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 🙂
What a delight it’s been discovering that there are even more beautiful beaches in our amazing country than we were aware of! These resorts tend to be a little quieter than their counterparts in Cornwall – with the exception perhaps of Whitby 🙂
I thought I’d pop this poll on to see if people agree with our personal favourites 🙂
Okay, so over the course of the last week or so we have visited all 4 of these resorts from our base in Flamborough – meaning that Filey is closest to us, then Scarborough, then Robin Hoods Bay and finally Whitby. (You might want to get a cuppa before continuing with this post! Or read it in shifts. Sorry…!)
The first resort we visited was Filey over a week ago now. We were totally charmed by this place. We parked by the side of the road in Church Ravine (there are parking charges, and make sure to keep those kids safely in the car until you’re ready to cross over to the pavement). Walking down towards the beach one of the 1st things we saw were the donkeys taking kids for rides – it’s been years since I saw donkeys on the beach. I also have a feeling that my own kids may never have experienced this particular delight – put me right boys if I’m wrong here!
To the left of this entrance to the beach, and the donkeys, is the area where you will find a small number of amusements and traditional seaside shops and cafes, as well as another section of beach (not quite so sandy) and the traditional fishing cobles parked up. The lifeboat station is also here.
Donkeys at Filey
Fishing boats at Coble Landing, Filey
Tractors for launching the boats at Coble Landing, Filey
We turned right for a very pleasant wander along the seafront. Along here there was a crazy golf course, a number of sculptures, a paddling pool, a hopscotch outline with fish sculptures to jump on and deckchairs & beach huts for hire!
I haven’t been to Lincoln since I was 15 so was really looking forward to this trip. From Fulbeck we took the A607 and passed through several pretty villages; Leadenham, Welbourn, Navenby, Boothby Graffoe… On arriving in Lincoln we managed to drive onto a pedestrian only area (it wasn’t obvious!) We then found an NCP car park close to the city centre and by the river to park in.
Now this was expensive – £7.80 for up to 4 hours (no option for 3 hours). But if we’d parked any further out I think it would probably have been too far to walk. If anyone knows of a better and cheaper place to park please feel free to share!
Anyway we found our way to the shopping area by walking through an alleyway between 2 very old buildings. There were many such buildings to admire, but after a spot of lunch we headed for the cathedral, which dominates the skyline and a very impressive sight it is too.
The back of the shops in Lincoln
Before making it to the cathedral itself though we had to negotiate Steep Hill, which is very well named 🙂 (Look at the angle of that building on the left…)
On the opposite side of Rutland Water from where we were staying lies Oakham, the county town of Rutland. So we decided to visit.
This is a pleasant little town although there doesn’t appear to be an awful lot going on. We parked up on the side of the road and went for a little wander, heading towards the church – which you can’t really miss. In the old market place we found this Butter Cross with it’s stocks.
We then took the path to the church, although we didn’t visit on this occasion, and then found an old school house behind the church. When I say old it has a inscription in Latin on the outer wall, and graffiti from, perhaps, the 16th century (we couldn’t be sure!)
From here we went into the castle grounds from the modern park (the front entrance is by the butter market). I thought that the grounds were all that was left, thinking that the building was a rather more modern church building (see the main photo above). How wrong could we be??!! It’s actually a 12th Century hall and is still used as a court building to this day!
As we walked in I just stopped and stared to try and take in what I was seeing – what an amazing sight! (The photos really can’t do it justice).
Entrance is free and there are a couple of guides available to answer any questions you might have, as well as plenty of information boards. The horseshoes are presented by any dignitaries who visit the town, and include many from the current royal family. Below I have included photos of the oldest one (from 1470..)
The end wall of Oakham Castle
In the judges chair (and wig) at Oakham Castle
The oldest horseshoe (the large one) from 1470
There is also a small shop, several toilets and refreshments. This was a real hidden gem and it would be so easy to miss out on it.
On our last day in Stamford it rained most of the day, and the only thing that we did was to walk across the fields from our campsite to the village of Ryhall, which is a nice little village.
On Wednesday when we moved on to Whittlebury Park for the grand prix . Once settled in we headed out to visit Rushden as this is where Calv was born and lived until he was about 7. I was very impressed that he remembered enough to drive straight to his old house in Coronation Avenue!
We wandered around the area, with Calv remembering various places and events, such as the school railings that he got his head stuck in when he was 5, the shop that they used to run down to and the shoe factory that his brother Phil used to work in. We also found his eldest sister’s house in Irchester where he and his niece used to play – this we very nearly missed as there has been quite a lot of development around the house.
On the way back we went through Higham Ferrers which was absolutely delightful – the picture below is of the church at Higham Ferrers (we didn’t take any pictures of Calv’s old house as it didn’t seem the right thing to do!)
The next 5 days were spent at the British Grand Prix – read all about it here 🙂
We knew that we couldn’t leave this area of Norfolk without visiting Sandringham – it was less than 10 miles from where we were staying after all.
This is such a lovely part of the world. As you leave the main road and head towards Sandringham itself you find yourself driving along a wide tree-lined avenue; here you can park up for a picnic and to take walks in the woods.
Having already had lunch we continued to the spot where you find the house and church on the right side of the road (neither visible from the road), and on the left a large open area and a shop, café and toilets adjacent to the, free, parking.
The cost to visit the house, gardens and museum is £15.50 for each adult (£10 each if you don’t want to visit the house). It is worth it – the house is charming, and knowing that the royals use it as a much loved home in the winter makes it all the more special.
As you enter you immediately see items that the royals use daily whilst in residence, and there are numerous members of staff on hand to give you those little details that bring everything to life. We even met a lady who is on the winter staff and so was able to tell us that ‘this is where the queen sits when going through her correspondence each morning with her lady in waiting..’
The house is owned by the Queen and all the contents belong to her personally as well. It really is an interesting and informative tour, but no photography is allowed inside the house, which is understandable (although it doesn’t stop people from trying it on..)
The museum is housed in the old coach house and stables. There is so much to see here including carriages, cars, bicycles, even a fire-engine!
In the old stables, still complete, with the original stalls, is a tearoom – I had a rather nice slice of Victoria sponge in here 🙂
The gardens are beautiful with various walks, the lake and a ‘nest’ visible across the lake towards the house.
Eventually you come to the church which is rather lovely. The altar-piece and pulpit are both very ‘rich’ – clearly crafted from silver. There are plagues to many royals evident within the church.
The following day we moved on to Stamford as we wanted to go to Rutland Water. In the afternoon we visited Stamford itself, a very pretty stone built town with several churches, a pretty riverside and a number of independent shops & pubs as well as the usual chains.
There used to be a castle here which is explained on an information board near the river.
We had a quick drink before heading back to the van. We didn’t choose the best establishment, but it was a good spot for people watching!
The following day we cycled around Rutland Water and I will recount this in my next post 🙂
Arriving in Suffolk we were told by a reliable source that we had chosen to stay in the ‘arse-end’ of a very pretty area! I think she was referring to the fact that we are just a few miles from Sizewell and the town that serves it, Leiston.
However, we have to beg to differ as within very easy reach we have found some little gems, including:- Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Orford, Dunwich, Southwold and, today, Framlingham. All this in addition to Theberton’s own, extremely special, St Peters Church.
Let’s start with the church – it was the first visit we made after all, being at the end of the road we’re staying on (Fishers Field in Church Lane :), see my review of the site here ); so about a 5 minute walk from the van.
The church has an unusual round tower and thatched roof, and you can see where it was extended in the 15th century. In the vestry there is a beautiful arch leading into the church. It would appear that this was an entrance from a monastery that occupied the site behind the church in medieval times (there’s no longer any trace of this unfortunately). The painted decoration is also still clearly visible, as are the slight bowing of the roof.
St Peters Theberton
The interior of St Peters, Theberton. Note the bow, and the painted arches
The painted arches in St Peters Theberton
A close up and the ceiling, St Peters Theberton
The Font and Bell Pulls, St Peters Theberton
Church door, St Peters Theberton
The tower of St Peters, Theberton
Tonight, Sunday 4th June, Bill Turnbull is hosting a local election debate in the church!
The day after arriving we headed to Aldeburgh, via Thorpeness. We drove through Thorpeness (we’re returning on our bikes tomorrow), and I was shocked – I was expecting something dingy and soulless, so it was a bit of a shock to drive through such a quaint and quirky space. You can also see ‘the House in the Clouds’ from here (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this on a number of travel programmes before). We can’t wait to visit properly now! We’re going to cycle from Aldeburgh which is where we were heading when driving through.