Clitheroe Food Festival, Ribble Valley, Lancashire

Sooo, a food festival.   What’s not to like?

We were back in Clitheroe a couple of weekends ago to experience the Clitheroe Food Festival  which we’d been meaning to visit several times but always seemed to have other trips planned.  We made sure that we made it there this year.

We stayed at Clitheroe Camping & Caravanning Club Site .  It’s situated in an idyllic location beside the River Ribble at Edisford Bridge just a mile or so outside the town centre.  We often stay at this site and this time noticed a big improvement in that the old plastic mesh matting pitches have now been replaced with gravel hard standings.  This is a big improvement as this site is so close to the River Ribble it’s prone to water logging and flooding.

Our weekend had begun Friday lunchtime when our nephew, George, who had been staying with us for a couple of days helped us to collect Jolly from storage and joined us on board as we took him back home on the way.

For Friday night, we’d pre-booked ourselves a table at The Red Pump Inn, Bashall Eaves So, after a chilled afternoon on Jolly (it was raining quite heavily outside) we rang for a taxi up to the Red Pump, which is about 2.5 miles outside Clitheroe.  It’s in a peaceful location with good views of the surrounding countryside.

We’d heard before going that the steaks here were top notch, and although there was plenty on the menu that could easily have turned our eyes, noses and taste buds, we both decided to go for a steak.  We ordered a fillet steak with garstang blue cheese sauce and a 90 day dry aged rib-eye steak with chimichurri sauce.  Both were cooked to medium rare perfection, served with tasty chunky hand cooked chips and a side salad. The food portions were just right too, comfortably filling.

In fact, the whole evening was pretty perfect – great staff, service and atmosphere.  We can recommend this one without hesitation.  It made an interesting change for us too as we usually go into Waddington which also has great pubs/restaurants – The Higher Buck, Waddington Arms, and The Lower Buck.

The next day the sun came out of hiding in time for the Food Festival and the town centre was buzzing with a large turnout of people who were treated to a festival offering an impressive display of different food/drink/produce stalls.  There was plenty of live street music, entertainment and food demos too.  This Festival is rated as one of the most successful of its kind in the North West of England and in the top 10 throughout the country, and this was its 7th year.

We enjoyed our afternoon wandering through the town centre then ventured down to another place that put on a great day – the Bowland Brewery at Holmes Mill just down from the town centre.  There were food stalls, their new food hall was open, live music, ice cream shop and of course some great ales to be enjoyed.  For us, this place is an absolute must to drop into whenever we’re over Clitheroe way.

The town’s festival was rounded off perfectly at approx. 4pm when the Red Arrows treated everyone to a fly-over display on their way across to the Blackpool Air Show.  It was a spectacular finish to the event.

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Clitheroe Main Street

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Red Arrows Flyover (photo by Zoie Carter-Ingham)

Afterwards, we cycled back down from town to the Edisford Bridge pub which is just over the bridge from the C&CC site.  We grabbed a pint and some tea (because we hadn’t actually eaten at the food festival!?) before heading back to our pitch to await the arrival of a couple of good friends and fellow campers, Mo & Lee, who were coming to see Jolly and have a few drinks with us.

We sat out for a couple of hours chatting, laughing and drinking before the evening chill finally beat us and we retreated inside Jolly for the remainder of the evening.  Our next outing will actually be back in Clitheroe but a group social gathering with Mo, Lee and another couple..  We’re really looking forward to that one.

Great weekend! 😊  Til next time ..

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Oswestry – ‘Where Shropshire meets Wales’

We returned for a second visit this weekend to Cranberry Moss Camping & Caravanning Club Site which is located just off the busy A5 between Oswestry (8 miles) and Shrewsbury (10 miles).  It’s a beautifully maintained site with an open layout, and we received a warm welcome from the warden who showed us around the site and allowed us to choose our own pitch.  We didn’t use the onsite facilities during our stay but they looked clean and what you’d expect from a club site.

As with our last visit here, our journey involved several hold-ups and general heavy Friday traffic.  We reached the site mid-afternoon and pitched up just before some heavy rain arrived.  It rained non-stop for the rest of the afternoon so we stuck the kettle on and had a relaxing few hours on Jolly before heading out for a meal in the evening.

We knew from our last visit that there’s a lovely pub a couple of miles away in Nesscliffe, called The Old Three Pigeons.  So, after realising the rain wasn’t for stopping, we got togged up and cycled through the downpours into Nesscliffe.  We were rewarded with a delicious meal there so it was well worth the effort!  By the time we returned to camp the rain had ceased and it was still light so it was quite a pleasant ride back.

