Oh beautiful England

    Please see this as a speed read through the social whirl that got us to where the adventure really began.

    St Just.


    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).

    The Star, St Just.

    Land’s End.

    We had to start at Land’s End.  All great challenges start there.

    ArchieVan at Land’s End, the ultimate start to any challenge.


    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.

    A tough start at The Meadows, Pentewan.
    Walking east from Pentewan.

    Somerset. Castle Cary.

    Honey coloured stone.

    Dinner and a great night with my sis.

    Minty at Janice’s, Castle Cary.

    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.

    View from a (large) installation. Hauser and Wirth.

    Worcestershire. Hanley Swan.

    Weathered red brick.

    Dinner and a great night with friends.

    D & B’s wonderful house under the Malvern Hills.

    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.

    Paragliders over The Beacon, Malvern.

    Manchester. Chorlton.

    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.


    Northumberland stone.

    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.

    A lifetime of reading, and then plenty more. Barter Books. Alnwick.

    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.

    Alnwick Castle – still daffodils this far north.

    We didn’t make the castle tour this time, but did visit the relatively new Alnwick Gardens – wow! Chuffing expensive, but truly wonderful.

    The cascade at Alnwick Garden

    Holy Island.

    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.

    With castles.

    Many castles.

    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.

    Dunstanburgh Castle from Craster Harbour.

    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.

    Bamburgh Castle, built on rock, and in sand.

    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.

    Car park luxury – Alnwick beers, in sight of Holy Island.


    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.

    A few of the several million midges who kindly welcomed us to Loch Leven.

    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.

    The brewery shop – but not today!

    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.


    Camping stops:

    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



    Van notes:

    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.

    6 Replies to “Oh beautiful England”

    1. Clever new map – that’s a bonus for your followers! J

    2. Thank you fascinating blog so far
      Keep up the good work
      Luv to Polly
      Take care💕💕💕

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Great to have you on board – we won’t post often, but we’ll try to get good photos in when we do. Best wishes. Kelvin.

    3. Judith Hunt says: Reply

      Am so pleased to be joining you on your travels…super narrative as usual..LOVE IT!!!!:-):-):-):-) J xx

    4. Lord Hewitt says: Reply

      It was lovely to meet you both for breakfast today. Enjoy the NC500 …. and the rest of your wandering, and don’t forget to stay in touch. Lord H!

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        Thank you for your recommendations and a fine breakfast.
        We’re now at Fortress on the Black Isle, yet another beautiful spot.

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