Monthly Archives: June 2013

Abergwynant Farm CL, Abergwynant – Score 4/5

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Just back from a weekend alongside the glorious Mawddach Estuary, nestled between Dolgellau and Barmouth. This Caravan Club CL site is deep into the farmland of Abergwynant Farm, away from any traffic or distractions. The site has full EHU and piped TV. With a tarmac approach all the pitches are grassed and there’s ample room. The farm is in a bowl with natural shelter provided by the surrounding hills and the wooded area the site is sat alongside. There’s lots of room for dog exercising in the nearby gated field. The nightly cost is £15.

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Mutts considers the merits of horse meat – Note the pan at the ready “From Pasture to Plate”

So whats the negatives about this excellent site I hear you ask? Well, only one…The shower/toilets. They’re located at the main farmhouse, which is about a 300m walk. No big deal I hear you shout, well it might be, if your not to sharp on your pins, or the weathers poor, remember it rains in “Wet Wales”. So if you don’t like using your “facilities” or don’t have any, be prepared for a hike.

It hammered down with rain on the Friday night, so I quickly slipped into “Roger the Dodger” mode and feigned a bad back to avoid the mutts night-time comfort patrols…Tee hee! She’ll never know!

But next morning the sun was shining, yipppeeee. So I was miraculously back to fighting fitness and ready for a full english and some local exploring!

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A snipers view of the campsite, with my backdoors in the scope!

 

A short walk through the farm wood brings you directly onto the  http://www.mawddachtrail.co.uk  This is a walking/cycling route, that follows a defunct railway line between Dolgellau and Barmouth. See the info from the website reproduced below:

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The campsite is located about 3.5 miles south of Dolgellau, so its a healthy 6 miles stroll to Barmouth! But very flat, so thats good, isn’t it? This is tidal water and when it comes in, its quick, so be warned if you fancy some estuary walking! Also be aware of cyclists who are using the route, especially if the dogs off the lead. Some of the cyclists seem to be operating in “Stealth Mode”

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Where the footpath from Abergwynant Farm finishes and joins the Mawddach Trail

Once you join the trail you have two options, walk to Barmouth or walk to Dolgellau. If you walk to Dolgellau, you can stop at the George pub for refreshment…..No option for that on the way to Barmouth, for you sir its….March or Die!

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The other half and the mutt “March or Die”

So overall we had a great time here. Its a fantastic location if you like peace and quiet, with decent walks. We are definitely going to return, this could be one of our winter sites. One of the regulars told me its very busy in the summer, so book early to bag your spot.

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Gonads – There they were, Gone!

Yep, our favourite mutt is now walking around gingerly and talking in a high pitched voice.

Yesterday, he had a visit to all the nice ladies at the vets, who always make such a fuss of him. He walked in with “The other half”, tail waging, flicking his paws out as he walked (Yippee Mum, I love the vets, look at me, look at me…pant pant), everything was going well, until the lead passed to the young nurse and “The other half” turned around and walked away….She had a quick look over her shoulder to see Muttley trying to frantically reverse in a narrow space and follow his mum…..no chance. Anyway, all done. Nuts now in the bin, where they can’t do any harm!

Today he’s a bit careful and feeling sorry for himself. Crafty as he is, every time the other half is in the same room he is milking the sympathy….big time. He should be on the stage. Doesn’t work with me….Tough Love. (Stand Easy Soldier).

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Upcoming Weekend – Mawddach Estuary (Penmaenpool)

Off on our travels this friday, to Abergwynant Farm, which is alongside the Mawddach Estuary between Dolgellau and Barmouth.  http://www.abergwynantfarmholidays.co.uk/page_2331094.html

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I’ve done my homework this time and picked a site with piped TV, so that we can enjoy Wimbledon and Glastonbury. Fingers crossed for the weather!

Load up the chucklebus my lovely and chill my beers!

