Places we went 2013
Stanmore Hall – Shropshire
Chatsworth Park – Peak District
- Tissington Trail
Montgomery – Powys
- Bishops Castle
Axminster – Devon
Frome – Somerset
North Wales Tour 2013
- Menai Strait
- Llandwyn Island
- Cameas Bay
- South Stack Lighthouse
- Swallow Falls
- Mount Snowdon
- Electric Mountain
Hartington – Peak District
- Tissington Trail
- Bradford Dale
- Matlock Bath
- Abrahams Heights
- Cromford Canal
First France Tour June 2013
- Marçon – Region: Pays de La Loire – Department: Sarthe
- Dinard – Region: Bretagne – Department: Ille-et-Vilaire
- Neufchatel-en-Bray – Region: Haute-Normandie – Department: Seine-Maritime
- Château des Tilleuls, Port-le-Grand – Region: Picardie – department: Somme
Tewkesbury – Gloucester
New Forest – Hampshire
Ilfracombe – Devon
- Woolacombe Beach
France, Germany, Italy September 2013
- Chambon-sur-Lac – Region: Auvergne – Department: Puy-de-Dome
- Mont Dore
- Lac Pavin
- St Gervais-les-Bains – Region: Rhône Alps – Department: Haute-Savoie
- Mont Blanc
- Bionassay Glacier
- E’troubles – Valle d’Aosta – ITALY
- Matafelon Granges – Region: Rhône Alps – Department: Ain
- Nancy – Region: Lorraine – Department:Meurthe-et-Moselle
- Waldfrieden – Saarburg – GERMANY
- Seraucourt-le-Grand – Region – Picardie – Department – Aisne
Castleton – Peak District
So after Emily (Swift Gazelle) and Thor (Tribute T715) we decided that we needed to upgrade. Well I decided that I couldn’t sleep in the bed anymore with Marc and the two dogs taking up all the room! I was constantly squashed against the window and very very irritable because of lack of sleep and those who know me well know that I can sleep for England and really really need to have a full nights sleep. Soooooooo during one of Marc’s many “I want one of those” conversations whilst looking at MMM or Practical Motorhome and the new vans coming out I actually listened to what he had to say. He was talking about an Adria most of which went over my head because I hear this every month about one van or another except the name Adria and I said “Geoff Cox does those” (where we bought Thor), perhaps they have one and you can get a good deal as you bought Thor from them and he is only 6 months old!
Well Marc phoned and yes they did have an Adria Sport on the forecourt and did we want to go up and take a look. We did and he did his usual bartering thing, getting the deluxe/sports pack included, a reduction in price, the usual Marc stuff and we became the very proud owners of an Adria Sport S690SC.
At first he didn’t have a name but as time went on his true personality revealed itself. He is a beast of a van with lots of storage and loads or room and all importantly a massive island bed that is plenty big enough for Marc, me and the dogs although we now put the dog cage across the gap so that they can’t join us on the bed much to their disgust.
It was whilst we were watching the news one evening and Boris Johnson was doing one of his usual stunts – something on a zip wire that I thought yes our van is just like that, a bit eccentric just like us that the name was formed. Boris.
BORIS’S ADVENTURES 2013
Broadholme Lane Caravan Park – Belper, Derbyshire
Monday 4th March 2013
Picked up Boris from Geoff Cox and set off to site for overnight stay to check everything ok. Only packed a few things. We left the bulk of our stuff in the little bedroom at home so we can take our time putting it away.
Stanmore Hall Touring Park – Bridgnorth, Shropshire
Sunday 10th – 12th March
Large site, nice and quiet though probably noisy in busier times. Took mum with us as a mother’s day treat. Very bad weather, snow and hail which made it really cold. Went to Ironbridge and into Bridgnorth intending to go up the cliff railway but as we got out the van a really heavy snowfall started!
Chatsworth Park Caravan Club Site – Peak District
Sunday 17th – 20th March
A very crammed in site and full in the winter months, only up here as we are having troubles with the van and as our dealer is so far away we make it a short break. We were unable to let the dogs off in the park which was very disappointing. We did call into our favorite town of Bakewell for the tarts!
The Tissington Trail
The tunnels along The Tissington Trail have only recently been reopened. They are now fully lite enabling cyclists and walkers to take in the whole former railway
Daisy Bank Caravan Park – Montgomery, Powys
Sunday 7th – 10th April
A nice adults only park with beautiful views of the Welsh mountains but nowhere to walk the dogs. Did take a trip into Bishops Castle to try out the locally produced beers and had a wonderful lunch.
Some of the many timber houses in Bishops Castle – Shropshire.