Cheers to a good evening at the Old Three Pigeons

There’s a Country Park in Nesscliffe where you’ll find an iron age hill fort, quarries which supplied stone for some of Shropshire’s’ castles and churches, and a cave hewn into the sandstone, which it is claimed was the hideout of a medieval outlaw called Humphrey Kynaston – Shropshire’s answer to Robin Hood.  It’s claimed that the Old Three Pigeons is haunted by Humphrey.

A handy Arriva bus service runs past the site entrance and can take you to Shrewsbury (opposite side of road) or Oswestry (just outside site entrance).  The warden told us to avoid any bus with an ‘X’ by the number when returning to site as this was an express service which would not pass the site and would leave us a good 2 miles away.  On our last visit, we had visited Shrewsbury so this time we jumped on the number 70 bus to explore the market town of Oswestry.

The name ‘Oswestry’, is derived from King Oswald of Northumbria (died in AD641).  He was apparently nailed to a tree – hence the name “Oswald’s Tree“.    Probably the most famous person to have hailed from Oswestry is the First World War Poet, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918).  We visited the tourist information, which is housed in an old school building by St Oswald’s Church, to pick up a map of the Wilfred Owen Trail which takes you through the town and to places of note including his place of birth and early childhood home at ‘Plas Wilmot’.

We had a good walk around the town on the trail and later enjoyed an early evening pizza and prosecco at Prezzo before returning to camp.

Our journey back home the next morning was fortunately without any of the hold-ups we’d experienced on our way down.  The sun was shining too which made a difference.

Summer’s marching on.  Still plenty of Jolly adventures lined up though 🙂

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

Jolly recently took us to Woodclose Park approx. half a mile outside the pretty, historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, on the border between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Woodclose Park is beautifully laid out and immaculately maintained with excellent facilities.  We stayed in the circular touring section on pitch number 2.  The pitches were well spaced and fully serviced with water, electric, grey waste drain & tv hook-up points.

It was a busy weekend there but the atmosphere remained chilled and very peaceful.  All of the staff were friendly, especially Rick who we spoke to a couple of times and who gave us some recommendations and info about the area.

Kirkby Lonsdale is such a lovely town with an array of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.  There’s a Market day on Thursdays and a Farmers Market on the first Thursday of the month.  They also have a Victorian Street Fair during the first week in September.

In 2013, the town was used as one of the filming locations for the BBC drama ‘Jamaica Inn‘ We didn’t watch the drama but have googled it since to see the transformation of the town centre that was carried out.

The best walk from site into town takes you over the ancient 3-arched Devil’s Bridge, which crosses the River Lune and dates back to the 12th/13th Century.  It’s a popular site for tourists and has a butty/brew van and an ice-cream van parked up there.  It’s a favourite haunt for motorcyclists and we also noticed that several motorhomes stayed overnight in a parking lay-by nearby.

After the bridge, turn right and follow the path along the riverbank until you reach the 86 ‘Radical Steps’.  These steps take you up into St Mary’s churchyard and some gates lead out into the town centre.

According to a sign we read along the walk, the ‘Radical Steps’ came about in 1820 when Dr Francis Pearson, a man who held very strong Liberal views, obtained an order to divert a public footpath that ran through his garden at Abbots Brow.  Many locals were opposed to this and as a result the flight of steps that replaced the footpath became known as the ‘Radical Steps’ in reference to Dr Pearson’s radical politics.

After climbing to the top of the steps you reach St Mary’s Churchyard.  If you turn right at the top and walk just a little further along you come to ‘Ruskin’s View’.  It’s the point from which the famous artist JMW Turner painted the River Lune in 1822.  His painting moved the poet John Ruskin to write:

‘I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine’

Ruskin was so impressed with the painting that he described the panorama as ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore in the world’. The painting became known as ‘Ruskin’s View’.

The story of Ruskin’s View

The Norman St Mary’s Church and attractive churchyard is lovely to wander through.  We also went into the Church to look around and to light candles before walking out of the churchyard down an alleyway past the Sun Inn (well, we say ‘past’, we never pass a pub 😉).

We walked along Salt Pie Lane (formerly Cattle Market Yard).  This is where cattle used to be sold in the town, which led to a local lady deciding to make and sell hot salted mutton pies to the traders.  This salty pies created quite a thirst in the traders who would then visit the Green Dragon pub (now the Snooty Fox) to quench their thirst.  Apparently, the landlord of the pub was a relation of the pie-lady – great business idea!

There’s no shortage of great drinking holes.  To name a few we called into:- The Royal Hotel (serving Bowland Brewery ales), The Red Dragon Inn, The Sun Inn, The Kings Arms (live music), and The Orange Tree.

Bowland Brewery ales at The Royal Hotel

Be sure to call into the Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery in the centre which also serves some great local ales.

We enjoyed food at both The Red Dragon Inn and The Sun Inn during our stay.  We only ate from the bar menu at the Sun Inn but we’ll make sure we book in for an evening meal next time.  It’s a very popular place and they were having to turn people away as they were fully booked.   We also spent a few hours listening to some live music in the Kings Arms across the road from the Sun.  Great atmosphere!

It’s a pleasant stroll back to site from town and as we walked back over the bridge one night, we saw a humongous salmon jump twice down below.  We decided we’ll definitely have to buy a visitor’s permit and fish there some time!

The sun decided to appear for our journey home

Until next time …

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Chirk, North Wales

Last weekend Jolly took us to Chirk, a small town in North Wales between Wrexham and Oswestry.

We stayed at Lady Margaret’s C&M Club Site which is beautifully situated in woodland.  The site offers good sized pitches to suit all preferences, be it the shade and privacy of trees or open grassy areas.  We loved this site and the location, it’s pretty with a sense of space, and the sun shone too which always shows a place at its best.  We had noted some comments on the site reviews about facilities needing upgrading but we can’t comment on the showers because we used Jolly’s onboard shower as we always do. However, we used the toilets which were fine and spotlessly clean.

The wardens were very welcoming, smiling, chatty and laid back despite always being busy with a steady flow of arrivals and departures.

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The site is located beside Chirk Castle, a grade I listed 13th Century fortress built during the reign of Edward I.  It was sold to the Myddelton family at the end of the 16th Century and descendants of this family still live in part of the Castle today.  You can just lose yourself wandering through the grounds, admiring the ornamental statues, or join a guided tour of the state rooms, and visit the tea room and shop.

There’s a striking entrance to the Castle in the form of intricate ornate white wrought iron gates, bearing the Myddelton Coat of Arms.  Dated 1719, they’re the work of local brothers, Robert & John Davies.  We stopped a while at these gates to admire the intricate detail of the work on them.

Ornate gates at Chirk Castle

The gates bear the ‘Red hand of Chirk’.  A tale of how this symbol came about relates to a Lord Myddelton issuing a challenge to his twin sons as he lay on his death bed.  Chirk Castle was to be passed to his eldest child but he was unsure which son had been born first.  The sons had to race on horseback around the estate, the winner being the one who returned first to touch his father’s deathbed, thereby inheriting the estate.

Legend has it that as the feuding sons returned neck-and-neck running towards the chamber, one of the sons tripped.  Fearing he would lose the race and the inheritance, he drew his sword, sliced off his own hand and threw the bloody thing(!) onto his father’s bed thereby claiming his right to the inheritance.

Lucky that he had his sword ‘handy’ wasn’t it …

We noticed this symbol in places throughout Chirk as we wandered around the town on our first afternoon.  It’s about a half hour walk from site but we rode our bikes down.  We ate later on at a café/restaurant on the main street, called ‘The Castle Bistro’.  It’s a delightful, cosy bistro with a friendly atmosphere. We enjoyed some very tasty, well presented food washed down with a cheeky bottle of rosé wine.  Mmmm.

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The Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal runs through Chirk and we got out on the bikes the next day to enjoy a scenic bike ride and a little photography along the canal towpath from Chirk Railway Station, over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and into Trevor Basin (NCN route 84) where there’s a Visitor Centre.

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The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the tallest aqueduct in the world, with its 18 arches it stands at 38 metres (126 feet high) and was built between 1795-1805.  It’s recognised as being the first great masterpiece of Civil Engineer, Thomas Telford.  We walked our bikes across as you can’t cycle it, and the pathway is quite narrow with just enough room for people to pass by.  It’s quite an experience to cross it, especially if you aren’t too keen on heights.  You can take a narrow-boat ride across if you prefer.

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We stopped for a wander around Trevor Basin, and ate lunch at the Telford Inn there.  This building was initially called Scotch House, and the name is still visible in the glass above the doorway.  The house was used by the Supervisor of the construction of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and sometimes by Thomas Telford too.  The building was converted into a pub from a private dwelling in 1981.  We had a lunch snack here and a nice pint of Telford Tipple outside in the beer garden overlooking the canal.

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Afterwards we took NCN route 85 along the canal towpath into Llangollen, stopping off briefly for a swift one at The Sun, Trevor .  When we arrived in Llangollen we noticed it was very popular with visitors and no shortage of shops, pubs and restaurants.  It’s definitely somewhere to return to on a future Jolly adventure.  As it was, we had only called in to check it out and didn’t have a great deal of time to explore it much.

We cycled over Llangollen bridge to grab a pint at the Corn Mill an old mill turned modern bar/restaurant which has still managed to maintain a lot of its original features including the water wheel that turns behind the bar.  From the outside decking area, we watched the white waters of the River Dee and were lucky to see a steam engine departing from the station across the water.

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We then re-joined the canal towpath for our return ride back to Chirk.  In all, throughout the day, we probably cycled a leisurely 19-20 miles and had cycled up an appetite so we decided on tea at the Chirk Tandoori in town.  Not before Bri got pooped on by a bird outside the Hand Hotel though *snigger* 😮

Even early evening the Chirk Tandoori was full and clearly a popular place with locals.  The food and service was great and it was like travelling back in time as Indian restaurants go – we even got a carnation on leaving!  Lovely.

With that, another Jolly jaunt came to a close and the following morning the journey home flowed nicely, no hold-ups.  Next adventure will probably be Cumbria way.

In the meantime, I need to get to the gym after all that lovely fodder and before the next adventure! 😊

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Lynton & Lynmouth, North Devon

Firstly, I’ve finally discovered hyperlinks (!) which will enable better integration of links into blog posts from now on.  You’re welcome.

So, the final part of Jolly’s June Jaunt took us from the seaside and beach settings of Saunton and Ilfracombe to Lorna Doone Country, and the rugged, captivating charm of Lynton & Lynmouth on the coast of Exmoor National Park.  The scenery was truly stunning.

We stayed at Lynton Camping & Caravanning Club site just one (very) hilly mile outside Lynton itself, and arrived in glorious sunshine.  Our first day there was the hottest so far.  We were a little early but that didn’t seem to bother the laid back and very friendly wardens who told us a little about the local area and allowed us to choose our own pitch.  They were lovely people, chatty and full of interesting and helpful information on the area.

This is one of the prettiest, quietest and well placed sites we’ve stayed at.  It was immaculately kept and although there are several reviews about the facilities being dated, we found them to be spotless and perfectly adequate, although as usual we mostly used Jolly’s onboard facilities.

The weather was so good on our first day that we decided to have a lazy, sunbathing day but not before we hopped on the bikes and rode to a nearby farm shop – Caffyn’s Farm Shop about a mile away.  The café there was closed but the well-stocked shop allowed us to stock up for a BBQ later in the day and other provisions for the rest of our stay, including their delicious homemade cider which certainly packed a punch!  There’s also a camping site, accommodation and horse riding at the farm.  Although only a short distance to the farm and back it was a fairly hilly ride and that was the last time we used our bikes in this area, getting about instead mostly by foot.   There’s a bus service you can use to get around, the bus stop is just a little walk away from site (info available from reception).

 

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We had a fab time in Lynton & Lynmouth, walking from site and taking in the amazing scenery.  We passed a friendly couple who were digging in deep to get up the very steep hill section.  I think they stopped for breath as much as a chat.  They told us that they had recently settled in Lynton after wanting a change from their old life.  They apparently sold up and just stuck a pin in a map of the UK to decide where to go!  It landed on Lynton.  Wow, no messing about there.  They hadn’t regretted it either.

Lynton stands above the lower picturesque harbour village of Lynmouth and is connected by a Victorian funicular cliff railway.  It’s a must to travel up and down between the two villages on this unusual mode of transport.  The railway is water-powered and operates on a balancing principle.

 

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We took the railway down into Lynmouth, the village known as ‘England’s Little Switzerland’.

We visited The Flood Memorial Hall, where the moving story is told through video, photographs and correspondence of the devastating Lynmouth Flood Disaster of August, 1952 in which 28 people tragically lost their lives.

There’s also a model of the village within the memorial hall.   Entrance to the memorial hall is free and gives you a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history of this beautiful village and its people.

 

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You can walk from Lynmouth to Watersmeet House, a former fishing lodge by a dramatic river gorge.  It’s a National Trust property well known for its delicious cream teas.

There are many walks to enjoy around this area, including Watersmeet, Valley of the Rocks, Countisbury to name just a few.

There’s certainly plenty to see and do in Lynton and Lynmouth.   We finished our day searching for somewhere to eat.  Having taken the railway back up to Lynton we discovered a little cafe (day)/restaurant (night) called The Vanilla Pod.  We were lucky enough to get a last-minute table, it’s a very popular place and gets great reviews on TripAdvisor.  Well, we soon found out why.  We had some scrumptious seafood washed down with a large glass of white wine.  If we lived nearer, we’d be there all the time!  You’d be wise to book if you’re ever thinking of going.

Our last evening was a perfect close to our North Devon Adventure.  We were blessed with a breathtaking and quite romantic sunset.  Perfect! 😎

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The next morning we packed up early ready for our 5 hour, 300 mile journey home and luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad.  Another great adventure and oodles of great memories.  Happy days 🙂

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Watermouth Cove, Near Ilfracombe, North Devon

After 3 nights in Braunton, the second part of Jolly’s North Devon Adventure took us back to the A361 and a little further North towards Ilfracombe.  On our way we stopped off for a cheeky full english brunch at the Foxhunter Cafe on the A361 which set us up nicely for the day ahead.

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We arrived in time for a midday check-in at Watermouth Cove Holiday Park, Berrynarbor, which is situated between Ilfracombe and the coastal village of Combe Martin.  It’s a touring and camping site which also offers other onsite accommodation and is set in an idyllic location by the Cove and at the foot of Watermouth Castle.

Our arrival involved a little confused detour into the grounds of the Castle which you come across before reaching the site entrance (opposite side of road after a slight bend just slightly further on ).  In our defence, this seemed to be a common mistake as we noticed several people initially driving past the entrance and having to turn around again during our stay.

http://www.watermouthcoveholidays.co.uk/

Anyhoo, we parked up and checked in then a member of staff directed us to our pitch.  There’s a varied choice of pitch types as can be seen on the website.  We opted for a large fully serviced shingle and grass pitch and were allocated SP74.   We couldn’t help but be impressed with the size of the pitch, and it was perfectly placed for all day sunshine.  The fully serviced element was a little different to what we’re used to – the EHU was fine as they’re quite often a distance away hence the long cables.  However, the waste drop and water tap were situated to the rear of an adjacent pitch which were too far away for us to utilise properly.  Luckily there was nobody on that pitch for the duration of our stay so we were able to reverse onto it to fill up on arrival and drop off before leaving, so no problem.

The Holiday Park has a new (2016) timber built showers/toilets facilities, private Cove access, private beach, outdoor pool area and an onsite Beach Hut Cafe-Bar.  We used the cafe bar once during our stay when we enjoyed a very tasty curry.  The rest of the time we were out and about in the local area.  For dog owners, the site is very pet friendly, having it’s own dog exercise area.

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As mentioned, the site is set more or less at the foot of Watermouth Castle, which incorporates a family theme park within its grounds.  A little info on the history of the castle:-

https://www.watermouthcastle.com/about/history/

Weather-wise our day of arrival here was the wettest of our whole visit to North Devon.  It was constant rain of varying intensity throughout the day.  We decided to hop on a bus and visit nearby Combe Martin.  There’s a bus stop right outside the site entrance and across the road you can access a bus service to Ilfracombe.

http://www.visitcombemartin.com/

The large coastal village of Combe Martin lays claim to having the longest main street of any village in the country at more than two miles long.  The South West Coastal Path also runs through this village.

However, we only walked a short part of the record-busting street as the rain was relentless.  We reached The Pack of Cards Inn which was built in 1626 by George Ley of Marwood.  It was built to celebrate a big cards win and is meant to resemble a stack of cards.  The building has 52 windows (one for each card in the pack), 4 floors (one for each suit) and 13 doors on each floor (one for each card in the suit).  We took refuge here hoping the rain would stop but it didn’t so we thought no big ‘deal’ and ordered another pint which was ‘ace’.  There were no ‘clubs’ to go to so I took my ‘diamond’ geezer for a wander back to the cove …

Moving swiftly on …. the cove at Combe Martin offers a number of activities including rock pooling, fishing, and kayaking.  None of that on a day like this, it was pretty desolate but still a very impressive sight watching the wild waves crashing against into the cove as the tide rolled in.  Later we caught a bus back to camp to dry off and that was the night we got our tasty takeaway from the Beach Hut on site.  Yum!

The next day the weather was lots better and we got a taxi into Ilfracombe.   It was a Sunday so there wasn’t a bus service and the road for this route isn’t ideal for cycling.   There’s a taxi phone service from the beach hut on site which we used.

We had a lovely day meandering around the old Victorian seaside resort.  We’ll let the pictures tell the story of our day.

One sight not to miss though is Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’ statue, loaned to the town in 2012 for 20 years.  At just over 20 metres tall you’d be hard pushed to miss it anyway.  It stands on the pier looking out over the entrance to the harbour.  The work represents truth and justice, portraying a pregnant woman holding up a sword in one hand, the scales of justice in another and standing on a mound of law books.  Half of the sculpture shows her internal anatomy.

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We had originally also intended on spending a day on Lundy Island,  a granite rock formation just 3 miles long and half a mile wide, lying where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic ocean.  However, the MS Oldenburg (Lundy’s supply ship) trip days didn’t tie in with our stay here, so we decided to save this trip for our next visit to North Devon.   There are other services that can take you there but for us the only way to visit Lundy would have to be on the 1958 German-built vessel which retains many of its original fittings.  This will have to wait for another time for us but if you get the chance it certainly looks an interesting visit.

https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/lundyisland/

The MS Oldenburg sails to Lundy Island from Ilfracombe or Bideford

The next day we enjoyed some chill out time in the sunshine by Jolly then had a short walk into Berrynarbor village.  It’s a pretty village that has won ‘Britain in Bloom’ and ‘Best Kept Village’ awards.  The streets here are narrow and quite steep and converge at a small village square.  There’s a village pub, the 17th century Ye Olde Globe Inn, and also a Church – the Church of St Peter.  This isn’t a touristy place which was nice.

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On the way back we called in for a drink and meal at The Old Sawmills, a lovely inn and restaurant on the main road.

http://www.oldsawmills.co.uk/

There are plenty of walks to do around this area and this website gives free downloads of many of varying lengths:-

http://www.ilfracombevictoriancelebration.co.uk/

We had a great time on this part of Jolly’s North Devon Adventure which passed so quickly!  Next stop the following morning was to be Lynton about half an hour further North on the Exmoor Coast of North Devon.  By this point we had definitely fallen for North Devon ❤

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

 

 

Braunton & Saunton, North Devon

So our 2017 summer has begun with a 9-night adventure to North Devon, beginning in the village of Braunton which is situated at the centre of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, about 5 miles outside the main town of Barnstaple.  It’s the most populated village in Devon, and did actually feel a little more towny than a village with no shortage of varied eating places, drinking holes and shops – if you’re a surfer this definitely seems to be the place to go (we’re not by the way!).

http://www.visitbraunton.co.uk/

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We stayed for 3 nights at Lobb Fields Camping & Caravan Park,  chosen due to its location between Braunton village and Saunton Sands.   This allowed us to explore the local area well on bike.

This site’s spread across 2 fields comprising 180 pitches, 107 of them have EHU and 10 are hardstanding.  Many are sloping.  There are also some seasonal pitches. There are 2 chemical disposal points and 2 re-cycling areas and facilities were good.

Both fields are open and exposed, giving it a very spacious feel. The night before we arrived the site had been battered with strong winds and our neighbour beside us had had his awning destroyed 😮  It remained quite windy there during our stay, but then it is on the coast of the Atlantic, so …

http://www.lobbfields.com/

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During our stay here we ate in the village at:-

http://www.theriversidebraunton.co.uk/

– a friendly, family owned place serving great food.  A cafe by day and contemporary restaurant by night.  We enjoyed excellent seafood dishes including sea bass, pollock, and scallops.

http://www.squiresfishrestaurant.co.uk/

– a long-standing fish n chip shop/restaurant recommended by Rick Stein.  We both loved the fish curry here.

The day after arrival we set out on our bikes, cycling the couple of miles from site to the Northern end of Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows dune system – England’s largest sand dune system.  There’s a car park, shop and cafe at this end. The weather began as overcast but soon enough some welcome sunshine broke through the fast moving clouds and stayed with us for the remainder of the day.

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Saunton Sands is a stunning 3-mile crescent of sand and is dog friendly.  Apparently, Robbie Williams filmed the video for his single ‘Angels’ on this beach.  The wild Atlantic waves attract many surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers and it’s great to just sit and watch from the beach.

We stayed a while just wandering along the beach before cycling (sometimes walking and pushing!) on from Saunton past the Saunton Sands Hotels where we took in more impressive views right out to sea on one side and back across the dunes and burrows on the other.  From there we climbed up the hill and down into Croyde.  Don’t forget to look back as you go up, some of the views are breathtaking.  Be careful though because there’s a fair bit of traffic at times along this road.

When you reach the top of the hill and turn the bend you’re rewarded with magnificent views down towards Croyde Bay and the picturesque village of Croyde, with its numerous thatched cottages.   It’s a pleasant downhill cycle here.  We’d definitely recommend visiting Croyde if in the area.

http://www.croydedevon.co.uk/

We had a pitstop pint (or two 😉 ) at the characterful Thatch Inn and enjoyed some sunshine for an hour or so.

http://www.thethatchcroyde.com/

We then just HAD to call into Croyde’s Ice Cream Parlour further down the road.  We wouldn’t necessarily have stopped for ice cream had there not been a sign on the shop stating “This is the famous shop that serves ice cream with clotted cream on top” … eek! well, we’re only human!

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Later, from Croyde, we cycled through nearby Georgeham village as part of our 12-mile circular route back to site at the end of the day, stopping off at a gem of a pub:-

http://kingsarmsgeorgeham.co.uk/

This place felt cosy and welcoming the minute we walked through the door and fortunately we decided to ask for a table just in time as it proved to be a popular choice. A big thumbs up for this place.

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Another uphill and downhill cycle ride along quiet roads and lanes helped us burn off some calories and took us back to site just before sunset at the end of a very enjoyable first day in North Devon.

Also during our stay we took the bus to the seaside resort of Woolacombe with its award-winning beach, lying between Morte Point and Baggy Point.  You drop steeply down into Woolacombe which was once a small fishing hamlet before becoming popular as a seaside resort in the 19th century.

http://www.woolacombetourism.co.uk/

The bus runs regularly from outside the George Hotel in Braunton and passes through Morthoe, a village mentioned in the Domesday Book.  It’s worth a saunter around this village too which has an interesting history, more recently in farming but further back in time it was a place used by smugglers and wreckers.

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Although we cycled and made use of public transport to explore the local area, there are a variety of walks to be had around this part of North Devon.

https://www.croydeunison.co.uk/great-walks-near-croyde/

There’s also a 6-mile stretch of the Tarka Trail passing between Braunton and Barnstaple, the largest town in North Devon, or parts of the South West Coast Path.

https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/

Well, part 1 of our 3-part North Devon adventure had come to a close and hadn’t disappointed.  Our next stop was to be just a half hour drive north along the coast to Watermouth Cove Holiday Park, Berrynarbor, just outside Ilfracombe.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

So, our latest Jolly jaunt took us just over the border to bonny Scotland where the sun shone all weekend.

 

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We headed to Moffat, a Victorian Spa town on the River Annan, and stayed on the Camping & Caravanning Club Site which is situated just a 5-minute walk from the town centre.  It was a perfect two-night stop-over location.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/dumfriesgalloway/moffat/moffat

 

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This is a large 180 pitch site and most if not all pitches were occupied this weekend.  The pitches are well spaced out though giving a relaxed and open enough feel.  The wardens were very warm in their welcome and allow visitors to choose a pitch from a map on the reception wall before escorting you down to it.

 

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There’s a cycle hire shop just outside the main gate if you want to explore further afield by bike.  Our bikes stayed on the back of Jolly this time though as everything was within easily walkable distance.  There’s also a handy Co-op just outside the site entrance for any necessities.

Moffat is a town that relies heavily on tourism and therefore offers the expected array of shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars.  It also hosts a number of events throughout the year including the Moffat Sheep Races, Classic Car Rally, Christmas Festival and Gala Day.  More info can be found here …

https://www.visitmoffat.co.uk/

There’s a museum with free entry if you want to learn more about the history of the town.

The town is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as having the world’s narrowest hotel.  The Star Hotel dates from the late 1700’s and is just 20 ft wide and 162 ft long.  Moffat also claims to have both the narrowest Street (Syme Street) and shortest Street (Chapel Street) in Scotland.  We can vouch for a good pint in the Star Hotel 😉

The Famous Star Hotel – in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s narrowest hotel  http://www.famousstarhotel.co.uk/

There’s another tourist attraction in the town centre called ‘The Moffat Ram’.  It’s a fountain and a symbol of the town’s historical connection to the sheep and wool trade. The Statue was a gift to the townspeople by businessman William Colvin, and was originally a drinking fountain.  After William Colvin had commissioned the sculpture, there was a grand unveiling ceremony. During the ceremony a local farmer noticed the ram “Had nae lugs” and it is said he shouted out this fact to all the crowd at the gathering.

On closer examination, it was clear the Moffat Ram had no ears. This mistake became too much of a burden for the Sculptor, William Brodie, who supposedly committed suicide at the Annandale Arms Hotel across the road and is said to wander the corridors of the hotel on an eternal search for the missing lugs ….

Hmm, no ghostly noises or sightings for us but again we can vouch for a good pint at the Annandale Arms! 😉

http://ghosts.wikia.com/wiki/The_Moffat_Ram

 

In September each year the town marks the anniversary of the Battle of Britain, one of WWII’s most prominent battles).  It remembers a local hero who was considered to be a mastermind in the winning of the battle.  Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was born in Moffat and there’s a memorial to him which stands in Station Park.

 

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Station Park looked beautiful in the sunshine.  There’s a little boating lake, putting green and plenty of benches to sit and chill out, which we did for a while.  That was after an eventful arrival into the park and one which amused Brian no end.  He had found a shortcut from the shop to the park down an embankment and across a precariously balanced plank of wood which he maneuvered across expertly.  Then yours truly had a go, only to lose my footing (and dignity) as the plank slipped, propelling me into the embankment.  Still, I got across! 😜

During our visit we ate at ‘The Beef Tub’, the restaurant of the Buccleuch Arms Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed our meal here – Heart-warming Traditional Scottish Stovies ~ a blend of beef, lamb, pork & haggis slowly simmered with potatoes and vegetables served with oat cakes.  Yum!  It’s worth booking though because this place seemed very popular.

http://www.buccleucharmshotel.com/

 

Another place which seemed to attract many people was Bombay Cuisine, so we tried this on our final night.  We had our meal as take-out and enjoyed it back on Jolly.  Big thumbs up to this meal too.

http://www.bombaycuisinemoffat.com/

Finally, Moffat became Europe’s very first ‘Dark Sky Town’ in 2016 after three years’ hard work to achieve this title.  This involved a push towards conversion to special street lighting which keeps light pollution to a minimum.  So, no doubt it’ll be a favourite with stargazers.  Actually, I was seeing stars after the embankment incident …

http://darksky.org/idsp/communities/moffat/

Anyway, Moffat was a delight and we’ll happily return at some point in the future, maybe out of season when the site is a little quieter, it’s open all year round.

