Please see this as a speed read through the social whirl that got us to where the adventure really began.
Tears as we pull away on such a beautiful day. We’ll be back, and I’m sure it’ll be just as odd (please let it be so).
We had to start at Land’s End. All great challenges start there.
Granite on a grand scale.
Because I grew up there, and to take mother for lunch (Trevaskis) (excellent as ever).
The Meadows, Pentewan.
Where we stayed when we hired our first van in 2016. Very good site, beautiful area, great walks that reminded me that we don’t have a monopoly on Cornish beauty in the far west.
Somerset. Castle Cary.
Honey coloured stone.
Dinner and a great night with my sis.
The inspirational Hauser and Wirth gallery in Bruton.
Even if art doesn’t move you go for the gardens (Piet Oudolf).
Don’t like gardens? Go for the coffee. And a hipster’s breakfast, with avocado of course.
Worcestershire. Hanley Swan.
Weathered red brick.
Dinner and a great night with friends.
Flat plains (is that tautologous?) stretch for miles, interrupted only by the Malvern Hills. We climb the Beacon to watch the paragliders swirl, and look towards where we know Wales lurks in the haze.
Once dominated by red brick, now confused with an influx of modernity (most of which I welcome).
Our home for years.
Dinner and a great night with friends (oh yes, this van life is hard!) (but I promise the adventure starts soon).
Red brick and Yorkshire stone depending on wealth – stone tops brick. The stunning Hepworth Gallery is concrete.
Lunch and a long awaited catch up with Minty’s dad and Gill.
Impressive town predominantly of York stone, with some well weathered brick.
Great dinner with Minty’s sis and Big Dave.
The footballers and other wealthy of the north east.
Hold hands with Minty’s very old gran, lovely lunch with Minty’s mum and Rick.
The adventure begins.
We’re truly on the road.
The camper is home. Our only home.
The view is the goal (but can’t always be achieved).
Our first stop is one of the jewels of the north east.
I could live here (for a while at least).
The Tanner’s pub – one small room, six excellent beers, no food.
Carlo’s fish and chips – supposedly the best in the coutry, certainly very good. Generous, and cheap.
Barter Books – this is really why I’d move here, one of Europe’s biggest second hand bookshops, in the former Alnwick Station. A good café too.
And that’s before you throw in Alnwick Castle, the best castle in the country, still lived in by the Percys, as it has been since 1309.
We didn’t make the castle tour this time, but did visit the relatively new Alnwick Gardens – wow! Chuffing expensive, but truly wonderful.
The Northumberland coast has to be one of the country’s best (Cornwall is of course in a league of its own).
There are few cliffs to speak of.
But the beaches stretch on and on.
To keep the English in.
To keep the Scots out.
We nip into Craster to buy kippers for our supper. And have a kipper roll from the car park as we did once many years back. Blimey it was good.
We walk the beach at Bamburgh. Another fabulous castle, lived in by the Armstrongs, and overlooking the Farne Islands and with Holy Island a little further north.
And camp in sight of Holy Island.
The site’s not romantic. It’s a transport café and the deal is you have to have breakfast to use their facilities.
Breakfast was good, and the view pretty special.
The pub wasn’t so good and we hot footed it out before having a drink.
As for dinner – Craster kippers with garlic and spaghetti in a cream and white wine sauce, what a beauty! There’ll be many special camp meals to come, but this was a great start.
Over the border.
Hang on, we went to Berwick first. There have been times when it was Scots, but for now it’s English. An impressive town of strong houses, built on riches from the sea, the defence budget of Queen Elizabeth the first, and later, the engineering of Robert Stevenson.
Then around the coast, through North Berwick, the Edinburgh bypass, the new(ish) Forth Road Bridge.
Feeling a little down on its luck Kinross lacks its former sparkle from back when Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned here.
We had our first experience of midges that drove us from our lakeside pitch to a street in town. Midges by the million, but thankfully not biting ones.
But there’s good here too.
Its recently opened Loch Leven micro brewery serves four superb ales and a blended whiskey in a modern shop/tasting gallery. We tasted all and favoured Cool Roy and Pale Alice.
Thank you for the recommendation Lord Hewitt.
And now we sit.
Road side, but happy in ArchieVan.
About to dine.
I type now as Minty prepares another feast.
What a shame we’re too late to nip back to the brewery.
Ah the joy of the road.
Pentewan – The Meadows. 50.298879, -4.799552
Alnwick Rugby Club (good showers, close to town). 55.401181, -1.700296
Eat and Sleep Café, Beal, Lindsfarne, no showers but decent basic breakfast fare. 55.671664, -1.914404
Kinross, ideally on Loch Leven (but we were midged out of there). 56.201030, -3.408742
The minimal aeroscreens on the front windows are great at deflecting the wind and allow you to drive at 65 – 70 with the windows fully open but without buffeting. This will be important when temperatures start to climb and there’s no van air con.
The expensive head unit for the sat nav, radio and the like is a pain to operate, especially when the phone (which we had anyway) is a whole lot easier.