The life and meanderings of Dave and Michelle and Layla the Cockapoo.
I've been retired now since 2010 and next birthday is 72. My wife has just reached the giddy heights of her 50s and finished work July 2017 so we can have at least a decade of exploring, good times to come!
We took the easy way home today heading north up the M5. The southbound lanes very busy and there were numerous motorhomes heading south, escaping? who knows, the number of areas without Covid restrictions is lessening.
Homer has to have a service and be MOT’d before we can make another trip and we are going to keep our fingers crossed that we will still have the freedom to travel and there are places accepting visitors in November.
We have enjoyed the past six days, driven 463 miles, visited three different counties, we saw some attractive scenery, walked for miles each day and marvelled at the beautiful Autumn colours.
Cheddar is the largest village in Somerset on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. On the northern edge of the village is Cheddar Gorge and Caves, the gorge is the largest in the UK. It has several show caves including Gough’s Cave, the gorge has been the centre of human settlement since neolithic times.
This morning we decided to take a visit, there are two footpaths one on each side that go up and along the ridges of the gorge, however as traffic was light we opted to walk along the road, no footpath in many places. The road winds it’s way through the gorge and thankfully does so at a steady rising gradient so the walk up wasn’t too difficult. As it wasn’t too busy and virtually no-one was parked in the numerous lay byes we had time and space to look at the rocky feature, the rushing streams and the wild Soay sheep grazing on the rocky outcrops.
Of course no visit to Cheddar Gorge would be complete without purchasing a piece of cave aged cheddar cheese, this being the birth place of Cheddar Cheese.
We commenced the day by driving down to Monks Yard Cafe outside Ilminster where we met up with Keith and Jenny friends for over 50 years. Due to health issues we didn’t go to their house but sat outside the cafe with coffee/ scones and tea cakes and spent a while catching up on news, face to face instead of our regular email contacts. It was a pleasant time.
Back on the road we went to Street to the Clarkes Outlet Village, all too expensive for me but Michelle managed to buy a pair trainers from the children’s section!
From there we drove via Wells here to Cheddar Bridge Camp Site where we are booked in for two nights. After pitching up we walked into Cheddar did a quick stroll around the village, bought a sourdough loaf and went back and chilled out. We are pitched next to the River Yeo.
I seem to have had a relapse today with a gippy stomach and feeling drained of energy I even resorted to buying some Andrews Liver Salts.
We were going to visit Dorchester today but I didn’t fancy walking around a large place so we took short run from Corfe down to Swanage. It was beautifully sunny there but with a very stiff wind blowing off the sea, it certainly blew the cobwebs away.
We drove from Swanage to Yeovil, the town centre gave the impression it had seen better days, as is often the case there was a lot of development on the outskirts of the town, with new supermarkets etc. We spent an hour in town buying a little bit from M and S food hall and a book from a charity shop.
Our next stop was where we are parked up for the night, a large picnic area with a purpose built cafe and toilets. It’s a popular overnight stop for truck drivers and motorhomers, with the benefit that it’s free, if not a little noisy from the adjacent A303.
I’ve felt a little more with it today, yesterday’s diet of toast with a late night medicinal brandy, plus a good nights sleep appeared to have helped, I wouldn’t be surprised however if I don’t develop a cold.
Today we zig zagged south crossing the Salisbury Plain passing tank manoeuvre areas and army bases. Michelle wanted a glimpse of Stonehenge ( visits had to be prebooked) so we took a detour along a road that gives you a reasonable view of the stones, what you have to do to keep some people happy!
We are parked up for the night at Corfe Castle Camping and Caravanning site. Some of the roads we took today were not the best for Homer and again the Sat Nav / Ipad took us on some seriously strange routes including one for two miles where the hedges brushed both sides of Homer and there was no turning round. It didn’t help that we drove straight past the little lane to the site because there was no sign obvious, that was because no one in their right mind would have approached it from the direction we came.
We stopped en route at Shaftesbury where we eventually managed to find a parking spot at Tesco’s next to the charity donation bins, the long stay car park in town was useless unless you were driving a small saloon car. Having said that, Shaftesbury was a little gem and we enjoyed walking around, taking the obligatory photo of Gold Hill, famous for its use in an old Hovis bread advert. Shaftesbury is the only hill top settlement in Dorset being about 215m above sea level. It is the site of the original Shaftesbury Abbey which was founded in 885 by King Alfred.
After setting up Homer we decided to go for a walk to Corfe Castle, we had only walked a few metres when it looked like we would be invited to a Stag Party!
I have never been as close as 5 metres to a wild stag before, it was magnificent, not far from him were 3 does.
The walk into Corfe Castle was enjoyable we were last here about 10 years ago for a fleeting visit, sadly as is common everywhere at the moment there aren’t many shops open.
We drove here today via the country route through the Cotswolds, echoing for a lot of the journey the route we took last December to Bath.
Although the route and driving conditions were ok it wasn’t the easiest of journeys. Yesterday I gradually began to feel unwell, commencing with the need to dash to the toilet on numerous occasions, during the night I alternated between shivering and sweating with many trips to the bathroom. But you may as well feel under the weather whilst visiting new places instead of sitting at home. So this morning dosed up to the eye balls with medication I strapped myself into the driving seat, gritted my teeth and drove the 110 miles to Devizes.
Devizes is a small market town in the middle of Wiltshire, it developed around Devizes Castle an 11th century Norman Castle, originally there was a Roman settlement here. The Kennet and Avon canal runs around the town with a large flight of locks known as Caen Hill. It began to rain when we arrived and we had a soggy walk around town. When we had finished we drove a further 3.5 miles to tonight’s stop over at Devizes Camping and Caravan Club Site.
Sadly tonight we have reached the end of our Welsh trip. We left Saundersfoot this morning leaving behind the stresses of narrow B roads and drove to Carmarthen. Tesco’s provided us with a convenient parking space but I did have to park with my front wheels on the flower bed, Peter and Alison parked sideways across three bays. I enjoyed the walk around Carmarthen it has a variety of shops but we didn’t see what a great deal of what was the historical heritage of the town.
We drove from Carmarthen to Brecon, parked on the car park by the side of the river Usk which we used approx a month ago.After lunch we walked into Brecon and found the market hall which had a craft fair on.
It wasn’t far from Brecon to tonight’s stop at Talybont on Usk, the site is large but not too many motorhomes/ caravans are allowed to stay, it’s well kept and in pleasant surroundings,
Talybont is sandwiched between the Usk River and the Brecon Monmouth canal, the canal is a few metres from the campsite and after our evening meal we went for a walk along the towpath. Like many areas of the country it has a history of industrial development.
Sadly it’s the end of a great week away, we have enjoyed beautiful scenery, stayed at some wonderful campsites and have walked for miles. The news about Covid hasn’t been great, we aren’t sure if and when we will be able to take our next trip, but fingers crossed it won’t be too long.
Many of the lanes that we are driving along on this trip are very narrow and have few passing places, this was the case today as we drove into Manorbier where we met a lady who found it difficult to squeeze over to let us through and consequently we ended up with our near side mirrors bent back. Another repair job when we return home.
That disaster apart Manorbier is a pleasant place to visit.
We are staying tonight at Griffithston Farm Camp Site outside Saundersfoot, the area we are on is sloping, so I’ve borrowed two building blocks and Homer is levelled up on them.The walk into Saundersfoot is steeply down hill and it was a bit of a pull when we returned here late this afternoon.
We walked out of Saundersfoot, to Wisemans Bridge via three short tunnels through which the railways once travelled carrying coal from the local mines to Saundersfoot.
We felt obliged to support the local economy and so enjoyed a few beverages at the Wisemans Bridge Inn. Dutifully refreshed we walked back into Saundersfoot where we purchased fish and chips which we ate sitting by the side of the harbour. The seagulls attempted to join in and one cheeky one attacked Layla when she tried to chase it off.
As I mentioned earlier it was a steep walk uphill on the way back, not helped by full stomachs🙂
Our first stop of the day was at Pembroke, this is a pleasant walled town dating back over 900 years and is famous for its Norman Castle. Pembroke Castle is one of the most complete Norman Castles in the UK and was the birthplace of Henry V11 founder of the Tudor dynasty.
The town like many other high streets looks like it needs a little love and care but it appears there are plans afoot to make improvements in the near future. From Pembroke we drove the short distance to Buckspool Farm campsite near Bosherton. This is a traditional old campsite,a huge field, pitch where you like, facilities were minimal but it had a honesty shop for basics and a honesty box to put your pitch fees in. There was a large variety of vans and tents and the tent opposite us had a wood burner inside with a chimney out of the roof.
After lunch we walked through the fields and across the dunes to the absolutely gorgeous beach at Broad Haven South, a place you could easily spend all day.
From here we walked around all three ponds at Bosherston two of which at the correct time of year are covered in beautiful water lillies. The lakes are man made and are fed by springs from a natural underground reservoir. You can cross the ponds on narrow footbridges and at the head of one pond is an eight arch bridge.
Tonight we are staying on the outskirts of St Davids at Glan y Mor campsite.
We walked into town after lunch and headed for the cathedral, Michelle, Alison and Peter went inside, whilst Layla and I sat on a wall and watched the world go by, when the others exited they commented they were impressed by the interior.
Next to the cathedral are the ruins of the Bishops Palace which unfortunately we weren’t able to go into. At the moment there is limited access.
After a walk around the town which didn’t take long as it’s quite small we headed back to the van where we sat outside and read in the sunshine. After our evening meal we walked down the lane to the coast where there was a tiny bay and the Pembrokeshire coast path wending it’s way along the cliff tops.