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PART 3 Moving on…..

Part 3 – Windermere based

Fri 28th

It was about an hour from our base on the excellent Borrowdale site, South to our home for the next week or so. We’d done most of our packing up the night before and it was an easy going morning. We slipped off site at just after 11 and once we’d retraced our steps along that windy, windy road and got onto the B5289 to Keswick, I was happy. Although we’d really loved it here, it was exciting to be moving to pastures new. And it was such a pleasant drive along the A591 to Windermere, driving alongside Thirlmere, Grasmere, Rydal Water and passing through Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness. It genuinely must be one of the most scenic A-roads in the country.

We were in no hurry and eventually arrived at our destination not far from the Southern tip of Lake Windermere  – Hill of Oaks – around 12:30. The access to the site is pretty hairy with a caravan and the site is vast – and yet you never really feel overlooked?

It was pretty quiet on site,  so we had lunch and set up – this pitch is fully serviced. Bliss. There is a launderette on site and, as it was so fine, I did a quick wash in one of their amazing Speed Queen washing machines. We rigged up a line and within 30 minutes, it was pegged out. Result!

We popped out at about 18:00 to do a shop in Booths in Windermere. We had hoped to get food out, but there were queues everywhere and parking was difficult with a Bill on board, so we went back to the site and cooked pizza, from scratch (OK – the dough was frozen) on the Cadac. You can’t get much fresher than that!

We relaxed and watched all the people rolling on to site for the weekend, still steaming from the M6 and felt a little smug. We really have the bedtime routine weighed off now, too. Bill is doing very well. So far, so good.

Saturday 29 June V 🥵

A lovely quiet night saw us refreshed and hungry. The blueberry pancakes had been such a success I decided to use up some bananas and make banana ones. Also delicious!

We had decided that we would take the Windermere Ferry, which runs from Ferry Nab on the eastern shore to Ferry House on the Western shore. It’s a chain ferry and can take up to up to 18 cars and over 100 passengers and takes less than 10 minutes. And it looked like fun! So off we set. It was a shortish queue when we arrived – we imagine it might be a different story at the height of the season! But we were soon on board and rattling across the lake.

Our first lake(let) was Esthwaite Water, a very pretty little lake. and then we passed through the very pretty little village of Near Sawrey, famous for its links with Beatrix Potter. What a lovely place to live! No wonder she was so inspired to write (23 children’s stories and still popular with kids today. No mean feat.).

We stopped in Hawkshead, equally famous for its links with William Wordsworth, who was educated at the Hawkshead Grammar School and went on to write one of the most famous English poems “Daffodils” – said to be set near Ullswater, which we visited earlier in this holiday (see Part 2). We needed some cold drinks and some lunch supplies and I also wanted to get a “Get Well” card for my dear friend Steve Reading , whom we had just heard had been taken ill and hospitalised with a burst appendix, poor chap. I found a very nice bakery with a Russian baker who cooked some really interesting breads, plus the usual bakery fare. This met our lunch needs perfectly.

But the main lake of interest today was Coniston Water (the 3rd largest lake after Windermere and Ullswater). Coniston Water was made particularly famous by Sir Malcolm Campbell, in 1939, when he set the world water speed record (a stonking 141.740 mph!) in his craft Blue Bird K4. He also set various land speed records. Somewhat amazingly, he died aged 63 of natural causes –  unlike many of his speedy contemporaries. His equally thrill-seeking son was killed on Coniston in 1966,  during one of his attempts to exceed 300 mph. I remember it quite clearly.

We stopped alongside the east side of Coniston Water to stretch our legs with the boys. Poor Bill was only allowed down for a pee break but Ted had a nice paddle in the lake. There were lots of families making the most of the weather and the lake. At this point we realised we had forgotten the camera. I say we. All I will say is I’m not in charge of the camera. 🙂

As we were going back to the car we heard quite a loud noise but couldn’t work out what it was. As we approached our car we got chatting to the family (Mum, Dad and 6 year old boy – very cute). Dad had just been getting their kayak off the roof and somehow it had slipped and ripped his electric wing mirror off. Loud noise mystery solved. We commiserated greatly and hoped their luck improved sand that they enjoyed the rest of their day.

We spent the remainder of the day up on the moors, getting the occasional glimpse of sea as we did so. It was beautiful up there and I have only one  picture to share, sadly. A ford with the clearest water ever! We later made our way back again ferry and were lucky enough to be about 8th in the queue , so we knew we’d get on the very next ferry. The Ferry Nab is very near our campsite, so we returned to the van for a cuppa and a relax, until early evening.


As we were so near the coast at this point, we decided to have an evening ride out to Grange-over Sands, which is – I guess you might say – an interesting place. It’s like a seaside town, complete with promenade but no discernible beach! It has (or rather had) an impressive Lido, which closed in 1993. There are plans to restore it and I hope they come to fruition. Great views over the incredible estuary and Morecambe Bay. The railway journey along this coast looks pretty amazing and we wished we had time to do it. Maybe one day?

But our thoughts were turning to food. Being in the North, I reckoned we’d probably be able to get a decent steak and kidney pudding at the local chippy. I was not disappointed! We called into the cleverly-named “Fish over Chips” and were rewarded with a delicious evening meal. It’s been a long time since I tasted such a delight. We ate it in the car overlooking the estuary and then returned to the van for a quiet remainder of the evening, of telly and bed.

Sheep grazing on the salt-marshes.

The Promenade at Grange over Sands

Sun 30th

We woke up to a very much fresher day and decided that we would use today to join up with the trip we had done along Ullswater to Patterdale. After our traditional Sunday eggs we set off. We hit really bad traffic on the outskirts of Bowness. It was rammed. In common with pretty much everyone else, we set about looking for an alternative route.

We went to Troutbeck and then decided to take the Kirkstone Pass which – drum roll! – is the highest pass in the Lake District that is open to motor vehicles. I say open – I think it must close in the winter as it’s so high. We loved it. Once we had reached Patterdale we turned round and made our way back but we had spotted an interesting road called “The Struggle. That sounded our sort of road, so off we went. There is a good account here, of what the descent to Ambleside is like, using this road. We really enjoyed it.

We had our lunch by a river, where we were joined by a very cute robin and had entertainment from a group of kayakers, who had to scramble over the rocks and then back in their kayaks. It looked like good fun. It was really very noticeably colder today – as you can see by the photo of Paul, below, sporting the dog towel to keep warm while we had lunch!

We spent the afternoon  up on the moors, visiting Elter Water and then returned to the van for a cuppa. Incidentally – whilst up near Troutbeck, we saw a pub sign for The Mortal Man which we thought was worth a photo. It bears the legend

“Oh mortal man that lives by bread, what is it makes thy nose so red? Thou silly fool that looks so pale, ‘Tis drinking Sally Burkett’s ale.”

It was a lovely evening so we went for a drive up to Cartmel Fell, and – on the way back, stopped for some lovely views over Windermere. As you can see – Paul will go to some lengths to get the best shot – especially if he has remembered the camera!

I should mention that we have a holiday romance. Ted seems utterly besotted with a very pretty chocolate lab who was pitched opposite us. He was beside himself every time he met her and spent time watching her from afar. It was a very difficult moment when they packed up and went home on Sunday evening. Poor Ted. It ended the way so many holiday romances do, with a broken heart.


Mon 1st Jul

Another lovely day and we were heading South (along with many other things in my experience!). We set off – avoiding main roads as much as possible and soon, we spotted a sign for Tewitfield Locks – a name I recalled from conversations with my Dad. It is the current terminus of the Lancaster Canal. Many of the other miles to Kendal are currently un-navigable but there are ambitious plans to restore the canal from Tewitfield to Kendal – including the Tewitfield locks – a flight of 8 –  which are currently in a very poor state of repair . We had to go and have a look, of course.

The path to the locks runs side by side with the M6 – I think it’s the closest to a motorway that  I’ve ever walked! We met a party of ramblers walking the towpath and Bill & Ted were much admired an coo-ed over.

We called in to Booths in Carnforth, as is now traditional, for coffee and a few bits for lunch and then pressed on to Bolton le Sands – where there was more canal to be viewed and lunch to be eaten overlooking the estuary. And thence to Morecambe – a fairly “typical ” seaside town. And of COURSE we went in search of (and found) the famous statue of Eric Morecambe.

Our Bolton le Sands lunch stop

After Morecambe, we pressed on to Lancaster and went looking for the canal. Lancaster is a big University town and we found student halls of residence actually on the canal basin! Lucky students – although I bet they don’t really appreciate it.

Student Accommodation – Lancaster Canal

Lancaster has a really impressive castle but – being pretty much car-bound – we could not explore it. We also saw a really prominent memorial/folly, known as the Ashton Memorial. It was built by one James Williamson, 1st Baron Ashton, in memory of his 2nd wife. It is also nicknamed the Taj Mahal of the North and he obviously loved and missed her a very great deal, it’s so impressive. And when I mention that he spent a cool £87 grand – the equivalent of well over 2 million pounds today – you’ll fully understand!  Worth a visit for its views over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay.

Leaving Lancaster, we picked up the M6 to get us home quickly and, instead of going out by car tonight, we went for a stroll, on site, to the lake’s edge, where we sat and soaked up the early evening rays and Ted tried to catch some ducks.

Tuesday 2nd

Today, we decided to head to Ulverston – for no other reason than we just fancied it! And it gave us a chance to sing Ulverston to the tune of Glen Campbell’s “Galveston”. Great song. As we approached, we were intrigued to see what looked like a lighthouse. We took quite a few pictures – each time thinking we had the “money shot”. On researching, we found it was the “Hoad Monument” – actually built to look like a lighthouse and commemorating local big-wig, Sir John Barrow. 

We called into Booths for our customary late morning coffee and then as we were driving through town we saw signs for “Canal Foot” – well that had to be investigated, didn’t it?

So glad we went and found it. It was the terminus of the Ulverston Canal – a very short waterway, not connected to the main network and used for transporting slate and coal onto bigger boats in Morecambe Bay (via the River Leven) , until the railways took over. The area has been very nicely landscaped by the local authority, who should be very proud of their handiwork. We chatted to a rather odd couple, who were magnet fishing by the top gates of the sea-lock. They were very proud to tell us about their haul, which had included, on one memorable occasion, they said  – a handgun!

The sea-lock at the end of the Ulverston Canal.


The River Leven estuary at Ulverston

As we drove out of town, we noticed a pub called “The Stan Laurel”. This immediately piqued my curiosity and, upon researching, it transpired that Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel. It made you wonder how a guy from a quiet Cumbrian town could have ended up as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. We also saw that an enterprising florist had called their shop “Floral & Hardy” – nice!

The Stan Laurel Inn, Ulverston

We decided that we would go over Bank House Moor towards the estuary of the River Dudden and Kirkby in Furness. It was a great drive and we were amazed to see – across the fells, in the mist in the distance – the Isle of Man! I immediately contacted my friend Heidi – who is Manx – to tell her that I was waving to her. My phone actually picked up a Manx mobile phone company, too.

The outline of the Isle of Man

We drove on up the coast to pretty little Ravenglass, which has Roman connections dating back to at least the 2nd Century. Indeed, the Romans were in occupation for over 300 years. There is very little evidence today of their presence, other than the remains of a Bath House.

On the way we had caught a glimpse of the privately owned Muncaster Castle, which has been in the hands of the Pennington family for over 800 years. I found that interesting as it is the name of the wealthy land-owner in The Hired Man. Nowadays, many events are held at the castle, to help pay for its upkeep. We stopped to grab a picture on our return journey.

Muncaster Castle

We returned home to the van and had our dinner and a relaxing evening.

Wed 3rd

Today was our penultimate day before we started the long journey South. I didn’t want to leave the area without a quick visit to Kendal. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed our visit, which wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Booths – I have a loyalty card now! I also popped into B&Q to buy the boys a new toy-box as their old one had become too small.

A couple of views of Kendal

We returned to the van for lunch and then set off for Bowness, where we had booked a boat for the afternoon (well, 2 hours of it, at least!).

Parking was pretty tricky so Paul ended up dropping me, Bill and his crate near the jetty, going off to park and then returning with Ted. It was another sweaty logistical pain, but we were soon off. This boat was supplied by Bowness Bay Marina and was electric – very much quieter than our previous boat on Derwent Water!

It was a memorable afternoon, with perfect weather and perfect scenery. We had time to cruise up to Ambleside, where we got glimpses of Wray Castle and the mountains beyond and then all the back, past Bowness to Ferry Nab, where we watched the chain ferry from the water. Even Bill was able to have some time out of his crate. We all really loved it and were sad to have to hand the boat back. They very kindly said we could bring the car down on to the jetty when we left, which made life a great deal easier. An ice-cream was the finishing touch to a really lovely afternoon.

Ted – ahoy there!
Bill – enjoying his boat trip

A very small selection of the many pictures we took


Thurs 4th

We decided to just relax and potter on our last day instead of haring around. We had a very leisurely breakfast, put on a load of washing, did some cleaning and a bit of packing and suchlike, in preparation for commencing our journey home. We also did a fair bit of relaxing and reading and made a last trip to Booths (Windermere) for provisions for the journey and evening meals. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Lakes. It hasn’t been the holiday we planned, but I think we have made the best of a bad job. We would both have been so desperately disappointed to have had to postpone or cancel. We can’t believe our luck, either. 2 weeks in the Lakes and only one night of rain and one properly gray and overcast day.

To be continued/……………

Jun 20th to July 7th – The Lake District Part 2 – The First Week (23/6 to 27/6)

Part 2 – Derwent Water based

Sunday 23rd

After a lovely, peaceful night, we set off late morning, having a quick look at Bassenthwaite (gorgeous) and then on to Cockermouth – birthplace of Fletcher Christian. Indeed, there is a pub named after him. This town also had literary connections for us, being mentioned in Howard Goodall’s “The Hired Man” – another of my favourite shows. We rather liked Cockermouth, which claims to be the first town in Britain to have piloted electric lighting – although they soon went back to gas, apparently! Many people remember Cockermouth’s name because of the dreadful flooding in 2015.

Cockermouth High Street

Maryport was our next port of call – again mentioned in The Hired Man. Maryport was very nice indeed, with a small fishing fleet in a cute harbour. Ted and I spent some time on the beach, paddling and messing about in rock-pools, whilst Paul  cuddled Bill, who was jst gald to be out of his crate, poor chap.

The harbour at Maryport
View across to Scotland
The Prom
Me and Ted rock-pooling

Yesterday, we had discovered that Paul had no pants. I had got them out and put them ready to pack. He had carefully put them all away in his drawer, thinking he was doing “a good thing”. He did try and blame his lack of nether-garments on me, but I was having no truck with that! Our next port of call was Workington, and a large ASDA for pants and some lunch bits and pieces.

Workington is much more “industrial” than Cockermouth. It is (or sadly was) an iron and steel town and Henry Bessemer constructed his first “converter” here, an invention which revolutionised the steel-making industry.

We ate our rather late lunch overlooking the water at Derwent Howe – a suburb of Workington – and then pressed on along the coast to Whitehaven (another Hired Man place name). You can see where the coal mine that went out “under the sea” used to be. The “Candlestick Chimney” is a fine sight and and is on the site of the former Wellington pit, where there was a dreadful accident in 1910. A plaque on the wall below the chimney commemorates all the “Men, Women and Children” of the Whitehaven District Collieries who lost their lives in the local pits. There is a lightning rod at the top and the chimney is supposed to vent methane from the pit. A flash ignited the gases in 1984 which burnt for 5 hours! The pit was eventually closed in 1932, by the way.

Whilst there Paul spotted a gathering of Puch and other similar vintage mopeds and went over to have chat with the gents who were proudly displaying them. Paul’s first “motorbike” was a Puch Maxi. Such nostalgia.

En passant -we were also rather taken with this fetching little Citroen 3 wheeler.

Our final call that day, was St. Bees, where we got the chairs out and sat by the beach for a while, watching the world enjoying their Sunday, and eating ice-cream. We loved St Bees. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular holiday spot.

We’d enjoyed our coastal day but it was time to go back to our lovey forest spot for dinner and – eventually – bed. As we drove home, it was getting grey and misty and we knew rain was probably on its way.

Still beautiful.

Monday 24th

It had been a noisy night – it actually rained quite hard and we must all have had a disturbed night because we had all overslept. It was 09:15 when the boys let us know they were ready to start the day – unusually late for them!

We had a morning of tidying and showering and such like and then set off to meet an old friend, Cath Marcangelo. I used to work with Cath many years ago and this was to the first time I’d seen her for perhaps 30 years. We agreed to meet for lunch at the picturesquely located Cafe at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. We had such a great time and talked and reminisced for ages. She already knew Paul but it was the first time I had met her musician husband, John,  too. A very enjoyable lunch, which stretched on into the afternoon and was only cut shorter by our respective parking tickets running out. John was very helpful as both Bill and his crate had to be carried to and from the car park.

Cath runs a choir called “Committed to Rock” and invited me to go along to their rehearsal on Tuesday night, in Keswick. Larks! How could I not go?


After we’d said our goodbyes we picked up a couple of fresh items from Booths – which is my new discovery! It is known as the “Waitrose of the North” although I think they prefer Waitrose to be known as the “Booths of the South”! Either way, it is a fab supermarket , and once discovered, we did all our shopping at one or another of their branches. They can be found all over the North-West.

As there was still some day left, we decided it was time for another lake – this time Buttermere. It was yet another beautiful lake and I love that they are all beautiful and all slightly different. As it was so near, we decided to press on to Crummock Water, where we strapped Bill into his baby sling (donated by Beth’s sister) and went for a short walk. He is pretty heavy now so anything more than a short walk would be too much for Paul, but it was really nice to stretch our legs.

We had passed a farmhouse doing home made ice-creams on the way to the lakes and dropped in there on the way back. The hazelnut flavour was memorable.  And then it was back to Keswick and thence home via the impressive Honister Pass, which we absolutely loved. Beautiful scenery.

Tuesday 25th

Today was the turn of Ullswater – another beautiful lake. We are both so glad we came. I had very hazy memories from when I was only 8 years old and this was a first ever visit to the area for Paul. We are loving it.

Pooley Bridge, at the Northern tip of Ullswater was a pretty and bustling little village and we thought we might stop off there on the way back, but pressed on along the shore. We eventually stopped for coffee in Glenridding – and we are on holiday so it was accompanied by a piece of cake, naturally. The cafe was called Let It Brew and was just to our taste – great coffee and yummy cake. We rounded off our trip round this area of the lakes by a visit to Patterdale, beloved of walkers and also the valley from which the cute Patterdale Terrier gets its name.

We stopped and took a look at the OS map and decided our next visit would be to Thurlmere, where there was a nice circular drive around the lake. Instead of going back the way we had came (and on to Pooley Bridge) we set off across country. We were absolutely delighted to have a sighting of a couple of Hares. Paul managed to get a couple of good pics. The road we had chosen gave us good views of Helvellyn and then dropped down onto the A591. As we started our tour, we noticed that Thurlmere was very low. We were aghast to find that the road we wanted to take to complete our tour round the lake was closed UFN. Very disappointing.

We set off back to Keswick, and as the food had been nice the day before and to save the bother of cooking tonight, we went back the the Cafe at the Theatre by the Lake. Fish and Chips. Delish!

Paul, tucking in


Afterwards we went back to the van, where we all had a little beepy before getting ready to go and see a rehearsal of Cath’s choir at Keswick Conservative Club, which is dog friendly. We had a great evening singing along – they really make a great sound and Cath is an absolute marvel with them. SO proud of her. Gutted I didn’t take any photos.

By the time we finished there we were both hungry again, so we grabbed a quick takeaway pizza to fill us up and then home to bed.

Wednesday 26th

As we were so near the Border, we thought we couldn’t miss an opportunity to visit Scotland and so we set off, joined the M6 and hurtled North towards Carlisle. We left the M6 briefly for a quick tour round Carlisle. The Castle is very impressive and we saw the McVities factory. Now – here’s a statistic for you that will blow your mind! Every 24 hours, McVities produces over 6.5 million Custard Creams! There!! Feel free to use that any time. Carlisle was also the only UK city through which the Olympic Flame passed, twice, in 2012. It’s also the home of Eddie Stobart. I’m going to leave you wanting more! Suffice to say we really liked Carlisle.

We were also quite taken with the more modern Shaddon Mill (sadly no pics but follow the links) and its towering chimney. In its heyday, Shaddon was the biggest mill in England and had the 8th tallest chimney (Dixon’s Chimney) in the world. See? I’ve been reading up. And it was built very tall so as not to pollute the streets of Carlisle. Originally it was 305 ft tall, but in 1950 it was shortened to 290 ft. What a sight that must have been before it was truncated. It’s pretty amazing now. Having then, accidentally,  gone down a bus lane, we decided it was time to leave Carlisle and press on to Scotland. We are waiting to see if a fine will materialise.

We skipped back onto the M6 and finally crossed the border near Gretna Green. I had visited as a child (in the early 60s) and it was very different to my recollections. Back then it was a quaint tourist attraction. Today – it ‘s a BIG BUSINESS! Outlet shops, food concessions. No longer quaint that’s for sure. I bought one or two Scottish delicacies to take home including some Abernethy biscuits (one of my favourites) and some Scottish Macaroons for my friend and ex-pat Scot Steve. They are very different to English Macaroons, being more like mallow snowballs, coated in coconutty chocolate. I also bought a couple of bits for our lunch, including – reader I kid you not – a Macaroni Cheese Pie. Whatever next?!


The “LOVE” padlock wall at Gretna Green


We didn’t stay long at Gretna and decided to visit Annan. Annan is an ex boat building town and it was interesting to drive down to the old harbour/docks. So sad that industry here has collapsed.

A few views of the town

And the port/harbour

As it was nearly lunch-time, we drove down to Annan Beach, which overlooks the Solway Firth. It was a lovely afternoon so we got the chairs out and had our lunch there. We saw one chap walk out onto the sand with a strange net thing over his shoulder, and then another and yet another. Paul got talking to one of them and he told him all about it. It’s called Haaf Netting and is only practiced in a few places now, Annan being one of them. It may date back to Viking times. Haaf is Norse for “Channel”. And it’s quite hazardous – the men really have to know the tides. Fascinating stuff – the sort of thing that you see on Country File. Its strangely beautiful – considering that it’s mostly mud-flats.

As we drove back towards the M6, we saw a sign for “The Devil’s Porridge Museum” Intrigued, I looked it up. It seems that HM Factory Gretna was the largest producer of cordite in WW1. Cordite is very volatile and the stuff they made resembled porridge – hence the name. And it was actually dubbed that by Sir Arhur Conan Doyle who, after visiting wrote “The nitroglycerin on the one side and the gun-cotton on the other are kneaded into a sort of a devil’s porridge; which is the next stage of manufacture…those smiling khaki-clad girls who are swirling the stuff round in their hands would be blown to atoms in an instant if certain small changes occurred”. Wow!

We headed back down the M6 to keswick, did a quick flick round Booths and then home to relax. I got Paul some Ilkley Brewery Bitter (very drinkable. Quite hoppy and refreshing. Might be nice served chilled). Dinner, movie, bed.

Thursday 27th

It was a sort of “pottering morning” and – for a change – I made some blueberry pancakes which, served with a little Maple Syrup, really hit the spot, in combination with a strong hot coffee. I love holidays!

Freshly made blueberry pancakes

Today’s destination was the Castlerigg Stone Circle, just outside Keswick. It’s probably walkable but not with poor Bill in his current condition. We popped into Booths to grab another coffee and some picnic food and then drove to the site. It was a perfect day and the awesome view that met us brought a tear to my eye. It is PERFECT – actually more impressive than Stonehenge in my opinion. There is a certain atmosphere to the place and we loved it. If you’ve never been you’ve really missed a treat for your eyes and – somehow – your soul. It sounds odd but that’s how I felt. Uplifted! Sadly, the photos just not do it justice, but if you follow this link, there’s a cracker

We had decided that today would be the perfect day for a trip round Derwentwater. It was a quite a complex process logistically – getting us, the dogs, the crate and a few provisions – drink mainly – from the car park to the boat. It was also very sweaty!! And – to be honest – the organisation was a bit of a shambles. We rocked up, then another couple, then a gaggle of lads, then a family and then guy handing out life jackets and doing the briefings just up and disappeared, leaving us all standing in the glare of the sun. For – like – a quarter of an hour! I was a tad grumpy by the time he showed up again, but we were soon ensconced on the boat and off we went, to cries of “Rock! Rock Neville! Neville – ROCK!”.  It was a lovely – the lap takes about an hour and was very relaxing – apart from the noisy little outboard, sputtering away behind us!

We did the return to the car slightly more simply, as Paul drove the car down to the lake’s edge – bit cheeky, but we had a pretty good excuse! We then set off for home and Paul asked if it was OK if we popped up the road we had seen a couple of time on the way to the campsite. It did look interesting! And boy! Was it steep!  And then some. The road leads to Watendlath Tarn  and was so worth the trip up – even all the hairy passing manouevres! And there were quite a few of those. It’s a bonkers road! Just our cup of tea! We stopped for a photo opportunity on the way back down. Just stunning.

Watendlath Tarn

Surprise View – Derwentwater

So glad we stopped to do this, as this was our last day here. We had absolutely loved it and really did not want to leave. I was worried that our next site wouldn’t be as nice. So it was back to the site to eat and do some tidying and packing, ready for the off tomorrow.

To be continued…………



Jun 20th to July 7th – The Lake District Part 1 – the arrival

Is our holiday ACTUALLY a go-er?

In our last post, we arrived home on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening, disaster struck! Paul was out walking the boys just as he has always done and the boys were playing, just as they have always done. He heard a loud yelp and Bill emerged from the bushes limping and unable to bear weight on his left back leg. He carried him home. We thoroughly examined his leg and could find no place from where any pain emanated. We cuddled him and then put him to bed for the night, resolving to take him the vet if things had not improved. By morning he really was no better so it was off to our vet (Portchester Vets). After a very thorough examination, the vet diagnosed that he had fractured his “tibial tuberosity” – effectively a broken leg. It is apparently a very common injury in puppies and is more often caused by jumping off a bed or sofa. As Bill had eaten that morning, he could not be X-Rayed and so we arranged one for the following day. He advised to keep Bill in his crate. Thank goodness we crate-trained them from the start!

The next morning (Tuesday) , the X-Ray was taken and he was proved right. We were offered a choice of veterinary hospitals and chose Anderson Moores in Winchester. They set up an appointment for us for that afternoon and we drove over with Bill, still drowsy from his X-Ray sedation. We had a consultation with the lovely and talented surgeon James Grierson, who explained everything in full detail and said that they would be keeping Bill in overnight and operating the next morning. He explained that Bill would need to be kept in a crate for 6-10 weeks after the op. That was a bit of a shock.

We said goodbye to Bill and – reassured by James saying he thought that Bill would be a big hit with the team and would not be lonely – we drove home. I think we both had a bit of a lump in our throats as we drove away. Poor Bill.

Before we left, we sought James’s advice as to whether he thought we should cancel our holiday or go – either way Bill would need to be kept in his crate. He said that if we were prepared to follow his instructions and only let Bill out for pee times, that he was quite happy for us to go. We had planned a walking/cycling/boating holiday and would have to modify our plans, but we could still go. That was a relief.

The op went well and Bill was kept in on Wednesday night too. We arranged to pick him up and be shown what needed to be done with regard to his recovery at 1 pm on Thursday. We decided to take the caravan to our appointment and continue our journey North from there.

Thursday 20th June

We spent the morning finishing our packing and set off for the hospital to pick up Bill. He was still a bit woozy and we were given instructions as to how to cope with the wound and the physio showed us what we needed to do, 3 x daily – to aid his recuperation. We popped him in his home for the next 6 weeks – aka his crate – and hit the road, bound for Woodstock.

Our destination for the first night was one of our oft-visited sites – Bladon Chains – just off the A34 at Woodstock. It was a smooth journey until the last leg, off the A34 – which was very heavily queued. Just before the turn-off to the site, on the verge was a couple of proper bow-topped Romany caravans and horses – they seemed to be producing wood carvings (by chain-saw) for sale. It was very picturesque, and I’d love to have taken a picture as it’s a rare sight, but it seemed a bit rude to do so.

When we checked in, the lady told us that there would be fireworks at 23:00 as Gladys Knight was appearing at Blenheim Palace (in the grounds thereof, which adjoin the campsite). Great! But at least we now knew what the queue was all about! We use a very basic set-up for one night stops which comprises a 5 litre water container for drinking water and a bucket for our grey waste, so set-up was pretty quick.

We needed to go and get a few bits for Bill – such as a “cone of shame” and some natural calming tablets so we set off for Oxford. It was rush hour and took longer than we had hoped, but we did see some bits of Oxford that we had never seen before. We got all we needed and made our way back – through the queue – again. Then it was supper and an early night as we were all tired. The fireworks were very loud indeed so we didn’t get to sleep early! That one night cost us £24.30 by the way.

Friday 21st June

Up and at it. We had about 180 miles to do today, so we wanted to get on the road as early as possible and breakfast en route. With such a basic set-up it doesn’t take long to get ready and soon we were off, heading further North.  Our destination was The Old Barn in Heskin, near Chorley, Lancs. – very near Charnock Richard services, for those of you accustomed to travelling the M6.

As we left we noted very heavy traffic heading for another event at Blenheim Palace. We were very glad we were heading in the opposite direction!

We stopped at the first services to get breakfast and then continued our journey, stopping as and when we felt the need for coffee/pees etc. We arrived at our destination at around 14:30. The access was very narrow indeed and my heart was in my mouth for the last 10 minutes or so.

The site was very basic – although it had hard-standings and everything we needed and even a shower if required. The farmer helped us with a longer lead for the hook-up and then set off on his mower to mow a path round the field to act as a dog walk! How lovely it was.

Our view from the van
Poor old Bill
Ted chillaxing

As it was a lovely sunny afternoon we relaxed and read. There was just one other van on site and they had some very yappy dogs. As I walked to the path the farmer had so kindly mowed, I was assailed by 5 very noisy and aggressive seeming chihuahuas. I quickly scooped Ted up, and in the ensuing kerfuffle my favourite necklace got broken. I tried to tell the lady who had, by now, come to gather up her unruly pack. She didn’t hear me, it seemed, so I said it again a little louder. “Your dogs have broken my necklace” quoth I. All I was met with was the lady rapidly beetling off with her little yappers in tow. I was NOT amused. But her husband was very burly and – even though they were right across the field from us, e could hear him effing and jeffing non-stop. The flipping dogs should have been on a lead, as ours were. But I wasn’t going to tell him, coward that I am.

A cuppa soon assuaged my temper and then, when the sun had waned a little, we decided to go out and explore the surrounding area. We set off for Parbold, through which the Leeds and Liverpool canal runs and were rewarded by the sight of a very quaint old ex-Windmill. And then it was on to Chorley, home of the famous Chorley cake and of course, this being Lancashire, cotton mills. It’s quite a pretty town. We then pressed for home, stopping at the local shop where I found some fabulous delicacies, made by the famous (locally) Handley’s Bakery, of which more tomorrow. I also bought a couple of beers – an American Shipyard IPA (smooth and not too hoppy) and a  Buster IPA from Clitheroe-based Bowland Brewery (refreshing clean taste). Some food, a bit more reading and bed. It was going to be a lovely quiet one, with virtually no noise from the M6.

The Old Mill at Parbold
Leeds & Liverpool Canal – Parbold
Chorley – in its summer finery

Sat 22 Jun

After a good night’s sleep, we were raring to go and decided, as we only had just over 100 miles to do today, we’d have a pleasant breakfast in the “garden”. Mr Burly of Burly’s Chihuahuas walked by and I went to smile at him. No dice. No eye-contact. No pleasantries. We were quite glad when they left. And then, just before 11:00, it was time for us to go. And we had found another, rather less scary way of leaving the site with easy access back on to the M6, so we were soon under way. First stop was at the Lancaster Services, with it’s rather space-age tower.known as the Pennine Tower. Some fascinating facts about it here.  Coffee time and a Handley’s “Courting Ring” each. Yum. Courting Cake is a Lancashire tradition and you can find a recipe here. But they seem to vary between a slightly firmer Victoria Sandwich to being made of Shortbread – or a combination of both. Ours was rather less elaborate and very definitely shortbread based – more like a Scottish Empire Biscuit (one of my favourites).

The Pennine Tower – Lancaster Services M6

We rolled further North and were soon getting glimpses of hills as our destination loomed ever nearer. For lunch, we had a Handley’s Beef Pie – very similar to a Pork Pie, but made with Beef. Delicious! Soon we were nearing Keswick – at the opposite end of Derwentwater to where our campsite is. As luck would have it, we couldn’t get a decent signal so could not check the the instructions provided for very rural sites. And typically, our sat-nav took us down what looked like a reasonable route, initially, but soon looked a bit foolhardy. We stopped a taxi driver who told us that the route was madness with a caravan, so the ever cool, calm and unflappable Mr Sumpner found a place to unhitch and turn the caravan round. We went the way the taxi driver advised and once in Keswick we got enough signal to follow the prescribed instructions. A salutary tale – I should have loaded the page earlier, while I had some signal. Lesson learned!!

Even following the proper route, It was pretty hairy in places and – just as we turned into the site we met a Dutch couple who really weren’t sure what to do so they passed on the wrong side! No problem though. But it was good to be at the site. We found a lovely spot, right at the end of one of the roads with a clearing that was very much “ours”! We were very pleased. We thought we’d like it here.

Rough location of our pitch

It was very peaceful. I had been too stressed to look at the Lake on the very narrow approach to the site. I was actually dry mouthed!! So, after we had done a “full” set up, we decided to go for a circumnavigation . I was excited to see some of the islands, such as Rampsholme, which feature heavily in one of my favourite plays “Neville’s Island” by Tim Firth.  We stopped in Keswick for beer for Paul –  Keswick Bitter (a little too bitter). We then made our way back to the site and had a barbecue. I really think I might be over barbecue? Both of us felt the same. And then it was time for SHOWERS! Reader – we had not showered since Thursday morning – although we had washed of course. It was utter bliss. The site has no facilities, as it’s a forest site, so we used our own, which I prefer anyway.

Our glade pitch
Derwent Water
Little Rampsholme on the right

And then we watched a little telly, after which we started the new bedtime routine which, with Bill’s injury to be attended to, is rather lengthy! We have ice for as long as he will stand it (between 10 and 20 minutes) and then do some simple physio, the boys both have to be taken out to pee and then (and only then) we can settle down for the night. It was so quiet – and yes – there was an owl or too. My favourite. And the holiday stretching out for days and days to enjoy. Happy dreams…………


to be continued………..


Jun 14 to16 – Dorset with Bob and Barb

Friday 14th

The time had come round again for our annual trip with lovely Bob & Barb Shorter. As we met RV-ing in Canada it always seems apt that we have an annual camp; them in their trusty Hymer and us in our Caravan. We had an exciting day planned for Saturday, but the weather wasn’t looking too good. Only time would tell.

It is a reasonably short journey to the Hunter’s Moon  caravan site, near Wareham, where we had planned to meet, but traffic was quite heavy. The site is just on the edge of Wareham Forest, near (of course!) Wareham. The Shorters had arrived not long before us and the site was already busy. We could not find a pitch together so we settled for one nearby. Our pitch was actually ideal as there was plenty of room for the pups to play.

As soon as we were settled, Bob and Barb came over for a drink and a few nibbles, while I put the dinner on. This was the first time B&B had met our boys, who very quickly made their presence known! I had made a lasagne earlier and we were soon tucking in with some salad and garlic bread. We spent the evening catching up on our respective families, and our plans and it was soon time for bed. We arranged to convene at 9:00 in the morning, as we needed to be in Poole by 09:30.

Saturday 15th

The weather had worsened overnight and it was blowing an absolute hooley. We had a trip booked on a boat, with Poole City Cruises,  to view the Jurassic Coastline – including the Old Harry Rocks, ending up in Swanage, where we would be dropped off and would make the return journey by steam train.

We set off – clad for bad weather  – and arrived to find that Poole had been overrun by Pirates! It was the 600th Anniversary of the death of one Harry Paye – a notorious pirate from the 14th Century. A fun day is held every June on Poole Harbour to commemorate Harry’s life and we had rocked up as they were preparing for the celebrations.

We reported to the City Cruises booth and were not surprised to hear that – as a result of the inclement weather – the trip would be curtailed. It would sail slightly later and do an “out and back”, not calling at Swanage. Disappoinitng but not unexpected. As we had a while to wait, we went and got a coffee and watched the Pirate preparations.

We felt very sorry for the organisers and participants as a lot of work clearly goes in to the event. We watched them trying to put up bunting and decorations, battling the heavy winds. Poor things. After coffee, we went for a quick look round the shops and then it was time to board. The skies were very grey and rain was spitting in the wind as we set off.

But we are British! We don’t let a little cyclone get in the way of us enjoying ourselves! Admittedly, it was a bit lumpy at sea but we saw the sights and the commentary was very good – fun and informative. The Old Harry Rocks, which we’ve seen from the land, are very impressive from the sea. They are Chalk “stacks” – formed by erosion and some say they are named after the devil, who once slept there and others say they were named to commemorate the Pirate ” Old Harry” Paye, who used to hide there and ambush the French trading ships. As you can see, they are much like the Needles, off the Isle of Wight.

We arrived back just as the Fun Day was kicked off by a canon shot. It was very LOUD! It doesn’t sound it in the video below but it really was!

As the train tickets were still valid, we decided to drive to Swanage via the chain ferry at Sandbanks. On the way, we phoned for advice about parking and were advised that it would be best to pick up the train at Norden, which is the best station for parking for the Swanage Railway, so we headed there.

By now, the weather was brightening and the sun was showing its face at last. We had a bit of time to kill until the next train and bought sandwiches and coffees from the very good little cafe on the platform. After lunch, I looked after the dogs while the others went to visit the Mining Museum. The dogs were dropping off – it had been a long morning – and all of a sudden a flurry of wings and a little fledgling landed on my arm. I was so surprised and so,I think, was he or she. It may even have been a maiden flight! I could not believe it and inched very carefully to get my phone to take a picture of my little visitor. Just then someone walked by and it startled the bird. He flew to the spot where I finally managed to take a picture.

He didn’t stay long and the others missed it. They arrived back shortly after my encounter and we all got on the train which arrived just after them. They tell me the museum was well worth a visit. We chugged off and very soon arrived at Corfe Castle, where the trains halt for a while (I think they maybe turn round?). We used it for a photo opportunity – or two.

And then we were off again in the now bright sunshine. We arrived at Swanage station and went for a leisurely walk around the town and along the prom. There was some sort of rowing race on and it was all very busy. We walked down to a pier and had an ice-cream and watched people crabbing, before walking back up to town to catch the train back to Norden. We’d had a lovely day despite the weather and a change of plan.

We went back to our respective abodes to spruce up and rest for a while, before heading back to the very pretty village of Corfe Castle for our evening meal at the dog-friendly Greyhound Inn, where Barb and the boys sampled some nice beers. The food was very nice and we spent a very pleasant evening there, before returning to our van for coffee and bed.


Sunday 16th

Bob and Barb were up with the lark as they had to get back to their home near Worthing. We were still in bed when they knocked the door to say goodbye. We took things a little more “Sunday morning easy” style, but were still home with plenty of time to tidy up and enjoy some time at home too. Another lovely weekend with our mates. And next – our 2 week holiday in the Lakes – just 4 sleeps before we were off! Can’t wait!

Bill and Ted - not phased by the rough passage