South Norfolk; In search of the famous Broads – and finding plenty of exercise 😊

We’ve moved just over 30 miles up the coast and landed in Caister, nr Great Yarmouth. We’re in the middle of nowhere in a wonderful little campsite (see our review for Lower Wood Farm).


On our 1st afternoon we took one of the 3 footpaths from the site and headed off towards Caister Castle. There are so many footpaths around here you can tailor your own walk depending on how far you want to go. For instance, instead of going directly to the castle and back (which would have been about 2 ½ miles in total) we ‘turned right’ (see what I did there?!) and added a bit more off road walking. This meant that our walk ended up being a very respectable 4 ½ miles. We did have to clear a path in places (it always seems to be windy here, but it is particularly windy at the moment!) And the nettles are huge and plentiful….

On the little map that we had been given we saw a ruined church noted so we headed for that before the castle. It turned out to not be ruined at all, but a little chapel that is still in use. I checked later and found out that there are the remains of a ruined church nearby, but they seem to be located in somebody’s garden.

From there we set off for the castle, which entailed walking down 1 of the many lanes that you’ll find, and probably regularly drive along, in this area.

We were confused as to why all the signs point to ‘Caister Castle Classic Car Collection’ rather than just Caister Castle. When we arrived we realised that this is because the car collection is actually the main attraction, with the ruins of the castle (there is a tower that you can climb to the top of) as an added bonus to your ticket price of £14. We got photos from outside the boundary but didn’t go in as we’re not interested enough in looking at classic cars – not enough to pay £28 for the privilege anyway.

The next day, after a morning swim in our site’s indoor pool, we set off in the little car to explore, starting with Caister on Sea. On the way down to the seafront there is an English Heritage run roman fort with a little car park situated right beside the road. We realised after we’d already driven past! It’s a slightly strange place, the beach is okay (but the beaches improve dramatically as you move on up the coast).

We moved on to have a look at Great Yarmouth seafront. Which we did. From the car! A bit like an east coast Blackpool I think. As we drove in there was an empty and abandoned boating lake, which was a bit of an eyesore. The reason for this became apparent as we moved further along, in that there is a brand new facility. What a shame nothing has been done with the old site. Then came the pier, the amusements and the funfairs. At the far end of the promenade we could see a monument, sited in an industrial area, which turned out to be in honour of the battle of Trafalgar.

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So we’d done Great Yarmouth, no need to go back! We had our sandwiches with us so decided to head to a place called Burgh Castle, where there is another English Heritage Roman fort, to eat them.

On arrival the 1st thing we saw was the church. On visiting we chatted to the guy inside who told us all about it. Amongst the things we learned from him were the reason for the seemingly random sets of stairs built into the walls of some of the churches we’ve seen. There would have been a screen between the chancel and the nave in days gone by, and without electricity the churches were lit by candles, many of which were situated on this screen. The steps allowed the altar boys to climb up to light these candles!

We also learned why you rarely see headstones prior to the 1800s (apart from the fact that the inscriptions wear away over time). This was because they were so expensive before Victorian times that very few people were able to afford them, instead simple wooden crosses were used.

The Roman fort was surprisingly well preserved considering it was built almost 1600 years ago! There are views across the river to a couple of windmills.

On heading home we again noticed how many wildflowers there were growing in the hedgerows, particularly poppies. I was surprised to see not only red poppies, but also purple and pink – not something I’ve ever seen before.

The next morning, again after a swim, we ended up heading to Wroxham, known as the capital of the Broads. We can only think that the beauty of the broads is best seen from the water as landside isn’t particularly pretty. We weren’t charmed in any way by Wroxham, although there are plenty of places to hire boats, by the hour, day or longer.

There are also, of course, boat trips to be had from here and you can rent canoes.

We didn’t find it on the day, but the Bure Valley Steam Railway runs from Wroxham to Aylsham (9 miles) – when we cycled the route a few days later we saw that this was a slightly prettier part of town.

Wroxham also appears to be owned by a man named Roy! He has a department store, toy store, diy store and more!

My next post will tell you about our visit to Norwich 😊

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Back in the UK

It’s now Monday 3rd April and we have been back in the UK since Friday.  It’s nice to know that I still know how to drive and to notice the things from home that we should really all appreciate (more of that in a later post…)

It wasn’t rough in the Bay of Biscay but there was a 2m swell and, as I don’t always travel well, this meant I ended up laying down for 14 hours of the trip… (didn’t do my fitbit challenges any good either!)  In this time Calv saw a school of dolphins (on the other side of the ferry to where the Orca watch co-ordinators were leading the search for them..), had some dinner and almost fell asleep in his pint.  At which point he returned to the cabin to go to bed.  At 8pm!!

Since we drove off the ferry we’ve hardly stopped.  Don’t get me wrong it’s lovely to see everybody but we’re exhausted!!  Much as I’m looking forward to seeing people that I haven’t caught up with yet I’m also looking forward, very much, to Thursday when we have no plans 🙂

I do have to catch up with writing up campsite reviews and an overview of our trip so far.  I also have to write up a couple more ‘condensed’ versions (my son’s might read them then!)

Today I have upgraded my computer and we’ve got ourselves mobile internet (which we wish we’d done before we left…).  I’m hoping that this will mean a less frustrating process when I update the blog.

Whilst I’m here can I just say thank you so much for reading and for your interest and support.  As this was started as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends it’s lovely to see that it’s proving interesting to others.  So, welcome to everybody and please feel free to comment on your own experiences on where we’ve visited.

The featured image btw is taken from our pitch at our ‘home’ campsite, Kia Ora in Nutbourne near Chichester.  The view at any time rivals any that we’ve experienced in Spain (except perhaps the last where we could see snow-capped mountains from our pitch).

Kia Ora is a small site in an old nursery.  It’s wonderful to see the daffodils bobbing in the sun and also the owner’s own lovely garden.  We’ll be very comfortable here until we move on to Rye next week for the start of our UK adventures.

Beautiful Picos de Europa – a slightly hairy drive…!

We left Don Quijote on Saturday having had to decide to travel further than we normally would, 206 miles (apparently..) as we were struggling to find any campsites open at our preferred distance, which is about 150 miles.

So I input the co-ordinates for Camping Picos de Europa in Avin-Onis.  I was a little surprised at the way the satnav took us, but thought ‘she’s not let us down yet..’.  So we found ourselves heading towards Valladolid and then Palencia and Fromista, a town on the map surrounded by a green box, so we decided to stop there for lunch.  What an interesting place, 4 churches and most properties seemed to be made from wattle and daub (we could see the straw in the very fabric of most of them, though many had been rendered and so looked much newer).  Unfortunately we couldn’t visit any of the churches so we moved on after a short walk.

We then found ourselves heading towards the mountains and very soon it started to snow.  This was great fun at first, we kept stopping to take photos as the scenery was spectacular (and Calv still had his shorts on..).

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The roads remained clear at first but it stopped being fun when we were negotiating the narrow, windy roads high in the mountains and suddenly the roads weren’t clear.  When Calv swears when he sees the road ahead – I start to worry.  I told him that I loved him and kept my mouth shut until we cleared the snowy roads.

However our woes weren’t over!  Having gone through a very pretty town, Potes, from where several walks into the mountains start, we thought we were just 2 miles from our destination.  It wasn’t to be as, it would appear, that I’d managed to feed the wrong co-ordinates into the SatNav (I still don’t know how 😦 ) and we were actually still 40 miles (still through the mountains and gorges – beautiful, but time was now getting on..) away.

We arrived at about 6.15 (8 hours after leaving Don Quijote) and the campsite, Picos de Europa, was perfectly acceptable with a very warm welcome.

The next day we went for a walk towards the small town of Avin.  There were plenty of old, abandoned houses again, but also an attraction, the Glacial Fauna Museum, unfortunately closed until July (and then only open to September).  This is a series of caves with skeletons, including of woolly mammoths and rhinoceri dating back to the paleolithic age.

This walk didn’t take too long so we decided to head up the hill/mountain behind the campsite.  There was a road going almost to the top and, steep as it was in places, we saw a Mitsubishi Shogun pulling a cattle trailer making light work of it!  Very impressive as we were, both, struggling to walk up it! There were also cattle roaming free, going wherever they wanted – you could of course hear them coming though as they were wearing bells.

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There were some beautiful views from up there.  We went off piste though and along muddy narrow paths, finding yet more abandoned buildings on route.  We ended up having to come down an extremely steep section, with me holding on to Calv’s shoulders, to get back to the road.

We then ate in the campsite bar together with a couple of other couples – all on different tables but chatting to each other of course!

Time to move on though the next day – a much shorter journey though at just about 40 miles, bringing us to our final, and possibly our favourite of all, site – Caravanning Oyambre

This site is situated about halfway between San Vincente de la Barquera and Comillas.  We visited both in the 2 full days we had there, cycling to San Vincente the 1st day (and being stopped by the Guardia Civil for not wearing our cycle helmets.  He also gave Calv a hard time for visiting Spain yet not speaking Spanish… )  So once Calv had returned to the campsite to collect our helmets, and thereby avoiding a fine of 100 Euros each, we carried on to San Vincente de la Barquera, an old town with a castle and church and fishing harbour.  It also has a nice beach and another one on the estuary, where we sat for a couple of hours before returning to the van.  We cycled 11 miles in total (Calv a little more).

(The cycle helmet law in Spain allows you to go helmetless in towns and cities, but you have to wear them on any urban road where the speed limit is 50kmph or more ).

On our final day in Spain we decided to cycle the other way to Comillas.  Unusually there was a decent pathway the majority of the way, and we chose to use this as it was devoid of pedestrians.  Our ride took us along the estuary

and past a couple of viewing points until we came across Comillas and immediately could see a palace, Palacio de Sobrellano and a university pontificia.  We tried to visit the palace but you could only visit by the tour and there wasn’t another starting for 20 minutes.  So we had a look around the outside of the palace and the church next to it before moving on through a different park entrance to the town proper.

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Here we had our 1st sight of a house by Antoni Gaudi, El Capricho.  We found a tree to tie the bikes to in the square where the Town Hall is situated (there is a severe lack of places to lock up to, we have found anyway, in Northern Spain).  We then wandered a little and found the historic square and the church before settling down for some lunch.  I actually had Chocolate and churros and, this time, I was served nice fresh churros and I ordered a Spanish hot chocolate to dip them into – I have to say I really enjoyed them!

Now it was time to visit El Capricho 🙂 At 5 Euros each it is definitely worth it; small but perfectly formed!  Created by Gaudi it has everything you would expect, little details such as a bee playing a guitar in a stained glass window, and ceramic sunflowers adorning the exterior.

But Comillas hadn’t finished with us yet.  Instead of going back the way we’d come we cycled straight across at the traffic lights (rather than go left).  We found a beautiful house that seemed empty and abandoned (it wasn’t falling down though, so there’s still time for it to be saved) and then we spotted the cemetery up on the hill.  Now this was a cemetery like no other we have seen.  It was actually built in and around the original church and was really rather amazing.

We then carried on along the coast and cycled through another ancient village up in the hills, Trasvia, before returning to the main road.

We then spent a couple of hours on the beach as our last hurrah in Spain.

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Our visit to Spain and Portugal therefore finished on a real high and in the evening we started getting ready for leaving in the morning for the ferry.  We are now back at home – well on our chosen campsite anyway, catching up with friends and family before leaving on our UK adventure just before Easter.