Easter Holidays days 9 and 10- Lairg to Angus to Bamburgh to home

As I’m writing this, we are currently bombing down the A1 towards home. The sun is shining, there still isn’t a cloud in the sky, and this morning we were treated to the most spectacular sunrise at Bamburgh.

Thursday we left early after another very peaceful night at our secret Brit stop location. We were heading to another Brit Stop location in the county of Angus. We’ve never been to Angus before, always in a rush to get north, or in a rush to get to Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful county, with rolling hills and pretty rivers flowing through.

Our stop for the night was a farm shop and craft centre, and we enjoyed some cured venison from their farm shop for lunch. It was so good that we bought a couple more packs to bring home with us (however they’ve already been eaten!)

Just down the road there was a waterfall and gorge that we had been told was worth a visit. We walked down, and were stunned when we got there. It was probably the most impressive waterfall and gorge we’ve seen. It was so steep. The photos we took don’t do the sheer drop justice. It was terrifying but equally amazing to stand at the top and look down.

We had another peaceful and undisturbed nights kip and set off about 9am. We were heading towards Berwick upon Tweed. The sun was still shining, we couldn’t believe that we had done the whole time in Scotland with blue skies! Especially when we left in such dubious conditions!

We arrived at Berwick upon Tweed at lunchtime and had a wander. We’d been looking forward to visiting however unfortunately we had a bit of a disappointing visit. First of all we spent 30mins of our 2 hours parking trying to find the public loo. Without being too graphic we try to avoid doing certain things in our toilet in Bluebell, therefore when we arrived we decided we both could do with using the facilities at Berwick. We followed the signs for the loos round the town with no luck at finding them! We stopped at the tourist information centre and were instructed as to where they were. We still didn’t find them. We ended up doing another circuit of the town and just as the situation was getting more desperate than it was we found them by chance more than anything. We then were charged 20p each to go. Wouldn’t mind this if the toilets were clean, had loo roll, didn’t stink- you get the gist.

Feeling rather more comfortable now, we set about an explore of the town. Don’t know if we were unlucky or if it were a typical day there, however we encountered several strange folk who stopped us in the street and had rather odd conversations with us- one lady was quite honestly mad! She walked by us, then turned back and made a big fuss about how she wasn’t going to stop us but she couldn’t help herself. She then gave Jazz such a fuss and wanted to know all about it. Then she said he’d get shot if he were on his own?!!

By now, we were starting to wonder what was going on. We enjoyed the town wall walk and soon it was time to go back to the van as our parking had run out. We had spied some cheap diesel on our way in so decided to fill up. A coupe more strange incidents with folk resulted in us leaving with a bit of a bad mood – one of these incidents involved someone nicking our space in the diesel queue- a pet hate of mine!

We decided that we must be tired as were both grouchy and couldn’t wait to get back on the A1. We headed for Bamburgh. We had wanted to wild camp here last year but after reading some motorhome forums got cold feet as it seemed they didn’t like motorhomes overnight parking there.

We found a lovely spot for a cuppa, that was far enough out of the town for us not to be a nuisance. It had the most amazing view of the beach, the sea and the castle. We made the executive decision after a cuppa and a wander down the beach that we would chance it and stay over night. There weren’t any signs whatsoever and so we battoned the hatches down and hoped for the best. By 8pm another couple of vans had joined us. We had a very peaceful night and awoke to the most impressive sunrise we’ve seen. An early morning dog walk down to the castle with sun rising on our our left was a fantastic way to start the day. Granted today is the day we journey back to Norfolk- our ETA is 2:15pm, but our pleasant start to the day really has rounded this amazing holiday off perfectly.

Jazz has been very well behaved, he loves motorhoming, he nests himself at the back and looks out of the windows, however right now he has made a nest on all the dirty washing!

We’re just driving past the Angel of the north now, the road is clear, and we can’t believe how lucky we have been!!

Fab xxx until next time xx

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Easter Holidays day 7 and 8 John O Groats to Lairg to Banchory

Hi all

We’ve made it daaaaan saaaaaaaaf a few miles, and are now in the beautiful Dee valley. We’ve been using the Brit Stops this last couple of nights for our overnight stops, and very good they’ve been too! We’ve also done significantly less driving, and today we even managed a stop at Balmoral Castle, but more on that later.

Yesterday we awoke to an overcast sky at John O Groats, but were refreshed after our peaceful night in the car park there. We set off about half 8 and were heading for a Brit Stop (no 821) near Lairg. The Brit Stop was at a famous visitor centre and we’d actually visited it on our first trip. We knew they had an excellent shop and couldn’t wait to get in to buy some local food and drinks for later that evening. We actually ended up visiting the shop twice and spent almost £50 on tasty treats of jams, chutneys, and lots of whiskey tasters! 🙂 so Brit Stops definitely worked well for this particular venue yesterday as we spent loads of money, money that we wouldn’t be able to afford to spend if we were on a £20 site for the night.

We had a very chilled afternoon, walking jazz and snoozing, then catching up with some House on DVD until our leisure battery ran out whilst sampling some of our whiskey treats!

Today we set off south again after some delicious toast and jam – blackberry and sloe gin jam, courtesy of our shopping trip yesterday, yum yum! We were heading towards the Cairngorms with another Brit Stop in mind to stay at tonight.

We made good time, and arrived at the Lecht Ski centre in time for a bacon butty! Not sure what we’d imagined, maybe because we’ve been in this pocket of blue sky and sunshine for a week, we hadn’t anticipated seeing so much snow! There certainly was no snow shortage for Easter skiers that’s for sure and we enjoyed spending some time watching the hundreds out on the slopes, of all ages!! We did however feel slightly out of place- everyone err was understandably dressed head to toe in ski wear- we were in our shorts and crocs!!

We head on, through a spectacular drive- in some places the snow was up the height of our eyes at the sides of the roads ( bearing in mind we are at a high sitting position in bluebell!) it was stunning though, and we had re found the sun for sure! Beautiful

Soon we saw a sign for Balmoral castle, and decided on a detour to visit. On first impressions, we found the entry charge of £10pp to be reasonable. However, in reality we didn’t think we got much for the twenty quid, you couldn’t get inside to see any of the rooms, not even the hall, and although it was nice to see the castle, and to say “We’ve been to Balmoral”, we did come away thinking maybe it was a bit of a rip? Especially as we had to pay £1.50 to park too!

We carried on, and were again treated to some wonderful views, driving along the river Dee. About twenty miles on, and we arrived our stop for the night, Brit Stop no 815, which is a farm activity centre and farm shop! We once again couldn’t wait to get into the farm shop and have a look at the local produce, and came away with some local cheeses, and a homemade/reared Aberdeen Angus pie along with some fresh veg for our tea tonight.

We both are so completely impressed with Brit Stops. For us, it’s the perfect way to structure our tours, see local business’ and more importantly spend some of our hard earned cash on what we love, local food and drink, whilst knowing you are helping a local farm shop or similar.

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Easter Holidays day 1, near Ripon

We’re finally away! After two horrible weeks of the lurgy hitting our household, and one cancelled long weekend, we spent the last few days preparing Bluebell and wavering between whether or not we should even set off! The weather in Britain has been abysmal to say the least, with headlines of snow across the country, with severe weather warnings not just for snow but also flooding. Looking at the weather map there literally wasn’t a county that looked to be ok as we pondered where we could go if we postponed our planned jaunt up to the top of Scotland. So in a fit of tiredness after our end of term concerts and commitments, we decided “sod it- we need a change of scenery, we’re going to attempt to do our planned tour”. Our main motto in life is “fortune favours the brave” and this tour is hopefully going to prove that- either that or we will return, or get stuck somewhere and return to Norfolk with our tails between our legs!

So back to today, poor Keith had to go to school teaching this morning so I stayed put and made all our preparations so that we could set off as soon as he got home. Preparation for these sort of tours is paramount- we needed to make sure we had enough food and drink and gas for the heater in case we did get stuck. We also needed to pack LOADS of woollies! And plenty of booze as we had read that the rural areas of Scotland shut all their shops over the Easter weekend and we didn’t want to run out of the wet stuff! Other things include charging camera, phones and iPad, make a picnic for the journey, sort clothes, decide on what shoes to take (Lydia!) and general bits like that. I also found time to make 2 dozen chocolate cornflake cakes, like you do!! ( well it is Easter, and you never know, they may prove vital if we get stuck…!) Unusually for us, on this tour we haven’t booked a single site (other than let James at Clachtoll know that we are intending on getting there at the weekend) so we have the Mapbook, the Brit Stop guide and the POI on our sat nag for the wild camping spots across Britain.

We set off in the glorious sunshine at 2:30pm with a mixture of excitement and adventure. We have a vague idea of where we want to be and where but we aren’t tied down at all. As long as we are back in 10 days then that’s groovy!

We drove for 4 hours solid- So, where did we end up? Well, I can’t tell you exactly (unless you are in the “club”- number 715!) , because we are staying at a Brit Stop tonight. Brit Stop is a scheme for motorhomes where local businesses, farms, tea shops, pubs etc register to be included in the guide. They basically offer their land and sometimes a facility such as water, or maybe electric, but generally it’s a car park. Motorhomes such as us then register on the scheme for a single payment of£25, receive a guide book with all the locations in and a lovely sticker for our window and are allowed to visit these car parks to stay for free overnight. Motorhomers are asked to say hello and show some interest in the product, but there is no obligation to buy.

What I will tell you is that we drove through the beautiful Ripon, making a mental note to come back and visit one day, and are parked outside a shed of cows and geese with a fabulous view over the dales and the product here is ice cream!! 🙂

So tonight we can see some snow laying on the sides of roads, but it hasn’t interfered yet- tomorrow we are aiming for Loch Lomond, so we will see how that goes. We’ve had tea, I’ve had a couple of gin and tonics, and frankly the world is looking like a rather great place right now!

Enough waffle from me,

More tomorrow! 🙂

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