Summer 2013 – Week 8 – The Great North Road.

Sunday 4th August 2013

Quite a few were packed and ready to leave by the time we poked our noses from under the duvet. We headed over to the museum to have a look at the cars at 10am. By the time we had had enough it was 12:30 and raining. This is the England I remember! Other campers were packing up their soaking wet tents and, no doubt, looking forward to drying them out when they get home. We sat around reading and people watching. It seems to us that many of the people involved in UK geocaching are not trying hard enough. Many could do with losing a few pounds. And that’s an understatement!

The campsite had thinned down a bit and we found ourselves without any near neighbours. Maybe it’s my aftershave? The rain continued.

Monday 5th August 2013

Time to move off. Virtually inaccessible drain. The organiser was nearby so I asked him for the key to the septic tank. You can’t drain straight into there. Where do you think the drain goes then? (I did notice that the drains from the hand-basins in the portaloo drained straight into the hedge!)

I gather the septic tank was unavailable on Saturday as it was full. What an organisation!

We were soon on the M40 heading north, destination Carsington Water bird reserve in Derbyshire. Bikes out we thought about circumnavigating the lake but unlike, say, Banyoles lake near Girona, which is surrounded by a level footpath this was uphill and down dale so we had a shortened trip but did manage a few geocaches along the way. We did see a few birds in and around the lake but are surprised at how few we are seeing. It also rained a lot. I have a waterproof cycling jacket I got from Lidl in Spain. Jo has a poncho. It has a hood and if she stands armstreched like a scarecrow it is square and touches the ground.. and her back wheel, her pedals, her gearchange and everything else, but it keeps her dry.

The signs said no overnight parking so we thought about going to a campsite further back down the road, it was only £5.50. On the way we spotted a Caravan and Camping Club site. It was on a farm. We knocked the door and we welcomed into their parlour and given their life histories. We were shown to the camping field, the loos, water etc and then they said £10. We could hardly refuse!

Tuesday 6th August 2013

The farmer and his wife were off to hospital first thing so were left with the geese. I managed to leave the hosepipe connection on their tap. That’s six items we have left behind. I also left my trainers at Mab’s. Jo has forgotten four items!

We only had a couple of hours driving today and headed for Chatsworth. The farmer had told us how to get there avoiding Bakewell and Matlock. We didn’t go into Chatsworth House but could see it as we approached, the fountain was even higher than the house. We did, however, take a look in the garden centre and found the cache at the car park attendant’s hut.

Our intention was to find a pub called the Robin Hood as we understood that if we ate there we could stay the night in their car park but first we wanted to go to the National Trust RSPB car park on the top of Curbar Edge and go for a walk straight after lunch. There are some spectacular views and some dense forests and we enjoyed both on our eight km walk. We returned to the van to recuperate; it wasn’t a level route. After supper we walked on the other side of the road along the Curbar ridge and the Froggatt ridge. Again the views are spectacular. We sat on the edge and watched climbers attempt vertical walls.

Jo trying to push this large stone over the edge. Curbar Ridge, Derbyshire

Jo trying to push this large stone over the edge. Curbar Ridge, Derbyshire

Jo pondering on a large conical shaped wheel on Curbar Ridge, Derbyshire

Jo pondering on a large conical shaped wheel on Curbar Ridge, Derbyshire

Climbers on Durbar Ridge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

Climbers on Durbar Ridge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

There was no notice about parking overnight or sleeping in the van but we were a little apprehensive but we needn’t have worried.

Wednesday 7th August 2013

Now this WAS an early start for us and we were on the road shortly after eight destination the RSPB reserve at St Aidan’s near Leeds. It was once an open cast mine operated by British Coal but the local river which meandered past overflowed its banks and flooded the pits. It then became a bird sanctuary but it’s future is uncertain following the recent collapse of British Coal into administration. The shop and car park are closed but we cycled around the lakes -on level ground and spotted a number of wildfowl, most of which Jo had already seen but she added a couple to her list including little grebe.

We drove on for about an hour and looked for somewhere to stop to eat and found a suitable layby alongside a stream but on pulling up we found so much rubbish dumped at the side of the road we decided to move on. Why do people do it when there are waste bins and civic facilities? Just bone idleness I suppose.

Jo had booked a campsite at Naburn Lock which is a by-pass to the weir on the River Ouse at Naburn (surprisingly enough!) which is not too far from York.

Before we got settled in we got the bikes out again and headed of for the canal but it was only a short stretch as it by-passed the weir so we set off along the riverside path but that soon petered out into a grassy track. We went into the marina just to have a look but it said the gates would close automatically at five and whilst I could have a go at emulating Mark Cavendish Jo’s bike is a good deal heavier and she might get sandwiched or even locked in so we pottered back to the van to a glass of vino and some olives.

Popular place this; Germans, Belgian, Dutch, Danish all within view.

I have never been to a place with so many signs. You must do this, Don’t do that. I’m sure they’re not all necessary, we’re not all stupid, but then again some are so you need to tell them.

Thursday 8th August 2013

We wanted an early start and set off across country for Bempton Cliffs on Flamborough Head. The cliffs are spectacular falling several hundred feet straight into the sea and they are covered in gannets, kittiwake and seagulls of all sorts. They were also inhabited by puffins until a couple of weeks ago but most of these had gone to spend summer at sea. We did spot a few down below in the water.

There are excellent viewing platforms along the cliff tops and it was worthwhile walking the whole path in the reserve. Porpoise and dolphins had been spotted during the day but we have a habit of turning up after the dolphins have gone. (Egypt trip springs to mind). This is one of the better RSPB reserves we have been to and the birds do fly quite close as they use the updraught and suddenly appear just in front of you. I wish I had a quicker camera finger!

A gannet standing on the rocks at Bempton Cliffs

A gannet standing on the rocks at Bempton Cliffs

Two adult Gannets with two fluffy chicks at Bempton Cliffs

Two adult Gannets with two fluffy chicks at Bempton Cliffs

A young Kittiwake tries out its new wings at Bempton Cliffs

A young Kittiwake tries out its new wings at Bempton Cliffs

A young Kittiwake tries out its new wings at Bempton Cliffs

A young Kittiwake tries out its new wings at Bempton Cliffs

There are no gates on the car park so when everyone had gone home we settled down in the corner of the car park to watch the sun go down and except for a few late dogwalkers and some early ones the next morning, nothing disturbed us.

Friday 9th August 2013

Another early start, we did not want to be in the car park when the RSPB staff arrived, so headed north along the coast road past Filey, then Scarborough then inland and over the Fylingdale Moors now denuded of its three big balls replaced by three conical objects which could not be seen from the main road, across the path of the Lyke Wake Walk which I did a couple of times in the early 1970’s. 42 miles from Osmotherly to Ravenscar on Robin Hood’s Bay. We stopped in Whitby, one of the old fishing towns for a leg-stretch and some shopping.

The Transporter Bridge in Middlesborough

The Transporter Bridge in Middlesborough

Just north of Middlesborough is Hartlepool. Someone had suggested we might try the Headland for an overnight spot. We found the place eventually after driving through some very narrow streets. It did not look too good with the annual funfair in the town and masses of policemen about. I imagined the funfair going on till three and then drunks charging about wrecking everything in sight but we have never had a problem everywhere we have wild camped so why worry tonight. We took a walk along the prom wondering why people paid good money to be whisked up in the air on the big wheel, the helter skelter et al. I like to be in control. I would like a brake pedal on mine, please! Interesting places were pointed out on description boards along the prom.

We got back to the van and closed the blinds expecting to be kept awake till three then realised the music had stopped. Ten-thirty and it was all over. We were woken early the next morning by drivers parking and jumping out with field scopes under their arms. Ship spotting? There were lots in the bay to look at but, no, twitchers or birders looking for something unusual in the early morning. Jo got chatting to some whilst I got the van ready for the next stage.

Saturday 10th August 2013

North once again, a town called Peterlee, I thought that was a singing duo. We skipped round Sunderland, South Shields and Jarrow before diving into the Tyne tunnel, a defective measuring device putting us in the >6m category but we did not have the right change for the ticket so we still paid £2. Same tunnel length as the one in Holland but that cost us 19 euros.

A big swing westwards and then joining the A1, the Great North Road, then rather than continue on this road we headed north west, Emily, our sat nav has detected a shorter route, Jo said it was about one centimetre shorter on the map! We followed the Devil’s Causeway – I thought that was in Northern Ireland – and stopped in Thrunton Wood (Scene of one of the Wars of the Roses battles in 1464) overlooking Alnwick.

A little further on we found the farm of Jo’s niece Alice and husband Dom and their four boys.

Sunday 11th August 2013

Some rain in the night but not that much. The morning was dry and bright and we got ready for a day out. We had lunch at the Barn at Beal, near Berwick upon Tweed and then went to the beach. The four boys are hardy, swimming , body boarding and dam building with Jo in charge. They are having supper right now with Dom in charge and Jo and Alice have gone out riding. They have several ponies. The boys all enter polo cross tournaments and had just returned from a week of events in the south. A large trophy dominates the dining room table.


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