Adventures in Dorset Part 2

Friday 31st May

After a wonderful stay at Corfe Castle, it was time to move on to our final location on this trip – Charmouth. We took a small detour to go to the back at Studland Bay, where we got the paddleboard out and had a lark around for an hour or so – the sea was like a mill pond and I even managed to get on my feet!

The journey to Charmouth took a couple of hours, but we did a stop at Morrison’s to replenish Ruby’s cupboards. The forecast was looking excellent so we decided to stock up for two more bbqs. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many bbqs by this point of the year – it’s been a fab year of weather on our trips so far.

On arrival at Charmouth C&CC we were shown to our pitch- which was humongous. We set our stall out quickly, and decided to enjoy the sunshine with a chill outside Ruby for the remainder of the day.

Location wise, getting to Charmouth wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped it would be, without using Ruby that is. There were no bus routes and we were about 5 miles downhill (meaning 5 miles uphill on our return) to cycle. We decided to make use of the walking route down to Charmouth – which was about a 3 hour routebut looked quite challenging. That could wait til tomorrow, so after showers in the brand new and rather impressive shower block, which the wardens are extremely proud of, we sparked up the barbie and enjoyed our evening on site.

Saturday dawned sunnier than we could have hoped for. A beach day was definitely on the cards, so we packed a picnic and some drinks, and made our way on the campsite route down to Charmouth. It was mainly downhill, following quiet country lanes, before going onto a footpath which lead over lush grassy paddocks all the way down into Charmouth.

Charmouth is a small but rather traditional seaside resort. The beach area is pretty and has a large car park and cafe, but not much else- not that we required anything else. We spent a good hour or so dozing on the beach and enjoying our picnic -the area on the left of the beach huts is dog friendly.

By this point we felt certain that we wouldn’t walk back – it was mainly up hill – so we decided to carry on along the beach for a couple of miles or so to get to Lyme Regis. The walk from Charmouth to Lyme Regis along the beach needs to be timed with care- don’t get caught out with the tides.

This stretch of beach is extremely popular with fossil hunters – young and old, we were accompanied by the sounds of special hammers tapping the rocks as we watched -everyone eager to find some fossils.

Lyme Regis was absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad we made the effort to carry on. Still traditional but larger in size – we passed the museum and wandered along the promenade, stopping for some ice cream – purbeck ice cream is Devine!

We wandered around the harbour, soaking in the atmosphere and the sunshine, before stopping at the fishmongers for some treats for our final night bbq and having a cheeky beer on one of the beach front beer gardens. Luckily we managed to source a taxi to take us back to Ruby else it would have been a long walk home – we’d clocked up 7 miles by now. But we’d loved it!

Our bbq tonight was amazing – monkfish and chorizo kebabs, halloumi kebabs and sea bass. A wonderful way to close our tour of Dorset. We’d had a blast, eaten and drank some wonderful local food, and enjoyed some fantastic walks.

I think we will be back here again sometime that’s for sure.

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in Dorset Part 1

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up on a fabulous wooded glade on the outskirts of Corfe Castle, Dorset.

We’re on the Camping and Caravan Club site and our first impressions were great. The pitches are spacious and not on top of each other. It’s quiet despite being full and the terracing means our pitch has a view of the rolling Purbeck Hills. As we are checking in, Keith’s already sourced and brought the local Purbeck ice cream to sample – which by the way is delicious! And despite a bit of drizzle which soon passed, we are able to sit outside in the evening sunshine which was on our pitch til gone 8pm.

Dinner was chicken fajitas on the outside grill and washed down with a couple of gins.

The weather was so lovely (and forecasted to be wet tomorrow) so Keith suggested an after dinner walk into the village – he’s been to Corfe Castle before and was keen to show me! The walk from the campsite is off road and about 15 mins / 3/4 mile. It passes fields of wheat and nearly immediately on leaving the campsite you get your first view of the castle in the distance. It’s wonderful!

First view of Corfe Castle from the footpath from site

As we get closer, the castle ruins become more and more impressive. I immediately see why Keith’s been wanting to return for the last 10 years that I’ve know him.

As the National Trust site is closed (it’s almost 7pm by this point), we opt for a beer in the beer garden of the Greyhound which has the most impressive beer garden view in England.

Sadly the service was not so impressive so we only stayed for one, but I had the Purbeck cider which was delicious. We walked the high street and stumbled into the Fox for one more – another great view from the beer garden and this time a much friendlier welcome.

We’d loved our evening visit to the village and walked back to Ruby feeling excited about our visit to the grounds tomorrow.

Wednesday dawned wet and windy. We couldn’t complain, the weather had been fab so far. Actually it was almost a relief, as we could have a massive lay in, lazy morning and late brunch without feeling guilty that we should be out enjoying the weather. Keith made me a delicious full English and I did some writing for the blog and read.

At 3pm it stopped raining so we donned our wet gear and headed back into the village to visit the National Trust maintained “Corfe Castle”.

The Keep would have been the tallest in England at the time – it’s position on the Purbeck Hills dominates the skyline and would have been a great place to keep an eye on the surrounding hills. These days the castle is in ruins however you get a sense of its enormous height with various walls inside the main keep that still stand high and straight; others less so!

Although the rain had now stopped, visibility was low so we vowed to perhaps pop in again tomorrow if the weather was better. The joys of having NT membership.

We walked back to Ruby surprised that despite our late start we’d still managed to walk 3.75 miles. Dinner was chilli and nachos which was delicious.

Thursday arrived and what a difference a day makes with the weather. It was glorious – perfect for a trip to the seaside.

We wasted no time and got up and had breakfast by 9am. This is early for us!

We were due to catch the 10:25 bus from Corfe Castle so we’re on a go fast mission getting most of the jobs gone like making a pack up etc. As it happened we arrived with oodles of time but we spent it admiring the traditional English stone houses and taking the obligatory bus stop selfie. We caught the number 40 Purbeck Breeze bus operated by More which picked us up from outside the Morton’s House Hotel. The fare was £4.20 each single or £6.40 return. We got single as we were getting the train back later.

Neither of us had been to Swanage before, and I know that the weather helped hugely, but – it was gorgeous. Actually we could have been in Greece. The water was so clear, with little boats bopping up and down. A small amusement arcade, a pier, lovely stretches of beach (a dog friendly one about a mile down the road ), appealing al fresco bars/ restaurants and of course, fish and chip shops.

We intended to do a walk along the coastal path but got drawn into the first bar we saw by the appealing looking chair and table in prime position for the best view.

This turned into two, then another bar with a lovely table made three.. you can probably guess, we didn’t get up on the cliffs – we stayed in Swanage.

We had fish and chips from the fish Plaice (gorgeous) before walking the entire length of the promenade – this is when we found the dog friendly section.

An absolutely cracking day.

When it was time to go back to the site, we stocked up on some grocery essentials before boarding the 16:40 steam train to Corfe Castle (£8pp £1dog)

What a delightful way to return to Corfe Castle, isn’t there just something about the choo choo sound and the chug chug sounds of the wheels pulling. The scenery was lovely- but it was only 20 minutes long – the train continued elsewhere.

We explored the pretty and historical station before returning to our campsite, surprised that we’d still walked 5 miles despite having an unintended pub crawl.

Dinner was was Mac n cheese. My fave.

Tomorrow we move on to Charmouth.

Until next time

Lx

February Half Term 2018; Wiltshire and Dorset. Part 2

Tuesday dawned wet and wild as forecasted, so we didn’t rush off our site at Dezizes. I’d woken with a stinking cold but was determined not to be held back. After a hearty porridge for breakfast, we packed up and waved bye to the C&CC site. We made a brief stop for groceries at Morrison’s in Devizes before carrying on to Stonehenge.

We arrived at 1:00, bang on our ticket time. As members of the National Trust we were able to visit for free, despite being run by English Heritage, the land is owned by National Trust therefore members are allowed in for free- however this isn’t too well advertised and you are encouraged to pre book before arriving. Our National Trust membership saved us £21 each!

We were told conflicting things about dogs being allowed in/ or rather not as it turned out to be. It didn’t bother us, we appreciate how historically important Stonehenge is, but the misinformation resulted in us wasting half an hour in the rain.

There is a brand new visitors centre that has opened in the last 3 years. You have to get a bus from the visitor centre to the actual site (or walk over a mile each way on a road!). As it was pouring with rain we opted for the bus. The stones were fabulous and well worth the visit – I’d never seen them, Keith had.

However, I couldn’t help but feel slightly of the opinion that English Heritage are overcharging people though. I also was completely hacked off about the fact that our National Trust entry didn’t allow us an audio guide and we were expected to pay a further £3 for this. I didn’t feel the visitor centre added much to the experience. But as I say, the stones were fabulous to see.

Our pitch for the night was actually closer to the Stones than the EH visitor centre. I’m sure EH hate it, but there is a bylaw that allows wild camping on the old Stonehenge Drove road which overlooks the Stones! So therefore it is a rather popular spot for Campervan and motorhomes to overnight park. We decided this would be very cool so had a night next to the stones!

We managed to pick the coldest night of the year, -4 outside! And we have NO heating! 😂 We tackled this minor setback by having a really long drawn out dinner- spaghetti carbonara first followed by pancakes for pudding. By not rushing and washing up between courses, dinner time lasted over 2 hours and we were snug as a bug during this time. We also sank nearly a bottle of mead which definitely assisted with my cold and also warming us up!

The sky was phenomenal and we couldn’t resist some star gazing despite it being a bit chilly. We had nearly every item of clothing on us by this time! We decided to head to bed just after 9pm, and our fleecy duvet set and our 13.5 tog duvet meant we were very cosy and warm- I didn’t even need a hot water bottle!

Wednesday morning dawned cold – so cold that our inside condensation had frozen! As had our sliding door! By the time Keith had made me a cuppa and showered me with Valentines Day choccies and sweets, we’d defrosted enough to enjoy the reason we’d put ourselves brought this indulgence test- it was so awesome to have our sliding door open and lay in bed looking at Stonehenge!!

The heavens opened – and they stayed open ALL DAY! So we made no rush to leave, enjoying a fry up and some crumpets for breakfast and gallons of tea.

<<<<<<<
eisurely morning, we setoff in the direction of Shaftesbury, our next stop, but decided to have a stop at National Trust’s Stourhead en route as we were passing by. I was feeling ropey but didn’t want to ruin the day so we got our waterproofs and boots on and went for a little explore around Stourhead estate. I’m so glad we did.

Stourhead Estate is absolutely breathtaking- and that’s coming from us in the depths of winter on a wet and wild day! Seriously beautiful, it’s a huge landscapes garden estate, with a lovely walk of about 3 miles in length weaving up and round past countless different trees and bushes. Every now and again you get a glimpse of the lake, which is the head of the river Stour that has been dammed off into a landscaped lake. There are picture perfect bridges, a pantheon, a grotto, a waterwheel. It’s just fabulous and despite the cold wet and frankly miserable weather, it was a holiday highlight. We met a NT volunteer in the Pantheon who showed us an original statue of Augusta, and is over 2000 years old.

He said he thought Stourhead was the best garden in UK and we wholeheartedly agree.

There is also a fabulous farm shop, and regular readers will know we have a weakness for these. Armed with our credit card we took battle with the farm shop, stocking up on numerous cheeses, all of which are from less than 30 mins of Stourhead, ice cream, sausages, venison, pork pies, ale. We were in heaven.

After restocking the fridge, we got the road again, this time heading for our campsite, Blackmore Vale Campsite on the outskirts of Shaftesbury. Sadly right from arrival we had a vibe this wasn’t going to be quite as we’d expected. It took over 40 mins to “check in” – there was no reception, no answer to the mobile number that was pinned to the gate. After 30 mins traipsing through the holiday park looking for someone, in the rain, I was getting a little fed up. Eventually after being directed to the eighth place (via 2 incorrect places!) id found someone, who preceded to tell me that we weren’t expected – I had an email and had paid £20 deposit- but not to worry, there were a few places available so just drove down and find one. So we drove down and of course there was only one, and it had a reserved sign on. Keith went back to the man and he said don’t worry about it, take it and he’d send the other people elsewhere. Glad we weren’t the other people! 😳

In the meantime I gave Ruby a good clean- she was FILTHY inside from our wild camping excursion in the rain! Keith did the water and loo and went for a shower. When he came back he was less than impressed- the water kept cutting out throughout his shower and the shower block was gross. Off I went for mine and mine was stone cold- so I left my shower. I went to brush my feet and nearly fainted- look at the sink! 🤢😲

Not impressed but of course we couldn’t find anyone to inform. Keith went to the loo and came back pale- instead of urinals it was a tile wall to pee up! 🤢 it also was clear by now that it wasn’t a holiday site it was more of a “permanent site” – all the other caravans had workmen in trade vans on.

The rest of the afternoon went smoothly but we made the decision to cancel our second night and move on tomorrow.

We had a fabulous deli board from our farm shop goodies followed by steak and homemade chips for main and the local ice cream AND a Gu desert for pudding. Well it was Valentines Day!

Thursday arrived and thank goodness, there was no rain! Infact it was a picture perfect winters day, and the sun actually held a bit of warmth. We packed up, I went to inform the site that we would be leaving and highlighted our concerns. Not that the manager seemed at all bothered.

Next stop was our day visit to Shaftesbury. We were both exited- Shaftesbury is home to the famous Gold Hill, or rather Hovis Hill as it’s nicknamed as it’s the location of the Hovis advert that Ridley Scott directed.

Well, as they would say in Yorkshire, By Heck, what a view. Our first impression of the view from the top of Gold Hill absolutely knocked me for six. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Thankfully there was a perfectly located coffee shop with a table right at the peak of the view for us to grab a coffee and gather our thoughts. We decided what made the view quite so special was the combination of the view of the countryside behind the old fashioned houses, cobbled street and NO cars!

We were also lucky that the light was absolutely perfect- however when we visited later on it had clouded over and was still magical.

We popped into the dog friendly Gold Hill Museum and enjoyed our visit, before joining the Shaftesbury Snowdrop Festival trail. This wasn’t quite as impressive as I’d imagined but I think I was still bowled over by “that” view so perhaps it never stood a chance.

We had a packed lunch on the pretty park terrace which had similarly great views before a pint on the terrace at the Mitre Inn. One last look at our special view on Gold Hill before heading back to Ruby.

We’d managed to book onto a site on the outskirts of Salisbury, Coombe Caravan Park for the next two nights. Fingers crossed for a better time here!

Until next time

Lx