Getting Ready for the Season Ahead

It feels that the new season is just around the corner. The van is booked in tomorrow for its MOT. Our summer holiday to France is booked and we have already begun to make plans for the places we would like to visit and the Aires we might stay at. To help with getting into the mood we are visiting the Caravan and Outdoor Leisure show next weekend at the SECC. We entered a prize draw and managed to secure two free tickets.
We will be looking at gas tanks for converting to using auto gas. This will mean that when we are in Europe we can fill up at the filling stations and don’t need to worry about running out of Calor Gas. Also we are thinking about installing some solar panels and an inverter so that we can be self sufficient when we don’t have access to electric hookup.

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Still in Ravenglass

The weather in Ravenglass has continued to stay nice. We have been doing a lot of walking with the dogs and today we crossed the railway bridge over to the other side of the estuary. The dogs had a good run about on the beach and a wee paddle in the water.
This has been an ideal site for us and we will definitely return here in the future. It is quite different from the usual Lake District sites we have been to. It’s a lot less touristy in the village and there is a lack of nearby shopping for groceries. However there is a good mix of cafes, pubs and hotels serving good food if you want to give cooking a miss.

Holiday Site near Ravenglass

Holiday Site near Ravenglass

Catamaran waiting for the tide to come in

Catamaran waiting for the tide to come in

Ian enjoying his J2O!!

Ian enjoying his J2O!!

Roman dig site

Roman dig site

Roman dig site

Roman dig site

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

Ravenglass

Ravenglass

Max

Max

Pepsi

Pepsi

Ravenglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site

For the September weekend we decided to go somewhere other than our usual trip to North Ledaig. We didn’t want to travel too far as it was only a long weekend and we didn’t want to spend most of it driving. The things we like best in a campsite are, set in the forest or near a beach. Having looked at the Club sites Ravenglass seemed to fit the bill, being set amongst woodland yet only 500m from the beach.
The Lake District has in the past caused us some driving challenges but these were when we were towing the caravan. The roads are too narrow in some places for two large vehicles to pass and the tight corners mean you never quite know who you might meet head on, not to mention some of the steepest roads in the UK. However we took the suggested route down to J40 on the M6 across the A66 and down the A595. It was a very easy road and once the morning drizzle cleared up it was a beautiful drive through some wonderful scenery.

Lovely drive to the campsite

Lovely drive to the campsite.

Campsite View

Enjoying the weather

Enjoying the weather

Ravenglass Sunset

Ravenglass Sunset

The campsite itself is set in the woods just before you reach the village of Ravenglass. The wardens were very helpful on arrival and we were on the pitch and set up in no time. The afternoon was glorious and we headed off immediately into the village to get a feel for what was there and what we might want to do over the weekend. The village of Ravenglass is at the estuary of three rivers. In the past it was an important place for the Romans. There is still a lot of evidence of their presence; just up the road from the campsite are the remains of a Roman bathhouse. At present there is a dig going on but it finishes this weekend.

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Roman Baths

Ravenglass is also at one end of the La’al Ratty – Ravenglass to Eskdale steam railway. We took this trip this morning and it was very nice. The weather and scenery were both great. At the other end we stumbled across a meet of the Rolls Royce owners club. It was unusual to see so many of these cars in the one place.
At the railway station is the Ratty Arms. This is a nice place to eat. An extension has been built to look like a railway carriage and it looks out over the railway itself. We both had a main course, dessert and drinks for under £30.
So far this has been a fantastic weekend. If you like the outdoors and are not looking for much in the way of shopping or entertainment then give this campsite a go.

The Hebrides Update

Never did quite get to adding to the Hebrides blog. This happened for a couple of reasons, the first being the lack of wifi signal as we moved away from Lewis and also in an attempt to get a signal the mucking up of the settings on our Motorhome Wifi (our own doing). Also the fact that as the weather picked up we spent more time outside and less time attached to a device.

