Haltwhistle, Northumberland

Recently back from an enjoyable weekend at Haltwhistle.  Our first time at the Camping & Caravanning Club Site there, which is situated by the River South Tyne.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/northumberland/haltwhistle/haltwhistle

Our pitch was beside the pathway down to the river which, along with birdsong, was pretty much the only sound we heard on site.  We believe this pretty little site to be the quietest we’ve stayed at so far.  Bliss.

Haltwhistle is a small town in the North East of England just over the border from Carlisle, lying in Northumberland.  It is described as the geographical centre of Britain (although the village of Dunsop Bridge in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire is also often cited as the centre of Britain).

http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haltwhistle

It is a couple of miles into Haltwhistle from the site and we cycled down the old railway track which can be accessed not far from the entrance road to site.  It’s a tarmac pathway with a gradual decline going and, obviously, more pedaling required coming back.  It follows part of the old 13-mile railway route from Haltwhistle to Alston (the highest market town in England).  The line was opened in 1852  to transport minerals from Alston Moor, and it closed in 1976.  By 1983, there was a narrow gauge railway operating along a small section of the line with plans to possibly extend this at some point.

The disused section from the campsite now forms part of the 26-mile South Tyne Trail (for both cyclists and walkers) which runs from Tyne Head to Haltwhistle.  It takes in the restored Lambley Viaduct, built to cross the South Tyne River.

http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinksWalks/south-tyne-trail-walking-and-cycle-route

Haltwhistle is rich in Roman history and approx. 2 miles away is the central section of Hadrian’s Wall, which is the location of the best preserved section of the wall.  For around 300 years, Hadrian’s Wall was a frontier sprawling 73 miles coast to coast from Wallsend in the East to Solway Firth in the West.  It was built by approx. 15,000 soldiers on the instruction of Emperor Hadrian in 117 AD to protect the roman empire against barbarians, and was finished in under 6 years.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall/

About 5.5 miles from Haltwhistle is the Vindolanda Roman Fort and Settlement with museum.

www.vindolanda.com/

It’s one of the North East’s most famous tourist attractions, particularly noted for the Vindolanda Tablets – considered some of the most important archaeological finds of correspondence (written on wooden tablets) discovered anywhere in the Roman Empire.  Speaks for itself that this is worth a read-up on and a visit.

We had great September weather during this trip and spent a lot of time cycling through the beautiful countryside.

For food and a good pint, Bri had researched The Black Bull Inn, in the centre of town.  It receives excellent reviews and we had planned on trying here, but by this time our travels had taken us away from town.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g616269-d1544997-Reviews-The_Black_Bull-Haltwhistle_Northumberland_England.html

At the end of our full day there, after covering several miles, we finished off along the South Tyne Trail, a little further on from site to call in at the Wallace Arms, Featherstone.

https://whatpub.com/pubs/TYN/6852/wallace-arms-featherstone

We arrived there half an hour before opening time, but the landlord saw us and opened up early to pull us thirsty cyclists a couple of pints 🍻  Nice one Mr Landlord!  👍  We had planned to eat our evening meal there but discovered that they don’t serve food.

Instead we sat outside and enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine, a couple of real ales from a local brewery, and chatted at length with one of the new occupants of this now family run pub.  There were lots of lazy, grumpy wasps around as there are at this time of year, which we both spent a while dodging … until Suzie eventually jumped up dancing around, shaking her t-shirt to get rid of a wasp that had got inside and stung her armpit!  😖  Another pint eased the pain though 😃

On arrival back at site we ordered fish and chips from a takeaway in Haltwhistle that provided delivery.  The info and menu for this is in the site information file.  Good fodder before turning in for the night and our journey home the following morning.  A thumbs up for Haltwhistle.

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September sunset

Our next Jolly jaunt is back to Uttoxeter Racecourse where we went last year for the Marston’s Beer Festival.  This year we’re returning for the Oktoberfest weekend in … err … October funnily enough.  Roll on October!

