Chester Christmas Markets, Cheshire 🎅🏻

We’ve just had a lovely weekend over Chester way in Jolly.  We headed out on our annual Jolly Christmas Market Jaunt with the parent folks, and thought that Chester would make a nice change and would look pretty magical at this time of year.  We were not wrong!

We booked a room at the historic, and apparently haunted, ‘Pied Bull’ for Lesley & Malcolm which was a very comfortable stay for them.  We also ate there together on our first evening and the food was lovely.

Our base for the weekend was a little gem of a find, approx. 3 miles outside Chester, in Bretton.   It’s a Caravan & Motorhome Club CL site called Digby Farm in a peaceful, off road location.  The owner, Barry, that we dealt with from the time of booking was great with detailed directions and a warm welcome on our arrival.  It’s very easy to drive past the site lane entrance, even the taxi drivers struggled.  The lane is beside a small Methodist chapel with black railings outside.  Blink and you’ll miss it!

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We would happily recommend this site and will definitely return.   The CL area is a circular area of 7 well spaced hardstanding pitches with grass area and views looking out across the fields.  There seems to be an area for other caravans in a separate field also.  Facilities were as you’d expect, although as usual we used our onboard shower and not the site one which requires 20p pieces.

We used the local taxi service to travel into the centre – KingKabs Taxis, tel: 01244 343434 – but found it much quicker to download their app and book that way.  The average cost of the journey was between £8-£10.

Here’s a few photos of our weekend …

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The second evening we had a really excellent meal at Chez Jules (left outside the Pied Bull and just a few yards along the street).  Top notch 👍.  For both evening meals we booked well in advance as it was busy and places were turning people away who hadn’t booked.

Table for 4 at Chez Jules

The weather was quite wild at night but we were cosy as we were buffeted about in Jolly and we awoke to glorious sunshine before the rain set in one and off for much of the day.

And before we knew it our weekend was over and it was time to head home.  The weather was kind, it had stopped raining and the journey home traffic-wise was fine.

Not long til our next Christmas jaunt with our camping buddies.   Roll on that one!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Ittttt’s Chrissssstmaaaassss!

Hope you read that with the best Noddy Holder yell!

‘Tis the season to be …. ‘Jolly’ and he’s revving up ready for a weekend at the Christmas Markets.  We can’t hold him back …

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Such a long overdue Jolly jaunt.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

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Proper busy innit!

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Well, Jolly’s been tucked up n cosy in his storage spot for longer than normal and much longer than we’d like.  Unfortunately it’s become a very busy time for us just lately and will be for a few months.

We’ll still be getting out and about in him (hell yeah!), but have had to cancel 2 autumn trips and have to wait until December for a jaunt somewhere that will hopefully involve a Christmas Market.

We’re tripping over our bottom lips here, but all is very well so we mustn’t grumble.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

A ‘Rail Ale Trail’, Bury, Greater Manchester

We recently enjoyed a great visit to Bury (named after the Saxon word for “a stronghold”) in Greater Manchester.  Here’s a brief history of the town.

We stayed at  Burrs Country Park Caravan Club Site on a serviced pitch (No. 89), and were pretty impressed with every aspect of our stay from the location, site facilities and pitch size to the numerous activities, things to do and eateries/pubs in the area.   There’s a Cluster Sculpture Trail to explore, and the River Irwell passes the entrance to the Country Park.

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We had pre-booked our stay some time ago, having bought tickets to attend a ‘Rail Ale Journey’ – a guided day trip on a steam train along the East Lancashire Railway  from Bury.  We thoroughly enjoyed this fun, friendly and sociable day out and can definitely recommend.  We even travelled the return journey in the comfort of an old first class carriage which ended the day beautifully.

It was a good job we’d booked our camping stay in advance because the site was fully booked due to it being the weekend of a visit from the much-loved and most famous steam engine of all – The Flying Scotsman 😮.

As further luck would have it, we managed to bag a pitch backing directly up to the railway line allowing us to watch The Flying Scotsman, the Witherslack Hall and the City of Wells steam locomotives as they chugged past Jolly 🚂.🚂🚂.

There’s a railway station at the site, making the railway easily accessible right from your doorstep.

There’s something mesmerising about the sight and sound of steam locomotives and it was a treat to see them up close.   These 2 videos were taken from our pitch:-

 

 

We’ll let the photos tell the story of the rest of our weekend.

 

For food and drink we visited the onsite pub, The Brown Cow, which was busy, buzzing, and great for a pint but we didn’t eat here so can’t comment.  Just a little further out from the site on the road towards town is another pub called The Garsdale Country Inn.  This was also good for a drink but the food was just ok, nothing special at all so we probably wouldn’t bother eating there again.

We found a lovely Indian Restaurant in town and can recommend it.  Excellent food and very good value too – The Jewel in the Crown.

We hadn’t actually realised just how much there is to do in Bury, and will definitely be re-visiting in the future.   Next time we’ll probably take the bikes and explore further afield.

ONWARD!

Suzie & Bri

Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria

Well, we’ve just parked Jolly back up in storage after a weekend break near Broughton in Furness, a small market town on the South West border of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria.

We stayed at Upper Hawthwaite Caravan Park, a C&MC adult-only CL site on a working farm.  It’s approx. 1.5 miles outside Broughton-in-Furness and about a mile in the other direction from the village of Broughton Mills.

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This is a small, quiet site of 5 hard standing pitches backing onto fields with sweeping views of the surrounding Dunnerdale Fells and Duddon Valley.  Being a working farm, there are many different farming machines, etc. around but we heard no noise during our stay.  We only met one of the owners briefly on arrival when he came to collect payment.

The facilities are perfectly adequate, close by to each other and spotlessly clean.

The weather was far from that which we had come to expect after a summer of endless sunshine.  That said, the beauty of Cumbria and the Lakes is never diminished by a spot of rain.  Well we say spot, but at times the heavens absolutely opened although thankfully this was through the nights with days remaining mostly dry.

For our first evening we walked the mile from site along a winding ‘B’ road to the village of Broughton Mills and the beautifully traditional Lakeland inn called The Blacksmiths Arms.

We had pre-booked a table which is essential as it’s definitely the place to go in this area and therefore gets very busy.  The bar area is small and intimate giving it a friendly, social feel.  They serve a good selection of real ales and high quality home-cooked food.  This has to be one of our favourite pubs we’ve been to recently.  We highly recommend you visit it if in the area!

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Overnight, we were rocked to sleep in Jolly due to high winds blowing down through the valley and across the site which is quite exposed.  These winds had died down by lunch time the next day so, after a late breakfast and a lazy morning, we jumped on our bikes to cycle into Broughton.

It was all downhill towards the town so we knew the homeward trip would demand much more pedal power.  We also experienced a hairy moment when a motorist came flying up the hill around a blind bend onto our side of the road and nearly took us out, swerving at the last minute 😱.  We saw the whites of her 👀 and if she looked in her rear view mirror she’ll have seen the flicking of Suzie’s two fingers!! ✌🏻🤬.

Anyway, we survived and cycled on into the centre of Broughton in Furness, parking up in the pretty Georgian market square where there’s an obelisk which has stood there since 1810, erected to commemorate the 50th year of the reign of King George III.  This is the main focal point of the town.  By the obelisk is a set of stocks and a couple of market fish slabs, and across the road is the Tourist Information Centre located in the old market hall.

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As it was a dry and warm day we decided to ride out a little further on the bikes, following a short cycle/walking route we’d found online (approx. 4 miles).  The first part follows a renovated stretch of the old Coniston Railway track which once carried slate and copper ore from the mines at Coniston to the coast.

At the beginning of the ride we passed a cute little community vegetable patch with a sign inviting locals to pick and/or plant whatever they wished.

Further along we arrived at a small tarn with a wooden bench where we walked quietly up to a flock of ducks sleeping.  It was very peaceful sight so we sat there for a while before the ducks were woken by some dog walkers.

They were all standing on one leg (the ducks not the dog walkers).  They do this to conserve heat via an adaptation called ‘rete mirabile’ (Latin for ‘wonderful net’).  Their arteries carrying warm blood to the legs lie in contact with the veins carrying cold blood to the heart, helping them to maintain body temperature (Nature lesson over 🤓).

It was a gradual incline to the end of the renovated stretch of old railway line, when we then followed a narrower track to the right which took us down to Five Arches Road,  sadly the five arches bridge no longer exists.  We followed the rest of the route along lanes & tracks before completing the circular route back into town.

