Wednesday, December 5

Up until christmas

Autumn colours

Took a drive out to Blairgowrie was, The Hermitage and House of Bruar. Had a loverly walk along the river to The Hermitage then moved on with the idea of visiting the Falls of Bruar but as we found they had a sale on, got no further than the House of Bruar.
Following week out to Lochnagar, I'v been up there a few times but finaly a visit with the top clear of cloud, fantastic clear day.

Me at Lochnagar.

Just waiting for the christmas break, talk is of the coldest winter in 100 years, lots of snow from the 15th of december right into the new year, lets see. Had the first snow last night, 04/12/12

Wednesday, October 31

Autumnal October.

Ben Venue.
Picked Diane up from work on the Sunday afternoon and sped off to The Trossachs, stopping at Cobeland camping in the forest site for two nights. The site was almost empty during the time we were there, a pity as the area was very pretty with the autumn colours and mists. I spent the day climbing Ben Venue, It started out as what looked like the prettiest of walks, but due to forestry work it turned into a mucky muddy dangerous mess, detours adding a couple of extra miles and hours on to a very tedious walk. I finally got to the top of Ben Venue, in cloud so no view. Had to resort to a back up plan, came off the mountain via Bealach nam Bo where Liam Neesam used to run his rustled cattle, sorry that should read Rod Roy, that was the best move to make, took about 4 1/2 hours up and 2 hours down.
Rested my legs on the journey down to the Lake District for two night there, turned up at the Caravan Club site only to find I hadnt booked, it was at the Caravan and Camping Club site just down at Troutbeck Head where we were to be. This turned out great, a little closer to the fells and other walks, I didnt need to move the van which is always a bonus. I think I prefer this site to the other, we have been to both, and I'm sure we will go back, when we cant get into the Keswick site.
The following day I climbed Blencathera,  a better day out even if the cloud was low again giving nothing much in the way of views. I had been hoping to go up via Sharp edge but I couldn't find my way on, not had much luck in the scrambling side of things, after a look around, visibility about 25 yards, I gave up and took the easy path to the top, but all in all not a bad day.

Van at Troutbeck head, background Blencathra.
Again after a couple of nights we left to see the kids on Teesside. We took the young ones to Whitewater campsite on the river Tees, just for the night, which they seemed to enjoy, especially watching Despicable Me. I took a walk over Carlton Bank, easy going and a nice wind down from the other walks.
The van performed well no trouble from it, feel a little more confident about it. The arial worked well and we thought a bit more about doing up the inside, what we might do here and there. I did give it new wheel trims before this trip.

Sunday, October 7

St Cyrus.

Moonrise and Sunset at Miltonhaven.

Last weekend of September, just a short trip and one night out at St Cyrus, a walk along the beach and a few caches. Miltonhaven, a decent site, great Internet connection,  but been to better locally.
Took the opportunity to put some new set covers on which helped to spruce her up. Noticed someone has put the bike rack on in such a way the back window can not be closed properly, letting in the elements, that's the next job.

New seat covers

Sorted that bike rack issue out, can still use it but the back window is fixed shut but that's OK, fitted new lighting tubes over the cooking area and removed the stupid latches from the bonnet. Measured up for some floor tiles and some other bits and pieces including an aerial are on order. Blocked off the water too the shower area, we are thinking of using it as a wardrobe in some way as we usually use site showers so it wouldn't be missed.
We are going to have a weekend cleaning and sorting bits and pieces out, then the following weekend we are off on our first major trip, a couple of nights in the Trossachs, then the Lake district before we visit the kids.

Sunday, September 16


Portsoy sunset.

We had a short weekend at Portsoy, first time outing in the new van, on a nice little site run by Aberdeenshire council, right on the sea front. We arrived on Saturday, noon and left the same time Sunday, took a walk around the bay in the evening. Living four floors up in the city the van is our garden, its just great to get out and have a different view, we prefere a view of the sea.
I replaced the camlocks on the bonnet, they came with multi-cam fitting which was lucky and one configuration worked, now I can get rid of the terrible bodge job of buckles, new travel catch on the fridge. We found that when the toilet or hand basin tap was turned on, water also came out of the shower, going to seal that off, wouldn't really use it as there are plenty on the sites we stop at, may even turn it into a wardrobe. Still looking for a substitute for the site at Cullen, this wasnt quite it.
Got plenty to do to her before before the October break, I have started to learn French.

