Bay of Biscay : 3150 miles

Here is a flavour of how far we travelled, some 3150 miles Dieppe and back to Dieppe. Starting by travelling south down through France across the Loire, Limosin and Dordogne to the Pyrenees and across into Spain. From there we followed roughly the Camino de Santiago to the North West tip at Cabo Finisterre. After that it was easy – just follow the coast all the way to the tip of Brittany. And finally a quick run back the length of Brittany, and Normandy to Dieppe.

Apart from a few markers most of those on the map are the camp sites we stopped at en route. Below is a list with a few notes and our ratings;
Bay of Biscay Camp Sites

St Neots C&CC Site

The Camping & Caravan Club site in St Neots is well worth a visit. We are on a freinds and relies trip for the week and just happened to rock up here. The site itself is as you would expect from a C&CC site and getting to the location through housing estates might set you wondering but the location on the river bank is as good as it gets. St Neots itself is an attractive town on the Great Ouse river with copious amongst of green space. From the site you can walk either way up and down the river with good hosteleries in both directions.

However the crowning glory was our pitch backing on to the river. In the evening we watched the sun go down and the Terns fishing. They were spectacular when the red sun refelected on their wings as they fluted above the water. In the morning when we woke to clear blue sky the Kingfishers were occasional blue streaks along the opposite bank.

Tour of Wales

Despite promising to go there we hadn’t been to Wales for such a long time and even then only once on a failed camping trip and for weekends or business. The only times I had been there for any length was as a child to the Lleyn and Anglesey and in my early teens teenager to Pembrokeshire. So as we were kicking our heels due to our big summer trip having been delayed a couple of months we decided to take the plunge.

Day 1 : Friday 16 June

The day started with a 4 hour drive around the M23 / M25 / M40. The weather didn’t look that hot and but as the day wore on it just got warmer.  It might seem odd going to Wales from the South Coast via the Grand Union near Northampton but friends Lesley and Jeff have a Narrow boat moored there at Heyfields Marina and we had promised to pay a visit. Like all such places it was down narrow lanes so imagine our amusement when, after a mile or so, we came across an IKEA arctic on foreign plates stopped before a low height bridge – he wasn’t going anywhere except in reverse. As it was the marina owners were more than happy for us to pitch up there for a night. We spent a pleasant afternoon and evening at the start of a very hot weekend with a picnic lunch and BBQ supper and several bottles of wine.

Day 2 : Saturday 17 June

IMG_1090The day dawned with a cloudless blue sky and already hot. After a bacon sandwich breakfast Fred managed to exhaust himself with just one “walk” around the site. We hadn’t decided where in Wales we were going but as it happens the marina in question lies just of the A5 so it was an easy decision to head to North Wales and save on the navigation. Some of the old A5 is a bit of a drag but other goes through some lovely countryside.

It took a while before we eventually got to Wales and we started looking for camp sites. I thought the A5 took us to Bala but when it didn’t we took a turning off signposted to Ffestiniog. The 13 mile road had a number so one might think it was ordinary however as it climbed to around 1500ft over the moor it became a narrow single track passing Lynn Conwy lake, the source of the river Conwy.

Once in Ffestiniog with a mobile signal we got onto the web and found a nice site back in Bala – I should have taken the turning there in the first place. Situated in remote countryside about 3 miles outside Bala this C&CC site was just what the doctor ordered, very peaceful with nice facilities.


Day 3 : Sunday 18th June

It was Sue’s birthday so a relaxed day was on the cards. One shortcoming of the site was a lack of walking possibilities without walking down the lanes so we opted to start in Bala where there is a great walk from the old station car park along the banks of the River Dee to Lake Bala. Fred had a great time in the long grass and the river and in the lake chasing the gulls. On the way back he got into the river and swam spontaneously for the first time.


Our walk was followed by a tour of Snowdonia to Dolgelau, Betsw-y-Coed and back to Bala. It was getting warmer and the breeze through the van was welcome. Stopping anywhere meant tangling with the many tourists but we found a nice picnic lay-by on the pass near Ffestiniog where we could watch the classic cars out for the day and loads of would be Joey Dunlops.

Day 4 : Monday 19 June

As I said I was a child when my parents took us to Anglesey and Sue has never been there so that is where we were going but not before Fred had another play in Lake Bala. The A5 took us through Betsw-y-Coed and up and through the pass at Pont Pen-y-Benglog where the lay-bys are full of campers and cars that belong to the guys hanging off the cliffs all along the lake.

A quick shopping trip to Asda in Bangor to buy lunch and stock up and we headed for Aglesey. There are two bridges across the Menai straights and I wanted to use the old Thomas Telford suspension bridge close to Bangor.

Once across the bridge we turned right looking for a lunch stop, a frustrating excessive and annoying when we got to Beaumaris where they crowd you onto the sea front and charge £5 for the day. Anyhow we found a nice lay-by with a view across the straight of the whole of Snowdonia.

Driving a short way around the north coast it was cold and drab and it didn’t take long to work out that we didn’t want to stay on Anglesey. On the way back to the “new” Britannia bridge we made a couple of calls and picked a C&CC site near Cricceth on the Lleyn Peninsula. The site was on a bit of a slope but the facilities were exactly the same as the last site so it would do us for a couple of nights.

Day 5 : Tuesday 20 June

DSC_0012We decided on a drive around the Lleyn Peninsula for the day. The forecast wasn’t so hot and indeed by the time we sopped for coffee just before Nefyn it was bright but chilly. The views from the hillside, more Snowdonia, were nothing if spectacular once again. Parking at Nefyn was limited so we carried on to Abedaron where at least this time the National Trust would let us park for an hour instead of all day and let Fred have a run on the beach. We set off to towards Abersoch, a well to do resort, in search of somewhere to park up for lunch and were disappointed again by rip off car parks. In the end we stopped by a boat yard in Pwllheli where as luck would have it we found a fresh fishmonger and bought a couple of filleted Mackerel for tea.

IMG_1105Returning to the camp site, that was actually in Llanystumdwy the birth and resting place of Lloyd George, we tried to take Fred for a walk and a dip in the nearby river but he wasn’t keen on the boulders. He kept slipping of and he couldn’t understand how deep it was. In the end we took a walk through the woods and past Lloyd George’s grave.

As I said the weather forecast had suggested it would be cooler – it was nothing of the sort with the temperature in the high 20s and still warm at night.

After the frustration of all the expensive car parks we took the decision to join the National Trust so from now on we should be able to find free parking as well as places to visit.

Day 6 : Wednesday 21 June

IMG_0659Today we decided to head south toward Pembrokeshire via some of the coast and Aberystwyth. A short supermarket stop in Porthmadog and back on to the A470 heading south. We stopped for coffee and a walk in the Kings Forest a spectacular wooded area full of giant Canadian spruce trees.

DSC_0013Once at Dolgelau we took the coast road consisting of beautiful country lanes and spectacular coastal views. We pulled over for lunch in a lay-by on the side of a hill that looked out over the Irish Sea to the north we could see all round to the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula. Below us the sea was turquoise and clear.

Today it was very hot and as we got to Aberystwyth the van’s outside thermometer read 31.5C. We stopped on the sea front for a stroll and an ice-cream and watched a large dolphin lazily swimming just off the beach. It started to shower but came to nothing.

Looking at the forecast for the coming days we decided to head inland for the night and a C&CC site at Rhandirmwyn. It was so far out of the way that it was impossible to find and there was no mobile access to call them and once there there was no radio either. It could have been a nice place were it not for the clouds of ferocious midges which, along with the mozzies and bitting flies, made a feast of Sue. So bad was it that we very soon locked ourselves away and cleared the van of the insects as best we could.

Day 7 : Thursday 22 June

IMG_1110We got up very early and there were just a few beasties about so we very quickly loaded the van and headed into Llandovery to find a cafe and some breakfast. We decided to go back along the A40 to south Pembrokeshire and ended up on Pendine Beach for coffee. Fred was so excited being let off on such a big beach that I am sure he set a new land speed record for Cocker Spaniels.

IMG_1112From here we worked our way through Saundersfoot and Tenby and on to the Stackpole Estate and the beach at Bosherston. We had lunch overlooking the sea and then took Fred down to the gorgeous sandy beach. The tide was out and the beach was empty and he had such a good time.

DSC_0014Although the weather was holding it was time to think about going home that afternoon and we headed east along the A40. We tried a couple of small C&CC certified sites that were poorly located and very expensive before we found a lovely little site at White Mill near Carmarthen Coincidentally there was a couple already there in an VW T4 van with a Westie called Fred and they came from Lancing just 30 miles away from us.

Day 8 : Friday 23 June

Today was set to be grey and damp and sure enough as we were packing it started spitting. I managed to get a short walk in with Fred after breakfast before we headed on up the road. The A40 was full of classic hot rods on their way to Pendine for the Vintage Hot Rod Association speed weekend – perhaps we should have stayed. We were heading to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines just by Llandovery. Gold was mined there since before the Romans until the 1960’s. They are a National Trust property so another bit of value for our recent membership. We took the walking tour and the history of the site is fascinating, it would be easy to spend a lot more time there one day.


From Dolaucothi I called my cousin Claire in Stroud and we spent the evening with her, Olie and Jade over an Indian Takeway.

Day 9 : Saturday 24 June

And that was about it. We had camped in Cirencester and were up early and on the road and home in time for lunch.

So we have done 1200 miles around Wales (where it always rains) and burned to a frazzle. Last time we tried to camp in Pembrokeshire, 45ish years ago we had to admit defeat to howling wind and rain. Lets try it again sometime…..

PS. please excuse the possibly clumsy use of the dash cam video. It is the first time I have tried it and I am sure I need to refine it a bit,

Lost Gardens

So a few days in Cornwall at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. There is a fab campsite next door that is part of the estate which is only a short drive from superb beaches. At this time of year they are empty and Fred just adores chasing seagulls.

We used the trip to pay a visit to Kernow Transporters & Premium Camper in St Just. From Heligan to St Just is a long way on a wet day and it is surprising how long Cornwall is. A bit of a drive about and we had a walk at the Minack Theatre.

The lost Gardens themselves are a spectacular tropical garden with a rain forest in a valley. The kitchen gardens (almost a farm) have been beautiful restored and able to grow all manner throughout the year. The farm shop on site is a great place to shop for the BBQ.

Corfe Castle

The weather looked set fair for the weekend so we decided on a trip to Purbeck. Just for the adventure we opted to go via Bournemouth and the Sandbanks chain ferry. Once across the ferry we stopped for lunch and started thinking about where to camp for a few nights.

We had been to Corfe quite a few years before so we decided to try the C&CC site there and what a gem it is. Hidden away up a lane on the hillside amongst the woods. It has loads of sheltered pitches and really nice facilities. The lane means that you would struggle to get a big motorhome or caravan up there. From the site there is a green lane walk down to the castle and the village. Corfe itself is quaint and touristic and there is at the end of the Swanage Railway so you can ride a steam train into Swanage, which of course we did.

It was the first opportunity we had really had to do a nice dinner on the Cob so we decided to go culinary. We started dinner with asparagus on the griddle with a nice chilled white wine. We followed this up with a a lamb kebab salad and finally Gui chocolate cheesecake pots and nice bottle of red. A pleased what to will away an evening.

DSCF1208Getting through Wareham on the way home on Sunday was a bit of a mission. It seemed that everyone was heading for the coast for the day. On the way home we pulled in to Goodwood Circuit which always has a nice atmosphere when it not being used and there is plenty of space to pull up for a coffee or a picnic in the car park which is always spotless.


On our way home from Ironbridge this is our first visit to a pukka Caravan & Camping Club site. Located by the Three Magpies just off the A365 near Devizes. It backs on to the Kennet and Avon Canal and is about 4 miles along the towpath into the town centre of Devizes. The spectacular bit of this tow path is Caen Hill Locks, a flight of 16 locks themselves part of the 29 Devizes flight.  At the topmost lock is a cafe that has spectacular views over locks out across a large part of Wiltshire.

There are pleasant walks up the lane to Seend village and the other direction along the towpath. The owner of the smart house on the other side of the canal from the campsite likes his cars as you can see from the very nice mustang that rumbled down the lane toward us.

If this site is anything to go by then we are sold on C&CC site facilities. They were ample and very well maintained. If we have a criticism it is of the campers themselves who all disappear into their vans and tents in time to watch Eastenders and that is the last seen of them.


We had never been to Ironbridge, I think that is because it is hiding behind the other side of Birmingham from us, but it being on the return trip from the Bustypes show was an ideal opportunity.

The area is not flush with good campsites but we found a very acceptable site just off Much Wenlock Road in the shadow of Ironbridge power station. The coal fired power station is nearing its end and is running down. Beside the lane to the camp site is an old open cast mine that has probably also been used to stockpile coal as well. All around the site is woodland from which the deer and owls are regular visitors to the camp site. It is a mile or so into Ironbridge itself and we had brought our bikes to get around on.

As you can imagine there is so much history of the industrial revolution in and around Ironbridge so to get our bearings we started on Monday with a visit to the visitor centre. We decided first to go along the river gorge to the far end of town to the Coalport museum which although interesting was a little underwhelming. There is a good exhibition of of old china, some workshop type displays and you can walk around the kilns. To be honest we would have liked to see more real work going on.

After stopping for a pub lunch we crossed the river to the Jackfield Tile Museum. I am not sure why but this place fired our imagination more so than Coleport. The factory was formerly the Craven Dunhill works and still produces earthenware tiles today. There was the obligatory display of tiles through ages some of which are quite spectacular and then the opportunity to buy. A floor full of tiles here would cost a small fortune and we contemplated the idea for the porch at Hailsham but in the end couldn’t find enough in the bargain box. On the way back through Ironbridge we stopped to view the iconic bridge itself which is a graceful work of art.

The following morning we cycled to Much Wenlock to visit Ryan’s, often called the best butchers in Great Britain, to buy sausages for diner and an early pasty lunch. On the face of these I can say it is a very good butchers. That afternoon, fortified by our pasties, we went back into Ironbridge and up to the Coalbrookdale Museum of iron which is a truly fascinating place being the history of smelting throughout the industrial revolution. On the same site are the original blast furnaces in some state of preservation so you can follow the growth of the site at the time. Above the Upper Furnace Pool we had a look around Dale House, the home of Abraham Darby who perfected the coke fired blast furnace.

So in all it was an educational visit that we both enjoyed and I think we will visit again but give ourselves a little more time to see more.

Freezing York

I had to be in York on business so we decided to make a trip of it. We set out on a sunny Wednesday in March aiming for 3 nights at a C&CC Certified Site right next to a York Park and Ride. At that time of year we had the place to ourselves and it was a 5 minute walk to the P&R bus.

So March the weather can be a bit unpredictable but I suppose one could have predicted the cold and wet, down to -2C at night so ice on the canopy in the morning. Thankfully we had hook up so could run the heater on electric which we did for all the evening and some of the night. There were some brilliant Johnny Walker stuff on R2 late into the evening so we snuggled down and enjoyed each evening.

Business concluded on Thursday we had the day to ourselves on Friday and as well as shops and market we spent a fair time at the Railway Museum and enjoyed lunch in they restaurant.

alistairandduncanSaturday dawned bright but there was a problem – the van wouldn’t start. It appeared that three nights of sound system that runs of the starter battery rather than the leisure battery (note to oneself to look at changing that) had done for it. A call to the RAC soon had us on our way heading for lunch with my brother at the Marlpool Brewery in Heanor. The day couldn’t have been more different from the preceding and as you can see we sat out in the pub yard in shirt sleeves enjoying a couple of excellent lights and a “byo” lunch.


Grabbed a few days away to visit Broadstairs and, as new members, sample Camping and Caravan Club Certified Sites. We found a convenient site off the beaten track, Orchard Hose at Preston. Orchard was definitely to order of the day as the pickers from all over Europe started early each morning. The site was basic but great for £12 and very quiet.

We spent a day parked up on Broadstairs harbour wall, walked around the town and along the beach and cliffs. We always used to enjoy riding out on our motorbike to Broadstairs for a fish and chip lunch but having coffee and the lunch in our own van while we watched the sea was great. Only spoilt by some idiot locals feeding sea gulls in the middle of the car park!

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