A day out in a tunnel

For our day of rest today, we did a trip in a tunnel! Iain’s choice, how better to spend the sunniest day of the holiday so far than in a tunnel? The tunnel in question was to be fair no ordinary tunnel, it was Standedge Tunnel at Marsden on the Huddersfield Canal. Its 3.2 miles long and is the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in the UK (and, except a slightly longer one in France, in the world). The boat trip right through in one direction takes 3 hours – luckily we did 500 metres and that took 40 minutes for the round trip. All I can tell you is its very dark, fairly cold, not that straight and a bit damp. Worth a visit? Yes for £4 its an experience and the cafe outside sell lovely coffee and cakes.

There was a converted mill building on the site which house a canal exhibition and the whole top floor was a craft shop and workshop, more to my liking. We have passed over the A62 before and didn’t realise that Marsden even had a town centre as such, its just off the canal and worth a visit.

To get to Marsden we went over Holme Moss where the roads are still covered in TDF slogans. The summit is at 1719 ft above sea level and the views stretch for what must be 60 miles. We saw at least 50 cyclists emulating last weekend trekking up the hill, we made do with sitting smugly at the viewpoint with a coffee discussing whether we could ride up it and if so how quickly (we so couldn’t really but its ace to pretend).

TDF graffiti

TDF graffiti

Holme Moss - still full of cyclists

Holme Moss – still full of cyclists


Holme Moss views

Holme Moss views

Also on route was Holmfirth and we had intended to stop and have a look at Compo and Cleggy’s haunts, the cafe etc. However we met another campervan couple who told us they went the day before. They went on an organised coach tour as all the places on the tv series are spaced out over 8 miles and most of the buildings you couldn’t recognise without being told what they were as they are radically altered just for filming days.  So that one was out as didn’t really seem worth seeing something we wouldn’t know what it was without someone telling us, type of thing!

Our day finished back at campsite where all was going smoothly until we tried to wind in the awning – its not going to happen. Somehow its stuck so Iain is currently on the roof trying to remove it, fingers crossed Iain does get off the roof at some stage this evening before he gets eaten alive by midges.

The Black Peak District

Wednesday morning we were away from Selby fairly handy as we wanted to spend our last week in the Peak District. We took the most direct, if least scenic, route over the M62 then down the M1 to the Woodhead Pass. Much quicker trip than we estimated and we arrived in Crowden by lunchtime.

We are back with C&CC at their Crowden site. A real little gem that takes 20 vans and another 20 or so tents. Lots of Duke of Edinburgh groups in and out but still fairly peaceful. Its just a few yards back from Crowden Reservoir and the Pennine Way passes the top end. Nothing else around, no pubs or shops for miles but luckily we had stocked up for the week on the way over.

Ready to climb a mini mountain on the Pennine Way

Ready to climb a mini mountain on the Pennine Way

This morning we decided that as were on the Pennine Way and it was a blue skies day we really should take advantage and go for a bit of a) stroll in Iain’s opinion b) hike in my opinion. We bought a copy map sheet from the wardens and headed out just after 9.30 in a northerly direction. An easy amble for the first 1/2 mile then things got a bit steeper. It was literally like steps carved out of the hillside and it went on and on until we reached a plateau and then more climbing! The views are incredible in all directions and the track is right under the Manchester flight path, the planes coming in seemed nearly close enough to reach out and touch. Other than a few sheep and some ravens it really does feel like being a million miles from civilisation.

The Pennine Way

The Pennine Way

After 2 hours we were at 1750 ft and the path went way to close to a sheer drop for me. To be frank I bottled it there was no way I was risking the next bit, not so much the going up that bothered me, more the how the hell do you get back down! There was another path to our left (obviously trodden by the other like minded cowards) so we took that for a while out onto Middle Edge Moss at the southern end of Saddleworth. We stopped for a half hour lunch break near Chew Reservoir then started the long haul back. Its so much tougher coming down, a guy with two dogs raced past us making us look like a right pair of old slow coaches stumbling along. We had a few stops on the way down to admire the views over the Moors and catch our breathe as it was way too hot to be clambering around on rocks by mid afternoon.

Made it back to buy a celebratory Magnum lollies by 3 o’clock and now sat watching other walkers on their way down, most of whom long somewhat fresher than us. Tomorrow is definitely a rest day.

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Selby-York-Selby bike ride

The bike path from Selby to York is 15 miles, it was going to be slightly longer as our campsite was a few miles out of town on a farm. We set off for town, I think the TDF has been sending subliminal messages to Iain that he is part of the Tour as he shot off at top speed. Managed to catch him up in town where we saw the first signs for the route. All good except there was a diversion to follow. I took the lead and we were doing really well until several miles on the sign ahead said Hull ( the sign behind us said York – ooops). So apparently I had taken a few wrong turns and Iain took over and found us a route back towards the intended cycle path.

This was one to cycle

This was one to cycle

Once we found Cycle Route 65 it was brilliant. Part of the Trans Penine Trail it followed a former rail track and was away from the roads. A gentle incline all the way but we saw this as a positive as it meant a decline going back. The cycle route goes right through York racecourse, a bit surreal as you cross the track, then a short section through a housing estate then just before you are in the city centre you pass Terry’s of York. An awesome building that is now closed up and for sale, hard to describe the scale other than to say it would dwarf most stately homes.

We arrived in York 21 miles after leaving the campsite and parked ourselves on a bench by the river just up from Rowntree Park. Time for a scoff of our picnic and a rest to ease the aching bones. We decided against traipsing into the city with bikes and thought we would aim for a leisurely ride back and a stop for a coffee.

The only place to stop was Naburn Station cafe. No longer a station its the house in the old station buildings. No one at the cafe but it was a ‘trust hut’, help youself to tea, coffee, cakes, ice-creams etc and just leave the money in a tube. The set up was brilliant, really eclectic with the hut looking like something from the Caribbean and the furniture in the garden like Central Perk withe sofas and garden chairs dotted around the side of the bike path (will post photos when we next have internet).

We left Naburn and the heavens opened – no coats of course so we rode as fast as we could between the tree covered sections to dodge the rain. After half an hour the sun was back and we made it back into Selby mid afterrnoon. A few miles later we were on the campsite, an absolutely brilliant ride that in the end totalled 41 miles. Well worth the effort to see bits of York other than the city centre and a fabulous cycle path made all the better by the amazing Naburn Station.


Naburn Station Trust Cafe - on the Selby-York cycleway

Naburn Station Trust Cafe – on the Selby-York cycleway

Whitby was wet

Sunday morning was a bit overcast. So we decided on a driving day and headed to Whitby. On arrival its ceased being overcast and instead became downright wet. A gentle stroll along the north cliff looking down over town for half an hour then we decided to head inland for some sunshine.

Yorkshire Moors are a fairly bleak landscape but on a misty day even more so. Not sure whether the cloud was low or the moors are high, either way at times it was just plain eerie. When the sun did pop out there is some stunning scenery. Grosmont is a bit picture postcard, especially as the steam train had just pulled in as we arrived. The roads over the moors are a tad challenging – even in our little campervan the narrow lanes, tight bends and very steep hills made for some fairground style driving at times. We skirted Goathland as we have been before and posed outside the Aidensfield landmarks as it was mid afternoon we were on the hunt for a campsite but not seeing anything at all.

We pulled over at the Hole of Horcum for a brief stop – an incredible natural amphitheatre (must be a mile wide). The blurb said it was formed by natural springs sapping away layers of limestone – or by a giant scooping out earth! We firmly believe the latter to be true :).