Sunday, September 9

Our new van.

We got our new van, well new to us. Its a Hymermobil B564 ‘A’ Class, a design classic, 1991. It has a Fiat Ducato  2500 cc engine and chassis, ever since we started Campervaning we would see the Hymers buzzing around and admired them.
We bought it from Leeds and in bringing it to Aberdeen covered 339 miles, I worked it out that we got 27 mpg, I filled it up twice with £40 worth of diesel each time, 57 litres in total. We suffered no mechanical problems.
When saw this one for sale, it was a bit different, decor wise but all that was superficial, once we started cleaning and measuring and really getting to know it.  Became quite obvious its under gone a lot of bodging from some of its owners, cant believe some of the handy work its had over the past 20 + years.
We have started working towards getting it a bit more shipshape, plans are afoot and it is already looking better, we got rid of the black carpets making it a whole lot brighter, managed to drop a cable down from the flat and gave it all a good vacuum and steam clean.. If it lasts us over the next 5 years that will do fine.
Next weekend we will spend our first night in it, going to Portsoy and I start my French classes.
I dont have any photos yet but this is a very similar model. David Bowie and the B534

Saturday, August 18

End of an era.

Schiehallion (3553ft) in Perthshire

Towards the end of the Summer vacation period, I took advantage of the last few days and went off to Killin. Got there early enough to bag Schiehallion before the sun set, that late in the day had it almost to myself. This was going to be the last camp in this van as well, at least for us. The motorhome floor is dropping out, not going to go into a rant about who's fault that might be, they'll get no business from me if I can help it.
I had a cycle along Loch Tay, 16 miles and around 28 geocaches, this included one at the disused gold and copper mine used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Had wanted to visit this for years and it did not disappoint. I was very grateful for being able to get a bus back to the other end of the loch. Very knackered after that so had a couple of days just chillin as weather was good.

So have managed to sell the van on ebay, got a decent price for it I think, we are now looking for another camper. Have a couple of options and still thinking about which way to go with it. Will keep you apprised.

Wednesday, August 8

France, first time visit.


We decided it was time we had a taste of foreign roads so had a trip to France. Planning started a good while before, not choosing the site or how to get there, but what was needed to take Felix (the cat) along.
First he needed chipping and his anti-rabbis shots, he needed a passport, then worming and tick skin drops just before travelling. Information is hazy on the government website for cats, clear enough for dogs. All in all it was trouble free, with all our and the cats info being held on computers the authorities know exactly who you are. The only interest in Felix was leaving France and that came from the border policewomen who were just interested in seeing and cooing over him.
I booked everything through the Caravan Club, a package of ferry tickets and campsite, some sites, this being one of them, don't take pets full stop, others no dogs of certain breeds. Before booking I fired off an email to the site explaining he never leaves the van, would it be OK to bring him, they said yes as long as he stayed indoors.
We set off on our adventure mid afternoon, picking Diane up from work and heading south, first stop Glenrothes, got there for teatime, just north of Edinburgh and handy for the motorways. Next day off to just south of Birmingham for an overnight stop before going to Portsmouth for the evening ferry. The idea was to take it nice and easy on the way down, could have been done speedier and next time we probably will, giving us more time over there, for our first time I was a little apprehensive. Got too Portsmouth so early we had a little detour into Southsea, being a very hot sunny summers day at the start of the English school hols the place was heaving. Had a good look round, did a few caches and had a curry, we were still queueing for the ferry four hour early, but still not the first there.

The overnight ferry was fine enough but we didn't get much in the way of sleep, getting into Le Havre about eight, it was only a 60 km or 40 minute drive to the campsite, one of the reasons for choosing that site, didn't know how I would take to driving on the wrong side of the road. Bit of a baptism of fire, as I had been told by a guy at the Birmingham site, its straight out of the port and into the city centre of Le Havre.
Got to the site at Le Brevedent early but this wasn't a problem to the fantastic manager or owner, anyway waiting for the pitch to become vacant, managed to get some sleep in the car park.

