A Happy New Year in the Lake District

Floods or no floods, off we went in our camper for a short getaway to the Lake District. New Year’s Eve dinner was had at the Brambles Bistro in Brampton (service and atmosphere good but the food really let them down unfortunately).
We first treated ourselves to a night at Lanercost bed and breakfast just to see 2016 in as we mean to go on (with lots of treats) and very nice it was too, next to Lanercost Priory ruins and church, all food home grown and wholesome and they keep their own rare breeds of chickens and all sorts.

Off to Kiln Hill campsite then for two nights avec glawning™ and drone for some more R & R. It’s a caravan club campsite so beware there are no loos or showers  but they allow woodburners. £18 per night got us hook up and wondrous views of the snow topped mountains with Bassenthwaite lake just about visible. Perfect for lots and lots of self indulgent camping snaps.

The Sun Inn is only a mile down the road but of course once we got ensconced in the glawning trying out our new wood burner there was no shifting us. We also happened to be able to test the waterproof and windproof qualities of the set up when we found ourselves in the eye of a storm that night. Very impressed.

We spent the next day in front of our stove in our camper and glawning for hours, snug as bugs in rug then had a lovely evening at the Sun Inn consuming lots of good food and drink. It’s one of those dog friendly pubs with dog biscuits on the bar. This is all well and good and cute until every single dog in the pub (seven) starts barking in unison for about three minutes which then happens another three or four times during the evening. Incessant dog barking aside its a great pub to spend an evening with a roaring fire, friendly locals and good pub largely apportioned pub grub.

We spent a good deal of time pottering around the various shops and coffee houses of Keswick along with a walk to the lake before coming home very well rested (and a very well covered in mud).

Raving About Runswick

Another weekend in the camper van, another great location to add to the ‘We’ll Be Back’ List.
Runswick Bay Caravan and Camping Park is perfectly situated for some restful seaside down time. Perhaps a slightly noisier location this weekend than usual as we happened to be sharing the site with the annual North Yorkshire Triumph Weekend but Jemima was right at home amongst these beautiful specimens. Plus, you can’t complain when there’s a beer tent and live band laid on every night.
From being greeted by a very smiley man in a Panama hat and the camp-site horse to the moment we left we were completely charmed by this place.
Great facilities at the site with free showers; £10 per adult per night without EHU. A couple of pubs five minutes walk away – The Runswick Bay Hotel and The Cliffemount Hotel serving delicious food.
A short ten minute walk brings you down to Runswick bay itself with its unspoilt beach, one shop and one pub (The Royal Hotel – highly recommended). Cliff top walks to Staithes in one direction (three miles along the Cleveland Way) or further to Sandsend in the other make a lovely way to pass an afternoon with very welcome public houses awaiting you at each. The Cod and Lobster was our watering hole.
A lot of the usual feel good seaside stuff – seagulls wheeling around, waves lapping, wholesome family bucket and spade activities – made it a very refreshing time and we EVEN got good weather. We’ll be back, Runswick.
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Once Upon a Time in Settle…

Retro Runaways VW Camper Hire and Glawning sponsored a magical Storytelling Festival. The lovely Dales village was abuzz with scurrying story telling preparations when they arrived and everyone was very excited.
Jemima, the blue retro campervan was parked in pride of place in the middle of Settle for all to see and over the weekend she was a funky Information and Face Painting Hub that children flocked to for miles around.
The Glawning was decorated with twinkling fairy lights and dotted with comfy bean bags to become a craft tent where lots of chattering children gathered to make their own amazing spaceships out of cardboard, paint and lots and lots of glitter.
Jemimas owners magnanimously opted to stay at Valleymead Guest House so that Jemima could fulfil her duties as funky Information and Face Painting Hub. Valleymead was a luxury bed-and-breakfast with big soft comfy beds and delicious fried breakfasts, owned by a lovely lady called Shirley who makes scrumptious flapjack tray-bakes.
Settle was a hive of activity all weekend with oodles of fun story activities going on in every nook and cranny. There was a candlelit story trail through the quaint cobbled streets, a toe-tapping folk music hoe-down, dry stone walling sessions and lots more. A huge favourite with the crowds was the big lifeboat in the town square where you could hop into one of the rotating hammocks to hear a nautical tale with special sound effects. And around every corner there was another enthusiastic gold hatted story teller ready to swap their stories for your magic beans – such fun!
On the Saturday Jemimas owners got on their mountain bikes and rode ‘The Settle Loop’ – uphill and down dale they pedalled for three hours over all terrains taking in marvellous scenery along the way.
The rest of their time was spent eating, drinking and making merry at the Old Naked Man Cafe, The Royal Oak, The Lion and The Italian Restaurant in Settle, all of which they loved and told all their friends about.
At the end of the weekend Jemima, Sarah and James were very sorry to wave goodbye to Settle and the magical world of storytelling they had entered but vowed to return again for the next chapter.
The End

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Jemima and Me Go Sea to Sea – Whitehaven to Sunderland in a Blue VW Camper Van

With ‘The Heatwave’ upon us and a hose pipe ban feeling imminent we slung our ready packed bags of generic camper van items in the back of Jemima and hit the open road to St. Bees for a night at Seacote Holiday Park in a beautiful spot right next to the beach. This is a nice big caravan site with statics too but tourers get the best pitches, almost on top of the beach, (hard standing only – grass pitches are in a different place) for £21 per night including electric. Nice free hot showers, views, play park etc make this highly recommended in our little black book.
Moving swiftly on the next morning we stumbled upon Whitehaven Festival – an eclectic mix of foods and stalls to feed your senses and all set with a backdrop of Whitehaven marina which looked spiffing on such a glorious day. Big shout out to Amazing Grazing  and Camp Cooks.  Who knew mutton could taste so good and ordering an ice cream soda could be so much fun??
The weekend became a proper festivalfest as Keswick Mountain Festival was next to be geographically happened upon. Great atmosphere, lots of outdoorsy stalls like Garmin, Millets, etc, sporting events and activities, a big zip wire, more food (it’s all about the food) and looking on, from a dramatic angle, to Derwentwater, glistening in the sun. It was all deck chairs, pints, shirts off, sunburn central as the Brits made the most of this unexpected turn in the weather. There’s a lovely little walk along the edge to Friars Crag where you can get the best view of the lake.
Our resting place for the evening was Thacka Lea Caravan Park, Penrith. This is a great little quiet site with lovely owners, a mere ten minute stroll into Penrith. £15 per night with hook up on well maintained grass pitches. 40p for an 8 minute shower. We whiled away a couple of pints in the Lowther Arms. Penrith isn’t terribly exciting but has a Yorkshire Trading Company shop which is like a big pound land so was in my element. Also, the ruins of it’s castle are worth a look at (& free), though right next to the main road and McDonald’s.  It was hard to resist a wee Happy Meal.  So I didn’t.
Surely one of The Best Roads Ever to Drive a Camper Van On was the one across Alston Moor to Stanhope – wow. It was one of those where you have to keep stopping to take photos.  Around every corner there was an even better view than the last.  There comes a point where you have to just sling the camera to one side and enjoy it only through ones own eyes.
We decided to treat ourselves to a nights bed and breakfast at the Packhorse Inn as there were no camp-sites in Stanhope or nearby (gap in the market?!) – it has friendly owners and a good breakfast (they also let you eat your Indian takeaway in the pub as they only serve food Sunday lunch times!) but could do with tarting up a bit which is exactly what’s currently under way. Stanhope is a tiny village with not much going on.
We traversed onwards to Barnard Castle where we stopped at the majestic Bowes Museum but it was so sunny we couldn’t bring ourselves to go inside for anything more than a takeaway coffee so will have to peruse its collection of European fine and decorative art another time.
Then off home as it was too hot to drive any more (now there’s something you don’t hear every day in the UK).  OK so we didn’t quite make it to both ‘seas’, but three quarters of the way ain’t bad?!