Finally found an ace CL just above Pickering. Marfit Head Farm had pretty much every thing in the space of 50 yards – donkeys, cows, goats, pot bellied pigs, ducks, the biggest scariest chickens we have ever seen and the facilities block in an old farm building that was like something in a 5 star hotel. And all for £11 – Iain is finding his Yorkshire roots and loving saving a quid or two.

This morning it was onto Pickering, a busy little market town that actually had a market on. We bought some scrummy looking bread and scones and went down to see steam trains of the NYM railway, the train for just leaving and the next one wasn’t a diesel so maybe next time. We had exhausted the town and market by lunchtime so went off to find somewhere to make lunch. Castle Howard signs appeared (home of Brideshead Revisited). Turn off the main road and step back 100 years, narrow roads through the estate with stone archways at each junction. We pulled into carpark and made some lunch before going for a look around. Sadly only the shops and. Cafe were free – £30 for the two of us to go in (“how much?”) so we gave that a miss and peeped over the wall instead.

Late afternoon and pitched up on a farm near Selby just South of York. Only us on site and its just about an ok site. Stopping purely so we can get the bikes off and make use of some the brilliant trails around this area tomorrow.

Pickering for the morning

Pickering for the morning

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Scarborough – loving it

Sooner or later we  fully expect to have a day where nothing much happens, today wasn’t that day as we have just experienced Scarborough and absolutely loved it.  We walked from the campsite over the cliffs and took the steps down to the end of North Bay by the Sea Life Centre.  The overnight rain was just stopping and there were signs of the sun appearing a bit later.

North Bay – totally not what we expected.  An enormous sweep of bay with just a handful of cafes and nothing else very ‘touristy’. The promenade runs along the bottm of a steep grassy bank with the hotels high above on the hill. Plenty of people wandering around and a few very nice brightly painted beach huts.  We came across the fantastic giant sculpture of Freddie Gilroy, by Ray Lonsdale, people were queueing up to sit their children on Freddie’s knee for a photo, not to be out done we joined the wait and took a good few of ourselves.

San & Freddie

San & Freddie

Iain and Freddie Gilroy

Iain and Freddie Gilroy

When we reached the promontory under the castle we turned into South Bay and much more the Scarborough we expected.  Another massive sweep of bay but over half of it lined with arcades, shops and cafes.  The sun was out by now and so were the crowds, so we took our picnic down on the beach and enjoyed that holiday delicacy of sand in your butties whilst watching the donkey rides, it all felt a bit like a step back in time to the good old British seaside and none the worse for that.  After Iain had ably demonstrated his Yorkshire heritage with a display or ‘roll us your cap granddad’  we moved on to explore the other end of the promenade.

We followed the bay along to Scarborough Spa, the Ocean Room is just amazing – a room without a roof that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie. Just behind is the oldest funicular railway in Britain so we took a short cut  up the cliff into town for 80p.  Rather than walk back along the promenade we aimed to go through town and have a look at the Grand Hotel (where Anne Bronte died) on the way. We were pleasantly surprised inside at how well it has been preserved – especially the two ballrooms. The town itself is very like most seaside towns lots of the High Street names but also lots of independents too, we especially liked Bar Street – a little cobbled traffic free lane with plenty of of things I could have been spending my money on had we not been beginning to flag slightly and to be honest be a dit daunted by the sheer numbers of people in the town by mid afternoon.

As by now we were just slightly worn out and it was time to head back to camp, a rather long walk even though we cut out a great part by cutting across town rather than out along the promenades.  We had a stop off at a bakery where Iain bought himself 3 cakes to replace all the energy he had used walking today. A good few miles later and we arrived back, next door to camp is a large pub so we stopped off and treated ourselves to a couple of small Black Sheep beers – 8.5 miles since we left this morning we had earned it. Now its time to get the tv on and catch up with Le Tour for the evening.


POW camp then Scarborough

The Eden Camp museum is billed as ‘the only modern history theme museum of its type in the world’.  With a tag line that good and yet we have never heard of it we guessed it was going to be a little different.

Only £5.50 each to get in was a promising start, a former POW camp with 30 of the original huts still on the site, with each hut holding a exhibition of some sort.  The huts mainly contained recreated scenes of wartime from bombed out houses (complete with arm waving from rubble – with full mechanical noises from same),  air raid wardens on patrol, shops with rationing etc. etc.  To be fair lots of the props were very authentic, sadly most of the set ups were a bit overdone and the models were akin to shop window dummies without any character at all.  The blurb advertises they use movement, sound, light and smell to create authentic scenes – the main movement was nearly every scene had running water or flashing lights. A bit disappointing other than the highlight being an outside toilet – when you tried the door it only opened slightly and a voice shouted “Oi I’m in here” followed by the sound of a flush, worth visiting for that alone 🙂

For us the most interesting thing was the actual POW camp, sadly most of the history to that has been removed,  with the exception of one hut that house some of the letters and identity cards of the former inmates.

Time to move on and find somewhere to make a quick lunch, pulled into a layby with all the other gypsies – literally. As we stopped we saw that opposite us with 30-40 gypsy vans (including several of the old wooden horse drawn ones) and upwards of 30 horses all tied up alongside the busy A road. We had got caught in a traffic jam earlier following two horse drawn caravans and it would appear this is a big site for them right on the grass verge of the A64.

Eden POW camp

Eden POW camp

Onwards to Scarborough and our campsite for the next 2 nights. We are a couple of miles out of town on the C&CC site. Its huge, over 300 pitches and vast majority in use. We are a few hundred yards from the cliff top so walked over to have a have a look before settling back in the van as the heavens opened. Now blowing a gale and raining quite hard – forecast is for this to blow over tonight so fingers crossed it does as we have a cliff walk planned for tomorrow.


A day against route of the TDF

Leaving Hawes fairly handy this morning we decided to have a leisurely drive around the Dales National Park with a destination of Thirsk in mind for an overnight stop.

We took the B road which runs alongside the River Wharfe as its shown as a scenic route. Very much so, and probably even better when you aren’t driving against the TDF traffic.  A fairly narrow road in places and some very tight squeezes of us and other motorhomes between dry stone walls. When it wasn’t other motorhomes it was packs of cyclists (and wow can they go fast even coming up hill towards you).  Again though one of the main joys was driving the route and seeing how every village and farm seems to be taking up the TDF with relish with bunting, flags and painted bikes, even the planting in window boxes is either yellow or red and white – really fantastic atmosphere building already,  We stopped for a coffee break and to recover our nerve on Greenhow Hill which has the most incredible views for miles after mile in both directions.  As we started down hill we met Team Cofidis coming towards us on mass – quite daunting to see them all in red hurtling along, however they gave us a wave and a few smiles so we may be supporting them purely for that.

Somehow we lost track of our route at this point and rather than being in Ripon we were actually in Bedlam (appropriate) so we changed tact and decided on Knaresborough for the night.  As the TDF is hitting here too its was pretty chaotic so we were unsure if we would get on the site, as we pulled up outside we saw the “site full” sign.  Having experienced these signs at CC many times we know they seem to have very little meaning so we drove in and popped into reception – low and behold they aren’t full and we are happily pitched up on site.  Another typically good CC site, this one is a little different in that it has a small Bistro on site, good facilities and large pitches so it will do nicely as home for us for one night.


We popped out to stretch our legs earlier and came across Nidd Gorge, which follows the meandering River Nidd with over 15 miles of footpaths through forests and farmland.  A very special place where you coukd walk for hours and not see another soul, signs at the entrance told us there were deer around so we went for a walk to see what we could spot. Footpaths are fairly well carved along through the trees and in places there were boardwalks alongside the river. We managed a few miles but alas no deer although we did hear woodpeckers. Back at camp for some tea and an earlyish tonight – tonorrow we have a full day out planned at a modern history theme museum before its finally time to head for the coast for the weekend.