About Us

My photo
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.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

And home we go

 At last, how long have we been trying? For months and months and every time the conditions have been wrong. What am I talking about? Dark skies, no light pollution from towns, street lights and even the moon. Last night the sky was clear and Toffees last walk at 11 pm showed the sky as we have never seen it before in the UK, Millions of stars and the faint outline of the milky way. It was breathtakingly beautiful and quite magnificent. This was the perfect ending of the motorhome adventure.

This morning then, we were woken by the Grouse, calling to one and another from the stone wall opposite the window. One even landed on the roof, must have decided this to be the best vantage point to see where the others were. Tad noisy as the feet clambered up and down and Ian leapt up from his bed at one point when he thought it was attacking the solar panel cables! But how nice to have them as an alarm wakeup call. It sounds a bit like 'go back-go back-go back' followed by a quick 'ha-ha-ha-ha'. I did get a photo, that will be put at the bottom of this post.

Before leaving we stripped the bedding, pillow cases and kept the sleeping bags out to go to the dry cleaners on our return. Then we drove to Aysgarth Falls for the last Toffee walk and to allow her one more swim in the river. Sad to think she goes home tomorrow.






The journey home, well what can I say about that. Hold up after hold up, well it was a Friday and the start of a Bank Holiday. Took nearly 4 hours to do 120 miles, we did have a short stop at a services for a comfort break but glad when we finally reached junction 26. Toffee remembered FS, rushed to jump on, tore around like a demented soul and finally curled up in the usual place by the front doors. 

My next posting won't be until  mid-October. Thats when the New Zealand adventure starts, gosh to think we wont be back on FS until April next year. Exciting times ahead.๐Ÿ˜Ž

And wildlife,


 


Saturday, 27 August 2022

I come a cropper...again!

 Thursday 25th

Wow, what a sunset, red skies and weird cloud formations and over the reservoir, most spectacular. Lovely end to an almost perfect holiday. Just one more night to go and that will be high up on my most favourite place in the UK, the Dales.




Before we left Fontburn reservoir we thought it would be great to walk around the perimeter. Not sure exactly how far that would be maybe about 4 miles? Anyway set off hoping to tire Toffee out. Another long journey was ahead of us to a place called Reeth, high up in the Yorkshire Dales. The path was easy going at first until it narrowed and we had to push our way through bracken avoiding trip hazards like tree roots. A long board walk with wide slats had to be negotiated, easy for us but Toffee struggled somewhat with the gaps. Thankfully she wouldn't return the same way...or so I thought!

 




Thought a walk along the reservoir edge would give Toffee the oppertunity to have a paddle. Hmm bad decision. Just take a look at her paws!


A small stream was found, and we made sure she went in to wash off that mud, didn't expect her to enter that huge pipe though! Disappearing from view we both yelled after her. She trotted out wondering what all the fuss was about!

I wonder whats in there?


Eventually we came to steps, shallow ones, and I was too busy looking around to notice the first step. Crikey, down I went straight onto my bad left knee. OMG I thought I had done something really bad 'cos the pain was awful. I lay there with Ian fussing over me and being the concerned hubby, but I really couldn't reply to the questions of "Are you alright.?" I didn't know, could I even move the leg?  Then began to feel very light headed probably due to the shock. Eventually I tried to move and yes, found I could. Well it must have been a good 5 minutes before I felt comfortable enough for Ian to help me up. A few tentative steps reassured me that nothing was broken. Foolishly I told Ian I could continue on the walk, must have done a good half mile before it sunk in that I had to turn back. Blast meant Toffee had to walk along that boardwalk again. So very relieved when MB came into view. First thing I did was check the knee. Nothing was seen apart from the beginnings of a bruise. Somehow I had got away lightly, but I'm now very concerned about that saying 'everything comes in threes'. This is twice now so one more to go!

The step Ian was on was the culprit.
 
This part of the way around.

Stopping in Hexham for provisions, mainly wine because Tesco was doing a 25% discount on 6 bottles but only if they were over £5 each. Well that was no problem because Ian drinks a decent New Zealand Chardonnay and I drink Jam Shed. Back on the road and eventually arrived at Reeth by mid afternoon. Plenty of sheep about so it's lead on for Toffee whenever we took her out.



As nice as this part of the Dales was I really wanted to go back to what I call 'Herriots Ford' It's when James Herriot drives down a steep hill and through the ford on the opening scene of All Creatures Great and Small. It's at Low Row roughly a couple of miles from here. A very popular place for wild campers so how surprised was I when we were the only ones there. The peace was suddenly shattered by gun fire, ahh, must be the Grouse shooting season. Click HERE to read all about it. Thankfully no men with guns were seen in this vicinity and very glad of that too. Plenty of Red Grouse about, I heard them and saw a head pop up from the grass. Maybe tomorrow morning more will come.




