Northern Trip, May 2022.


Sunday 1st May. This will be our first long trip since 2019! Margaret has some misgivings about the length of the trip, something to do with the quantity of knickers required en voyage?  The trip has already grown by a day as we decided to break the journey to North Yorkshire by stopping for one night en route.

We have spent the last week getting the van ready for the trip so there was little to do on the morning of departure and we were ready for the off by 11.00am. Our overnight stop is the CMC site at Staveley called Poolsbrook Country Park, a site we have used a couple of times before as it’s only a couple of miles off the M1. Progress was good despite the traffic. Trouble is we had rain; it hasn’t rained for almost a month so why does it when we decide to go away? We made a mid-way stop Leicester Forest East services. Since our last visit the lorry parking has been revamped and re-surfaced both very welcome. The other section of parking also seems to have undergone improvements with what looks like more space. We timed our arrival at Poolsbrook impeccably well at about a quarter of an hour after the 1.00pm opening. It didn’t take long to set up as we are not unpacking everything as we are off in the morning. The site is pretty full as you would expect for a weekend and we were lucky to get a pitch which must have been due to a late cancellation. The site information room has some interesting information of the history of the site before it was a campsite.



Monday 2nd May. We had to hang around a bit at Poolsbrook,  because we couldn’t arrive at our next site before 1.00pm. We weren’t the only ones leaving today as it seemed the whole world and his wife were doing the same! It didn’t take long to get back on the M1 but was it busy! There were wagons on the road but it was mainly private vehicles. When we hit the A64 towards York the volume of traffic coming from Scarborough was very dense and slow moving, typical Bank Holiday! About seven miles out of York we turned off to the left on a minor road which took us to Slingsby, via Castle Howard. I am a bit weary of using unclassified roads but it wasn’t too bad  although it was a bit up and down dale in places! As we progressed through the village of Slingsby there were lots of cars parked and we soon saw the reason why, they were having a dressing of the Maypole which seemed popular with the locals. As we arrived at the site, we joined a small queue of outfits waiting to get into the site. You can now elect to have the balance of your stay automatically taken the day of arrival so no need to visit the site office.

Tuesday 3rd May. Unfortunately, the weather is still dull, but at least mainly dry. We had a walk into the village of Slingsby today. Lots of nice stone-built houses and cottages which all look well-tended. Apart from the Grapes pub there does not seem to be any form of shopping or catering. We were hoping for a coffee shop! Having said that, other people were not much in evidence so whether people work elsewhere and just return at night? There were a few sheep with very thick coats in a field adjacent to the campsite, so not completely without company!

The actual campsite occupies the land of the former Slingsby Railway Station which was on the Thirsk to Malton Railway. Apparently, the last excursion from Slingsby Railway Station was on 27th July 1964,  my 18th birthday!

Wednesday 4th May. We were forced to a lazy day today as the weather forecast let us down! By the looks of it we were due rain in the morning which didn’t materialise but we did have sunshine which wasn’t forecast. It did rain later on. We had thought of taking a run out to Castle Howard but because we were either faint hearted or mistrustful of the weather we gave it a miss! The mistrust of the forecast wasn’t totally misplaced as it bucketed it down later!!!

Thursday 5th May. A busy day as well as a sunny one. We managed to achieve our previously aborted visit to Castle Howard today en route to our next stop at Whitby. It’s about five miles from the site. The car park was not too busy but we still ummed and ahed where to park but found a spot eventually. We are not really used to taking the motorhome off site. Given that we only had limited time as we were also travelling, we decided to just pay to look at the gardens, and of course you get a good view of the house from the gardens as well. I am sure Castle Howard is famous in its own right but perhaps the thing that many will remember it for is the TV series Brideshead Revisited. Yes, the do sell teddy bears in the gift shop! We started with the walled garden which has many nooks and crannies and is almost maze like. We got in but had to ask how to get out! We were told to look for a cast iron gate which we found. This took us out into the broad vista of the gardens at the rear of the house which is impressive as is the ornamental fountain of Atlas lifting the world aloft. Have I not seen something similar at Versailles? We continued our garden tour working our way towards the Big House and a welcome coffee in the café.



The intention was to leave Castle Howard and head back to the A64 and head towards Scarborough and then to Whitby. Easy enough but the van sat nav thought otherwise. We did manage to sort it and the road from along the coast was resplendent in bright yellow gorse. The route was complicated by the fact that we wanted to do some shopping at the Sainsburys which was south of Whitby. We made it to the supermarket and then headed the final three miles to the campsite. As we had already paid, we were met at reception and escorted to our pitch.

Friday 6th May. We caught the bus into Whitby today. Conveniently there is a half hourly service from the entrance to the campsite. It’s about 2 miles into the centre and I am sure the fit would walk but unfortunately, we are past our best at walking and reserve our energies for exploring the town. We were surprised how busy it was. The bus station is alongside the railways station which is not only used by British Rail but also shared with the North Yorkshire Railway if you wish to explore further. We walked down past the old Town Bridge. I can’t imagine the chaos had it not long ago been bypassed! We continued down to near the harbour entrance and sat next to an interesting sculpture of fisher women preparing fish to remind of how things used to be! On the way back into the centre of the town we stopped for a coffee to restore our flagging energy. Before catching the bus back to the site, we nipped into the convenient Co-Op store next to the Stations for a few bits. We had been blessed with some nice sunny weather which given we have been away for nearly a week we have not had much of!

Saturday 7th May. Today marks the end of our first week away, time flies! Initially it was a pretty lazy day because of our exploits in Whitby yesterday. It was also pretty chilly and dull during the morning. It did gradually cheer up so we decided that a walk was in order. There is a path alongside our pitch which takes you down to the beach. What we didn’t anticipate, but should have done, was how steep the path was which as we descended started to raise alarm bells on how we would get back! Once you get to the beach its nice and level which gives a false sense of security! In the distance we could see the Whitby harbour entrance which didn’t look that far away although the mirage of the oasis in the desert might have been giving us that feeling. After a while we spoke to a friendly native walking her rather large dog. In the usual friendly manner here abouts she explained our options and the least worst seem to be to carry on to Whitby where we could get the bus back to the site. Putting all the angst to one side it was a lovely walk along the shore and when we got to the James Cook statue, we had a lovely view of the harbour and the Abbey ruins high on the hill opposite us. Thankfully it was all downhill from here, in a positive way! We did discover narrow roads and alleyways we had not previously seen. Margaret commented on how busy it was yesterday but there were far more people around today. As we approached the bus station the bus we needed pulled in, so no long wait. The final insult to injury was that I had to pay the bus fare as we had left the bus passes at the van!

Sunday 8th May. Our last day at Whitby today and a lovely sunny one if not a bit chilly, but we are close to the North Sea! We were a bit exhausted after our longer than planned walk yesterday so beyond a walk around the site it has been a bit on the lazy side. For many I would imagine the layout of this campsite to be too regimented for some but all pitches have a sea view. The site is maintained to a high standard. What do they say? Location, location, location and to that end the site has it all, especially if you don’t want to take a vehicle off site. Certainly, wouldn’t rule out coming back. 

South Shields

Monday 9th May. We left Whitby today to head for our next site at South Shields. I had made a slight miscalculation in the distance which meant we would probably arrive too early at Sandhaven. We did plan a stop at Middlesborough to fill up with fuel which we achieved and then set off the find the associated supermarket which was on the other side of the complex. It was very busy but I spied a parking area. Fortunately, it was relatively easy to exit and to find the A19 north, We, did arrive at the site a bit early but that didn’t seem to cause and issue. After some lunch we had a bit of a walk around the local area. Next to the site is a Park which takes you down to the beautifully sandy beach which many might not associate with this part of the country.

Tuesday 10th May. We took the bus into South Shields. Initially we walked down to the Tyne Ferry and decided to have a ride across to North Shields and back. It’s surprising how wide the Tyne is at this point. Just upstream the ferry to the Netherlands was moored and we saw it sail by the campsite later in the day. Once back on dry land we headed into the main shopping area of South Shields passing en route a rather nice Market Cross. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the niceness! South Shields like many other similar towns is quite run down with many empty shops. We did manage to find a coffee shop before heading back on the site.

Wednesday 11th May. This is the last full day of our short stay in South Shields. We needed a few things so we walked up to the convenience store in the Westoe district which is on the landward side of the site. We discovered as we walked up to the small parade of shops that the housing development has been built on the old Westoe Colliery, it seems that regeneration funds were available to areas where pits once stood. There are several information boards explaining what previously existed, how it came to be closed and the new buildings that have replaced the pit. Apparently, Prince Charles was involved and you can see a bit of a resemblance to Poundbury! after all that educational stuff we needed a coffee which we enjoyed at the very nice Mac’n’Alli’s café.  In the afternoon we had another walk, this time through the parks which are adjacent to the campsite. We even managed to find the River Tyne where it exits into the sea. So quite a lot of walking today, 6500 steps, not bad for an old bloke with a stick and a dodgy knee!!


Thursday 12th May. A long journey of 166 miles to Ayr in Scotland today. It was 20 miles before we eventually exited South Shields/Newcastle and set off across country on the A69. That is a lovely road right across the North of England. We joined the M6 at Carlisle for a short distance and had hoped to use the Services called Todhills.  What a disappointment, a coffee shop and petrol station and hardly anywhere to park! We decided to use the A75/A76 to Ayr rather than continue on the M74. Not sure if that was a mistake but it is quite a scenic route if not particularly fast. We were getting desperate for a rest stop and a coffee but the A75 seemed devoid of such places. Eventually as we approached Dumfries, we spotted a Starbucks and a garage. Again, very limited parking but there was a bit of space behind the building. Not only was there a Starbucks but also a Greggs, so what more in the way of culinary delights would one want? A nice coffee from one and a sausage roll from the other! After Dumfries the road becomes a bit of a switchback but we soldier on. We had left South Shields just before 10.00am and arrived at the CMC site Cragie Gardens not long before 3.00pm!

Friday 13th May. We walked into the town of Ayr today. We went the long way round as we didn’t appreciate there was a shorter route so the step count today is higher than planned! We eventually got to the river and found the path alongside. We passed several river crossings and eventually crossed on the old Town Arched Bridge. This effectively brings you to the bottom of the High Street near the town hall and rather conveniently next to an M&S where we had coffee. Refreshed we made our way up the High Street to a newish shopping centre which was conveniently near the railway station so we knew we were not far from where we needed to cross the river. On the way back we followed what we thought was the short cut shown in the site information hut which turned out to be correct, must pay more attention in future! So, what about the town of Ayr? I think good in parts but like many similar towns it has suffered from the contraction of retail space so perhaps not as vibrant as it once was?

Saturday 14th May. Nice sunny day today but still a 5/6-degree temperature difference between Ayr and MK! We thought we would go in search of the beach today as Ayr is famous for being a seaside resort. Our newly discovered “short cut” meant we made quicker progress into the town but then we had to find the beach. It probably seemed longer as it was unfamiliar. I asked a lady and she kindly pointed me in the right direction. Interesting that access to the public toilets was by contactless payment! We found a café near the beach and fortified ourselves with coffee and doughnuts (allowable because we had walked so far!) Then along the sea wall for a while looking out over the sandy beach with a few hardy youngsters having a paddle. Here was me thinking, should I have worn my fleece? Time to turn inland to try and get to the High Street. It does seem that if the explore a bit in Ayr there are a few nice  surprises in terms of buildings which suggest a grander past than perhaps initial impressions of the town on a dull day. We came across a tower of which we weren’t sure whether it was the remains of a church or a castle, it turns out to be a church and is called St John’s Tower. Apparently, Mary Queen of Scots used to stable her horses there! A completely pointless bit of information but there you are. We found the commercial centre, discovering some nice pedestrianised streets en route. Our goal was M&S again for their food hall. Then began the long slog back to the site. Perhaps it was easier than we thought as we crossed off the landmarks as we passed them. Once clear of the Victoria Bridge and on the path next to the river is a strange cylindrical construction which on close inspection reveals a small hydroelectric scheme using an Archimedes Screw device which is turned by the flow of the river to generate electricity, simple and effective I would imagine, why don’t we have more?

Sunday 15th May. It’s been a bit dull and wet here today so we have not done much other than routine tasks. One thing that did brighten the site up was what looked like a restored Sprite Major caravan which had been painted green! We did stay up to see the results of the Eurovision Song Contest!

Monday 16th May. Another dull and wet start to the day. We had thought about going shopping but the thought of a mile each way in possible rain rather changed our minds! We will do it en route tomorrow. The site continues to be very busy with quite a few leaving each day to be replaced later by newcomers.

