Tuesday 28th February

We left our house rather later than we had planned. Somehow we always leave too much to do at the last minute! It was just after noon as we headed off under a grey and gloomy sky but the atmosphere onboard was far from gloomy - it is always exciting to set off on another Bertie adventure . We followed the normal, well worn route or rather we intended to do so until we found our usual cut-through from Poringland to the A47 closed at the bridge over the Wensum. Eeek! Cars behind and nowhere to go and on impulse I turned left when in retrospect right might have been wiser. My route took us several miles up river toward Newton Flotman before I found a turning that would take me across the river - actually it took us through the river. It was a proper ford on a well used road but the river was running well and foamed around Bertie's wheels. Saldy we have no photos as there was quite a bit of traffic and nowhere to stop - must go back and try that gain!

Once back on the main A47 things settled down into their usual routine and we rumbled smoothly along at a steady 90-95kph. Tums started rumble as we passed Kings Lynn and we thought about where to stop for lunch. Tired of the main road we turned off on the little back road north of Sutton Bridge to a parking area we have used in the car near the mouth of the River Nene. Somehow our usual lunch tastes even better sat at Bertie's table looking out at a nice view.

Lunch stop beside the river Nene near its mouth at Sutton Bridge
Lunch stop beside the river Nene near its mouth at Sutton Bridge

After lunch we went the long way round through the little lanes to rejoin the A17 at Holbeach. From here on it is simple run to Newark on Trent where the A17 joins the A1.

Our night stop was at The Muskham Ferry pub - a Britstop at North Muskham just north of Newark on Trent. The pub was built to serve the ferry that used to operate across the Trent long ago. It has a large flat carpark at the rear and is only just off the A1 but far enough to mean that the traffic hum was not too intrusive. Nice meal in the pub and good night sleep.

Parked at The Muskham Ferry
Parked at The Muskham Ferry
River Trent at Muskham Ferry
River Trent at Muskham Ferry

Wednesday 1st March

We woke to a sunny morning and a sharp frost. The bright sunshine encouraged us to walk down to the river and explore a little each way as there is a good footpath along the river bank in each direction.

The Muskham Ferry in the morning sun - this is the view from the river side showing how the pub was built to server the river more than the village behind!

Just before we left home the day before we had had a call from someone interested in buying our share in Debdale (the narrow boat we own a 1/12th share in). After much phoning to and fro we established that Debdale was still at her mooring in Sowerby Bridge near Halifax and our prospective purchaser was in a position to meet us there this morning so we decided to add an extra day to our trip north and divert around Sowerby Bridge today. It was good to see the boat again and have a chat to Nigel Stevens at Shirecruisers who has almost completed the winter maintenance work on the boat. Our chap was already there waiting for us and had no problem recognising us as we turned in - Bertie is hard to miss! He was quite taken with the boat and promised to get back to us once he had spoken to his wife. In the event she put her foot down with firm hand deciding that narrow boating was not for her so our chap had to pull out of the purchase.

After the meeting at Sowerby Bridge - and a trip to Lidl (!) we continued north. We chose to make it a cross country journey over the Yorkshire Dales via Wharfedale to Teesdale where we planned stop at the Moorcock Inn. Slower route than the satnav suggested and slightly further but what a scenic treat! Once past Skipton we headed up on to the moors proper through Wharfedale and over the top and down in to Wenslydale and the pretty village of Aysgarth. Over the hills again to cut across a corner to Barnards Castle. One day we will stop and visit the castle but not at this time of year as it is does not open for another month.

Wharfedale
Wharfedale

The roads were narrow but we had them almost to ourselves. I suspect this route might be less enticing in the summer when it is probably much busier. There was a threat of rain which did not materialise and we were tempted to stop and explore but we had quite a few miles to go to our planned stop over.

We arrived at the Moorcock Inn in Eggleston but were a little disappointed that the stunning views described in the Britstops book did not apply to the car park which was at the back of the pub. There were great views but from the other side of the pub! The car park was also a bit slopey  and the building work going on limited our choice too! However the steak pie we had in the pub that night was outstandingly good and made the visit worth it. The pub was rescued from closure last year by some local farmers who wanted an outlet for their produce - the lady who brought us our pie was able to tell us all about the local cattle that provided the steak!

Squeezed in behind the Moorcock Inn
Squeezed in behind the Moorcock Inn

Thursday 2nd March

An even sharper frost this morning and a gloriously sunny day - once the early mist had cleared. Our slopey parking spot and limited views persuaded us to make an early start (8am) and find somewhere else for breakfast. The scenery did not disappoint but the cold weather meant I had to pay close attention to the road condition which was quite icy in places. We wound our way up through Teesdale towards Weardale.

Upper Teesdale as we leave the Moorcock Inn
Upper Teesdale as we leave the Moorcock Inn. The display on the dashboard is my phone working as a speedometer. Bertie has his own speedo but that is in kms. My digital GPS speedo is easier to read and tells me so much more as well!
Breakfast Stop on the pass between Teesdale and Weardale
Breakfast Stop on the pass between Teesdale and Weardale

 

We found a stunning place for breakfast in bright sunshine but surrounded by frost - it looked like snow but was actually all frost. We could see the grouse displaying on the moors nearby.

From our breakfast stop it was a short drive down into Weardale and our next stop at Stanhope. We had stopped here last summer but did not have long and did not take any photos which was a serious ommision as it is rather good - or at least the river is with its stepping stones.

Stepping Stones across the River Wear at Stanhope
Stepping Stones across the River Wear at Stanhope

We stopped here a little while and had a good walk along the river a little way stopping to watch the antics of the Dippers - amazing little birds that stand in th efast running water and then disappear under it is the "dip" for their food! We talked to a local chap who was walking his dog who tolds us that there had been a lot of water down the river that winter and even the path where we stood had been under water. The tree lodged in the stones had arrived in the floods and it had not been there last summer.

Unce there was a the road crossed the river here by way of a ford but that is closed now and, after coffee,  we had to drive half a mile upstream to the bridge and then back through the village to rejoin the same route - ever northwards! Another amazingly scenic runs across hill and moor towards the Scotland as we headed for our next stop at the Wallington House which is owned by the National Trust. It is in Northumbria near Morpeth on the way to the border with Scotland. We arrived there in time for lunch on Bertie and then had a walk around the gardens before touring the house. The gardens had a amazing display of crocuses - a whole lawn purple with thousands and thousand of crocuses.

The Walled Garden at Wallington
The Walled Garden at Wallington

The most interesting feaure of the houss is the central atrium - it used to be an open courtyard but was roofed over in the mid C19 and the walss decorated with murals depicting local historic scenes. Sir Walter Calverlet Treve;lyan and his Pauline Jermyn were close friends of Ruskin and other Pre-Raphealites. They commissioned William Bell Scott to paint the murals but in addition the sapces beween the main panels were decorated with images of local flow

ers and plants. I spent an hour just looking at all these paintings and reading the information provided. I also took rather a lot of photos a few of which are below:

The central hall at Wallington
The central hall at Wallington
This shows three of the 10 panels and also the wealth of decoration all around the main panels
In addition to all the painting at the ground floor level there is also a mural of the ballad of Chevy Chase all around the first floor too.

After we tore ourselves away from the murals we discovered another gem at Wallington - their collection of antique dolls houses. Now if you had asked me what I thought about dolls houses before this visit I would have been lukewarm however these were captivating as they have survived almost intact and provide little glimpses of how these Victorians saw themsleves and protrayed themselves. The largest dolls house of all was huge with many many rooms and all decorated and furnished in fine detail. Once again I took far too many photos and here are just a few:

Wallington Dolls House Collection
Wallington Dolls House Collection
Wallington Dolls House Collection
This is juts one of the rooms and this is small - may be no more than 30cms wide!
Wallington Dolls House Collection
Wallington Dolls House Collection
Wallington Dolls House Collection
Almost as much attention went in to the below stairs rooms - you can even read the labels!
Wallington Dolls House Collection
This is main, big dolls house and you can walk all the way around and peer in at all the windows.

We left Wallington at 3:40pm and started the last section of todays drive  - more hills and moorland scenery as we cross the pass at Carter Bar in to Scotland and go to Hawick. Even more terrific roads and lovely scenery but the waether was starting to close in and it was grey and misty when we arrived at Hawick on the River Teviot in the Southern Uplands area of Scotland. Our stopover today is the main car park where motorhomes are welcomed by the council and we can park for the night for free.

Free stopover in Hawick Haugh Car Park
Free stopover in Hawick Haugh Car Park

Friday 3rd March

We had a slightly disturbed night with some noisy cars revving loud engines around midnight but we were too tired to stay awake long! The morning came dull and damp but we were determined to visit the town as it is a very short walk over the bridge from the car park. As I removed the windscreen cover that morning I noticed that one of the windscreen wipers was damaged and not fixed properly on its arm. I took the old one off and we went to explore the town and hopefully buy a new wiper. The town was interesting (albeit grey and damp!!) but the shops were limited and could not supply a wiper blade. Reluctant to proceed to far without a new blade we drove to thenearest Halfords in Galashiels where we bought two new wipers - one was meant to be a spare but when I replaced the broken wiper it became clear that the far left wiper was the wrong size - slightly shorter than the other two so i replaced that one too.

Time was getting on now and we needed lunch so drove out of town to find a scenic spot to park up and put the kettle on. We found a suitabel spot in a Forestry Commission car park with great views over the hills - despite the continuing grey gloom!

Lunch stop in Forestry Commision car park near Galashiels

After lunch it was back on the road heading north. Little more to report as we drove up the A7 and on to the Edinburgh bypass, over the Forth Bridge and across Fife. Short detour in to Perth is search of cheap diesel and then on to our Britstop at Taste Perthshire at Bankfoot. We splashed out on coffee and cake in the cafe there and considered returning in the morning for their Scottish Breakfast.

Saturday 4th March

The morning did not look good and we decided that we would forgo the cooked breakfast as we would have got rather wet walking across the car park - what wimps!! The plan today was to follow the A9 up into the Cairngorms and the weather got worse the higher we drove - sleet and snow around Dalwhinnie. After Kingussie the snow turned back to rain and by the time we got Carrbridge the weather was looking a little better. We had a break for coffee in a layby just over the top of the pass near Lochindorb on the back road to Ferness. We had some time and there was no rush so we turned left at Ferness and followed the road down into Nairn so that we could park up at the harbour for lunch - our first proper view of the Moray Firth this trip. Not a very good view as it turned out given the rain and clouds but it is only early March and we are a long way north.

Lunch Stop at Nairn Harbour
Lunch Stop at Nairn Harbour

From Nairn it is just 12 miles to our little house in Forres and we were parked up there before 3pm - 5 days and almost 600 miles from Wenhaston.

Mileage reading on arrival: 124412 kms
Mileage reading at start: 123453 kms
Mileage this trip: 959 kms
Nights on Bertie 5

 

Five days north to Forres
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