As it was the 4th anniversary of Vic and I starting to go out together, we booked a table for lunch at Wildings in the nearby coastal town of Maidens. The food was very good (though a little light on the vegetables, something which is common in Scotland). After lunch we walked down along the harbour wall before heading back to the site.
That evening, the skies started to look darkly threatening again, and just as I set off to the toilets, the heavens opened with the most torrential downpour that we’d seen during the trip (and we’d seen a few!). I was trapped in the toilet block while the road outside turned into a stream. After about 15 minutes, it lightened enough for me to be able to sprint back to the van. Vic said it had been just like sitting in a carwash!
The weekend was upon us and phoning a few campsites revealed that the spot of pleasant weather we were having meant that most of the campsites were booked up. We found one near Maybole in Ayrshire which wasn’t full and set off in that direction. After a slight panic where we almost ran out of diesel when we reached Maybole, we made our was to The Walled Garden Caravan site. As you would imagine, this was a site inside the walled garden of a large Victorian house. The site was very well run and maintained, and the staff running the site were very friendly.
Another fine, dry day, but time to move on. We had considered visiting the Lake District, but the need to get to Edinburgh in Scotland for the following Thursday, and the likelihood of sites being booked up with it being the weekend meant that we pushed on into Scotland along the M6 and then the A74(M).
We picked Moffat as a likely place to stop and headed there. The better of the two sites there was fully booked so we settled for another nearby. The pitch area for campervans wasn’t particularly welcoming but we managed to get an electrical hookup sorted out. As we were settling down for a barbecue dinner, a large “safari bus” of young Germans pulled up and parked a few yards away. The travellers all piled out picked their bags up from lockers under the bus. I guessed that they’d all have tents and would walk further onto the site to pitch them but no, the bus driver went up a ladder on to the top of the bus and after a bit of jiggery-pokery, a tent-like canvas construction pulled up on the top of the bus and everyone climbed up there to sleep. Useful for keeping the wildlife at bay when on a real safari, but it’s unlikely that they’d be attacked by wild haggis in Scotland!
I walked into High Bentham early on Thursday morning to get a newspaper (no radio signal again…). It was quite a walk, much further than I’d remembered from the previous day, but after about 40 minutes I got back to the van, only to find that a few minutes after I’d left a van had been round offering milk and newspapers for sale.
After a leisurely breakfast, we decided that we really should make use of the bikes which we’d been lugging round everywhere (and which we’d only used briefly, in Cornwall and Glastonbury). The site owner suggested a route and we set off. I suspect that the site owner had never attempted the route on a bike, as it started off with a very long, steep hill which we ended up walking part of. The sunny day made it quite hard going, but it was still a pleasant route. After cycling round, up and and down lots of hills we made it back to High Bentham and retired to the local pub for a couple of beers, before going a bit of grocery shopping and whizzing down the hill back to the site for a good night’s rest.
Needing to push on up the country, we set off relatively early and made rapid progress up the A49 and then on to the M6. Checking through our campsite books, we found a likely site at High Bentham, near Lancaster (though actually in Yorkshire!) again called “Riverside”. We had a hard-standing pitch close to the toilet block, but due to the amount of rain that had been falling, the grass adjacent to the pitch was waterlogged so we had to do a bit of manoeuvring in order to find somewhere dry to put the awning up. The rain had stopped and it was looking brighter so we decided to stay for two nights.
Leaving the site relatively early in quite a downpour, we had to stop after a mile or so when the van overheated. Further inspection showed that this was due to the drive-belt breaking. T25’s don’t have a “fan belt” as such, as the fan is at the front and the engine is at the back. The drive-belt powers the alternator and the water-pump. We pulled up at a local beauty spot and moved all the kit from the boot of the van into the main body (as the engine compartment is accessed through a hatch in the boot).
Fortunately we had a spare drive-belt, but I found that fitting it wasn’t as simple as the manual would have you believe. A very kind chap who was out walking his dog gave me a hand and by using the old belt to pull the new one we managed to get it fitted. The whole process took a couple of hours though, delaying the journey significantly.
As a result, we decided to travel only as far as Shrewsbury. On reaching the town, we headed for the supermarket to restock on food, and to the local Halfords to replace the drive-belt. We phoned ahead to Beaconsfield Farm Caravan Park to check what time they were open until. They said they closed at 7pm and at 6:30 we were still shopping. As we came to the checkout, there was a slight power blip, causing the lights to dim. It also caused all of the checkouts to reboot. (For those of a nerdy persuasion, the tills were using an AMI BIOS and running Windows 2000 Professional). Fortunately, as each till came back online, they recovered their session so that none of the shopping had to be re-scanned. The delay made it unlikely that we’d get to the site for 7pm, so we called again and they agreed to hold on until 7:15.
We made it with a minute or so to spare. The site uses a barrier with a passcode so once reception is closed, no new arrivals can get onto the site. The site also had a restaurant and swimming pool, though we didn’t make use of either facility. The rain continued to pour down, with some still coming through the sky-light in the van. We managed to stay dry by getting up every now and then and wringing out the Jeyes cloths which were soaking up the leak.
We’d had a very relaxing time in Glastonbury, but on Monday 2nd August we recommenced our journey northward. Having set off quite late from Glastonbury we decided that we wouldn’t be getting very far that day and so aimed for Great Malvern.
Having driven around the town briefly we drove up to a nearby campsite, Riverside at Little Clevelode. After dinner, we walked down to the river which runs through one end of the site and watched the water run by. Returning to the van, the weather turned once more and it started to rain, continuing through the night and into the next morning.