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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A cycle ride from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness, Sizewell Beach and Leiston Abbey

Our last day in Suffolk before moving onto Norfolk (‘South Folk’ and ‘North Folk’ denoted by where they lived in relation to the river.  I’m not sure what river – there are many, many rivers in this area!)  We’d already decided that this was the day we would cycle from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness – because the children were going back to school!

It turned out to be a lovely day, if a little windy.  We parked at the south end of Aldeburgh on the Slaughden ‘peninsula’ (mainly because it’s free..) and cycled along the seafront, this time going on past the Scallop, which was as far as we got last time.

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I did think that the cycle path went all the way to Thorpeness, however, whilst there is a path all the way along the seafront, there comes a point where it isn’t suitable for riding on so we had to move onto the road.  However, the road is absolutely fine and not too busy so it wasn’t a problem.

Thorpeness is just a few miles away from Aldeburgh and it is absolutely charming.  Originally conceived as a purpose built, upmarket holiday village Continue reading “A cycle ride from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness, Sizewell Beach and Leiston Abbey”

The Suffolk seaside and a lost city

Southwold is not your normal seaside resort.  Yes, it has plenty of beach huts, a boating lake, mini-golf and a pier, but there aren’t any amusement arcades or a promenade lined with pubs and cafes.  What you have instead is a quaint and historic town, and a pier with rather different attractions (although there is a small amusement arcade as you enter).

The pier has a couple of classy, for a seaside pier, eateries, an attraction in the middle called ‘The Under of the Pier Show’; what this actually comprises are handmade up-to-date arcade attractions – a lot of fun and very popular and a couple of up-to-date artworks.  These include a tribute to George Orwell, who lived in the town for some time, and a water clock, initially made to highlight water re-cycling.  This is a lot of fun on the hour and the half hour when there is a little display involving shorts dropping and water squirting!

I loved the beach huts in Southwold! Continue reading “The Suffolk seaside and a lost city”

Staying near London and visiting Rochester & Chatham Docks

After North Kent we headed towards London for a few nights as we wanted to catch up with a couple of friends and family.  We found a site near Sidcup (it was actually just on the edge of Bexley Village) called Kelseys , a lovely site with an adjacent farm shop and café/restaurant.  You really don’t know you’re so near to London 🙂

We had the same thing happen to us again though, whereby we were the only campers in the field and when someone else arrived (again an older couple), they pitched right next to us rather than taking their pick of all the space available!

We still weren’t well but on our 1st full day we headed off towards Rochester (we’d seen it from the motorway on our way in and decided it was worth a look), with a view to carrying on to Chatham Docks after.

Parking in the Cathedral short term car park we paid (via phone) for 2 hours – a mistake, nowhere near long enough!  Coming out of the car park and turning left it was such a surprise what a lovely view we had of a gate entering the city and the lovely old buildings in this old part of Rochester.  (Top tip – always head for ‘the old town’!)

After a quick spot of lunch we headed for the cathedral.  This is free to enter (although I did put a fiver in the donation box), and there are guides dotted around who will chat to you and give you information on the history.  We discovered that this is both the 2nd oldest and the 2nd smallest cathedral in the country. Continue reading “Staying near London and visiting Rochester & Chatham Docks”

Discovering the delights of North Kent. Canterbury, Herne Bay & Whitstable

,Neither of us is actually too well this week.  Calv doesn’t seem to have shifted the cold he caught whilst in Ibiza, and I have definitely now caught it.

Despite this though we have loved our time back in Kent 🙂

We didn’t book anything before arriving but had a couple of sites in mind.  Arriving at the 1st, at the end of a long narrow lane, we found the site deserted and nobody around or answering the phone.  As there was nothing really giving us any reason to be desperate to stay we headed back to our 2nd choice, Hampton Bay, here in Herne Bay.  The SatNav took us  to the wrong place (into a private housing estate with very narrow, unadopted roads – not suitable really for the van – we had already unhooked the car, luckily).  So we asked a postman who pointed us in the right direction and off we set (just in the van).  What a lovely find!  (I will be posting a review later).

Once settled we walked back to collect the car, and ended up exploring along the Herne seafront.  Debbie, I found this picture of Edmund Reid (Whitechapel) – I didn’t realise he was real!!  It looks like he retired to Herne Bay 🙂

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The main photo is of one of the pebble, driftwood and shell sculptures that we found further up the promenade – they were really rather lovely.

We continued up the coast towards the towers that we had seen from the main road.  Continue reading “Discovering the delights of North Kent. Canterbury, Herne Bay & Whitstable”

Back in the UK – home and then a return to Kent.

I was really surprised to feel so at home when we stepped back into the van after flying in from Ibiza.  It just goes to show how comfortable we are in the van.  This is something that we don’t think people understand – we constantly have, very kind, offers of a room when we’re in home territory, as everyone seems to think we might like a break from the van.  It’s very sweet of you to offer but we really are very happy and comfortable thank you (and we’ll soon ask if we want a room!!)

We were quite busy over the weekend, including helping our friends out so that they could stay on the same site as us on Saturday night.  They had a courtesy car without a towbar so we towed their caravan for them…

Yes – we did get some looks!!  (We didn’t, of course, use the little car on the road – that would be illegal..)

After a night out on Saturday we had a long lie-in which was desperately needed due to our self-inflicted ‘tiredness’.

On Tuesday we set off again for Herne Bay.  However, the beauty of having no particular plans (i.e. bookings) is that you can change your mind whenever you want.  In this case it was when we saw that Steve & Denise, who we had met in Spain, had finally returned to the UK and were staying overnight at a Caravan Club site on our route.

So we diverted to Bearstead, having asked if they minded of course… However their wifi was hit and miss so they didn’t get my message.  When Denise replied to say ‘yes, of course, where are you?’ I answered – ‘In reception!’ Continue reading “Back in the UK – home and then a return to Kent.”

A week in Ibiza – not in the van, but still travelling :)

We were looking forward to our week in a finca in Ibiza, but also a little wary..

Looking forward, of course, to a week in the sun and watching my niece get married.  Wary as we have been just the 2 of us for so much of this year, and we weren’t sure how we’d cope living in a house with 11 other people.  For a week!!

As it happened it went much better than any of us could have hoped.  We were staying in a beautiful 500 year old finca, Can Caseres Continue reading “A week in Ibiza – not in the van, but still travelling :)”