An Autumnal Coniston, Lake District

This month we returned to Coniston in the Lake District.  It’s definitely one of our favourites, not only because of the beauty of the area but because it was the destination for our maiden Jolly adventure back in March, 2014.   We’ve been here three times now in Jolly – see previous blog posts by searching ‘Coniston’.

As per previous visits, we pitched up at Coniston Park Coppice Caravan Club Site

Jolly doing his best Elvis impression – I’m all hooked up ooh hoo hoo, ooh hoo, yeah yeahhhh …

It’s a huge site of 228 touring pitches, some tent pitches and there are now some camping pods named after Coniston’s famous speedster son, Donald Campbell, and a few luxury chalets.  The site’s open all year round but out of season only the top end remains open.  During our visit the whole site was still open, a first for us and we really got a feel of the size of the site.  There are pitches to suit everyone, well spaced too.

We find this site ideally located between Coniston itself and the small village of Torver which we like to visit on our first evening there.  We’ve had some good times at the Wilsons Arms  with its warm open fire, friendly welcome, good beer, great food and relaxing ambience.  Perfect.

 

There’s another pub in Torver, the Church House Inn which is equally nice and also has a 5-pitch caravan/motorhome site to the rear.  Facilities provided are: a toilet and shower block and water supply.  Prices for Caravan Club members start at £10 per night. We didn’t call in this time though as it was shut on the Friday night which was unusual.  Maybe they’d heard we were coming?

This was our first visit to Coniston in Autumn and what a stunning show of autumnal hues we were treated to.  The weather was wet and there was already quite a lot of surface water before we arrived.  Never ones to allow a bit of rain and mud to stop us though, we had a great time … and plenty of mud-caked laundry on our return.

 

A great weekend.  Not sure where we’re off to next just yet.

Oh, nearly forgot, Ed Sheeran works at The Ship Inn, Coniston where we ate on our last evening following a day out on the bikes around the local area …

Cheeky little photo with Ed!

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

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

Leyburn, Richmondshire, North Yorkshire

Wall to wall Spring sunshine, peace & tranquility, wildlife galore, pretty villages, stunning scenery and one of the best Caravan & Motorhome Club sites we have visited so far.  All in all we’ve just spent a pretty perfect weekend in the lower Wensleydale area of North Yorkshire.

Our approx. 2 hour journey took us up the M6 to Junc 34 then across to Ingleton, up through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, past the White Scar Caves (visited previously – see our ‘Ingleton’ post), and the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct, through pretty towns and villages such as Burton-in-Lonsdale, Chapel-le-Dale, Hawes and Aysgarth, then finally into Leyburn, where just a mile further down the road into Harmby we turned left at the Pheasant Inn and took the narrow road up to site.

It’s clear to see why it’s important for visitors to adhere to the specified arrival/departure times here as there would be no passing space for two units.  Big thumbs up to the Lower Wensleydale Caravan & Motorhome Club Site.  It’s a gem.  Set in an old disused quarry, which is now well-established with trees and wildlife, including LOTS of rabbits.

From the moment we arrived we were struck by the great welcome and bright smiles from the wardens.  They were also very helpful in pointing out the best available sunshine pitches.

It was a busy weekend on site, probably due to the great weather, and yet still so tranquil.  Facilities were spot on.

https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/

The Wensleydale Railway, which provides some tourist steam services and special event days, runs from Northallerton to Redmire and passes through Leyburn and along the bottom of the site.

http://www.wensleydalerail.com/

We spent our first afternoon soaking up some much needed sunshine before biking the mile or so along the main road into Leyburn via Harmby.

It’s a thriving market town which is quite big on tourism with a variety of things to do or visit, including many walks and cycling routes.

Rather than list them all, check out this Leyburn Tourist Information vid for a bit of inspiration:-

 

After some deliberation about food on our first evening (plenty of choices), we finally decided to eat at a gastropub called The Sandpiper Inn in the town centre.  Right choice!  This places gets great reviews and served us some fabulous food.  OK, not the cheapest but worth the money.   With happy, full bellies we cycled back to camp for the night and slept likes logs 🙂

http://www.sandpiperinn.co.uk/

The next morning, we awoke to birdsong and, wow, the sun really shone for Suzie’s birthday!  After a fried egg on crumpet brekkie, the breakfast of champions, we saddled up for a day out on the bikes.

Check out the link below for our ‘Jolly Wensley’ale Bike Trail’ we put together.  Let us know if you try it:- 🙂

The Jolly Wensley’Ale Bike Trail

Obviously drinking responsibly, the main aim was really to visit as many of the surrounding villages as we could in the day but with the added interest of calling into some olde worlde hostelries.

There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn” ~ Samuel Johnson

With the scenic rolling hills, there was a good balance of ups and downs, the downhills always compensating for the uphill pushes.  The final stretch up Harmby Bank is definitely a walker though, unless you’re a real fittie 😀

Next day, another great weekend over, we enjoyed a brew in the sunshine before heading home from the Yorkshire Dales back to Lancashire.

The clocks have sprung forward now for British Summertime so bring on the summer adventures!

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Maiden Trip ~ Coniston, Lake District

Well, after almost a fortnight’s delay in picking our “Jolly Majestic” up (but that’s nothing when we’ve years of adventures ahead), we set out on our maiden trip to Coniston this weekend.  We stayed on the Coniston Park Coppice Caravan Club Site.

https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cumbria/cumbria/coniston-park-coppice-caravan-club-site/

Friendly, helpful staff and fellow campers, we didn’t encounter any difficulties but returned a little more informed about minor things that will ease future trips.

The campsite was very clean, quiet, and due to open fully for the season next week.  Good coverage of trees, not ideal if you’re sunbather(!) but plenty of surrounding countryside to overcome that obstacle if it was one.  It wasn’t for us, still a spring nip in the air, but overall we were lucky with the weather.

We took our bikes with us, and the first afternoon took a short, easy cycle ride of approx. a mile and a half into a nearby village called Torver.  We sampled a few drinks and enjoyed a delicious meal at The Wilson’s Arms – Steak, Kidney & Old Man’s Ale Steamed Pudding with chunky chips and peas … mmm.  We recommend it!  We then set off back to Jolly to cabin up for our first night.  It turned out to be very cosy and warm and the onboard hot shower in the morning surpassed our previous tent camping experiences! 🙂 Perfect.

The next day we cycled into Coniston and enjoyed a hot chocolate at the Bluebird Cafe by Coniston water before visiting Donald Campbell’s grave then a couple of village pubs, including the 400 year old Black Bull Inn.  Our cycle home took in a scenic route by the waterside and an impromptu stone skimming competition (I won!). We ended up off the beaten track for approx. a mile though, having to push our bikes up a steep, rocky track but on the plus side we burned some calories off!  Back in Jolly, we chilled out for the evening.

Other nearby attractions to this campsite include:- Beatrix Potter’s Home, Pony Trekking, Steam Yacht Gondola, Ruskin’s Brantwood, and Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway.

Next stop Silverdale …

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri