Until recently, we had travelled very little around the UK in Deep Red. Since the early days, once we had the van in a useable state, we were off to the sun and less-crowded roads of southern Europe at every opportunity! However, having got that out of our system (for the moment anyway) we have managed a few trips and some snapshots of those are below.
Although we were both suffering some health problems during 2016, we found we had a couple of weeks free in August when we could get away; perhaps not the best time as schools are on holiday, the roads can be very busy, and campsites often crowded, if not full.
One of Mad Mumsie's favourite parts of Scotland is the Kinloss area on the Moray Firth. It's usually not so busy with holidaymakers and tourists as other parts of Scotland - so where better to go?
At the start we followed the same route north as the 2015 Scottish trip described below, but once over the Humber bridge, we headed for Whitby on the coast for a couple of days. Rather than follow the A9 main road north from Edinburgh, we chose a circular route eastwards following the coast road from Dundee up to Aberdeen, then inland to Elgin and on to Kinloss and Findhorn Bay. Eventually, on reaching Inverness, we turned south to Edinburgh and headed home with the odd detour along the way.
As usual with us the plan was very fluid (i.e. non-existant) and no sites were booked in advance. We just take the campsite books of the various clubs to which we belong and some good maps.
The view from the sofa: unspoilt, timeless, peaceful Lincolnshire countryside - just the place to unwind. The Wishing Well Inn, Dyke, Nr Bourne. £10 per night including electric. They have a lovely carvery on Sundays served from 12 noon till 8pm.
The Camping and Caravanning Club have a huge number of 'temporary sites for holidays' all over the UK each year. These are organised and run by selfless volunteers. This was one of two sites close to Whitby in Yorkshire. It cost £9 per night.
The Park and Ride facility just outside Whitby town centre. The local folks at the campsite recommended we use it as parking in Whitby is difficult (i.e nightmare) in August. We got a discount of 50 pence on each £2.50 fare as we had our twirlies* with us. Thoroughly recommend using these facilities as they saved us a lot of grief with traffic etc. The only downside is buses don't have toilets!
* Apologies for using the vernacular. A 'twirly', for those not familiar with the word, is a corruption of 'too-early'. A bus driver would say 'too early' when an old person gets on his bus before 9.30am flashing an old person's bus pass that is only valid after 9.30am.
The Harbour View Restaurant, Whitby. Established 1928 it's been serving Whitby fish and chips ever since apparently. We had our lunch here; not sure it's the best fish restaurant in Whitby, but the fish was well cooked in a superb batter. The 'rough cut' wedge-shaped chips were disappointing (some had clearly been cooked several times over). One situation where a bit of research in advance into the best cafe/restaurant may have paid off - although to be fair, they do get a lot of good reviews (and some dreadful ones).
Not quite sure where the 'Harbour View' actually was - the front of the cafe faced into a narrow street lined with shops both sides.
After leaving Whitby and heading north towards Edinburgh we stumbled upon this idyllic Camping and Caravanning Club 'Hideaway' Farm site a couple of miles east of Coldstream in the Scottish Borders region. Not a sound to be heard other than the birds singing (once the tractor had brought the last of hay bales in!). On a small farm owned by two delightful elderly spinster sisters. £6 per night; no electric and do boil the water first. In contrast...→
... Heading north-eastwards towards Dundee and a stop at Balbirnie Caravan Club site at Glenrothes, in the Kingdom of Fife. Pleasant enough site in woodland, but at £23-odd per night for two (and club members at that), rather expensive.
Just south of Nairn at Geddes farm - a Caravan Club 'Certificated Location'. In a delightful walled garden, with only one other camper (a family in a caravan). £10 per night with electric.
Busy minor road close to the Nairn campsite! Apart from the popular towns in the area, such as Forres, we saw very little traffic along this coastline until reaching Inverness.
On a bench in Findhorn Bay Mad Mumsie recalls memories of previous visits to nearby RAF Kinloss airbase with 'her boys'. They were actually 'old boys' who were friends from Mumsie's association with the Air Training Corps; sadly two have since passed on, one of whom was a rear-gunner in a Lancaster bomber in WW2 and survived 25 missions!
Now this was fun. Heading south now and camped at Perth Camping and Caravanning Club site when a young lady (whose name was Clare, I believe) in the self-build Mercedes van recognised Deep Red and came and said hello. We had a good chat for an hour or two. Site was very busy, but we got a place without pre-booking and at £18 with electric a fair price. If one booked the 'special deal' in advance the price for several nights stay dropped considerably.
Another Camping and Caravanning Club 'temporary site for holidays'. This one on the showground at Seaburn, Sunderland. We were heading home on the Friday before August Bank Holiday Monday Weekend and, rather chance long traffic queues, took a detour to this site. The sandy beach and sea is to the right in the pic beyond the perimeter wall and close by is a Morrison supermarket. With sunny, warm weather all weekend it was very enjoyable.
View of the rest of the showground looking inland; the Morrisons' supermarket is on the left. Whilst a lot of vans were pitched, we never felt crowded in and, surprisingly, at no time was it noisy. With water tap, elsan disposal and skip for waste all conveniently placed (no elec), at £8 per night a real bargain.
As is usual by the seaside one can get strong breezes blowing for most of the day. A windbreak can make all the difference to comfort if one likes to sit outside in the sun. We don't often use it as it is a lot of work to put up but, on this occasion, it was worth it.
No, not Spain - but the beautiful sandy beach across the road from the showground! The centre of Sunderland is about a mile in the distance to the south. Just look at the colour of the sky - can this really be a bank holiday Monday in England..?
In late June, we set off for a 3 week trip to Scotland. This had been much delayed as the weather in Scotland had been very poor for some time (more on that later). Our route would take us up through Lincolnshire, over the Humber bridge to Yorkshire, on to Northumberland, where we'd follow some of the old road by Hadrian's Wall, then over the border into Scotland near Gretna Green. We'd follow the coast around Dumfries and Galloway, then cross the Erskine bridge at Glasgow and on up to the Trossachs and Loch Lomond. From there we'd head west towards Oban then north to Fort William and on to Mallaig and the ferry across to Isle of Skye.
We were in no hurry and had nothing booked in advance, our only 'plan' was to stay a couple of days at the MCC Yorkshire Group holiday rally at Malton on the way north. We had decided to try and stop at the odd country pub at lunchtimes (something we don't normally do), so we wouldn't always have to cook a meal in the evening.
The first pub on our Scottish trip and we've barely covered a 100 miles... The Wishing Well Inn, at Dyke, Nr Bourne, Lincolnshire. We stumbled on this pub purely by chance having spotted a brown tourist road sign. Super pub in lovely surroundings and...
...it has a campsite at the rear with some electric hook-ups! We didn't stay overnight as it was only lunchtime.
Beautiful old cinema building in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Opened as the Picturedrome in November 1920, showing silent films (movies!). It has been through many guises since; the last we heard it was a bar and snooker club.
First night away and a pitch at the Camping & Caravanning Club site at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. About £16 per night inc electric. Quiet site in the middle of some very pleasant countryside, except for the odd jet fighter from the nearby RAF station! Caravans still very popular with C&C club members.
An abundance of poppies near the Woodhall Spa campsite.
Heading for the elegant Humber suspension bridge; once the longest single span suspension bridge in the world. Links Lincolnshire to Yorkshire over the Humber estuary and cost us a modest £1.50 toll to cross.
Just north of Beverley at around lunchtime and we saw a roadsign for Etton. Just for fun we turned off the main road and found The Light Dragoon pub in the centre of a lovely unspoilt village; not a single piece of litter or yellow line to be seen.
Motor Caravanners' Club Yorkshire Group 'holiday rally' at Malton Rugby Club. Great thing about these events is advance booking is not normally necessary, one can arrive and leave on any day the rally is on, and if you don't feel sociable - you don't have to join in. It cost £8 a night including entertainment in the clubhouse on Saturday night (our ears are still ringing from the male singer's amplifier!).
Pleasant pitch at the Caravan and Camping Club site just south of Haltwhistle, near to Hadrian's Wall. Located at the bottom of a steep, wooded, single track road we met a big army truck coming up and had to reverse back quite a distance. Let's hope the Fiat clutch survives the experience.
Following the beautiful Solway coast, Dumfries and Galloway. Mad Mumsie relaxes at the New England Bay Caravan Club Site. This is close to the most southerly part of Scotland and in an area little visited by tourists.
A stop for lunch south of Girvan, South Ayrshire. Just above here we left the coast and turned inland towards Glasgow and the Erskine Bridge.
A view of a misty Loch Lomond. At Luss Camping and Caravanning Club site. We only stayed one night, the pitch was very small and amongst dense trees and felt very claustrophobic. This was the only time we were bothered by midges.
On the magnificent 'Road to the Isles' which runs from Fort William to Mallaig. Pic taken just west of the famous Glenfinnan concrete viaduct. The steam train is the 'The Jacobite' which runs throughout the summer from Fort William to Mallaig. In the pic, an ex-LNER K1 locomotive pulls a rake of BR Mk1 coaches on the return journey from Mallaig; it's running tender first (moving right to left in the pic) as there are no turning facilities at Mallaig. Harry Potter fans will probably recognise the area.
Still on the 'Road to the Isles' near Arisaig. The old road at Arisaig is single track, but well worth turning off the new by-pass for views like this. Very popular area for walkers and cyclists.
The Caledonian Macbrayne (CalMac) ferry at Mallaig. A smallish ship, it takes a few dozen cars and the odd motorhome. The crossing to Armadale on the Isle of Skye takes about 30 minutes and cost us £46 single. Booking in advance is advisable in July/August. We booked the day before at the CalMac office by the railway station in Fort William.
Leaving Mallaig one can see Skye clearly in the distance (on a clear day!). Of course, nowadays one can cross to Skye using the 'new' bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh, but this ferry is a far more romantic way of doing it! There is also a much smaller seasonal ferry at Glenelg that takes only a few minutes to cross and runs every 20 minutes.
Heading north on the Sligachan to Dunvegan road on the west side of Skye, whilst behind...
... view of the Cuillin mountains to the south from the same spot.
Uig Bay campsite on the Trotternish peninsula, and not far from the most northerly point on Skye. If you ever go this way do make sure to follow the single track road to the top of the peninsula and round to Portree - the scenery is unforgettable. The weather has not been good here all winter and since; according to Martin Madigan the site owner, he had counted only 4 sunny days up to our arrival in July! It rained very heavily on one of the days we were there such that rivers formed and ran down the grass camping area on either side of the site road.
CalMac ferries to the islands of Harris, Lewis and North Uist regularly leave from the pier at Uig.
Heading back south now from Skye and the Camping and Caravanning Club, Scottish Motor Caravan Group 'site for holidays' at Crieff Rugby club. Very close to the town and just £8 per night. Whilst it was sunny and fairly warm during the day, with a cool breeze blowing it quickly became chilly in the evenings. We can recommend 'The Meadow Inn' in the town for meals.
The Famous Grouse at Glenturret distillery near Crieff. One can do a tour and taste.
Iconic Forth Railway bridge - now a World Heritage site. A stunning piece of engineering, it never fails to take our breath away.
In no hurry and on our way home, we decide to break our journey a little off our route to somewhere new to us. Otley Rugby Club: a very popular Camping and Caravanning 'site for holidays'; £8 per night and right in the town with an ASDA supermarket next door. Surrounded by some lovely countryside with a nearby preserved railway...
The delightful Ingrow station, near Keighley, on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. A very wet day, but it didn't stop the steam trains running...
An ex-LMS 4F locomotive built in 1920 still pulls a rake of BR Mk1 coaches with ease through Ingrow station. It was on this line that the charming film 'The Railway Children' was made.
July 2014 and a rare gathering with our family and relatives (they were all in tents) in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire. A Camping and Caravanning Club run Forestry Commission site; popular, especially on a sunny first weekend of the school holidays.
Many years ago we went to the Beamish Museum of the North in County Durham. As we were heading for an MCC rally in Scotland, we thought it a good opportunity to re-visit the open air museum. En-route, on the A1 road at Gateshead, the 20 metre tall, 54 metre wingspan Angel of the North casts a steely “sense of embrace” around the traveller.
Update, July 2015. We hear the trees have now grown so high they mask the view of the Angel from the road. Sir Antony Gormley, the British sculptor of the Angel of the North, has been trying to get Gateshead council to cut them down.
At Beamish and a beautifully restored balloon tram. Getting on board the tram with its high step was a struggle for Mad Mumsie and her bad knee (we should have carried our van folding step!). We had a great day and would recommend a visit.
For our visit to Beamish we had planned to stop in Durham at the Caravan Club site, but it was full. Nearby was the Finchale Abbey campsite, an immaculate site with good facilities, but at £26 for one night in mid-September, rather expensive.
The Hirsel Estate at Coldstream, just a mile or so over the border in Scotland, and an MCC Scottish Rally in mid-September. It was just starting to get chilly in the daytime (about 15 degC.), the punch served at the afternoon gathering warmed us up...
Beautiful sunset seen from the sofa through the open sliding door, by the sea at Minehead, Somerset, in late September. Many folks with van conversions say a sliding door gives the feeling of having an extra room with the outdoors being part of the van.
Another glorious sunset in mid-October 2014. Beside the river Thames at Benson, Oxfordshire, with a group of Mad Mumsie's ATC cadets doing a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award (they hike for 2 days, camp for one, do their own cooking and carry all their camping gear in rucksacks).
It was unusually warm with the daytime temperature reaching 20degC and dropping no lower than 14degC at night. Lovely!
At Magnum's premises in Grimsby on a very wet 2013 November day...
... and inside - an Alladin's cave! All a self-builder could want.
Wild camping in a wet Wiltshire, October 2013, (actually visiting our daughter and family, but sleeping in the van over the weekend). If one wants to employ 'stealth mode' (a challenge in a red-painted van) then using the silver screen over the windscreen is out. One can however...
... use pegs to hold up a heavy blanket to not only hide oneself from curious neighbours, but help keep the van warm on chilly autumnal nights. Another smaller blanket stuffed down the gap between the floor and sliding door also stops draughts from that area. Turning the air intake knob on the heater control to 'recirculate' and shutting the dashboard vents can also help.
September 2013. The Six Bells at Preston St Mary, near Lavenham, Suffolk. A Camping and Caravanning certificated site. Lovely old pub and grounds in a tiny village. Friendly hosts, excellent home-cooked food made with locally-sourced ingredients and all at a very reasonable price. A real gem.
At the rear of the Six Bells. One can camp on the grass, but we didn't bother.
May 2013 at the Caravan and Camping Club East-Worcs Group 'site for holidays'. A delightful spot by the river near Ross-on-Wye.
By the River Thames at Hurley Riverside Camping Park on 31st October 2012. In the cold Mad Mumsie, Adjutant 78 (Wembley) Sqn., provides female cover for a group of Air Training Corps (ATC) female cadets on a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The cadets were in tents on the other side of the hedge - brrr!
Channel Tunnel at Folkstone. On the loading platform.
Entering the EuroTunnel train carriage. In 30 minutes we'll be driving out and in France - and with no risk of sea-sickness! A good way to cross, but one has to book in advance for an acceptable price - on this occasion (June 2011) about £85 each way.
September 2009. Camping & Caravanning Club site, near Ashford.
Overnight stop before the channel crossing. We don't normally stop here as Folkstone is just over 2 hours from home, but this was first proper foreign trip in Deep Red, so a shakedown night to test all the facilities: the handbrake, wheel wedges...
Early days - SBMCC Annual Rally, Newark, August 2008 - spot Deep Red!
The 2014 Chiltern group August Bank Holiday rally at Henley-on-Thames. No, they don't segregate red vans - we just happened to arrive as a new row was started!
In the latter part of September 2014, we spent five nights at a rally organised by the MCC East Wessex group at the Weyhill Fair, near Andover in Hampshire. The weather was changeable, often cloudy and chilly at times, and with no electric hook-up we wondered if the leisure batteries and solar panels would cope. They did, but only just - more details in Solar Power Section.
At the MMC National Rally at Lisburn, near Belfast, N. Ireland, in May 2014. More photos of this trip on the Ireland page.
Sunset at Shillingford. August 2013 with the MCC Chiltern Group at their rally at the Brightwell Vineyard, Shillingford, Oxon.
July 2013 and our first rally visiting the MCC Chiltern Group - and great fun it was too. In a huge field amidst lovely countryside and adjoining the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, near Aylesbury. With temperatures in the low 30s the Fiamma awning had plenty of use.
MCC Essex Group rally at a sunny Runwell Hospital Sports and Social club, near Wickford, June 2013.
We never have any trouble finding where we've parked Deep Red...
MCC Essex Group rally at Langford Museum of Power, July 2012. Whilst a number of MCC rallies around the country were cancelled, due to waterlogged fields from weeks of awful weather, fortunately this one went ahead.
A very wet June 2012 - MCC East Yorks rally at the Dick Craven Motorcycle Museum. We should have been in the adjoining field but it was waterlogged (like most of UK). Never mind, we had a great time.
Lunch stop at the Beehive pub, Epping Green, Herts - on the way to an Essex group rally at Pleshey in Essex. We noticed later an old sign by the entrance door states: no vehicles over 30CWT. (30 hundred weight = One and half tons). Oh dear - I think that's us...
Essex Group rally at Pleshey, March 2012. Multi-tasking Mad Mumsie knits a cardi whilst keeping goal for England.
Essex Group rally, Clacton, August Bank Holiday 2011. Pleasant site on social club grounds close to the seafront. First chance to test our new wind-out awning. Rather blustery day with the odd rain shower.
Motor Caravanners' Club, Essex Group rally near Coggeshall, August 2011. Our first rally with the MCC and a lot of fun. Lovely location over a mile from the nearest road, with just a water tap and elsan disposal point. Very friendly group of folks. See Sources section for link to MCC web site.