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 🙂
Iron Bridge linking the gardens with the house at Cragside
A water wheel at Cragside
The grounds at Cragside
I picked up a leaflet for Cragside and kept it as I thought it looked interesting. Then Calv started talking about an ‘electricity’ house. We eventually determined it was one and the same place (as Cragside was the first house in the world to be powered by hydro-electricity).
Cragside is situated near the village of Rothbury. It’s a huge estate comprising 1000 acres, 5 lakes (created by William Armstrong to help create the hydro-electricity to power the house). There are 14 waymarked walks (both long, short and interchangeable), a boathouse, ‘trim trail’ and a circular drive around the whole estate (with several car parks to stop off in and pick up 1 of the trails).
Our first full day on the North Norfolk coast coincided with the start of the recent beautiful weather across the UK, so we thought we’d have a nice lazy day on the beach! Although it was a bit of a trek from our campsite we chose Wells next the Sea. We set off along the coastal A149 which ran through several lovely historic villages (Weybourne, Cley next the Sea, Blakeney and Stiffkey) as we wound our way towards our destination.
On arrival we initially stopped in the town car-park, ideal for visiting the harbour or the town centre, but can also be used to visit the beach if you don’t mind either walking about a mile, or taking the little train. This car-park had fairly reasonable charges, but we continued along the beach road and found another car-park right by the beach (where the charges were considerably higher!) There are toilets here as well as a nice café and upmarket beach shop (Joules!)
Wednesday started as a quiet, do nothing kind of day. By the time we’d had our lunch though we were getting restless, so we decided to go for a cycle ride around Rye Harbour.
This was, sort of, a success… We lost each other when Calv went off ahead and I couldn’t see what way he’d gone! Never mind we found each other eventually and I still did 8 miles (and took the photo above – we spent the ride trying to stay ahead of the black raincloud!)
Before getting back in the car we popped into the bar of the Rye Harbour Holiday Park for a cuppa (coffee for Calv and hot chocolate for me), where we chatted with the bar manager who gave us some local snippets about Winchelsea Beach and Winchelsea itself. Winchelsea is often referred to as the smallest town in England, as it has a school, shop, church, town hall and mayor (although it seems this is purely a ceremonial post).
On Good Friday we awoke rather tired from the activity of the previous 3 days. We therefore resolved to do nothing all day.
This didn’t happen of course, although we managed until well after lunch, when we headed off the local independant supermarket, Jempsons, to pick up a couple of bits and pieces. We also filled up the little car as their fuel is the cheapest we’ve seen for a long time.
On returning we decided to wander along the lane that we’re based on, Stoddards Lane, to see what we could see, including the sheep.. and a couple of inquisitive dogs.
We’ve decided that this is a perfectly acceptable lane to cycle along, and with the church as our destination it will be worthwhile.
Having driven round a little more we can now add to the many things we’re seeing regularly:- Sheep and lambs, thatched cottages, converted barns, narrow lanes and farms – lots and lots of farms! We’ve also seen a helicopter parked in somebody’s front garden (there are some amazing houses here..) – apparently this isn’t the only one, and the one that’s closer to us (Calv heard it take off the other day) may well belong to a certain world famous star – who’s quite old now! (Well, probably about 70 anyway…)
There are so many beautiful flowering blossom trees. My favourite is one that I spotted in Rye on our 1st day here.
On Saturday we set off early (well, early for us anyway) at about 11.15am having decided we were heading to Hastings. We parked up at the end of the Old Town, at Rock a Nore, and set off on our tour having finally managed to pay for the parking (very expensive…!) There would have been more spaces if only people could manage to park properly…..
On returning from Hastings we searched, in vain, for the pub that we thought we’d seen at the end of our lane. My memory is obviously failing me! We were hoping to pop in for Sunday lunch on Easter Sunday. (I eventually found it on our way to Bodiam today, Sunday, nowhere near where I thought it was!!) It’s The Cross Inn at Cripps Corner and looks rather nice.
However, we decided to try the White Hart in nearby Newenden for our Easter Sunday lunch today. Another lovely little village with a beautiful church and pictures up in the pub showing what it used to look like before the A28 was built.
Also a lovely lunch and, if we’re staying for as long as we’re expecting (using this as our based for visiting East Sussex and Kent), we will definitely return. Very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and just about 5-10 minutes down the road.
The White Hart at Northiam
Lunch in the White Swan, Northiam
Parish church of St Mary’s at Northiam
Inside St Mary’s, Northiam
The 3rd station on the Kent & East Sussex Steam railway is situated here (the other 2 being Bodiam to the south and Tenterden to the north (we’re hoping to do this tomorrow, but are watching the weather closely – we might have to wait until next weekend..)
We then decided to stay out and visit Bodiam Castle (click here for my review). Having re-joined English Heritage on Thursday we now joined National Trust for the 1st time – quite expensive (a total of about £180 for the year for both), but when you think of how many attractions we can visit, then you can see how much we’ll save (I reckon we’d have spent that within a few weeks at an average of maybe £25 between us each visit).So we’re all set for the next few weeks before we head off to Ibiza for my niece’s wedding at the beginning of May 🙂