Adventures on the Moray Firth, Scotland

Gandalf the VW is parked up with a terrific view of the Moray Firth, in the highlands of Scotland, near to Lossiemouth.

We made the 5 hour journey from Beadnall bay, with a couple of comfort stops en route/ it was a tiring drive but the end result- our pitch at West Bay Caravan Park was worth the drive.

Our drive through the Cairngorms on the A9 enabled us to stop for supplies at an old haunt of ours, the House Of Bruar- a fabulous collection of local food, drink and goodies and we raided their cheese and butchery section as well as their local drinks too. Well worth a stop if you’re passing but perhaps hide your credit card as it’s easy to get carried away in there! Haha

We arrived on site about 5:30 and despite our weariness managed a quick set up. Our pitch had lovely views of the ocean and was close to the facilities block- we both enjoyed long hot showers in a heated shower block having had 6 nights of camping showers in our awning.

Our dinner was sausage and mash- with venison Sausage from the House of Bruar. Absolutely gorgeous and easily done in the Remoska now we were back on electric after 4 nights off grid.

We sat outside until dark, admiring the cruise liner leaving Invergorden just down the coast and slept well – especially after I took down the awning at 2am- the wind off the sea was making a racket through the awning!

Sunday arrived and we were both feeling tired – it had been a full on week of travelling on top of a full on half term of work.

We decided to have a day of doing nothing. We took a gentle walk to the village shop to pick up a couple of supplies and then Keefy made a delicious haggis pizza for lunch.

He started it off on the cadac pizza stone but it was struggling against the wind, so we transferred it to the Remoska for the second half of cooking. It was delicious.

We then took a wander down to the campsite beach and had some time larking around on the paddle board. I enjoyed a swim too. We both enjoyed making use of the on site bar, the Salty Dog when we made our way to the site for a dram.

After a lazy afternoon back at the van we cooked up Cullen skink for dinner which was delicious.

A perfect day of just sitting and watching the sea – something that we had driven all this way for- it really hit the spot.

Monday arrived and despite a not so pleasant weather forecast we were blessed with beautiful sunshine. We unloaded the bikes and cycled along the Moray coastal trail to Lossiemouth (6 miles but sadly not off road like other parts of the trail- although the road wasn’t too busy)

We found the bar/restaurant Harbour Lights immediately and got won over by their position and menu.

Keith had grilled haddock and I enjoyed Cullen skink for the second time in less than 24 hours! I have to say theirs was absolutely exquisite. We then cycled around the harbour, pausing on the wall for a while enjoying the sunshine and also on the look out for dolphins. I’d seen some from the pitch at the campsite yesterday but Keith missed them. I was itching for us both to see them together.

Alas, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and no dolphins made their appearance- it didn’t matter though, we loved siting there nice and relaxed.

After a quick stop at the Coop we made our way back to the site for a relax. We enjoyed a local cheeseboard and to our delight spotted a pod of dolphins swimming by.

We spent the reminder of the day relaxing watching the sea and another cruise ship- before enjoying dinner- homemade chicken balmoral. (Chicken stuffed with haggis wrapped in bacon) served with neeps and tatties and cooked in the Remoska.

Tuesday arrived and again the weather was better than the forecast! We unloaded the bikes again and made a short but beautiful journey to Burghead. This section of the coastal trail is only 2 miles but is fully off road on a disused railway track – part of the Moray coastal trail.

Burghead is small but very traditional. The harbour is used for fishermen although there is a company operating boat trips, which we would have loved to have done one- sadly they aren’t dog friendly without us chartering the entire boat at almost £500 for 2 hours. A shame really- we’ve always managed a boat trip with Jazz and considering the amount of campers with dogs on our site I’m surprised there isn’t a market for dog friendly boat trips along this stretch of the Moray which is heavily populated with dolphins so would make an exciting family activity. But there we go. We saved ourselves £70 (or £500 for the charter) but for the record we were willing to spend our £70 to a local company for a boat trip.

We picked up a scotch pie and a macaroni pie for a picnic lunch to enjoy on the long journey back to Gandalf – haha! – from the Coop- nowhere else open in Burghead. We also enjoyed a look at the Pictish fort, which had great views along the coast too.

Once back at the van we went back down to the beach for more paddle board fun before enjoying more cheese, dolphin watching and an afternoon snooze.

When we were awake we couldn’t take our eyes off the sea!

Dinner was a slow cooker special of Beef stroganoff. As I went to wash up, We saw more dolphins – a majestic site. I just love them.

After dinner we started packing up as tomorrow was our big drive home. We enjoyed the most spectacular sunset we’ve ever seen I think in Scotland that evening. We could have been in Greece.

We’d very much enjoyed our time at West Beach Caravan Park. Although it was pricier at £37 pn we were pleased with the sea view- despite not being right on the front row (we only booked 10 days prior to arrival- the front row book up months in advance and I can see why!) we had a great view. Some of the pitches on the site in our opinion are better than others. The front row (S then number) are phenomenal location just a stone throw to the water. The ones behind that were ok, but a little hemmed in as were the E pitches in our opinion . We liked the VW pitches which we were on but felt ours #7 was the best of those as it had no van on one whole side so you got a wide view of the sea.

We did feel the rules on site were hit and Miss. No ball games for example but no one monitoring when people were playing ball games and therefore hitting our van. Parking with doors facing a particular way made some A class motorhomes that were LH have their main window away from the view. That must have been annoying.

The showers were well cleaned and nice but the push button was the shortest we’ve ever encountered and could have been a degree or two warmer.

Usually we’re not too fussy on these things but I suppose when you’re paying premium you take more notice of smaller details. Having said all of this- we really enjoyed our stay, it was perfect for our needs and we will likely return at some point.

As we left on Wednesday, we decided to make a morning of it seeing as the weather was so good and we were craving the mountains. We filled with fuel at Elgin which was so cheap (£1.78 haha!) and then made our way to Braemar. The route was splendid passing through Tomintoul – we were in heaven. At Braemar we then headed towards Pitlochry – another extremely scenic route, before joining the A9 which led us on our journey south and back home.

If you’ve never been to the Cairngorms- you need to go! There’s a past blog from our previous stays here. We’ve also got a previous blog from further down the Moray Firth / Moray Coastal trail last year here

We left Pitlochry at 12:30 and we’re back home at 9pm having stopped for some shopping in nearby Thetford. So a very good run indeed!

We’d had a brilliant time on our travels- Scotland once more ticked our boxes- and by staying East… no midges!!!!

Until next time

Lx

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!

Gandalf the VW is having a case of Deja- Vu. Regular followers may recognise our pitch for this weekend- this is our 4th stay here in 18 months.

It is of course, Sandy Gulls at Mundesley, North Norfolk. We are lucky, it’s only an hour away from our house, so ideal for a quick escape without having to remortgage to afford fuel to get there. We RARELY revisit campsites unless they are extra special or in a convenient location (Edinburgh/ London). I think we can all agree the location of this site is more than extra special.

We arrived at lunch time Friday and settled immediately into our chill zone- the sunshine was glorious and despite a chilly wind, we had a couple of hours sat outside enjoying the sea view and breeze! Keith set the cadac going and we enjoyed our first bbq of the year, a delicious fish bbq. Ooph it was GORGEOUS, good job Keefy!

He cooked raw king prawns in chilli and garlic as a starter, then we had cod, sea bass and salmon alongside jacket potatoes cooked in the Remoska and coleslaw. Mouth watering!

Unbelievably (for England haha!!!) we got to the end of the meal and the weather spectacularly turned. The pure blue skies had vanished and instead we got hit with rain, wind.. rain and wind. But we couldn’t have been happier, we’d managed a sea view bbq and we actually secretly wanted to just chill with our books. So we retreated inside, listened to the rain and the sea and spent the afternoon reading and snoozing. Perfect.

Saturday dawned and we were happy to see the return of the blue skies. We had a lazy morning enjoying the view from bed- and after a great shower, the facility block here is incredible- huge wet rooms and bags of hot water- we cooked up a fry up, again outside!

After this we had a leg stretch down the dog friendly beach (which is accessible from the site either by foot (10 mins) or car (1 min).

We walked right along the beach and followed it to Mundesley and a little beyond. We got tempted into one of the most scenic beer gardens in the country, enjoyed a pint each and made our way to Gandalf via the road.

At this point, we’d walked 4 miles, so put two mini pizzas in the Remoska for lunch, and settled into our books for the afternoon.

The next thing it was time for dinner- a Keralan Cod curry.

It was yummy even if I do say so myself. We followed this with chocolate fondue- oh yes we did!! (The first outing of my Christmas present from Keefy- a small porcelain bowl with a tea light below) we enjoyed dipping fresh fruit into the melted chocolate whilst watching a Rom com.. Husband points right there..

Before falling fast asleep with the wonderful sound of waves crashing below our feet.

Sunday came far too quickly and our weekend of rest was almost over. But not before another beach walk and oodles of tea watching the ever changing view.

We didn’t utilise the site for its tremendous location (other than to sit admiring the view!) this time as we were close to burn out and needed a reset. However if you are feeling more energetic than we were this is the most perfect location to base yourself as you have the coast hopper bus (dog friendly) right outside the campsite entrance, which links you with Cromer all the way through to Kings Lynn. You can also get to Norwich and North Walsham from here via bus. If you like cycling there are lots of country lanes. For walkers, you’re Literally ON the Norfolk Coast path and there are a couple of nice circular walks here too (here)

Sandy Gulls have really invested in this site since we first visited in Oct 2020. The website that you use to book onto the site is excellent- you use a map and pick your pitch at the point of booking. Pay a £10 deposit which is fair. They’ve built a road and hard standing pitches right at the front of the site last winter and invested in free decent WiFi this winter too. The facilities are EXCELLENT and although some of the pitches do require you to have levelling chocks, it’s a small price to pay for arguably one of the best sea view sites in the country. One important note- it’s adults only.

If you want to read what we got up to on our previous stays click:

Here

it seems that I’ve only ever blogged about this place once before! Bad blogger alert- to be fair, it’s because we use it as a place to sit and do absolutely toning but admire the sea view!

We’ll be back at some point for stay number 5!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures near Newquay; May Half Term Part 3

Wednesday

Gandalf the Vw Campervan is parked down the Cornish coast near Newquay; our home for the next night is The Camping and Caravanning club site at Tregurrian, just a short walk from Watergate Bay.

On arrival, I’m going to be honest, we were a little underwhelmed. I suppose this was always going to happen, we’d had two exceptional locations- anything was going to struggle to compare to Trewethett Farm with those magnificent sea views.

I’d read the site was across the road from beach- which was a stretch of the imagination as it’s actually 0.75 miles downhill on a busy road. The route to the coastal path has been closed so my hopes for a beach day were dashed as we didn’t want to drive there and equally had too much stuff to carry that far.

After our set up and lunch of a local cheese board, we did however walk down with a small bag and the beach is lovely and most importantly for us, dog friendly.

There were lots of surfers and body boarders and we looked out of place with no wetsuit (even though I had mine up at the van) but we did both manage a dip in the sea. I’m sure with kids in tow, this site would tick a lot of boxes for many families, and whilst we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach, we were disappointed with the facilities in Watergate Bay – the bar was away from the beach and had slow service and there were no fish and chips to be found, only pizzas, and posh seafood restaurants which didn’t welcome dogs.

The next day, the weather was not as good as forcasted so we decided to make a move home a day early. Friday had an exceptionally tight schedule for a variety of reasons so we couldn’t afford to get stuck in traffic. We had a nice breakfast, another walk down to the beach and along the bay, before coming back to Gandalf and packing up.

As we departed we stopped at the next bay, Mawgan Porth where we picked up some fish and chips – yay! – and drove a couple of miles up to the National trust car park at Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, where we enjoyed the most delicious fish and chips with a view that knocked our socks off.

For future reference- if we visited here again, we would catch the bus from near to the site and travel a short journey to Mawgan Porth, as the beach was equally nice but the fish and chips and bar were right on the beach. In our opinion- It had a less pretentious vibe here.

As we were leaving after our fish and chips we got news that unfortunately our holiday to Porto Santo, a small island off Madeira departing on Monday was to be cancelled, due to Portugal moving to Amber. We were heading there to celebrate Keith’s big 5 0! Whilst we were disappointed, we also were a bit relieved as we didn’t want to get stuck out there. We originally were supposed to be in Peru with Great Rail Journeys these two weeks. So our journey back early was now less necessary but as we’d packed up already we decided to continue on home. We honestly had had the best time this week, and we wished we could just stay for another week, but we’d left it too late to book anything and also we had celebrations planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We then spent the weekend celebrating at home with our mums on Friday, then down in Croydon with friends and family on Saturday and Sunday

We are now making the most of another week off work and good weather by continuing down south for a week of camping in Gandalf- all of which was cobbled together Friday morning FRANTICALLY and each day’s activities is a surprise for Keefy!

Stay tuned for more updates 😉

Our home for the next two nights. Currently near Arundel. Just saying 😉

A weekend at Sandy Gulls Adults Only Caravan Park, Mundesley

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.

View from the beer garden.

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.

Back 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

Lx

A cheeky trip to The Caribbean!

Regular readers will remember me saying here that by the end of the school year, I was absolutely wiped out, so we decided to book a very last minute and ridiculously cheap all inclusive package deal to Cuba with Thomas Cook.

We stayed at Playa Pesquero, in the Holguin province and had an absolutely fabulous time. Sun, Sea, Great food; despite terrible complaining Brits EVERYWHERE within the hotel – we thought the food was wonderful and didn’t get ill at all and plenty of Rum.

For the purpose of continuity on our blog, I thought I’d do a mini blog for our Cuba trip – amongst anything else, we enjoy reading back what we got up to each year.

On the way to Manchester Airport, which by the way, is a bit of a drag journey wise from Norfolk, but a cheap deal is a cheap deal (!) we stopped at National Trust’s Little Moreton Hall, which was amazing, and worth the journey alone. An immaculately preserved Tudor Manor house, which is over 500 years old – it reminded us out of something off the set of a Tim Burton film. With its wonky beams and frontage and quirky windows and unlevel flooring, its a rare example of original Tudor architecture and a great place to explore.

This wallpaper is original- over 500 years old!

On arrival at Manchester Airport we checked into Clayton Manor Hotel and airport parking. We paid £125 for overnight stay and 8 days parking which we felt was quite reasonable. What we didn’t realise was that the parking was off site – so your vehicle is moved elsewhere during the night – we weren’t hugely happy about this, but had no choice at this point. Our VWT5 LWB Camper was no issue for the parking despite us being a little bit longer than the “terms and conditions” allowed. We didn’t mention it and neither did they.

Monday morning came round quickly and we set alarms for 6am. The hotel is literally across the road from terminal T1 and before we knew it we were on board plane. Thomas Cook keep their costs down by not providing drinks complimentary during even long haul flight, but we did get a meal and a snack along with a coffee and one soft drink.

We arrived at the small in comparison Holguin airport at 2pm Cuban time. By 4pm we’d arrived at the hotel, booked information our allocated 4 ala carte restaurants and by 4.30pm we were enjoying our first (of many) Pino Colada’s in the pool from the Pool Bar.

We even managed a trip to the beach and a dip in the sea. The first view of the Caribbean beach and crystal clear water was overwhelming for me – I’ve always dreamed of visiting and it really was just beautiful.

The next week passed in a pattern of getting up at 7.30am -aren’t body clocks annoying – never can wake up that time when I need to for work, but on holiday – bam – I’m awake! Then we’d grab breakfast from the HUGE breakfast buffet. In all our worldwide travels we’ve never seen such a phenomenonal breakfast offering. Then we’d mooch to the beach. At 10am Alexa, the wandering beach bar man would arrive to take our first orders, we’d break for lunch around 1pm where we’d grab a seafood lunch on the beach or a pizza, or both! A few more hours on the beach snoozing or reading followed and then we’d grab a shower and head off for our evening mea and a cocktail or two. Always in bed by 10pm at the latest.