29 Sep 2014

Waterfoot Park

26th to 29th September 2014

We’ve been neglecting north Cumbria lately in favour of the south, so a trip to Ullswater was long overdue.  A good test of the new towcar, lots of exposed motorway and quite windy.  It coped ok although it is not as stable as the Insignia or Mondeo, so D has to concentrate a bit harder.

Friday

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Waterfoot Park is a pretty good site, the only negative being that the pitches are quite small and not too level.  Under new management, pitches are now allocated whereas before you could choose your own.  We got pitch no. 10, which we probably would have chosen anyway, so no problem.  Luckily quite a long way away from two caravans with a total of ten bicycles, a mixture of adults and children.  They were actually pretty quiet all weekend.

No problems getting onto the pitch, thanks to the motor mover, and we even managed to motor move it up onto a levelling block.  The couple next to us seemed pretty impressed!

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Had a stroll around the site after setting everything up and popped into the onsite pub, which has improved massively since our last visit.  It even had a couple of decent beers.

Walked into Pooley Bridge and had a drink there, then back to the site for dinner in the caravan followed by another visit to the onsite pub.  Good sunset pic on the way back to the site…

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Saturday

Three Wainwright’s today, Dove Crag (792 metres), Hart Crag (822 metres) and Hartsop above How (580 metres), a round trip of about 7 miles made much more difficult by the weather.  It seems like ages since we have been walking in less than perfect weather, so it made a nice change.

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Starting point was Brothers Water…

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Low cloud meant visibility at the top was poor, and it was very windy in places.  Lots of non walkers around, we were twice asked for directions by people armed with a guide book map and wearing inappropriate clothing.  Hope they made it back ok!

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IMG_5737       A momentary break in the clouds…it only lasted a few minutes

IMG_5732 A survival shelter with 4 people crammed in it, near the top of Dove Crag.  It was bad but not that bad!

IMG_5750We think this used to be a sheep!

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Some pretty reasonable pics this weekend but Windows Live Writer won’t let us upload a gallery any more!

Fish and chips from a mobile fish and chip van for dinner, then we stayed in the caravan all night, too lazy even to walk up to the onsite pub.The 240v electrical supply cut out twice, a problem with the site, we think.  The second time we heard a rustling outside the caravan and J opened the door to find a carrier bag full of rubbish moving on it’s own.  Further investigation revealed a hedgehog with a leftover chip!

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Sunday

Penrith in the morning, then Haweswater in the afternoon, in search of the last golden eagle in England.  We found a couple of geo-caches but no sign of the eagle.  The closest we got…

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We’ve been to Haweswater a lot over the years, but have never seen it so busy.  It turns out it was on the news, because the water level is so low that the remains of the flooded village of Mardale are visible, hence the hoards of people and lack of parking!

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After dinner we walked into Pooley Bridge and had a couple of drinks in a couple of almost empty pubs.  Then back through the pitch black woods, not as hard or scary as we thought it might be.

Monday

We managed to get away quite early and it took just over two hours to get back to our storage site.

Coming soon…

A three night trip to Hawes.

23 Sep 2014

Debut trip for our new towcar

19th to 21st September 2014

It’s goodbye to the Vauxhall Insignia and hello to our new towcar, a Skoda Octavia.  The Insignia was nothing but trouble, the final straw being squeaky brakes that we could not get to stop despite changing all brake pads, discs and one of the callipers.  It’s somebody else’s problem now!

It was pretty good at towing, though, quite a bit more powerful than the Octavia, and heavier, so we decided to go somewhere local for its first trip to see how it performed.

Lamb Cottage, near Cuddington, Cheshire, a site we have visited a couple of times before.

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Friday

Arrived early, the journey took even less time than we thought it would.  The Octavia coped ok, although it did seem a bit more twitchy than the Insignia.  We didn’t do any motorway driving, and there was no wind, so we will have to wait and see.  Our next trip to north Cumbria will be a good test!

Lamb Cottage is an adults only site, so pretty quiet.  A bit more full than we thought it would be and almost every other caravan had a sun canopy, which might be our next caravan related purchase.

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After setting everything up we went for a walk to a nearby craft centre, grabbing a couple of geocaches on the way and for the first time ever meeting fellow cachers who helped us to find one of the caches.  We probably would have given up, so thanks xcrunners!