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Home time

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Meathop Fell, Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria

Whoop!  Our first Jolly jaunt for a few months.  A few months that we are very happy and relieved to put behind us, but enough about that.

This site has been on our ‘To Do’ list for a while now, and we finally got to spend a short but lovely two-night stay at the Meathop Fell Caravan Club Site in the South Lakes, approximately 2-3 miles from the seaside town of Grange-Over-Sands.

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Meathop Fell Caravan Club Site

The site staff were friendly and helpful and seemed keen for visitors to get the most from their stay.  We were informed of the direction to head for eateries, villages and the town of Grange-Over-Sands.  The site information hut is well stocked with leaflets, etc too.

This is such a relaxed site, where you can really appreciate the feeling of privacy, as pitches are a good size and many are separated by grassy areas or shrubs.  The site appeared almost full when we arrived but we found a perfectly spacious and sheltered corner pitch (No.75).  It was near to the play area but this was extremely quiet at this time of the season.  It’s a real haven for wildlife in and around the site and a treat to listen to the owls at night.

http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk-caravan-sites-and-parks/SiteDetails.aspx?csid=21935

We arrived on site just after lunch time and, after pitching up, heated up some homemade chilli which we enjoyed with homemade jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins.  This was washed down with a chilled glass of Doombar.  Yum!

We spent a few hours just unwinding and enjoying the peace, quiet and beautiful surroundings on site.  The rain set in late afternoon so we got togged up and went out for a walk up to the Woodlands Hotel, just a 5-10 minute stroll away.  There’s a signpost at the site entrance (left out of the gates, then right at the pine lodges).  It’s a country house hotel which welcomes visitors from the campsite (dog friendly too), and where you can get decent pub style food and a good pint of Wainwrights.

http://www.lakedistrict-stay.co.uk/accommodation/Woodlands-Hotel.html

The heavens opened that night and a lot of rain was put down before we awoke to a fresh day.  The weather improved considerably from then on.  We fired up the cooker and enjoyed a cumberland chipolata sandwich before jumping on our bikes to explore the local area.

We decided to cycle to Grange-Over-Sands which was a pretty, scenic route from site, avoiding the busy A590 road.

We cycled along part of the promenade and could see in the distance a large group of Morecambe Bay Walkers.  There are about 30 walks a year across Morecambe Bay.  They take place during spring and summer. Most walks are undertaken by charity fundraisers, and cross the sands between Arnside and Kents Bank.  The walks are guided by Cedric Robinson MBE, the Queen’s Official Guide. In 1963 Cedric Robinson was appointed the 25th guide and for 53 years has escorted many thousands of people across the dangerous sands of the stunning bay.

Grange-Over-Sands is a delightful town of higgledy piggledy streets with an impressive clock tower and an array of shops, cafes, and a couple of pubs.  It’s easy to spend a few hours meandering around the town, which is what we did before cycling a little further afield to create a circular ride back to site through Lindale.

On arrival back near site, as it was such a beautiful day, we decided to ride a further couple of miles to The Derby Arms at Witherslack for tea.  Here we sat out and enjoyed the last of the day’s sunshine.

Another great Jolly adventure and the next is under two weeks away.  Can’t wait!

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri

Charmouth, Dorset – Jurassic Coast Adventure Pt 4

Day 8 – and our final destination for June’s ‘Jolly’s Jurassic Adventure’ was a 45 minute (25.5 miles) drive further westwards along the coast to Charmouth, near the border with East Devon.    We’d booked a pitch at the Charmouth Camping & Caravanning Club site.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/dorset/nrcharmouth/charmouth

This site is located at Monkton Wyld Farm, about 3 miles outside Charmouth itself, and is a beautiful, spacious site located down a quiet country lane away from traffic noise.  It was a good job we had our bikes on board as there isn’t much in the immediate area of this site so you do need to be able to walk a distance even to access public transport or have other means of getting out and about as most things to do are a short drive/ride away.

