APOLOGIES – Man Van No Plan was HACKED in February 2020 and was completely deleted. I am restoring it blog by blog from pages that Google copied and stored. Unfortunately these pages were only the text and not the pictures. My first priority is to load the text and add the pictures later.
2019 – A TOUR OF YORKSHIRE…
Since the last blog, Bessie has not turned a wheel but we have been busy enough, The Navigator has been working quite a bit for her former employer, but the highlight has been a family get together over a long weekend over in Belfast where we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves seeing how Eilidh is getting on. Better at speaking than walking so far, but since our visit she has taken her first steps!
SUNDAY 10th NOVEMBER
This afternoon we were heading off for two weeks in Bessie, but first we attended the Remembrance service at the Lochgair War Memorial where my grandfather and his twin are remembered, along with the other brave men from this tiny village who gave their lives in the two World Wars.
Last year it was pouring down but thankfully this year it was a bright, crisp frosty morning. Even in the early afternoon there was still frost on the ground as you can see in this picture.
Frosty afternoon… Loch Fyne reflected on Bessie’s gleaming side panel with Arran in the distance.
We had two weeks without any commitments at home so we were heading south to Yorkshire, which is becoming one of our favourite regions. Bessie was packed and ready to go so after a bite of lunch we set off, and as ever this trip started with a visit to see the Navigator’s mother and an overnight stay at Alva.
A miserable morning with a grey overcast sky and drizzly rain…
After the visit we were heading to nearby Alva and stopped for a Chinese carry out at Tillicoultry. I parked in the main street and as I was getting out of the cab a voice from over the road called out, ‘Oi, are you Scottish?’
I confirmed my nationality in the affirmative to the obviously drunk bloke in the pub doorway.
‘Is that yours?’ he enquired, pointing over at Bessie.
‘Yes,’ I confirmed.
‘It’s a big beast,’ he said, before adding, ‘commear a meenite,’ in the way that only a Scottish drunk can slur.
Not wishing to get involved, I told him I was heading back to the Chinese and gave him a wave and carried on walking. After a few seconds I heard him shouting ‘shite’ after me and took it he was not impressed that I had not gone over to chat to him.
By the time I got back to the van The Navigator was a bit flustered as, unknown to me, the drunk had crossed over to talk to her. The funny thing was he explained to her that he shouted ‘shite’ at me, not because I didn’t talk to him, but that, in his opinion, the Chinese takeaway I was going to was ‘shite’ and the one at the other end of the village was much better!
If he ever reads this, he was wrong, our meal was delicious!
MONDAY 11th NOVEMBER
If yesterday was bright and sunny, today was cold, grey and typically Novemberish but the van’s Alde heating is superb and we were warm and comfortable, although it was hard to sleep with the rain battering down for most of the night.
We set off for Bury and arrived mid afternoon after a brief stop at Killington Lake Services for lunch. I had stayed on this Caravan Club site on the outskirts of Bury before and it’s quite an interesting place. According to the local council website…
Burrs Country Park lies on the River Irwell covering an area of 36 hectares of scenic countryside, one mile north west of Bury town centre. Burrs has been awarded a Green Flag.
Burrs features a wide variety of different wildlife habitats – woodland, open space, wetland, ponds and waterways. The park is a great place to visit, an ideal spot for a range of activities including walking, fishing, picnicking, bird watching and nature study. There is a Caravan Club site which can accommodate 80 pitches for caravans and tents. The park owes part of its existence to Bury’s industrial past, many remnants of which still exist today.
It sounded interesting, and it looked it but the weather was too miserable to get out and explore the area. The Caravan Club sites are expensive (£22+) but the facilities are excellent but on this occasion the toilet block was being refurbished and the ladies was closed for the week so the gents became unisex, something that did not appeal to The Navigator, even though it is the norm on many French sites we have been to!
TUESDAY 12TH NOVEMBER
We were meeting Emma tonight to deliver some Scottish rations like lentil soup, pies and other culinary delights so we headed towards Leeds and killed time until she was home for work at the wild camping spot at Calverley Bridge we discovered through the Park4Night App.
View from the bypass bridge…
Driving there we wondered if we would get parked beside the canal this time because of all the flooding in Yorkshire in the past week but thankfully there wasn’t a problem.
WEDNESDAY 13th NOVEMBER
As it wasn’t raining we set off for a walk along the canal bank into Rodley and had a look around there, although it didn’t take too long.
We had set off with nothing booked or an idea where we would stay, apart from last night and after seeing Emma I had went online to see which sites were open and was amazed to see there was availability for the next two nights at the Caravan Club site in the heart of York at Rowntree Park. This site is right on the banks of the River Ouse and is prone to flood but somehow, given the flooding elsewhere, the river, although high, had not burst its banks. I immediately booked for the two nights and felt I had won the motorhome lottery as it is almost fully booked every night of the year.
We fed the geese and ducks then had a cuppa before setting off for York at 11am. You can’t get on the York site until noon and as parking something the length of Bessie in York would not be easy, I timed the drive to arrive bang on 12 o’clock to get the pick of the few vacant pitches.
The three stones you see in front of the reception came from the Rowantrees cocoa factory and now measure the flood water levels! It was cold, but bright and sunny, so after lunch we set off on the walk along the River Ouse and into the centre of York for a walk about the shops.
The centre of York must arguably be the prettiest in the country and the ancient Cathedral and buildings were looking good as always.
The Christmas Market was closed and the stalls holders were all stocking up and getting ready for opening which was a disappointment but after a walkabout and The Navigator ticking a few things off her list, we headed back to the van as it was beginning to drizzle and get dark. On the way we stopped and had a pot of Yorkshire tea (6 cups between us) and shared a rather delicious carrot cake!
THURSDAY 14th NOVEMBER
Today was grey and cloudy and noticeably colder than yesterday and so I volunteered to do a few odd jobs at the van rather than traipse round the shops for a full day. The Navigator set off mid morning armed with her shopping list and I met her at lunchtime at the York Roast where I lashed out and treated her to a hog roast roll with all the trimmings, crackling, scratchings, stuffing and apple sauce.
After lunch we walked about and found that the Christmas Market was open today and had the usual, and unusual, range of gifts and local produce on sale.
By late afternoon we had had enough and made it back to the van just as the rain started. We hadn’t stopped for tea today as we had bought 2 pastéias de natas (Portuguese custard tarts) in a bakers which we enjoyed back at the van. Afterwards, with the rain belting down outside and the heating on, I had a lovely nap after all my hard work with the Christmas shopping!
As an aside, The Navigator’s fitbit recorded she (we) walked almost 12,000 steps, which, for me anyway, was a world record!
In the evening I brought this up to date and The Navigator watched TV on her tablet via iPlayer. Strange as it seems, and given we are in the middle of a city, the TV reception is poor, but it is perfect via the App. Go figure, as the expression goes!
FRIDAY 15th NOVEMBER
We had been fortunate to get into this site in York but it was time to move on today. It was a reasonable morning, meaning it wasn’t raining, as the van was serviced and we got underway around 11am. Our destination was another Caravan and Motorhome Club site on the outskirts of Bridlington, just over an hour away on the east coast.
Once we left York it was a very pleasant drive in sunny conditions and blue skies. The only flooding we saw was at Stamford Bridge which sits on the River Derwent but fortunately the road was unaffected. The actual bridge over the Derwent dates back to 1727 and it is remarkable to think that a bridge built so long ago can handle the modern day traffic of the A166, one of the main routes to the east coast.
The satnav (Google Maps) had been set for Brid but it took me on a route I had never been on before through some rather lovely countryside and pretty villages like Sledmere. At this point I should declare an interest in Bridlington, as, in a previous life, I was Sales Director for a children’s book company based there and I drove up from the East Midlands at least once a week. It was not the happiest employment of my career as the Managing Director of the company was madder than a box of frogs and the year I worked for that company seemed considerably longer!
By the time we arrived in Brid the blue skies had given way to dark grey clouds and it was quite nippy. After topping up supplies at Aldi and fuel at Morrisons, we headed for the campsite, a few miles to the north of the town on the way to Flamborough, famous for the eight miles of sheer white chalk cliffs which jut out into the North Sea.
After lunch we relaxed with the heating on full blast as the wind and rain got up outside. The Caravan Club sites are reasonably expensive although the facilities can never be faulted and this one was only opened in 2011 so it is more modern than most. Our heating works on mains power or gas so when we are on a site and the electric is included in the price we make the most of it, more so than if we were using our own gas.
As is the norm on a Friday night we spent a couple of hours watching YouTube videos while the rain battered down outside.
SATURDAY 16th NOVEMBER
The forecast was for a grey but dry day and it was grey but certainly not dry as the overnight rain continued for most of the day. We took the bus into Brid and had a walk about but it was pretty miserable. As I stayed over here quite often I remember the town quite well, even though it is probably twelve or thirteen years since I was last here. The Navigator has been here a few times, once to a company barbecue when I worked here but she had erased all knowledge of it from her memory so it was all new to her!
The above picture shows the Gansey Girl and it depicts a young woman knitting a gansey, the traditional jumper worn by fishermen. Fishing families have contributed to the sculpture by placing moulded fish which bear their family names on to the sculpture’s plinth.
After a walk up the pier to see the Gansey Girl and dodging in and out of the shops for a couple of hours it was time for the real reason we came to the coast – proper fish and chips! We live on the west coast of Scotland and have fish and chips quite often, especially when The Navigator works at Tarbert and we always have them with peas of one form or the other, usually mushy.
Now, I have to confess I like baked beans with fish and chips but The Navigator does not entertain my preference at home but when we are out I can have them, and I did! The cafe we were in did free hot water refills so I think the tally was three cups of tea each.
After another brief walk about we were happy to get the bus back the site to get into the van and dry off. The Navigator watched Strictly and at nine we watched the last two episodes of Spiral, the French detective series based in Paris, and if you have never seen it, you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer. When I am on about a series worth watching try Guilt, which just finished this week after four episodes. By far and away the best series to be made in Scotland in years. Again on the iPlayer.
SUNDAY 17th NOVEMBER
It rained for most of the night but you get used to the sound of it hitting the roof just above your head, what was out of the ordinary was to hear an owl hooting away through it all!
There were no busses into Brid on a Sunday so we stayed in until the rain went off in the afternoon when we walked along to a nearby farm shop / tearoom where we indulged in tea and a rather decent millionaire’s shortbread.
MONDAY 18th NOVEMBER
This morning after servicing the van we headed off for the two hour drive back westwards heading towards Knaresborough, again to a Caravan and Motorhome Club site we have been on before, but not for a long time.
The route took us on more or less the same road we had been on a few days earlier from York but we bypassed it this time until we hit the A1(M) and headed north until junction 47, arriving at the site just after noon. The grey skies of the coast had quickly given way to blue skies, and although it was chilly, it was a lovely day. After lunch we had a lazy afternoon.
TUESDAY 19th NOVEMBER
The site is about 2 miles to the north west of Knaresborough so after breakfast we took the bus from outside the site into the town. We had been £8 for return tickets into Bridlington but for a shorter distance into Knaresborough the return tickets were £11. Daylight blooming robbery and what makes it seem extortionate is knowing that in Spain you can get about on a bus for about €1.50!
Knaresborough is well worth a visit although, like a lot of towns nowadays, has more than its fair share of charity shops which were in abundance, interspersed with tea rooms / coffee shops.
We had a walk about the town centre before heading down a pretty steep hill to the River Nidd and a walk along the banks and through the arch of an imposing railway viaduct which crosses the river at this point. On the other bank from us was the famous Mother Shipton’s Cave which has been open as a visitor attraction since 1630!
The river was high, but not flooded, at this point anyway, and there were a fair few people walking, given it was a chilly Tuesday morning in November.
The climb up through some gardens was fairly taxing and called for a few stops (to take in the view!) on the ascent. The effort to reach the summit was well worth it as there has been a castle overlooking the river since around 1100 when a Norman baron was said to have started construction. Down the centuries it has had many Royal connections, including Henry 1, King John, Edward 1, Edward 11 until it was taken over by Parliamentarian troops in 1644 and destroyed four years later. The remains of the castle are owned by the Queen but administered by Harrogate Council.
By now it was lunchtime and we headed for the the place we had lunched at on our last visit here, Ye Olde Chymist Shoppe in the market square. Medicines were dispensed here from 1720 until 1997 but nowadays it is a gift-shop downstairs and the Lavender Tea Rooms upstairs. I had a coronation chicken baked potato and The Navigator had a Yorkshire Rarebit with bacon and very good they both were although to find a halved red grape and a slice of orange in my accompanying side salad was an innovation I could have done without!
We were a day too early for the weekly market so we headed back to the site in mid afternoon, hoping the driver would take his time so we could get a bit of value out of our £11 return tickets!
Where we live on the banks of Loch Fyne the predominant bird sound is that of sea birds of all descriptions so it is good to hear other birds not native to Ardrishaig, but during the night I could well have done without the sound of a close-by Owl, maybe even in the tree above the van, and another Owl some distance away, hooting at each other on and off all night. At one point I though there were three of them at it but I may have been a bit paranoid by that stage!
WEDNESDAY 20th NOVEMBER
The 2019 Tour of Yorkshire continues today with a ninety minute drive to Hawes, our next, and final Yorkshire destination. We have been to Hawes two or three times and if you have never been I commend it to you. A picture perfect little town and a Caravan and Motorhome Club site within walking distance. But I’m getting ahead of myself as we didn’t actually walk into the town after arriving as we will be there for most of tomorrow.
Again, another bright but chilly day as we set off from Knaresborough. After a few miles from the site, Google Maps, as ever, decided to cut a corner off the main road dog leg and took us the shortest route heading towards Ripon which was a bit too narrow for The Navigator’s liking, not that she was driving!
We have been in this area in the past but I had no recollection of ever seeing the River Ure before but we crossed it in Ripon for the first time and it seemed we spent the next hour crossing from one side to the other on our journey. From Ripon the road heads north east towards the very pretty town of Leyburn where I had wanted to stop but it was very busy and there was nowhere to park Bessy. From Leyburn the A684 runs almost due east towards Hawes and it is a stunningly beautiful drive through the North Yorkshire countryside with dry stone walled enclosed fields with no shortage of sheep to be seen, pheasants as well, both in the fields and on the road!
After arriving at the site and hooking up to power we had another lazy afternoon in Bessy with the heating on, the highlight of which was a hangout call to Belfast and our granddaughter’s ‘hiya bampa / granny’ which delighted The Navigator as granny was the last close family name she has added to her growing repertoire of words.
After dinner and the obligatory ‘Frank on the radio’ podcast we tidied up and relaxed on our beds, me to write this and The Navigator to watch The Crown on her iPad. The wind got up and the van was buffeted in the gusts and leaves getting blown about. By the way if you like listening to Podcasts and have around an hour or so to spare, we both highly recommend this podcast from Frank Skinner, Emily Dean and Alan Cochrane.
THURSDAY 21st NOVEMBER
There is something satisfying about being warm and cosy inside while it is blowing a gale outside. Couple that to a lack of owls and you get the perfect combination for a great night’s sleep and I managed eight hours, although The Navigator woke a couple of times.
After a relaxing morning we headed into Hawes which is only a ten minute walk from the campsite. There was still a cold wind blowing, but at least it was dry. The first thing you see after leaving the site is the steam train and carriages of The Dales Country Museum which sits on the track bed of the former Wensleydale Railway. The museum tells the story of the people who have lived in the Dales for over a thousand years.
Also to be seen here is the Outhwaite rope making factory, established in 1905 and still going strong.
The main street in Hawes is one way going west as it is fairly narrow in places. The Gayle Beck runs through the village and cascades over some rocks at the eastern end, just before the start of the shops.
It is not a big village and it doesn’t take all that long to walk up one side, cross over and back the other side. There are no ‘national’ shops, only local individual shops catering for the tourist and local alike.
There is one must see destination if you are in this part of the world and that is the Wensleydale Creamery, makers of the famous Wensleydale cheese, the favourite of Wallace, if not Gromit!
There is a well stocked gift shop, selling everything local and from all over Yorkshire, a coffee shop, a restaurant and a cheese shop where you can try all the various varieties made in the adjacent factory.
We ate in the restaurant the last time we were here but opted for the coffee shop this time. The Navigator originally ordered Macaroni Cheese (everything to be eaten in either the coffee shop or restaurant has an element of cheese in it!) but when the woman explained that it was actually a Macaroni Cheese toastie, The Navigator could not get her head around that concept so opted for my choice, a roast beef, melted blue cheese and caramelised onion toasted sandwich, a taste sensation if ever there was one and a pot of Yorkshire Tea for two.
Not a fan of eating off boards or slates but hey ho…
I have been fortunate to have sold many top notch branded products in my previous life, but I have every sympathy for the salespeople for PG Tips, Tetley Tea, Ty-Phoo, Twinnings etc who have to hit sales targets in Yorkshire as everywhere you have a cuppa it is ALWAYS Yorkshire Tea that is served!
The Navigator bought a few things as Christmas presents and we headed back into the village with a stop off at Elija Allen & Son, one of the biggest shops in the village to buy a jar of local relish, the butchers for some local sausages and some fantastic carrot cake (half butcher / half baker) which we had with a cuppa later back at the van. The wind was picking up and it was chilly so we relaxed, read and listened to another podcast.
If you would like to know more about the Wensleydale Creamery and their wares you, maybe even order some cheese for Christmas you can visit their website by clicking HERE.
FRIDAY 22nd NOVEMBER
We don’t have to be home until Sunday, but last night was the final stop that was pre-booked so it was decision time, either go straight home today, which would take four and a half hours, or think of somewhere else to stop over at.
In the end we decided on Plan C, stay another night here. It was a dreich day as we Scots are known to say and we did not venture far. The site filled up through the afternoon and evening with thirty five arrivals expected according to the warden, which I thought was a lot, given it is late November but apparently sixty five booked in the previous Friday!
SATURDAY 23rd NOVEMBER
If yesterday was dreich, today was even worse and the rain was constant and fairly heavy, although it did relent for a few minutes as we serviced the van. Today the aim was to spend the night on the banks of Loch Lomond at the Duck Bay spot we have stayed at quite often.
The half hour drive to the M6 was a pleasure to drive as the scenery was so very typical of north Yorkshire / Cumbria even though the weather was pretty atrocious. We stopped off in Carlisle for a ‘big shop’ at Aldi and lunch in their car park.
When we were in Aldi these magnums of red wine caught my eye as this Pata Negra was The Navigator’s favourite in Spain, however at £15.99 The Navigator will have to wait until January as you can buy about 6 bottles for this price not the two in this magnum!
Back on the motorway the cruise control was set and it was a fairly uneventful journey over the border and back into Scotland. There are two petrol stations on either side of the motorway before you cross the border and both were selling diesel at £1.499 a litre which by far was the most expensive we had seen in the last couple of weeks. I always like to top up the tank before we head for home and my garage of choice is Asda at Govan in Glasgow and it was only £1.237 a litre there!
From there it was only another half an hour to Duck Bay where we saw a bride sheltering under the hotel entrance canopy but there was no way she was going to get any decent pictures taken with the backdrop of the loch and the hills on the other side as it was still chucking it down.
The TV in the van does not pick up a signal here but The Navigator was able to watch Strictly on her tablet via the iPlayer App! A Colin Farrell film on Netflix rounded off the evening.
SUNDAY 24th NOVEMBER
There was no rush to get home and we had a long lie in, although we were both roused twice from our slumbers as the low water level alarm decided to go off at ten to four for some reason and then again at six o’clock, not by rain or traffic noise, but, you’ve guessed it, another Owl broadcasting its presence nearby!
We set off for home after breakfast and arrived in the early afternoon. Bessie was unloaded and returned to storage later in the afternoon. At some point in the next few weeks it will have to be brought back to the house for a good wash on the outside as after two weeks on the road on wet and mucky roads has left it filthy!
This was the route we took, 496 miles at 24.9mpg and an average speed of 36mph. The telling statistic however was that the actual driving time was 13 hours 45 minutes over 2 weeks so it was a very relaxing holiday.
When we emptied the van we took a few things out to clean them and get them ready for our next trip. On Friday we went to return these items and at two in the afternoon Bessie was still covered in frost.
Christmas is fast approaching and we will be in Belfast for the festivities, flying back late on the 29th of December. The following day Bessie will be loaded with clothes and food then we set off on the 31st to head for Portsmouth to catch the ferry to Santander on the 3rd of January and three months in Spain on the site in El Campello where we wintered last January, February and March.
Last year we drove drove through France there and back but this year we are taking the 24 hour ferry to Santander. Hopefully the weather will be as kind to us as last year, especially as this time we are crossing the Bay of Biscay in the middle of winter!