Camping: Eskdale Day 1 – Whitsun weekend 2016

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We just followed the footpath signs … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’m finally catching up with blog posts, and here, at last, is the start of our camping holiday in Eskdale at Whitsun. But he’s getting so good at taking pictures, now, we have 146 from this weekend alone and I’m having to select just a handful for illustrations. So I’m splitting this holiday into separate days.

We only had 3 actual days, beyond the 1 day either side for travelling. And on the first day the poet decided he wanted to go for a walk because he was sick of sitting in a car and not being able to see all of the scenery properly.

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Rhododendron bokeh. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So, rather than using a guided walk or a map or anything like that, he decided we’d just follow one of the many, many footpath finger signs and see where we ended up. And we ended up walking for more than 4 very beautiful miles.

Of course, it also gave him chance to have a play with his camera. It’s a good job he has a memory card now. He was able to take loads, see how he was doing, and delete any that weren’t any good – and still he ended up with almost 200 before paring them down to the final 146.

We decided that we’d quite like to go and see the local waterfalls, and the sign said it was only 2km away. Then it was 1.5km, then 1km … and then 1.5km again … Had we missed them?

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

No matter, there was plenty of other scenery to look at and lots of footpaths criss-crossing each other. And one finger sign pointed to “stepping stones”.

We did find those, but it seemed to be the local picnic spot and there were quite a few loose, big dogs. And Rufus doesn’t really like it when there are other dogs vying for attention. So we chose a path that ran alongside the river and think we found ourselves on a path that ran parallel to the one to the waterfall.

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Dipper. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The poet spotted a little bird dipping and diving, and Rufus and I were ordered to “keep back” while he tried to snap it, as the dog making a lot of noise would no doubt frighten the poor little thing away.

Well, there turned out to be at least 2 dippers, and it was when me and Rufus came crashing along anyway that I spotted one that was much easier to see than the one the poet was tracking.

He said that’s just typical. He’s being very good and quiet and trying to get a good shot of a really shy bird, then I come along, making as much noise as possible, and point out one much closer.

We followed the path back, and rejoined the one that led to the waterfall (2km … hmm). And gradually, what started out as quite a gentle river-level walk was starting to look a bit hilly. A bit UP-hilly. And Diane doesn’t really do hills …

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth) (Yes, really – he’s getting very good.)

We carried on regardless, in case it levelled out again. (It didn’t.) And gradually the path not only got higher, but it also got more narrow, more winding, and slightly more dangerous with a river immediately to one side, slippy rocks and boulders underfoot, and a very hyperactive dog.

A few people were coming back down, others were giving up and waiting for the more adventurous members of their parties to go up and “do it” and come back when they were done. One dad refused to let his kids (4 of them) climb the last bit, and the poet was worried that the dog might pull me over and down to the water.

My balance isn’t brilliant and we usually let the dog off his lead under those circumstances, but with so many people and so many other dogs about, we didn’t want to risk it – and, to be honest, I didn’t fancy the last part of the climb anyway.

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Dalegarth Falls. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We hadn’t come all that way not to see what we’d eventually set out to see. So the poet continued up alone while I waited just below with the dog.

Watching him struggle around part of the “path” and need to hang on as he rounded a particularly tricky bend, I knew we’d made the right decision. And he didn’t stay up there very long anyway. There wasn’t enough room for a start, and he just wanted to take the photographs and then come back to me and the dog.

We picked our way back down – which was easier than going up – re-joined the road and made our way back to the campsite. It was a real treat being so close to such lovely scenery without having to get in the car.

According to MapMyWalk (I’m not going to waste a picture slot here with a screenshot this time), we walked 4.14 miles and burned 617 calories.

And all the while Scafell Pike was there, in the cloud, alongside us.

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Scafell Pike. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Camping: Bala – May Day weekend 2016

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Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We nearly didn’t make it to Bala at the beginning of May.

It had been booked for a while, but I had the world’s worst toothache and was on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers.

We should have gone Friday morning, but by the Friday afternoon I decided that the pills were starting to work and it would be a shame to lose a day if I woke up the following morning and felt like going.

So we packed the car and headed off at about 3pm, arriving at our destination at about 6pm – we didn’t do too badly at all, traffic-wise.

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Lake Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The site we’d chosen was another from the Camping & Caravanning Club. We only joined this year and are making sure we get our money’s-worth. We were lucky, though. The Bala site is beautiful and one we’ll definitely go back to.

When we arrived, the site personnel fell instantly in love with the dog, and good old Rufus netted us a different pitch as a result – a nice big corner pitch away from the main site buildings.

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Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Our first night was freezing cold. They’d had several snow showers during the day and there was more during the night.

Fortunately, we’d booked an electric hook-up this time and had a fan heater with us. We also had the gas fire as back-up – and we definitely needed it.

For our first day we had an orientation drive around Bala, where we stopped for lunch and to buy provisions.

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Lake Vyrnwy (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I was in the sandwich shop, placing my order, explaining how I couldn’t really manage a “doorstep” of bread, when the abscess I was suffering from burst. I hoped I didn’t start dribbling …

We also drove to Lake Vyrnwy, but we didn’t stop, other than to take photographs. The weather had improved, but was still a little overcast and cool.

On the Sunday we headed north to Llandudno. It’s usually so peaceful and pretty there, we were very surprised when we arrived to see they were having their busiest day of the year! A transport festival was there, and we struggled to park. In the end we went to a B&Q where we bought 2 mats for the tent to qualify us for 2 hours parking!

We had sausage baps and chips for lunch, and ice creams.

On Bank Holiday Monday we headed west, to Barmouth. We didn’t stay, but we did enjoy the drive as we passed through Harlech and the surrounding countryside. It was so beautiful there we’ve pretty much decided to see if we can find a campsite there, if we can, next time.

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Llandudno and Llandudno Lifeboat (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

What we were looking for in the Barmouth area (before going up to Harlech) was RSPB Mawddach. We didn’t find the RSPB place, but we did find the Mawddach Trail, which I think was on the other side of the estuary.

As I’d thought we were going birdwatching, I admit to feeling just a tad disappointed that we didn’t see many, if any, birds. Although, to be fair, we did see shellducks. However, if we’d managed to find the right place, then I might have been much less disappointed!

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Mawddach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The weather had warmed up nicely, and we were actually starting to feel comfortable. We’re hoping that next time we go camping we might not need the gas fire.

The next day was glorious, apart from the one time we needed it to be dry while we folded and packed the tent. Then there were the day’s only 2 showers! But we got everything packed away and headed back home.

Within hours of getting back, the poet booked our next one … for the late May bank holiday weekend, in Eskdale …

Camping: Kingsbury – Easter 2016

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Our posh new tent (pic: Ian Wordsworth)

It’s been a long while since I had chance to update anything on the blog, and I have a little bit of catching up to do. So I’m going to start with our very brief sojourn into Kingsbury at Easter, when we tried out our lovely new blow-up tent.

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Ian, blowing up the posh new air-bed (pic: Diane Wordsworth)

We were going to buy a trailer tent, and that’s what we were researching when we saw our first blow-up tent … and we were smitten, and the poet didn’t want anything else. So we started to save up and we bought a Vango Airbeam Capri 500XL.

Easter was our first chance to try it out and with things going on back home in Birmingham and us wanting to be not too far away, we decided to go along to the Camping & Caravanning Club site at Kingsbury Water Park in the Midlands. We’d discovered the site on a walk here earlier in the year, and decided it was so lovely, it was as good a place as any to start. And while we were there, we joined.

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Our posh camping pantry (pic: Ian Wordsworth)

We arrived quite late on the Friday afternoon (Good Friday), having dropped off on the way to visit the poet’s parents in Doncaster. So we let my dad know we’d arrived and we took advantage of a chip wagon that visited the site at 6pm … I don’t know, our first camp of the year and we had fish and chips for tea on the very first night!

The tent comes with its own pump, which has “inflate” and “deflate” valves on. Because it inflates/deflates all the time, whether you pull the pump up or push it down, the tent was up in no time. The poet used it on our deluxe model double air-bed too. It was harder work but did the job nicely.

The first night we were absolutely frozen. Bad weather had been forecast for the entire weekend, along with very high winds. In fact, the day before we travelled, my dad rang up and asked if we really wanted to do it this particular weekend. But we knew that if we didn’t, then the first time would have to be another time anyway.

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Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (pic: Ian Wordsworth)

The next day we went to visit my parents, and my dad came back to see the new tent. He loved it and wished he could still do it. After we dropped Dad off home again, we headed back to the site via our new favourite shop – Go Outdoors. I’d located a branch on the Kingsbury Road, so it was ideal for us.

There we bought some gas canisters and a gas fire, which operates on just one canister at a time. These canisters click in really easily and are nothing like the old gas bottles you had to fiddle with when I was a kid. We also bought a brand new pantry as the table we’ve had for a while was getting a bit cluttered.

Saturday night was considerably warmer, but only because (a) the wind had dropped temporarily, and (b) we left our thermals on. But more bad weather was on its way, and we’d even heard a whisper of snow.

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Birmingham and Fazeley Canal – and cover image for Twee Tales rebrand (pic: Ian Wordsworth)

Sunday morning dawned a little brighter than previously, and we managed to fit in a short walk to the water park. We’d already seen most of it on our previous walk, but we wanted to go back to the hides, see the birds, use the poet’s spotting scope and take a few more pictures.

It looks nice and sunny, but that white sky reveals how cold it really was.

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Rufus and Diane, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (pic: Ian Wordsworth)

The walk to the bird hides goes along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, so the poet took a few more pictures there, including the one above that was used for the new cover of Twee Tales.

With snow forecast, though, we decided to de-camp a day early and head home. We’d had a great time and could hardly wait until the next …