Around the UK: a Photo Diary #1 Kent, The Garden of England

A series of photos from our travels around the UK (not necessarily in the van…) I’ve tried to include lesser known spots – maybe give you some ideas of new places and attractions to visit?

The UK is not only our home, it’s also a very beautiful island with so many beauty spots, amazing beaches and interesting attractions in every nook and cranny of the country (in both rural and urban settings).

Here I’m collating some of my favourite photos from our travels around the country over the years.  I’ve tried to include slightly less well known places (although it’s impossible to not include some of the big hitters!), and tbf the majority of the photos are from our travels in 2017 – I think I’ll have to do a separate post for ‘all other photos’!

Maybe this could give you some ideas of places to visit or walks to take in the coming months of staycationing – some of the places I show may well be within striking distance for you to take a daytrip for your regular walk.

However you use this post I hope you enjoy the photos, and perhaps are able to find a new favourite place to visit 🙂

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We loved old Hastings.  Obviously much of what we experienced (such as the cliff trams and the fisherman’s museum) will not be open in the current environment.  However, you can still walk and see much of what we did.  The country park at the top of the cliff provides a delightful walk and is well worth the effort 🙂

See my original posts on the area for more detail (such as what the structures behind the boats are)

Hastings

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Battle Abbey is an English Heritage property whilst Bodiam Castle is National Trust – if you are taking a prolonged trip around the UK (when we are able to again) it’s worth joining both organisations;  It saved us a huge amount of money on our 2017 trip 🙂

For more detail see my original posts:

Battle

Bodiam

Steam Trains

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No photos of Dover Castle??!!  Well, when you can Dover Castle is an absolute MUST visit (English Heritage).  However, as promised, I’ve gone with a couple of lesser known sites.  The sound mirror is visible on a walk along the top of the cliffs – those steps leading towards it on the left-hand side of the photo?  They are really steep!  I was literally clambering up them (and was quite (okay, very) scared at times…)

Ringwauld was a little further around the coast – we spotted the church and turned around.  We had a little walk round and discovered a bit of history 🙂  We also followed a small sign (again, almost missed) near the castle to see the plaque dedicated to the first cross channel flight.  Again, easy access and a short walk is possible here.

More detail available in my original posts:

Dover

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The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne, nr Folkestone is a wonderful visit.  I think the memorial will be accessible even when the visitor centre isn’t (it’s certainly worth checking) and a short walk is possible here.  Wonderful views and plenty of history too 🙂

There is a long seafront promenade at Sandgate which takes you past a small castle.

More detail in my original Dover post

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Rye is a beautiful town and Dungeness is a very unusual English landscape.  Both are well worth a visit and lots of walking is possible.  Rye Harbour is a nature reserve with plenty of paths to walk or cycle with several points of interest along the way, such as the haunting Mary Stanford Lifeboat house.

We found the Brightling Follies walk in one of our walking books, ‘The AA 100 Walks in Southeast England‘ – again something you can follow during lockdown 🙂

More detail in my original post:

Review of Charming Rye, East Sussex

Dungeness

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Winchelsea is a tiny town with a massive history.  There is a clue is the size of the church, even without taking into account the ruins surrounding the current structure.  There are regular tours of the Winchelsea Cellars (not all 51, but apparently different ones feature in different tours).

We also took the opportunity to visit an English Vineyard; Carr Taylor was a few miles down the road from where we were staying.  Offering a tour of the vineyard (you can go anywhere!) for £2.50 (including wine tasting and information).  We could have paid a little more and enjoyed a ploughmans lunch as well – we didn’t go for this though as I don’t really enjoy that sort of lunch!  The tasting was very informative and really rather enjoyable (I wasn’t driving so was able to make the most of it!)  Our favourite was the sparkling rose which was the best I’ve ever had (proven by the fact that we went away having spent about £130 – I think I’m splashing out if I spend £5 on a bottle….)

More detail in my original posts:

Winchelsea

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Other visits included Scotney Castle & Sissingshurst – both National Trust properties.  Both were lovely but I think we both preferred Scotney Castle – there’s quite a story to be told here and the gardens are beautiful (as they are at Sissinghurst).

More detail in my original post:

Sissinghurst

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The Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey detail the medieval churches of the Romney Marshes.  One cloudy afternoon we decided to try to visit the 5 they recommended.  (Our copy is from 2013 – there has been an update since with a new edition due out on 1st June.  We find these books invaluable when touring).

It appears that I didn’t write about this when we visited (I shall keep looking!)

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Another day we found Sandwich – a beautiful little town with plenty of history, a town trail to follow and, of course, a world-renowned golf course.  And also 3 sets of alms houses 🙂

There is a great deal of Roman history in Kent, including monuments and crosses by the side of the road and also the Richborough Roman Fort, run by English Heritage.

More detail in my original post:-

Sandwich

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On our 1st visit to Canterbury the price to visit the cathedral put us off, but we went anyway on our 2nd visit – and were glad we did 🙂

We stayed in Herne Bay and were able to cycle along the promenade to Whitstable.  Plenty of walking and cycling opportunities here.

More detail in my original post:

Canterbury Herne Bay/Whitstable

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In North Kent we visited Rochester, Chatham Docks, Whitstable and the Isle of Sheppey (we won’t go there again…) from our base in Herne Bay.

We absolutely loved Rochester – the only problem being that we didn’t put enough money in the parking meter and had to abandon our visit to the town museum about halfway through 😦  It was one of those really informative town museums that very few people think to visit.  The castle, cathedral (the UK’s 2nd oldest and one of the smallest) and the museum all absolutely worth visiting.

Chatham Docks – I missed out on the Call the Midwives tour (an extra cost but 1 that I was willing to pay!!)  The ticket is expensive but lasts a year (great if you live in the area – not so good if you don’t).

Below are some links to posts not mentioned above but that may cover more detail of this area.  Also a link to my campsite reviews for this area.

My next post will deal with photos from our time in East Anglia.

Keep safe and I really hope to start posting new content again soon 🙂

East Sussex, Kent & Surrey

Our 1st 3 months away in the UK in 2017

Back on the Road – 2017

Easter Weekend – 2017

Campsite reviews – East Sussex & Kent

 

 

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Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?

We enjoyed a wonderful stopover in Albarracin and would highly recommend a visit to those touring Spain. Possible if you’re heading north either towards France (via Somport Tunnel) or to either of the ferry ports.

Sometimes, when you have no idea where to go next, the ACSI book supplies a corker!

When unsure where exactly to head we decide on a general direction and roughly how far we want to travel – then we simply get the ACSI book out and see what’s available!  (This doesn’t always work of course.  At which point we get out the ‘Motorhome Stopover’ book and/or defer to the internet).

On this occasion though we knew that we were heading for the Somport Tunnel as our way out of Spain (as we were towing the little car we were avoiding Northern Spain), so we were to head in the direction of Zaragoza – further away from Valencia than you would think!

We were originally considering the town of Teruel but on checking the ACSI map saw a site a little further on at a place called Albaraccin.  A quick check online confirmed that this could be a nice place so the satnav was set accordingly.  The A23 (non-toll) took us most of the way before we headed off onto the 234 just after Teruel, and finally onto the road running into Albaraccin.  This is where we really started to get a feel for where we were heading as the scenery was stunning as we headed through gorges and past ruins high up on the hills.

(This YouTube video from ‘Spain Speaks‘ gives a fair idea of what we experienced – but remember we are sat up higher in the motorhome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=MtIlBbAtbD0 )

Camping Ciudad de Albaraccin is located on the outskirts in the ‘new’ part of town.  By going this way you also understand that there is more to this region than just the beautiful old town (cave paintings/bouldering/walking/dinosaurs…)

Once parked up (with amazing views of the old fortification walls forming a spine on the mountain) we set off to explore immediately (we were only staying overnight).

The old town beckoned.  With little time we took the little car and headed back out to park in the big car park we’d seen as we took our first left towards the campsite.  Even this was pretty with a little stream running alongside.

Wandering through the lower part of town we found a couple more carparks (possible for motorhomes perhaps to park –  not sure about overnighting though) before starting on the long climb up to the main old town.  One thing we didn’t manage to find though, on a warm Tuesday afternoon near the beginning of March, was a cafe!

No matter, what we did find more than made up for the lack of a beverage 🙂

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After finding the Torre Blanca (sadly closed for visits) and the stunning scenery surrounding it we made our way towards the castle, the el Salvador cathedral and, eventually after a wander around the narrow, steep, winding cobbled streets – at times together, at times separated by my desire to explore a little set of steps or a covered alley, we found the Plaza Mayor (from where the main picture was taken).  On my circuitous route to this spot I also found the base of the wall snaking it’s way up the mountain.  Although there were 3 lads clambering up towards the wall itself it was definitely way beyond my capabilities!

Entering the Plaza Mayor is shown in the following video which will, hopefully, also give you an idea of what to expect from Albaraccin. Continue reading “Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?”

Day 2 – Cycling into Combourg & a wander around old St Malo

We’re staying just down the road from Combourg – the nearest town to La Chapelle aux Filtzmeens.  In keeping with most towns in this area it is mainly medieval in style with so many ancient buildings.  We kept forgetting to look up though, and probably missed loads of it.

We cycled there!  Into a headwind and uphill most of the way (very grateful for the extra power!)  The next challenge was to make the bikes safe – which we managed to do outside the tourist office – unlike any tourist office we might see at home!  If you look carefully at the picture below you can see our bikes chained up under the tree 🙂

Combourg Tourist Office

There’s a beautiful chateau here, but we tried to visit at 12.30pm, just after they’d closed for an hour and a half.  Then whilst staring through the bars that were keeping us out we noticed the long list of things that weren’t allowed in the chateau – including backpacks.  That was us excluded then!

We went off to cycle round the lake and have our packed lunch by it’s shores, before heading back to the site.  11 1/2 miles complete we were done in and needed to sit with a nice cuppa before even thinking about anymore activity!

At this point Calv announced that he was craving fat chips – yes already!  I said he’d have to make do with a curry, and decided to get on with making it ready for later.

Having finally agreed to go to St Malo old town rather than Dinan we set off (we also gave the SatNav another chance, even though we knew the way, to see if it actually does work – it does!)

We parked outside of the old town because the bridge was closed when we got there, and walked in (by which time the bridge was, of course, open).  When leaving we watched it open to let a few yachts into harbour.  So we wandered in and  spend a good couple of hours walking around the ramparts and the old lanes and alleyways.  I’ve got to be honest, the cathedral with no lighting bar a couple of small electric lamps, is quite possibly one of the loveliest I’ve been in, very tranquil.

St Malo cathedral

Another 3 1/2 miles walked and we really are jiggered now, and hungry.  That’s why we ate a whole French stick with (and before) our curry (as well as rice).  Oops….

Successes:-

  • Found the camera charger (which we thought was lost)
  • Found Calv’s wet jacket (I’d put it in the inside pocket of mine for ‘safe’ keeping – we’ve spent the last 2 days thinking it was lost…)
  • 11 1/2 miles cycled
  • Didn’t get lost once all day….
  • Found the right satellite 1st time – so could get English news

Fails:-

  • Leaving my FitBit behind on charge when we went to St Malo – Calv refused to come back for it!

Weather – overcast (I think we saw the sun for about 5 minutes all day), and cold.  Never mind we trek further south tomorrow when we set off for Talmont St Hilaire which is just south of Les Sables d’Olonne.