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Tyn Cornel Camping and Caravan Site, Bala – Score 3.5/5

Last weekend we spent two nights at Tyn Cornel Camping and Caravan site a couple of miles outside of Bala. The site is located opposite the National White Water Centre on the banks of the River Tryweryn. The site owners have put a lot of time and effort into making the facility top notch, the plots are level, most with hard standing and serviced with EHU. Be aware there’s no freeview signal onsite, neither will you pick up analogue radio, so we used our 3g mifi and streamed radio for the weekend, it worked a treat. The facilities are immaculate, the toilet/shower blocks are kept beautifully clean. Some previous reviewers have complained that the site is a bit regimented, I don’t see that. They only ask that you abide by the site rules in relation to how you conduct yourself, and respect the other guests, i’m very happy to sign up to that.

If your a dog owner, they have an enclosed dog exercise area, our mutt loved it.

Negatives. The pitch layout is a bit sterile, I would like to see some planting between the pitches just to break it up a bit.

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Also the site was well below capacity when we were there, at £20+ odd quid per night, perhaps they should consider a lower price out of season. We stayed for two nights and didn’t really use the onsite camp facilities. A CL would cost me £12 max a night, so pricing is important to the consumer. It means when we are looking to slip a way for a night or two somewhere local, we will go elsewhere because its cheaper. £44 for two nights or £24…do the maths!

We had a restful first night, just the sound of the rain pattering on the van…love it. Next morning we mooched around the van for a bit before hitching up the mutt and took ourselves out of the back of the campsite onto a footpath that takes you along the River Tryweryn.

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Mutts decides he won’t try white water kayaking….today!

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As we walked upstream through the groups of youngsters undergoing training at the White Water Centre, it was fascinating to watch, it looked like hard work, but they were clearly enjoying themselves.

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Canoeing uphill! A thankless task.

Eventually we reached the sluicegates that feed the river. This is directly below the reservoir of Llyn Celyn. A place that kickstarted Welsh Nationalism in the 1950’s/60’s when it was decided to empty the village of Capel Celyn, construct the reservoir and then flood it. Its seems inconceivable now…or is it? The water was destined for Liverpool. In 2005 Liverpool city council issued the following statement:

The Council acknowledges its debt to the many thousands of Welsh people who have made their homes in the City. They have, in so many ways, enriched the life of the City.We know that Liverpool, especially in the fields of medicine and education, has been of real service to the people of Wales.We realise the hurt of forty years ago when the Tryweryn Valley was transformed into a reservoir to help meet the water needs of Liverpool.For any insensitivity by our predecessor Council at that time, we apologise and hope that the historic and sound relationship between Liverpool and Wales can be completely restored.
Llyn Celyn looking towards the peak of Arenig

Llyn Celyn looking towards the peak of Arenig

Getting from the sluice gate to the dam, involved walking back to the main road and then dicing with death for 3/4 mile along the A road, until we reached the reservoir. Its shame there’s no footpaths, it would top off a nice walk along the river……Maybe one day?

So overall we enjoyed our short stay at Tyn Cornel, the owners were welcoming, the site was clean and well equipped and the local area is a place of beauty. If larger campsites are your thing, this site has a lot going for it.

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Upcoming Weekend – Bala

So this weekend, we’re filling the chucklebus with my best one-liners and heading off for a barrel of laughs at a campsite near Bala. Its a site called Tyn Cornel Camping & Caravan Park, it has mixed web reviews, the negatives seem to infer that the site is very regimented and the drainage is bad. The good ones say they love the order and cleanliness!

We had originally booked to stay earlier in the year, but “Snowmaggadon” put paid to that, with the site pipes freezing up etc. The owners phoned to say it was not open and we could return at our leisure later in the year…so here we come!

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The Lodge CL, Halmer End, Stoke on Trent – Score 4/5

We visited this site on the recommendation of fellow time travellers, Cap’n Bertie and his good lady M’Julie. We turned up late on a very sunny Fri afternoon, just as the farm traffic on the adjacent lane was winding down for the weekend. The site is well laid out, with all five pitches offering some privacy with shrub hedging.