We finished off with a little detour along Foxfield Road to visit ‘Donkey Rock’, aka Eccle Riggs Bank Quarry.  It’s easy to miss the entrance and just shoot past but it’s a site of geological interest and well worth a peek.

The quarry wall is over 400 million years old, and once part of a Silurian sea bed.  It was pushed into the vertical position we see today by earth movements.  That’s as much as we understand anyway!

To finish our afternoon wanderings off, we stopped off for a couple of drinks in town.  There are 3 pubs within the centre, the Black Cock Inn, the Old Kings Head and the Manor Arms

For us, the most interesting and characterful by far is the 17th Century Manor Arms freehouse, which offers a good selection of real ales.  It doesn’t do food.   The pub to eat in seemed to be the Old Kings Head which has been refurbished and is very modern.  The Black Cock Inn also serves food.

There’s a restaurant called Beswicks Langholme House but we weren’t sure whether this has now closed, and The Square Cafe both within the market square.

Here’s a list of eateries in the area.

However, we’d decided to cook our own meal back on Jolly that evening.  So we called into the village bakery (also a cafe), Butchers/grocers to collect our ingredients.

We knew the cycling back up to site would take more effort than it had coming down.  So we got our heads down to cycle & push (well it is called a push bike!) in equal measure.

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Once we got back we could chill out and enjoy the rest of our evening.  We actually timed our return well because within half an hour or so the rains and mist had set in.

We fired up the Lotus Grill and slapped on two very succulent fillet steaks to sizzle away while the mist descended upon the hills around us.

It was like a scene from that film, ‘Grillers in the Mist’ …. (sorry!) 🦍

We boiled some new potatoes and green beans inside on Jolly to accompany our meaty feast.   Mmm, mmmmm, it was delicious.

A great way to end our stay 😊.

Next morning we drove through the misty valley back home.  We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend and in a strange way it was nice to have different weather this time around.  It all adds to the experience.

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ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Hesket Newmarket, Lake District, Cumbria

We recently spent a weekend up in the Northern edge of the Lake District or, as the locals call it, the ‘Back O’ Skidda’.

Our journey up was smooth without any hold-ups.  The weather was changeable, driving through drizzle and low cloud over the southern lakes then finally being greeted with sunshine on arrival at our destination.  Result! 😎

We stayed at Riverside Tourer Park in the hamlet of Millhouse, just a couple of miles outside the small village of Hesket Newmarket

It’s an open all year, adult-only site which suited us well during the busy school summer holidays.  There are both CL pitches for C&MC members and another section called ‘Millrace’ which we had pre-booked onto as the CL had already been booked up.

We’d originally booked for the previous weekend but had changed our plans and must say that the owners were very flexible with our request to move our stay.  Big 👍 for that.

On arrival there’s a ‘New Arrivals’ board by the gate which had our name on and a pre-allocated pitch number.   So we filled Jolly up and made our way to our pitch which was clearly marked with a reserved sign.

We were allocated Pitch 9 which was perfect for us in a quiet corner down by the riverside.   All pitches are a generous size, separated by mature hedges for added privacy and most, if not all, are hard standing.

The site appeared to be run very efficiently.  We didn’t actually meet the owners – maybe next time.  There was no need to though, having paid upfront by PayPal and just following the instructions on arrival.

We found it to be a wonderfully quirky site in some ways, especially the toilets, showers and the variety of piping gear provided to fit any type of waste outlet imaginable! 😀.

 

Once pitched up we had a cuppa and a chill out for a while.  The site was almost full but quiet.  Normally you’d have the sound of the River Caldew which runs alongside the site, but it was very low, little more than a trickle after the prolonged period of hot, dry weather we’ve had.

The River Caldew runs through Millhouse from it’s origin at Skiddaw, down through the nearby fells at Caldbeck and onwards to Carlisle where it joins the River Eden.

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During our stay we cycled around the local area, visiting the villages of Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck.

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The first evening we ate at the 18th Century Old Crown Inn in Hesket Newmarket, Britain’s first co-operatively owned pub with its own brewery next door (Hesket Market Brewery).  The co-operative model of ownership of this pub has enabled it to retain a real community friendly feel.  We enjoyed a couple of excellent ales (particularly enjoyed the Skiddaw) and some good pub grub there that night.

