Wednesday, 14 June 2017

June 10th 2017, Wales, Shell Island 1

Monty the Motorhome is being buffeted by the wind on Shell Island, which is just North of Barmouth in mid Wales. We have a pitch on the crest of a grassy field which is adjacent to the shoreline. The island is reached by a causeway which is only covered for an hour or so either side of high tide, and covers an area of approximately 450 acres, 300 of which are available for camping. There are no marked or allocated pitches, you just pick your own spot.

We arrived in pouring rain, but by mid afternoon the sun was getting through allowing us a nice amble to one end of the site where we watched a couple of young men fishing with a long length of fine netting that they pulled through shallow water before both coming together to haul up their catch. We think they were after prawns, but they didn't seem to be having much luck.
By teatime the sky was almost cloudless, but later in the evening the weather closed in again and it looks like a windy night is ahead.

The beach just below out campsite, with Harlech Castle on the tip of the land ahead

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

June 13th 2017: Wales: Bwlchgwyn Farm 2

Monty the Motorhome is enjoying the third best campsite view in Europe - that's according to Mrs Campsite Owner who may be a bit biased - but it is pretty good.
Our second day at this site dawned with rain, though not a lot, so it was on with the waterproofs and off to Barmouth. The walk crosses the impressive railway viaduct that spans the river Mawddach before coming into the town itself, which can best be described as a typical seaside resort stuck in the past. The place seems a bit down at heel, perhaps because it is still out of season, but the shops are tacky, the streets seem grimy, the amusement arcade is open but deserted, yet there are people about out on the sands and in the coffee shops.
We stayed and had lunch, then took a little passenger ferry across the river to catch the narrow gauge steam train to Fairbourne - the one we visited yesterday and found it closed for business. The ride was quite exhilarating, in an open carriage with steam billowing back.
This evening the sun broke through the clouds and we were treated to a lovely evening.

A bit like toytown

Monday, 12 June 2017

June 12th 2017: Wales: Bwlchgwyn Farm 1

Monty the Motorhome is glad to be out of the wind as today we moved on from Shell Island, driving through Barmouth, which lies at the northerly end of the Mawddach estuary, then around the estuary itself to finish at the southerly end and just about opposite Barmouth. Our pitch for the next two nights is at Bwlchgwyn Farm, high up on a raised shelf that has a glorious panoramic view of the estuary mouth, the sea and in the distance Barmouth.

I expected it to be busy as the site featured in an article in this year's March edition of a popular motorhoming magazine, but we have the place to ourselves.

After setting up and having a quick lunch we walked down to the local village of Fairbourne, which is directly on the coast. The intention was to take a narrow gauge steam train to the end of a sandy spit jutting out into the estuary. However despite the train being fully operative it was closed for business as today is Monday. We found out they were running a 'driver experience' day which explained why it was merrily chugging along with no one in the carriages.
So we walked along the spit for a short distance, before turning inland and heading back to the site and spending the rest of the afternoon just sitting and drinking in the view.

This evening we were treated to the sight of a baby Greater Spotted Woodpecker on a short metal pole, just a couple of feet from the van, looking confused about whether to peck into it. Shortly afterwards a Red Kite drifted past, being mobbed by the local Jackdaws.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

June 11th 2017: Wales: Shell Island 2

Monty the Motorhome is rocking on his chassis as the wind has not abated, in fact it has strengthened since yesterday. We are parked with the rear facing the wind, meaning it is whistling in through the fridge vents, so it is surprising (but comforting) that the gas hasn't blow out. In addition the wind is occasionally lifting one of the roof vents, only by a millimetre or so, but enough to make a noise. If it blows any stronger I'll just have the turn the van round and forego our sea view.

The day started with rain, so we got the Sunday paper and spent the morning reading. By afternoon it had cleared up so we walked around the southern part of the site. As mentioned yesterday it is huge, with all sorts of nooks and crannies, but we were hampered by the wind whipping sand off the dunes.
We spent a couple of hours exploring, finishing up on the beach

No photos I'm afraid as I'm doing the blog on the iPad and for some reason it will not allow me to upload from iPad itself. So I'll add them when we get home.

We had a second walk after tea and went down to the harbour. The sun just tinged the clouds pink, but it is difficult to make out

Friday, 28 April 2017

April 26th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Cheddar 2

Monty the Motorhome is back on his home drive after another day in Cheddar.

We left the campsite and drove along the main road from Cheddar to Wells. It follows the bottom of The Mendips and is shown on the map as a scenic route. We stopped at a roadside Farm Shop that was selling strawberries and got a punnet for later. Then on to Wells, but we didn’t stay - that will have to wait until another day. Our route was back into The Mendips and to the top of Cheddar Gorge for a drive down through and then back up again to park at the top.

We walked up the northerly side of the gorge (steep in places) to a viewpoint overlooking the gorge itself. The weather was lovely, plenty of sunshine, but a cool breeze. All the birds were singing like mad and everything seemed well with the world.

In what seemed no time at all it was time to drive back home and our short break is over.

Looking down the gorge with Cheddar village in the distance

From the end of the gorge looking across towards The Bristol Channel. The water in the foreground is Cheddar Reservoir 

Posted 28th April

April 25th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Cheddar 1

Monty the Motorhome is shivering as the temperature drops. However when the sun appears it quickly warms, so it has been one of those days when it is difficult to know what to wear.

We started out by visiting the local Farmers Market, which runs from 1030 to 1130 every Tuesday. The fact it is only 1 hour indicated it is not a huge affair, and it seems more like the old style WI (Woman’s Institute) market with stalls selling home produced foods and crafts.
The venue was a church hall and it was all very cosy and friendly. Tea, coffee, biscuits and sponge cakes were free - almost unheard of nowadays; while the stalls were run by a gaggle of elderly matron like ladies. We picked up some jam, chutney and a couple of cakes. Also some strawberries - more about that later.

Lunch was taken at another friendly place - a cafe run by the local community church. The mini vegetarian breakfast was very filling.

In the afternoon we walked through the town and to the entrance to the gorge. This is what everyone comes to Cheddar for, so obviously there are lots of touristy shops selling all manner of souvenirs, along with opportunities to ride on buses through the gorge or visit some of the local show caves.
The gorge itself starts from the town and a main road runs straight through it. We walked up the first half, along the road, and only met a couple of other pedestrians, though I’m sure it would be different at a weekend.
The scenery is spectacular, with sheer rock faces rising from the road and a jagged skyline of peaks and pinnacles.

Our afternoon finished with a walk along The Strawberry Line - a disused railway line, that is now a footpath and cycleway. The name comes from the area being famous for the production of early strawberries. South facing slopes at the bottom of The Mendips, on fertile soil, are ideal for the production of this crop. The line closed during the early 1960’s, but prior to that was the main transport route for the crop to be taken to markets around the country. Now only a short distance (11 miles) of the original track is open to the public, but it is hoped that all 30 miles will eventually be opened up again for walking and cycling.

Evening meal tonight was slightly different - a Lao Thai restaurant. My food was primarily stir fry veg, in a rich tasty broth, along with sticky rice. Ruth went for a Pad Thai noodle mix. Our verdict - we’d definitely come back, but only if they turned the heating up as the place was quite chilly. While we were eating it snowed briefly, but walking back to the van we were bathed in evening sunshine.

I’m now starting to win a bit more at crib

Posted April 28th

April 24th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Murviland

Monty the Motorhome has returned to his birthplace (for the motorhome conversion) and spent the day having his annual health check - well it should be annual, but we missed last year.

Murviland is only 15 minutes drive from our CL of last night, so really handy. We may well use it again in the future.
The Murvi works were a hive of activity, so business seems to be thriving. Mr Murvi himself (also known as Rex) greeted us and sorted out our needs, then whilst all the work was being done we had a walk to the local village of Ivybridge. 
After a cup of overpriced coffee at a little cafe by the river we picked up the ‘Town Trail’ - a way marked route around the village. We have been to Ivybridge before, but never realised how big the place actually is. It lies under the lee of Dartmoor and the village spreads up the lower slopes, making the Town Trail quite steep in places, but the reward is good views.

Monty was really by early afternoon, so we departed and headed to Cheddar.

Our site for the next two days is the Caravan Club site in Cheddar itself. We arrived to find it almost full, which was a surprise considering it is Monday and out of season.
We had a walk around the town to get our bearings and dined at The Bath Arms - veg burger and steak/ale pie.

The weather is turning much colder, with a possibility of snow flurries

The view from our pitch looking out to The Mendips
 Posted 28 April