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.

 

 

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Hawick and Kielder Forest

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

Hawick Aire

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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Picking up Poo

I haven’t posted on here for several months due to us not getting the time to get away in the campervan. Family commitments and a heavy dose of man flu stopped our travels. Hopefully that is all going to change and we’ve got some special places in mind to visit.

More wild camping spots on the agenda for us this year and I’ve been told by the Extreme Knitter that we can include a visit to Scotland again.

It was a long time coming, but eventually the extreme knitter has worn me down and we have added a new member to our explorers club.

 

After a quick trip over to Stilton where we met Amanda, we came away with the new addition to the family.

Please meet ?????

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An 11 week old Cockapoo girl, chocolate brown with a white tuxedo and two white socks. Only time will tell how this new setup will work out, but early signs are promising. Ruby has accepted her new partner in crime and they appear to be working together as a team hell bent on causing us chaos. She travelled well on the trip home, which for a campervan dog is pretty important.

As yet we can’t agree what to call her. Amanda, her breeder called her Muffin, but there are four family members all suggesting their favourite names and we can’t agree. Eventually I will have to step in and make an executive decision and over rule the other three. (did you see how easy I said that, as if I’ll have any say in the matter)

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If you’ve read my previous post “Is that a rat” I hoping that now with ???? beside me and Ruby stood outside the various shops, I won’t get those comments.

 

A big thank you to Amanda for providing us with such a beautiful, well mannered puppy.

 

Ham Burger

Following on from the last post about Faggots, I remembered that it used to be rumoured that the Ham burger was originally invented in the Black Country. The story went like this.

The History of the Ham Burger

In 1925 on a cobblestone street in Dudley, butchers boy “Billy King” rode his delivery bike. His cargo of freshly made Black Country faggots sat proudly in the bicycles wicker basket.

His bicycle ran over a discarded horseshoe. Hiss!! His front tyre sprung a leak.

He placed the faggots on a nearby wall, removed the tyre and repaired the puncture in double quick time. Unfortunately a gang of grubby urchins from the Priory came along and set about him.

They called him a Wimp. in fact he was such a weakling that his nickname at school was “Wimpy King”. They pushed him backwards against the wall and he landed on the faggots and squashed them flat.

Disaster! What should he do, he decided to ride on to his destination or he would have been in great trouble back at the Butchers shop.

He finally arrived at Mrs McDonalds house and presented her with the tray of squashed faggots.

She stared at the tray in disbelief.

The faggots were for a special evening supper party she was holding in her garden for the orphans of Dudley.

“What shall I do” she exclaimed.

“I know I’ll put them in a bread roll and call them? O bugger what can I call them” she said.

“That’s it, I’ll call them buggers, Ham buggers,” she cried in her strong Scottish accent

She clipped the butcher’s boy around the ear and sent him packing, then proceeded to cook the squashed faggots on an open fire in the garden.

The Orphans enjoyed the Buggers so much that it became a regular trip to Mrs McDonalds every Saturday to saviour the tasty delights.

She felt a sense of pride as she watched the skinny orphans start to put a bit of meat on their bones.

Mrs McDonald would sometimes give away a toy with her Ham buggers, perhaps a spinning top or a hoop & a stick.

Her Ham buggers became famous through out the Black Country and indeed all the land.

Her nephew Ronald was travelling on a World tour with the circus as a clown and so it was that her Ham buggers reached the shores of America in his packed lunch.

The Ham buggers became an overnight success with the Americans and Ronald set up restaurants through out the USA selling McDonalds Ham Buggers, although he was a successful businessman, Ronald couldn’t forget his true vocation and still dressed every day as a clown.

Because the Americans couldn’t speak proper English or Scottish for that matter they pronounced Bugger as Burger.

Back in the Black Country “Billy King” the butcher’s boy who sat on the faggots was now a Butchery tycoon owning a chain of butchers shop through out Great Britain.

Being the entrepreneur, he set up a chain of Ham Bugger restaurants in England and called them Wimpy’s.

Alas the Wimpy restaurant chain hit hard times and he had to sack all his employees and close it down.

The disgruntled employees decided to set up a new restaurant chain and because they hated Billy King so much they called it “Bugger King”.

And what became of the orphans? They grew into extremely large pillars of Black Country society, know as “The Buggers of Dudley”

V Southall ©

A new proposal

gretna shops

The Extreme knitter wanted to visit the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village as we started out for our last night in Scotland. After the knitting problems the previous day I wasn’t going to argue with her.

The complex was a small designer type setup with some well known shops. Totally out of the blue I was treated to a Craghopper fleece gillet and I splashed out on a Subway meal.

While the E/knitter wandered around the shops I nipped into one of those “Olde worlde” sweet shops and made a special purchase that would be revealed later.

Suitable over shopped and over fed we returned to the campervan and I phoned what would be our next and last campsite.

I managed to bag the last pitch available.

Next stop was the Blacksmiths shop in Gretna Green famous for performing wedding ceremonies for eloping couples from England.

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It was here that I produced a pair of wedding rings crafted by Haribo confectionary that I had bought in the sweet shop earlier and we renewed our wedding vows to each other as we exchanged the rings. 45 years in July, we are starting to get the hang of this marriage thing. I’m going for the endurance award.

Haribo Rings

new rings

With our marriage now extended, we headed north on the A74 towards Moffat.

The Camping and Caravan Club 181 pitch site at Moffat is a really a staging post for visitors travelling to and from Scotland to break the long trek. It is always busy.

The welcome was very pleasant and efficient. The site wardens obviously had the site running like clockwork and considering they had spent the day showing hundreds of campers to their pitches, still had time for a bit of good humoured banter.

Moffat Camping and Caravan Club Site

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Once we were settled I sent the feral daughter a text message to say I had just married her mother, which came as a bit of a shock to her.

Then she was upset because she missed out on the wedding do. Our evening wedding supper started with a fine beef soup produced especially for us by Mr Heinz and that was it, nothing else. What did you expect? The two Haribo wedding rings used up my budget.

A short walk from the campsite led us to Moffat High Street. At that time in the evening the shops were closed, O dear, what a shame.

Moffats claim to fame is Sheep, lots of them.

The Ram Statue in Moffat

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We had only just returned to the campervan when the heavens opened up and gave us the first rain we had experienced during our trip.

We woke the next day to find the pitch slightly waterlogged, but at least the rain had stopped.

The trip home is always the same, driving back down the motorway feeling slightly melancholy after an enjoyable trip.

Until the next one.