Back in Somerset

Travels are over again for a short period, and we are back in Somerset until the New Year, except for a week over Christmas when we’ll be house sitting.

Our regular spot at Helwell Bay is not available as they are closed for the winter, so we are a couple of miles up the cost at Donniford, which does hair as well, although the view from the van isn’t quiet as good as at Helwell. It’s a large site, with a nice grassy hill with stone circle which is good for a quick bit of fresh air. Nice views from there across the Channel to Wales.

Must try and get out for walks to keep the legs going, but some urgent work is the first priority.

Bright Lights, Big City

We are both now in central London – well the van is out near Epping, which is as close as we can get because our van doesn’t qualify to get into the Emission Zone. This means a 40 minute trip on the tube which wouldn’t be too difficult, except for the fact there is engineering works this weekend which are going to cock things up a bit. Ho hum.

We got in fine yesterday, intending to do a bit of shopping and gallery visiting, but first went for lunch, which turned out to be an afternoon as we got into conversation with two Norwegian guys who were visiting London for a couple of days. Good banter and nice wine flowed, very enjoyable and unexpected, as these things often are.

We then headed off to a gallery where we’d bagged an invite (also by chance) to an opening night, so benefited from more free plonk, and chats with others.

So, unproductive but entertaining!

Apparently there are 1788 glitter balls in Oxford Street. Should you have been wondering.

Reedham Ferry

As I left Reedham, I was surprised that the sat nav asked my if I wanted to avoid a ferry. I was interested what this entailed so as it as just down the road went to investigate. A tiny little thing, a squeeze to get the van onto, but charming nonetheless.

It seems that you HAVE to take a picture of the sunset as you cross. Even the ferryman was doing so. Apparently he’s after a good photo for his Christmas cards. I should think if he gets to do this every day, he could make an entire advent calendar!

Normal for Norfolk

What a cracker of a day. Gorgeous blue skies and only a slight nip to the air, what more can you do but get outside, walk and soak it all up.

I was stumped at first for where to walk, as the rivers and canals of the broads are not that well blessed with bridges. You could walk for miles and not find one, so making a circular walk was not easy to do. The Internet was much help either, all the sites I found were either for short walks, out and backs, or by boat!

I ended up in Reedham, a slightly untidy looking place but with a nice mooring along the banks of the River Yarle, and a swing bridge that carries the railway line over. I set out filling the dyke alongside the Yarle, and really enjoyed the big skies and horizon being so far off. A real contrast to being on hills and mountains for the last couple of months.

I met a couple of chaps out photographing the wildlife and had a chat with them for a while. One guy turned out to be a meteorite dealer, claimed to be the only one full time in the UK. Past retirement, and spending most days out with the camera, an excuse for walking and keeping fit.

On reaching the Berney Arms Inn, stuck out in the middle of nowhere and closed for the season (Freehold for Sale), I realised I was in a place called Langley Marsh. Now there’s a coincidence. Bugger all in this one, apart from marshes and wildlife. Perhaps the better for it!

I then picked up the Weavers Way and headed west, coming across the Berney Arms station, reputedly Britain’s most remote railway station. There ain’t much to it, a platform long enough for only one carriage, which is fine because that is as big as the trains appear to get.

I sloshed about in wet fields and muddy gateways before reaching the village of Halvergate and getting back to quiet lanes for the return.

Once back, I was immediately engaged by a local and fellow campervan owner, who went on at length about vans and their intricacies, and was convinced I was a brave and fearless sole for wildcamping on such placed as Great Yarmouth promenade (akin to Beiruit apparently) but seemed lovely and quiet to me. He then went on at length about a chap called Guy Martin off the telly, I’ve no idea, but he appears to be a bit of a fearless nutter on motorbikes and the like, so somehow my exploits and his and the same in the eyes of this chap.

Noting after he’d left, another couple stopped for a chat and they too seemed to be full of doom and gloom for the life of a campervan owner, they also having one. I’m assuming this is a reflection on the people of Norfolk and their outlook on life.

Normal for Norfolk? Maybe.

Anyway, the sun shortly set and rounded off a lovely day. Another one noted to come back to for more walking.

The Humber Bridge, Lincolnshire Wolds, and The Wash

Spent the whole day driving, weather not particularly inspiring, fog through most of Yorkshire, turning nicer once across the Humber Bridge and into the Lincolnshire Wolds. Not much to see in these parts, apart from the countryside, which deserves a more considered visit. Alas it was not being all that photogenic today, so I was stuck in driving mode.

Again as I rounded The Wash I remember a drove done many years ago from Hull to Lowestoft that seemed interminable, following lorry loads of turnips. Not turnips this time thigh not sure what.

