#DeutscheBimble15 – And Jack Came Tumbling Down!

Day 13 – 15 Tannheim (Austria)

1126 Miles

We left Oberstdorf early on Monday morning, not really sure where we would end up! At some point we crossed over into Austria, so I stopped, coughed up the required €8.50 for the vignette, that is a charge for all foreign vehicles on Austrian roads…(Why don’t we do that in the UK, a nice little earner to help improve our road system). We then started to climb up into the Tyrol, through a series of hairpins, great fun for me…

The area

The area

We were heading to Ruete, our plan was to stop briefly, have a few pics in Austria for the album, then swing north to Fussen. That plan dissipated as we climbed to a height of about a 1000 metres and the vista of the glorious Tannheim Valley opened up in front of us.

Tannheim Valley

Tannheim Valley

We spotted a campsite on the mountainside, directly below the Einstein Peak and after a conversation with Caroline at Camping Alpenwelt we decided we would have three nights here

http://www.tannheimertal-camping.com

The site is fairly small, quiet and well equipped. We bagged a south facing pitch at the top of the site…well happy!

The Alpen Welt Campsite

The Alpenwelt Campsite

We spent the afternoon on a stroll down to the main town of Tannheim. Just a 30 minute walk away. Through the small alpine hamlets, pasture land, then into the clean, beautifully designed town.

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During the walk I’d been taking note of the peak that dominated the skyline above our campsite; Gilpfel Einstein, at 1860m it was a chance to bag a decent peak by British standards, and with great weather and a fairly well-defined track with just a hint of scrambling, well within our capabilities.

The Assault on Gipfel Einstein

Next morning, we were on our way fairly sharpish, I wanted to get up on top by lunchtime. Initially the approach was through a forest track, that climbed, and climbed and climbed! It took about an hour to get to the point where the terrain changed, the path became narrower, steeper, more rocky, this was the start of the grafting stage.

As we climbed, we came across a memorial fixed to a tree. A loose translation below:

The memorial to  Gottfried Ammann

The Way to God is Over the Mountain

in Memory

of 

Gottfried Ammann

The Host of the Shepherds Hut

For you God, you created us, and our heart is restless, till it rests in you.

                                                                                          Holy Augustine

We were now 2/3rds of the way to the top and the Other Half was requiring that tender, nurturing encouragement, that ex-British Army NCO’s are famous for. I like to call it “The velvet fist in an iron glove”. I went through the A-Z of “Encouragement Tips for Sadists. By now she hated me, it wasn’t only the heat of the sun burning into my back as we climbed. Oh by the way! did I mention the wasp sting? Little blighter crawled up the inside leg of my Borat style shorts and stung me on the inner thigh, I’m sure I caught the glimmer of a slight smile on the face of the Other Half, through my tear-filled eyes. You might think this was my Karma moment?, oh no, this was to come later!

If looks could kill………...

If looks could kill…………

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On the final ridge

During this stage of what we will now call “The Epic Struggle”, we’d been overtaken by about 4 groups of German/Austrian couples and a couple of old geezers cheerily making their way to the summit. I had sort of hoped they might be gone by the time we reached the peak, but no such luck, with our last scramble tottering precariously between victory on one side, and a substantial period of falling on the other, we made it! Bless the locals, they must have had a discussion about us, as they sportingly raised a resounding cheer as our sunburnt heads and one x knackered poodle appeared over the final precipice! Gipfel Einstein was ours!

Victory!

Victory!

The view

The view

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Not bad for an iphone snap

A happy bunny.

A happy bunny.

We stayed on the summit, long enough to savour the views, give the Mutts his dinner and rehydrate ourselves. We then commenced the walk down. No Problemo you might think? Now it’s been a long running saga between me and the other half about the state of my boots, well the soles actually, which are almost worn flat in places! I’d been whinging for the best part of 12 months that I needed a new pair.  If the truth be told, I’m to tight to fork out on a new pair, and she won’t encourage me to buy new ones, so stalemate!…Mistake No 1.

You guessed it, about 15 minutes into the descent, I was happily skipping from rock to stone, interspersed with steep gravel tracks, when my world suddenly took on a new aspect, as I found myself defying gravity(but not in a good way) as my feet seemed to leave the ground on their own accord…..snap, nano-sec thought…”this is going to hurt“. Somehow I turned over mid-flight and crashed to the floor, pretty much unable to break my fall, very conscious that my forehead was just about to smash into the rock…..Now a few weeks ago, I managed to crowd source a new Tilly Hat for my birthday, basically I blagged a couple of friends and family to chip in for it. It’s my pride and joy!  So, as my head closed in on the aforementioned rock, I’m sure sub-consciously I was thinking…”Tilly Hat/Forehead/Blood/Avoid and as such, managed to put the brakes on my neck muscles. All I felt (from this part of the body)was the front peak softly resting between the rock and my forehead.  This dear friends was only part of my Karma moment!

I managed to get to my feet, light-headed and a little sore on the knees, with a cut hand, and with “gentle encouragement” from the Other Half staggered to a nearby tree for shade and to sort out my ailments. As I plonked myself down, I dumped my daysac on the ground…Mistake No 2.

I watched in horror as my daysac, suddenly rolled down the steep bank I was perched above. Faster and faster it rolled. This bag contained my wallet, camera and the crucial van keys. Mutts our wonder-dog, dutifully chased the bag, at one point I even fancifully thought he might grab it, and return it to his master, like always happens in the Lassie films. No chance, after a few seconds, and with a hop and a skip, he lost interest in that game and returned to me looking for bloody treats! Then in my ear I heard these comforting words “Off you go pet!” as the OtherHalf made it clear this was my mess, and I was WAS going to have to get us out of it. So with bleeding hand, grazed knees, stung inner thigh and bruised pride, I descended down the steep bank for about 100ms, where I recovered the daysac, that had fortunately caught in some bushes, before falling any further. I was knackered, sore and ready to go home!

After that, I lost my appetite for alpine walking, and returned to the campsite, looking like a bloodied survivor  from “The Last of the Alamo.”  Meanwhile the Mutts and the Other Half, strolled in like true alpine warriors…..like they were born to climb!

Later today, we are strolling to a nearby hotel, where rumour has it, you can see Germany’s highest mountain the Zugspitze from the restaurant balcony! Now that’s my sort of Alpine trekking!

Tomorrow we head to Fussen, and the castle made famous in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… Schloss Neuschwanstein.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – Cows with Bells! and other Trivia.

Days 9-12 Stettin – Oberstdorf

1091 Miles

After departing Hinterholz, we drove south to Meersberg, which is on the shore of Lake Constance, the area was absolutely “rammed” with pesky tourists! so we continued on for a few kilometres, finally getting a spot at Stettin, a “Nothing much to write home about” sort of place. So we stayed a night, and then moved swiftly on the next morning.

Our next port of call was Oberstdorf, deep in Southern Bavaria, just a few kilometres from the Austrian border. This was more like it, and vaguely familiar! It turns out I was here in 1982, doing a spot of military skiing, I don’t remember much about that alcohol-fueled fortnight, other than an incident in a Bavarian cellar bar, involving a wall-mounted red plastic lobster, the loss of my Harrington jacket and along with my mate Gags, barely escaping the cellar bar (called the Aquarius”) with our lives, albeit battered andbruised….ahhh happy days!  Anyway, I’m now assuming the bar is long gone, along with the local Chief of Police, and my Harrington! So we decided to park up at Camp Rubi and have three nights in this glorious place.

Camp Rubi

Camp Rubi

The site is nestled below the Nebelhorn, which is some 2224 metres in height and a mecca for parascending.

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Fortunately the ever-efficient Germans have laid on a cable car, so that lazy good for nothing Brits, can get to the top of the mountain without breaking into a sweat…”I’ll have some of that” I cried.  So on an overcast early Saturday morning with sandwiches and wet proofs packed, Me, the Other Half and Mutts the dog, made our way to the Nebelhorn Bahnhof. With a steely determination, that makes the British famous the world over….We would get our cable car ticket, we would ride that cable car, and we would get to the summit of Nebelhorn at 2.224metres! (I’m filling up with pride as I pen this).

 Eine Problem! The Mutts had to wear a muzzle in the cable car, which the ticket office, with an eye on profit also sold! To say the Mutts was not happy was probably an understatement. Looking a little like Hannibal Lector, he whined, he howled, he pawed at his face…errrm #embarrassing. I suspect Mutts was doing other things when they were handing out British “Stiff upper lips” at Dover on the outward-trip.

A nice chianti……..

A nice chianti……..

So after a stiff talking too, threats of violence, pleading, and bribery we managed to drag him onto the cable car.  This routine continued at the next two stops, until we finally made it to the summit, which would have been quite a pleasant ride, if we’d have been lacking a certain dog! 

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In between

In between “Dog Wrestling” a snatched shot from the cable car.

We’d started the journey at the bottom “ala brit” union jack shorts, cut off tee-shirts, flip-flops, you know the routine. The type of stuff you can see on any British mountain on any given weekend of the year. By the time we had reached the top, the summer kit was away and we were fully gore-texed, because unlike the base of the mountain, it was raining sideways at the top.

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We then started the walk down, which took a couple of hours. A really enjoyable walk, along quite steep tracks, in the rain, until we dropped below the cloud base and could really enjoy the alpine views. Brilliant. Even the dog enjoyed it.

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1970’s German Tourism Poster

Oh! Another bucket list item ticked off….Cows with bells!

A cow…with a bell!

A cow…with a bell!

This afternoon, we’ve been invited to an old army buddy’s house a couple of Km’s outside of the town, for a couple of beers and a bite to eat. Should be be good.

Next? Maybe a bit of the “Romantic Strasse” from Fussen – Augsburg…. basically heading up towards Munich.  We move on tomorrow morning, Monday.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – Black Forest Heaven

Day 7 – 8 Neustadt – Hinterholz(Black Forest)

940 Miles

We left Neustadt early on the Tuesday morning, with no real plan, other than to drive to Baden-Baden and pick up the Bundesstrasse B500. This tourist road, built in the 1930’s takes you south from Baden-Baden, through a 2.5km tunnel, it then climbs over the high ground that dominates the north of the Black Forest. The road cuts below the highest point at Hornisgrinde at a height of about 1000m. So to give that some perspective, the road at it’s highest point is just a bit lower than Mt Snowdon. It’s fairly underused, although the pace of life picks up in the winter as the cross-county skiers arrive en-masse. The Chucklebus dealt with the road admirably, although the new set of rear brake pads we had fitted prior to the trip had an opportunity to bed in on the way down! Especially when the one “pimmelkopf” on the road…a middle-aged brit biker, decided at one of the numerous suicidal bends for an overtake. (We saw him later down at the base, I signalled what a good rider he was!)

After climbing over that feature the landscape changed and the area became a mixture of huge swathes of forests interspersed with alpine style villages and pastureland. Beautiful, isolated and peaceful. At this stage we were following the satnav, which took us deeper into the forests, off the main routes…life was getting interesting, lots of switchbacks, hairpins and hill-climbs, all within steep forestry.

This is where we are now. Hinterholz

This is where we are now. Hinterholz

Eventually we ended up in a small hamlet called Hinterholz, consisting of two houses, one of which was a stube. http://www.hinterholzstube.de

Hinterholz. The van is parked behind the facing barn. The pub to the right.

I spoke to the young fraulein who answered in perfect English. Yes! we could park the van here for €5 per night, with electric, “just park alongside the barn”. Happy days, what a fantastic spot, even the mutts was doing cartwheels, especially when he spotted the goats! It turned out that english-speaking Julia was the niece of Heinz, the proprietor of the pub, a really nice guy, who has the good fortune to live in what many brits would consider to be paradise. We certainly did. Without hesitation we decided this would be our base for the next two nights.

The Parking Space!

The Parking Space!

A view!

A view!

Another View!

Another View!

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A damp stroll back to the Chucklebus

So we’ve spent our time doing some forest walks, glimpsing sight of the occasional deer, and generally chilling out. The weather hasn’t been great, similar to the UK I suppose, although slightly warmer, despite the rain. This evening we are planning on a bratty and a couple of beers at the stube, we still can’t believe our luck in finding this….perhaps this is the norm? We will see as we move further south towards Bavaria over the next few days!

Tomorrow we up sticks and drive south to Meersburg, on the shore of Lake Constance.

Stube Update: For “Essen” this evening. Black Forest dry cured bacon(makes a change from gateau). Also rib steak sausage cutlets. Washed down with ice cold Alpirsbach BierVery rustic and very South Germany. The doggy bag is on a full security lockdown until tomorrow.

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – I Ain’t Getting Wet!

The Route From the Moselle

The Route From the Moselle

Day 6 Bremm – Neustadt

815 Miles

Today started off with the best of intentions, we would spend another 24hrs in the Moselle, just one more night! This time we planned to move to Wintrich, which we quite fancied as the campsite was right on the banks of the river…problem was, it was raining…heavily. Now don’t get me wrong, the Moselle is pretty impressive by anyones standard, but when it’s raining, I might as well be stuck in a hole on Senneybridge…been there, done it, got the tee-shirt. So after a quick discussion with the “Other Half”, we decided to say auf wiedersehen to the Moselle and make tracks further south to Neustadt and hopefully better weather, which would also put us closer to our goal of reaching the Black Forest. Much better to be moving with a purpose, than static and staring out of the van window at a rainswept valley….we can do that at home!

As we drove further down the Moselle, it was clear the Germans had “Capital Projects” spilling out of their ears. Bridge building, new roads, general improvements, all designed to support what is effectively a string of villages, supporting a huge drinks and tourism industry. It made me feel as a Brit, fairly inadequate. We just don’t seem to have the will or desire at a political level to get things like this done. If the Germans managed the Lake District, or the North Wales Coast, the transport infrastructure would be very different. The picture below is a bridge, being inserted across the valley, to improve on an existing bridge, that supports a large village…..that’s it! It’s huge and shows a level of commitment that we seem to lack.  Bloody Germans! 🙂

A little bit of bridge building

A little bit of bridge building

Another thing I discovered on todays run…German FM Radio…Oh!! I was in heaven…I found a nationwide station where every track is a classic. No adverts either…Here’s a selection, which those of a certain age or style will appreciate:

Winds of Change – Europe

Who’s got the Look – Roxette

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zep

Hotel California – Eagles

Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears

Never Can Say Goodbye – Gloria Gaynor

Basically it was my entire apple music collection….who wouldn’t want to drive to that?  The “Other Half” had a face like fury, she still thinks she’s 15yrs old and is into Taylor Swift/Rihanna/Mumford & Sons and suchlike. There wasn’t a song I never sang the lyrics too over the period of the 3hour drive…a marvellous day…..For me!

So now it’s a another winery in another Stadt. This time “Weingut Schafer, a peaceful location, just a couple of kms outside of Neustadt. Tomorrow we’re planning to head to Baden-Baden and start the Black Forest stage.

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The entrance

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The view from the Chucklebus

German FM Update. They’ve just played “Disco Duck!”  Big Thumbs up!

That is all

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#DeutscheBimble15 – The Schlep Down South!

Day 1 N. Wales – The Tunnel

300 Miles

Full of joyous optimism, we drove down to the tunnel, sadly that bubble burst about 2hrs into the journey, as we heard reports on the radio that Operation Stack was in force on the M20. Basically the French were kicking off on their side, so our crossings were delayed. The M20 from Junction 8 was now officially a lorry park. With all approaching routes gridlocked. Happy days.

Not to be deterred, we had an overnight stop planned, so we snuck away from the traffic jams and drove the back-roads through the stunning Kent villages and byways, eventually stopping at New Romney, buying excellent fish & chips and parking alongside the shingle beach to enjoy them as the sun was setting. As a child of the 60’s this area is ingrained in my mind. This is the general location that “Dads Army” is based on, a little piece of old England, also I’d spent a lot of my military service in and out of the area on various training stints , so I had a wealth of lamp-swinging stories with which to bore the “Other Half”, normally involving copious amounts of beer and other pub-based shenanigans!….zzzzzzzzzzzzz She slept well.

New Romney beach

New Romney beach

Tomorrow would be another day.

Day 2 Kent – Brugge

379 Miles

After a overnight stop at the services at junction 11, at 0700hrs we attempted to get in the queue to Junc 11a, the mystical location of the tunnel access. Operation Stack had been lifted, all was looking good!,  OMG! Queue of death on the feeder lane into Junc 11a and not a police officer in sight, pandemonium reigned. People were wandering around the motorway, walking the dogs, and making new friends. This is a motorway right? No mate, it’s a bloody car park!

The M20 Carpark

The M20 Carpark

To add insult to injury, The Tunnel publicity department was pumping out meaningless messages via SMS/twitter apologising for the delays…apparently due to an “Incident” at Ashford. Since yesterday we had been following Kent police/highways twitter feeds. They all talked about the queues, but gave no detail or solutions, it was gridlock. Then we decided to tune into local radio…and after about 20mins of inane drivel and cheesy hits of the 80’s, the announcer suddenly piped up Smashy & Nicey styleee…

”Ok folks, I’m hearing there is a lorry broken down at junction 11a. If you’re in a car, avoid the inside lane, you should be able to get access at the point where the lorry is stuck” I could have hugged him. I swung the Chucklebus into Lane 2 and drove through the traffic like the PM’s House of Commons convoy on a Wednesday lunchtime. Within three minutes I was in the tunnel access area. What a very British shambles!

After that, everything went smoothly, albeit with a 2hr delay. Once we exited the tunnel at Calais and headed for Belgium, the migrants were clearly in view, roaming along the motorway and initial junctions, but we were heading the wrong way, so there were no issues for us. By 3pm we were parked up in Brugge at Camp Memling, for an overnight stop. Expensive by our standards, it served our need, as we had always fancied a trip to the city.

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The site is about a 30min walk from the city centre, and we enjoyed a couple of hours mooching around the little streets and squares. Mutts particularly enjoyed our meal, at a restaurant in the main square, hunkered down under the table, covertly receiving his gifts for being a good boy, in the shape of frittes and the occasional slice of omelette. …He’s never been so well behaved!

Later I slept the sleep of 10 men.

Day 3 Brugge – Bergan (Moselle Valley)

630 Miles

Another long run today, moving some 250 miles from Belgium, through Holland and into Germany, a bit like the Blitzkrieg of 1940, but in reverse order and slightly (just) less aggressive in style. I have to say, what an easy drive. The motorways in all three countries are well maintained and tightly controlled. The lorries seem to apply better lane discipline, not sure if it’s through legislation or routine, either way it works. The “Other Half” did a sterling job on the maps (she will be reading this), as we headed up to Antwerp and then swung across towards Eindhooven, Koln and Koblenz, before hitting the Moselle Valley and heading west in the direction of Burgen, our overnight stop.

Burgen

Burgen

Later in the afternoon, I got all military, ordered the Other Half to get her kit on…”Where we going pet, a stroll along the river?” … Nein mein liebling! Das Burgen Hof…. pointing vaguely up to the wooded feature that dominated the skyline on the one side of the horrendously steep valley…. even the dog gave me that look that speaks volumes.  So off we went in 26’c heat, following a well-marked track for an hour until we reached the top of the feature called the “The Burgen Hof”. A much-need opportunity to stretch the legs, after the confines of the van for the previous 48hrs. At the top we were rewarded with a glorious view, across a huge swathe of forest and pasture land, very scenic.

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From the Hof, down to Burgen

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Check me out with my “Crowd Sourced” Tilly!

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A Buzzard!

The area is home to a large number of “Maüse” Buzzards, we saw groups of them hunting within a fairly small area, whereas in the UK we only tend to see ones or two’s, here we counted 6-7 grouped together, the dog stayed close! Great to watch though, even the “Other Half” was impressed with what I’d laid on (cough).

Day 4 – Ernst

646 Miles

It rained, we mooched.

Day 5 – Bremm

668 Miles

The sun shone today, everyones happy again. So now we’re parked up at a small winery called “Oster-Franzen”. A nice 5 mile stroll this afternoon, up the Hechherd.

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Starting off from the stelleplatz at Bremm

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Grapes, grapes and not a drop to drink!

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Very nice

Later this evening for the cost of €10 we attended a wine-tasting for idiots, seemed apt! The “Other half” of course, being a culture vulture and N. Irish to boot, necked all 4 x glasses, in 4 easy movements….so the “Token Brit Couple” were back in the van by 7.30pm, with a curry and the guilty conscience bottle of riesling I’d bought off the proprietors to try and make amends!

That is all.

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#DeutscheBimble15 – The Countdown

The most eagerly awaited event in our annual calendar is nearly upon us. ! Last year we wetted our appetite for foreign jaunts with our #LeGrandeTour14. This year, in a few short days, we”ll be heading into the heart of Germany on #DeutscheBimble15. Hoping to get leathered on cheap wine in the Moselle Valley, stuff ourselves silly in the Black Forest on ham or cake(I’m a brit, I assume that’s what the area is famous for?), get lobster red on the shores of Lake Constance and finally some alpine meanderings before heading north back to Calais and whatever fun awaits us there. (The “other half” is polishing her hockey stick and practising her swing as I write!) 

I have a route in my head…sort off. But nothing booked other than the tunnel….seat of your pants stuff, that’s what keeps the blood flowing old boy; What could possibly go wrong!

To be continued…………..

That is all.

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The Bolthole – No1

This weekend we thought we would find a site closer to home, one that might offer “Bolt-hole” status for those Fridays, when you just want to throw a few items into the van and trundle up the road for half an hour to peace and tranquility. We decided the pre-requisites for the bolt-hole were as follows:

  1. It must be within 30 minutes from home.
  1. Isolated and quiet.
  1. Decent walks directly from the site.

So having studied the map, we happened upon: http://www.felin-uchaf.com Felin-Uchaf is a C & C certified site, a mile or so east of the village of Cynwyd, just past Corwen on the A5 in North Wales. The site owners have done a lovely job; it’s tucked away in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains, just on the edge of Cynwyd Forest. Very quiet, peaceful and beautifully isolated.

Felin-Uchaf

Felin-Uchaf

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The site is accessed from the nearby village of Cynwyd(which has a pub!), it’s well signed from the village, only 5 mins drive. On arrival, the pitches are clearly marked and are a mixture of well-mown grass or HS, all with EHU. The site offers two showers/toilets (£1 per 5 mins), which are clean and very well maintained. Indeed the whole site is immaculate. The nightly cost is £15, at that price, in such a fantastic spot, I would imagine they get quite a lot of returning visitors. The site opens Mar-Oct.

Additionally each pitch has access to a satellite connection, (you can hire the receiver box/cable from the owners).

If you need to have phone contact whilst here, this may be an issue (for others it’s a bonus) I managed to get a signal on “3” when the wind was blowing in the right direction, I also just managed to scrape through with a MIFI signal on 3…nothing on E+E or O2. Just be aware of that. Also, no FM or Digital signal, hence the owners renting out the Sat links.

Cynwyd Forest is accessible along a little used lane. Once inside the forest, you can walk for miles, you will have climbed a fair bit to get here, for starters the campsite is on the 250m contour!

View of the site…and the chucklebus, from the approach lane to Cynwyd Forest

View of the site…and the chucklebus, from the approach lane to Cynwyd Forest

From the forest you can directly access the Berwyns, its hill features surround the forest, most of them are 500-600m peaks, so certainly good for a bracing days walk on the hills, but in this part of the world a weather check would be advisable.

A view of the Berwyn's, from the forest.

A view of the Berwyn’s, from the forest.

What we also like about the forest was the absence of livestock, so the dog was able to stay off the lead. No cattle grids on the entry/exit, so I assume this is probably the case throughout the year.

The Other Half and Mutts, sprinting away to victory!

The Other Half and Mutts, sprinting away to victory! “It’s not a race!”

The Other Half tries to persuade Mutts to go for a little swim.

The Other Half tries to persuade Mutts to go for a little swim!

Token Mutts picture at the lunch spot

Token Mutts picture at the lunch spot

So this site could certainly fit the criteria of “Bolthole”. We loved it and will certainly return.

That is all.

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The Old Man of Coniston

It’s always a bind having to update the blog after you left the location you want to write about. So I’m “thumb-typing” this one from the comfort of my armchair, a few days after leaving the Lake District. After our previous adventure we packed up the Chucklebus and headed to the south of the lakes at Coniston Water.

Coniston CC Site. Located just south of the village of Coniston, is a sprawling well laid out Caravan Club main site. It has 250 pitches set in a heavily wooded area 200 metres from the west side of Coniston Water and boasts full facilities. We stayed during the Easter Bank Holiday and it was full to the brim.

The Pitch

The Pitch

However because it’s so big( 5-6 mins walk to get to reception), it didn’t feel full. The site has a well stocked shop and several Motorhome disposal areas. In terms of WIFI…zilch on 3 Network, they do have CC Wifi, but it’s pretty dire and not worth the cost. That might change if the CC Club get their IT programme sorted out properly, still a long way to go though.

Having spent the first night bitching about the lack of Wifi, we decided that next morning we would climb “The Old Man of Coniston”. So after an early breakfast, we were en-route by 9am, with the intention to be”Job Done” by 3pm. This turned out to be a good call as the sun was bursting by 11am, by which point we’d completed most of the uphill bit.

The well disguised Caravan Club Site viewed from the summit of Old Man.

The well disguised Caravan Club Site viewed from the summit of Old Man.

The 800m feature dominates the immediate area of Coniston and is a magnet for walkers. It’s well covered in Wainwrights Guide Book, which is a must for anyone wanting to walk the area. He suggests the tourist route approaching from the Coniston side via Low Water. However the best, most scenic and easiest route is to approach the summit from the south along the Walna Scar Rd, alongside Goat’s Water, then up onto Goat’s Hawse and to the summit. You can then descend down the tourist route past Low Water. It’s an easier climb, much less busy and can be done in manageable stages….As we descended I felt sorry for the hordes making their way up the very steep tourist route, kids in tow, up steps and scrambles. For us it was a bit like using some quiet country lane to get to the top of the hill, then having to join the M25 to get down!

“Time spent on map recce is time seldom wasted”. 

Old Man

We really enjoyed the walk up, the steepest part was the trog from Goats Water up onto Goats Hawse, at the end of that cheeky stage I was breathing thru every orifice, but the views were worth it. Take a flask, the Hawse is a natural brew-stop and those over 40 will need one!

The view back to Goats Water from Goats Hawse

The view back to Goats Water from Goats Hawse

We then followed the ridge to the summit, which of course then became a race between good and evil, England V Ireland, man v women and ultimately Me V “The Other Half”. The problem was she didn’t tell me I was in a life or death struggle, I simply got caught up in a “Stop n Chat” with some old boy who insisted on telling me about his bloody dog. So seizing the moment she sprinted off, never to be caught….I was a broken man…my 24yrs of infantrymanship, scattered to the 4 winds by the wily irish vixen!

The "Other Half" spurts ahead in a crafty effort to reach the trig point first!  #fewmin

The “Other Half” spurts ahead in a crafty effort to reach the trig point first!
#fewmin

Eventually I managed to shake of my obstacle to victory and walked to the top. The views in all directions were fantastic, well worth the effort.

The last of the snow

The last of the snow

Looking down towards Low Water and the way home!

Looking down towards Low Water and the way home!

The climb down was actually quite tiring, the route off the peak is very steep in places, and of course I was having to keep hold of the Mutts, who was still on “Lock-Down Level 1” after the sheep incident at Cats Bells and still keep an eye on the large groups of people making their way up. In some places it’s safer to come slightly off-path to descend. After you reach Low Water, the route eases considerably and the crowds thin out.

Our total route for the day was about 7 miles, as we walked directly from the site. Overall a great day out, the weather certainly enhancing the experience.

The following day we walked a mile or so along the well laid path into the village of Coniston, where we enjoyed a good pint and nice meal at the Black Bull pub. On the way back I spied a CL site in the back of someones large garden. Our next visit to Coniston will involve that site, as its closer to the village and still within a stones throw of Coniston Water.

That is all!

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Cats Bells? Hells Bells!

Cat Bells “It is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved, its shapely topknott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble.”

So described by Alfred Wainwright, when writing about Cats Bells, a 450 metre knot of rock that towers above Derwent Water. I suspect his ears might have been burning today, five minutes after starting our walk from Borrowdale CC I knew it was going to be painful. I’d spent the previous 4 months hibernating, living off my body fat. All of a sudden, without so much as a “By your leave” I was pushing my very middle-aged body up the steepest of paths. No pain no gain…all the cliches rolled through my mind along with the defeatist devil perched on my shoulder…“Go on Al, jack it, get back on the truck son!”… But we persevered and within 50 minutes reached Hawes Gate, and the final ridge which approaches Cats Bells.

The views from here were stunning in all directions. I have to say, Wainwrights “grandmothers and Infants” were lacking on this route, at least on the way up. Probably for good reason, I can well imagine hordes of “lemmin” kids throwing themselves over the sides of the steep banks…“Daaaad I can’t go on” Harry Enfield style. Most walkers elect to approach from the north picking up the path from Hawes End Outdoor Centre, which is gentler, but does involve quite a bit of scrambling as you close with the summit. Our route was steeper, but with less scrambling at the top. You takes yer choice!

Looking back down to Manesty and the Borrowdale Caravan Club Site.

Looking back down to Manesty and the Borrowdale Caravan Club Site.

The ridge above Hause Gate

The ridge above Hawes Gate

The summit was heaving with family’s so we decided to get to lower ground, descending the north side. This initially involved picking our way down the rocks and crags, whilst an influx of trekkers made their way up. All this whilst trying to manage a dog bigger than me.  In the end I cried “Release The Hounds” and thus I did…I apologise now for those bowled over by the mutts!, I really do, but my needs must. Meanwhile I studiously applied the “3 Points of Contact” rule, one of which included my backside, as I shuffled down the crag! Eventually it eased of and we were able to start enjoying the descent. This is what it looks like, as we glanced back over our shoulders……..

Cats Bells, from Skelgill Bank on the north side

Cats Bells, from Skelgill Bank on the north side

What about the Mutts I hear you cry! Well, he’d been mainly on the lead throughout so far. On the downhill stage we had a good look around and decided to let him off-lead. No problem, all went tickety-boo for the first half hour, then he disappeared over a bank and for the next 10 minutes we suffered our very own “Fenton” moment (search on youtube), as the little monkey hurled himself down a very steep slope in hot pursuit of a sheep to play with. I really thought we were going to hear the sound of a farmers gun! and of course we were concerned for the sheep. Eventually I caught up with him. After a quick check of the sheep and time spent getting my heart-rate back to barely human levels, we continued, but this time the mutts was firmly under lock and key…

The Mutts, pre-breakout

The Mutts, pre-breakout

The walk took about 3.3 hours, with 20 mins for lunch. If you’ve not walked the lakes before, this is a great place to start. Stunning views and it’s easily navigable. One final view, which is of Bassenthwaite Lake and the peak of Skiddaw from Cats Bells. How good is that?

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Looking towards Bassenthwaite Lake and the peak of Skiddaw to the right from Cats Bells.

Feet now up…tea and medals…..and a tot of rum! Tomorrow we up sticks and head to Conniston Water That is all.

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I’m Sorry. We Missed You. We’re Back – Derwent Water

Hello…Anyone out there?

I know, it’s been a while, but the winter is now over, and the smell of summer is just a couple of months around the corner.

Updates:

New Job – Still semi-retired, but the new one is slightly more interesting than the previous time-filler, which involved lining up yoghurts on the Tesco Dairy Aisle.

New “Other Half”…NO! I’m joking, she’s still serving a life sentence with me, with no parole for good behaviour.

New Addition – Daughter No2 presented us with our first Grandson in January. A very special boy.

Dog – No change, slightly bigger, just as crafty, he now gazes at me with a look of entitlement, which of course I bend to! Have a treat Mutts? Don’t mind if I do! …pat, pat, pat.

Anyway here we go. Today we rolled into Borrowdale CC alongside Derwent Water in the Lake District south of Keswick. This is our first trip into the heart of the Lakes. The campsite is very secluded and sheltered, it’s very nicely laid out. No toilet facilities here so “The Other Half” is sat on the back step, oiling her shovel! The Wardens are very friendly and everything is relaxed but well-ordered, which suits me.

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Borrowdale CC marked by the discreet blue arrow!

Later this afternoon, I took the Mutts for his constitutional, walking along a wooden boardwalk which crosses Great Bay east towards Hoggs Earth.

Towards Keswick

Looking North in the direction of Keswick

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Tomorrow we are planning a little stroll up to “Cats Bells” which overlooks our site and Derwent Water. Fingers crossed for decent weather, today’s effort brought a new meaning to “April Showers.”

That is all.

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