And today's wildlife,





Friday, 26 August 2022

A gem of a walk

 Wednesday 24th

 It's turned wet again, not what we wanted when a decent round trip walk was found close to this car park. Toffee was taken out at 6.30 am, me in trousers pulled over nighty and waterproof coat. The car park was dark and oppressive with trees surrounding the area. For some reason only known to dogs, she was very nervous about going out. It could be the constant dripping of water from the trees, or maybe she sensed something sinister, it made me a bit uneasy too. Thankfully she had just about had a wee when her ears went right back, tail between the legs, and she shot off back to MB. I couldn't get her to go out after that, well not until we set off for that walk much later.

So that walk, what a gem of a place, and we wouldn't have found it had we not stopped early last night. Several waterfalls, most impressive after all the rain and the whole forest was surrounded by moss and lichen, reminiscent of a rain forest. 

 



3 miles the round trip, plenty of steep inclines and steps which finished eventually at the Castle. The rain never let up, and I found out very quickly that my so-called waterproof jacket was not! A good quarter of a mile of steep downhill road lay before us to get back to MB. This was by far the worst bit for me. Penguin steps again, I really must remember to take walking poles with me!



 
jhg


Am I the only one that can see an owl's face and body? Ian failed miserably.

The one thing we didn't want to meet was the bin lorry. Not a minute before it arrived, Ian had mentioned that fact!


Took us about 40 minutes to get to Falkirk and boy was it busy. All car parks were full so very glad there was a designated coach and motorhome car park at the top and several water taps available for use. Slight problem though, they all required a larger tap connector. Ian rummaged around in the hose bag and pulled out the correct fitting. He always amazes me with the things he can lay his hand on.  Ian had a walk down the hill to the canalside facilities to empty the loo, a bit of a trek but at least with the key it could be done. The cost of all this was just £3.50 and that was actually for an all day ticket for the car park, for the privilege was well worth paying. Much cheaper than going into a proper caravan site. Jobs done it was off to the Northumberland waters Fontburn reservoir. We stayed here in September last year and really liked the quietness of the place. 



 

 

You may have gathered we are heading South, It’s back to Langley for us on Friday and Saturday we return Toffee to our son. Gosh life will be strange without her. I very much doubt we will be walking as much, but then again, with a new adventure waiting for us in New Zealand, we expect to be busy getting everything sorted.


Thursday, 25 August 2022

Driving along a runway.

All we had was boy racers, tearing up and down the road toward the harbour and passing this car park (thankfully) so it didn't really worry us other than the noise of revved engines. Then about 9 pm a bloke on a cycle knocked on the window. Said he was a first aider and a first responder and that someone had requested emergency assistance. We only opened the window a crack, no way would we unlock the doors! Told him it wasn't us, and he rode away. Talk about suspicious as I have never heard of any emergency callers sending a bicycle to deal with an emergency!

Overnight was a nightmare. Opposite was a factory that never stopped and there was men shouting, forklifts constantly on the move and every so often (just when we were about to drift off) loud bangs as if containers had been dropped. The gulls called and screeched from 5 am, and it wasn't until we looked outside and noticed loads of them all perched on a lorry in the factory yard that the penny dropped, that factory dealt in fish and must have had an early delivery. straight from the trawlers. This is one place we will NOT be stopping at again.



Took Toffee for a quick walk along the cliff top before setting off and another seal put in an appearance. 


 

Found RSPB site and visitor centre. A half mile walk took us to too wetland hides. Hardly anything turned up, I think we are too late for some waders and too early for the winter migrations. We did have a sighting 0f a fox, came toward us as we made our way back to the centre so in a way it wasn't all for nothing.


 


Another hide was a mile away along the road and could only be got to by car. Directions given by one of the guides and we set off to find it. What we hadn't realised was the hide was through a disused airfield, first on gravel and then onto one of the old runways. I know very little about this base but this is what I found on the web (click on the link). Drove quite a long way, had to open a gate to continue and negotiate past several cows and calves before eventually spying a sign to the hides in the distance.



We parked and walked to the fence only to find we were on the wrong side of a gate with no way of getting to the other side. Nothing for it but turn back. In fact, we abandoned any idea of trying to find the correct track, a long drive was ahead of us, at least150 miles to Falkirk, and I was eager to get on the road.



Three hours later we were still along way from our destination. Driving at 50 mph to conserve diesel all put extra time on the journey. With it being so late we decided on a fish and chip supper so took a slight detour to Auchterarder. Oh, we found the chip shop alright...blooming thing was closed until Thursday! We ended up with a pizza, second best but at least we had something to eat!

We failed at several spots to find somewhere to stop overnight, Falkirk was still about 30 miles away and the thought of containing for another 40 minutes put me off somewhat. We tried the Forestry and Land site but no overnight parking allowed, a lay by (not at all suitable) and then one in a place called Dollar near to Castle Campbell. Thank goodness there was nothing to say we couldn't park, and we were the only ones there. We still plan to go to Falkirk, it has all facilities, mainly for boaters but as we have the BW key with us, good for us too.


Blog Archive