We had arranged to spend this weekend with Alison and Peter on this site which is a meet organised by N Cheshire Camping and Caravanning Club District Association at a cost of £11 a night. These meets organised by district associations are open to members of other associations and take place across the country.Unfortunately Alison was ill and so we didn’t get to meet up and swap news, gossip etc.
En route to the site we stopped at a nearby village Marston at a centre for calor gas and other fuels where we filled our tank with LPG, 11 litres at 68p a litre. We also visited the nearby Anderton Boat lift which was built in 1875 to lift narrow boats 50ft vertically from the River Weaver to join the Trent and Mersey canal. The only other such device in the UK is the Falkirk Wheel which we visited a few years ago.
It has been one of those trips! Firstly the disappointment of not seeing friends, then Friday evening the waste water system decided to go haywire, firstly not letting the water run away and then letting it run away into the cupboard under the sink, thankfully after after some puffing and panting and wedging myself in the cupboard it was fixed. Then on Saturday the winding system on the wind out awning disintegrated, 20 year old plastic, the only problem was that it wouldn’t wind back in again. So in full sunshine at approx 25 degrees we spent three hours dismantling it and removing it from the side of Homer, this meant balancing on top of the steps with a wooden box on top, full stretch trying to undo bolts that hadn’t moved for 20 years. It is now in pieces inside Homer on the floor, If it can’t be repaired a new one is £520.
In between these activities we spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and reading and taking short walks with Layla.
It had been our intention to go on and stay at a different place for Sunday evening but with the awning inside Homer it would have been impossible to make up the bed and so sadly we decided to head homewards making a stopover in Northwich for an hour.
Before leaving this morning we spent a pleasant time chatting to a couple staying in the only other motorhome at The Watermill, they were recent addicts to motorhoming and had their plans curtailed by Covid but were now out on the road. We exchanged information on travel and thoughts on equipment that was both useful and practical to carry and laughed together about how there was always something to repair.
We took the A4061 north as I wanted to travel up a different Welsh valley, the journey was one of those made to test the joys of motorhome driving, steep inclines and descents, hairpin bends, towns with narrow streets where people park on both sides if you survive and come out unscathed you either feel great or need a stiff drink ( I don’t drink and drive Homer) so there was only one choice. We passed through Treorchy home to the world famous Treorchy Male Voice Choir who first formed in 1883, they are reputed to be the most recorded male voice choir in the world and have toured amongst others Canada, USA and Australia.
We drove on through the Brecon Beacons where the new challenge was to dodge the sheep and horses that wandered at will across the road usually waiting until you were almost on top of them. We stopped for lunch along this road with a view of Pen y Fan mountain (2907ft) in the distance .Although the sky looked threatening it soon passed over and we have had a warm sunny day.
After lunch we drove to Brecon, I think our 3rd visit in 12 months, parked up and had a wander around town,I refreshed my wardrobe with a new T shirt and fleece, needed because Michelle has made me donate others to a charity shop😊we had a soft drink by the side of the river before resuming our journey. We were heading for Llandrindod Wells where it was recommended parking by a lake in a park, unfortunately they are carrying out work where we wanted to park so we couldn’t stay. A quick look at our apps and we decided to head further north to tonight’s stopover in Newtown Powys where it is free to stay overnight but you are supposed to pay from 8am. I’ve volunteered Michelle to pop out in the morning and put some money in the machine whilst I make a coffee👍
This short trip away of four nights was an experiment to see if we could emulate the way we travel in Europe using aires and other free stopover places. We have had four free nights accommodation, and it is evident seeking out places to fill with fresh water and to empty the toilet are the major challenges that we will have to succeed at.
Whilst perusing the map last night I noticed that not far from Cardiff was The Porthkerry Country Park. which is 220 acres of woods and meadowland in a sheltered valley leading to a pebble beach and spectacular cliffs. It was only 10 miles away so off we went this morning, the road there was a little challenging at times but we arrived safely. At the main car park is a toilet block and a cafe so well set up for visitors, the path down to the beach crossed a natural bog but raised footpaths were in place. Across the corner of the park runs a viaduct carrying the local coastal train service
It turned out there were several advantages of stopping here, firstly the parking machine was out of order, there was an outside tap on one building so before we left I was able to empty our cassette in the toilet block and fill the tank with fresh water, a great stopover😊
We drove on along the coast to Porthcawl where we parked on the esplanade a little way out of town, unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in the summer season so Layla didn’t get a second paddle. I haven’t been to Porthcawl since I was about 8 years old, long time ago in history, it was possible to catch an excursion train ( steam powered) from many midland towns to the seaside, they left early and it was late when you got back. We went on a family visit and the only thing I can recall is my 3 year old sister falling fully clothed into the sea and our search for a shop to buy her dry clothes, one of those family stories that is raised from time to time😂😂😂
The town centre has little to recommend it but we did enjoy an ice cream sitting in the sunshine on the sea front.
After our last trip away whilst perusing what we had enjoyed etc we gave thought to the fact that we had started doing one night stopovers on the way to and way back from destinations some distance away. This gave rise to a discussion about Brit Stops the organisation that attempts to find places for motorhomers to stay, pubs, garden centres, vineyards, farm shops etc where you can stay free over night. We decided to join as we worked out that after three stops we could cover the cost of the membership.Hence tonight’s stopover.
We doubled back on ourselves from Porthcawl to tonight’s stopover, The Watermill Inn at Ogmore by Sea. There is no fee to stay and no compulsion to eat or drink in the pub but we did go for a meal and drink getting back in time to watch England win the Euro semi final against Denmark 2-1, a scrappy result but at least a result!
I’m pleased to say the rain eased off during the night and we woke up to a sunny day. We said farewell to Amanda the friendly landlady and drove down into Brynmawr and then followed the valley down towards Cardiff. It was a very green journey trees cladding the mountainside and bordering the road, I would imagine it would have been a different picture in the past in the heyday and height of the industrial time, coal mines and steel making would have prioritised.
We drove to Lock Keepers Car Park on the edge of Cardiff Bay and a few hundred metres from the Welsh Senate building, we are in the heart of this part of Cardiff with all its new architecture, restaurants, pubs street food etc. Best of all, we are staying free😊 the pay machine hasn’t worked for at least 12 months.
Just past this point is the senate and the the Wales Millenium Centre in the centre of the above photo is the Pier Head building dated 1897.
The people of Cardiff are very conscious of the dangers of Covid, even the statues wear masks.
From here it’s a bit of a walk to the centre of Cardiff, but when needs must we walked it ( there are regular buses) our first port of call was Sophia Gardens a park area next to the River Taff, you can park motorhomes here but it’s £17 a night. A short walk from there is Cardiff Castle, a magnificent building, you can access the grounds free but have to pay to go in the various buildings, dogs not allowed in so we didn’t participate.
The main shopping area is opposite the castle with several narrow Victorian era arcades, we stopped in one and I enjoyed a pot of tea, we didn’t visit the shops not that type of trip.
We walked back leisurely on a different route and by the time we got back to Homer we were weary, altogether we had walked 6.7 miles. After tea we has another stroll around the water edge until it began to rain, we got back to Homer just in time to watch the Euro semi final, Italy v Spain. Again thankfully the rain stopped overnight.
We left home a little later than we would have liked as I had to have a blood test at 11.30 am another stage in my battle to find something to help me alleviate the pain of arthritis attacks in my feet.
As a result of this we took to the motorway for our journey, M5 and M50, thankfully it stayed dry, if we had the downpours we had yesterday it would have been impossible to drive Homer on the motorway.
A little short of reaching our destination we came to Raglan which has a marvellous castle which I wanted to show to Michelle, it has been almost 50 years since I visited so my recall was somewhat dim.
