. She was then stretchered down to the road, where a civilian ambulance took her to West Cumberland Hospital for treatment.”

Hope she was ok.  Will we still be walking when we are 86?

The weather was improving and it was still quite early, so we decided to drive about 6 miles to Buttermere, and had a look at the lake and a drink in one of the pubs.  We would like to stay here one day but there are no caravan sites, so it will have to be one of the two pubs.  Maybe later this year.


Back at the site we had dinner at the on site restaurant, which was excellent.  Great steaks.  Then back to the Heights Hotel for a couple of drinks before bed.  Lots of same sex couples and amorous dogs in the bar!  Good beer, though, and a nice relaxed atmosphere.

Pitch 22 still vacant!


No blue sky at all today, although it actually rained less than Saturday.  We strolled into Keswick via Castlehead Wood and Friars Crag, and along the lake.

IMG_3485Derwent Water

Stopped for a cup of tea by the lake, entertainment courtesy of a birds nest in the roof, with the mum and dad flying in and out with food.  Very disappointing pictures, but the best of them is below.


J’s walking shoes started to disintegrate on the way, so she bought a replacement pair, and D bought a quite expensive fleece that he really didn’t need!  Ate in the town centre, then back to the site for a takeaway pizza from the on site restaurant.  We thought about going back to the Heights Hotel but stayed in drinking wine instead.  A very windy night.


Pitch 22 still vacant…grrrr!  We could have had that pitch!  D can’t remember if he asked for a pitch with a view when he booked, but grrrr!

IMG_3464This is pitch 22, the pitch we should have had! 


Light rain as we packed everything away, including the awning!  It’s been a while since we had to pack the awning away in the rain, but it was only light rain.

Asked at reception if we could book a pitch with a view for next year but it seems they only take week long bookings so far in advance, not weekends.  Not sure we like that policy!


Coming soon…

Three nights in Hawes, our third trip to Yorkshire this year.

18 Aug 2013

Scarecrows everywhere!

16-18 August 2013

First trip since our cruise, a two night trip to the Wharfedale CC site just outside Grassington, a site we visited a couple of years ago and thought was quite nice, but not nice enough to revisit until now.


The damage caused by the status aerial falling off the caravan has been repaired, at a cost to us of £100 and a cost to the insurance company of £1,800.  Unbelievable!  When we submitted the claim we included a quote for about £600 to fill in the dents, which we thought was a bit high.  The insurance company sent out an assessor who said no, the panel can’t be repaired, and put us in touch with another company.  We couldn’t believe it when we saw the invoice, and just to replace that thin panel above the door!  Maybe we are being a bit cynical, but we are sure the assessor must have benefitted from this somehow.  Oh well, we are happy with the repair as it sorted out a couple of cracks above the door.


We arrived early and got a good pitch.  Not the best display of reversing skills from D but he got it in after a couple of attempts, to the amusement of nearby caravanners!


The weather forecast for Saturday was not looking very good so we decided to go for a walk on Friday instead and got a bus from the site to Kettlewell, the plan being to walk back to the site via Grassington, a longish walk of about 10 miles but no summits.

We didn’t really have time to enjoy the Kettlewell scarecrow festival, so we decided to return the following day, and were soon out in the fields.  Plenty of cows about today, including this odd looking beast…


Later on we got a bit lost by making a detour to avoid a herd of cows.  Sheep just get out of the way, but cows just stand there staring at you!

Lots of nice scenery and the weather was great.




Conistone Pie, and J eating a pork pie on Conistone Pie

We arrived in Grassington about 7.30pm after spending quite a long time searching for and finding a geocache in an out of the way cave, and decided to have dinner and a couple of drinks in one of the pubs.

It was dark when we headed back to the site almost 2 miles away…torchless as usual!


Weather not as nice as yesterday, but we were determined to go back to the scarecrow festival.  There is a trail you are supposed to follow, finding clues to spell out a word as you go.  We had the grown up sheet,  but this proved far too hard for us, so we just enjoyed the scarecrows.  No ordinary scarecrows these, as you can see from the pics, and we went a bit mad with the camera so there is a separate gallery just for scarecrow pics at the end.  In the meantime, spot the odd one out below…





Ha ha ha…there is a pic of D in the gallery looking just as silly!

In the afternoon we drove into Skipton and had a look around the town where we had a walk along the canal and tried an award winning pork pie.  The rain wasn't  showing any signs of clearing so we went for a look at the castle.  They had people dressed in medieval clothing  getting people to try their hand at archery.  J tried to get D to have a go but he wasn't having any of it!



IMG_3395D in the dungeon 

It rained quite a bit in the afternoon, so we headed back to Grassington and had a couple of drinks in a couple of pubs before returning to the caravan for dinner and a quiet night in, listening to the radio whilst gorging on the massive bags of fudge we picked up on the way back!


We left around 10 and listened to The Archers for the first time in a while on the way home.

Non scarecrow pics…

Scarecrow pics…

More scarecrow pics…


Coming soon…

Will probably go somewhere in Cumbria at the end of the month or early in September, but nothing booked yet.