Visited a bird of prey centre in the craft centre, which included a magnificent golden eagle.  Our net trip is to Ullswater and we are intending to go to Haweswater, home of the last remaining golden eagle in England, a solitary male.  Not sure if the one pictured below is a female, but if it is we think they should release it and see if they get on.  Eagle dating, not as creepy as uniform dating!

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Stopped off for a couple of drinks and dinner at a nearby pub, then spent the rest of the evening in the caravan listening to the radio and reading.

Saturday

A bit of a murky day, so we drove to Chester and walked around the city walls and did a bit of shopping.

IMG_5682Chester city centre  IMG_5691A statue we like in the ground of Chester cathedral 

It rained a bit in the afternoon, but that didn’t stop us from a stroll in nearby Pettypool woods.

IMG_5698Petty pool 

Then another evening in.  We don’t really like the pub nearest to the site and the other one is a bit too far to walk, although we have done previously.

Sunday

A very quick, uneventful journey home.

Coming soon…

Waterfoot Park, Ullswater.

13 Sep 2014

Two blogs for the price of one

7th to 12th September 2014

A week off for D, so two back to back trips – three nights in Ravenglass, two nights in Garstang.

Sunday

Ravenglass is still one of our favourite sites and this was to be our second visit this year.

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A Sunday start, so very little traffic on the roads.  We arrived quite early, expecting it to be deserted, but it was actually pretty full.  We managed to get one of pitches we had requested, number 20, but quickly regretted it as D struggled to reverse the caravan up a slight hill, hampered by a parked car opposite.  After a bit of a struggle he managed to get the caravan onto the pitch and we used the motor mover to position it.  A very strong smell of burnt out clutch, which was to be a feature of the entire week.  Also a nasty scratch to the front of the car – D must have hit a pitch marker!

Headed into Ravenglass village for a much needed drink or two, then back to the caravan for a barbecue.

Sunsets were to be a feature of this trip, and today’s was probably the best of them all.

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Monday

Up early and a short drive to Wasdale Head to climb Kirk Fell (802 metres).  A pretty strenuous walk in unseasonal heat, but another Wainwright ticked off.  We thought about carrying on to Great Gable but decided against it, wimps that we are!

Kirk fell route IMG_5533 IMG_5535 Great Gable from the summit of Kirk Fell, just a bit too much for us today

A drink in the Wasdale Head Inn, then back to the caravan for dinner, followed by another great sunset and more drinks in the village.

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 Tuesday

Drove into Whitehaven, and had a wander around the town and the harbour.  We have been there before, but in the rain, so it was good to have time to look around without running from shelter to shelter.

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On the way back we stopped off at Drigg and had a walk along the beach.  It was pretty warm by then, so we didn’t walk all the way along to the estuary, but we will next time we visit.

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IMG_5585  Very artistic, can you make out what it is?  We didn’t do it, it was already there.

In the evening we had dinner in the Pennington Hotel.  D was looking forward to wood pigeon followed by duck, having looked at the menu the day before, but of course it had changed.  Still, the food was well presented and very nice and we had 50% off due to our Gourmet Card, so we couldn’t grumble.

Another pretty good sunset before dinner.

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Wednesday

Relocated to Bridgehouse Marina, Garstang, a new site.  We purchased our new caravan from a dealer about two miles away, which is how we found out about this site.  No problems with the journey, despite the still strong smell of burnt clutch material!

As the name suggests, this is a marina on the Lancaster canal, with a caravan park attached.  Mostly statics and seasonal tourers, but plenty of vacancies mid-week.  Toilets and showers a bit dated, but ok for a couple of days.

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No problems getting onto the pitch this time.  There was a grassy play area immediately behind us but all we saw playing in it when we were there were rabbits…lots of them!  And ducks…

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…so many ducks, and so greedy!

Walked along the canal to Garstang in the afternoon, for a couple of drinks in a couple of pubs.  Th’Owd Tithe Barn was our favourite, right on the canal.

Pretty good sunsets here too…

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Thursday

A walk along the canal and then back to Garstang via the river, which turned out to be a lot longer and more hazardous than we thought.

Garstang walk 

Hazardous due to a herd of cows blocking our way…

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We waited a while and eventually they started to amble away from the gate.  We seized the opportunity, but they seemed very interested in us as we squeezed past them, (one of them drooled on J)   Luckily we had a good internet signal on the phone, and a google search ‘ how to get past cows’ suggested waving your arms about as it scares them away, and it did work for a few seconds, but they kept coming back.  Anyway, we made it to safety.  Good job they weren’t bulls!

IMG_5638The grass is always greener on the other side. 

We got a bit lost on the way to Garstang and a 6 mile trip turned to 9 and a half! Arrived in the town on market day tired and hot. After a sandwich in the park we picked up some meat from the butcher’s and had another barbecue back at the site.  Part of today’s walk was through a cornfield, and we couldn’t resist grabbing some sweetcorn on the way, but it didn’t turn out too well on the barbecue, although the ever greedy ducks seemed quite interested.

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Afterwards we sat watching the rabbits for a while, and then walked along the canal to Th’Owd Tithe Barn for a couple of drinks.

Friday

Homeward bound.

Last trip for the not much loved Vauxhall Insignia, which has now been replaced by a Skoda Octavia.  Nothing to do with the clutch problem of the last few days, the final straw was squeaky brakes which we could not get fixed despite replacing all of the pads, discs and one of the callipers.  D swears it was something to do with the electronic handbrake, but we will never know and It’s the car dealers problem now!  Hopefully the Skoda will tow the caravan ok, despite being less powerful than the Vauxhall, and the Ford Mondeo we had before that.

Coming soon…

Chipping, Lancashire, although it’s not booked yet.  Depends how quickly we can get a towbar fitted!

1 Sep 2014

New caravan, new site

29th to 31st August 2014

Our ageing Avondale Dart 440 has gone, replaced by a 2005 Swift Charisma 220.  We got what we thought was a really generous part exchange for the Avondale, only to find out that the dealer is now selling it for £1,000 more!  We are still pleased with what we paid, though.  The new caravan is more modern in appearance, inside and out, and we particularly like the L shaped kitchen.  Here are some pics…

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This week’s trip was something of a fact finding mission.  We found lots of things wrong with out last caravan on the first trip, but not this time.  Everything works.

We have been meaning to visit Lady Margaret’s Park, Chirk for a while, the main attraction this time being that it was reasonably close to home.  It’s a typical Caravan Club site with massive hard standing pitches and good facilities.  Chirk is a short walk away, as is the Llangollen canal.  We didn’t, but it’s possible to walk along the canal to Llangollen.  The only negative about this site is noise from a nearby factory, but it didn’t bother us.

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Friday

Arrived dead on noon, because the journey took much less time than we thought it would, so we had our pick of pitches.  We chose one in Primrose Dell, a nice quiet part of the site.

Aren’t motor movers great?!  Our new caravan has one.  All D has to do now is reverse the caravan onto the pitch, anywhere will do, and the motor mover does the rest!

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We played with the caravan for a while, but nothing needed fixing so there wasn’t much to do.  D fixed a bin to the inside of one of the cupboards (still no door bin) and ran an extension lead under the seats so that we could have a lamp at the front of the caravan, but that was it.

It was still early so we decided to walk along the Llangollen canal to the nearby Bridge Inn, through a long tunnel and over an aqueduct.

IMG_5455Luckily we had a torch!

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A nice enough walk, but would have been nicer if the pub had been open!

Spent the evening in the caravan listening to the radio, drinking wine and playing scrabble (J won, as she always does).  A bit of a shock when we found the fitted sheet was too small for the new bed, but we managed to get it on somehow.

Saturday

Woke up quite late – the bed is more comfortable than the last one, with less ridges where the cushions meet. There is also a blackout screen on the rooflight – we used to have to insert a piece of cardboard!

Chirk castle is about a mile and a half away, so we walked to it, grabbing a couple of easily found geo-caches on the way.  Admission is free to National Trust members, which we are.  We have been members for about 8 months now and this is only the second time we have used our membership card.

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Statue of Hercules (he’s a big lad!) with the castle in the background. 

One of his arms is not made of stone but you’d never know.

 

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J sitting on a medieval toilet inside the castle!

We got back to the caravan mid afternoon and lounged around, before heading into Chirk for a meal in an Indian restaurant.  The only Indian restaurant we have been in where our waiter was not Indian!  Great food and a lot of Cobra beer.  At the end a red carnation for J, which she lost on the way back to the site.

Sunday

No problems packing everything away or getting home.  The only thing we can find wrong with the caravan is that one of the tyres is about 10 years old, so back at the storage site D took the wheel off and replaced it with the spare.  We will get a new tyre before our next trip.

Coming soon…

D has a week off soon, so a midweek trip, probably to Ravenglass.  We are aiming to use the new caravan as much as possible before winter sets in.