Adventures in The Peak District

February 4th- 6th 

Gandalf the VW is parked up alongside his pal, Hiilda the Hymer (my Dad and Step Mum’s) motorhome and we’re nestled behind The Waterloo Inn in Biggin, Derbyshire, cashing in our Christmas present from them- a camping weekend.

We’re staying at the Waterloo Inn campsite, conveniently located just behind the pub. The site is fairly basic, but does have hard standing pitches, heated showers and loos, a washing up shack, usual waste emptying facilities, miles up on miles of walks and bike rides on its doorstep; and of course the  (dog friendly) pub complete with log fire within staggering distance. What more could we possibly need?! Some decent weather was on our wish list, but honestly, having been grounded due to a broken big toe and even ending up on crouches for some of January, I really couldn’t care less about the weather. I was just ready for an adventure and to see some hills!

We had a great journey up from Norfolk on Friday morning, arriving at the site just in time for lunch. Following lunch, we had a walk down to Hartington, a pretty little village with a nice and cosy pub, The Devonshire Arms.

We had a quick dram – it had to be a quick one as the daylight was fading fast, before making our way back up the track to Biggin ready for dinner in the pub.

The Waterloo Arms was unpretentious and exceptionally friendly. We instantly were made to feel welcome and the food was nice too. Keith and I enjoyed the local banger of the week from the butchers nearby at Stanage Edge. We enjoyed our evening in the pub catching up with Dad and Jenny, so engrossed we were with our company we had no idea that snow had fallen whilst we’d been inside!

Friday night was exceptionally peaceful on site and we all slept well. 

Saturday arrived, and whilst it was a bit blowy and chilly, it was dry- so we unloaded our bikes, and after breakfast baps, hit the very nearby Tissington Trail. 

The Tissington Trail is an old disused railway line, now turned into recreational track. The surface was ideal for our E bikes, and the scenery was stunning. The more exposed sections offered panaromic views of the The Peak District, as we whizzed by Alsop dale and beyond.

Some sections had terrifically tall and steep sides- the path (old track) cutting through the limestone like a knife. There were huge railways bridges for us to cycle under too.

The only problem was the rapidly deteriorating weather- it was blowing a hooley to put it lightly, and actually blooming cold wet and a bit miserable. We explored Tissington, a very pretty little village with picture perfect stone cottages and small lanes and a hall now used as a venue, and also a duck pond.

We nipped into the butchers, and enjoyed our picnic lunch…. in the bus shelter, which was a very welcome relief as it was FREEZING.

We had considered carrying on slightly further to Ashbourne, however we had done 7 miles already – some of which were hard work with the high cross winds, and also Dad didn’t have an E Bike so was struggling with the weather conditions on his bike. We all agreed we’d had enough for one day, and would rather finish and feel happy weather than carry on a bit further and begin to feel unhappy/ratty.

So we made our way back the way we came, along the Tissington Trail back to our new temporary local, where the roaring fires awaited us and a top shelf bottle of Jura to warm us up.

Despite the weather, it hadn’t dampened our spirits, and once warmed up I think we all felt a huge satisfaction about our day’s adventure. Keith and I really enjoyed the scenery along the way and I’m sure in warmer and dryer weather this would be a brilliant activity to enjoy. 

Dinner was a delicious beef brisket pot roast and we followed this by an earlyish night! Unfortunately our neighbours on the site did NOT have an early night and we were awoken several times by campfire singing and general noise. However – they were in TENTS! So clearly Needed to get wasted I think to cope! 🤣

Sunday dawned, and despite it absolutely lashing it down during the night, we awoke to fairly ok weather, so had a quick early breakfast and donned our walking boots. The campsite we’re being generous and allowing us to have a later check out. We enjoyed a terrific walk down through Biggin Dale- which reminded me and Keefy of something out of Lord of the Rings, with its green mossy banks and stone and scree banks.

As we had set off early we had the place to ourselves. If we had had more time, we could have extended the walk to either Hartington or Milldale in the opposite direction – however the river was a reminder of how rough the weather had been – you could hear it quite a distance away, it was thrashing though the valley.

Our return route was a retracing of our steps, or rather a sliding back to the pub- the grass path was really muddy and slippy in places with both Keefy and Jenny going over a couple of times. Still – we loved it. I really feel invigorated in this scenery, and having had a number of weeks being unable to even do the mile dog walk loop, just being out and feeling the wind and cold on my face and some scenery was brilliant. We had sunday lunch in the pub before retrieving Gandalf the VW and Hiiilda the Hymer, saying our farewells and retreating back to Norfolk, just in time to unload before it got dark. 

A splendid weekend away.

We’d recommend the campsite for walking/cycling around the Tissington/Hartington area. Its no frills, but did the job superbly!

Until Next Time – which is in less than 5 days… eek!

Lx 

Adventures IN Thame

Gandalf the VW Campervan is parked up on another gem of a CL, this time just 40 mins down the road from Newbridge, which is ON the Thames, to Thame which is NOT on the Thames, but in fact the River Thame. This fact alone blew our minds the entire 40 minute journey!

We’re staying on Lashlake Barn CL, a C&MC CL within walking distance of Thame. The campsite is lovely – each pitch has electric and a water tap, and the site is very secure – it’s situated behind electric gates which we all have a fob to give us access on foot or wheels. At the far end of the campsite The River Thame runs and there is a stream runnning off it which was the backdrop of our pitch. The price of the pitch is £18 pn which feels a reasonable and fair amount.

We ended up meeting Dad and Jenny as we arrived which was handy and it didn’t take us all long to get our vans into relaxing mode, soon cracking open a gin and having some lunch.

After lunch, we were treated to a rare sight… the sun, which I think has been missing in action recently. We hailed its return and set off for a wander around Thame.

Just behind the campsite is St Mary’s Church, final resting place to the incredible Robin and Andy Gibb (Beegees).

Opposite their graves is Robin Gibb’s former house, Prebendal – an absolutely stunning medieval property with its own collection of impressive historical events that it has played host to, including it being the place in which the decision that Joan of Ark was to be sentenced to her death was made.

Keith found this really great video of Robin Gibb showing a camera crew around the house which we found fascinating.

From here we continued up to the high street, admiring all of the listed houses as we went. Thame was actually used in Midsomer Murders as a filming location. It’s easy to see why, there are many medieval houses with brilliantly preserved fascias.

Thame was also home to the famous poet – and Keith’s favourite Poet – Yeats. We saw the house in which he lived, and Keith even recited an extract of his favourite Yeats poem outside.

We spent some time indulging in our family hobby – charity shop hunting! All the shops were brilliantly dog friendly, and we all picked up one or two bits and bobs!

After a couple of drinks, we nipped back to the campsite to change for dinner, before heading back to town. We had a table booked in the Black Horse, a really lovely gastro pub bistro, which amazing also was dog friendly. The food and service was great and we really enjoyed our evening.

Friday dawned sunny! Yes Sunny!

After a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs and salmon on toast, we got our bikes unhooked and set off on the Phoenix Trail, an off road, disused railway path between Thame and Princes Risborough. The trail runs for just over 7 miles and has a number of sculptures to enjoy on route, along with great views of the Chilterns.

We had lunch and some more charity shop hunting in Princes Risborough before making our way back in record time to Thame. Dad was on the only non electric bike and did a sterling job setting the fast pace on our return! I was on high assist to keep up!

Apparently Jamiroquai lives opposite here!

Before making our way back to the campsite from Thame, I picked up some butchers lamb, and when we got back I knocked up a Lamb Dhansak in the Remoska, along with a chicken saag. That’s right, Friday night is Curry night! We enjoyed our feast of curry’s outside as it was still fairly mild before settling down in front of the campfire as the stars came out. What a lovely day we’d all had.

Saturday soon arrived and our time was up. Before we left though, Keith spotted some enormous crayfish in the stream behind us. Having never seen these before (me and Keith anyway) they kept us amused for quite some time.

This one only had one claw, but if you click on the photo you can see it’s got a new claw growing back.

Dad had accidentally sent some of our bacon flying into the steam and they were enjoying it massively! We also had some other new friends on site- the free range chickens although Jazz wasn’t sure about these!

We’d had a wonderful couple of days and really enjoyed our time in Thame, despite our mind being blown that it wasn’t on The Thames.