Tuesday 17th May. We left Ayr today and are heading for the CMC site at Garlieston. First off, we headed for the large Tesco for some shopping and hopefully to fill up with diesel. Shock horror no diesel. We still had slightly over half a tank so decided to wait to fill up when we leave Garlieston. Shopping completed we set off on the A77 coastal road. This is a very impressive road that as it hugs the coast for much of its length down to Stranraer. Just a shame that it was dull and wet so we didn’t get the full beauty on this journey. After the Port we headed inland on the A75. The sat nav took us across country on what Margaret thought were unsuitable roads but, in my view, they were OK, at least they had a white line down the middle! It was even more confusing when we got down to the harbour in Garlieston and the sat nav told us to turn round, when possible, we could see the site from this point so TomTom was duly ignored! Interesting little site with one section right on the harbour side, apparently originally there was a saw mill on the site until 1964. The second section is in a walled area across the road. Had a bit of an  explore including seeing a cat on a lead!

Wednesday 18th May. A better day today weather wise. Also, a bit of a red-letter day as it was the first day of the trip that we felt it worthwhile getting the chairs out! The pitches on the site can be a bit cheek by jowl and our nearest neighbours seem to intrude a bit on “our space”. Not really their fault just the layout. However, this morning we noticed they had placed their rotary washing line very close, if not in, what we would consider “our space”. Now Margaret can have “a look” which would put Medusa to shame and for many years it worked effectively on the two boys when they were young. With a look but without a word the washing line was moved into “their space”!

We had a wander around the village of Garlieston today. Up until now I had no idea that Garlieston was at the forefront of the development of the Mulberry Harbour which was used successfully after D-Day in WW2. I suppose the village is quite remote so was relatively safe from prying eyes? Once you start walking around and exploring you quickly get the sense of the size of the place and as such it seems difficult to imagine why there is not much in the way of commercial activity. It is, of course, difficult to know how many of those idyllic houses and cottages overlooking the Bay are second homes/holiday cottages so perhaps the normal population is smaller than you realise. Fortunately, there is a pub called the Harbour Inn where we enjoyed a coffee and a toasted teacake (it seemed a bit early for alcohol! They do serve meals and it seems they are popular, even Prince Charles is pictured in the bar enjoying a glass of beer. I often see pictures of him holding two thirds full glass of beer but I am never sure whether he actually likes beer or whether it is just a prop! Refreshed by our coffee we walked around the harbour side beyond the campsite. There seem to be a couple of fishing boats in residence but we saw no evidence of what is caught and landed.

Thursday 19th May. Lovely sunny day albeit a bit chilly in the breeze for our last day here at Garlieston. This morning we decided to explore a little further around the coast in the hope of finding Galloway House Gardens. However, once the proper path ended and it became a way marked path the terrain became very difficult and proper ankle supporting footwear would have been advised. Having met a couple who said it didn’t get any better we decided to turn round! We had a wander around the harbour on the way back. The tide was right out although it looked as if it had started to flow. Otherwise, a pretty lazy day. It has been and enjoyable location to visit but it is a long way from home.

Friday 20th May. Our Son Paul’s 45 birthday today and he got a rather nice present from the Queen today. Her Majesty has decided to bestow City status on Milton Keynes. Paul as a Professional Planner and academic student of all things Planning and Milton Keynes will be as delighted as the rest of us.

We left Garlieston this morning after three nights as this delightful little place on the south west coast of Scotland. First stop was Tesco in Dumfries to refill with fuel. After the no diesel situation at Ayr, I was a bit worried that a fuel shortage might be more wide spread and I have had dark thoughts as I was trying to get to sleep thinking that we could run out! Consulting the range indicator on the dashboard suggested we could travel another 288 miles before running out. Not something I wanted to put to the test so I have several options in mind. Fortunately, there was no issue in Dumfries and we should have enough to get home. There was also plenty of room to park and interestingly there were a couple of hooked up caravans also in the carpark.

From Dumfries it was a bit of a slog road wise. We did think that the road from Carlisle to Ravenglass would be difficult which it proved to be in places. It was slow but we got to the site at around 3.00pm.

Saturday 21st May. Not a very promising start to the day with rain early on. Mind you after the journey yesterday we needed a bit of a rest, at least I didn’t dream of running out of diesel!