Raglan Castle was built in the 1430’s probably on the site of an earlier fortification and was constructed as much for show and style than defence. It was commenced by William ap Thomas a prominent Welsh Knight and continued to be improved by his son Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. Elizabeth Herbert granddaughter of William ap Thomas married Charles, later 1st Earl of Worcester and they turned it into a plush palace with luxury fittings and experimental architecture. Sadly centuries later it was destroyed by the Parliamentary forces after a lengthy siege, one of the longest of the Civil War.
LAND OF MY FATHERS.
For the majority of my life up until approx 10 years ago I believed my maternal grandfather was Welsh, this was information imparted by my mother. My mother had very little recollection of her parents having been effectively orphaned at the age of 9, but she knew her father had a good singing voice, a surname of Davis, mention of coal mining in family conversation led her to believe he was Welsh. Unfortunately when I delved into our family history I found this not to be true, there was no Welsh blood in the past 150 years and probably the closest her dad got to being Welsh was a day trip to Wales. However despite all that I have a deep attraction to Wales, it’s scenery and culture.
So today we have ended up on top ( more or less) of a Welsh mountain outside Abergavenny called the Blorenge on the side of which the town of Blaenavon nestles. It is a Welsh Heritage centre with a historic iron works and a coal mine you can visit at Big Pit. It is a hell of a steep climb from Abergavenny and Homer had to go up in second all the way, the clutch wasn’t too happy and it was a relief when we pulled in near the summit at Keepers Pond.
Tonight we are staying on the car park of the The Racehorse Inn, free to stay and as we found out on arrival closed on Monday evenings so we haven’t even bought a drink. As we are 340m above sea level it’s not surprising to report that at about 7.30 pm it began to rain, visibility is almost nil, Welcome to Wales😊☔️☔️
After leaving the campsite we drove south crossed the Humber Bridge and headed for Lincoln.
We had sussed out a car park close to the castle called “The Lawns” which was suitable for motorhomes, it was pricey but worth it, it did say 24 hour parking was allowed but we didn’t try it.
It was rather expensive to go into the castle which was a shame, we would have gone along with it but we didn’t have enough time to do it justice, in one area of the castle is housed a copy of The Magna Carta. The castle and cathedral are built on the top of the hill, wisely of course, and the main shopping area was down a steep hill below them.
Michelle as always was keen to see the interior of the cathedral so I added a chapter to a future book “ Cathedrals I have sat outside with the dog” whilst she went in. She was very impressed so it was worth it.
As I said the main shopping area was well below the cathedral but we decided to give it a go, there was as to be expected some interesting architecture and a good range of shops which I’m pleased to say didn’t prise money from my pocket, the walk back up was a killer, my poor old knees felt the strain.
It was extremely warm and humid whilst we were in Lincoln, we both felt we only scratched the surface of this interesting town and will certainly, pay it a visit again when we have more time.
We drove on from Lincoln to a small place outside Newark on Trent called Farndon, we are staying the night in a picnic area by the side of the Trent where people are launching boats and swimming in the river, it has been quite busy but is now quietening down as all the families go off home.
Over the past two days we have explored the coastline that runs close to the campsite here at Wold Farm, access is a short walk across the field from the campsite. The reason for this trip is to tick off one of my bucket list which is to see Puffins.
Yesterday we headed north along the Flamborough Headland Coastal Path to Bempton Cliffs and the RSPB centre, the path is on the cliff tops and you at no point can drop down to sea level.(unless you jump) The cliffs are of white chalk and the sea erodes the cliff in places leaving steep inlets which are a haven for the nesting birds, the birds rarely fly above you always drawn out to the sea the source of their food.
There follows some of the photos I managed to take.
Today we drove a short distance to a car park at North Landing, here was a small beach which families were enjoying Layla went for a swim to cool off, from there we walked along the cliff to to Flamborough Head Lighthouse where we had a drink and snack. We have been extremely lucky the past two days as we have had beautiful sunshine most of the time albeit with a cool wind at times.