We ended up spending less time in the Islands than we had planned, mainly because of the change in arrangements in Barra. Last time we were there we camped on the grass next to the beach at the airport. This is no longer allowed, in fact wild camping unless in a tent is not allowed on Barra at all. This really spoiled the experience for us so we left a few days early and headed back to Oban and then onto Glencoe. The weather and views were spectacular there so it was no great loss.

All in all we had another great two weeks in the van. Here are some pics of the holiday to give a wee flavour of what it was like.

The Outer Hebrides 2013

We set off for our trip to the Hebrides on Saturday 29th June. We both had a busy week in the run up to the holiday with Duncan’s graduation on the Thursday and a wedding  on the Friday. This meant I was not as prepared for this trip as I would have liked. Normally I have my itinerary planned well in advance and all my campsites booked. This time, although we had booked the ferry tickets months ago, the only night we had booked was the Saturday at Bunree near Fort William.

The weather on the way up was dry but dull and the roads were fairly busy with holiday traffic but we arrived at Bunree late afternoon and spent a relaxing evening in the van. Next morning the rain poured as we packed up to head for Ullapool.

About half way to Ullapool the weather cleared and we were able to enjoy the scenery, especially along the side of Loch Ness. We stopped for lunch in Drumnadrochit but we didn’t see any sign of Nessie. Heading on up the road it wasn’t too long before we arrived in Ullapool.

As we approached Ullapool we spotted a cruise ship in the bay. On googling the name we discovered it was called the World and is a floating residence with studios starting at $600000 up to $12950000 with fees of $20000 a month. Maybe we’ll think about ir when we retire!! We spent the afternoon in Ullapool before boarding the ferry for Stornaway. The crossing was a bit rough but not too bad.

On arrival we headed off to find a spot for the night. We turned down a road that seemed to head towards the sea and came across a wee pier next to a small white sandy cove. We pitched up and spent a while playing with the dogs on the beach before calling it a night.

Our first full day in Lewis saw us heading into Stornaway. We parked up at the Harbour and headed into town to find a Post Office to post a wee parcel to Arlene. A quick stop at the Tourist Information to pick up some leaflets and we were ready to explore.

We decided to do a circular route around the centre of the Island and after a false start we found the correct road. First stop was the Callenish standing stones.There are three stone circles and we stopped en route to see the smaller ones before heading to the main site and visitors centre. The stones are about 5000 years old and although there is speculation as to their purpose no one can be sure of why they were erected in such a fashion. It is an impressive site and well worth a visit if you are in the area.

From here we headed off to the Carloway Broch. This is one of the best preserved Brochs. We had previously visited one in North Uist and probably will again but this one was a bit different. You can really see the two wall structure and some of the stairway is still there. Again no one can be sure of the true purpose of these but it is possible they were dwellings for the more important villagers in the past.

Our next stop today was the Blackhouse Village. We were amazed to discover that the inhabitants only left for council housing in 1974. The actual cottages were much more spacious inside than they looked from the exterior and some have been refurbished and can be hired as self catering accommodation. The view from the bottom of th village onto the Atlantic was spectacular and the colours in the sand and sea made you feel as though you were somewhere hot and exotic!!

Our final touristy thing of the day was to visit the whalebone arch. It is the jawbone of a blue whale and it is enormous. It must be from a time when whaling was part of Island life.

We did a bit more driving about looking for another nice spot to park up for the night but we didn’t find one we liked better that our original so we are back here again for this evening.

Tomorrow we intend to investigate the south of Lewis and maybe head in to Harris with a view to exploring Harris on Wednesday. I still want to pay a visit to a working Harris Tweed mill and pick up a few pieces from the place itself. Probably grab a Stornaway Black Pudding too before we head off to the Uists.

Holiday Weekend at North Ledaig

Having decided to get away for the holiday weekend the next step was to decide where to go. After some thought we couldn’t really think of anywhere better than North Ledaig so we set off and headed up the side of Loch Lomond and towards Oban.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and the weather was glorious. The sky was bright blue and out of the wind the temperature was really hot. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun onsite and took the dogs for a walk on the beach. Max was even persuaded to go for a swim encouraged by the lure of retrieving a stick. The site was really busy with everyone making the most of the good weather.

View from the van

View from the van

Walking to the beach

Walking to the beach

Sunset over North Ledaig

Sunset over North Ledaig

On Saturday morning we set off for a walk. Just as we were leaving the campsite we spotted a convoy of bikers, they were all dressed in pink, we watched and waved them on. It turned out they were the riders in the Breast Way Round, a 450 mile charity bike ride raising money for cancer research.

We continued on to Benderloch where we took a walk along the path to Ben Lora. We stopped and admired the view out across the water from the picnic spot. We didn’t climb Ben Lora, that will need to wait for another day. After the walk we refuelled in the Ben Lora tearoom with a cuppa and a scone. We sat near the bird table and watched an array of little birds coming and going and feeding from the table.Reenergised we headed back to the campsite to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Birdwatching

Ben Lora Cafe

Ben Lora Cafe

Oban airport was really busy and we watched the flights coming and going all day. Once again our Motorhome Wifi worked a treat. We were able to pick up a BT hotspot and  we were able to use Sky Go to watch TV on the iPad. Ian was able to watch the F1 qualifying and in the evening we were even able to pick up a live stream of the Champions League final.

Pepsi enjoying the sun

Pepsi enjoying the sun

Max enjoying the sun

Max enjoying the sun

Wind break

Wind break

Saturday night  treat

Saturday night treat

Ian claiming he has sunstroke

Ian claiming he has sunstroke

Before setting off on Sunday we headed back to the Ben Lora tearoom for tea and scones. Driving back down the road we caught up with the charity bikers again at the Green Welly Shop.

A quick stop at Duck Bay Marina on the shore of Loch Lomond on the way home finished off the weekend.

The good weather really helped to make this a great weekend despite Ian claiming he had sunstroke! It’s hard to fault North Ledaig and I’m sure we’ll be back there again soon.

Cofton Country- Day 3

It was torrential rain overnight but by the time we got up in the morning the rain had stopped. The sky was still very overcast and it was cold, probably the coldest day so far since we arrived in Devon. After breakfast we headed off to get the bus from the site entrance into Dawlish. It has been a long time since either of us has travelled on a bus so this was an experience. We left the dogs in the van but there was still three other dogs, including a guide dog, on the bus.

Once in Dawlish we walked along the little river running through the centre. The ducks and the Dawlish black swans were swimming happily. The town centre is getting a bit of a facelift with new pavements being laid, however this meant some of the shops were closed as you could not get access to them.

We went to the Old Mill Tearoom for our Devon cream tea. It was built in 1771ish and was powered by a water wheel which has been refurbished and is still turning today.  The beach was deserted today partly due to the fact that the wind was extremely cold and also the fact that some of the sea wall was demolished by recent storms and work was ongoing to sort things out.

Couldn’t leave Dawlish without trying to win the dogs a toy at the amusements. Sadly I failed miserably but will have another go when we visit Torquay. The Postman Pat van that Duncan loved so much as a little boy has been replaced by a Fireman Sam but apart from that Dawlish hasn’t changed a bit in the 19years since we first visited.

Grabbed some pasties for lunch from Gays Creamery and headed back to the van for a relaxing afternoon.

Deserted beach at Dawlish

Deserted beach at Dawlish

Old Mill Tearoom

Old Mill Tearoom

Inside the Old Mill

Inside the Old Mill

All that's lefy of the cream tea!

All that’s left of the cream tea!

Cofton Country- Day 2

Today we woke up to the sound of rain. The forecast was for rain in the morning drying up in the afternoon, so we decided just t have a lazy morning in the van reading and browsing the internet. The wifi was proving problematic so this gave us some time to mess about and get the best connection we could.