Until next time

Adventures on the Moray Firth

Gandalf the VW is parked up with panoramic views of the Moray Firth ahead. Our home for next three nights is Sunny Brae; a C&MC CL on the outskirts of Findlochty. The site is small but very well positioned with all 5 hard standing pitches positioned to give privacy and a view. Once again we have no facilities other than EHU and a tap/emptying point- oh and some shaky WiFi, but at £12pn we can’t help but think this is one of the best priced CLs on the network.

We managed to get set up just before the rain fell, and we enjoyed watching a storm out at sea from the shelter of our sun canopy with a g&t.

We’re starting to feel quite tired – we’ve been on the road and on the go now for two full weeks (bar one night quick changeover) since the end of the school term, and whilst we’ve had a brilliant time, it comes at a cost of beginning to feel worn out!

Dinner tonight was homemade haggis, mushroom and spinach pizzas, made in the Remoska which were delicious and then we settled down for a quiet night of reading and watching Ozark (K).

Haggis Pizza Recipe in Remoska

Thursday

This morning dawned with beautiful blue skies. Seeing as it looks like our run of good weather may be changing tomorrow we decided to get up and on, in order to enjoy the best of the weather.

After a quick bacon sandwich and some household chores, we got on the bikes. Today’s adventure was cycling some of the Moray Coastal trail; a mostly off road cycle trail. We picked the trail up in Findlochty, just half a mile from our campsite and followed it to Cullen.

The first part was directly on the cliff top and as such had tremendous coastal views.

At Portknockie we opted for the Disused railway track- the coastline between there and Cullen looking more rugged and contouring on the map, and perhaps less suitable for our road E bikes. Plus we do enjoy disused railways tracks (and they tend to be level!)

Our approach into Cullen was spectacular, the weather gods were really on our side, and we enjoyed cycling over the impressive viaduct that dominates the skyline.

We headed up to the castle hill, a former motte and Bailey and enjoyed the views over the coast.

We then cycled back down to the village and onto the beach and harbour area, checking out the viaduct from ground level too.

We considered taking the coastal path back but in the end the Scottish Open being held on Cullen links prevented that so we happily retraced our steps back to Portknockie on the railway path, pausing for lunch at Bow Fiddle, a dramatic rock formation that resembles the upper part of the a violin bow.

We watched (and listened to – they’re noisy so and so’s!) the sea gulls and cormorants that nest here for some time, before making our way to Findlochty. We then continued in the opposite direction to Buckie- again this stretch of the coastal trail is disused railway with lovely views across the sea and a wonderful tarmac path.

At Buckie we picked up fresh fish from Eat Muir and then made our way back to the campsite, via the pub at Findlochty, where we enjoyed a drink overlooking the pretty harbour.

Once back at Gandalf we spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine: if the weather forecast is to be believed this may be the last of the blue skies we see for some time!

Dinner tonight of course was… Cullen skink!

Delicious 😋

Friday

Well the weather forecast was correct for once and rain did indeed fall today! Lots of it! it actually didn’t bother us at all, as I’d mentioned earlier on this list we were beginning to feel exhausted -in a nice way – so we took the rain day as an opportunity to have a duvet day; something which we very VERY rarely do. We stayed in bed til 11:30, then got up and made a brunch cooked breakfast.

We then settled in to begin watching Breaking Bad, which we ended up watching for the remainder of the day, with a break in the middle for a game of monopoly and sweet and sour chicken dinner.

By dinner time the rain had stopped so we were able to cook under the canopy and we were even treated to a glimpse of blue sky.

After dinner, we went for a short leg stretch on the track behind the campsite, before retreating back to Gandalf to continue Breaking Bad .

Sometime I think we get a bit carried away on these trips and forget to give ourselves time to stop and catch our breath. We get so caught up in wanting to make the most of our time, and not wanting to miss anything in the new areas that we travel in, but we forget that our normal day to day life is exceptionally busy, and we’re mainly rushing around and working 12 hour days. At some point we just have to pause! This site has been the perfect place to draw breath as we’ve got wonderful sea views in the distance and it’s lovely and quiet.

We move on tomorrow for our last push north. We’ll definitely return here to cycle more of the Moray a coastal Route and also do a bit of coastal walking and the cliffs and contour gradients are not as dramatic as down south on the South West Coast, yet the views are just as dramatic. I’d also like to do the walk from Cullen to Findlater Castle and cycle to Portgordon and beyond.

