Adventures in the North East of England- using THS

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Friday

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?!

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 Trans Pennine Trail

Gandalf the VW is parked high up above the Trans Pennine Trail, overlooking Wogden Moor on the outskirts of Carlecotes, South Yorkshire.  Our home for the next three nights is Thurlmoor Farm, a Camping and Caravanning Club Certified Site.

We had a pleasant and easy journey ‘oooop north’ on Friday morning making one slight detour to pick up some supplies from the wonderful Hinchcliff’s Farm shop near Holmfirth. We had lots of fun shopping for local meats, cheeses, local gins and beers to see us through the May Bank Holiday weekend. This place is heaven for local food and drink lovers like ourselves, and we could have easily bought EVERY thing inside. The butchers and deli counters were immense, and the local gins were in abundant supply.

With our supplies purchased and packed away we made the 20 minute journey to the campsite, arriving around 3pm- just as the sun decided to take over from the showers we’d encounter throughout our journey.

The views from Thurlmoor Farm are wonderful. It is situated at 1100 feet and landscaped into two separate terraces. We were given a very friendly welcome by campsite owner Mandy and we were excited to be able to pitch up sideways. We took advantage of the room and set our the canopy as well as our trusty friend the tailgate awning – serving as our ensuite bathroom this weekend again! There are no facilities other than hook up, water and disposal at this site and as such the fee was very low at just £13 pn. The views were just great and we could see in the valley below us the Trans Pennine Trail – our reason for booking this site. 

Unfortunately – our neighbours ended up pitching their caravan very much on top of us. I’m not entirely sure it was their fault- pitches wernt marked and at the same time they arrived another van arrived the other side of them. We assumed someone would be coming the other side of us, otherwise we probably would have asked to moved to pitch number 1- which would have left a pitch between us. But as it happened no-one else arrived and the van the other side of our neighbours only stayed one night – so with perhaps a little more planning from the owners it could have been avoided. As it happens though our neighbours were fairly quiet – it just looks obscene on pictures given how much other space there was in the camping field! We were aware of them and I’m sure they were aware of us too. Hey ho – it could have been worse!

Zoom in to see the caravan next to Gandalf!

We had little wander down the local footpath, and a sundowner drink lower on the campsite, a natural slope made a perfect private terrace overlooking the sheep fields, before reheating a spag bol on the cadac for dinner on Friday night. Whilst it was bright and sunny, the wind was fresh, but we managed to cook and eat outside. We were very happy campers indeed! 

No walkable pubs from the site right now, so I came prepared with a little help from the farm shop we stopped at beforehand!

Saturday dawned bright and cool and after a full English with goodies from our farm shop haul, we hit the road on our bikes. We cycled 1.4 miles (very much downhill) to nearby Dunford Bridge, which is where we picked up the Trans Pennine Trail. The Trans Pennine Trail is a mainly traffic free Recreational route which spans from Southport on the West Coast to Hornsea on the East Coast. It’s a staggering 215 miles long, runs mainly traffic free and largely follows the route of old railway lines, canals and riversides. The section that we were tackling this weekend ran from Dunford Bridge to Thurgoland – a distance of around 10 miles, all off road, all level* and all very scenic and lovely. It is worth noting that there is a car park at Dunford Bridge if you don’t fancy the ascent back up to the campsite. The reason we had been drawn to this section in particular was the impressive Thurgoland Tunnels, which we’d seen on a tv programme a while back.

We easily settled in to the ride from Dunford Bridge – the route very obviously following an old disused railway like, with steep gauges either side at times, and many original railway bridges to pass under.

We passed by Penistone and soon we arrived at our main feature, the Thurgoland Tunnel; a double bored disused railway tunnel that is 282 metres in length. It has a distinct 4000 foot radius curve which gives it unique 20+ second echo inside. Acoustically its really REALLY cool, and we loved messing around inside making sounds and clapping, listening to the long acoustic reverberating echoes. I wished I had taken my sax! Although it is double bore – one of the tunnels has been blocked in, so now you can only access one of the two tunnels.

