Gandalf the VW is parked with a million dollar view, overlooking the North Cornwall coastline in between Boscastle and Tintagel. We are staying in what has to be the best C&MC Club site on their network; Trewethett Farm Club Site. Despite booking this months and months ago we only managed to book a pitch with no electric for our two night stay, something that’s been on my mind. But as soon as we arrived all worried disappeared. I reckon we’ve bagged the best pitch on the campsite. Look at the view!
As we left Minehead this morning we made a stop to Gallox Bridge in Dunster. This is a medieval double arched park horse bridge which dates from the 15th century and is a rare surviving example.
We then made the 2.5 hour drive towards Boscastle, stopping at a lovely farm shop, Hilltop Farm as we neared Boscastle.
On arrival we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw our pitch. Absolutely spectacular. Annoyingly as I emptied the boot the entire food box came crashing out and we sacrificed an entire bottle of red wine! Once we cleared up that mess, we continued setting up and had a drink and a quick sandwich.
We then walked the two mile rather undulating but massively spectacular path to Boscastle along the SWCP.
The water looked incredible and the coastline is just stunning. As we descended into Boscastle we stopped for ice creams, before a drink at the Cobweb Inn and a wander around the now quiet (it was 6pm) streets. Bosvastle’s harbour walls date from 1500s and the streets (there aren’t many) are lined with pretty fisherman’s cottages.
We thankfully had a bus, the last of the day, the 95 to bring us all the way to the campsite (it’s a request stop) for a very worthwhile £5 (£2.50pp single)
Dinner was bbq cod served with asparagus and rice and we sat enjoying the sunset, which was delicious. We could have been in the Mediterranean. Absolutely perfect!
Tuesday dawned a bit draughty to say the least! In fact the wind became so bad in the night that around midnight we LITERALLY battened our hatches by dropping the pop top down!
This morning therefore we declared a rest, and had a fairly lazy start to the day; neither could draw our eyes from the wonderful view!
We enjoyed haddock and poached eggs on muffins for breakfast before taking a very slow walk along the coast path towards Tintagel; my injury still playing me up a touch. With no deadlines or plans today we were free to stop and admire the view as much as we liked, which turned out to be every five mins or so!
When we arrived at Tintagel, we lucked out once more as Ye Old Malthouse, a pretty and old pub with outdoor seating, had a table leaving. We took this as a sign and jumped onto the table. One quick look at the lunch menu and we were drawn in, ordering Cornish crab scotch eggs, and Cornish seafood bisque and the mussels to share. The food was exceptional. A real treat!
We spent the rest of the afternoon having a wander around the town of Tintagel. As we’ve visited before it took the pressure off the need for us to be racing around and cramming stuff in, so we enjoyed a more leisurely afternoon. English heritage have built a new suspension bridge leading up to the remains of King Arthur’s castle, but as we hadn’t booked tickets we were unable to try it out.
We caught the number 95 bus back to the campsite before having an hour out in the sun on our banana chairs, enjoying our premium view.
Dinner tonight was seafood kebabs with rice, once again in front of the most wonderful view, which continued all the way until sunset.
We’ve absolutely adored this site and have been very tempted to try to extend our stay here. But rather than do that we’ve decided to continue with our next site which we move to tomorrow and make it a priority to revisit this site, although whether we’ll be as blessed with the weather and pitch again, who knows!
Ruby the VW is parked up on the now dry Stonehaven Caravan and Motorhome club site. We’re just on the outskirts of Stonehaven, on the East Coast of Scotland underneath Aberdeen. The site is a standard C&MC Club site, although after the last few nights of being surrounded by terrific views, we can’t help but feel a bit ‘meh’!
The purpose of our visit here is to visit the quaint harbour and the hidden gem that is Dunnotter Caste. The campsite is ideally located for both of these – just a short walk to the harbour and a little further to the castle along the coast path.
As its Friday we decided to treat ourselves to a nice fish meal in one of the pubs here. Seeing as the campsite facilities were open we also decided to treat ourselves to a long hot shower beforehand so I decided to declare it a date night, and therefore I even put some make up on for the first time in over a week!
We walked along the sea front to the harbour and enjoyed a nice meal in The Ship Inn. Cullen Skink to start and Haddock and chips for main, both of us enjoyed the meal and the view out to the harbour.
After dinner we took a wander around the harbour and enjoyed looking at all the fishing boats before heading back to Ruby for an earlyish night; the weather had turned a bit cooler on the coast and all our excitement of the previous days had begun to catch up on me!
Saturday dawned not quite as bright as the weather forecast has suggested, but no rain which meant our 10th day with no rain during the day. Hurrah! First job was to extract a tick on Jazz’s eye lid. Thank goodness I had my tweezers! We donned our walking books and set off again back into the harbour area, stopping for lunch at The Seafood Bothy – which we’d eyed up last night. They are a converted horse trailer which sell posh seafood lunches for takeaway – and all the seafood comes off their own boat. We ordered two lobster wraps, for collection in half an hour; just time to nip and try a pint of lager in The Maine Hotel bar; 6 degrees north. They brew their own lagers and ales. In fact we’ve noticed more and more local lager becoming more of a thing on this trip. It was very nice and refreshing.
The lobster wraps were delicious. Whilst we were enjoying them the fisherman (and assuming husband of the lady in the trailer) asked us what we’d gone for, when we told him he said “good choice, I caught those lobsters less than 20 hours ago!” Great!!
After lunch we set about our walk to Dunnottar Castle. The first bit out of the harbour was very very steep! But once up on the cliff top it was a fairly easy walk and we were rewarded with lovely views, especially when the castle came into view.
On Wednesday, after all the rainfall, Dunnottar Castle suffered a landslide which resulted in them closing the castle. Saturday was its first day reopening and we could see the damage caused as we descended to the entrance of the castle.
Dunnottar Castle is a hidden gem, let me tell you! We LOVED our visit so much. There is absolutely loads to see including some amazing bread ovens that have survived since the 1400s, an original cistern, brewery! Also some of the walls and chimneys that have survived all these years were just incredible, considering their position on the coastline and the years and years of battering they must have endured.
The Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden here from Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 17th Century. We spent a good few hours here exploring the nooks and crannies, before making our way back along the coast path to Stonehaven. It took about 45 minutes the way each way from the harbour.
We stopped for one last beer on the front before walking back to Ruby via what should have been the Coop. Although. We got distracted by the Carron Fish Bar and its huge sign saying that it had ‘won the best fish and chip shop in Scotland award 2020’ and also ‘top 10 in UK’. I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that we changed our meal plans and went for our second haddock and chips in 24hours! The Carron Fish Bar was also the birthplace of the deep fried Mars bar but Keefy drew the line at me having one of those. We had a very quick walk back to Ruby to be able to enjoy our fish and chip supper with a nice glass of white at Ruby.
All too soon our trip had come to an end. We’d covered lochs, mountains, city and seaside in 10 days and we have had an incredible time! We can’t believe that just 4 weeks ago we were feeling flat and wondering what we could do/where we could go for Summer that wouldn’t just feel like we were doing a 2nd best trip (We’re supposed to be in Yellowstone right now) This reignited our love of Scotland (the weather helped) and we are excited to plan a return sometime soon we hope.
Until Next time
(which won’t be long as we’re off again this weekend)
Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up in the heart of the glorious New Forest National Park having a rest after a helluva week! She’s transported us across Norfolk for hours of lessons, to Bedford for a massive gig, into Suffolk and Norwich for smaller gigs and to school on a Friday for a series of music concerts we’ve organised. That’s just this week!
Because of our music festival in school we couldn’t get away until lunchtime on Friday and we of course got caught up on the M25 which was basically a rolling car park resulting in what should have been a 3.5 hour journey turning into 6 hours. By the time we rolled into the Caravan and Motorhome New Forest Centenary site, we were bushed.
After a quick and friendly check in we were advised to drive round and pick our spot- it would be obvious which ones were free as anyone who wasn’t parked up and on a day trip would have left a pitch marker. Behind us we’re 4 other vans chomping at the bit to check in and grab their spots, and I must admit we were rather chuffed with the pitch in Typhoon that we pulled into. It overlooked the wildlife area and was lovely and private. I left Keith to get plugged in and start setting up whilst I walked back to reception to advise them of our pitch number as requested, at which point the wardens told me this pitch wasn’t available – I rang Keith to double check the number and that there wasn’t a pitch marker or something. Nope absolutely nothing. The chap had gone out and left nothing. Feeling fractious, I told him we were going to have to move, which baring in mind he’d already got the wind break up and the chair turned, went down like a lead balloon. This mood dipped even more as we then spent 15 minutes driving round trying to find the one remaining blue peg pitch on a 200+ pitch site- the poor wardens were desperate to tell us which ones were free but those who had come in behind us had yet to tell the reception where they had parked. We of course ended up on the worse pitch of the site crammed in on the corner with a caravan less than really close to the corner of our unit. By this point we were frazzled and in a pretty bad mood. £35 a night to be crammed on a corner for 4 nights. We cracked on with our set up, and managed to hash together a fish risotto for dinner. The warden came to see if we were ok, severely apologetic- I managed to contain my mood and so did Keith, it wasn’t their fault. The warden had come to tell us that the person on our “original pitch” was only there one night so we were very welcome to move tomorrow if we wanted to. We’d sleep on it.
Saturday morning arrived and despite a very heavy sleep we were feeling a bit brighter but still a touch crotchety. This often happens when we are run down – it takes a few days to chill down. Keith suggested a walk up to our “original pitch” to make a decision about moving. We weren’t too keen – we’d set our stall out, and we weren’t sure we fancied the upheaval. As soon as we saw the old pitch vacant, it was a no brainier. We double checked at reception, chucked everything in and half an hour later we were feeling much better. Our new pitch was wonderful and our holiday could now begin.
After a lovely hearty full English breakfast using local bacon, sausage and eggs from the on site shop, and a nice chat with the warden who came to check if we were ok and to apologise again, we decided to unload the bikes and take ourselves down to the local village of Bransgore to stock up at the butchers for a bbq.
Bransgore village is nice and is home to 2 pubs, a butchers/country market/ co op and a charity shop. We brought lovely sausages, chicken kebabs, burgers and local cheese, before sampling a drink in each pub and making our way back to Ruby.
The rest of the afternoon was spent snoozing, getting sunburnt and then having a delicious meat fest of a bbq.
Project recharge was well underway.
It wasn’t quite as intense sun this morning but we still made the most of the privacy on our pitch, by opening the tailgate around 7am and snoozing with the boot open, listening the bird song- it really was lovely.
After a bacon and egg cob, we made a pack lunch and got the bikes back out. Our route today was mainly off road, we used the minor road to get to Burley where we then picked up route 2, which happened to be a dismantled railway line; the Ringwood to Brockenhurst line. We had a pit stop at Holmsley Railway station cafe, as the name suggests the building and old platform is now turned into a licensed cafe.
We carried on on route 2 to Brockenhurst, stopping for a picnic surrounded by New Forest Ponies, before arriving in Brockenhurst.
Once in Brockenhurst, we quickly found the vineyards- it was time for another refreshment stop- we tried the local red wine which actually was very nice and smooth. The vineyards look like they are fairly young, so the red wasn’t too heavy, but tasty.
There is an impressive farm shop, garden centre and also a certified campsite here too.
Almost next door was the The Filly Inn and seeing as the rest of our route was off road, Keith talked me into a swift pint of Ringwoods Best Bitter. One for the road!
Our return journey retraced our steps back to Wooten Bridge on the old railway track, where we then took a cycle trail through Wooten Coppice Inclosure and then Holmsley Inclosure back to the site. It was a fabulous days cycling and we’re were surprised to see we’d done 20 miles! We’d really experienced some cracking New Forest views and tastes and although a little saddle sore, we’d thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Dinner was a simple roast chicken in the Remoska – simple because I’d forgotten the Yorkshire puds and gravy!
Bank Holiday Monday
After another great nights sleep, and a relaxing early morning bird watch from bed (we saw a woodpecker!) we had a simple scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast before tenderly getting on the bikes for today’s explore. We were following the Caravan and Motorhome Club site’s published route – down to the sea at Mudeford Quay. The route was mainly following route 2 and other than a short off road section at Christchurch, mainly followed small and very quiet lanes – we actually saw more cyclists than cars.
Mudeford Quay is a small, quaint and traditional seaside resort. There is a nice stretch of beach and a traditional fishmongers selling fresh fish and shellfish straight from the fishermen. A cosy inn with sea view beer garden and a cafe and small shop, alongside loads of fisherman equipment such as lobster pots etc. It’s very clearly a working Quay and we loved it. Keith immediately likened it to Amity Island in Jaws.
All along the promenade were families dangling crab lines and buckets, and not an amusement arcade in sight.
On the way we’d been discussing whether to try for a fish bbq tonight- the final decision would be made if we could find some local fresh fish. As soon as we arrived we saw The Fish Stall – our dinner decision was made!
Over a pint we discussed what to buy – everything looked amaaaaazing, but we decided on Swordfish, tuna steaks and smoked haddock along with a portion of samphire. The fishmonger wrapped it in tons of ice, and we went for a wander around the seafood festival which may as well have been called “ Heaven”.
Numerous local seafood wagons lined the park, selling all sorts of tempting offerings such as squid, tuna wraps, whitebait, fish and chips, grilled prawns. Oh I could have had a portion of everything. They were interspersed with local drinks stalls – local lager, local Hampshire English fizz, ale, gin, vodka…. We were both in heaven.
We settled on a portion of salt and pepper squid which was splendid washed down with a local lager (I’ve forgotten the name!) and Hampshire English fizz for me. We also picked up some Cornish smoked Brie and a bottle of local Beachcomber gin. Yum.
I could have stayed there all day, but we had a 7.5 mile bike ride to get back and also a rucksack full of fresh fish. We also needed to stop at Sainsbury’s for a few bits before it shut at 4pm
We sadly waved goodbye to Mudeford Quay, thrilled that we’d stumbled upon this place all thanks to the Caravan and Motorhome club.
Keith managed remarkable well with the heaviest rucksack we’ve ever had. All that fish, a bottle of gin, a bottle of wine, a bottle of tonic, rice, cereal – I could barely lift the rucksack, let alone carry it for 7.5 miles! Jazz helped with sharing his bike basket but he wasn’t too amused!
When we arrived back at Ruby we had gained new neighbours. Unfortunately they’d not read the “camping etiquette” handbook and set their kids swing all literally 4 foot from our van. We discovered that the sound of a swingball game goes down as rather an annoying one when you’re trying to relax and listen to the birds. Nice of them to realise this and put it at the furthest point from their van/ closest to ours.
Despite this we enjoyed a phenomenal fish bbq, washed down with the local gin and a crisp bottle of white, and even when their kids decided to use the back of our pitch as a bike cut through, we could tell we were relaxing as after a discreet “please don’t do that” we were still rather chilled and happy.
Our four nights in the New Forest have come to an end- it was time to move onwards into the depths of Dorset.
We decided to leave the bed assembled and packed away everything on top. Before leaving the new forest I drove us up to the Rufus Stone; the site where King William II received a fatal wound in an hunting accident. Some theories suggest that it wasn’t an accident instead Sir William Tyrell murdered him in a disguised attach. Either way we will never know the truth but the stone is set in a rather picturesque area of the New Forest.
The weather was ok so we decided to have one last adventure before crossing the border into Dorset. We drove to nearby Fritham, to do a 4.5 mile walk which took in some lovely heathland scenery along with a fabulous stretch of forest.
We stopped for lunch on the site of a royal hunting lodge before looping back round and returning to Ruby.
We had a swift half in the 17th century charming thatched Royal Oak before heading off on our merry way to Dorset.
We’d thoroughly enjoyed our time at the C&MC Centenary club site despite it being a bit busy for our liking, and we’re looking forward to part 2 in Corfe Castle.
Sunday Continued – on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides.
After disembarkation we pulled into the Isle of Harris distillery carpark to meet Rodney from Surf Lewis. We had hired some wetsuits and snorkelling equipment for the duration of our stay, and he very kindly agreed to meet us off the ferry to give us the equipment. Wetsuits, fins, snorkels etc in hand, we waved bye to Rodney – we are meeting him again on Wednesday as we have booked a Stand Up Paddleboarding session with him. Next stop was Huishnish Beach. I was worried about this as our ETA was 5pm – when we visited in 2012 it was very quiet and we stayed here fore two days and barely saw another soul. Now though, toruism has well and truly hit, and I knew Huishnish was a popular spot. To get there you drive for 40 mins over a mountain pass for 14 miles and Huishnish is the dead end. If we got there and there was no space, I’d have been very disappointed and we’d have to retrace our steps.
Thankfully the luck of the Irish was on our side and there was a small space for Ruby to squeeze in to. As we turned the corner and saw Huishnish for the first time in 6 years, it literally took my breath away. It is absolutely BREATHTAKING. The beach is just stunning.We wasted no time and got straight into the wetsuits – this is our first time in wetsuits and I’m sure we caused a lot of amusement to our fellow campers. It was honestly like trying to truss a chicken!
Our first experience in a 5mm wetsuit in the Hebrides was just amazing! Rodney had sorted us with the whole kit- hood, gloves, shoes, fins etc. I adored being in the sea, it looked so inviting and now we were able to enjoy a swim. We got our snorkels on and had a little look around the rocks.
After our swim the prime spot had become available! We wasted no time, so still in wetsuits, we moved Ruby and vowed to stay there for at least 2 nights. We used the shower facilities (£1) and got on with dinner, overlooking the beach and sea – a salmon and prawn risotto washed down with a lovely white wine.
We didn’t get the chairs out because our side door was facing the view and to embrace the view from our pitch meant we struggled to open the boot with the bikes on- so we used Ruby’s step for seating which worked really well! We felt like proper Veedubbers now!
Monday dawned another beautiful sunny and hot day. We couldn’t believe our luck! We enjoyed sausage sandwiches before donning the wetsuits and snorkelling gear and trying some snorkelling out on the other side of the bay (the right hand side) As it was so uncharacteristically hot, we couldn’t leave Jazz in the van – it was mid 20s and just way too hot to leave a dog in a vehicle, so he came down to the beach with us and we took it in turns to snorkel.
I’m not sure what Jazz made of the wetsuits! Exploring the underwater world was really fun – we saw lots of colourful sea-weed and plants, sand eels, pollock, crabs etc. We used following underwater camera