Walking and Kayaking in Symonds Yat

I’m always surprised how many people HAVEN’T heard of Symonds Yat! Yes, I have childhood memories of trips here, but it is such a beautiful spot it should be on everybody’s UK bucket list (IMHO) 🙂

After our time in Lynmouth we headed north again for the stunning Wye Valley. We stayed at Greenacres nr. Coleford, which gave us the perfect excuse to walk 12 miles to take in Symonds Yat 🙂

We arrived mid-afternoon to find that our booking hadn’t been updated from the previous Saturday – oh no! Mild panic ensued, but we waited patiently until we got the good news that there was a pitch for us – phew 🙂

Once pitched up we headed off toward Monmouth to get in a few supplies for a bbq as my sister and her husband were joining us for a couple of nights. We were very confused on entering Lidls. I kept nudging Calv.. ‘They’re not very mask compliant here are they?!’ Then we realised that we were in Wales where (at that point in COVID history) they weren’t required to wear masks… We took ours off, and then found it didn’t feel right and put them back on again! (Who would have thought it?!!)

Back in England my sister arrived, we enjoyed our bbq and evening and in the morning we checked the route we needed to take for Symonds Yat. The footpath starts in the campsite and, although I’m pretty sure we took a few wrong turns, it was a lovely walk and we eventually made it to the river and the sanctuary of the ancient Saracen’s Head Inn, situated in front of the old hand-pulled chain ferry across the river (sadly not open at all during our visits). Here we navigated all the new rules and found a seat on the terrace for a drink and a spot of lunch.

Debs and I set off up the hill to the viewpoint before the boys. Luckily I had forgotten what a hard trek this is uphill!! But it is sooo worth it as the views are truly spectacular 🙂

It was a very tired group of 4 that arrived back at the van late on, so we decided to eat out. We investigated many local pubs, finding most were either booked up or we didn’t fancy what was on offer. In the end we chose to head into the nearest town, Coleford, and see what we could find.

We found the town of an evening to be not particularly, shall we say, inviting… Lots of people milling around, drinks in hand, outside the pubs.. Anyway we found a little Indian Restaurant that had a few tables, Cinnamons, and decided to give it a go. Very pleasant it was too 🙂

I must say that Calv and I had visited Coleford before and did note one place of interest, which was just off the main car park, being the GWR Railway Museum. (Every town has something to offer 🙂 )

Having extended our stay at Greenacres by a couple of nights (we had to move all our bookings around suddenly when Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas had new restrictions put in place – meaning we decided to cancel our stay up in Ingleton), we didn’t need to rush off in the morning. This meant that Debbie and Paul were able to come back down to Symonds Yat with us (this time in the car) as we had missed Biblins Bridge the day before. This is a rope bridge across the river.

It’s a couple of miles back upriver from the car park, so was a decent walk. There is a tearoom on the other riverbank, which we took advantage of, as well as a campsite for tents and small camper vans (which looked absolutely idyllic – Biblins Youth Campsite). Obviously there was another visit to The Saracen’s Head involved as well…

I need to just mention that the roads in this area are narrow and steep in places with some very tight bends – careful driving is required!!

Debbie and Paul headed off home on Sunday afternoon, and I’m pretty sure we just relaxed in the sun.

Monday was set aside for a spot of kayaking on the river, having discovered that we could launch from the carpark for just £2 (on top of the £4 per day parking fee).

Another beautiful day dawned, and we made our way down river, ‘beached’ for a short time (when Calv managed to drop his phone in the water – but don’t worry; he eventually found out that it’s waterproof (after a couple of days panicking), and he’s stopped telling everybody he meets now….!)

Once we’d landed and put the kayak away we headed back (yep, you’ve guessed it) to The Saracen’s Head – it would have been rude not to!

All in all another wonderful visit to the area, and we are certain that we will return again, and would highly recommend both the area and the campsite to others 🙂

Next up: A short visit to Shrewsbury and Oswestry

Where we stayed: Greenacres Campsite, nr Coleford

Related Posts: Walking in Lynmouth

Walking Lynmouth to Watersmeet

Around the UK: A Photo Diary #2 – East Anglia

I’ve decided now to just put some photos up!  Again they’re all from our 2017 trip and I’ve given links to relevant posts should you want any more detail of the areas shown.

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Maldon

Campsite – D’Arcy Equestrian

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Framlingham

 Dunwich (& Southwold)

Aldeburgh (& Thorpeness)

Orford

Campsite – Fishers Field

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Norwich 

Broads

Norfolk Broads

Campsite – Lower Wood Farm

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Langham

Cromer

Campsite – Woodlands, Sheringham

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Cambridge

Campsite – Highfield Touring Park

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Lavenham 

Campsite – Kings Forest Caravan Park, West Stow 

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Castle Rising

Holkham Bay

Sandringham

Campsites – Whitehall Farm, Burnham-Thorpe

Manor Park, Hunstanton

Other potential posts of interest:

Our time in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire

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

 

We used the Rough Guide to Norfolk & Suffolk to help decide places to visit and walks to take.  Very useful as ever 🙂

My next gallery post will cover Lincolnshire, Rutland and Northamptonshire (for the British Grand Prix).

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy an item after clicking on one of these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you choose to buy anything it’s very much appreciated, thank you.

My CoronaVirus Distancing in Numbers – Days 15 & 16

2nd Instalment of my own lockdown journal.
Are you on your own, even if only for part of the day, during this lockdown? How are you coping? Are you managing to fill your time?

A continuation of my lockdown ‘journal’…   Click here for the 1st instalment & 2nd instalment

A * denotes that there has been a change to the total number 🙂

Today is Friday (aka Day 17)

Date:

Friday 3rd April 2020

Current Day of Social Distancing (following government guidelines):

17, but I’m writing about 15 & 16 (as it’s still before 8am on Friday, day 17)

Days spent on my own while Calv works (as an HGV driver)

10

Les Mills workouts completed

7* (well 5 1/4 as Body Balance really isn’t my thing…)

  • 3 x sh’bam
  • 2* x Body Combat – the proper workout this time.  #69, 30 mins as advised by my younger sister during our video call this morning.  Loved it – seriously!  Even though I still don’t really know what’s going on that 30 mins just flew by (or maybe that’s because I don’t know what I’m doing!!)
  • 1* x step.  I have my own step at home, but always forget just how unco-ordinated I am!
  • 1/4 x body balance – I’ve given up trying… 😦

Bring Sally Up (Sally Squat’s)

7* – it’s starting to get easier now as I am far more used to it 🙂 (Progress!)

Planks

7* – I’m still managing to add 5 seconds each day (I’m now up to 50 seconds and , frankly, gobsmacked!!)

Runs

2* – I went back out yesterday (Thursday) and suffered no problems from my calves this time.  I managed to run a whole mile before stopping for a little rest, and then another 1/4 mile.  Tomorrow (Saturday – aka Day 18) I’ll try to go a full mile and a half before any rests (further if possible).  And it’s starting to warm up, which always helps 🙂

Walks

11*

Wednesday (day 15) saw a walk, the long way round, to the station and back home via Linden Lea.  I was hoping that this route would help to avoid the same sort of numbers of people I encountered whilst walking on Tuesday (day 14), and it did!

The main photo shows the footpath up to Portchester Common – I want to walk this but it’s too narrow to be able to practice social distancing properly 😦

I think that going a little earlier (about 1pm) helped as well.  The train station was devoid of life (although a train was due in), but I did see a bus with a passenger on it!

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I also saw dozens and dozens of window displays featuring rainbows – all clearly created by children (far better than anything I could ever produce!)  I even saw 1 made from lego 🙂  (See below for a tiny selection of those I saw on my travels today)

No walk on Thursday (day 16) as my outdoor exercise for the day was my run 🙂

Wii-Fit

3 –

Trips to the van ‘larder’

So far I have visited most days and had to procure the following:-  (a * denotes a change from my previous post)

  • 2 bottles squash
  • 2 packs of teabags – the small packs you get in big boxes
  • 1 box green teabags
  • 6* tins baked beans (Branston)
  • 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins butter beans
  • 1 tin haricot beans
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 1 jar of Ragu
  • 1 jar of jam
  • 1 packet of caster sugar (very important)
  • Garam Masala
  • Several bottles/cans of beer and cider
  • 1 bottle of wine
  • 1 jar of coffee
  • 1 box of pasta
  • 2 packs of Mexican style rice
  • 4* x toilet rolls

Also now:

  • 4 tins of tuna
  • Jar ground coriander
  • 1 tin of custard
  • Several stock pots
  • Crisps
  • 1 box jaffa cakes

Conversations on HouseParty/other video calls

6 so far on HouseParty / 10* on FB or WhatsApp / 1 Google hang-out with work colleagues

Ben had to call me from the shop about what butter to get as he was making cakes!

On our family FB messenger group we’ve taken to telling each other what we’ve had/are having for dinner – with photos if we remember.  I never remember – too busy eating!!

I also took my dad round a little easter egg this morning, as I’d had to go shopping.  So I took a picure so that everyone could see that he’s fine, and popped that on the group chat as well 🙂

Watching Homes under the Hammer

Having spotted the end of my obsession I’ve taken to putting it on again in the background!

Watching TV in general during the day

Mostly news updates.  Although I’m still looking for Neighbours…

I’ve still not found Neighbours, but will try again today.  Also, I’ve taken to turning the news off for the most part and trying to only watch it once a day.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think that the daily updates should only be conducted a couple of times each week, as nothing much changes in 24hrs, so they might have something different to say/report if it was every few days.

Is it just me? (I’m also getting pretty fed up with some of the ridiculous, point scoring questions being asked…)

Calv will definitely be home with me from Tuesday next week, so we’re going to get working on the last bit of the garden that needs doing, which is to level the lawn area up.  I don’t think I’m going to need my exercise videos next week (but will keep doing them anyway – if I’m capable…)

I’ve also order a number of perennials online (72 to be exact) which are due to be delivered by the end of April.  I wasn’t going to order anything online but seeing on the news how much will be destroyed changed my mind (and I want to try to get the garden looking nice)

I hope you’re all finding plenty to do to occupy your time.

Above all, stay home, stay safe and call someone if you’re struggling (that includes me if you know me xx)

Until the next time xx

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Coronavirus and Travel Plans – To Go or Not To Go…..?

So here we are at the end of February with a planned date to leave for Europe of 5th March… Our plans? Head down through France to Italy, take in Rome and Venice on our way through Italy to visit Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Belgium.
Hmm – little spanner in the works now called CoronaVirus means our plans are up in the air – what to do?

Do you ever get that feeling that you should be more excited for your upcoming plans than you are?  And then something happens that suggests you were right not to be excited – you’re pshycic – you knew all along that this might happen (or not, as the case may be).  Ever been there?

Well, I suspect that we’re not the only people in this position currently.  Only perhaps we are slightly more fortunate in that we have nothing booked and we can just do what we want, when we want – to a certain degreee anyway.

What am I talking about?  Well our plans for our next trip were well underway – in sofaras we ever plan.  This time the plan was catch a ferry, possibly on 5th March (we haven’t booked it yet), pootle down through France, finally crossing the Millau Viaduct on the way; head into Italy and down Continue reading “Coronavirus and Travel Plans – To Go or Not To Go…..?”

UK Campsite Reviews

A brief review of all campsites that we have stayed on in the UK (please bear with me, this is a work in progress! I’m starting with the most recent and working backwards. Eventually I will cover all campsites that we have stayed on over the years 🙂 )
We often use Camping & Caravanning Club certificated sites and occasionally Caravan Club. We also use PitchUp and UKCampsites online to help us find where to stay, if we’re struggling.
Unless we’re trying to cover school holidays (which we’ve now decided we probably don’t need to worry about) we choose our next site a couple of days before moving on!
Just click on the link to see my review for the campsites that we’ve stayed on:-

East Sussex & Kent:

The Cock Inn, Peasmarsh, East Sussex                                –   Near Rye (about 10 miles from Hastings)

Eagles Garth, Beckley, East Sussex                                       –    (1-2 miles down the road from The Cock Inn)

Bearstead Caravan Club Site                                                 –    Near Maidstone (handy for Leeds Castle)

Hampton Bay Park, Herne Bay, North Kent                      –    Herne Bay – handy for Whitstable

Kelseys Camping, Sidcup, Kent                                             –    Sidcup  – we used it for visiting Chatham and Rochester.  Also very handy for visiting London 🙂

East Anglia

D’Arcy Equestrian, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Maldon, Essex    –     Maldon – handy for visiting Mersea Island, Tiptree and even Colchester

Fishers Field, Theberton, Suffolk                                        –     Nr Aldeburgh.  Handy for visiting Thorpeness, Orford, Framlingham.  Even Southwold!

Lower Wood Farm, Mautby, Norfolk                                –    Caister on Sea.  Handy for Great Yarmouth and for visiting Norwich and the Norfolk Broads

Woodlands Caravan Park, Sheringham (North Norfolk)  –  Sheringham.  Handy for Cromer, Holkham, Wells next the Sea

Highfield Farm Touring, Comberton, Cambridge              –  Cambridge.  Also handy for visiting Ely

King’s Forest Caravan Park, West Stow, Nr. Bury St Edmonds – Bury St Edmonds.  Also handy for Newmarket, Thetford, Lakenheath and Lavenham

Northants, Rutland & Lincolnshire

British Grand Prix, Whittlebury Park, Silverstone            –  Whittlebury.  Handy for the British Grand Prix!!

Top Farm, Ryhal, Stamford for Rutland Water                 –  Stamford.  Handy for Rutland Water and Burghly House

Fulbeck Waters, Fulbeck, Lincs                                            – Fulbeck.  Handy for Lincoln, Grantham & Newark

Canal Farm, Austen Fen nr Louth, Lincs                            –  Louth.  Handy for Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe (and numerous other amazing sandy beaches)

Yorkshire & Northumberland (& 2 random sites in Cornwall)

Wold Farm, Flamborough Head – right on the cliffs 🙂    –   Flamborough.  Handy for Bridlington, Filey & perhaps Pickering for the North Yorks Railway

Trewiston Farm, Rock, Cornwall                                         – Rock.  Handy for Padstow, Daymer Bay, Port Isaac, Tintagel (I could go on…. – North Cornwall basically!)

Tregline Farm, nr Polzeath, Cornwall                                – A couple of miles from Trewiston (if that) so handy for the same places

Teversal Camping & Caravanning, nr Sheffield              –  Teversal.  Handy for the Peak District, Sheffield, Chesterfield and Bolsover Castle

Grantchester Caravan and Camping                                – Nr York.  Also handy for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Old Mother Shipton’s Cave)

Streets Head Caravan Site, nr Aysgarth                          – Aysgarth.  Also handy for West Burton, Hawes, Leyburn, Richmond and the Yorkshire Dales in general 🙂

Fletchers Farm, Great Ayton, North Yorkshire             – Great Ayton.  Handy for the North York Moors in general (so much to do and see 🙂 )

Wellhouse Farm, Stocksfield nr Hexham and Corbridge – nr Corbridge.  Handy for Hexham and Hadrian’s wall attractions

Potland Farm, nr Morpeth                                                – Ashington nr Morpeth. This is where we stayed when we visited Cragside.

Brock Mill Farm, nr Lindisfarne                                  – Beal on the road to Holy Island (Lindisfarne).  Also handy for Berwick on Tweed.

Scotland

Dunbar Camping and Caravanning                             – Dunbar.  Also handy for Edinburgh.

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder                                            – Handy for Jedburgh, Selkirk and Kelso (Floors Castle)

Lake District

Hill of Oaks, Bowness-on-Windermere                     – Bowness on Windermere.  The Lake District 🙂

Blackpool

Bluebell Cottage, Knott End, nr Blackpool               – Knott End.  Handy for Blackpool & Fleetwood

What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1

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 🙂

So here goes! Continue reading “What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1”

Beamish Museum and the Angel of the North

First off, my apologies for most of the photos appearing here at the start – I’m having a spot of bother again getting them where I want them!

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Apart from visiting Hadrian’s Wall sites when in inland Northumberland we also went a little further afield, visiting the Angel of the North, Beamish Museum and a Sunday afternoon in Newcastle.

Beamish museum was somewhere that I was aware of and keen to visit.  I love ‘living’ museums like this where the exhibits represent how we used to live, often with buildings saved from different areas and rebuilt in the museum.  Similar museums around the country include the Weald and Downland near Chichester, St Fagans Folk Museum in Cardiff, Blists Hill Victorian Town near Telford and the Black Country Museum in Dudley.  I have been to each of these museums (except the Black Country Museum) at least twice, and as a result often shout excitedly at the telly when I see a location I recognise (as they’re often used for filming!)

We actually visited Beamish twice.  There were 2 reasons for this, the 1st being that they are one of these, really pretty annoying, attractions where your entry fee allows you to visit for a full year.  This is all very well if you live in the area and are likely to visit more than once – but how about a cheaper price for those of us who are just visiting?  We missed out on Leeds Castle because of this policy (and saw many others turning round and leaving), and need to visit Chatham Docks again before May in order to use our tickets again before they run out…

Anyway, the main reason we had to return was that a couple of days after our first visit there was a big classic car show being held.  So that was reason enough to go back….

Beamish is a living history museum located in the village of Beamish, near to Consett.  There is an awful lot of walking available as you make your way around the site, between the pit village (and a quick tour down a real pit shaft – not far but very interesting), the town, the hall and the farm.

Don’t despair however there are plenty of transport options; old trams and buses run frequently and there is no extra charge for these.  There are several houses that have been rebuilt and dressed in the style of the day, both in the pit village, the town and also the hall.  Don’t miss the tower as you exit the hall – this is the most interesting part of the building!

Over the 2 visits that we made we managed to see every part of the museum and were suitably impressed (at £19 each though that’s a good thing!)

On the way to the museum we had visited the Angel of the North  , the iconic sculpture designed by Anthony Gormley which you cannot miss as you drive by!  There is free parking and an information board at the bottom of the hill that the angel is sited on, and she is really an awesome sight!

We returned to the van via Consett as we needed to get fuel.

After our 2nd visit on the Sunday we headed in to Newcastle to have a look.  We ended up having some lunch – I found out that Weatherspoons now operate a system where you’re able to order online, including your drinks!  Brilliant!  (However, I also think this is old news, just like when I got all excited about the automatic ordering in McDonalds…)

After lunch we headed off to have a look around Newcastle.  I’m not sure how far we walked, but it was a far way.  We were impressed with the city – it wasn’t what we were expecting at all.  Added to the grand old buildings there was a definite vibe about the place even on a Sunday afternoon in September.

Finally in this area, on the Saturday between these 2 visits to the museum we decided to have a lazy day but ended up heading out for a drive, visiting Heddon on the Wall and then Prudhoe Castle.  We also found where the British Masters was being held (we’d seen signs for parking as we’d been driving around the area for the previous week) at Close House, which was busy preparing for the tournament that was being held the following week.

Prudhoe Castle is an English Heritage property, but whilst a pleasant enough way to spend, maybe, half an hour, it wasn’t one of the better properties we’d visited.  Put it this way, it’s one of the properties that we would have been fed up to have paid out £12 between us if we hadn’t been members….  However, if you do go make sure to visit the room above the gatehouse 🙂

 

So our time in Hadrian’s Wall country came to an end, but not our time in Northumberland.  We had 11 more nights and 2 more sites on the coast to visit before moving on to Scotland!

Keep travelling 🙂

 

Walks in the North York Moors

 

When we first arrived in the North York Moors we drove past Roseberry Topping a few times on our way out for the day.  Each time we both said we’ll go up that while we’re here 🙂

On our 1st day back we had taken a wrong turning and found somewhere to park for free from where we could walk up the peak; Gribdale Gate.  From here we could also go in the opposite direction to visit Captain Cook’s monument.  This was perfect as the car park sited on the main road has a cost attached – although I think the path is more straightforward and definitely looked easier in hindsight!

We thought that we were being clever but from our direction we actually had to cope with 3 ascents and descents.  There are ‘steps’ provided in places but these are not particularly easy to negotiate – we were in awe of the young couple who were walking this in the pouring rain with their young baby on the dad’s back 🙂

So, yes, we had a rainstorm on the way up, but by the time we got to the top the sun was back out – very changeable.

The last bit up to the summit was particularly taxing for me, so I thought I’d have a little sit down – until I spotted the lizard that I was about to sit on! (I thought it was a snake at first..)  I carried on 🙂

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The views from the top were absolutely amazing so I’ve included this video showing them all around, plus a few photos on a slideshow. Continue reading “Walks in the North York Moors”

A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge

We did a lot of walking in the North York Moors – even when we were ‘going’ somewhere!  So this post will deal with 1 of the days that we were, sort of at least, heading somewhere and I will do a separate post for the days we actually set out just to walk (to the top of Roseberry Topping and to see Captain Cook’s Monument to be precise).

On day 2 in the Moors we headed to the nearest decent sized town, Stokesley, which turned out to be extremely pleasant.  The parking system was disc parking and, not having a disc, we drove through and parked as soon as we could, giving us a short walk back into town.  There are an awful lot of old buildings in Stokesley and the centre has a really nice feel about it, with lots of independent shops and several butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

We also found a dedicated running shop here (I needed a new water bottle).  The 1st bottle they showed me was £35 – I politely explained I wasn’t actually THAT much of a runner!  I did get what I wanted though, and then realised that I recognised the couple from my previous morning’s ‘run’ – I had stopped to wait for them to pass me with their 4 dogs as I was embarrassed by my shambling and didn’t want them to observe it!  These 2 are proper runners – he went up the hill like it  was a Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas I had to bully myself up this hill (all 20m or so of it…).  The shop is called Let’s Run, and they are very involved in coaching and getting beginners out with groups.

From here we headed towards Middlesborough as we both wanted to see the Transporter Bridge that crosses the Tees there.

We found it, and we went across the river on it (£1.30!), a very quick crossing after which we found ourselves in an area called Port Clarence, which used to be very busy, but which is now less so.

We had a quick drive around Middlesborough and were impressed by the evidence of past grandeur, and also the clear evidence of ongoing regeneration.

Making our way back the, slightly long way, we saw another bridge that appears to lift.  I have since discovered this to be the Newport Vertical Lift Bridge which is no longer in use, so no chance of seeing it in action unfortunately 😦

A couple of days later we decided to head south through the moors towards Helmsley.  Continue reading “A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge”