We have had a particularly lovely week this week despite saying our fond farewells to various relatives we have been able to meet up with on our travels back from the Dorset area.
The weather has as ever been mixed, but as the saying goes “you don’t go to England for the weather” and of course you all had a decent Covid summer last year. That said we did manage to start the day on the Monday in sunshine as we left Gravesend and made our way towards the Welsh part of our journey. After the usual shopping, petrol, gas etc stops we arrived at Devizes in Wiltshire. The reason for this stop was Caen Hill Locks. These are an historic set of 29 locks that have a rise of 237 feet in some two miles and take between five to six hours to traverse in a boat. We managed to see the locks in lacklustre sunshine, with David flying his drone over them, getting some marvellous aerial shots. After a quick pint at a riverside pub, we had to beat the retreat quickly back to Buster as the rain started to pound down.
Given the location of the campsite on the edge of Devizes and with what seemed to be a lot to do in the area, we wished we were able to stay a few more days, but as with everything still these days, flexibility isn’t always an option, and that said we were looking forward to seeing our friends from our 2016 Elddis journey who live in Wales.
However, we knew we had time to see Lacock, just some 8 miles away. Lacock, has found recent fame with its Abbey being used in several of the Harry Porter movies, and of course many other period dramas before and after HP. It is owned largely by the National Trust, attracting visitors and the like due to its unspoilt appearance, with the village first being mentioned in the Doomsday book. It is a delight and worth a visit. If you do venture there, then please do visit the chocolate shop as the chocolate really has been some of the best we have tasted!
Tuesday, after our Lacock visit we headed onto the Gower Peninsula, just past Swansea. It was my turn for driving and although not raining, it was very windy and no more so then when we crossed The Prince of Wales bridge into Wales. In fact, I had slowed so much that I couldn’t even get pass an escorted abnormal load, but hey better safe than sorry I say.
We eventually pulled onto the CL farm site at Weobley Castle, overlooking the Llanhidian Marshes, after a nerve-racking drive down a single track, mistakenly through the farm buildings and then into the field. Our friends Lesley, Geoff and son Jackson were there in their motorhome to greet us and spend the next couple of days giving us an insight into the delights of the Gower Peninsula. Unfortunately, the weather was not to be with us that evening and so any hopes of a BBQ with very locally sourced salt marsh lamb burgers (farm shop) was out of the question, but Lesley had prepared the most wonderful Moroccan style chicken stew, as we whiled away the evening catching up and exchanging tales of the years since we meet them in Spain back in 2016, when young Jackson was a mere lad of four.
Both Lesley and Geoff have put the years to good use and have both written books about their adventures. For Lesley hers, A Change in the Aire, reflected just their motorhome trip back in 2016, it’s an absolute joy to read for all, motorhomers or not. Geoff’s -Floating Worlds reflects back further into his life and his adventures with surfing and the then fledgeling snowboarding. Both are very inspirational and hats off to them both for having the dedication to get the words onto paper and published. Once a week, blogging is hard enough for us, don’t you know it!
Knowing our liking for walking, they set us off on the Wednesday with a stunning coastal walk from Oxwich to Langland. David and I started off in rain as we trudged along the beach, admiring the locals sat bravely on the sand in their shorts and rain jackets, but by the time we had started our first cliff ascent the sun was out and stayed with us for the duration of the walk through to the evening. The evening was of course a small piece of history to be in the making, as it was England playing Denmark in the semi-finals of the Euro’s. We had all managed to fit around their motorhome small TV screen the night before to watch Italy v Spain, but we all agreed this game merited more and so again with Geoff cooking two stunning Sri Lankan curries we watched the big game on a 50-inch screen at their nearby home, before heading back to our motorhomes parked at Weobley Castle. Of course, more celebrating was to be done there into the early hours, with Geoff having to catch us up drink wise.
Thursday, saw our departure but not before they drove us to Worms Head, again another unspoilt rural coast location, where we were again lucky to have sun, as we meandered along the cliffs and marvelled at the amount of other people there on this workday! It was with heavy hearts that we left the three of them and made the late afternoon drive to another Welsh beauty spot recommended by them- Lake Talyllyn, north of Aberystwyth and at the bottom end of the Snowdonia National Park.
Walking is what it’s all about here and so in a greyer light of day, in fact drizzle David and I headed up the mountain to an ice age formed lake- Lynn Cau. The climb was mainly on naturally made stones but was steep and by the time we had got to the lake, we decided not to carry on further up to the ridge of the mountain. Our steps for the day had been done literally and so we headed back down and again gave the local economy a small boost.
We are now parked again on a small farm camp site just outside the well known and loved Welsh beauty spot, Betws y Coed. The town is busy, both with walkers and shoppers buying the usual array of un-needed tourist tat. That said we or rather David managed to again boost the local economy substantially, yet another T-shirt being part of the buy, but I’m not convinced the walking poles are needed just now!
We both have over the past few weeks, discussed the driving and roads in this country and it has really become clear as to why caravanning is more popular here than will Europeans. Get to your campsite and then use the car to get to the exciting places, or even just the local shops. Plus, also, the surge in popularity of the smaller style of vans. The roads here aren’t made and never will be for the bigger style vans like Buster. The motorways, dual carriageways are of course fine, but as we all know, there are many smaller one lane each way roads. Campsites and places of interest are of course down the single-track hedge rowed roads, and also whatever navigation tool you use decide to head you down. So yes, size does matter, but we still love our big boy Buster and will no doubt continue to get ourselves into places we shouldn’t be, but at the moment we’re just sitting down to roasted salt marsh lamb and all the trimmings as the rain patters on the windscreen, can’t do that in those panel vans can you!
Next week, we head to the Peak District. We have loved Wales, as we will Scotland and indeed obviously do Ireland. We have loved Spain, Italy, Turkey, France, Switzerland. Everywhere and one has something to offer, come rain or shine.
Well done to our footie team- no shame there!