By now, the weather was beginning to turn and the glorious sunshine that had welcomed us on our arrival into Dorset had reduced to sporadic periods of sunshine through cloud and rain showers, some heavy.  This didn’t in any way dampen (pardon the pun) our Dorset experience, however,  and there was still adventure to be had!

During our stay here, one day we jumped on our bikes and cycled an approx 18 mile round trip to Seaton in the Axe Valley, East Devon, for the afternoon.  It was a pretty welcome into Seaton as we rode over the bridge and alongside the River Axe.   We locked the bikes up at Seaton Tramway and took a ride on one of the narrow gauge heritage trams from Seaton to Colyford and Colyton.  The track runs alongside the River Axe estuary, giving great views of bird life.  We aren’t very knowledgeable on birds but we definitely saw a buzzard on the overhead line as we passed beneath!  The tram driver was clearly very happy in his job and made it a fun and entertaining journey.

http://www.tram.co.uk/

We rode the tram up to Colyton where we disembarked for a stroll around the village.  It was pleasant walking through the winding streets.  We enjoyed a real ale as we sat outside the Gerrard Arms (freehouse) while listening to an impressive ringing of bells from St Andrew’s Church next door.  It was a very quintessentially old English village feel to the moment.  We later called in at the Kingfisher (freehouse) too before walking to catch the tram back into Seaton.

By this time it was late afternoon and we headed off on our 9 mile ride back towards site.  Unfortunately, the weather quickly changed and we found ourselves riding, often uphill, into a head wind with the rain pelting down.  It was quite a challenging ride!

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River Cottage HQ appearing through the mist on our way home

Just as we were on the verge of losing our will to live, and looking like drowned rats, we reached The Hunter’s Lodge Inn, just about a mile from site.  We were pretty knackered and had never been more ready for some pub grub and a pint.  As Suzie headed to the toilet, Bri went to book a table but was told there was no room at the Inn! 😱  There was a pub quiz on that evening and all bookings had been taken for this.  As luck would have it though, as Suzie returned and was informed, the barman took pity on her pitifully sad, disappointed, exhausted expression  … and managed to squeeze us in!  RESULT! 😃👍

We would definitely recommend that you book a table if wanting to eat here as they seem to regularly be full.

http://www.hunterslodgeaxminster.webs.com/

Another day, we decided to go fossil hunting on Charmouth beach as we had read that it is one of the best areas to do this.  After the previous day’s bike ride, and as the weather remained wet, we decided to unhook Jolly and take him into Charmouth.  Obviously with this, you are more limited with parking but this wasn’t a problem at a car park just up the road from the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre at the beach.  At the Heritage Centre, we were able to watch a video on fossil hunting and saw some very impressive fossil collections.  We weren’t successful with fossils that day but had a good couple of hours wandering the beach and searching 🙂

http://www.charmouth.org/chcc/

On our way back we were thinking of possibly having a wander around West Bay, one of the locations used for the filming of ITV’s crime drama, Broadchurch, but by this point it was quite late and we also discovered that motorhomes weren’t too welcome in the car parks we looked at which was disappointing but not entirely surprising.  I think Station Yard Car Park, West Bay allows some motorhomes, not sure how many.  We’re usually on bikes so hadn’t really experienced this difficulty before.

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A flying visit to West Bay harbour

This site is helpful re. parking in Dorset:-

http://www.motorhomeparking.co.uk/dor.htm

No worries though, we headed back to Jolly for our tea before an early night and a long journey home the next day.

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Final checks, then homeward bound 🚐

We waved goodbye to Charmouth and set off on the 265-mile return journey back up North to Lancashire, after an absolutely brilliant time on our 10-night Jolly Jurassic Adventure and got a real buzz from touring.  We just want to do more and more.  Here’s to the next one which will be June 2017, destination yet to be confirmed.  Until then …

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri