On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

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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…………



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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………..