All the pitches offer south facing aspects for the sun, additionally the site is well sheltered in a bowl of trees from any prevailing winds….Top Marks to the owners, who have clearly thought a great deal about this. Facilities wise, just EHU and normal waste disposal….So no toilet/shower facilities. But at £11 a night, on a well laid out site, you really don’t need a lot. The site also has its own fishing pool, stocked with tench and carp.

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The Mutt guarding his food bowl filler-uppers

No Wifi on site, but we were able to use our MIFI on the 3 Network, Freeview is available, but it was patchy on our system. We gave up in the end.

For the first night we ordered a curry from the Royal Balti at nearby Audley, this was promptly delivered by the takeaway and thus everyone went to bed happy and full and very windy! The Naans are the size of baby blankets, be warned.

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Next Day: Yours truly moving the Royal Balti takeaway from the van to the recycling point….I’m so green, I don’t even know it.

The following morning we woke up to the sound of birdsong and the sun was shining. Actually the pitch was under the rays from first till last light, which in the UK is absolute heaven, we even had the awning out for the full 48hrs of our stay.

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Breakfast

The site is in a very rural  location, it sits alongside the Batewood Nature reserve, which has acres and acres of well laid out paths through woodland and open pasture, ideal for the dogs, ours certainly loved it. The village of Halmer End is also close, 5 mins walk and has a pub and newsagents.

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The Missus and Mutt try to outpace me in Bateswood!….No chance

The nature reserve also has its fair amount of interesting wildlife, including Skylarks and Dragon Flies. Signage in the reserve is not brilliant, I would suggest you take a map, or use a map app on your phone. Either way, its a nice place to spend a summers afternoon.

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A small lake in the nature reserve from a Viewing Butt.

Overall, a perfect bolthole for us, as its only an hours drive from our base location. Well done Bertie, great location, we will certainly use this for a weekend run again.

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The Next Trip – The Lodge, Halmerend, Staffordshire

This weekend we are staying at a CL recommended by Cap’n Bertie the salty submariner and his good lady M’Julie. Lots of dog walking areas, a nature reserve, skylarks, what more could you want on a  weekend…Mmmm; well actually full digital TV and a signal on my 3 network IPhone would be nice Santa! Fingers crossed.

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The Cumbrian Coast – Part Two.

After leaving Allonby we headed south along the coast to Broughton On Furness, passing Sellafield en-route. We stayed at The School House CL a couple of mile outside the village. The site was very clean, tidy and clearly a lot of investment had taken place. My only negative comments would be the small amount of area allocated to the 5 allowed caravans/motorhomes and its closeness to the road, which although a B road, has a fair amount of traffic on it. Its also very tight for bigger units entering and exiting the site, exacerbated by a blind summit. If your a caravanner and don’t have a mover fitted, ensure your reversing skills are good!

Whist there we did a few nice walks around the local area, although this area is part of the lakes, its a few miles from Coniston Water and not as rugged as some areas. We enjoyed the walks, which can be managed in most weathers. The village of Broughton On Furness is quite nice, with a decent baker and welcoming pub, the village is reached by walking the route of the old Coniston  Railway, from our site it took about 50 mins.

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The route of the old Coniston Railway

On route is a small lake/large pond, which has private fishing notices. A good spot for a sit down and a sandwich.

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The Missus and the Mutt practicing their water obstacle crossing drills. I shout encouragement from a safe position

We also walked to Broughton Mills(the mills are long gone). This is a tiny cumbrian hamlet nestled in the next valley. The walk was mainly cross country on public footpaths. As you walk you can see how good the pasture land is, its lush green grass readymade for the sheep that graze it.

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Looking down into Broughton Mills

There is a great pub called the Blacksmith Arms in this village that has a decent menu of lunchtime food, I would imagine its quite popular on the weekends.

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The Blacksmiths Arms, Broughton Mills

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The classic Cumbrian view.

Would I visit again? probably not, on our next visit we’ll head further into the Lake District and find ourselves a remote hill farm to park up at. I did notice one called Upper Hawthwaite, a fairly isolated farm CL perched on the valley peak north west of Broughton on Furness…..maybe that one next time.

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