Gandalf the VW’s home for the weekend is on the outskirts of Market Deeping, near to Peterborough. We’re staying at a C&MC CL called Keal Lodge– a slightly more manicured CL than we’ve stayed at before with each pitch having its own water intake and grey waste disposal and lovely hard standing pitches. We’ve got lovely neighbours…. ok we’re biased as they are family 😉
My Dad and Stepmum have joined us in their Hymer to celebrate their retirement and have a general post lockdown face to face catch-up.
We arrived mid afternoon to a very friendly and Covid safe check in and before long we had set up and were off to try a couple at the local pub; the Waterton Arms. Sadly COVID restrictions meant that their kitchen was not open, but luckily we were able to order a delivery to the site from nearby The Iron Horse Ranch House which was delicious!
Saturday soon arrived with a terrible forecast ahead, but not ones to let this affect our plans we had a bacon sandwich, got our wet weather gear on and made our way into Market Deeping.
You could be mistaken for thinking we’d arrived into the Cotswolds; the Georgian architecture was lovely and there were some really interesting buildings including the village cross which had a jail in the base; a lovely church, huge manor houses etc etc. We made a stop at Grasmere Farm butchers where we picked up some meats for dinner after, and tried a quick drink in the courtyard behind The Bull.
This point marked the start of the walk that I had prepared for us; a 5.5mile circular walk along the Stamford Canal to West Deeping and then back along the very picturesque River Welland.
We had a refreshment stop at The Red Lion in West Deeping which had a very lovely looking menu including local sausages from the butchers we’d visited- however sadly they were not serving until the insides reopen. Which was a shame as we were starting to feel peckish!
Our walk back to Market Deeping was picturesque and we saw numerous wildlife such as herons and egrets- and a beautiful swan protecting her eggs high upon her nest.
On arrival to the campsite we learned our 5.5mile walk was actually 9.5 miles- whoops; someone hadn’t considered the walk to the start of the walk! 🙋♀️
Dad settled in to watch the FA Cup final whilst Jenny, Keith and I prepared dinner; a bbq serving steak and sausages from the local butchers and the tastiest burger we’ve ever had; a beef and Stilton burger- my oh my it was AMAZING.
We managed to eat just in time before the heavens opened, so we ended up having an earlish night which was well needed- the walk on top of a very busy working week took it out of us.
Sunday dawned all too soon, and after a bit of excitement as we purchased something VERY exciting that will certainly enhance future trips – more on this another time- and a fry up; it was time to say our farewells. The weather gods had been on our side and we enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine as we relaxed this morning.
We’d had a great weekend – this was more about catching up than seeing the area however we all agreed that Market Deeping was a nice place to explore. We HIGHLY recommend a visit to Grasmere Farm butchers for your local meat fix. Our walk was really enjoyable – West Deeping was especially pretty.
Gandalf the VW is parked high up above the Trans Pennine Trail, overlooking Wogden Moor on the outskirts of Carlecotes, South Yorkshire. Our home for the next three nights is Thurlmoor Farm, a Camping and Caravanning Club Certified Site.
We had a pleasant and easy journey ‘oooop north’ on Friday morning making one slight detour to pick up some supplies from the wonderful Hinchcliff’s Farm shop near Holmfirth. We had lots of fun shopping for local meats, cheeses, local gins and beers to see us through the May Bank Holiday weekend. This place is heaven for local food and drink lovers like ourselves, and we could have easily bought EVERY thing inside. The butchers and deli counters were immense, and the local gins were in abundant supply.
With our supplies purchased and packed away we made the 20 minute journey to the campsite, arriving around 3pm- just as the sun decided to take over from the showers we’d encounter throughout our journey.
The views from Thurlmoor Farm are wonderful. It is situated at 1100 feet and landscaped into two separate terraces. We were given a very friendly welcome by campsite owner Mandy and we were excited to be able to pitch up sideways. We took advantage of the room and set our the canopy as well as our trusty friend the tailgate awning – serving as our ensuite bathroom this weekend again! There are no facilities other than hook up, water and disposal at this site and as such the fee was very low at just £13 pn. The views were just great and we could see in the valley below us the Trans Pennine Trail – our reason for booking this site.
Unfortunately – our neighbours ended up pitching their caravan very much on top of us. I’m not entirely sure it was their fault- pitches wernt marked and at the same time they arrived another van arrived the other side of them. We assumed someone would be coming the other side of us, otherwise we probably would have asked to moved to pitch number 1- which would have left a pitch between us. But as it happened no-one else arrived and the van the other side of our neighbours only stayed one night – so with perhaps a little more planning from the owners it could have been avoided. As it happens though our neighbours were fairly quiet – it just looks obscene on pictures given how much other space there was in the camping field! We were aware of them and I’m sure they were aware of us too. Hey ho – it could have been worse!
We had little wander down the local footpath, and a sundowner drink lower on the campsite, a natural slope made a perfect private terrace overlooking the sheep fields, before reheating a spag bol on the cadac for dinner on Friday night. Whilst it was bright and sunny, the wind was fresh, but we managed to cook and eat outside. We were very happy campers indeed!
Saturday dawned bright and cool and after a full English with goodies from our farm shop haul, we hit the road on our bikes. We cycled 1.4 miles (very much downhill) to nearby Dunford Bridge, which is where we picked up the Trans Pennine Trail. The Trans Pennine Trail is a mainly traffic free Recreational route which spans from Southport on the West Coast to Hornsea on the East Coast. It’s a staggering 215 miles long, runs mainly traffic free and largely follows the route of old railway lines, canals and riversides. The section that we were tackling this weekend ran from Dunford Bridge to Thurgoland – a distance of around 10 miles, all off road, all level* and all very scenic and lovely. It is worth noting that there is a car park at Dunford Bridge if you don’t fancy the ascent back up to the campsite. The reason we had been drawn to this section in particular was the impressive Thurgoland Tunnels, which we’d seen on a tv programme a while back.
We easily settled in to the ride from Dunford Bridge – the route very obviously following an old disused railway like, with steep gauges either side at times, and many original railway bridges to pass under.
We passed by Penistone and soon we arrived at our main feature, the Thurgoland Tunnel; a double bored disused railway tunnel that is 282 metres in length. It has a distinct 4000 foot radius curve which gives it unique 20+ second echo inside. Acoustically its really REALLY cool, and we loved messing around inside making sounds and clapping, listening to the long acoustic reverberating echoes. I wished I had taken my sax! Although it is double bore – one of the tunnels has been blocked in, so now you can only access one of the two tunnels.
See video of our experience in the tunnel…
About a mile or two on from the tunnel, we grabbed a pint at the Bridge Inn, before retracing our route back to the campsite. *The return route was harder by far. We thought we were unfit perhaps – this was our first cycle out for months. As the miles dragged on we became more and worried about the big hill back to the campsite! When we got back, my tracker revealed that actually we had done 10 miles downhill and 10 miles up. No wonder we struggled – but the beauty of tramline engineering is that these gradients are disguised very well and whilst they are gradual, we definitely noticed this one. Thats our excuse for our struggle anyway!!
A refreshment stop at Penistone* gave us that last push we needed and although it was a much slower return, we made it up that hill and back to the campsite by 4pm. We loved the route and were proud to have totted up 20.6 miles. You can see our route video below.
*There is a terrific taproom and brewery in Penistone where we picked up some lovely locally made lager.
It’s worth mentioning, you can still access this spectacular tunnel if you don’t cycle. There is a bus stop immediately outside the campsite which takes/ brings you back to Thurgoland on the number 29 bus every day except Sunday /and bank hol- Timetable here. You could walk 10 miles along the TPT and bus back, or you could bus there and bus back. Either way you do it, if you have an interest in railway history, cool places etc etc, its worth a visit and this site is one of the closest you’ll get to the Thurgoland Tunnel.
After showers in the awning, we settled into Gandalf for the evening, enjoying a delicious Barnsley chop dinner (Fillet Steak for Keefy) before a relatively early night. Barnsley Chop in Barnsley…. my month is made already!
Sunday arrived and we had a slightly lazier start to the day. The weather was still clear, despite being a bit blowy and fresh, and after a scrambled egg breakfast we donned our walking boots and walked to nearby Winscar Reservoir, then back down to the TPT at Dunford Bridge before returning to the site along (or rather up!) a farm land footpath. The reservoir was worth seeing, we enjoyed watching some of the boats from the local sailing club and it was really nice to see so many families out and about. We also were serenaded by Lapwings which was lovely.
After our walk we enjoyed delicious baked Camembert, cooked in my Lakeland Remoska which I still use most days in the Campervan!
Later on we had a bbq for dinner in front of the fire pit – but my gosh it was cold! We couldn’t soak enough of the view up – we’ve really missed hills and high ground during lockdown. Luckily with the terraced positioning of the site we were able to move inside and enjoy the view just as much in the warmth of Gandalf for our final night of this adventure.
All too soon it was time to pack up on Monday morning, but we made an early start and as such missed the horrific rain and wind on both packing up and arriving home. Bonus! We had hoped to make a stop at National Trust’s Wentworth Castle Gardens but the weather god’s had been kind enough during the weekend and our luck ran out on that front.
We really loved this site, and would not hesitate to recommend it to you all. It has no facilities at all, other than EHU and waste and water, and sadly there are no walkable pubs (although this may change if the local one – about a mile away reopens later this month). But if you like peace and quiet, and nice views this one is for you. The bus route outside will take you to Sheffield in one direction (thats the way you need for Thurgoland) and Holmfirth in the other. Electric bikes would probably be an advantage here – these are the next thing on our shopping list.
The Atera Strada bike rack had it’s first outing on Gandalf and worked a treat, as did our tailgate awning shower set up. We returned home from BH weekend refreshed and happy after a brilliant weekend away!
We’re sat listening to the birdsong and enjoying some well needed downtime after a very busy week at school. I can feel the stress of the past few days dissolving as we enjoy the last hour or so of daylight; sat outside Gandalf, with our fire pit and cadac cooking up some tasty treats. We really needed this!
We’re at Alderstead Heath campsite as we decided to make a last minute trip to see Keith’s Dad and Step mum who live just down the road in Kenley. Unfortunately his step mum is not in the best health right now and, like many, a year of lockdown has taken its toll on them.
Our journey down was spent bashing out admin; taking it in turns to drive so the other could get emails, invoices and timetables updated and sent out as we take on more and more schools (good news!). We did however make a stop for supplies close to Kenley and Alderstead Heath at a lovely farm shop at Godstone; Flower Farm.
Flower Farm has a great butchery and deli counter, very dangerous territory for us- I could have purchased the entire shop. We were strong though, settling on sausages, bacon for breakfast, and Greek chicken, chilli pork, homemade burgers for a bbq dinner and a potato salad, scones and clotted cream to accompany the quiche and jam I’d made for our lunch at my in laws. It also has an attractive tea room with plenty of outdoor seating. A worthy stop off for sure!
We continued on to Kenley and enjoyed a few hours in the garden with the folks. It was lovely to see them in person after a few months of only being able to video call.
Around 5pm we made our way the short distance to Alderstead Heath, passing Kenley aerodrome, a popular place for local dog walkers and a very interesting site for history enthusiasts. The former Royal Air Force Station Kenley, more commonly known as RAF Kenley was an airfield station of the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and the RAF in the Second World War. It played a significant role during the Battle of Britain as one of the three RAF stations specifically tasked with the defence of London. If you’re lucky you can watch gliders depart from here.