See video of our experience in the tunnel… 

About a mile or two on from the tunnel, we grabbed a pint at the Bridge Inn, before retracing our route back to the campsite. *The return route was harder by far. We thought we were unfit perhaps – this was our first cycle out for months. As the miles dragged on we became more and worried about the big hill back to the campsite! When we got back, my tracker revealed that actually we had done 10 miles downhill and 10 miles up. No wonder we struggled – but the beauty of tramline engineering is that these gradients are disguised very well and whilst they are gradual, we definitely noticed this one. Thats our excuse for our struggle anyway!!

A refreshment stop at Penistone* gave us that last push we needed and although it was a much slower return, we made it up that hill and back to the campsite by 4pm. We loved the route and were proud to have totted up 20.6 miles. You can see our route video below.

*There is a terrific taproom and brewery in Penistone where we picked up some lovely locally made lager.

It’s worth mentioning, you can still access this spectacular tunnel if you don’t cycle. There is a bus stop immediately outside the campsite which takes/ brings you back to Thurgoland on the number 29 bus every day except Sunday /and bank hol- Timetable here. You could walk 10 miles along the TPT and bus back, or you could bus there and bus back. Either way you do it, if you have an interest in railway history, cool places etc etc, its worth a visit and this site is one of the closest you’ll get to the Thurgoland Tunnel. 

After showers in the awning, we settled into Gandalf for the evening, enjoying a delicious Barnsley chop dinner (Fillet Steak for Keefy) before a relatively early night. Barnsley Chop in Barnsley…. my month is made already! 

Sunday arrived and we had a slightly lazier start to the day. The weather was still clear, despite being a bit blowy and fresh, and after a scrambled egg breakfast we donned our walking boots and walked to nearby Winscar Reservoir, then back down to the TPT at Dunford Bridge before returning to the site along (or rather up!) a farm land footpath. The reservoir was worth seeing, we enjoyed watching some of the boats from the local sailing club and it was really nice to see so many families out and about. We also were serenaded by Lapwings which was lovely.

Are we nearly there yet?!

After our walk we enjoyed delicious baked Camembert, cooked in my Lakeland Remoska which I still use most days in the Campervan!

Later on we had a bbq for dinner in front of the fire pit – but my gosh it was cold! We couldn’t soak enough of the view up – we’ve really missed hills and high ground during lockdown. Luckily with the terraced positioning of the site we were able to move inside and enjoy the view just as much in the warmth of Gandalf for our final night of this adventure.

All too soon it was time to pack up on Monday morning, but we made an early start and as such missed the horrific rain and wind on both packing up and arriving home. Bonus! We had hoped to make a stop at National Trust’s Wentworth Castle Gardens but the weather god’s had been kind enough during the weekend and our luck ran out on that front.

We really loved this site, and would not hesitate to recommend it to you all. It has no facilities at all, other than EHU and waste and water, and sadly there are no walkable pubs (although this may change if the local one – about a mile away reopens later this month).  But if you like peace and quiet, and nice views this one is for you. The bus route outside will take you to Sheffield in one direction (thats the way you need for Thurgoland) and Holmfirth in the other. Electric bikes would probably be an advantage here – these are the next thing on our shopping list. 

The Atera Strada bike rack had it’s first outing on Gandalf and worked a treat, as did our tailgate awning shower set up. We returned home from BH weekend refreshed and happy after a brilliant weekend away! 

Until Next Time 

Lx 

Adventures in Bronte Country; Haworth , Yorkshire

Ruby the VW is parked on her lonesome, at a Topfield, a Camping and Caravanning club Certified (5 van) site on the outskirts of Haworth.

The owners suggested we park sideways to accommodate our rear awning

We had a smooth journey from Norfolk north although it rained most of the time this didn’t bother us as we were driving. As we neared Haworth our farm shop radar kicked in and without even looking for it we happened upon a large and well established farm shop, Robertshaws. We made a stop and gave the budget a hammering filling Ruby with lots of local produce, ales and gin.

