Friday, 12th August 2016 – Camping In Yorkshire.
When we first earmarked our holidays for this year we planned this week as a week’s summer cruise on Emjaytoo. Once we had decided to sell her we had little enthusiasm for a cruise and so decided to go camping in Normandy with our trailer tent. However the security situation in France put paid to that so, even though we lost our ferry crossing, we decided to go to the Yorkshire Dales instead.
Wendy had been several times in the past, but Kim had only had brief trips to the edges, thus Wendy was keen to show Kim what a wonderful place the Dales are. We found a nice quiet campsite about a mile out of Hawes right in the centre of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Our trip up on the Friday should have been about five and a half hours drive plus a lunch stop. But we were plagued by delays, the worst being at the Dartford Crossing where livestock had got onto the M25 and we were delayed over an hour. We had left later than we had hoped, so with the delay at Dartford and by the time we had had lunch at Cambridge, we got up to Doncaster and Leeds in time to catch the rush hour traffic and more delays on the A1(M).
We finally arrived on the camp site at about 7pm after over eight and a half hours. The camp site proved to be very quiet and fairly basic.
It was like an up market Barracks Farm (a campsite in Dovedale which whilst idyllic in its location, is as basic as they come!). We did not have mains hook-up so had bought a super-duper Coleman Xtreme Cooler cold box. We packed it with ice packs, frozen bottles of water and chilled beer, soft drinks and wine. We even found room to get some food in it! We had a fridge thermometer and for the whole week the temperature inside stayed around 3 to 4 degrees which was amazing, as good as the fridge at home. It has to be said that the ambient temperature was at best 15 to 16 degrees and frequently more like 11 to 12 degrees!
Our first night passed without incident and we had a really nice walk into Gayle and Hawes on Saturday morning, then on to Hardraw where we had lunch in the Green Dragon Pub and visited Hardraw Scaur, a waterfall famous for having the greatest single drop of around 100 feet in the UK.
In the evening, back at the campsite we had what would prove to be our only barbecue of the holiday and sat out enjoying the sunny but rather chilly evening. As we went to bed the wind was starting to get up and we ended up having a very disturbed night. The wind gave the trailer tent an absolute pounding. Wendy lay awake consoling herself that the tent wouldn’t roll down the hill because the car was in the way, little realising that she would have been tipped out of bed long before then!
In the morning we witnessed the damage around us. A trailer tent in a much more exposed part of our field was totally wrecked
and several tents of the fibre glass pole variety were flattened with broken poles and ripped fabric. Our Cabanon trailer tent was unscathed!
Sunday the wind blew all day and it was pretty cold and overcast, so we went to the Whitescar caves and then had a walk by the Ribblehead Viaduct. The caves were fantastic, an 80 minute tour underground with some spectacular caverns and really low galleries, one of them aptly named the ‘Gorilla Walk’. The viaduct was a very impressive Victorian structure built in the back end of nowhere which carries the Settle to Carlisle line.
We walked up the side of the valley and then followed the track to Blea Moor sidings – even more desolate! Blea Moor signal box claims the UK’s loneliest signal box.
When we got back to the campsite the wind was howling and forecast to be even worse than the night before, which indeed it proved to be. Our Dutch neighbours went off to the local Youth Hostel for the night. It was amazing to watch some of the tents around us being absolutely battered
yet in the morning there was not that much damage. It must have been a case of the survival of the fittest! Saturday night had thinned out the more vulnerable tents and they had gone leaving the more robust ones to survive.
On Monday we drove over to Swaledale via Buttertubs Pass
and toured around in the car visiting Keld, having lunch in Muker and going on to Reeth where we had a walk along the river to the suspension bridge.
Again it was very windy, but generally bright and sunny. Back at the tent, the wind had dropped away and it was a calm evening, albeit cold, but sunny.
Tuesday was a marathon walking day. We parked at the National Park Centre car park and walked to Janet’s Foss, then went on to Malham Cove via Gordale Scar. It wasn’t supposed to rain, but as we approached Gordale Scar the drizzle got heavier and heavier and we were soaked
It had eased by the time we got back down to the bridge and had a cup of tea from the van, so we decided to revert to plan A and take the route across the top via the limestone pavement above Malham Cove. Unfortunately the heavens opened again en route and the limestone pavement, always a broken leg waiting to happened, was pretty slippery by the time we got there so we had to take great care.
The cove itself was very impressive and fully lived up to the hype. Watching the climbers tackling the overhangs on the cliff face was mesmerising.