Onwards to the Campsite (be very careful on your approach here- a couple of the entry roads are very steep and very narrow) and we were treated to a glorious yellow field display. Keith and I have lived in this area for many years previously, however we still get surprised at the “countryside” feel at this site; despite being within close proximity to London, Croydon, and the M25 the site is surrounded by fields and countryside and you very quickly feel like you’re a million miles away from the chaos of Croydon. There are lots of lovely walks from this site, one day when we stay we will give ourselves more time so that we can show them on here. Here’s one the Caravan and Motorhome Club show to wet your appetite!
Check in was swift and set up was even swifter. Being on a grass pitch made the awning go up in a flash, and within 15 mins we were enjoying a beer in the last of the days sunshine.
Keith managed a shower in the tailgate awning and then cracked on with dinner on the cadac- our delicious treats from the farm shop served with potatoes and asparagus (also from the farm shop) in the Remoska. We had the fire pit out on some bricks and we had a very pleasant evening watching the sun set.
The next morning we enjoyed the morning birdsong; the site is surrounded by woodlands and there is just so much space here. It’s just bliss.
Jazz had a little run around with some doggie pals in the secure dog area before heading back to Keith’s dad’s. We picked him up and drove the short distance to Emmett’s Garden National Trust. Alderstead Heath campsite is a really great location for visiting National Trusts in the area. There are at least 5 or 6 within 30-40 mins drive. It’s a really excellent location to base yourself for an explore of the Surrey Hills.
Emmett’s Garden was just superb. We visited last year and enjoyed the autumnal colours, but today we were treated to blankets of bluebells lining the banks and woodland. I’ve never seen such a phenomenal display. It really was excellent and we highly recommend a visit. Don’t forget, during Covid you need to pre book your visit though.
Following our visit we stopped for a drink at the pretty little village of Ide Hill before making our way back to Kenley to say goodbye to the in laws and making our way back home. It was a flying visit but we were returning feeling happy to have had some quality family time and actually felt rather refreshed!
Like many others in England, this week we managed to reclaim some of our freedom, as Covid restrictions began lifting, and campsites were allowed to reopen. We had a few days at work to get through, but they flew and before we knew it I was wide awake at 05.30 on Friday morning with excitement seeping through my veins at our impending departure to the North Norfolk Coast.
Our campsite of choice, booked way back at the start of the new year for the beginning of March and rescheduled, was Sandy Gulls, an adult only caravan park situated as close as close can be to the North Sea. We’d pre picked our pitch, a new feature I think for this year, and were bursting with excitement that we’d bagged a front row pitch, high upon the cliff top with uninterrupted sea views.
We set off from home relatively early; we wanted to make a stop at the Adnams shop in Norfolk to stock up on their delicious gin and also some of their Kobbold Lager. We then made our way to Mundesley in time for the seafood van not to close, so that we could buy some fresh fish for a bbq later that evening. The Lobster Pot is situated in a trailer next to the butchers and we picked up two terrific looking cod tails and a pint of prawns to cook. We also grabbed some local sausages and bacon from the butcher and some local eggs, sausage rolls and scotch eggs. Yum, we were all set!
On arrival to the site, we got settled onto our stunning pitch- pinching ourselves that the weather God’s were shining down on us yet trying our best to remember how to set up our relatively new to us Campervan! The weather was glorious (if not a touch chilly) and the local paragliding club were out in abundance, soaring not that much higher that our vans. Life felt absolutely terrific, like others, we have missed this soooo much!
After a couple of drinks admiring the view, we walked along the coast path to Mundesley village. Here you can drop down onto the dog friendly beach, and then rejoin the promenade into the village centre. Mundesley is a small, relatively unspoilt Norfolk village/seaside location.
There are a couple of chippys, a couple of shops, a couple of tea rooms, and a pub. We opted for a pint in the beer garden of the ship, mainly because the beer garden is possibly one of the most scenic in the UK, again with uninterrupted views of the sea. Sadly the service was utterly dismal, and our potential pub lunch turned into a complete non event. It’s difficult to complain right now isn’t it, pubs have been so hard hit with the pandemic, but this one really needs to pull its socks up.
Link to trip advisor review here for the full story if you’re interested. ( I do these so rarely, I hated having to this, but it was shocking.)
We wandered back to the campsite, via the Tesco express for a couple of bits we’d forgotten, mainly Jazz’s dog food Whoops! Before Keith gave the solar shower in our tailgate awning a whirl. He was pleasantly surprised, the awning cancelled out the wind chill and his shower experience was a good one despite the chilly air blowing off the sea.
We then set about our fish bbq, which had been eagerly awaited and planned to the finest detail. We served garlic chilli prawns as a starter, followed by cod tails served on creamed spinach, with cous cous. Yum.
And with this view! We were in heaven. We layered up, got the hot water bottles out and watched as the last rays of sunlight trickled down behind us and the twinkly lights of the boats at sea began to sparkle. I found a great app telling us what each boat was carrying and where it was heading from. I’m so nosey. Once the sky became ink black, the stars came out and we enjoyed a Jack Daniels honey as we watched for shooting stars. It couldn’t have been a better first day back camping and we slept like logs.
Saturday dawned brightly and we had a relatively lazy start to the day. Early on we peeled back the front curtains to reveal the sea ahead – watching the view as we had a couple of cups of tea. We then cooked a fry up on the cadac, again, not wanting to miss a moment of that staggering view, I even remained in my onesie in public much to the amusement of some of the passers by. Our pitch was practically on the coast path, so we had lots of opportunities for friendly hellos with passers by.
I then braved my shower- a far more pleasant experience than I had thought it may have been.
Around midday we walked the very short distance to the coast hopper bus stop, which conveniently stops almost right outside the site, and made our way to the lovely Cromer where we met up with my mum, who had caught the train to see us.
The coast hopper bus runs once an hour and is dog friendly.
Once in Cromer, we didn’t stray far from the Pier, enjoying watching passers by and the ever changing sea. We’ve all missed the seaside so much. We’d brought some drinks with us and just sat, in the sun, until our tummies started to remind us that it was almost time for fish and chips. No 1 Cromer was busy, but not as busy as I’ve seen it in the past, but those fish and chips are just delicious and well worth the wait.
As the sun lowered in the sky, we went our separate ways, waving mum off at the station before we caught our bus back to Mundesley. We had time for a cuppa and another sit outside before the temperature plummeted forcing us inside – but our view remained through the windows until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any more.
Sunday arrived all too quickly, and our departure was looming. Before we packed away we enjoyed another cooked breakfast outside- we loved the local sausages, trying two interesting flavours, a bourbon smoked sausage and a pork and black pudding Sausage.
The Cadac Safari Chef 2 has proven to be a welcome addition to our camping equipment. It’s dinky size and versatility in terms of mixing and matching with our own frying pan etc make cooking on it a dream.
Sandy Gulls Caravan Park is terrific, so good that I almost don’t want to share it! In fact, I realised this weekend, that I must have had the same feeling when we last visited in October, as I appear to have failed to write a blog post about our previous stay here in October.
At £20 pn at this time of year, we consider it to be a bargain. Even at peak times it doesn’t raise higher than £32 pn. The site has been invested in heavily, with new roads and hard standing pitches having been introduced. Pitches are well spaced, flat and have decent electric hook up. The facilities (water and waste disposal) are well kept and well organised, especially during the time of covid, and there was sanitiser everywhere. Plus, it must be the most scenic waste disposal location in the country right? We haven’t used the toilets or showers here as both times we’ve stayed they’ve not legally been allowed to open them, but I’ve read terrific reviews about them. The touring park is adults only, so it’s nice and quiet and there is easy access to the beach, and miles upon miles of walks from the site. We will DEFINITELY we back.
We may have only managed two nights away, but we’ve returned home feeling recharged and raring to the start the week ahead. We’re almost back to fully face to face now and life in school is chaotic but really excellent to be back. We’ve got loads of trips lined up in the coming weeks, so we look forward to sharing them with you.
Have you been away this week? Where have you been? Where’s on your list?
Until next time, keep safe and happy camping to you all