Van at Castel Camping du Brevedent.

When we woke up well after mid day the pitch was empty and about 30c, just wanting to settle in on our first day I sat out in the sun, in shorts and sandals, never had a real opportunity to do this combination of things in the four year of campervaning in the UK, one hour later my knees and feet were burnt. The site was great, the French really know how to do this family camping, it looked like a bit of a gypsy camp after the regimented Caravan or Camping & caravan Club site, with all the washing out drying on lines but hey ho !

Day two and not really into having a drive so we went for a walk. Not really walking county at least not the Normandy countryside, the coast maybe different, but the information area at the site reception had a map with walks around the quieter county lanes. So we set off for Blangy-le-Chateau, paths through woods and high hedged country lanes meant we were usually walking in the shade which was great given it was another hot sunny day. The village was very pretty, clean, marvellous how other countries can keep their environments clean of litter and fly tipping. Lots of allied national flags, saw them on large flagpoles in every town and village that I noticed, I guess in gratitude for kicking out the Nazis. Once the bar was open we had a drink, not used to this type of thing, usually driving, but it was great, probably should have made it two, don't know when I will get another opportunity, we then walked back to the site.

Di with some locals.

Day three and we headed off  to the coast, don't think a visit to this area would be complete without a trip to the invasion beaches. We went off towards Ouistreham the eastern end of Sword beach, it was also a place to get some fuel. A lesson learnt 3/4 of a tank cost just over £50 even with the bank charge for the foreign transaction, normally £75, I didn't realise this till I viewed my statement, for the future fill up over there. Ouistreham seemed a little ordinary so we made our way along the coast to Lion-su-mar, walked along the stray and got photographed with a tank. When we got back to the van it had a note from the police on it, apparently we had parked in an area reserved for buses, we had seen this but there was another motor home parked there so thought it was maybe ok. I think the note said there could be a fine of 40 euro for this, didn't seem to say were you might pay it so I ignored it, think it was just a friendly warning, anyway we will see at the border control.

Me with a Churchill tank

We travelled along the coast but it was all much of a muchness, decided to go off to Bayeux and if you go there you have to see the tapestry don't you. Another parking faux pas, think we parked in the museum staff car park, didn't notice till we got back they all had permits in the windows.
The viewing of the Tapestry was great, the interactive talk was very good and informative, we both enjoyed this medieval experience and can recommend it. Had a little geocaching walk around the city centre, always a good fall back if you dont have a real plan.
Off back to the campsite via the toll roads, very quick and comfortable and worth the 4 euros.

Last full day in France and decided on a whole day in Honfleur, sounded great from the Rough guide. Still a bit panicky driving in towns and this little place was very busy, desperate to find parking and seeing most had height restrictions, we saw a sign for Motorhomes. It wasn't just a car park as such you could stay for the night and even had electric hookup, 10 euro for 24 hours. I had heard of these places before, no frills but great for a night, in fact the only regret was we didn't stay for the night, could have had a night on the town and it seemed a great town to have a night on. This was another HOT day, laminated board said it had been 32 C but think it could have got up to 34 C.
Honfleur is a lovely small harbour town, it reminded me very much of Whitby but with a bit of je ne sais quoi. Wonderful how they keep there villages and town nice and clean abroad.
On the way back to the site we missed a turnoff somewhere along the way and went on a right satnav adventure, but got back for another lovely evening sat out.

We spent the morning on site making the most of the weather, then made our way slowly back to Le Harve. once again getting there early. Ferry back was a bit easier not going over night. Got a ferry pitch on a site just 20 mins out from Portsmouth, Caravan club staff still available just to guide you in, We will certainly be doing more of this, already making plans for next year, will spend more time over there, go further and learn some language.

Sunday, August 5

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

Our 50th cache hide had to be a little special and as I am also getting bored with searching for urban caches, I wasnt about to make this one. In fact I don't think I will bother hiding anymore in urban situations, unless somewhere really interesting.
I was looking for some scrabbling experience as I had failed at getting to the top of Stac Polly and Sgurr nan Gilliean.
I found this in a book on walk and scrammbles in the Cairngorms, There wernt many as it was, for such a large area. The Stuic a rocky ridge on the Locknagar Massif, had been climbed way back by none other than Lord Byron. Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know was a phrase used by Lady Caroline Lamb to describe Lord Byron and as a child, lived for a short time at a farm adjacent to the South Deeside Road just east of Ballater. He spent some of his early childhood in Aberdeen where he attended the grammer school. He is reputed to have climbed The Stuic with a clubfoot and the time growing up in the area feature in some of his poetry, in paricular the area of Lochnagar
I was a long walk in and not that exciting once I had left the ancient forsest, mostly moor and bog. I climbed it from loch nan Eun and got the most way up, them my way was barred, in hindsite I think I should have been further over too the right, but I made my way off to the side and up a scree gully for the final few fifty feet or so. I think I will probably have another go at it sometime, as I still need the scrambling practice and this isnt supposed to be that difficult.Looks like you can come off Lochnagar quite easily down to the Loch, then climb it, wants to be a good dry day as that granite is slippy when wet, unlike the gritty grabbo of Skye.

Saturday, July 14

Altandhu and Skye, again.

Cul Mor from Stac Polly

The first two weeks of my summer break was spent on the Coigach peninsula and Skye, The Inverpoly area is stunning an area that warrants more exploration. I was staying at the Port A Bhaigh Campsite, Altandhu, the people who run the site also have the pub across the road and serves some fantastic food, its well onto the peninsula but well worth the drive. The site its self over looks the Summer Isles and is fairly basic but new and clean.
One of the climbs I wanted to do was Stac Pollaidh or Stac Polly for short a small hill with an intimidating looking top, It commands great views of the Inverpoly National Nature reserve, when you can get them, to that end I climbed it twice as the first time it had too much cloud on top.
The whole area is designated a Geopark due to is geology, I had a visit to the Inchnadamph Bone Caves, where bones, teeth and antler from a wide array of animals were found, such as the Northern Lynx, bones of arctic lemming, arctic fox, wolf and brown bear and it is thought a polar bear, as well as human. Once at the caves I managed to see a herd of deer and a Peregrine that was nesting above the caves.
The drive back to the campsite via Lochinver was not uneventful, with a storm over the area with thunder and lightening, so much so that it plunged a wide area into an electrical blackout, this proved a problem as I was in real need of fuel, in the end I had to chance the drive back to camp with the fuel light on, the was fuel close to Altandhu.
Then I moved on for a couple of nights at Poolewe, the the main reason to photograph and geocache at the foot of An Teallach, a great little walk and practise for my next visit and hopefully to tackle the mountain itself.
Skye and back to the Camping and caravan club site a great little site, I was going to go to the one at Glen Brittle for a couple of night but in the end just decided to stay here.
Early on I visited Portree and The Braes, It didn't look that great for being high on the hills, low cloud, so this kept me in the sun, did a few caches.
Finally got to walk on the Quiraing did a great circuit up around the top and returning through it, there is now a burger bar here, the noise of the genny kept with me for a good while, but people have to make a living.

The Fairy Pools.

Looking at the weather I decided that this was an ideal day for the type of images I was hoping to make around the fairy pools, in Glen Brittle. Went along to what I always thought were "The Fairy Pools", I had been before, stopping at a system of small falls and pools then decided to explore further up, it was then I discovered they weren't the actual "Pools", finding the real ones, a much more comprehensive and exciting system. 
On my last day on Skye I decided to have a go at a mountain called Sgurr nan Gilliean, I got up a little too late to really take this on, I worked out I was only about 300 meters from the top, when I gave up, but that was all scrambling and I haven't had a great deal of scrambling experience.  So for future reference, 1, need to get some scrambling done and 2. get up earlier when you plan a walk. I was so knackered the following day I set off home as I couldn't have got very far walking. And try to write this blog up at the end of each day.

