It has been decided; we leave Kippford tomorrow. Our ferry to Arran is booked for 07:00 hrs on Saturday and we have two nights booked at the Lochranza caravan site. We will linger in the Galloway Forest Park until Friday and then spend Friday night somewhere close to the ferry terminal.
It occurred to me last night that until now I have failed to post a photograph of our pitch here at Kippford.
I took this one yesterday just before we took the tent down. It shows clearly why the pod failed to act as the driveaway awning that we intended; Vince is just too tall.
It is a spacious pitch. The EHU and water point is lurking behind the pod. Immediately to the left is the path to the facilities. Beyond that is the yard from which occasional banging noises are emitted. It was far less of an annoyance than we might have expected.
The building behind our pitch houses the groundsmen’s rest room, the cleaner’s closet and the two wet rooms. We didn’t have far to trot to the shower on a morning making it all the more frustrating to have to dress twice each morning.
Behind that building is the roadside perimeter of the site. Traffic noise has not been an issue.
The site clings to the side of a steep hill and is beautifully landscaped and thoughtfully laid out. None of my photos from the top of the hill really show the nature of the slope. I always meant to document a walk up the hill but somehow it never happened.
All the staff here are lovely and so is the site owner, who generally stops to speak when seen. I would not hesitate to recommend the site but unfortunately they are ceasing the touring part of the business.
The pics from yesterday’s tootle:
I had hoped very much that the Magnolias would flower before we left. The buds are just showing colour now but I will certainly not see the blooms.
The Azaleas and Rhododendrons haven’t made it in any number yet either. I am disappointed to be missing them but we have plans to visit Inverewe on our way home so maybe I shall see a good show when we get there.
We needed to be at Mainsgill, only a minute or two down the A66 for 10:00 am. After a largely sleepless night and the loss of an hour’s opportunity for sleep due to the change to BST we were quite reluctant to leave our beds but did manage to shower and dress and still be on station before the Family L arrived.
It was our first visit to Mainsgill and we were surprised by the chaos, even having read the criticisms to be found on review sites. It is truly a strange way to run a restaurant (I shall leave it at that.) It is a very busy little business and clearly thriving but we found it less appealing than other similar establishments that we have visited.
After our family breakfast we shopped for provisions for a simple supper to be eaten once we arrived home at Kippford, said goodbye to the Family L and then turned Vincent’s head towards Barnard Castle (which was heaving) and thence onward to the upper dale.
We had an outline plan to go home over the tops via Alston and to call in at Lambley Viaduct on our way to walk the dog. I had concerns that on this brilliantly sunny and unnaturally warm Mothering Sunday the small car park there would be full and Nell would not get her exercise. I suggested that we stop at Bowlees, and give her a run there “just in case.”
Well, it turned out that not only Barney but also Middleton-in-Teesdale and the entirety of Upper Teesdale was heaving with people, cars and motorcycles. Bowlees was choked, with no hope of parking Vincent anywhere at all. The High Force Hotel was very busy with bare-armed folks supping beer in the sun.
We drove on to Cow Green Reservoir, which being so vast could never be crowded – though it was busier than I have ever seen it. Not that I have been there recently…
There were tears. Of joy, maybe. Just the sheer pleasure of being in this high place in the clean air and listening to Skylarks and Lapwings. Or maybe a pang of something else. I was last here on the 9th of December, in 1978. How can I be so precise about a date so long ago? Well, I delivered my beautiful boy about 14 hours after a family walk around the reservoir that day. That kind of thing tends to stick. Unlike the family.
I managed to take a lot of very poor photographs at Cow Green. A bit of forward planning might have been useful, along with a wide angle lens, a tripod and a polarising filter.
We had a wonderful walk, though not a long one as we had quite some driving left to do.
We had one more stop at Carlisle in order to pick up Leffe for supper and a coffee to boost our reserves – arriving back at Kippford just after 5pm, with the sun still shining.
Unfortunately all that sun has brought out my skin sensitivity and I am suffering the usual painful itch. I also woke with a terrible headache from the excess of sun… I seem to have posted our sun hats home!
A false Spring it may have been but we did have the most wonderful weekend in the early season sun, driving through some of the best scenery that England has to offer.
The plan had us heading to the Rheged Centre for a late breakfast. Breakfast turned out to be a little later than planned in the event. A nice relaxing drive down the M6 ⇓, enjoying the sun and the scenery, saw us arrive at the Penrith junction, where we exited the M6 ⇒ and then somehow… rejoined it again ⇓.
We saw some more scenery ⇓. Eleven miles down the road, we exited ⇐ and rejoined once more and saw some scenery from the opposite vantage point ⇑. Another eleven miles under our belts and then we exited for Rheged again ⇐.
Luckily, breakfast was worth it. We both opted for a breakfast bun rather than the Full Monty. I had Bacon and Mushrooms and Mr Snail had Bacon and Sausage. Both were served in a lovely toasted tasty brioche bun.
Now stoked up for the day we sought out a local National Trust property at Temple Sowerby. Acorn Bank Garden did not disappoint and Nell had a lovely time wandering in the daffodil woods, which were resplendent in the sun. Signs of Spring were everywhere to be seen, from Nature’s shy buds to pasty white English legs peeping out brazenly from shorts and summer dresses.
We visited the watermill and then walked around the wildflower garden before going to try the offerings in the Tea Room.
I had fun spotting the many Elf Houses around the estate.
The Tea Room provisions were paltry and sub-standard. Mr Snail chose the Cappuccino Cake from the small selection on offer and I partook of the “Tea-soaked” Fruit Cake, which was both short on fruit and very dry and crumbly. There was not a single scone to be seen.
Nell and Mr Snail went for a second woodland walk whilst I toted the camera around the more formal areas, where dogs are not permitted. This early in the season there was little to be seen but I did take some detail shots and photos of interesting colour combinations in early foliage. Once I discovered the pond I spent an age in trying to capture Newts with my camera…
From Acorn Bank it was a short romp down the A66 to the Fox Hall Inn, where we overnighted in the car park.
We were made very welcome on arrival, having contacted the Inn ahead of time via their Facebook page. A very friendly and professional barman (possibly bar Manager?) greeted us and provided some much-needed refreshment…
There is a handily-placed Public Footpath leading off the pub that heads in the direction of Ravensworth. Nell had a walk before we washed and changed for dinner and we headed off to sample some Award-winning Fish and Chips.
At this point I should like to stop and put in a word for the G&T that I had as an aperitif. The barman’s recommendation, it was a Yorkshire Tea (!) Gin with and Elderflower Tonic, garnished with orange and star anise and it was fabulous. Truly refreshing.
Dinner, I am sorry to say, was rather less fabulous. I won’t labour the point here (but a rather sad TripAdvisor review tells the tale.) We surprised ourselves by not having the Cod and Chips but left rather wishing that we had.
The Fox Hall Inn sits right on the A66, which is a busy road and has a great deal of HGV traffic. The overnight road noise was every bit as bad as we had feared that it might be and even with earplugs, sleep was difficult to come by.
We are grateful to the Fox Hall Inn for having us to stay but we are unlikely to visit again.
I have updated (literally, I added content and then changed the Publication date) the post made originally on the 15th, when we were about to set off for Glenmore. When I wrote it initially I completely forgot to mention a side trip to Wilsontown when travelling from New Lanark up to Cellardyke.
We made a leisurely day of it and began by stopping off at an NTS property, Crathes Castle, not long after crossing from Fifeshire to Aberdeenshire. It was a rather lovely morning, fresh and sunny and perfect for a woodland walk with Nell. we followed the walk with a cuppa and cake.
The route that we took was the one over The Lecht… old stamping ground and a great sense of homecoming as we drove into the Glenlivet Estate.
We cut across country by the back road to Nethybridge, thus coming in by Rothiemurchus and missing out Aviemore entirely.
The weather was still fair as we arrived, though cold – hats and gloves were required to take Nell out on the beach. The sun was shining when we left the van but by the time that we cleared the trees, the first flakes of the predicted snow had begun to fall.
The remainder of our stay was wet and quite chilly. Snow, up to six inches of it, had been promised for Thursday night and we did actually see some falling around tea-time, but nothing lay overnight.
What we did get on Friday was rather a deal of rain. This did not deter us however. We wrapped up and walked to Ryvoan in very similar weather to the day that we walked up there almost exactly a year ago, except it was a little less misty and rather more wet this time, and we took the same route too: Blue to the lake and then back down Blue to the Purple route to Allt Mor car park, then we picked up the White trail and joined the red/Yellow trail back to camp.
The rain did not cease…
… until we woke up to sunshine on Saturday morning and had to pack up and leave.
It was while Mr Snail was preparing the van for departure that the waste hose finally gave up the ghost, splitting entirely in two and thereby being rendered irreparable. Worse still, we would be unable to empty the waste tanks without a deal of unpleasantness…
The travel plan was to go on down to our usual Britstop in Perthshire, stopping at one or two NTS sites on the way so that we arrived about 6pm. Then a short hop back to base on Sunday. The overnight stop does not provide facilities after closing time (8pm).
We discussed the difficulties and agreed that the best plan was to come all the way back to base where we have facilities on hand and would be able to avoid burdening Vincent’s tanks any further. We also decided to call in at a Motorhome dealer’s in Perth on our way.
We got lucky at Dickson’s and were able to buy new pipe even though they could not help out with fitting it.
As we were driving down the M74 in Lanarkshire, Mr Snail asked how I fancied cutting across country again. “What – go by Leadhills and Wanlockhead? I asked. Fine by me. “Go for it!” I said, “so long as you aren’t too weary.” and so, we did. And it was lovely to see and I felt a pang of the heart and even looked to see if by any chance our old house was on the market (it wasn’t.)
It was all but dark by the time that we reached Kippford.
On Sunday morning, Mr Snail took a look at the waste pipe problem and he fixed it… very quickly, It is not a perfect fix yet but it will get us home without gaining us too many dirty looks from fellow campers.