When the weather perked up a bit we put on our fleeces, still a chilly wind, and set off to discover Ravenglass. Apparently, there was a Roman Fort here in AD130. The village is served by two railways. The main coastal line to White Haven and Workington and the Ravenglass narrow gauge railway. It is the latter that is the tourist attraction and seems popular with visitors. Having looked at the diminutive  coaches we decided that perhaps a train trip was not for us although had we been prepared to pay an excess to use the Pullman coach it would have been more comfortable. The steam engines are really quite small. Obviously bigger than you find in the local park but not much. We then visited the Museum, which was free, which explained the various incarnations of this railway. What I found interesting was that originally the gauge for this railway was 3 feet when it was in commercial use. When it fell into disuse around the early 1900’s it was rescued by none other than Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke the Northampton model railway maker. For some reason he decided to reduce the gauge to 15 inches which is what we see today. Had he kept the original gauge it might have been a lot more comfortable!!! After the railway we wandered into Ravenglass, well what there is of it! There are some seats looking out over the Solway of Firth. Two days ago and  many miles north we were looking in the opposite direction. The village has several pubs but we found a nice little café where we enjoyed an excellent coffee before returning to the site.

Sunday 22nd May. Today was a day of rest, not through choice though as it was wet for some of the day and just cloudy when not raining. Shame really as it would have been nice to visit the Roman Pump Room which is not far from the site. We move further south tomorrow to our last site on this trip.

Monday 23rd May. Saw a lot of the M6 today, although in a way it was very welcome! I think I have had my fill of narrow twisty roads, at least for a while. When we left Ravenglass we knew that we were in for some narrow and twisty roads as our atlas had arrows on the roads. Once we got to Newby Bridge the road did improve. We joined the M6 at junction 36 and left at 16. It was busy but far easier to cope with than constant gear changing! Having left the motorway and on our way towards Nantwich the sat nav did not recognise the way I wanted to go so I switched it off! I wanted to go via Audlem and then about a mile out of the village I knew there was a road to the right that would take us to Overwater Marina CL which is our stop for the next three nights. The approach road was narrow in places but there were some passing places so it was OK. I wish sat navs had a learning mode!

Tuesday 24th May. Weather a bit changeable today with a mix of sunshine and heavy rain. We did have a wander around the site and the Marina this morning. It is a big enterprise and goodness knows how much it all cost to establish? I imagine the Marina is the main business with the camping element supplementary to it. The CL is on the entrance road into the site, all nicely done. Behind the CL is the campsite proper, with one section for touring and another with seemingly seasonal pitches which look pretty permanent. Across from this is the Marina with lots of narrowboats moored. We did see one leave the mooring basin with a little terrier who marched up and down the roof of the cabin as though on patrol!  They also have a nice café/shop in the main reception where we had coffee. Latter it decided to chuck it down which meant forced R&R watching the hailstones through the front window!

Wednesday 25th May. Another one of those days where the weather has interfered with any plans we may have had. I don’t think May has been a good month for weather. We would have liked to have walked into Audlem but not if it meant getting wet! In the afternoon we did wander up to the Marina to have a look and encountered a lot of geese and their chicks. This is the last day of our 25 day trip and we are off home tomorrow.

Thursday 26th May. The sat nav wanted to take us back to the M6 further north but I decided differently! We cut across country to pick up the A41. An interesting road as it was clearly a major route in the pre motorway days. We then picked up the A5 which took us to the M6 and a quick link to the M6 Toll, or Midland Expressway as it is also called. We decided to treat ourselves to the toll road despite it costing a whopping £12.50! It is so much nicer than struggling around original M6. Going this way, we missed the birthday party for Spaghetti Junction which is now 50 years old. When it was being built, we were taking a narrowboat cruiser from Trevor in North Wales to Market Harborough and moored for the night underneath the columns. I am not sure at what point but they had to remove a pontoon bridge across the canal to let us through! I digress, we stopped at Norton Canes Services. The caravan parking now has signs saying caravans only although we did pull in and I felt guilty as a couple of caravans were looking for somewhere to park. Once Margaret had returned with the coffee, we drove around to additional lorry parking so hopefully made room for someone else. The odd thing about Norton Canes is that you automatically think that because it’s a toll road it wouldn’t be as busy but the opposite seems to be the case. Simon had warned us about the chaos at junction 15 on the M1 where we exit to fill up with fuel at Wolverton on the way home. They have just started to build the Roade bypass so I imagine we will have this issue for the next year at least!!!