The C&CC site in Ravenglass never disappoints, so we were looking forward to this three night trip, and a half decent weather forecast was the icing on the cake.
We weren't looking forward to the grueling three hour journey, though, but that's the price you have to pay to get to what is still our favorite site.
Whenever we book this site we ask for one of a range of pitches, much to the wardens amusement, and they didn't let us down this time. If we were being picky we could moan about the motorhome next to us parked the wrong way around, with its door facing us, but we went in nose first (with the wardens permission) so maybe they were moaning about us too!
After setting everything up and testing our new dab radio aerial (which was a great success) we strolled into the village and had a drink sitting outside the Inn at Ravenglass, which was surprisingly busy all weekend. There aren't many better pubs to sit outside on a nice sunny afternoon.
Then we had our first barbecue of the year.
Later we went back in to the village but it had clouded over, so not the best sunset we have ever seen here. Still pretty good, though. The pubs in Ravenglass close at 10pm so we didn't stay out late.
A solo walk for D, to Buckbarrow and Seatallan.
Quite steep to start with and then a long, gently sloping slog from Buckbarrow to Seatallan. Excellent views of the surrounding fells, although it was cloudy most of the time.
After lunch, we went for a walk along the estuary and more drinks in a couple of pubs.
Dinner in the caravan, then back into the village for a charity pub quiz at the Inn at Ravenglass. We thought it would be packed but there were only four teams. We came third. The man in last place was on his own! The site wardens won.
No sunset tonight, it was too cloudy again.
A walk on the beach, which turned out to be quite hard on a hot, mostly sunny day. Well worth the effort, though, and we didn't see a soul.
We think Drigg dunes and gullery nature reserve is a really nice place to be.
Nice place for a picnic
Later we had dinner in the Pennington hotel (because the Ratty Arms was full) and then watched the sunset outside the Inn at Ravenglass. Again, not a very good sunset because it had clouded over.
Then we had a visitor...
We didn't let her in! Apparently she is nothing to do with the site and must live in the village somewhere. Too well groomed and friendly to be a stray.
The long journey home wasn't helped by a bit of traffic near Sizergh, but apart from that it was uneventful and we are up to date with the Archers again.
A really good trip, we'll be back in September or October.
We'll probably stay at home for the bank holiday, then maybe somewhere in Cumbria again.
It's pretty much impossible to get in to the Castleton C&MC site at weekends...so we gave up and opted for a Sun/Mon trip instead!
A downside of any trip to Derbyshire, for us, is the journey through Stockport and other suburbs of Manchester, but today there was almost no traffic to contend with. We arrived just after midday and joined a queue of caravans and motorhomes waiting to get in. A daily occurrance according to the warden. This is a very popular site!
The check in process was pretty quick, though, and we managed to get a good pitch overlooking a field with sheep and lambs in it...and squirrels, who we had to keep chasing away from the bird feeder.
The village of Castleton was packed in the afternoon, but it quietened down a lot later in the day. After a couple of drinks we had dinner in the caravan...well, pizza and chips sitting outside. We were kicking ourselves for not bringing the barbecue.
Then we went to the Cheshire Cheese for their weekly pub quiz and bingo and play your cards right...pretty much everything really. We didn't win anything, but we did get more in the quiz than a team of 10 people so we were pretty pleased with ourselves.
We ended up doing an out and back walk to the summit of Kinder Low, abandoning the original plan of a circular walk taking in Brown Knoll.
We like the summit of Kinder Low...lots of interesting rock formations and quite atmospheric. Can't immediately think of a better summit anywhere. In comparison Brown Knoll looked pretty featureless and an unnecessary diversion on an increasingly hot and sunny day. Not many pics because we forgot to charge the camera and had to eke out battery life.
In the afternoon we had another wander around the now much quieter village of Castleton, and had dinner in the George. This pub is under new management and much improved, we think. Then more drinks in more pubs. Far too much drinking this weekend, but that is what always happens when we come here. Too many nice pubs! We visited four out of six this time.
We noticed a poster advertising concerts in one of the caverns and booked to see 80's and beyond Liverpool band Half Man Half Biscuit in August. Of course, the Castleton C&MC site is full (the concert is on a Friday) so we have booked to stay at the one in Buxton instead and drive in. A concert in a cave...sounds interesting.
Not such a good journey home...lots of weekday traffic. Annoyingly, the stabilizer has started creaking a lot recently but we are telling ourselves it's just because it is working properly. Let's hope that is the case.
A three night trip to our favourite site...the C&CC site in Ravenglass.
A three night trip to one of our favorite sites - Castlerigg Hall, Keswick.
No problems on the roads this time, so we arrived more or less when we wanted to and slotted into pre-allocated pitch no. 22. Great view from this pitch.
It was warm enough to have lunch al-fresco and sit outside for a while, even for J! Then we walked down the hill into Keswick and had dinner in the Wainwright, which is our pub of choice in Keswick. We got a taxi back to the site.
Not as sunny today, but it didn't rain until late afternoon when we were safely back in the caravan.
We drove to Derwent water and got a ferry to Lodore, then walked back along the shore to Nichol End, about 4 miles.
Nice easy walking, D was saving himself for a more strenuous walk the next day.
The plan was to get a ferry from Nichol End back to Keswick, but we had all day hop on hop off tickets so we got one going anti clockwise round the lake instead, which took about 45 minutes.
A couple off odd looking trees...
We stopped off at Booths on the way back to the site to pick up some supplies for a quiet night in - cheese, beer, crisps etc. The weather improved later and we got to see a pretty good sunset from the site.
Later we popped in to the nearby Heights Hotel Crag Bar, but it was almost empty and we only stayed for one drink. It's very dated and lacking in atmosphere (although the background music was nice and jazzy this time, a nice change from the usual classic rock), but it serves Loweswater Gold and we like the man who runs the hotel with just his wife helping, we think. A trip to Castlerigg Hall wouldn't be the same without going to the Crag Bar.
An early start for D, for a walk up Grisedale Pike (791 metres) and Hopegill Head (770 metres) from the village of Braithwaite. Two more Wainwrights ticked off.
Just about perfect conditions for walking. although not many people about except runners and on the way down cyclists lugging their bikes up the hill.
The last of the snow near the summit of Hopegill Head
Force Crag mine
J stayed in the caravan and had a nice relaxing start to mother's day.
Youngest daughter L is working in Tweedies hotel in Grasmere at the moment, and son A drove up for the day so that we could all have huge roast dinners in Tweedies. A insisted we stay for the Liverpool match, which they won courtesy of a last minute own goal to keep their title dreams alive, much to the delight of just about everybody in the bar.
A dropped us off in Keswick before heading home, but we we didn't stay out long.
Up and away early, we got home well before midday.
Nothing booked but we might try and squeeze another trip in before Easter weekend, which seems to be fully booked everywhere.
Our first "real" trip of the year, the last one was more of a fact finding mission to see how the new car was and whether the caravan had survived the winter. The caravan is fine and now that it has been fixed the car is growing on us.
Our destination this weekend - the Windermere C&CC site.
The aim was to get there at 1pm, the earliest arrival time, but signs saying that the M6 was closed soon put paid to that! Fortunately we managed to navigate around the closure using the A58 and then the M61 and we ended up getting there just after 1.30pm, so it could have been a lot worse.
We got reasonable pitch, but forgot to take a pic of the caravan this time.
As soon as we had set everything up we headed across the fields in the rain to Staveley, for the Hawkshead Brewery Spring beer festival.
Lot's of beers sampled, we stayed for about 6 hours! It was really busy in the afternoon but we managed to find a seat when we wanted one, and it seemed to quieten down a bit in the evening anyway.
Better weather today. We went for a walk from the site along the Dales way to Windermere, about 6 miles in total.
We got a train from Windermere back to Staveley and returned to the beer festival in the afternoon, but it was packed and we didn't stay long. We thought the Eagle and Child might be a bit quieter, and it was...a bit. We sat outside in the beer garden overlooking the river. The Eagle and Child is a nice pub but we only seem to come to this site when the beer festival is on these days, something we might remedy later in the year.
Some friendly sheep who followed us for a while on the way back to the site.
We got back to the site around 6pm and had dinner in the caravan and a night in. A fabulous sunset but by the time we noticed it it was too late to go up into the hills to get a pic, and the pic we took from the caravan was rubbish. One that got away!
Our first trip since the end of November last year. Not intentionally, we would like to be year round caravanners but circumstances got in our way this year. Maybe next year.
We changed our car mid December. We really liked the Kia Sportage and we never had any problems with it, but the lease was up and it had to go. The new model Kia Sportage was too expensive, so we opted for a Nissan Qashqai instead. About the same weight, power and torque as the Kia, but so far nowhere near as reliable!
Problem number one - a bit of trim around the passenger door doesn't quite match up. Poor quality control, well it is made in the UK! Not worth kicking up a fuss, we thought, and we've got used to it now.
Problem number two - we couldn't get a towbar fitted. It's a new model so none of the towbar manufacturers currently make a towbar that fits it, something we found out when a mobile fitter turned up to fit one early in January. Instead we had to get one fitted by Nissan, which turned out to be much more expensive and meant a bit of a delay.
Problem number three - a problem with the adblue system, which has just been fitted to the Qashqai and is supposed to reduce emissions. A few days after the first warning message appeared it just wouldn't start and had to be towed to our local Nissan dealer. It took over three weeks to fix, so we missed out on the nice spell of weather in February because the replacement car we got from Nissan didn't have a towbar.
Good things about the Qashqai - it's very economical. That's about it.
Hopefully all the problems are out of the way now...apart from an annoying clicking noise from the clutch pedal which we'll probably have to learn to live with. We had the same thing on a hated Vauxhall Insignia we had a few years ago.
Anyway, that's enough moaning about cars. We wanted somewhere close to home to see how well it towed and to see if the caravan had survived the winter, so we chose the Southport CAMC site. Same destination as our last trip last year.
Despite a smaller engine the Qashqai tows at least as well as the Sportage, and we arrived just after midday after a journey that only took about 30 minutes.
All that was available was a non awning pitch, but we managed to get quite a good one.
A sigh of relief when we found nothing wrong with the caravan after the winter break.
We are thinking of moving to somewhere in the Southport area later this year, so we went for a drive to have a look at a couple of roads with houses for sale. We're not really in a position to move just yet, as we are in the process of sprucing our house up a bit to make it more saleable!
Then we walked into Southport and looked around the shops and had some drinks in some of the pubs we like. Our favourite this trip was the Bottle Room. Only two beers on tap but lots of bottles and cans to choose from. Luckily D liked one of the beers on tap.
We had a late dinner in the caravan and spent the rest of the night in.
A very windy day, in the morning at least, but not much rain and plenty of blue sky. We went for a walk from the site along the beach towards Ainsdale.
Just one pic this trip.
In the afternoon we walked into town and had a walk on the pier. Last time we came to Southport the pier was closed for refurbishment, but it doesn't look like anything has changed, apart from the cafe at the end has had a bit of a makeover. We did a lot of walking today, about 35,000 steps in total!
We had tapas in a Spanish/Turkish restaurant in the evening. http://www.bistrobarmed.com Very nice food, and generous portions - we were too stuffed for dessert! When we booked they told us we had to be out before the belly dancing started at 8pm, so we went to the Bottle Room for an after dinner drink. We had a look in the window on the way back to the site but there was no sign of belly dancers! Southport on a Saturday night is like Liverpool city centre on a quiet Sunday! We must be getting old, we like it that way.
It was raining when we woke up and we got soaked packing everything away, but luckily we were home before the high winds and hail storms arrived!
Windermere C&CC site, for the Hawkshead brewery spring beer festival, then Castlerigg Hall in Keswick.
Definitely our last trip of the year, as we are getting a new car in a week or so and won't have time to get a towbar fitted in time for another trip.
Somewhere close to home this time - Southport C&MC site. Not a particularly nice site, very open with lots of pitches crammed in, but ok at this time of year because it was half empty. It's main attraction is that it is within easy walking distance of Southport.
A very quick journey, we didn't even have time to listen to half of an Archers omnibus that we had downloaded.
Lots of pitches to choose from on arrival and we chose one on the new part of the site, which is quite exposed and it was still pretty windy after the recent stormy weather. This site at this time of year isn't about sitting outside, so we weren't too bothered.
We headed into Southport after setting everything up and took a few pics of the pier, which was partly closed for refurbishment and the addition of new attractions. Something to look forward to next year.
Then we headed into the town centre and had dinner in Casa Italia and checked out a few of the pubs. We like the Tap and Bottle, the Guest House and the Corridor Bar, in particular. Dinner in Casa Italia was excellent and not too pricey.
Southport at night is a lot quieter than a big city like Liverpool, which is where we have been going out when at home lately, but there was plenty to do to keep us out all night.
Inside the ultra modern Christman tree
We ended up staying out a lot later than intended and had a lot more to drink than we should have!
Rain was to be a feature of today...nasty, drizzly rain. It did cheer up for while in the afternoon but we spent most of the day dodging the rain.
We walked to Birkdale, then got a bus to Churchtown and had a look around the almost deserted botanical gardens. Last time we came here it was packed.
Churchtown was a bit too quiet, so we headed back into Southport and did a bit of Christmas shopping before heading back to the caravan for dinner.
We went out again in the evening, first to the Guest House and then the Tap and Bottle. We would have stayed in the Guest House but a band started setting up right next to us and we thought it might be a bit loud! Both places seemed very quiet for a Saturday night, but we're not complaining. We didn't drink as much as the night before.
A very quick, uneventful journey home.
That's it for 2018, hopefully we will be back in January 2019.
We like to visit Hawkshead around this time of year and have always stayed at the Croft, which is just across the road from the village. Not this time, though, it was closed. It looks like they are trying to squeeze a few more statics in and are re-landscaping the touring pitches. They helpfully recommended their sister site, Hawkshead Hall, instead. It's about half a mile outside the village, a short walk along a good footpath beside a stream. What a great site, at this time of year at least (reviews aren't so good in high season). Excellent facilities, well spaced pitches and great views, we will probably come here in future instead of the Croft and can't really think of anything bad to say about it.
The road from from Ambleside is narrow in places and not much fun to drive along with a caravan, but luckily we didn't meet any buses or lorries coming the other way and we arrived early afternoon. We had plenty of pitches to choose from and chose one away from the road and the farm buildings (it's a working farm). There was only one other caravan on site but quite a few small motorhomes.
The hill in the distance is Latterbarrow.
After setting everything up we walked into Hawkshead, which took less than 10 minutes. Hawkshead is a nice village with a few shops and four nice pubs. We had drinks in the Kings Arms, our favourite, but didn't stay out late, instead retreating to the caravan for dinner and a night in.
Fabulous weather for November, so we went for a walk from the site to Latterbarrow.
Great views of Ambleside and Windermere from the top but the pics didn't turn out too well, so not many here. D struggling to get to grips with the new camera. Picture quality is great but composition is lacking lately!
In the afternoon we sat outside the caravan for a couple of hours, enjoying the peace and quiet, then walked to nearby Esthwaite water as it started to get dark. It would be nice to be able to walk around it but it's mostly private land, so no footpath.
We stopped off in Hawkshead afterwards and had a drink in the Sun Inn, then went back to the caravan for dinner and another night in. A very cheap trip so far!
Another great day weather-wise, so we went for a longer walk in the hills around Faw Sawrey.
First stop was Claife viewing station.
Good views, but not that good!
Then High Blind How.
Then Wise Een and Moss Eccles tarns.
We stopped off at the Cuckoo Brow Inn on the way back to the car and thought we would drive back later for dinner.
We did drive back in the evening but couldn't get in the car park, so we quickly abandoned that idea and walked into Hawkshead instead. We had roast dinners in the the Sun Inn, then relocated to the Kings Arms for the rest of the evening. The other pub we like, the Red Lion, was closed.
We missed it all during the day, but it seems it was Mitzvah day in Hawkshead, and a group of people involved in it came in to the pub and started playing a fiddle and accordian. Well, we had to stay and watch, and we ended staying out until about 10pm and drinking more that we should have. So much for a cheap trip. A good night, though.
A very uneventful journey home, hill start assist making light work of the feared hill start at Clappersgate! A great trip, one of the best of the year.
One more trip before Christmas, we think, but probably somewhere more local. Southport, maybe.
Tarn House. We don't really like this site much, the pitches are too close together and the facilities are only just ok, but we do like Skipton and this is the only site we have found that is within walking distance (just) of the town centre.
The site was full when we arrived, we must have got the last available pitch. A lot of caravans here are seasonal and the one next to us was empty both nights, and on the other side we had a small motorhome for the first night then nothing for the second.
In the afternoon we walked into Skipton, which is downhill almost all the way. We had a look around the shops and then a couple of drinks in a couple of pubs before getting a taxi back to the site for dinner and a night in.
A pretty good day, weather-wise. We went for a walk from the site to Flasby fell, the high point being Sharp Haw.
Not exactly peaceful to start with, there was a group of people on scrambler bikes, but we left them behind as we approached the summit of Sharp Haw.
A bench with a view
In the afternoon we drove to nearby Gargrave to have a look at a small listed site that looked promising, but we couldn't find it and Gargrave is a bit too far away from Skipton anyway.
In the evening we walked back into Skipton and had a drink in all of the pubs we like there - the Boathouse, the Narrowboat, the Beer Engine, the Woolley Sheep... There are so many! We had dinner in the Narrowboat.
We left early and got home, in the house, just before midday.
Hopefully a couple more trips this year. We usually go to Hawkshead around this time of year, so that might be next.
Our second visit this year to the Coniston C&MC site, which was originally going to be a three night trip but was shortened to two due to work commitments. Just as well, as it turned out!
Plenty of pitches to choose from when we arrived and we chose a part of the site we haven't been on before. Pitches here are amongst trees in little clearings and some are quite secluded, much better than a line of caravans separated by a thin strip of grass, we wish all sites were like this. We like pitch no. 180, although it is a bit of a walk to the facilities.
Blue skies and sunshine when we arrived but it didn't last long and we had to don waterproof coats for the almost two mile walk into Coniston.
Dinner in the Sun hotel and drinks in a couple of the other excellent pubs. Of course we forgot to take torches but a torch app on J's phone came to the rescue. It's brighter than a torch anyway. Is there anything a phone can't do these days?
Woke up to the sound of rain hammering on the roof. It was really only light, drizzly rain but we were under a tree and rain always seems worse under a tree!
By 11am were were going a bit stir crazy and had to get out. We drove to nearby misty, murky Tarn Hows and walked around the lake.
First outing for our new camera, a Panasonic Lumix TZ100. Less zoom than the old one but a larger sensor, so in theory better image quality.
Not a great day for pics, so the jury is still out, but initial results are promising. It rained continuously throughout the two mile walk, but at least we managed to prove that our waterproof coats are still waterproof. D wishes he could say the same about his boots!
On the way back the rain eased off a bit and we had a wander around Coniston lakeside, and tea and cake in the cafe there. Not many boats out today.
Later in the afternoon it almost brightened up, so we went for a stroll along the lake before having dinner in the caravan.
The plan was to walk back into Coniston for the night and we did set out walking but drizzly rain made us turn back and instead we had a night in. It is quite a long walk!
Deja vu. Woke to the sound of rain hammering on the roof. The forecast for today was rain all day, so we weren't too disappointed that the three night trip had to be cut to two nights. No trouble getting home.
Nothing booked, it's all about the weather at this time of year.