On the way back to the camp site we stopped off in Hawes, had a couple of pints of Yorkshire beer and had fish & chips at the Chippy. When we got back to the camp site it was rather cold, but we have a special catalytic gas heater, so we zipped ourselves into the main tent and with the heater on we were quite comfortable.
Wednesday, we decided to take it easy and drove up to Ribblehead Station to have a look around. Although the line is operational – Network Rail/Northern Rail, the station is of interest because it and the whole line actually, were saved from closure in the 1990’s. The whole thing was in a very run down state, but after its reprieve the whole line has been renovated and restored by a combination of public/private/charitable funding so it is a bit like a heritage line. A long weekend trip has been earmarked for next year to include a trip on the line.
After Ribblehead we went on to the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. This turned into a “walk too far”! There were a huge number of steps up and down along the beckside path and the weather progressively deteriorated. After walking up one beck, we crossed over open moorland in penetrating drizzle before descending down another beck back to our starting point. The falls were spectacular
but it was too far and when we got back into Ingleton Wendy had had enough and found a bench in the village square where she sat in the rain looking very bedraggled whilst Kim went and got the car.
In the car she was very grateful for Kim’s heated seats and when we got back to the tent, having changed into dry clothes she retired to bed to warm up. Later she was able to get up and enjoy the heat of our gas heater.
Wednesday night was another wild one and with a forecast of more of the same to come we ummed and ahhed whether to pack up and go home on Thursday morning. Initially we decided to spend Thursday doing non-weather-dependent things like the Creamery and Museum and go home on Friday. Our thinking when it comes to going home is heavily influenced by our ability to dry out a wet tent. Being a trailer tent we can’t just put it up in the back garden. Come Thursday morning, however, when we looked at the comparative weather for both Hawes and Hawkinge for the Friday, the decision was made for us.
We packed up Thursday morning in blustery drizzle and low cloud. The tent wasn’t saturated but it was pretty damp. The drive home was way better than the drive up. We pulled off the site at about 12.30pm and even stopping for a quick Burger King on the A1, were home by 7.00pm.
On Friday we were able to open up the main trailer tent on the drive
and spread the awning out on the back lawn.
Kim did point out, that in spite of having to contend with the brick paving, we could have put the whole lot up on the drive.
Overall the weather was disappointing but we both agreed that the Dales are just such a stunning part of the country that it was all worth it and we will go back one day.
Thursday, 18th August 2016 – Emjaytoo Is Up For Sale!
If you’ve been on the old Emjaytoo website you will know this. The forms were all signed and sent off to the Dutch brokerage before we went up to Yorkshire and whilst we were up there, the “Schepenkring” posted up our boat with only external photo’s, which we then found was due to the fact that the marina had “lost” the keys to the boat! They have only been using these keys for the last nine years, every winter, to gain access so they can winterise and service the boat!
Anyway, several e-mails later, they confirm that they have “found” the keys and, hey presto, they then post up internal photos! We have to say that they have taken an excellent set of photos and the advert really shows her off to a “T”. So, now we wait and see what happens.
It is really strange. We don’t feel as if it is our boat anymore. Kim has certainly moved on in his mind, although Wendy is not quite there yet.
This weekend, we have a big family gathering at Petrel Way – Kim’s children and grand-children, so a busy time and the following weekend we are off for a fortnight’s camping in Italy.
Saturday, 27th August 2016 – Off to Italy.
Both Wendy & Kim had had Friday off work and whilst we had tried to bring our ferry crossing forward (we abandoned the idea when we found it would cost an extra £135) we were glad of the day to get packed and do all the necessary prior things like cutting the grass etc.
We were booked on the 7:35am P & O ferry, Dover to Calais and as P & O were all “doom & gloom” about how long it would take to check in and what the delays could be, we decided to aim for the 6:40am ferry on the basis that if we caught it, we would have more time in hand for the long drive and if the forecast delays did manifest themselves, we would have enough time to ensure we still got our booked crossing. Having the alarm go off at 4:00am on Saturday morning was a bit of a shock to the system, but we were down at Dover by 5:30am and would you believe it, the place was deserted! There was always the risk we wouldn't get put on the earlier crossing, but that wasn't the case and we were feeling pretty smug. The ferry was quite busy and Wendy suggested going up to the Brasserie for breakfast – table service and no pressure to leave when you have finished. We got a table, no trouble and had a very civilised 'full English'. It wasn't actually that much more expensive than the cafeteria.
We were off the ferry and on the motorway by 10:00am (French time) and had a really good run up to our lunch stop around Ligny-en-Barrois. We had decided to take sandwiches and so avoid the necessity to endure the 'bun-fights' that inevitably occur at French motorway services. We found a fairly quiet and pleasant “Aire”. The motorways were very quiet and the weather very hot & sunny.
We had targeted a campsite near Colmar - Clairs Vacances - for our overnight stop and made it comfortably, arriving at about 5:00pm. As it was only an overnight stop, we opened up the main part of the trailer tent, but thereafter did not even bother with the zip-in ground sheet. This was Wendy's idea and after Kim had rubbished the idea, he then did exactly that and announced what a great idea it was. Men!
After we had got the tent and bed sorted
we then headed for the swimming pool where the temperature was a stated 28 degrees C. After our swim we picked up some tarte flambée (sort of onion, bacon and cream pizza) and frites from the campsite take-away. We ate it with our fingers, washed down with some beer. So there was no cooking and no washing up! Ideal for an overnight stop.
Sunday, 28th August 2016 – Over The Alps.
After a quick shower & breakfast, we were off the campsite by 9:15am. A quick note on the showers at Clairs Vacances – they were probably the best showers of any campsite/marina. Each shower room had a wash hand basin as well as a shower and enough room to hold a party! None of this hopping around on one foot trying to keep your clothes dry!
The campsite was only about a kilometre off the motorway, so we were back on our way in no time. Soon we were at the Swiss Border and it was only by chance that we got in the right lane to purchase our vignette, otherwise we would have sailed through wondering where to get it. The vignette - CHF 40 for the car and CHF 40 for the trailer, is required to travel on Swiss motorways. There is no avoiding it as they use scanners and numberplate recognition to catch those who try to avoid it. The other thing about Switzerland, is that the towing speed on their motorways is 80kph (about 50mph), which seems ridiculously slow as everything hammers past you at 120/130kph, but those towing all seem to observe the limit.
When we stopped for a coffee there was a Swiss car with a trailer and Wendy went over to ask them what speed they drove at – 80kph was the answer. Since we never overtook a trailer/caravan and, more to the point, none overtook us it seemed to be the case. The two men Wendy spoke to were Swiss-German speaking, so Wendy spoke to them in German and they replied in ordinary German, but it was clear they were struggling with ordinary German which tickled Wendy.
Any trip from France to Italy involves crossing the Alps. One can go directly from France to Italy, but via Switzerland is more direct and we then chose the St Gotthard as our point to cross the Alps. St Gotthard has both a pass and a road tunnel. We had read that the tunnel frequently has delays of over an hour so we decided on the pass.
Kim had done “a pass” back in the '90s with a camping trailer, but couldn't remember which one. In any event the Caravan Club website said the pass was suitable for caravans. As we approached the motorway junction where the pass splits off from the tunnel, the traffic started to slow up and we got off the motorway at just the right moment. The road up to the pass was okay, pretty steep, lots of hairpin bends and mostly 2nd gear with some 1st gear. It would have been okay if it weren't for the road works! Outside temperatures were about 34 degrees, but the car's engine temperature remained constant at 90 degrees. The car, however, has an oil temperature read out and that started climbing steadily, over a 100, then 110, 120 and pushing 130. What that meant Kim didn't know, but he was concerned especially as he was aware that some caravaners have an oil cooler fitted to their cars. Anyway it didn't seem to do any harm and no warning lights came on!
What did start to become an issue, however, was our fuel level. When we started the ascent the remaining fuel was showing about 200 km. But this started to go down dramatically! When Kim said to Wendy “we will need to get fuel soon”, she asked how much did we have left? Less than 100km was the reply and the gauge was going down before Kim's eyes. As we crested the top of the pass we were down to 50km! Once over the top, it was all down hill with hardly any throttle and mostly in 3rd and 2nd gear. By the time we got back on the motorway we were back up to 100km. We drove past miles of stationary cars queueing to go through the tunnel the other way, then dived into the first set of motorway services for a well needed refuel – both for the car and ourselves! Again we had sandwiches for lunch so were self-sufficient.
The thing that took some getting used to was that once over the Alps, we were in Italian speaking Switzerland, not Italy. We had to ask at the services what country we were in as the fuel pump had two displays “L” and “CHF”. Litres? But what about Euros? Of course they were Swiss Francs! Once over the border, it was only another couple of hours and we were at the campsite – 5:00pm.
The journey through Switzerland, apart from the St Gotthard pass, was pretty boring, most of the motorway has been tunnelled through the mountains and there is nothing to see. In fact it wasn't much different in Italy.
When we arrived at the campsite it was 32 degrees, so we decided to just put the main tent up and leave the awning and annexe till the morning when it would be cooler. After a beer to cool down, we set off on foot to the town of Sorico a kilometre or so away and found a nice little restaurant – Ristorante Biffi and had an excellent meal for €60.
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