About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Waterproofs and sandals

 Monday 21st

The summer solstice, inevitable then that we would be joined by a group of lads and lassies at midnight to welcome in the longest day. Unfortunately they were not quiet about it, playing music, singing and shouting before heading down to the beach. All was calm for about an hour, and then came the return of the revellers. My mind drifted to them skinny dipping, but of that I will never know. By 2.30 am they were still in the party mood and finally, with the slamming of car doors and radio's turned up to full blast, they left. Peace was once more restored. What I couldn't fathom, though, was Ian slept through the lot! Yet, if I as much as let out a snore, I'm woken up by a hefty kick! Unbelievable!!!

Isn't that just the perfect wild camping spot?


That was the path leading down to the beach and where those revellers went at midnight,

Not a good day, today, with rain and high winds, and we very nearly cancelled the trip to the beach. I was adamant that my feet were going to be dipped in the sea though, so armed with waterproofs and sandals (weird combination on a day like this) after breakfast we headed off.

I did it, Ian chickened out and no Ian the water was not icy cold! What was cold was the wind, whipped around my toes and legs causing me to curse that I had even thought it was a good idea. 


A lovely expanse of sand to walk on.
 

We would have spent the morning lazing on the beach but instead headed off towards Northumberland and a place called Seahorses. The best time to see Puffins is at this time of year, and the Farne Islands are full of them. We, therefore, have booked a tour leaving from Seahorse Harbour tomorrow morning. 

 No wild camping for us tonight 'cos the loo needs emptying and the water tank is low. Unfortunately, the only site we managed to book into has no electric available. Never mind, the 70-mile trip up the coast has charged the batteries nicely.

And wildlife,

Reed Bunting



A very scruffy and plumped up Reed Bunting



Small Heath

A little ringed plover

Orchid growing on the sand dunes.


Monday, 21 June 2021

And so to the coast

 Sunday 20th

 So very peaceful last night, the rabbits were out in force and the sheep were milling around MB. In fact, one of them seemed to think we were a threat and decided to try and move us on by headbutting the side! Anyway, with no car doors slamming or people talking, it was utter bliss to be able to have a welcomed lie in. 


Well, what do you know, our overnight stop was on the same small lane as the famous Herriot ford. We were at the other end and both decided, "Let's do it again." A different view this time and I got to stay in MB instead of watching at the side of the road.


The famous downhill stretch where the Austin was filmed.


With the continuing rain, the thought of walking around Richmond Castle seemed a bit daft, but hey ho we travelled toward the town anyway just in case. And it paid off because no sooner had we pulled into the car park than the weather improved greatly. This was another of those attractions run by English Heritage, and yet again hopes were dashed when we were told the Castle Keep with its magnificent views was closed due to Covid restrictions. Groan....seems we must have another return visit when everything is allowed to open up again.





 

Father's Day, so obviously a meal out was in order. Richmond has a Wetherspoons, which is usually one of our preferred places to eat. I'm not sure if its just us but do you think it has gone down hill a tad? This is the second Wetherspoons in a week and both lacked something. Not as extensive menu as normal, I ordered curry and Ian a Brie with chilli jam beef burger, both unavailable! And when our ordered meal did eventually arrive, it was anything but hot! Not quite giving up on Wetherspoons just yet, but if the meals aren't up to scratch any more this food chain will be struck of our list.
On route to Wetherspoons a walk took us next to the River Swain and waterfall. This had been mentioned by the Heritage guy as a pleasant way back into town.


 

We were at a loss now as to where to go from here. I still fancied a paddle in the sea, so to the sea it was then. We drove North and ended up in Teesside! Pulling into a small car park near the beach, we also realised this would be a good place to stay overnight. We did do the walk down to the shore, tide was out and plenty of rock pools to look into. The sun was shinning and all was right with our world. I think we may stay for tomorrow, not in this car park, but one further along. It was spied as we drove towards the coast, lovely and sandy and who knows, if the weather is good I might even brave a full body dip!





And wildlife,

Looks like a nasty beastie.

And what are these dark circles? Could be eggs but what would lay in so an exposed place?



 

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Once in, your in for life!

 No matter how much one likes the choice of an overnight stop, whether it be the views, solitude, remoteness etc, there is sometimes a downside to an idyllic spot and such was the case last night. 


 

We could hear the babbling brook and the wind in the trees, what a wonderful way to be lulled to sleep. What wasn't so pleasant was hearing voices and car doors slamming some time in the wee hours! Okay so this was a car park for the reservoir but it's hardly in the middle of town, in fact to get to it, we had to drive down some very narrow lanes. So why then, and before 5 am I might add, was someone turning up with their car? 

Anyway the noise died down and we drifted off again, short-lived though because once more we were woken by the slamming of car doors and dogs barking. Time now 5.30am! The locals must get up really early for their morning constitutional because from then on a steady stream of cars turned up. Needless to say, we gave up on any more sleep!

The morning turned out sunny and we made our way to Mount Grace Priory. Reading the information boards, it tells that it was founded in 1398, although most of the surviving building date from the 15th century, and is the best-preserved Carthusian monastery in England. In the Middle Ages, monks lived like hermits in one of Mount Grace’s 25 individual cells, each with a private garden. And once you entered the monastery there was no going back, you were in there for life!


One of the cells. Most of the day was spent here in prayer and work.

 

The gardens were full of colour, but not as extensive as first thought. Some places were cordoned off, (Covid reasons) so we were limited as to where we could go. 

 


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This fabulous and unusual plant is called Primula Beesianna Candelabra


T'was still early afternoon when we arrived back at MB and the East Coast was once more mentioned. But of course it's the weekend and we were doubtful that a parking place would be available. Instead, we headed to Richmond. Another English Heritage property but this time a castle., To late for the visit today, that will be tomorrow's outing. Back in the Dales once more, we opted for another wild camping site. This time there will be no chance of being joined by another motorhome or car of any kind, the space is only big enough for one vehicle, and nearby was a track leading to something interesting high on the horizon. Just had to be climbed, even though the going up was okay, the going down would about kill the knees.

Too stony and uneven for another motorhome to come next to us.






Spectacular views from the top

Oh, and some rabbits were down in the valley. Almost missed them, they blended in so well. I also think one had that awful disease Myxomatosis.



There was also a massive bonus for me at the priory, a Blue Tit had made its nest in what I think is a Bat Box. A narrow slit instead of a round hole, which made the chicks look a bit squashed. It stands to reason then that most of todays wildlife photos will be of the chicks.








 


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