Our Top 10 Campsites for Cyclists

Did you know that the 9th -17th June is Bike Week? Nope, neither did I! For us, bike week’s tend to be when we are away in Ruby the VW Campervan, (previously Bluebell the Motorhome). In fact one of the very first gadgets we brought for Ruby when we bought her last year was a towbar and an Atera Strada DL3 Bike Rack, a phenomenal piece of kit, which usually attracts a lot of attention onsite as Keith effortlessly tilts the rack (with bikes on) back several times a day to enable us to get into the tailgate boot.

For us when we go camping, we like to pitch up and not have to move the van for the duration. We use the bikes to get us to and from the local town or city for supplies and a look around. We also LOVE cycling on converted disused railway lines, now made into bridleways, or canal towpaths – traffic free routes are so relaxing and enjoyable, that now we actually base our holidays on where there are traffic free cycle routes to enjoy.

To celebrate Bike Week, and to accompany my recent “Top 10 Campsites for Walkers” blog post, I thought I’d share with you our favourite campsites that have direct or very close access to Cycle Routes in the UK.

  1. Caravan and Motorhome Club, Lady Margaret’s Park Club Site, Chirk for the Llangollen Canal Towpath and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. 9 Miles each way

We actually only recently discovered this gem of a club site, however the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has been on our list of places to visit for a long time now. The site is conveniently located to access the canal and is about 3 miles cycle to the UK’s longest and highest aqueduct. You can carry on to Llangollen for an extra 4 miles. The canal path itself is breathtaking. It’s a popular route but one worth doing. In the opposite direction from the site you can cycle (or push your bike rather!) though the impressive Chirk Tunnel.

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2. Devizes Camping and Caravan Club Site for the Kennet and Avon Canal Path and Caen Hill flight of locks and Devizes in one direction and Bradford on Avon in the other.

This campsite is open all year round, in fact we visited in winter and enjoyed a crisp winters day cycle. The route to Caen Hill Locks is only about 3 miles, and pretty good surface. The locks are fascinating to see and there is a lovely tea room at the top.

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3. Beech Croft Farm for the Monsal Trail 8.5 miles each way

We’ve developed quite a liking for cycling old railway paths – largely because they tend to be flat, or have a very gentle incline, which makes for happy cycling. There are quite a few to choose from in The Peak District, but we think we like The Monsal Trail the best as it links two interesting and pretty market towns, Buxton and Bakewell (which of course is home to the famous Bakewell Pie. The Monsal Trail also has some beautiful scenery and some impressive tunnels which you can cycle through.

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4. Heath Farm CL Norfolk for the Bure Valley Way 9 Miles each way

This is one of our local ones and if you time your ride well you will be lucky enough to experience a steam engine or five choo choo past you, as this line still runs providing leisure rides mainly at the weekends. Our favourite bit is the approach to the very pretty waterside town of Wroxham where you can pick up some delicious fish and chips and enjoy them overlooking the broads.

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and whilst you are in this neck of the woods, just 5 miles away is

5. Breck Farm or Attlebridge Station CL  for the Marriots Way 26 Miles each way

Breck Farm is a fabulous little campsite with a lovely sunset, and although we haven’t stayed at Attlebridge Station CL its on our list for this year as it looks superb. The converted station has been done amazingly well. The Marriotts Way links Norwich with Ayslham, so it’s possible to cycle for a day trip to Norwich from here. There is a fabulous railway museum and cafe just down the road too. The position of both sites is right in the middle of the Marriots Way so it’s perfect to break into two 13 mile each way days.

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6. Canterbury Park and Ride Motorhome Stopover for The Crab and Winkle Way 7 Miles each way

First of all, a huge well done to Canterbury Council for having the business sense to allow motorhomes to park overnight in their park and ride facility for a small charge! We really enjoyed our couple of days in Canterbury, a highlight of which was our bike ride on the Crab and Winkle Way – an off road paved track all the way to the seaside town of Whistable. If you’re an oyster lover – this is a heavenly place to have your lunch!

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7. Armley Lodge CL for Rutland Water  17 Miles circular

Rutland Water is a large man made resevoir in the East Midlands. It’s used for watersports, cycling, walking and is a hive of activity year round. You can either hire bikes there or take your own, and the paths are a mixture of Tarmac and loose sand/stone so hybrid or mountain bikes are best.

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8. Grafham Water Camping and Caravan Club Site for Grafham Water 10 miles circular

Along with Alton Water (below) this is another Anglian Water reservoir/water park. There are 10 miles of offroad track and the campsite is lovely too. If you re into Geocaching there are also loads and loads to find on this trail. Grafham water is also used for trout fishing and we had some wonderful local trout that we brought from a house down the road from the campsite.

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9. The Brair Campsite for Alton Water 8 miles circular

The Briar is a lovely little C&CC club site just 3 miles on a very quiet road from Alton Water. There is also a lovely pick your own fruit farm in the same village and the owner makes some wonderful marmalade which he sells. Alton Water was an enjoyable cycle and you pass a wonderful wild flower field on the way round. Just lovely.

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10.  Glen Nevis Campsite, Fort William for Neptune’s Staircase and The Great Glen Way on the Caledonian Canal  Up to 72 miles linear, but we did about 8 miles each way.

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It’s taken us about 5 trips to Scotland before we actually used our bikes! When we think of Scotland, we think of huge mountain ranges and none bike friendly (well for us anyway!) hills. It took at least 5 trips through Fort William before we stopped at Neptunes Staircase and realised that actually there was a really beautiful canal towpath we could follow (which was obviously.. flat!) The campsite is nestled right under Ben Nevis by the way – so you could attempt to climb it whilst staying there.

 

 

As you can see, where we take our doggie with us on all these trips and he sure doesn’t half get some attention on the way. Many people stop us and ask where we got our dog basket from. It’s from Amazon (link below) and as you can see, he loves it!

Dog Basket

We are aware there are hundreds of other enjoyable off road cycle trails. We use this book to plot and inspire us,

We are always on the look out for new sites/cycle combinations, so where is your favourite? Let us know – our list is always growing!

Until Next Time

Lx

 

 

 

February Half Term 2018; Wiltshire and Dorset. Part 1

Saturday

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up by the Kennet and Avon Canal on the outskirts of Devizes, Wiltshire. We set off from Norfolk at around 09:00 this morning and had a fairly smooth journey despite atrocious weather!

We made a stop at the National Trust location of Lacock Abbey and Village, which is about 6 miles from Devizes.

Lacock is beautiful traditional Quintessentially English Village, which houses the impressive Lacock Abbey- once a Nunnery but then sold on to the Tarbet family, and of course Henry Fox Tarbert who took the very first photographic negative from inside.

We really enjoyed our visit to Lacock and enjoyed a pint at the George which is home to a great log fire but also a very rare turnspit – a dog wheel which in its day, would have had a dog inside the wheel walk-in and rotation the spit over the fire.

It was fascinating visiting Lacock Abbey and of course the very spot where the first ever photo was taken, and we could easily understand why the village is so popular with film and tv location scouts- Harry Potters house is in Lacock, classroom scenes of inside Hogwarts were filmed in the Abbey, not to mention series such as Cranford, all filmed here.

We arrived at our home for the next 3 nights, the Camping and Caravaning Club site at Devizes just after 4 and by quarter past we’d got the chairs out to enjoy the last few minutes daylight whilst we had a beer, our first al fresco beer of 2018.

First impressions of the site are good- as you would expect with C&CC club sites- free hot showers, dishwashing facilities etc and friendly wardens along with large hard standing pitches.

We reheated a stew we’d made a few days ago and froze for dinner and had a relatively early night. Time to relax- perfect.

Sunday

After a wonderfully quiet night we had a lazy Snooze this morning before getting up around 09:30. I prepared some ham for the slow cooker and Keith sorted the bikes. After a quick bacon sarnie we hit the canal towpath just outside the campsite. The weather was bright and sunny albeit icy cold, but we enjoyed our 3 mile or so cycle to Devizes. We passed the very impressive Caen Hill flight of locks- 29 in 2 miles and the longest flight of consecutive locks in the country.

There was a nice tea room in the old lock keepers cottage so we popped in for a coffee and cake and to admire the view. I’m not sure if it was the cold weather, the fact that it was our first ride since August, or that the locks cover quite an incline but we found the cycle pretty tough! Enjoyable nonetheless.

We enjoyed our wander around Devizes- there was museum dedicated to Wiltshire life but we decided to give this a miss as we had Jazz with us. We popped in for a pint at the oldest pub in Devizes, The White Bear, an old Tudor inn where there was a lovely fire. Keith was enjoying the Wadworth ale, brewed in this town.

We enjoyed a flask of homemade soup overlooking the canal before a much easier (downhill!) journey back for the campsite. Ruby smelt amazing, slow cooker camping meals are just the best!

We settled in for an afternoon nap after picking up some local ice cream for pudding from the reception. Soon it was tea time and we cooked up some broccoli, cauliflower and new potatoes and some cheese sauce. Perfect.

Monday

Monday dawned a lovely sunny morning and once we’d done some housekeeping in Ruby like replacing the gas etc we had a quick breakfast of porridge before unloading the bikes and setting off again along the Kennet and Avon Canal. This time we were travelling the other way- towards Bradford on Avon. We passed a lovely pub about two miles into the journey but ‘‘twas too early for a pint so we earmarked it for the return journey.

A mile or so on we saw a heron right in front of us on the path. It was a timid thing- I’ve never been so close to one. Turns out it was waiting for a local couple to come and feed it br breadcrumbs, and they were just behind us so we watched as the man threw the heron bread then the heron dipped it in the canal and ate it.

Beautiful creatures ❤️

Another couple of miles along and disaster struck. Keith got a puncture! 😩 it wouldn’t be a Ruby holiday without this happening – so you would think we would be prepared. Of course, we weren’t; so we had to come off the canal path on the outskirts of Trowbridge where luckily there was a bicycle repair shop that was open. Good old 4G and google saving the day. It was a 2 mile walk to the shop however and moods were low! Half an hour later, we’d got Keith’s bike repaired – not one but two punctures by a Hawthorne, can you believe it! Apparently the stretch we’d just passed is notorious for Hawthorne punctures! We’d had our picnic in Trowbridge whilst they fixed the bike but we didn’t find the town too inspiring, so we decided to turn round and head back towards that nice pub we’d seen on the canal. Rather than taking the canal path and risking more punctures we took the road which was 6.3 miles. It wasn’t too bad but we found it difficult for the last mile or so as the road was hilly! Never mind, all was forgiven as we enjoyed a couple of drinks at the Barge inn at Seend. It was a lovely little pub right on the canal- I bet in summer it’s packed!

We were then on the home straight, only a mile or so back to the campsite with better surfaces – mind you our legs were a gonner. We really need to get or fitness back up- Keith said he was feeling like he felt after running the London marathon! 😂

Luckily I’d decided to do another slow cooker meal today- beef and bean stew – so as we arrived back to Ruby she was smelling delicious.

We’ve really enjoyed our stay at Devizes Camping and Caravan club site- facilities are clean and pitches are spacious. Location wise is fabulous – I think we’d return here.

Tomorrow we move on to Stonehenge. I’ve never been and I’m really excited!

Until next time

Lx

October Half Term 2015 (and Lydia’s 30th) Part 3 

Wednesday

Bluebell the motorhome is on the edge, the waters edge that is, enjoying an enormous fully serviced pitch right on the lake at Waterloo Leisure site on the outskirts of Market Harborough.  

^ We ended up totally wasting the space on our pitch as we wanted to take advantage of the on pitch grey water drainage, therefore were restricted by the length of our grey water waste pipe! ^

It’s slightly more than we would usually like to pay for a site at £24.50 pn but it’s location being right on the Brampton Valley Way trail, that links Northampton to Market Harborough on an old railway path, made us bite the bullet and book it. If you’re into fishing you would love it here, our door literally opens onto a rather large fishing lake, and if we wanted to, we could have 2 rods as part of our nightly fee.
The pitch is absolutely gigantic for little ol’ Bluebell- but it’s hard standing base and grey water disposal/drinking water tap on pitch is proving to be beyond helpful considering the amount of rain we’ve had over night!


We arrived yesterday lunchtime and after finishing off the remains of the slow cooker beef casserole we enjoyed the night before, we got our walking boots on and walked about 3 miles along the old railway track towards Northampton.


We managed to take in a 400 Mt tunnel which was pitch black, apart from a shaft of light in the middle which presumably was a ventilation hole. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of the tunnel, it was damp, pitch black, cold and really eery! Keith however loved it and he did a good job protecting me with the help of our iPhone torches!
  
  
Along the way there were loads of juicy sloe berries crying out to be picked ready for a mass slow gin making effort when we get home!

  
After a nice leg stretch we headed back to Bluebell in time for afternoon tea and a chance to finish of my birthday cake before having a chill and watching Shaun of the Dead on Keith’s Blu Ray player that we cart around everywhere and rarely use!

Wednesday dawned a wet one to say the least- although it really is lovely being tucked up nice and warm and DRY and hearing the rain hitting the motorhome roof. We decided to utilise the rainy morning by having an enormous lay in, which these days meant we lasted til around 09:30 before getting itchy feet! So I cooked us a spinach and mozzarella frittata and made a packed lunch, all the weather apps were telling us the rain would pass by 1pm. We were keen to get on the bikes as we wanted to get to nearby Foxton Locks. Around 11:30 there seemed to be a gap in the rain so we decided to don our wet weather attire and go for it, a good decision as it ended up stayed dry, with even the sunshine coming out as we arrived at Foxton.


We took the Brampton Valley Way trail to Market Harborough (around 1.5 miles) then picked up the Millenium mile cycle path along the riverside towards the Grand Union Canal on cycle route 6. We then cycled 6 miles alongside the canal on the towpath, ending up at Foxton Locks at around 1:30. The colours alongside the canal were breathtaking.


Foxton Locks are a set of 10 Grade II listed locks that form a staircase transporting canal boats up the valley.



 We enjoyed watching some boats travelling through the lock system, helped by the lock keepers and found the old boat lift fascinating. The old lock keepers cottages had been well restored into a tempting looking tea rooms, however we chose for a refreshment stop in the Foxton Locks Inn at the bottom of the staircase.  


 The above two pics are the old boat lift which was engineered in the early 1900s. It would carry boats up in a tank on water- each one carryed two boats and used a pulley system to pull the entire tank up or down the hill.

It was an easier journey back, and we opted to stay on the canal path right into the centre of Market Harborough into a Union Wharf.


  Annoyingly Keefy managed to get a puncture (he is so unlucky with his bikes!) – luckily this happened as we were coming into Market Harborough so we ended up walking the bikes the last couple of miles back getting back to Bluebell just as the sun was going down.

We enjoyed our stay on the Waterloo Leisure site- the only extra thing that we would have enjoyed was on pitch wifi – apparently the owners are working on this though.

Sadly our trip was over and it was time to head back home this morning (Thursday). We have had another fantastic break away, done some lovely cycles and walks and generally been pretty lucky with the weather. We are hoping we may get a cheeky weekend away before Christmas, but we are looking forward to our next adventure over New Year in the Peak District.

Until next time
Lx