Prince Charles has visited twice.  Yes, twice.  ‘Nuff said about this great little pub! 🍻 👑

The next day we cycled from the campsite back through Hesket Newmarket and on towards the larger village of Caldbeck.  Here we visited Priests Mill – a restored old water mill which was originally built by a Rector of the church next door.  It now houses the Watermill Cafe and gift shops.

After a wander around the mill area and a cuppa and cheeky slice of cake at the cafe, we headed towards the 12th Century St Kentigern’s Church.  We took a walk around the churchyard where the famous Huntsman, John Peel is buried, and went inside to write a message in the prayer book for a recently deceased friend 🙏.

By the riverside to the rear of the church you can see St Mungo’s/St Kentigern’s Well.   This Well was made holy by St Kentigern for early Christian baptisms.

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We finished the afternoon off with a short stroll from the village car park up to The Howk, a limestone gorge and waterfall.  This natural gorge has been called ‘Fairy Kettle’ and ‘Fairy Kirk’.

It’s a pretty riverside trail and although the water levels were low and the waterfall wasn’t thundering, it was still quite an impressive sight and sound.  There is a section of very steep stone steps at the waterfall.

Before reaching The Howk, you walk through the ruins of an Old Bobbin Mill.

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After our leisurely exploration of Caldbeck, we finished our day off with drinks and a meal at the Oddfellows Arms before cycling back to camp, calling in again at The Old Crown on the way.  The Old Crown was definitely our favourite of the 2 pubs.

And that was it, another adventure over so quickly!  Oh well, there’s always another just around the corner 🙂

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri

Cononley, Nr Skipton, North Yorkshire

We’ve just enjoyed a cheeky one-nighter this weekend with some good buddies.  Our destination this time was the little village of Cononley, in the Aire Valley, North Yorkshire.  It’s approx. 3.5 miles from the bustling market town of Skipton.

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We stayed at the Riverside Campsite, a C&CC certified site which is spread over 3 acres of level grass, with some areas sectioned off by tall privacy hedges.  There are also a few hard standing pitches.  The facilities and the surrounding scenery make it an impressive location and the centre of the village is just a 5-minute walk away.  The cost as C&CC members for our moho, 2 adults, 1 night on a grass pitch with EHU was £16

http://www.riversidecampsite.co.uk/

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Arrival at Riverside campsite

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We pitched in the first grass section by the entrance

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Jolly pitched up in the sunshine

Cononley has a general convenience store, railway station, Chinese take-away (Oriental May) and two pubs – The New Inn and The Railway.  We had a drink in each of the pubs (be rude not to!) but didn’t eat in either.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1129488-d5074429-Reviews-Oriental_May-Cononley_Skipton_North_Yorkshire_England.html

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g209940-d3846460-Reviews-The_New_Inn-Skipton_North_Yorkshire_England.html

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1129488-d4606608-Reviews-The_Railway-Cononley_Skipton_North_Yorkshire_England.html

We decided to catch the train from Cononley into Skipton late afternoon/early evening.  The trains run regularly and its about an 8 minute journey.  The ticket price was £4 return for 2 adults and £5 return for 2 adults/1 child.

After a few hours meandering around Skipton, visiting one or two hostelries (plenty to choose from), and finishing off with excellent fish n chips from Bizzie Lizzies by the canal, we caught the train back.

As we returned to site, the sun was beginning to set and we all gathered around outside chatting and having a nightcap before turning in for the night.

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Sunset on return to site

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Site viewed from the railway bridge

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Heading back to site

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Home time! 🚐

The following morning we all enjoyed bacon and egg baps and a cuppa tea or two before we packed Jolly up for our journey home.   One-night camping trips are definitely worth doing whenever you can’t fit a full weekend in.

What a summer we’re having this year, it feels like the sun has been shining forever 😎.  More of the same please!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Pooley Bridge, Cumbria

Last weekend we returned to the Lakeland village of Pooley Bridge for the first time in … ooooh … many years and our first time in Jolly.

We stayed at Waterfoot Park which is located just 0.9 miles from the centre of the village.  The staff were very welcoming and helpful, giving us the usual facilities info and local info.  As usual we didn’t use the site toilet/showers, using Jolly’s onboard facilities instead.

If you stay here and want to use Ullswater Steamer during your stay you can buy your ticket from the site reception at a reduced price.

