Some of the best village ramparts in France
After our monster breakfast at the cafe we were under way before 11am. The highlight of today is a visit to Cragside a huge National Trust property near Rothbury in the Northumbria. This was the home of William Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong, founder of the Armstrong Whitworth armaments firm and was built by in several stages starting in 1869 and incorporates all the technical advances of the day. It was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power.
We spent most of the day here taking the guided tour of the house and wandering in the grounds. The gardens are impressive although not at their best at this time of the year. We got the free shuttle bus back to the car park and had our lunch before starting the final leg of the day’s journey to our CL near Durham. I seriously misjudged the time of day and we were caught in the full horror of the A1 through Newcastle during the rush hour with stop go traffic for miles.
We arrived at our campsite near Durham at 6:15. We had booked this site in advance as we had no idea what awaited us in Belgium and we wanted to start our overseas trip with Bertie fully serviced so that we had a few days with out needing to worry about getting water or emptying waste. This was good sense in principle but we were very disappointed by the campsite itself. It had been very wet the last few days and the small field was sodden and everyone was parked on the access road! However the water point was in the far corner across the mud so we had to manoeuvre Bertie to the very edge of the hard track and stretch the water hose to its maximum to fill the water tank. Not impressed.
The next morning it was still raining as we serviced Bertie. Today is just a transit day and we plan to be on the docks in Hull in good time for the evening ferry to Zeebrugge so no visits to houses or castles just a gentle back road bumble across country. We stopped for lunch in a layby near Beverley with super views across the Vale of York.
First stop in Hull was at Morrisons to stock up and to fill the diesel tank and the LPG tank too. We think LPG is easy to get in France but we do not know about Belgium and we do know that diesel is likely to be more expensive France and probably Belgium too – although much cheaper in Luxembourg. We also used this stop to pack our overnight bags as we would not have access to Bertie on the ferry but we had booked a deluxe double cabin for the night.
Check in at the port was quite straightforward although we were selected for a security check with a trolley mirror to inspect underneath Bertie. We arrived on the dock 16:19 and by 17:04 we were parked up on the vehicle deck. It was a bit confuding working out where to go on board and how to find our cabin etc but by 17:30 we were settled in and attacking the complimentary minibar! Despite the drizzle and chilly windy we were up on deck see the ship leave the dock and go through the sea lock on to the tidal River Humber. After years of canal boating we are quite familiar with locks but we had never been on a such a big vessel in such a huge lock before – this was locking on a whole new scale. The ship left its berth and rotated almost all the wat around in the basin before entering the lock with what looked like barely inches to spare on each side.
We had bought a salad meal deal in Morrisons for our supper so we did not need to bother with the onboard catering. We have muesli as well for breakfast tomorrow. I do not much like sleeping on ferries – they are always too hot and stuffy and noisy. This was no better despite our fancy cabin but still quite an adventure to go to sleep as we leave England and wake up as we berth in Belgium. The adventure has begun!