When we arrived we had a quick set up and set our stall outside and had a cheeseboard and ploughman’s for a late lunch. After a chill at the campsite the weather improved so we went for a wander to the town of Haworth. It took about 30 mins but was mainly down hill so we decided to investigate taxis for our return! We enjoyed a lovely drink in one of Haworth’s oldest building, Haworth Old Hall, before moving up the picturesque high street to The Kings Head. We had a final drink in the Fleece Inn (recommended to us by a VW Camper Chick) and eyeing up the menu made a decision to eat here tomorrow.

We got our cab back (£5) and heated up a Spag Bol I’d brought from our freezer at home before crashing out for the night.

Tuesday dawned with mixed weather but it wasn’t going to stop us. Today we were walking the Bronte way taking in some famous Bronte Sights along the way! After a full English we loaded some snacks into a backpack and off we went, back down the hill into Haworth, and back up the gorgeous high street to the old school rooms where the Bronte sisters went to school, taught at and even had their wedding reception at. We passed their graves and went pat their family home- sadly due to covid the museum was closed.

We picked up the Bronte Way and walked about 2 miles across Penistone Hill to the Bronte Falls. The weather was mixed- one minute pouring with rain and the next glorious sunshine. The views were beautiful!

At the Bronte Falls I was trying to get a great shot when disaster happened! I lost my footing and ended up IN the Bronte Falls! 🤦‍♀️😂 luckily I didn’t injure myself but my phone got the brunt of it and sadly died on me two hours later – I smashed the LCD screen.

We enjoyed seeing Bronte Falls and the Bronte bridge despite that not being the original one as that washed away some years ago.

The walk continued up to Top Withers; said to possibly be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Regardless of whether it was or wasn’t, it was a spectacular walk and the ruin of the farm house a good insight into remote farm houses.

Following a shower!

At this point we joined the Pennine Way back to Stanbury, where we popped into both the local pubs (the Friendly was the better of the two IMO) and mourned my phone breaking! We continued back to Haworth in time for a quick drink at the Steam Work Brewing for a local gin and a local lager. I could have stayed there all night working my way through their comprehensive gin menu- all made in Haworth! But sadly their licensing meant they had to close at 6pm. We had one across the road in the Black Bull before going and grabbing the last table at the Fleece for dinner. The meal was terrific and we’d certainly worked up an appetite.

By half 8pm we were back at Ruby where we complete crashed out! We’d thoroughly enjoyed our time here despite me trashing my phone! It is so incredibly beautiful and the small town oodles character.

Wednesday dawned sunny which was good as it was time to pack up and love on to our next location. Via an o2 shop to sort myself out with a new phone!

Until next time

Lx

Hop

Winter adventures and Festive Fun; York

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up on her lonesome at Granchester Caravan Park on the outskirts of York.

We’ve had a busy week of concerts and Christmas gigs, but come 3pm on Thursday it was instruments down and time to declare the Christmas holiday OPEN. Our final gig of the season was handily located on the A11 in Thetford, and so van packed with presents, camping accessories and gig stuff we set off in the direction of Kelham for a Christmas evening with Dad and Jenny. We had a lovely meal at the Fox and it was a great if not slightly boozy evening.

Friday arrived with thankfully no sore heads, that was a close one, and by 09.30 we had hit the A1 for an hour and a half’s drive to York. We’d been told by the owner that the campsite was quiet so to pitch wherever we liked. On arrival it was clear we were the only ones there! At just £17.50 per night, with lovely hot and clean showers and bus stop to York directly outside the gate, we couldn’t have picked a better base for the weekend.

We wasted no time and hailed the next bus, the 31x and was thankful for the contactless payment as we realised we had no cash! Be warned, the 29 bus which also stops here doesn’t take card and is cash only.

The bus stops at exhibition square which is really convenient for the minster and city centre.

We spent some time wandering the beautiful lanes, having a drink in the oldest pub in York, the Star Inn, and also the Christmas market on Parliament Street before grabbing a late lunch at Zizzis. We had a lovely drink in the really atmospheric Viking tipi bar in the centre of the market and even (possibly) made a tv appearance on BBC Look North!

There was a cracking beer and gin shop near the cathedral.