Scarborough

Scarborough was a place we had visited briefly a few years ago and it hadn’t impressed us then. You have to give a place a second chance, so the following day we wound our way down to North Scarborough which turned out to be a vast expanse of beautiful beach with parking along the promenade. Elsie loved the beach, but still wasn’t keen on the sea, even when the extreme knitter went paddling. I can’t see her being a rescue dog, but we will persevere you never know she might end up loving it.

North Beach

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We then drove on down to the town of Scarborough and seaside resort. The town centre was a large pedestrian shopping street with lots of the big named stores. Elsie and I stood outside many of these shops, just waiting until I spotted a sign for a cliff railway, I didn’t know Scarborough had a funicular and my heart missed a beat. When the extreme knitter reappeared I dragged her to the cliff top station, all aboard and down the side of the cliff we went.

I love a funicular me, especially when I find a hidden one.

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The carriage doors opened and we were on the south beach promenade complete with all the seaside tat and amusement arcades.

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The bright lights, bells and whistles let us know we were outside Coney Island. Not the real one obviously, just an amusement arcade of the same name. If you’ve ever watched the movie “Big” with Tom Hacks you will remember that he was transformed into a 13 year old boy by Zoltar the fortune telling Wizard in a penny machine, well low and behold outside Coney Island was the same machine. When I looked at the wizards face it was apparent that he was cross eyed. Now excuse me for being cynical here, but if the wizard couldn’t look me straight in the eye, how was he going to tell my fortune.

Tom Hanks and Zoltar

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After a hasty wander up and down the prom we were back on the funicular heading back up to the main part of town. Elsie and I took our usual positions outside Marks & Spencer while the extreme knitter just popped in to buy food.

It was at this point that the reality of town life reared it’s ugly head.

As Elsie and I were stood outside M & S along with all the other waiting husbands I noticed a guy arrive and stand by me, No problem I thought, until after a while I realised he was slowly edging his way nearer towards me to the point I was starting to be wary. Then across the other side of the walkway a girl appeared and waved a purse at him and he shot off with her up a narrow alleyway. Then a policeman came running out of M & S giving chase. I really believe I was going to be a target for a pick pocket.

Undaunted we returned to the campsite with all the nice goodies the E / knitter had bought from M & S for our evening meal.

 

 

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Whitby

The campsite we were staying on was clean and regimented, but not the type that we would normally stay at with its neat pitches in straight rows and lots of “do not do” signs. When you’ve been staying off grid for a while it rankles being told what you can and can’t do, especially when the commands are just common sense things you wouldn’t dream of doing. One even said “do not wear walking boots in the shower” I can’t remember the last time I showered on walking boots.

Anyway we were there and that was that. Nice, but It lacked a soul.

It was bright sunshine when we set off to visit Whitby; by the time we had found somewhere to park it was pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Luckily a man just leaving the car park gave us his ticket with six hours parking left on it. We were hardy tourists and we all wrapped up in our rainwear including Elsie. Touring the town proved difficult, looking in shops and trying to keep upright at the same time. It was that windy it was a struggle to cross the bridge to the Scary part of Whitby.

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To get some relieve from being battered by the wind, we shot into a dog friendly pub that served local fish and chips. We found a table and ordered our food just before the rest of Whitby descended on the pub all with the same idea.

I was going to run up these steps. really!

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Back on the harbour and the Extreme Knitter saw a sign that brought back traumatic memories of one holiday we had in St Ives, back in the 1990’s. She had just purchased a clotted cream Ice-cream, when a rogue seagull swooped down and snatched it from her hand before she had even licked it. Was she livid that day? You bet she was and she still has flashbacks to this day. She even reckoned that if she saw it again she would recognise it. The seagull that is, not the ice cream.

whitby gulls

When we left Whitby I gave the parking ticket to another happy parker with three hours still remaining.

Puffin’s wiper blade decided to start shredding itself in all the torrential rain, so a trip to the local Halfords was called for and a pair of new wiper blades were purchased and fitted in their car park. Luckily it had stopped raining long enough for me to avoid getting soaked while fitting them.

The rain had set in for the rest of the day, so we spent the remains of our time in the camper reading, eating and generally lounging about until bedtime.

On Top of the World

The wind and rain had died away in the morning and what a view to greet us.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Well, I suppose it does, but not at that particular moment.

Our Overnight Spot

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As always when we are on tour our morning starts get later and later. On to the A68 and heading to Bishops Auckland, in particular the local Morrison’s . We needed fuel, Propane gas and the use of their facilities. After getting lost in the one way streets of Bishops Auckland I eventually found a Calor Gas depot  behind Morrisons to get a replacement bottle of gas.

After our fourth night in a row of staying off grid we were starting to stink. It was becoming obvious that the Extreme Knitter was getting tired of washing with wet wipes and a flannel and my suggestion of a hospital type bed bath didn’t go down well.

Ohh er Matron !

“We’ll not have any of that malarkey ” she said.

With a swarm of flies following us down the road we headed in a sea ward direction.

We found a campsite just south of Whitby near to Robin Hood bay and booked ourselves in for three nights. The showers were clean and hot. It’s amazing how hot water can make you feel invigorated

I looked at a map in the evening and realised how close we had been to ” High Force Waterfall” the previous night. I could kick myself for not visiting. I really must start looking in more detail when doing my research.

 

 

 

 

We hit the Wall

Morrisons at Hawick was our first port of call in the morning to use their facilities yet again. I like to think of Morrisons as our version of Walmart in the USA, although they don’t let us stop over in their car parks as Walmart do.

I had a plan. not a good one, but a plan all the same.

We needed to be beside the seaside and on our way we stumbled across Hadrians Wall.

Hadrians Wall

A section of Hadrians wall at Cawfield

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Apparently Hadrians wall took six years to build. I imagined that after 2 years Mrs Hadrian was losing her patience with him taking so long on his DIY project

“Hadrian”.  “you had better get that back wall finished before my mother visits”.

I set the Sat nav for a seaside destination and followed the back roads that she suggested. (yes, I do call my Sat nav a “she”) which isn’t normally a good thing, but this time she surprised us with a fabulous trip. It was obvious we weren’t going to reach the seaside before nightfall, so we scouted around for somewhere to pull over for the evening. After inspecting many places that neither of us could agree on, we eventually found a large parking area at one of the highest point of the North Pennines called Killhope Cross on the A689

Killhope Cross

We parked up just as the sun was setting. The beauty of places like this is the dark sky. As night fell it was pitch black and the cloud less sky was awash with stars.

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The only thing the extreme knitter was concerned about was that the strong wind might blow us over.

About 10 pm the gas ran out, so in the pitch black with the rain and wind lashing down on me, I ventured outside the camper van to swop over to the spare gas bottle.

Why doesn’t the Gas ever run out during the daytime.

 

 

Hawick and Kielder Forest

We had a very quiet night in the Hawick car park. 

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The following morning after bacon butties, we visited Morrisons to use their facilities again before we set off for Kielder Water arriving at the start of the forest drive, a 12 mile long gravel road through Kielder forest.

I had read all the warnings that the forest road was only suitable in a 4×4 vehicle , but I worked on the basis that if the track became impassable we could turn around. The track was a toll road with a payment machine costing £3 and a notice warning about the need for 4 x 4.

I really enjoy driving these forest tracks

Kielder Forest Drive

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A stop over at the six mile point for food and beverages

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The 12 miles of track came to an end near a main road, so we turned around and went back along the track to travel another 12 miles doing the return trip.

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As can be seen from photos the road is a fairly level gravel surface with some steady gradients that you could drive along in your Granny’s Fiat 500 without any bother. Not as challenging as I would have liked, but certainly an enjoyable drive.

It was starting to get late, so somewhere to overnight was a priority before it got dark. There was a pub that allowed motor homes to over night in their car park if you had a drink and a meal in the pub, but It didn’t appeal to us.

I had heard that overnighting around Kielder water including the forestry drive was banned and checked by the forestry agents. All the parking areas had barriers across the access.

We gave up after driving around aimlessly and decided to head back to Hawick car park for another night.

You’ll note that this was the third night we had stayed off grid

Hawick

We decided to travel Eastward along the Scottish border, as further North in Scotland were experiencing some tremendous storms and although we don’t mind a bit of wind and rain, Gale force storms aren’t pleasant in a camper van.

We reached the border town of Hawick mid afternoon. Unfortunately it was a public holiday and the majority of the shops were shut. Luckily good old Morrison’s supermarket came to the rescue again not only for supplies, but when you’ve been camping off the grid you appreciate their clean toilet facilities, better than the usual public conveniences.

Hawick have become tourism leaders in providing for all types of visitors to their town, including free overnight parking for Motor homes and Camper vans. It would be rude not to take up their kind offer, so we parked up in one of the designated motor home bays and settled in for the evening.

 

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The Old Grey Mare

Departing from the Lake District after three nights of luxury camping and we were travelling to the Scottish border, turning off the A74 at the Moffat turn off. Taking a minor road out of Moffat, we arrived at the Grey Mares Tail waterfall in the wind and driving rain.

The volunteer National Trust workers were packing up for the day which left us and one other campervan in the car park. Yeah, another off grid overnight stay for the E/Knitter. I’m sure she will look back at these times with good memories. There is something magical about camping miles from anywhere and anyone in a beautiful location.

The Grey Mares Tail

Our wind and rain battered camp for the night.

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The following morning the rain had died down to a light drizzle, so we walked up to the view point and watch the spectacular waterfall in full flow due to the recent rain.

 

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The scenery here was stunning in a valley carved out during the ice age.

The car park soon started to fill up in the morning

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