Until next time

Lx

Adventures on the North Yorkshire coast

Monday

Gandalf the Campervan is parked up on a wonderful “off grid” Caravan and Motorhome club CL, a small 5 van site, with no facilities or hook up (other than loo disposal and tap/bin). We’re perched on the edge of the N York Moors with views of the sea and Whitby Abby; just 4 miles away. Deneside Field is just £7 pn- what a bargain!

Our journey here today was relaxed – we set off around 10:30am and arrived just after 4pm with a couple of comfort stops. The stretch leading up to Whitby from the A1 was stunning!

We’ve got the bikes with us as this is our first stop of a 2.5 week tour of the East Coast, so set up took slightly longer but, we’re here for 3 days so we want to be comfortable on site. The weather is far better than predicted, in fact there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sea looks rather Mediterranean like!

We had a chill at the site tonight, enjoying the views and the peace and quiet- there is only one other Caravan here. Perfection! Dinner was sausage, mash and beans- a simple but tasty supper to enjoy after a long journey north.

View from site: Whitby Abby in the distance and the sea behind

We’re excited about exploring the local area as it’s been a number of years since we were last in Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay.

Tuesday

Tuesday dawned bright and beautiful; a nice surprise as the forecast wasn’t so optimistic! We had a lazy morning, enjoying the views and enjoying bacon sandwiches before prepping the bikes and hitting the road towards Whitby.

One of the draws for us to return to this area was to explore the Cinder Track, a disused railway line that runs from Scarborough to Whitby- a total distance of 21 miles. Our site isn’t directly on the Cinder track so before we could enjoy any of it we had to navigate our way to an appropriate entry point. We consulted Ordanance Survey and found a route which took in a quiet road and a bridleway, which looked appropriate. Well, let me tell you. It was not!! We ended up pushing our bikes nervously for around 1.5 miles on this hardcore mountain bike trail through a forest. The path was not suitable for us one bit, and whilst now, thinking back it seemed an adventure at the time, in reality it was bloody awful! Although it was pretty!

Luckily once we got onto the Cinder Track things dramatically improved, the surface was a dream on our electric bikes and the gradient unnoticeable.

It wasn’t far at all to Whitby but we enjoyed the scenery, a highlight was going over the Larpool Viaduct. They’re were some beautiful bridges to pass under. It had lived up to our exceptions and made the previous hour of horribleness worthwhile!

Whitby was heaving! Properly busy! Too busy to enjoy if I’m honest; although that’s perhaps a bit harsh as we had a lovely day. It’s just we’ve not been around that volume of people for so long- I found it a bit scary! The weather gods were on our side though, we enjoyed blue skies and a gentle breeze.

We had a fish and chip lunch from Papas, not the famous Magpie- although Papas was named the best fish and chips in UK according to a recent BBC competition. (They were goooood!)

We washed the fish and chips down with a couple of drinks over looking the harbour, before tackling the 199 stairs up to the Abby. The Abby is English Heritage and fairly pricey to get in at £13 pp (free for members) instead we enjoyed a Whitby lager at the tap house and brewery opposite which has brilliant views of the Abby. It always makes me laugh on the stairs at Whitby… ALL you can hear is people around you either counting the steps or discussing if it is indeed 199 or is it 197 (or any other number for that matter!)

After an ice cream at the bottom of the steps we collected our bikes – we’d parked them by Papas fish and chip bar- and made our way back to Gandalf. This time we continued to Hawkser on the Cinder Track before exiting and taking a quiet road route back to our campsite- 2.5 miles of hills, some steep, but our E bikes were TREMENDOUS!

Tonight is spent having a chill – enjoying the non rain!

Wednesday

For the first time in what’s seems an age, we slept in until 09:15 this morning! It was a little showery so we decided not to rush about, which was nice not to be working to a timescale for once. We set off from the campsite around 11ish – on the bikes towards Hawsker to pick up the Cinder track once more. We took the road route and as we’re not on hook up, turned our bike batteries off, choosing to save the battery for the homeward journey later. We therefore pedalled our way up down, up down etc to the cinder track- feeling very proud of ourselves when we reached it!

Our recommended route to the Cinder Track from Deneside Field CL

The cinder track to Robin Hoods Bay is only 3 miles and it’s a glorious section, with sea views dominating the majority of the journey. There was a steep cut bank at one point, making it easy to imagine trains travelling along here from 1885 to 1965 when the line was frequented by trains carrying goods and passengers along the Scarborough to Whitby line.

Cinder Track Leaflet

We found bike parking easily in Robin Hoods Bay so made our way by foot down the hill to the sea front. We love Robin Hoods Bay; it’s been a number of years since our last visit, and it was just as nice as we remembered. The quaint fisherman’s cottages line the street and the non tacky shops with just a couple of pubs, tea rooms and b and bs are right up our street.

The weather was behaving beautifully and we enjoyed a drink in front of the Bay Inn- the official end of the Coast to Coast walk, overlooking the cliffs towards Scarborough.

After a crab roll from the local fish shop on the beach, we took emergency cover as a thunderstorm passed over us.

Luckily this coincided with the Smugglers, a 400 year old very atmospheric dog friendly wine bar, opening so we took shelter inside, until the rain stopped and we could make our way back to the bikes and onwards back home.

We retraced our steps following the cinder track back to Hawsker and then gleefully switched on our batteries to get us back to Gandalf – up down, up down etc etc.

Dinner was a delicious chicken curry before a night of relaxation and enjoying the view for one final night

Tomorrow we move on north to Edinburgh. We’ve absolutely loved our time here- especially enjoying being off grid, and relying solely on solar power has felt liberating actually. The site is wonderful, and whilst there is a bit of road noise (mainly farm traffic) it does quieten down after dark. The views towards Whitby and the sea are gorgeous. It’s perhaps not the best places for the Cinder Track, but we’ve managed well. There are a couple of other sites directly on the track which were full when we were making reservations. Having said that we’ve really loved this site, and armed with either a car, or electric bikes you really can enjoy the local area easily, and cheaply- and remember it’s just £7pn!

Until Next Time

Lx

Adventures on the Marriott’s Way

Gandalf the VW Campervan is parked at Eves Hill Farm, a C&CC certified site in Norfolk on the outskirts of Reepham. We should have been in Wales this weekend, but two absolutely bonkers weeks at work, along with a middle weekend moving my mum, meant that by the time Thursday came along Keith and I were running on fumes- and I think that’s an overstatement! Sadly we we’re just too tired (and felt quite ill) to make the 5 hour journey each way for just two nights near to Bodnant Gardens, so we had to send our apologies and add the Laburnum archway and stunning gardens that are featured in the newest Secret Garden film onto a list for next year.

Instead we got some well needed rest on Friday and had a regroup. We managed to book a last minute pitch at Eves Hills Farm for the night on Saturday- a mere 40 min drive from home felt much more palatable and we were able to take our new bikes with us to try them out on the nearby Marriott’s Way– a disused railway track now turned into leisure path.

We’ve cycled this a few times before, and it remains a favourite place for us to head off to for just a night.

2019 Marriott’s Way trip

2015 Marriott’s Way

Eves Hill Farm was a perfect base. Just a couple of miles outside of Reepham – which we stopped at before hand to stock up on local sausages and bacon for breakfast from the butchers, and cheese from the deli next door. What more did we need? Homemade burgers from the campsite of course! Luckily for us Eves Farm have their own herd of Hereford cattle and make their own steaks and burgers. Bbq ready for later, and a cheese board for lunch set us up for an afternoon of cycling. The 2 miles back into Reepham were a doddle on our E bikes and we were soon on our way on the Marriott’s Way.

We decided to head south on the trail and stopped for refreshments after around 7 miles at Whitwell Station.

We enjoy stopping here, there is very often some steam train activity to watch.

Video highlights of bike ride

We decided to make our way back to the campsite, we’d noticed a charming looking pub at Reepham which we enjoyed a drink at before arriving back at the campsite totalling up 18 Miles’s – a breeze on these e bikes!

The campsite has a fairly decent shower (along with washing up station with hot water!) so we ditched our diy awning shower in favour of an electric shower before dinner, which was a delicious bbq followed by local strawberry’s and clotted cream. Perfection!