Sure enough the rain stopped and we headed off with the dogs for a walk through Cockwood and onto Dawlish Warren. It was a fresh walk along the coastal path and when we arrived at Dawlish Warren it was blowing a gale at the seafront. Dawlish Warren is a strange wee place. It is a small seaside town in the middle of nowhere but has more static holiday parks than anything else. The path down to the beach is like any other typical seaside town with amusement arcades and shops selling beach nonsense. A cup of tea and a doughnut and a drink of water for the dogs gave us a boost for the walk back. This was a much more pleasant experience as the wind seemed to have died down apart from the fact that Max decided to slip out of his collar and head off down someone’s drive.

When we returned we went to check out the new leisure complex on the site. It is very nice though the pool is quite small and I could imagine it will be very busy in the high season. To test out the cafe we just had to have another cup of tea and a slice of cake. I’ve still to have a Devon cream tea but I’m saving that for the trip into Dawlish tomorrow.

In the evening we were looking forward to the curry meal for two from the restaurant but due to some confusion between the menu outside the restaurant and the waiter inside we didn’t quite end up with what we expected, this was even after we had tried to explain to him. The meal we got was nice and not as expensive as we thought so we decided just to cut our losses.

Tomorrow we plan to visit Dawlish to see the famous black swans and indulge in a little Devon cream tea with real Devon clotted cream.

Coffee and Walnut Cake in the new complex

Coffee and Walnut Cake in the new complex

Dawlish Warren Beach

Dawlish Warren Beach

Beach Huts at Dawlish Warren

Beach Huts at Dawlish Warren

Ian and the dogs at Dawlish Warren

Ian and the dogs at Dawlish Warren

 

Cofton Country- Day 1

Today we travelled from Clent Hills to Cofton Country in Devon. We first visited this site about 19 years ago and have been back many times since but have not been back for a good few years and never without the kids.Since our last visit they have added a new entertainment complex with a gym, swimming pool and bar/restaurant. We have still to try it out but will give it a wee visit tomorrow.

Today we pitched up and took a walk along to the harbour at Cockwood. We gave the dogs a run about in the field and spent some time in the afternoon relaxing after the long drive. This evening we took the dogs to the Swan Pub and they quite enjoyed relaxing and watching the world go by.

Over the next few days we plan to visit Dawlish to see the famous black swans and grab a Devon cream tea. We will also take a trip to the beach at Dawlish Warren and the English Riviera at Torquay.

Enjoying the dog field

Enjoying the dog field

View across the site

View across the site

Enjoying the dog walk field

Enjoying the dog walk field

Having a drink in the Swan Pub

Having a drink in the Swan Pub

     

Day Out Loch Lomond

Today we decided to try out the heater and newly installed bike rack with a day trip to Loch Lomond. We put two bikes on the back and one in the van and set out for the Loch. Unsure of how busy it would be we thought we would try to get parked at Duck Bay and if that was unsuccessful keep driving until we found a suitable spot.

The road at Duck Bay was deserted and so we parked up. We gave the dogs a run on the beach and loaned a bike pump to a guy with a puncture before heading along the cycle route along the side of the Loch.

After a while Ian and I turned back but Duncan kept going for a bit longer, cycling to Luss before heading back to the van.

We had put the heater on before we left so the van was lovely and warm when we returned. We made some lunch and by the time we had finished the sun had come out and the view across the Loch was spectacular.

We gave the dogs another run on the beach and Pepsi provided some photography students with some great photo opportunities by deciding to tight rope walk along the branch of a fallen tree out into the Loch. I am sure they were hoping to catch the moment when she lost balance and splashed into the water. However by some miracle she managed to turn round and make her way back into shore with little more than a wobble. I had already put the camera away by this point so missed it completely.

All in all we had a lovely afternoon but I am sure my legs will feel it in the morning.