We left a little earlier than normal this morning and headed northeast this eventually lead us to the Humber Bridge, it reminded us very much of similar bridges in France but not so high above the water, it is a toll bridge and cost £1.50 one way.
Our first port of call was Beverley, we parked on the Tesco car park, very handy, and walked into town. We found it to be a very pleasant place, the centre is mainly pedestrianised and there are many old interesting buildings.
Beverley is well known for its Minster which is one of the largest parish churches in the UK, it is currently undergoing a great deal of restoration and is surrounded by scaffolding. It is still possible to see the magnificent main entrance and it was very entertaining to watch two workmen re-gilding the clock face.
In the Minster is work undertaken by Robert (mouse man)Thompson, he carved a World War 2 memorial door, a cross, alter rail and chairs in the soldier chapel, each with his trade mark mouse.
We headed from Beverley to Bridlington, I wish I could write about what we found there but try as we might we couldn’t find a car park that would take Homer, another anti motorhome town? So we headed onto Flamborough Head we walked around the outside of the lighthouse and out to the Head.
It was only 3 miles from there to our campsite, Wold Farm, a pleasant place close to the cliffs, not long after we had set up Alison and Peter arrived and we are pitched next to each other. After our evening meal we went for a walk to the cliffs, one purpose of this trip is for Michelle and I to see a Puffin, well not long after we reached the cliffs we saw our first Puffins, sadly I can’t on this blog show a good photo as I didn’t have my main camera with me, fingers crossed I can rectify that tomorrow.
We left Sherwood Forest and drove East and then North to tonight’s stopover The Waterfront Inn, it costs £6 per night to stay here, it’s an extra £4 to hook up to the electrics which we opted to do as we have a heavy stocked fridge.
The Inn is situated opposite a marina which opens out onto the River Trent.
This serves as an entrance/ exit to the Chesterfield canal which runs along side the pub, we walked some distance along that in the evening during which time Layla managed twice to “accidentally “ fall in.
We walked alongside the river to the village and here another river the River Idle flowed into the Trent controlled by a sluice gate.
After our evening walk we were of course thirsty and partook of some liquid refreshment . The landlord and landlady were a friendly couple very helpful, the pub is well used and served good meals, we will certainly consider returning here again when we next head in this direction.
We are heading north on a return visit to Yorkshire where we will tomorrow meet up with our travelling companions Alison and Peter.
Our aim today was to visit an antiques and bric a brac centre at Helmswell south of Lincoln. However today ( we have no complaints) is is very warm and the sky is cloudless, the antiques centre doesn’t allow dogs in and it was far too warm to leave Layla in Homer, so we went to plan B. This was to visit the Sherwood Forest Visitors centre and the The Major Oak Tree of Robin Hood’s fame. My father is from Nottingham and a lot of my childhood/ youth was spent visiting there so I have always been aware of the story of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest. Having said that I have never visited the forest before.
Looking on the parking/ camping apps we use there seemed to be a strong indication that it was no longer possible to park motorhomes there because of height restrictions etc, however I’m pleased to say we took the risk and the car park is accessible to motorhomes , it costs £4 to park all day.
There are various trails well laid out and signposted from the visitors centre, we took the one to the Major Oak and not far in we came to site of the tree. It is now well fenced off to prevent the ground beneath it being trodden down preventing rain water reaching its roots and it also prevents accidental damage from the public.
Parked somewhat out of character in the shade of the oak tree was an ice cream van, talk of robbing the rich to feed the poor, it felt very much like that at £7.15 for two ice creams.
There are many other sizeable oak trees in the forest many centuries old, one of them is known as the Bee tree and has an active hive in its trunk, we could see the bees but it was difficult to capture them on the camera.
Following a leisurely lunch in Homer we took a scenic route to our next stop.