Friday, June 8

God save the Queen

Beinn Eighe range

The queen gave us all a couple of days off for her jubilee, god bless her, so that and the weekend gave us a good four days out in Torrridon. Kinlochewe caravan club site is in a great situation with a number of walks straight out fro the site itself. Took a walk out through the Beinn Eighe National park and onto Meal a' Ghiutheas this challenging Corbett gives great views over the Beinn Eighe range and Ruadh-stac Beag, both of which I hope to climb in the future. This area has claimed me and I will be back for more.
The following day we walked up Abhainn Thraill for a geocache, not a great many in the area that I hadn't found.
The van itself performed well on this trip, the new engine gave me no problem. I had bought a couple of walkie talkies and this was the first real test, we were talking across 
3 1/4 miles  very well, it was quite fun.
Anyway a few more weeks of work then off for seven weeks with the prospect of our first continental van trip.

 Felix enjoying the jubilee.

Saturday, May 26

Waiting for summer

Glen Clova from Driesh.
Employer policy is to do away with bank holidays and add an extra week at summer, so no long weekend get a ways, Carlotta is only off every other weekend. The long weekends were great taking us from the Easter into the summer, breaking things up nicely. Weather has been poor,except for the unusual warm spell we had before Easter we still get the odd snow flurry. 
We planned to have a weekend in Braemar, but when we picked the camper up for the trip I noticed diesel pouring out of somewhere, so cancelled that trip, but just as I was to take the van to a garage, I had a look in the engine bay, spotted a pipe had split, a quick fix and we were back on. I was hoping to bag a few Munro's but the late getaway put paid to this, however had a nice but short weekend.

 Managed a 12 mile walk over the Munro, Driesh, failed to find the geocache at the top and one other, more to do with apathy and tiredness than DNF, but its was a great walk in GlenProsen.

Huts at Hopeman
Went to Hopeman for the weekend and had a couple of walks along the Moray coastal path. We have been looking for a replacement campsite for the one at Cullen who have done away with tourers in favor of statics, this could be it, views of the sea from a platform they put us up on.

Saturday, April 14

Easter 2012

 Angel of the North

What a difference a week made. We were geocaching in shorts, 20 degrees C it was last weekend and now confined to the motor home due to snow. Well it wasn’t that bad in North Berwick, we seemed to have avoided the thick laying snow that they had in Aberdeenshire, but it was blowing a gale and not very nice at all.
We put off the big geocaching trail and did a few in North Berwick itself and I climbed the Law for a couple, hoping the following day would be better, it wasn’t.
The Caravan club site at Yellowcraig was pretty poor for a CC site, cramped, no internet and masses of kids flying about on bikes and scooters. The coast was very nice and inspired some photography.
Then off to Teesside, tried to call off at Craster, a coastal village famous for its kippers but our way was barred by a low bridge, too low for the motorhome. To make up for this disappointment we paid a visit to the Angel of the North.
Had a few days with the kids, took them for a day out to Whitburn, did some geocaches by the National trust, good quality Took a walk on the moors, with snow still lying around,  nothing to taxing as I was full of cold.
Off back up to Aberdeen with a call off at The Trossachs, a Camping in the Forest site near Aberfoyle, very wooded site as the name hints at, lots of birds chirping which was great, opportunity for fishing, maybe next time, definitely worth another visit and only four hours away.

Wednesday, January 11

Christmas 11

Sunrise at Cairn Gorm.

Finally a christmas and new year where I could use the Motor home, a mild winter allowed me, us, to get out, Loch Morlich, Edinburgh and Teesside.
Weather was still a problem, kept me from climbing Cairn Gorm, 100+ mph winds on the hill tops, a little calmer at low level, rocked the van all night. The winds cause lots of damage across the UK but we manage to avoid things like the Forth road bridge closures. Edinburgh for new years eve, but not in the town, back too Mortonhall, on the way Teesside.
Spent almost a week down there with the kids. Managed a little geocaching with them and a van picnic off fish and chips in Seaton Canoe after a visit to the Hartlepool maritime museum. Great time out and about.
On the way home called off for a couple of nights at The Woods caravan site near Alva, at the foot of the Orchil hills. Took a much needed hike up them, a nine and a half miles, 6 geocaches and three peaks one being a Graham.
Home and the next holidays are months away, sigh. Happy new year.

Camper at the North Gare, Seaton Carew