2020 – The Autumn Tour – Week 2

2020 – The Autumn Tour – Week 2

2020 – The Autumn Tour – Week 2 is the second week of a three week break in Bessie. If you missed the last gripping episode you can catch up HERE

Following on from where we left off…

Wednesday 14th of October – Dyke Bottom Farm Nr Harrogate – Details of the CL HERE
Although we are only a few miles from Harrogate the prospect of getting soaked walking around the town did not hold much appeal so we had a lazy morning in the van. The rain relented at lunchtime and so we walked to the nearby Nelson Inn where I treated The Navigator to a decent lunch. Dyke Bottom Farm is about 200 yards off the A59 and it was just as we reached the main road that The Navigator remembered that she had left our face masks in the van so she was dispatched all the way back to retrieve them or there would be no lunchtime treat! The moral of the story in these strange times – don’t leave home (or motorhome) without a face mask!

The food was hardly cordon blue, but in true Yorkshire style was hearty and wholesome and we enjoyed it. Much has been made recently about re-examining the lives of our historical characters by the woke brigade but this establishment bearing the name of the great man, Lord Nelson was worth the visit.

After lunch we walked back and went to the farmhouse to buy some of their free range eggs but it turned out that the hens had stopped laying a few days earlier after they were brought indoors for the winter. Who knew hens were that temperamental?

We had a lazy afternoon in the van as the rain came back on again.

Dyke Bottom Farm
Bessie at Dyke Bottom Farm
Bessie at Dyke Bottom Farm

Thursday 15th of October – Pool Bank Farm nr Otley – Details of the CL HERE
We thoroughly enjoyed the CL at Lochmaben and this one too so we resolved to try a few more for the rest of the trip.  The CLs are up to half the price of a pukka campsite and when you cannot use the facilities of the campsite because of the current restrictions, why pay more?

Today we were moving on to another CL about 11 miles away on the north side of Leeds, not a million miles away from Leeds Bradford Airport, well 2.3 miles away for those who insist on precise details. Pool Bank Farm has an amazing location on a hilltop overlooking the Wharfe Valley.

It wasn’t raining today so after servicing the van and a quick pit stop at an Aldi to stock up for the weekend we set off on the 30 minute drive. It was not quite as scenic as the drive from Hawes to Dyke Bottom Farm but it was still pleasant enough with the rural Yorkshire countryside ablaze with autumnal colours. We arrived at lunchtime and found the farm – eventually. Usually when you put in the post code of the address you are heading for into the satnav it takes you straight there, but not on this occasion, it’s the postal address that works to find this farm. 

The selling point of this CL is the stunning views over the Wharfe Valley to The Chevin Ridge and the highest point of the Chevin, Surprise View, reaches 282 metres (925 ft). This point offers extensive views of Otley and Wharfedale, and is the site of a beacon where a cross has been erected every Easter since 1969. The pictures further down don’t do the view any justice at all but at least you will get the idea.

 

Bessie at Pool Bank Farm
Pool Bank Farm Pitches

It is quite a tight entrance off the A658 and you are immediately confronted with an electronically controlled gate and The Navigator sprung into life to enter the code into the keypad. Someone had recently stayed here towing a caravan and left the following review on the Caravan Club website for this location…

“…The approach to the pitches is quite steep, but didn’t cause any problem at all. However our strongest warning is about the security gate at the entrance/exit. We were fine arriving and all during our stay, but on leaving when towing the van around the bend in the drive and trying to drive close enough to the key-pad to open the gate we damaged the caravan quite badly on the stone wall which juts out. Be warned!!!! It is best to watch the van and have to get out of your car to enter the code in the key-pad if necessary as we have a large repair bill now! However now we are aware of this risky manouver we might return to this site in the future sometime.”

That shows you how good the view is. He ripped the side of his caravan trying to get out, but would still come back!

After finding it and settling down after lunch, the surprise I teased you with at the end of the last blog actually happened that afternoon.

We had met Alan and Helen in Spain in early 2019 and met up again when we were down in Staffordshire in August of that year but had not seen them since as they didn’t make it to Spain earlier this year. They were up in Leeds for a few days so came out to meet us for a couple of hours and it was great to see them again looking so well and we all enjoyed catching up again over a socially distance afternoon tea and cake(s)! One of the topics of conversation was our hopes of making it to Spain in January again, subject to any travel restrictions, but neither of us has booked ferries yet although our pitches are reserved at the campsite in El Campello.
(There is an update coming up in the next Blog on our plans for 2021!) 

There is a grassy area in front of the van and after Alan and Helen left us we were entertained by the farmer’s hens, a pair of squirrels and a pair of red kites soaring over the field in front of us along with assorted other birds.

Alan & Helen

Friday 16th of October – Pool Bank Farm nr Otley
No rain today thankfully but it was dull and overcast for most of the day. I am working on a new online project which hopefully will see the light of day in November (more likely December!) and I worked on it for most of the day trying to figure it all out. It will tie in with Fyne Editions, which is exceeding expectations after only a couple of months online.

The Navigator had another lazy day and we didn’t leave the site until 4.30pm to go and pick up Emma in Horsforth as she was going to spend the weekend with us. Horsforth is on the northern outskirts of Leeds so was only 10 minutes away from our the CL.

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Saturday 17th of October – Pool Bank Farm nr Otley
After breakfast we walked out of the site to the bus stop at the entrance to wait for the bus into Otley, and a long wait it was as there was some confusion (mine) as I read online it was due at 11.17am when in fact it was 11.48am!

We had never been to Otley before and looking online it seemed to be a pretty Yorkshire market town and it certainly lived up to its billing. The bus dropped us off in the middle of town and a few minutes walk took us to the market square where the Saturday market was in full swing and very busy. We had a walk about and Emma made the unusual purchase of Kiwi Berries which had the size and consistency of a grape but tasted of a kiwi fruit. Who knew there was such a thing?

Otley Market
Kiwi Berries

After walking around the town centre for a bit, we headed down to the River Wharfe which was quite impressive in its size. There were quite a lot of people milling about on the riverside walks and in Tittybottle Park beside the river. You’ve got to love Yorkshire names!

We saw a fair few people eating fish and chips on the other bank and after our riverside walkabout, we headed to the chippy and enjoyed a very good meal sitting outside. 

River Wharfe at Otley
Tittybottle Park - Otley
Fish & Chips at Otley

The town was much busier than I expected and the majority were walking about mask less but were disciplined in putting masks on when entering any shops or cafes. Most towns nowadays have pound shops and they are obviously popular because of the bargains they sell, so it may be no surprise that the busiest store we saw was The Yorkshire 20p Store where the social distancing rules were put to the test by eager bargain hunters!

The last bus which passed our site was at 3.05pm so we headed back on it. All the pitches were full when we returned including one motorhome which had a covering over its windscreen totally blocking the stunning view!

Otley
Kirkgate Arcade Otley

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Sunday 18th of October – Corner House CL nr Newark
There was no immediate need to be off the site this morning, so we didn’t rush to leave the site! We were moving on today and by the time we all got dressed, had our breakfast, took in the view, studied the 4 hens strutting about in front of us then got the van ready to move as it was lunchtime now.

 

View From Pool Bank Farm
View From Pool Bank Farm

POSTSCRIPT – A short time after we visited Otley the River Wharfe burst its banks and there was some serious flooding in the town as you can see in this picture taken from a drone.

Otley Flooding

Emma lives in Horsforth, a built up commuter suburb on the northern fringes of Leeds and it is hard to imagine that we are only 11 minutes away in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside enjoying such a wonderful view. We dragged ourselves away from the view and dropped Emma back home before setting the satnav for our next destination, another CL not too far from Newark. What could possibly go wrong?

After a fuel top up, the satnav took us along the northern Leeds bypass heading to join the southbound A1(M). I should have twigged something was not quite right when it said the journey would take two and a half hours but it was a Sunday afternoon and we were in no real hurry to get there.

It was confirmed to me that all was not going to plan when the satnav took us off the dual carriageway and through the centre of Doncaster, on to Bawtry, then Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, not remotely on the route we should have been on. To compound things, the satnav wasn’t talking to me either and I was beginning to wonder what I had done to offend her. The real life Navigator had no idea where we were going so that fall back wasn’t an option so I pulled into a lay-by to check the settings.

If you had read last week’s blog you may remember I installed a new version of the Google Maps after it would not take Bessie to the CL in Lochmaben. This new version somehow got installed with the boxes ticked for no toll roads and no motorways so that’s why it took us off the A1(M) just before a stretch of motorway. The fault corrected, we continued on our merry way to The Corner House CL in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully it was worth the effort to find it as it is probably the best CL we have been on and is very well maintained.

The owners were away for the day so we picked a pitch between two caravans, had a late lunch / early dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening, catching up on all the YouTube videos we watch. This place is not a farm, but a country cottage with a field next to it which meant there was no livestock nearby so it was eerily quiet resulting in a great night’s sleep.

 

Corner House CL
Corner Cottage CL

Monday 19th of October – Lowdhams, Gunthorpe
The caravans on either side of us packed up and headed off and we took our time, as again, we were in no rush. We are not a million miles away from Lowdhams, mind you if the satnav plays up again, it might takes us on another roundabout journey! When we eventually set off it was on fairly familiar roads to us as we used to visit Newark quite often from East Leake. Thirty minutes later we were settling down on Lowdhams rally field and I spend the afternoon working and The Navigator prepared the van for the handover tomorrow morning.

Tuesday 20th of October – OYO Hotel, Kegworth
It was an early rise, well for us anyway, to prepare the van to be handed over. The toilet has to be emptied as does the waste water tank and fresh water tank, and because of Covid, the van had to be emptied as much as possible as they sprayed a fine chemical mist into every nook and cranny of the van before their technicians could work on it. Lowdhams were providing a courtesy car and thankfully it was not the tiny Fiat we had last year, but a SsasangYong Korando Pioneer and we just about managed to get all our clothes etc crammed into it.

For almost forty years I had jobs with company supplied cars which were changed every two or three years and I never ever had an automatic, through choice, but I had no choice today as this car was an automatic and because of Covid restrictions the staff member we were dealing with was not allowed to get in the car to show us all its many idiosyncrasies, and there were a fair few!

First was how to start it, and once I had mastered that, the next problem was how to release the handbrake as in this car it was not a hand brake lever, but a button and it needed someone to come and instruct me (from a social distance). Once The Navigator had completed the transfer of our stuff and I had mastered the basics of modern car technology it was time to set off.

Within yards it was obvious I had not sorted my feet out and was trying to use both feet on the pedals through force of habit. Eventually, with my left leg firmly planted on the foot rest, never to be used again for the next three days, we headed off down the A46 towards Leicester as The Navigator wanted some retail therapy at Fosse Park and it gave me the chance to try and work out what all the controls did. The one that took me most by surprise was a lane recognition system, designed to help you stay safely in a lane without straying near the white lines. The first time I moved out to pass a lorry an alarm went off and the steering wheel tried to return me gently into the first lane and then it tried to keep me in the overtaking lane! Through trial and error I found out that using the indicators over ruled this system and there were no alarms or steering wheel correction after that.

After a few hours at Fosse Park we headed up the M1 towards Kegworth where we were staying for the next two nights in a hotel. There had been a lorry fire earlier in the morning near the services at Leicester and although it was cleared away as we headed past the scene there was still three lanes of stationery traffic for almost ten miles. Lunch was a picnic in a car park beside the canal at Kegworth before we headed along to East Leake to take a look at the village where we lived from 1996 to 2011 and there were some huge new housing developments in the village which is a popular commuter village as it is on the bus route between Loughborough and Nottingham, only a few miles from the MI and 10 minutes to the station in Loughborough.

We didn’t fancy eating in the overpriced hotel restaurant so we nipped out for a Chinese takeaway to bring back to the room and it was delicious.

Week 2 Map

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COMING SOON – Week 3 of the 2020 Autumn Tour

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