Monday, 6 October 2014

The Scottish Adventure!

We decided that we would go to Scotland for a few weeks, but before that the Freelander2 needed a service, so it was booked in to M J Fews, and duly delivered to them. This was two days before we were due to depart on the Thursday. On the Wednesday morning I get a phone call to say the service is done, but there is a problem, your transfer box is on its way out!
Finally get the vehicle back at lunchtime on the Thursday, so we collect the caravan and off we go up the M5 and M6 to Burrs Country Park CC site for a few nights. All goes well until we stop at the barrier of the site. The Freelander will not restart.   Quite funny to watch the warden jumping up and down and saying well you have to move it!  Three and a half tons of Freelander and Caravan take some pushing.
Eventually a lot of fellow caravaners come to our aid. The caravan is disconnected and pushed to a pitch.  Then we do the same with the Freelander. Robert comes down with his Hawkeye, and we diagnosed that it was something to do with the airflow and throttle. Anyway it is getting late so we go up to Robert and Cathys for dinner.

In the morning I ring Mayday, and they come and check the Freelander over then we are transported to Strathstones,the main dealer in Bury. Unfortunately they cannot touch it until Monday morning. Fortunately the weather was beautiful so we sat outside reading for the rest of the day, before going up to Robert and Cathys for our evening meal.

A sad sight

On the Saturday we got a taxi into Bury to visit the famous market, where we did a little shopping

Sunday was a super day so we sat around in the warm sunshine.

Strathstones were as good as their word, and phoned at  noon to say everything was fixed. As Robert was on his way home from work, he picked me up and we collected the Freelander. Not only had it been fixed, but it had been valeted inside and out. It had never looked so good.

At lunchtime on Tuesday we departed for Carlisle CC site. This is a very nicely laid out site with pitches in small groups. No Wifi or toilets though. A caravan absolutely identical to ours was on the site.  They were people from Dorchester who had bought from Chipping Sodbury Caravans.

Next morning we set off for a CL at South Whittleburn Farm, just outside Largs on the Scottish West Coast. We found it easilly, and were put in a field with wonderful views. Now CL's are only allowed to have 5 caravans on site, but this one had in excess of 20.  No worries though as it was clean and very tidy, with plenty of space

On Thursday we went into Largs, to visit Megan.  She had known Lizzie for 50 years but they had not met up for the last 40 despite speaking on the phone, and the regular sending of cards to her.  Megan was absolutely lovely, and just kept hugging and holding Lizzie. We stayed for a couple of hours and then went to explore Largs which is a really lovely town.  We did some shopping, and then went back to Megans for the rest of the day.

Friday dawned misty so we drove over the top to Grenock, which was a pretty depressing town. We then drove along the coast to south of Largs before  returning to the caravan.

On the Saturday, we drove north, over the Erskine Bridge, and along the banks of Loch Lomond, where some of the roads were very narrow and very busy. There were also a lot of road works.  Eventually we reached Fort William, and then drove about 12 miles north to Roy Bridge. Here we pitched up for a week at a delightful private site called Bun Roy.

The View

  This is a private site with facilities equally as good as any CC sites.  it was also much cheaper.

Sunday was a hot day, and I mean hot, so we did the washing and then we had an idle rest of the day before I cooked a proper roast dinner.

Monday was abit of a dull day,so we set off up Glen Spean, heading for Inverness. There were some amazing views over the striking mountains as we headed on. Coming through Inverness we turned along the northern bank of Loch Ness. Althoughwe stopped a few times we did not see 'Nessie'.

We continued heading south west along the banks of Loch Oich and Loch Lochy again enjoyng the scenery.

Eventually we came to the Commando Memorial, just outside Spean Bridge.  Really busy with tourists here.

We had intended to do the railway from Fort William to Mallaig on the Tuesday, but it was very misty so we headed to the Glen Coe visitors centre, where we spent several enjoyable hours watching the scenery and enjoying the exhibitions.

From there we came back to the foot of Ben Nevis, on its southern side, where we found rather a poor visitors centre. More like a glorified shop!  there was however a very narrow track that went up into the hills so we drove that until it just got too narrow.
The Ben Nevis Range

We then went to the cafe near the foot of Ben Nevis, that the cable cars run from, so more tea and we sat watching the cable cars.

The right decision was made over our rail trip to Mallaig.  We could not get on the steam train as it was fully booked so we went on the ordinary service train, which was absolutely packed.  What a journey though, over viaducts, through steep valleys and picturesque little stations. The journey, which is about 90 minutes only cost £14.20 each.  If you are in the area you really must make this trip.

A few shots from the Train

Fort William was our destination for Thursday.  Unfortunately this town has many empty shops and looks quite run down.  We drove round to Neptunes Staircase, which is a flight of Locks, at the start of the Caledonian canal. Whilst we were there we were fortunate enough to see a Puffer boat descend them. A puffer boat is a small steamer that used to cruise the coast of Scotland delivering supplies to the coastal towns.
Puffer boat on Neptunes staircase.

Friday was another cracking day, so I spent it photographing trains and doing the washing. We also cleared up ready for an early depart on Saturday morning.

Instead of heading down to Fort William and up Glen Coe as our route home, we went up Glen Spean, and down Glen Garry towards Perth and onto Strathclyde Country Park CC site, for an over night stop. This is a huge site, mainly used for overnight stops and weekend stays, but it served its needs.

Next day we travelled down the Meathrop Fell CC site, just outside Grange over Sands.  Here we were on pitch 77.  This was a really easy tow down the M6, so we were soon on site and set up.  This site is on many different levels and the pitches are in small groups.  Be warned if you stay here the approach road is very bumpy!
The view from Meathrop Fell

Morecambe was the destination for Monday, as it was a place we had never been. I must say I was very impressed with it, and would be happy to live there.  On our way back we went to Grange Over Sand, which is also a nice little town.

On Tuesday we got the train from Haverthwaite to Lakeside, where we then got the Steamer down Windemere to Bowness.  Yet again there were an amazing number of tourists around.  Unfortunately it started to rain, so we returned on the steamer and train.

A few shots of the Train and Windermere

Weather was very good on the Wednesday so we headed over Wrynose and Hardknocker passes.  Scared the daylights out of Lizzie! She loved the views though,when her eyes were actually open!!
Wrynose pass going down

Hardknocker Pass, heading West

We then headed out to the coast and stalked a Ravenglass and Eskdale railway train.

We needed to be on Stratford race course for the Adventure Overland Show, so we set off down the M6.  It was a long tow, but there were no problems and we camped over night on the camp site.

The following morning Robert turned up just before noon, and we went into the show proper to set up.  We were almost in the centre of the show site with traders on each side of us and in front of us.

The show features all methods of overland travel, motor bikes, all sorts of 4 X4 vehicles, as well as all the equipment needed for overland travel. It really is a very good show.
An unusual use for a VW van

The weather over the weekend was absolutely brilliant, and plenty of people attended.  We had a good turn out of Landytowners on the stand and also visiting us.

We finally cleared up on Sunday afternoon an left for home.  We had a leaking tap in the caravan, so we kept the caravan on the drive and then took it into Chipping Sodbury Caravans on the Monday morning, where a new tap was installed.

So far in 2014 we have spent 126 nights in the caravan.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

South Devon!

Well we decided that we had been home for long enough, so we booked in to Start Bay Caravan Club site again! This time though we drove down on the Sunday to Steamer Quay Caravan Club site which is in Totnes. This was just to be a one night stop on our way to Start Bay. We did this so that we could be at Start Bay at noon the following day, so that we could get a decent pitch.
Steamer Quay is right in the centre of Town, next to the river.  It is an unusual Caravan Club site as it has no electricity. No problem for  us as we have solar power as well as the usual gas.
Totnes main street!

We did not bother to unpack as we were moving on in the morning. The evening was very pleasant, so we were able to sit outside enjoying  the sun.
Steamer Quay on the port side!

In the morning we left and had a rather difficult tow from Kingsbridge to Start Bay due to the narrow roads and an amazing amount of traffic. We made it though and arrived on site at noon. Fortunately the wardens had been able to reserve pitch 9 for us. This is a disabled pitch, and is also very large. This meant we had room for Zoe and Mitch's tent as they were joining us later.We spent time pitching up as we were going to be on site for almost two weeks.

On the Tuesday morning, I walked down to Slapton sands to get the paper. Such a lovely quiet beach.

Lots of the beach front houses were still being repaired after the winter storms.

Later, Ami, Tony and the children, came to join us. They were staying in a Static caravan in Paignton. We all went into Salcombe, and visited the Victoria Inn for a lunch to celebrate Freddies and my birthdays. Excellent lunch it was as. well. We then spent the afternoon wandering around Salcombe.

Wednesday was another good day, so we caught the bus into Kingsbridge. Traffic was so heavy, that the bus had a long slow journey into Kingsbridge due to the holiday traffic. We headed for the Meeting room, Wine Cafe on Fore Street for another excellent lunch. The afternoon was then spent trawling round the charity shops buying books. Picked up one by Jack Sheffield, called Teacher, Teacher! An excellent read so I will look out for his others.

We then spent a few lazy days, reading and cleaning the caravan.

On the Saturday we went over to Paignton to see the caravan that Ami and co were staying in. We decided then to go to Brixham, where I think the rest of Devon and beyond had decided to visit, so we gave it a miss and went back to Dartmouth, where we sat on the front for ages, eating pasties and watching the boats plying up and down the river.

Hope Cove was the destination for Sunday, but as we approached the road into Outer Hope it was closed as it was the village fun day, so it was off to South Milton Beach, for coffee and some watching of waves!

Zoe and Mitch were coming down on the Monday. We sat waiting for them, and we waited and waited. Finally we had a phone call from them to say they were lost.  After working out where they were I drove into meet them at Kingsbridge, and they could follow me back.
 They soon had there tent up and were unpacked!  Zoe even had a rubbish bag hanging in their tent! Wonders will never cease!

We had decided that we would show them a bit of the area, and todays plan was to do a circular tour encompassing Dartmouth and Totnes. We parked up easily in both places and had a couple of hours in each town, where we drank tea and coffee and enjoyed the scenery.

Wednesday dawned wet! Very wet! so it was off to show them Salcombe and Hope Cove.  Fortunately it dried up so we were able to walk round each place.

Thursday started wet, but soon dried up, so we spent time fishing in Slapton Sands.  Nothing was caught though!

We had a fishing trip arranged for Friday, but when we got there it had been cancelled due to inclement weather. We took the ferry down to South Sands and it certainly was rough!  Very rough! enjoyed the trip though! I love it when it gets choppy.

On the Saturday the children wanted to come out with us again to Hope Cove, to see it in better weather. Then back to Kingsbridge for some shopping.

Sunday was clear upday, and remarkably we were all up early and it was dry, so we soon cleared up and enroute for home, with Mitch and Zoe following us we set off.  When we got on to the Devon Express way, Mitch disappeared into the distance, and we cruised at a steady 60mph,which is the max you can dowith a caravan in tow. We then got a phone call from Zoe to say a caravan and a J**p had overturned in front of them and the motorway was blocked. Traffic soon  came to a halt and police cars, ambulances and four fire engines flew past us. Soon two breakdown trucks also belted down the hard shoulder. Some 30  or so minutes later we were slowly on our way.  We came to the accident. Fortunately no one had been hurt. We could see  the remains of the caravan and the J**p. They had been travelling far too fast down a long hill and had obviously lost it!

We were soon on our way and came off the motorway at Bridgewater for a cross country journey home. Mitch stayed on the motorway, and arrived home after us!