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Homeward bound

We had a good journey home and it’s a couple of weeks now until our next Jolly adventure in June.  It’ll be a 9-nighter and as always can’t come soon enough  🙂

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Overwater Marina, Audlem, Cheshire

We booked this two-nighter last year as we thought it looked a pretty one.  Our destination was the village of Audlem on the South Cheshire border with Shropshire.  The village is situated alongside the Shropshire Union Canal which starts in Wolverhampton in The Midlands, running northwards towards Cheshire, the River Mersey and Ellesmere Port.

The Audlem stretch of the canal is famous for its 15 locks, designed by Thomas Telford to raise the canal up to the Shropshire Plain from the lower Cheshire Plain.  These locks cover a distance of approx. a mile and a half.

We stayed at Overwater Marina just outside Audlem.

http://www.overwatermarina.co.uk/caravans/site-information.html

We had booked a pitch in the Caravan & Motorhome Club 5-pitch CL area (£15 per night with EHU).  They are attractively laid out, spacious, hard-standing pitches with a separate grassed area and picnic table.

On arrival we were informed that we had been allocated pitch number 3 but it was immediately clear that somebody else was already pitched there.   Staff expressed surprise that it was already occupied and then told us that somebody must have either overstayed their occupancy or pitched in the wrong place.  They didn’t really know and to be honest didn’t seem that bothered.  In fact, even when the pitch later became available nobody bothered to tell us.  So, a shambles is the best way to describe check-in to be honest!

Oh well, we found ourselves a pitch on the new section of 10 hard-standings.   Not as pretty but functional and serviced which was a positive.  Facilities were good.

We spent the first afternoon and evening around Jolly just having an end of week wind-down and chill out before an early night in preparation for the next day exploring the area.  We woke to blazing sunshine and had again struck lucky with the weather.  That’s 3 breaks in a row of sunshine.  Hope this run of luck lasts 🙏😎

We began the day with a breakfast at the on site ‘Cafe at Bridge 80’.  The food was good and set us up for the day.  We then rode our bikes along the canal towpath into Audlem.  It would be about a 20-25 minute walk or there’s the option of taking the ‘Audlem Lass’, a canal boat taxi, which runs between the marina and the village.

http://www.audlemlass.co.uk/

It’s a really beautiful walk/cycle/boat ride, whichever you choose.  Very scenic and part of what is considered to be one of the prettiest walks in lowland England.

On arrival in Audlem, we stopped for a swiftie 🍻 at the Shroppie Fly pub, situated by a lock on the canal.

http://www.shroppiefly.com/home-5863.html

While sitting in the sunshine we decided to change our original plan which had been to visit Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker (not so secret, there are signs everywhere!) in Nantwich, a further 3 miles down the towpath.  It was just too nice a day to be spent in an underground bunker.  We got chatting to a local who said the bunker is definitely worth a visit at some point though and is quite an eerie experience.  It gives us a good reason to re-visit this beautiful area another time.

Hack Green (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker

http://www.hackgreen.co.uk/

Audlem has an interesting history and a lot to offer for a village.

http://www.audlem.org/features/tourism-heritage.html

There is also a busy calendar of events happening in and around the area throughout the year worth bearing in mind if planning a visit.  A local particularly recommended the Music & Arts Festival and Beer Festival for a great atmosphere.  There’s a list of events here:-

http://www.audlem.org/whatson/village-events-2016.html

Free parking in the village and some lovely shops including the ‘Lllovely Chocolate Shop’.  No shortage of good eating and drinking establishments including three pubs – The Shroppie Fly, Bridge Inn just around the corner from the Shroppie, and further along the main road from there is the Lord Combermere at the centre of the village.

At the end of our day’s wanderings we ate back at the Shroppie Fly where we got talking to a lovely & interesting coupe who owned a narrow boat ‘Layla’ and loved to travel –

Hello, if you’re reading this Ann & ? sorry we didn’t manage to call in for a nightcap but we had probably had enough by then and at least we didn’t interrupt your football match viewing! 😉   

The food at the Shroppie was great and so was the atmosphere.

With full bellies we cycled the towpath back to camp at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Definitely a visit we’d recommend and repeat.  A big thumbs up!

This year has been a great one so far both weather-wise and destination-wise, and we’re still only in Spring.  Loving it!  Bring on the next adventure.

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri