Due the current COVID 19 Pandemic and the fact that we are all in Lockdown, National Walking Month is taking a slightly different format to how I’m sure the organisers originally envisaged. However for us, we felt it was an ideal time to update our previous post from 2018 to include some walks we that we did last year and that still fill us with joy when we think back to them. Although we can’t be away right now, we can look back at previous and plan future adventures, so this post is published with that in mind. There is still a NATIONAL WALKING MONTH campaign that is encouraging you to walk for 20 minutes a day along with podcasts etc which can be enjoyed from the safety of your own home.
Remember at the moment it is important that we all stay at home to save lives.
For us when we arrive at a campsite, once we are set up, we don’t want to move the van if we can help it. I spend all week chasing around in between schools and gigs so once the journey is out of way, I want to hang up those car keys and embrace not having to drive. Because of this we are always on the look out for campsites with walks or bike rides from our pitch.
For the second year running Keith and I have signed up to “walk 1000 miles”. Last year we smashed it by walking over 1100 miles which we were thrilled about- crossing the 1000 mile mark in mid November.
As usual its been a busy start to the decade, and with some pretty rough weather and my lingering lurgy, the 40 odd miles walked so far this year by us have been mainly in the dark either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. But this weekend a welcome break in the weather arrived at the same time as a welcome day off.
As we only had the day spare we opted for a local walk just 5 miles away from our front door. However seeing as we have a really rather decent campsite in the middle of the walk and various attractions around us – we felt it was well worth a write up to add to our ‘Campsites with walks from the pitch’ list.
This campsite is right in the heart of the forest. The pitches are really pictuesque and there are decent facilities and even an outside pool for the summer months. It gets very busy, we even know neighbours who go there on holiday despite it being 3 miles from our front door. It is open from Mid march to mid October.
9 miles but many shorter (or longer) routes available.
Because we live so close obviously we didn’t camp. We parked Ruby at Knetttishall Heath which has two large and free carparks. Knettishall Heath also has miles of trails to follow and is the start of the Peddars Way.
Our route began in the main car park which we walked away from by turning left out of the main gates, following the road back towards the A1066. After about half a mile we took a small footpath towards Riddlesworth Hall Private School. The path goes behind the school and you get good views of Princess Diana’s former school – the impressive Riddlesworth Hall.
We then crossed the 1066 and took a quiet lane through the forest towards Dower House Campsite. We took the campsite entry road and followed it for the mile or so before breaking off to the left following the path towards Thorpe Woodlands (Forest Holidays). This is a good place for a refreshment stop as there is a pet and child friendly bar/cafe which serves decent food and is open to non residents.
We carried on to the Peddars Way National Trail which we followed all the way back to Knettishall Heath. Our route covered 9 miles and was really enjoyable.
If we were staying at the campsite we would head towards Riddlesworth Hall first then Knettishall Heath as that way you get the road walking (albeit quiet road) done first.
There are enough walks directly from the campsite to occupy you at least 2-3 days so it’s perfect for a weekend break.
East Harling is just about walkable from Dower House – or cyclable on a very quiet lane. There are two decent pubs, one that serves exceptional food – The Nags Head and one that is a drinkers pub, The Swan. There is also a traditional tea room, Peppers, a village store, fish and chip shop and post office. The 2 pubs and the tea room are all all dog friendly. If you don’t fancy the distance, there is a great cab service that is based in the village.
Just outside of East Harling is England’s oldest Whiskey Distillery. Its well worth a trip if you like Whiskey or Baileys – they do a very nice Norfolk Nog which is similar to Baileys. There is also a restaurant and cafe at the distillery too.
A little further afield but less than 10 miles away there is Snetterton Race circuit and also Banham Zoo, or Bressingham Steam Museum.
Did you know that the legendary actor James Stewart was stationed nearby to here in Old Buckenham, about 8 miles away during WW2? You can visit the small museum on the airfield and visit Jimmy’s cafe. Or perhaps come and watch the very popular and really great air show in July.
As you can see we are blessed with where we live. If you decide to come and try the campsite out do let us know, we’ve love to meet up! This truly is our stomping ground! In fact during this walk we bumped into two of our followers randomly! Great to meet you Eric and Pam!
We’re always on the look out for inspiration of where to visit for a night or two which requires no driving once on site. If you have any spots you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.
Our next Ruby adventure is just 3 weeks away, we’re looking forward to seeing some hills in West Yorkshire.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks back at school, stress levels have been high and I was itching to get away for a night for a change of scenery. We’ve been meaning to revisit the Marriott’s Way, a disused railway line now turned into recreational track, that runs 26 miles from Aylsham to Norwich. Last time we visited we stayed about half a mile off the Marriotts Way, but whilst cycling along spied a quirky little Caravan and Motorhome club certified site (5 van site) in an old station situated right ON the Marriott’s Way. We made a mental note to revisit sometime – it’s only taken us 4 years!
More info about the Marriott’s Way can be found here
We got a last minute pitch at The Station, Attlebridge, and on Saturday morning left ours around 10am, arriving at the campsite at 11am – we’d checked that we could arrive early. This CL has a small toilet, hookup, tap and emptying facilities, so we decided to make use of the solar shower. What we love about CLs is the flexibility to park however we wish, rather than the more regimented club sites. We took advantage of this and parked side-wards on, and within 5 minutes we were enjoying a cuppa and admiring the view.
The Station Campsite is host to the former platform and station buildings and has lovingly resorted signalling box and gates, and even a small stretch of railway line. It’s ever so quirky and it’s big grassy paddock is perfect for a small quiet campsite.
After lunch, we put our best foot forward, this time opting to walk the Marriotts Way.
We walked as far as the Whitwell and Reepham railway, where there is a museum and cafe/bar – a distance of around 4.5miles.
The trouble with walking the Marriotts Way is that it’s linear, so we retraced our steps back to the campsite, clocking up 9 miles in total. We absolutely loved it though – it’s flat and easy walking. There are some old bridges and railway banks to admire, and at this time of year the tree canopies are really pretty.
Back at the campsite and Keith found a blind spot at the back of Ruby for his solar shower, which had heated up nicely in the sun on the roof of Ruby! We enjoyed a couple of (non alcoholic as we are doing sober September) drinks in the late afternoon sunshine, before knocking up a delicious pasta carbonara with some left over gammon. It was great to be able to cook and eat outside- we do love Indian summers.
We sat outside until the last rays of lights dipped behind the trees, reading and keeping an eye out for owls. We heard two but didn’t see them- before turning in for a early night.
Sunday morning dawned as bright as the day before so we enjoyed breakfast al fresco before walking in the opposite direction towards Norwich.
We covered a further 3 miles reaching Drayton before turning back to Ruby and waving bye to our perfect spot to relax for the weekend.
This campsite is perfect location for the Marriotts Way and at just £14 was a bargain.
Ruby the VW campervan is parked up on the banks of the River Thames. We can just about see boats going past through the trees from our pitch at Hurley Riverside Park, and the campsite is filling up, as you would expect for May Day Bank Holiday. We were drawn to Hurley Riverside Park due to its close proximity to the river, and our desire to clock up some more miles on the Thames Path.
After a hectic week at work, and a morning gig on Friday, it was lunchtime by the time we had thrown some food, clothes and ourselves into Ruby and escaped. I was frazzled – I’d managed to clock up 42 hours of teaching in 4 hours, 20 hours of admin and a gig. Our mission for the weekend was to eat, sleep and walk!
Hurley is a really pretty little Thames-side village which is home to the campsite and two pubs – one of which is the oldest coaching inn in England. We managed a quick drink outside Ruby before the heavens opened, so we opted for an early dinner – a new recipe for us, Tandoori Sea Bass which was delicious.
By the time we’d eaten it had stopped raining briefly, so we grabbed a brolly and went for a wander along the Thames to the village – just under a mile – and had a drink at The Olde Bell, England’s oldest coaching inn, which is dog friendly in the bar and had a great fireplace.
By the time back we got back to Ruby, the fish and chip van that visits the campsite on Friday evenings was just closing, and so we took advantage of the leftovers at a bargain price as we’d got cold and wet on our walk back from the pub.
Piggies! But they were delicious 😋
We enjoyed a fairly lazy morning, and a nice omelette for breakfast before setting off towards Marlow on the Thames Path.
There was a section which was closed off due to a bridge needed repaired, but this diversion on quiet roads took us right past Town Farm butchers. Whoops. We cannot resist local butchers, specially those on a farm!
We stocked up on sausages, lamb kebabs and burgers with the intention of trying for a bbq tomorrow if the weather behaved, before carrying on towards Marlow.
At Marlow there was a great little farmers market where we got to have some local sausage rolls and also some local gin, which was so good I brought a bottle. Thank goodness we bought our large rucksack on the walk! DuPaddlebodring our walk we’d encountered blue skies, rain and even hail so we wore our raincoats allowing for more space in the rucksacks.
We decided to walk back on ourselves along the river up to the bridge that we couldn’t cross, and passed some huge houses right on the edge of the river. It was a truly gorgeous stretch of the Thames. We realised at this point we’d walked 7 miles and the thought of going 7 miles bake was exhausting – plus the weather had turned again, so as there was not any bus routes from Marlow to Hurley riverside park we opted for an Uber which picked us up right on the footpath and delivered us all the way back to Hurley – to the pub, the Rising Sun – a pint had definitely been earned, and we enjoyed the local Marlow brewery Rising sun ale.
Saturday night we enjoyed pulled pork which had been cooking in the slow cooker whilst we had been walking, along with some local gin, before crashing out for an early night.
There had been quite a lot of rain in the night but thankfully it dawned quite sunny. The forecast today was brighter earlier so we opted for a lunchtime bbq. Before that, we inflated the Stand Up Paddleboard- one feature of Hurley Riverside Park is it’s on site slipway into the Thames. We had an hour or so larking around on that before showering and sparking up the bbq.
The bbq was one of the best I can remember – those sausages from Town Farm were so good that even our neighbour came to ask where they were from!
After lunch we were absolutely stuffed so decided on a walk the other way down the Thames- towards Henley on Thames. Last year you may remember we walked as far as Hambleton Lock, and so this afternoon we decided to walk back to The Flowerpot Hotel – this means that we’ve now covered from Henley on Thames to Marlow of the Thames Path.
We enjoyed a couple of drinks before making our way back to Ruby to fall into a Food coma! Actually, we made homemade pizzas in the Remoska but we were tiddly and we made a right mess of them – we did managed a slice each, before falling asleep!
Time to pack up, but before we headed east home, we dropped into National Trust Cliveden – along with the world and his wife! It was so busy and chaotic there that we managed a lap around the gardens before calling it a day and heading home. The gardens were stunning, there were just so many people.
We’ll have to return!
We had a brilliant weekend, and actually came home a bit grumpy as we’d really “come down”. We enjoyed the location of Hurley Riverside Park, although we personally bought the facilities could have done with a bit of investment. The showers were in a portacabin and although it was warm it wasn’t hugely clean – though I suspect that was more our fellow campers not cleaning up free themselves. The park was full to busting and in our opinion there probably could have been a few more showers – 2 male and 2 female for such a huge site seemed slightly under catered for – we actually had to queue a couple of times! However, a great location for the River Thames.
Ruby the VW campervan whisked us away at the earliest opportunity after breaking up for half term. By lunchtime on Friday we were passing Wetherby Services after an early start, and by 2pm we’d arrived at the exceptionally pretty little village of Dufton, Cumbria and were enjoying the February sunshine with our first al fresco beer of the year.
Our location for the first part of our half term trip was Dufton Caravan Park, also known as The Grandie. The reason we were here? To attempt to walk England’s Grand Canyon – High Cup Nick. I saw this fantastic U shaped valley featured on Julia Bradbury’s 100 best walks programme a few years ago, and it’s been on my bucket list ever since. I was beyond excited that we were here and that the forecast looked fairly ok for our attempt tomorrow.
We spent the afternoon stretching our legs around the pretty village of Dufton before grabbing a couple of beers in front of the marvellous fire in the local, The Stag Inn, and settling in for an early night.
Saturday arrived rather earlier than I anticipated as I woke up at 06:15, however I was so excited I just couldn’t wait to get up and start our walk! Keith managed to grab a couple of extra hours sleep, so I had to wait patiently to leave until 10.30, by which time we’d had a lovely omelette and packed some soup and food for the day.
The route we chose starts at the campsite and through a lovely section of woodland before taking farm paths up to where the gorge is.
We approached the steep valley from the other side of the Pennine Way path and soon the path dropped down to the basin.
The steep sides of the gorge were impressive and the further in we walked the more spectacular it became.
As we got closer to the Nick – the head- we could see the route upwards was going to be tough but we’d come this far ( 5 miles) there was no way we were turning back now without the view I’d seen those years back on the tv!
The last scramble goes near enough vertical, and you’re on all fours, negotiating the loose boulders and stones under foot! I’m not going to lie, it was the toughest bot of walking I think I’ve ever done. There were a couple of areas to pause and appreciate the views looking back down the valley.
On this last pic above, you can see the people behind us on all fours!
Although the climb up is hard, it’s relatively short, so before I could talk myself out of finishing the last bit, we’d made the final hurdle over the rim. Keith’s first words to the couple looking down were “well that was an experience”. Mine I think involved a swear word! The sheer elation at reaching the top made my legs turn to jelly and it took me about 5 minutes on the floor with my back to the view before I even turned round!
When I did turn around, the view quite honestly took my breath away. I’ve never seen anything like it in the UK- it’s a perfect example of a U shaped valley and we reckon quite unique.
It was blowing an absolutely hooley, but the sun came out and we managed to sit right on the edge to enjoy our lunch before a local runner ( yes he ran up behind us!) took our photo, and then we took theirs as they were in shorts! 😱
The wind chill up there was extreme, and we were thankful we had our waterproof jackets as they took some of the wind off us. But it was just too cold to hang around there for too long so once we had all our pictures, we hit the old miners trail (now the Pennine Way) for our 4 mile return to Dufton. The route followed the upper ridge for a couple of miles and we had a great view of our walk, before bearing right away from the valley back towards to exceptional marker of the pub, the smoke billowing out of its chimney!
It was a tough walk back, we were absolutely exhausted, in fact Keith had hit the wall I think, he said he felt like he’d ran the London marathon – he’d know, he’s ran it 3 times! But luckily we had some chocolate and plenty of water, and the promise of a log fire and a pint of ale as soon as we got back to Dufton soon got us back down.
We passed a shepherd and his dog moving a herd of sheep up the track which was fun to watch.
By 4pm, we’d made it back to civilisation- and wasted no time in celebrating our successful walk with a pint of the local ale and three packets of crisps! Jazz made full use of the fire to rest his weary paws. We booked a table for dinner that evening as I didn’t fancy cooking plus the menu looked amazing.
So after a freshen up and a rest, we made our way back out again for our meal at 7.30pm. The pub is fantastic- a real walkers pub with slate flooring and thick stone walls. We ate a delicious meal of black pudding fritters and Appleby smoked cheese soufflé to start and then the stag baked suet pudding – crammed with venison and veg and absolutely huge. A perfect end to a fabulous day on the Pennines.
Sunday dawned sunny and despite our intentions of a duvet day at the van, we soon felt restless so whilst I cooked us a full English breakfast, Keith devised a small route that would take us low level around the base of the imposing Dufton pike, which is the backdrop to this tiny village.
The short circuit was lovely and we enjoyed the scenery all the way around the pike. We returned to the campsite through the very scenic Dufton Gyll woods which had banks upon banks lined with beautiful snowdrops. We whizzed through the walk, and were surprised that it was 5 miles- but after yesterday it seemed like a walk in the park!
The rest of the day has been spent chilling – we’ve got a joint of ham in the slow cooker and had Steak and Stilton panini’ s for lunch.
Dufton Grandie Campsite is lovely and quiet and a perfect location. There are lots of lovely little touches, like a water tap on each pitch, free Wi-fi, and fairy liquid in the washing up area. However the showers could do with a bit of TLC, and actually a couple more for each sex. For a site that holds up to 40 units, 1 shower per sex is probably a little sparse. The chemical loo point is a little grim too. However as it’s still out of season, it’s very quiet here, and at only £20pn it’s not bothered us for the short time we’ve been here.
Tomorrow we move on into The Lake District for some more walking and scenery.
Sometimes the best laid plans are those that are conceived after a few too many sherbets in the village local. That’s certainly how this little weekend’s escape came about; an unplanned pub session on Halloween saw us chatting to a local about all things Pagan. Keith was explaining to anyone who would listen about the end of harvest festival Samhain, and a local farmer went on to tell us that if we liked that sort of thing then we should check out Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival. A few days later and after a Google and Instagram reccy, we were booking a campsite and blocking the January weekend out of our new diary.
Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival has been happening longer than records exist. It begins on the Tuesday following Plough Monday (the 1st Monday after Twelfth Night), when it became customary to dress one of the confraternity of the plough in straw and call him a Straw Bear. The Bear then is led around the town to entertain in a clumsy and frantic manner whilst the townsfolk provide great spreads of beer, beef and tobacco. The straw for the bear was carefully selected and the whole point of the exercise was to hope for good fertility and a good harvest in the year ahead.
We originally booked to stay at nearby Northey Lodge campsite due to its close proximity to Whittlesey- an easy walk apparently. However, on arrival on Friday we had one of the most bizarre arrival and check in procedures that we’ve ever encountered, leaving us both rather creeped out to be perfectly honest, and so as the site itself was an absolute dump and the electrics were hanging off with loose wires on show, the shower covered in plastic and the next door caravan sporting a large “no valuables left inside” we made a sharp exit and went elsewhere.
Thankfully The Camping and Motorhome Club have a Club Site, Ferry Meadows Peterborough fairly close by and they could accommodate us for the weekend. Phew.
Friday night was spent downing a few beers and a homemade turkey balti whilst mulling over our day; it had started with us playing a gig and accompanying the State Secretary for Health in a dance with a resident at a celebration lunch and finished with this bizarre encounter at Northey Lodge.
Saturday arrived and it was time to figure out how we would get to Whittlesey. There was a bus stop nearby to the Campsite which we could have used along with a connecting bus in Peterborough, and also a train service from Peterborough but to get to the station was around a 4 mile walk. We needed up grabbing a local cab for just £14 each way for ease, speed and laziness. Once in Whittlesey we soon found the heart of the festival, on Market Street, and it wasn’t long until the Straw Bear had been located for a selfie! 🤳
There were loads of different Morris dancing teams, all with their own individual style and costume. Some had black face paint, others had multicoloured.
We found a souvenir programme and found the history of the Morris dancers really interesting. We also learnt that this is the biggest Morris dancing event in the UK and teams come from across the country to participate.
We followed the Straw Bear and his team of minders and musicians along the high street towards the Ivy Leaf where he was to have his lunch.
We made use of the hour and half gap to enjoy Morris Dancing displays outside the Wetherspoons, and of course sampling a few beers whilst we did. We particularly enjoyed the Straw Bear Ale. it was amazing to see some of the teams using really traditional instruments- we saw two hurdy-gurdy’s which was amazing!
After his lunch, the Straw Bear came back along the high street and weaved round the small streets and alleys, stopping at each pub for a dance with whichever Morris dancing team was already dancing in the car park or beer garden.
I don’t know if it were a coincidence or not, but as time ticked on and more pubs were visited, the Bear’s dancing became more and more lively. 😜
By 3pm, we’d found ourselves right in the heart of the Parade, humming along the tune of the March thoroughly captivated into the spirit of the event. It seemed like the entire town, young and older were out enjoying themselves- it’s obviously a real tradition here.
By 3.30 the finale had taken place, the Straw Bear had been joined by another and also a smaller bear and a mass dance along with the Morris dancers took place to mark the end of the day.
It had been a really unique experience for us “outsiders’ but we were made to feel welcome and we really enjoyed ourselves. What really surprised us was how many younger people were part of the Morris Dancers- it’s obviously still a very popular pastime.
Back at the campsite we settled in for the night and enjoyed a homemade carbonara and a bottle of wine. Ferry Meadows campsite is lovely and we will definitely return with our bikes next time as there are loads of off road paths.
Sunday dawned a beautiful winters morning, however it was chilly! It dropped to -4 last night as whilst we were snug as a bug in bed, the doors and windows had frozen up so we had to spend a few extra minutes in bed whilst we defrosted with the heater and kettle on. What a shame!
We decided to make the most of the beautiful day and do a walk so after a hearty breakfast, we waved goodbye to the site and drove 5 miles to nearby Elton.
Our 7.5 mile walk took in some really beautiful scenery along the Nene Way. The weather couldn’t have been any better – I just love this crisp winter sunshine on a frosty ground.
Half way into the walk we stumbled across the birthplace of Richard III and also the place where Mary Queen of Scots got beheaded in the small quaint village of Fotheringhay. The motte and bailey is really well preserved and although the castle remains are no longer there the views from the motte are spectacular. The church at Fotheringhay is also really interesting as it has a octagonal tower.
We stopped for lunch at the Falcon Inn and made a note of the Certified Location Campsite right next to the Motte and Bailey- right on the river banks it looked a definite for us to return to someday.
What a varied but lovely weekend. Have a great week,
As you will have read from our last post, The Thames Path has been on our “to do” list for a while now. We enjoyed a great walk along the River Thames from Chertsey to Shepperton and now it was time to explore a little more of the Thames Path around Henley on Thames.
We were booked onto the Caravan and Motorhome Club site – Henley Four Oaks – which sits just on the outskirts of the beautiful Georgian town of Henley on Thames.
As we’d had a busy day exploring some of the area downstream around Chertsey, we didn’t end up arriving to the Club site until around 4.30pm. As usual we arrived to a cheery welcome, and were given a list of available pitches that we could choose. One thing we particularly like about the Caravan and Motorhome Club over the Camping and Caravan Club, is that you are allowed to pick your own pitch on arrival, you just nip back to reception to let them know which one you are on.
As the site wasn’t full, we were allowed to upgrade to a hardstanding awning (larger) pitch if we so wished, but actually we preferred pitch 34, a lovely private grand pitch that was on the edge of the site overlooking the woodland. The layout of the pitch meant that even with our nose lined up with the pitch marked as per the rules, we were still able to use our sliding side door to full pitch potential which gave us ultimate privacy.
Set up didn’t take long, and after a cuppa and a shower each, we opted for a leg stretch into Henley on Thames for an evening wander and perhaps a swift pint. The walk down to the town was on the pavement of a busy fish road, however only took 20 mins. We admired the beautiful houses and down found a tempting beer garden at the Angel on the Bridge – as the name suggests, its right on the Thames and overlooking the gateway to the town – the Georgian bridge.
I tried the Mr Hobbs Henley gin, whilst Keefy enjoyed a Brakspear Oxford Gold. We managed to resist the temptation of every single takeaway in the town as we walked back to Ruby the VW for a lovely leek and potato soup we’d snuffled from the freezer before we left home.
We had the most wonderfully peaceful nights sleep – whether it was the excitement of the paddle boarding, or just the tranquility of the site, I don’t know, but Tuesday dawned and we were fresh as a daisy, both of us. I made us a bacon butty whilst Keefy prepared our lunch for our walk and by 11am we were putting our best foot forward on our little jaunt back into Henley and onto the Thames Path.
Using Keith’s memory map, which he now uses on his phone, we’d devised a lovely walk along the Thames from Henley north towards Hambleden Lock, which took us right along the Henley Regatta course to the official start – Temple Island. From there we carried on a little further along the river, until we saw signs for The FlowerPot Hotel – an obvious place for a quick pint, before joining the Chiltern Way Berkshire Loop through Remenham Woods and back joining the river at Henley Bridge again.
The walk was 6.5 miles and only took us 2.5 hours – even with a pub stop, so after eating our lunch on the banks of the Thames by the bridge, we decided to carry on the opposite direction of the Thames towards the River and Rowing Museum, past Marsh Meadows to the next locks.
Again, just like our walk on Saturday from Chertsey, it was a stunning walk, and wonderful to see all the river boats, and houses on the banks. It really is a beautiful area – albeit very affluent!
We enjoyed a beer on the banks again at The Angel before a bit of top up shopping and “one for the road” at the The Old Bell – the oldest building in Henley on Thames before walking back to Ruby – a grand total of 9 miles walked today!
Dinner tonight was a first for me – homemade burgers and they were absolutely gorgeous, especially washed down with a pinot noir.
What a wonderful end to a wonderful 5 nights on the Thames. We realise we’ve only scraped the surface of the Thames Path – it runs for 184 miles, as The River Thames is the longest in England. So – keep an eye out here for updates, as we’re already planing to return to walk more of the National Trail.
Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up at Britstop number 217/18 – which is a pub in Cambridgeshire, just off the M11, A11 and A14. We are sharing the carpark with a Dutch family who are on the way to the Harwich ferry.
This one has been on our list since February, when the 2018 book was released and I spent a rainy Sunday flicking through each and every location, adding Post It notes to those which catch my eye. I’m not the only one who does this right?
Despite living only an hour from Cambridge, and having one of our best friends living near enough ON this walk, we had no idea until the Britstop book arrived that there was a Roman Road walk in Cambridge. Those who read regularly will know Keith is a huge history buff, and he particularly loves anything Roman. We’ve had two failed attempts at this trip – due to weather conditions either being too hot or too rainy. The joys of living in the UK and its unpredictable weather!
The Roman Road is approximately 10 miles in length and runs from about 1 mile away from Cherry Hinton Park and Ride almost to Haverhill, bypassing Wandlebury Country Park, Worstead Lodge, Little Abington, Hildersham, Linton and Horseheath.
We had arranged with the Britstop pub when booking our table for dinner, that we could leave Ruby in their carpark from 10ish that morning. On parking up, we grabbed our two rucksacks packed full with water and snacks, and jumped on the number 13 Stagecoach bus from near enough outside the pub to Wandlebury Country Park at an eye watering £5 each for a single! For any more than two of you, I reckon a taxi may have been cheaper! Shock subsided, we took our seats upstairs for the 20 minute journey to the Country Park, disembarking at “Fort Stop”.
We met our friends for a picnic lunch in the park (you need to bring your own as we didn’t see any cafe’s or anything) before waving bye to them and hunting down the Roman Road – actually its very well sign posted, as is the Bus Stop if you decide to do this walk the other way round.
We were joining the Roman Road about a mile or so from it’s starting point, just off Wort’s Causeway. As with any well-preserved Roman Road, the path was visible for as far as the eye could see. We put our best foot forward, and with the Memory Map app on Keith’s phone tracking us, we were pretty impressed with our pace considering it was quite a warm day and we’re a little out of shape.
The path varied in how well it had been preserved – some bits were really excellent and some less so. The walk took in the rolling hills of the Cambridgeshire countryside, but the Roman engineering never made us feel like we were climbing huge gradients. Well, to be fair, they weren’t huge gradients but there were definitely some gradual inclines!
Along the way we saw loads and loads of butterflies and wild flowers and parts of the path are SSSI. The heat of the day gave it a Mediterranean feel throughout so it was very atmospheric. We stopped for water every mile and got through a bag of haribo and a box of angel slices! Despite passing several villages equipped with pubs, cafes and shops, there wasnt any signs to these villages off the Roman Road – so you need to bring your own food and drink.
Before we knew it we had reached the end of the road, literally! We were both genuinely shocked that it only took us 3 hours to walk- time flies when you’re having fun but surprisingly considering our lack of long walks recently, physically we felt fine and like we could have carried on! Happily our parking spot in the pub was just off the Roman Road so by 4pm we’d found ourselves a table in their beer garden and enjoyed a few cold drinks – my first pint of Aspall did not touch the sides!
Our meal later on was absolutely sensational. We had scallops and tempura prawns to start, followed by homemade burger and chips for Keith and lamb kebab, flatbread greek salad etc for me. The bar was dog friendly and they served local gin from Bury St Edmunds, so we settled in there for the evening, feeling thoroughly satisfied that we’d managed to walk the walk!
The Britstop did well out of our stay – our bill came to £106! So far more expensive than a campsite, however the food, drinks and service was exceptional – far higher standard than the standard pub grub – and therefore a real treat for us to enjoy together without having to wash up. We also had probably £50 worth of drinks! And Jazz got a handful of dog treats too. More importantly the location was perfect for this walk.
It’s worth me pointing out that most people wouldn’t have to spend the amount we did- mains were between £10-£19- we chose the most expensive starters at £12 for the scallops but they were amazing and we fancied a blow out meal.
After quite a warm night, we woke up early and set off around 7.30am for Wandlebury Country Park again – where we started yesterday. Parking from 8am was £3 all day – we wanted to walk the small northern section that precedes the Country Park before going home. I’m really glad we did too as it was by far the best preserved section – the high banks which had been dug by the Romans are still visible and in use today to make the Road stand higher.
At the bottom of this section there is a free car park – so you could park here and walk the entire length then get the bus back to the Park and return to your car if you didn’t want to stay at the Britstop – your loss though there!
We feel privileged to enjoy this walk – we’ve spoken to loads of people since getting home from it and noone seems to have heard about it. Neither had we – so a big thanks to Britstops for once again opening up a new area/walk for us. We will absolutely deinitely return – next time we will treat ourselves to the Chaetaeubriand that lurked on the menu!
We are so lucky to live in the area that we do. We’ve had so much to do this weekend that we were unable to get away; however after blitzing the to do list yesterday we decided to go for a nice walk and a cuppa tea somewhere local today, for a change of scenery.
Just 10 miles down the road lies Britain’s largest lowland pine forest, Thetford Forest.
We headed to Thetford Warren, a (free) English Heritage site that is a rare example of a rabbit Warrener’s lodge, a now lost local industry.
After a quick look at the building remains, we put our best foot forward and set off on the well signposted 4.5 mile Beech Trail. The trail takes you through woodland glades, along grass and sandy tracks, past tall pines, and Rhododendron Bushes (sadly we’ve missed their peak now). Occasionally the track is overlapped by another trail, some of which are bike trails
Nearby is High Lodge which is a hive of activity, with numerous walking and cycling trails along with a Go Ape. You can also get refreshments from the cafe there. Our trail, the Beech trail didn’t go as far as High Lodge but at one point we were very close to the car park (payable)
Parking at Thetford Warren is free though and far enough off the main road to enjoy a peaceful cuppa and cake in Ruby after our walk.
We really enjoyed our walk and will definitely return for a similar day sometime soon. Isn’t it amazing how a walk and a cuppa in the Campervan makes you feel like you’ve had a mini break, even if you’re only 15 mins from home!
If you’re not local enough to enjoy Thetford Forest as a day trip, we’ve heard the following campsites are really good and very local:
For us as dog owners we walk daily around our local area, the lengths varying depending on our schedule for the day. But when we travel in Ruby the VW Campervan, and Bluebell and Daisy the Motorhome, Ruby’s predecessors, part of the appeal for us is travelling to a new area and trying out new and longer walks. We are also for the second year in a row taking part in the Walk 1000 Miles challenge. Last year we exceeded 1000 miles and this year are set to do the same.
I read somewhere that one of the most popular activities for campers is walking, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to booking a break away we take into account the location of the campsite and whether we can walk from the site without having to drive. We like to try to avoid moving Ruby off the site once pitched up, so campsites that have footpaths directly from the door so to speak are of huge appeal to us.
Gillside Campsite could not be better located for the path up to Helvellyn and Striding edge- the path actually runs though the campsite road. It’s right at the foot of the mountain and most importantly has a pub 5 minutes walk which is perfect for post walk celebrations!
The Wasdale Head Campsite is a National Trust Campsite and is in a spectacular location. It’s not far to the main Scafell path, and also has the wonderful Wasdale Head Inn close by too. England’s deepest lake, Wastwater, is also a short walk away. This is true walkers country and you easily have a week or more here walking new paths everyday.
Herding Hill Farm is one of the nicest campsites we’ve stayed on (albeit one of the more expensive). Location wise is was fabulous, a short walk to one of the best sections of the impressive wall and also a lovely gorge walk down into nearby Haltwhistle too (where we had the best sausage roll ever!)
The whole of Norfolk’s Coast Path is just lovely to walk on, and we literally could not decide which campsite was our favourite as they all offer different aspects. Flint House offers a sea view, Happisburgh lighthouse within walking distance but has basic facilities. Foxhills has a lovely pub and is within walking distance of charming Sheringham along the coastal path. Deepdale has amazing facilities, but is pricey. It’s in a village with two fabulous dog friendly pubs and the walk to Wells Next Sea is brilliant too. The whole of North Norfolk is connected via a very regular and dog friendly bus service so a linear walk along the coastal path is very easy. Also I would say North Norfolk is one of the t dog friendly places there is!
We visited the Yorkshire Moors on our first trip in Bluebell back in 2012 and fell head over heels. I have a confession to make here, we cannot for the life of us remember where we stayed, it was near to Levisham and the Hole of Horcum walk. So, I’ve consulted Google and UKCampsite and listed a campsite which comes up top for that area (and walkable to The Hole of Horcum). Think we are overdue another visit. Another cool walk in this area takes in Brimham Rocks
This walk was a real highlight of our Wales trip. As you can see the weather helped. Don’t forget to pack your cossie if you fancy a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon and some change for Pembrokeshire Ice-cream in Porthgain.
I know, I know, we’ve already got 2 in the Lake District and 1 in Cumbria. But we couldn’t talk about walking from your Campervan without including this gem of a site. In fact we’d go as far as saying this is probably the most picturesque campsite in England if you like mountainous scenery. Situated down a long single track road at the head of the textbook U shaped valley – this really is the most wonderful place to stay if you’re after walks from your van.
We still haven’t completed the Thames Valley Path, but the sections that we have done, we have thoroughly enjoyed. Quaint English riverside villages and east walking on the tow path make this easy and enjoyable walking. We really enjoyed our stays at both the above campsites and look forward to walking more of the TVP when we can
We’ve actually done this walk a couple of times now, and each time got bowled over by Wolfreton Station – the former Royal Station. It’s a nice walk through our lovely Norfolk Countryside and of course takes in the Queen’s Estate of Sandringham. At the time we were members of the Camping and Caravan Club so stayed on their club site, but if your members of the Caravan and Camping Club then their Club site is near enough next door. Perfect for a weekend retreat, and if you haven’t visited Sandringham House, it’s well worth a visit – you get to see much more than Balmoral!
This walk was on my bucket list for ages. We finally ticked it off in February 2019 and it as just terrific. The site is right on the Pennine way and The pub in Dufton (opposite the campsite) served the pest post walk meal I can remember eating!
So there we have our favourite Campsite walks. But as we all know the UK is a beautiful and varied land, and so we know we’ve missed ones off the list, or have perhaps not done them ourselves. So we ask you, whats your favourite walk from a campsite? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you.