After being in the hills so much recently, it was amazing how the landscape flattens and you can see for miles, vast fields of crops and the odd stand of trees. Would love to walk here for the big skies and contrast to the hills of which I’m so fond.

Now heading for a round of the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts as I head for London.

Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar

Skipping on down the coat now, need to make some progress, but keen to see what some of these parts have to offer in the way of scenery. I have been here before, Whitby not all that many years ago, but only on flying visits, much like this one.

I’ve not stopped his time, just passing through, maybe pulling over for a coffee but no time to sightsee. I can to Robin Hood’s Bay because I think I came here on a school trip when I was ten. I was hoping it might ring some bells. It certainly felt right, but I couldn’t find where we stayed, based on some hazy memories of prefab concrete dormitories. There is a place above the town which is an old school house which now provides group and schoolchildren accommodation, but it looked nothing like I remember, other than its vague position in town. I dare say the prefabs were demolished years ago.

What is also notable about here is that it’s the end of Wainrights Coast to Coast walk, which I ought to tackle one day. I very nearly went to the other end, St. Bees Head in the Lake District, when I was there on the way to Scotland.

I opted for walking the coast path to Ravenscar, another place test rang bells but I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe the Alum Works, maybe the geology of the cliffs, no doubt both things that would have occupied children’s minds on a school trip.

A cove called Boggle Hole seemed suddenly familiar, and there is a YHA place there. Could that have been where we stayed? Seemed too remote though, I’m sure I remember looking down on the town.

Probably my mind blending together many unrelated events.

The Cheviot Hills

Mel went off early to the station to catch the train back to Somerset. Work needs to be finished and sent off before Christmas, so she’ll join me again next week for a few days in London. That leaves me to wander south over the next few days and scout out some other interesting places to visit on future trips.

One of those is going to be the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish Borders and Northumberland. I drove south west from Berwick passing through Coldstream and Kelso before arriving at Kirk Yetholm, which is home to the official end of the Pennine Way, or the start should you be inclined to do it backwards. For some reason folk tend to do it south to north, I guess just to rub in the idea of going up all those hills.

Well, I can say the I started and ended the Pennine Way on the same day, given that I set out from Kirk Yetholm, walked along a route that was always the Pennine Way, and cam to the end at a place called Kirk Yetholm. Only 8 mile instead of 268, but seems like an accomplishment nonetheless.

I set off on drizzle which ceased after about an hour, just as I was reaching Steer Rig, and the sun started to break through giving some nice views across the hills, the low sun casting rays and contrasting shade across the slopes to the west of me, whilst dark clouds rolled across to the east, the last few rain drops blowing across me face as I enjoyed the view.

Definitely got to come and enjoy this some more before too long, they are some very attractive hills, and not too much of a struggle to climb.

The picture featuring the stone wall leading off into the distance is the border between Scotland and England. The former being in the right of the shot.

It seemed a suitably nice spot to formerly bid a fairwell to Scotland, and thank it kindly for showing us a lovely time, and a range of weather without being too foul. We’ll be back!

Bamburgh to Seahouses

A find day throughout, so we made the most and set out along the lovely sandy beach, past the impressive Bamburgh Castle, towards the town of Seahouses.

Bamburgh is gentrified, whereas Seahouses is more kiss me quick, but not too bad. Fortunately there was coffee and cake, rejected at the first establishment, but welcomed at the second, a whopping great slice of fudge cake. I think it’s time to cut down on those mid-walk treats, or the walking will be having little benefit.

After lunch, the tide had turned which allowed us to cross the causeway to Holy Island, otherwise known as Lindisfarne. We did a quick walk around the island, but most most things were closed except for the old lookout tower, which had a bit of info on the island. Then a chap came to lock up, and walked with us for a while, he’d been there all his life and so we got an interesting little personal tour, which was nice.

We headed off then to stay with Stephen and Suzanne who lived across the road from us back in Langley Marsh. It was nice to catch up with them, to see their home from which they run a B&B, and they were kind enough to let us stay.

An English Sunrise

As the day started wet, we decided to head back into Edinburgh and do a bit more of the art. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery was interesting, particularly the exhibition about the Great War.

By the time we’d lunched, we only had time to wander down Dundas Street which is home to some fancier art galleries, but I can’t say much grabbed me, apart from a contemporary landscape photographer who we had a good chat with.

We then headed down the east coast for the border. We are stopping off with ex-neighbours in Berwick-on-Tweed tonight, so crossed the border, waving a fond farewell to Scotland in the process. I should point out that there was no Welcome to England sign, which I thought was disappointing. We found a wild camping spot near to Bamburgh Castle, and got treated to a cracking sunrise this morning.

Travelling Through Life