It was a busy weekend on site and we were directed to a pre-allocated pitch on arrival (Pitch 19) which was one of the pitches on the outer perimeter of the touring site.  We were happy with this as we thought that the centre pitches looked a little tight with the units backed up close to one another with less privacy.

https://www.waterfootpark.co.uk/

After a couple of hours sunbathing beside Jolly, we followed directions given to us by reception for a pathway from the site into Pooley.  The path is very scenic and a lot safer than walking along the busy road.

We took a slight detour first though, to check out the on-site bar – The Mansion Bar and Cafe.  As its name suggests, it’s set in an old mansion house with a large terrace at the back and views of Ullswater in the distance.  After a quick drink here we headed off on our walk.   There’s a chippy van that parks up outside the mansion on certain evenings.

Pooley Bridge is situated at the North East end of Ullswater Lake with the River Eamont running through it.  The old stone bridge that crossed the river at Pooley was sadly destroyed in the floods caused by Storm Desmond in 2015 and during our visit we saw the temporary metal bridge that is still in situ awaiting a permant replacement structure to be built.

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We had a wander around the village before sitting out with a drink at the 1863 bar/bistro

https://1863ullswater.co.uk/

Followed by a meal at the Sun Inn

https://suninnpooleybridge.co.uk/

Next day we decided to go for a walk in the beautiful weather.  We set off well prepared with full flasks of water and decided to walk a section of the Ullswater Way, which is a 21-mile walking route around Ullswater.  It can be walked from any starting point and in any direction.

http://www.ullswater.co.uk/the-ullswater-way.html

Map of the Ullswater Way

We began by walking down to Pooley Bridge Pier and taking a ride on the Ullswater Steamer over to Howtown Pier.

https://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/

From Howtown Pier we walked on approx. 500 yards into Martindale valley which lies between Ullswater and Haweswater.  There’s an old Church of St Martin there and a hotel – The Howtown Hotel.  We visited the cosy, traditional bar to the rear of the hotel and sat out for a little while on the sloping grass there.

After our drink, we walked back towards Howtown Pier where we joined the Ullswater Way via a gate up into a field on the right opposite the Pier entrance.  It was an approx. 6-mile walk from here along the low level route back into Pooley Bridge.  There’s the option of a higher route which takes you up to the Cock Pit Stone Circle but we were happy enough with our wander along the tracks overlooking Ullswater and through the fields, eventually coming out alongside the lake and continuing into Pooley Bridge.

But ohhhh, the vampire bloodsucking horseflies were bitey little bu*$ers up in the fields that day! 🧛‍♂️.

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On arrival into Pooley Bridge, we had a couple of cool down pints and some food before heading back up to site, catching a lovely sunset over the hills on our way back.  A total of about 8-miles walked in the day.   We sat out on site with a brew before turning in.

The beautiful Lake District seen in the most perfect weather.  Top weekend 👌.   Our next Jolly trip is a cheeky little overnighter in Yorkshire with some camping buddies.

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri.

‘Another Place’, Crosby Beach, Merseyside

Although not a Jolly adventure, we recently visited Sir Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ sculptures which stand on Crosby Beach along the Merseyside coastline.  We thought it worthy of a blog post.

The display consists of 100 cast-iron figures moulded to match his own body measurements.  They all face out to sea and cover an area of approx. 2 miles from Waterloo to Blundellsands.

This is a visit we had on our ‘To Do’ list for a while now and one we think is a must to include in your itinerary if on a holiday in the area.

The sculptures stand enigmatically staring out at the horizon and we found them captivating.  Each is submerged at different levels in the water as the tide rolls in and out.  The idea behind them is apparently to represent the experience of occupying a human body and its connection with nature, the ebb and flow of the tide and the passing of time.  Some of the figures were covered in barnacles adding greater emphasis to the effects of nature’s elements and planetary time on the ‘bodies’.

https://www.visitsouthport.com/things-to-do/another-place-by-antony-gormley-p160981

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Obviously you see more as the tides goes out, so be sure to check the tide times. That said, we arrived just after high tide and it was fascinating watching more and more of the figures slowly becoming visible as the water receded.

https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeguarded-beaches/crosby-beach/forecasts-and-tides-crosby-beach

Nearest camping sites we’ve located online for visiting this area are:-

https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/merseyside/maghull/hiddencornercamping

and

http://www.formbypointcaravanpark.co.uk/

Here’s a link to more of his work:-

https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/articles/10-sculptures-you-should-know-by-antony-gormley/

A fascinating day out!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri