Gandalf the VW is parked up on a rugby pitch- literally next to the goal post- on the outskirts of York. We’re on a rally field essentially, a Temporary Holiday Site (THS) ran by C&CC like a pop up campsite. There are no loos/ ehu or fancy ness- it’s a field with a tap, non and loo emptying facilities, but at £10 pn it’s a bargain and heaps cheaper than the other options for camping in York.
Our journey here from Burnley was smooth and picturesque as we crossed country via the scenic Yorkshire Dales. We pulled into site at lunchtime- in the middle of a county cricket match and had the surreal experience of driving through the cricket match to get to the rally field (the rugby field!)
Set up was quick and easy, and before we knew it we were taking the river path from the site for 20 mins on foot into the centre of York.
We’ve been to York many times, it’s a city we return regularly too and if you’ve not been it’s well worth a visit. It’s rich in history and has the unique Roman city wall walk which can be enjoyed. The shambles – a medieval street with heaps of character is like something off a pantomime set and the majestic minster is also worth a visit.
Our visit today was organised by Keefy- he was keen to visit the Yorkshire life museum as on display currently is an impressive Roman Horde called the Rydale horde. As we had Jazz with us who couldn’t go into the museum, I dog sat in a nearby bar overlooking the river.
As well as the Rydale horde, Keith enjoyed a collection of Prehistoric, Viking, Anglo Saxon and medieval artefacts, all found in York and surrounding areas. He was particularly impressed with the Anglo Saxon helmet dating from 750, considered to be the best preserved in the world and some Viking shoes. He was really impressed with the whole museum and would definitely recommend it.
Follwing this, and reunited once more, we had a quick wander through the city, doing a couple of errands as we passed through, before meeting our friend Gary for a few drinks in the evening.
Our afternoon and evening in York was brief this time, but enjoyable non the less.
After a quiet night on site, we packed up and hit the road at a reasonable hour. We had a 3hr journey north ahead of us- we were heading to Northumberland. We made a stop at National Trust Cragside on route. Somewhere I’d wanted to visit for some time now and thankfully it was cool enough to leave Jazz in the van whilst we went inside together.
Cragside is considered to be Britain’s first “smart home”. Living in a smart home ourselves- Keith loves his technology- I knew we’d enjoy this visit. Built by Lord Armstrong in the Victorian era, this home was carved into rock in a crag- and boasts wonderful views from every corner. But its the pioneering technology inside that makes it’s particularly interesting. Lord Armstrong developed all sorts of gadgets running inside such as hydraulic “dumb editors” – rotating hydraulic spits over the fire, underfloor and over head heating, hot water taps and the first hydroelectric light bulbs in the world.
The thing that blew me away the most was the 10 ton marble fireplace, installed in the “drawing” room – an additional wing built for a royal visit. Lord Armstrong’s pioneering technology gained interest from the Royal family and as such they paid Cragside a visit in the late 1800s. What was fascinating was the idea that their bedroom here would be more advanced than at their own royal home.
After our visit inside we took Jazz for a wander around the grounds before retrieving Gandalf and enjoying the carriage route around the grounds- a 6 mile scenic loop in the car through the grounds.
From here we made a quick stop at Alnwick, filling the fridge with supplies before arriving at our next home, Beadnell Bay THS.
This large rally field, ran by Teesside DA was another corker. Two large fields this time, right opposite a beautiful beach situated walking distance from both Beadnell village and Seahouses. Again, just £10 pn. We paid our dues for 3 nights, and went to set up.
Dinner that night was a homemade curry from home that had been packed in our freezer. We enjoyed a chill before an early night.
Thursday arrived and the weather was drizzly to begin with. We had a fairly lazy morning waiting for the weather to blow over, which it did- before making our way on foot via the gorgeous and empty beach to Seahouses.
Seahouses is a small little village with a couple of pubs, a couple of fish and chip shops, and some touristy gift shops. It’s got a pretty harbour and is know as being the gateway to the Farne islands. There are plenty of boats trips available (although we’d been organised and pre booked ours with Golden Gate).
We enjoyed a delicious lunch of crab soup- Devine! in the Olde Ship- in their beer garden overlooking the Farne Islands. The sun was shining- life was good!
At 3pm we boarded our (dog friendly) boat trip to the Farne Islands. Our boat is the only one which stops at the Indians of Longstone- with its pretty red and white lighthouse, once home to Grace Darling, which we could visit. (Keith went in- I enjoyed the view outside with Jazz).
The boat then continued around the inner and outer Farne islands where we saw lots of birds and seals. Even a couple of puffins- it’s not puffin season anymore so this was a treat!
We really enjoyed the boat trip. A lovely way to enjoy an afternoon.
Once back on dry land, we enjoyed a beer in the Bamburgh Castle pub before enjoying a fish and chip supper at the harbour (from Neptunes- they were delicious!)
We’d had a cracking day, and once back at Gandalf, we enjoyed the last rays of the day with a drink.
Today we took the bikes out for a pootle along the coastal route. We nipped down into nearby Beadnall to see the 17th century kilns on the harbour wall, before making our back past the THS to Bamburgh.
Bamburgh is home to the phenomenal Bamburgh Castle, which dominates the coastline for as far as you can see. It’s also linked to Lord Armstrong (from Cragside) as he purchased it and restored it in the late 1800s. So tied nicely in with our visit to Cragside a couple of days ago.
The views of the Farne Islands from the grounds (which are dog friendly by the way) are great and the expanse of white Sandy beach below are just stunning.
We took it in turns to go inside – I finished my book whilst Keith went in, and he had a coffee and cake whislt I went in, and both found the interior really interesting.
It was a great visit and one which we’d not planned as we didn’t think it was dog friendly even in the grounds.
We enjoyed cycling a bit beyond the village, admiring the views constantly. What a marvellous section of coast.
Back at the site and we enjoyed a prawn and avacado cocktail and spag bol for tea.
We’d really enjoyed our time here. The THS site runs from July to mid august each year and I think there is another in September. To find out about the THS’s use this link. (You need to be members of C&CC to attend)
If you’d prefer the luxury of a more formal campsite and perhaps ehu, there is a club site next door.
Gandalf had coped admirably with 4 nights off grid, we’d had a mix of weather so the solar panel didn’t get sun ALL the time. The thing with VW’s is the fridge running of the leisure battery rather than gas which is a shame and makes off grid a bit more of a challenge. Having said that, ours managed – we just ran the fridge and water pump off the solar panel and van leisure battery. We then used this – a new gadget for this trip- to charge phones and run the 12v shower, plus give us light for the evening. It worked a treat.
This area is an ideal base for a few days as there are bus stops outside the site for routes along the coast, to Alnwick or even Newcastle. So plenty to do without moving your van.
What a great time we’d had. But it was time to move on! Where next?!