What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1

We spent less time travelling around the UK than originally expected, and didn’t get anywhere near as far around the country as we thought we would.

We set off at the beginning of April and the weather finally beat us at the end of October.  We arrived home on 23rd October, a few weeks before we were hoping.

Instead of making our way around the whole of the UK and spending a couple of months in Scotland, we explored the east coast fully, and just made it into Scotland (the furthest north we got was Dunbar, just east of Edinburgh) before we started making our way home via the Lake District and Blackpool.  In this time we also had a week in Ibiza for a family wedding (and what a wonderful week it was too!),  and a couple of weeks, in total, staying near home to catch up with family and friends.  Meaning that our actual time on the road in the UK was 25 weeks (including a diversion to Cornwall).

Obviously we already knew rather more about the UK than about France, Spain or Portugal, but we did learn new things on our way around the country 🙂

So here goes! Continue reading “What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1”

More Northumberland Beaches. And Castles :)

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Bambrugh Castle from the beach


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Bambrugh Beach
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Bambrugh Castle landside


Looking towards Dunstanburgh Castle
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One of the towers at Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
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Looking ‘through the keyhole’ at Dunstanburgh Castle!
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Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

We still weren’t finished with Northumberland.  Our remaining days there before we headed into Scotland took in beaches and castles.  We headed slightly inland to visit Ford & Etal and we even had a daytrip into Scotland, visiting Eyemouth as well as a couple of hidden coves.  We were busy!

We weren’t experiencing wonderful weather; we had some extremely windy conditions – but the sun was out too at times 🙂

From Holy Island we had spotted, what looked like, some rather lovely beaches across the channel, so we headed a couple of miles back down the A1 and took a left.  The 1st turn took us to a dead end.  We did get out to have a look, but there were bird hides and this wasn’t on the agenda for us so we carried on and took the next left!

After a while we found a lay-by from where we could access the shoreline, so we stopped and headed out for a walk along the shore.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the most pleasant experience as the tide was coming in and we had to negotiate the muddy shoreline around the bay.  However we eventually came across the sand  which very nearly made the challenging walk to find it worth it!  Rather than tackle the shoreline, with the tide even further in, we left the beach via a footpath that took us out to a lane, past a caravan site and finally back to the main road.  Although there was no pavement there was room on the verge to walk on when cars went past so it was fine.

Not necessarily my favourite afternoon out, but we did get a fair bit of exercise 🙂

The next day dawned bright and sunny but windy.  We had already decided to head down the coast to Bambrugh, which has an amazing stretch of beautiful wide sandy beach backed by dunes you can get lost in!  We very nearly did!  Continue reading “More Northumberland Beaches. And Castles :)”

The Northumberland Coast – and fog!

Moving back to the coast we found ourselves staying near Ashington, just east of Morpeth.  This is colliery country, a heritage which is clear everywhere with reminders often in the form of sculptures in towns and on roundabouts.

On our first day we headed down the coast towards Tynemouth.  Unfortunately the fog was relentless and would not budge all day on the coast!  We could barely see anything, not even the sea when we were standing on the end of the jetty at Cullercoats!

We did try though, getting out and having a wander; up close we could see that the beach was sandy, but the resort was perhaps a little more tired than in it’s heyday when numerous artists frequented it, often to paint the fishermen and their wives.

From here we headed north to see if the fog would have lifted by the time we got to St Marys Lighthouse.  It hadn’t!  At which point we gave in and headed back to the van, where the sun was out…  We were told that this wasn’t unusual for the area.

The next day we visited Cragside (for which I have done a separate post as it merits it).

So I’ll pick up with our last day here which saw us head to the nearest seaside resort to us and venture a little further north up the coast to Amble.

Our neighbours at the site actually came from Newbiggin on Sea, just about 5 miles from where we were staying.  So this is where we started.  And what a pleasant surprise it was.  We ended up spending a good hour or so wandering around the bay, which was a lovely sweep of sand.  Out in the bay is an offshore sculpture, ‘The Couple’, which is either loved or hated it would appear.  I quite liked it!  There is also a smaller version on the promenade.

There’s quite a lot of interest here, including the fact that the 1st kayak team to circumnavigate Great Britain, Land on the Left,  left from here, and returned to here, in 2012.

Whilst the promenade along the bay is lovely the town itself isn’t quite so much.  A little tired perhaps.

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We continued along the coast to Amble, stopping on the way at Druridge Country Park.  This consists of a large lake, meadows and woods as well as the star of the show, the sweeping bay of golden sand.  There is, of course, a café but it’s only open at weekends outside of the school holidays.  The main car-park is free and it is an easy walk down to the spectacular beach.

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As the sun was still shining we continued on towards Amble, which turned out to have a certain charm (and free parking..!)  We went south of the harbour first (where all the holiday parks are located) before heading back up into town.

We made our way to the harbour, where we could hear the rich dialect of the area.  I often would hear someone talking, and it would take several seconds before I realised that they were actually speaking English!  (I have always had trouble understanding the wonderful Geordie accent – I love it, but my brain takes it’s own sweet time to register exactly what is being said!)

We stopped at Spurreli’s Ice Cream Parlour, voted the UK’s best in 2014.  And it was very nice – although unfortunately the more elaborate sundaes were very pricey!  Then a wander including taking in the 2 war memorials of the town; it’s own Clock Tower and the memorial from neighbouring town of Radcliffe which was demolished in the 1970s.  Read more about this lost settlement here.

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All in all a lovely last day in Southern Northumberland before we moved up to stay near Holy Island, where we visited Berwick on Tweed, Ford & Etal and Bambrugh as well as making a brief foray into Scotland to visit Eyemouth 🙂


The Beautiful beaches of Lincolnshire – Cleethorpes to Anderby Creek

After leaving Fulbeck we found a wonderful little site in Austen Fen (which can only be described as a small settlement) near Louth.  Actually we were told about it by a fellow camper in Fulbeck.  And it was just perfect!

We stayed for 8 nights and only had company for 3 of those nights!  There was even a resident Barn Owl that Calv was privileged to see twice – although he wasn’t able to get any photos unfortunately.  I’m sure I heard it on the roof dragging it’s prey one night in the early hours!

On our 1st day here we popped up the coast to visit Cleethorpes.  We were pleasantly surprised, it wasn’t what we were expecting at all!  Sure it was a little old fashioned and tired in places, with lots of amusements and typical seaside resort attractions.  However, it is really well kept and has a nice feel about it.  The beach was lovely too with what seemed like miles of sand in sight 🙂 Again, not what we were expecting!

Thorness, Cleethorpes

The following day we decided to visit some of the lesser known beaches of Lincolnshire, via the market town of Alford (which was a bit of a detour admittedly…)  Although we didn’t stop in Alford it looked to be a very pleasant place.  It has a working windmill that you can visit which, of course, includes a teashop.

From here the 1st beach we visited was Anderby Creek, just a little north of Chapel St Leonards.  What a find!  Continue reading “The Beautiful beaches of Lincolnshire – Cleethorpes to Anderby Creek”