Abbey Gate Farm – Camping and Caravan Certified Site – Axminster, Devon
Sunday 28th April 2013 – 1st May
Beautiful site next to a farmhouse with outstanding views across the Axe Valley.
We took a walk up the hill through the forests and the next day we went into Charmouth so that the dogs could have a run and paddle on the beach.
Alice Street Farm Caravan Club Certified Listing – Frome, Somerset
Sunday 5th – 6th May 2013
Beautiful site overlooking fields. We had gorgeous sunshine and spent Monday with Keiran trying to put up the wind break so that we could try it out before getting on a site and really needing it.
Unfortunately we had to leave at tea time as the water pump broke on the van, much to our annoyance.
GREAT WELSH TOUR MAY 2013
Gwern-y-bwlch Caravan Club Site – Llanbrynmair, Powys
Sunday 12th May 2013
Beautiful terraced site with a dog walk opposite and a bird hide. However it rained the whole time we were here and the water pump broke on Sunday night. We were really annoyed about this as it was working perfectly on the way up when we pulled into a lay-by for a cuppa.
Monday 13th May
Phoned Geoff Cox and arranged to go to Shrewsbury some 77 miles away! To get the pump fixed again. We wouldn’t have minded but we had been up to Bristol and back last week to get it fixed and thought it was. At the caravan repair place the guy said there was nothing wrong with it. I told him to fill it up with water and then see if it worked, he was unhappy but reluctantly did so and found that I was correct it didn’t work so he put in a new one. It rained all the way back to the site so a miserable start to the tour.
Tuesday 14th May
We took a walk up the valley to the top of a hill which took about 2 hours, it was beautiful but very wet and by the time we got back to the van we were very wet and cold Nothing that a nice hot shower didn’t put right.
Cae Mawr Caravan Club Site – Benllech, Anglesey
Wednesday 15th May
We left Gwern-y-Bwlch and headed toward Anglesey. I have travelled a lot in Wales but never been to Anglesey and was so looking forward to it. In fact as we cross the Brittannia Bridge the sun came out.
The site was very busy and very open – not really our sort of sight and because Marc had seen a glimpse of a CL that looked out over the Menai Straight he kept on that he didn’t like the site. We went for a short walk across a few fields with the dogs and settled for the rest of the day.
Thursday 16th May
We drove down into Menai and took a walk through the town and then the harbor to take photos of the bridges, the Menai Bridge and the Brittannia Bridge.
We then drove to Newborough to the Red Squirrel forest and took a long walk through the forest to the beach.
Once on the beach we were able to walk to Llandwyn Island that housed the original sailor’s cottages for piloting the ships through the Menai Straight. It was a wonderful afternoon and so hot and sunny.
By the time we got back to Boris we were exhausted.
Friday 17th May
I wanted to go to South Stack lighthouse just outside Holy head and so we travelled North up the island. We stopped at Cameas Bay which was a lovely beachside village and let the dogs run off some steam.
We walked into the town and bought some meat, fruit and vegetables. We stopped at a pub and had a pint by which time the chip shop had opened and so it was fish and chips for lunch. They were divine – probably the best I have ever tasted.
We got to South Stack and seen Puffins, Seals and views to die for. It was very sunny but also very windy.
Saturday 18th May
We went back to Newborough forest to look for red squirrels. We took the squirrel walk around the forest which was beautiful but we didn’t see any. Molly got into a ditch with some very toxic looking water (nothing new there). The weather was on the change and it was a bit cold by the time we got back.
Riverside Caravan Park – Betws-Y-Coed, Conwy
Sunday 19th May
We travelled back to the main land and arrived at Bety’s y Coed which was heaving with people on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We walked the 2 miles to Swallow Falls which seemed much further as it was a climb uphill. The dogs loved running alongside the river as we walked up. Once we reached Swallow Falls we found that it was only a turnstile gate to get in and we only had one £1 coin so we squeezed in together, Marc, me, Molly and Fred it was a struggle but also a laugh. The falls were really quiet, there was no one else around, the falls were as powerful and beautiful as I remembered and so soul fulfilling.
Monday 20th May
We drove to Llanberis to catch the train up Snowdon. We left on the really early train after not being sure of whether to go early or not due to the misty weather. It was wonderful. It was really clear until the very top when we travelled through the cloud. Once on the top it was surreal as we stood on the summit looking down on top of the cloud just a few feet below.
We had some lunch in a really old fashioned hotel, a divine lamb baguette and then waited for the tour around Electric Mountain.
This is something I have wanted to do since seeing it on Blue Peter as a child! It was amazing, so big and fascinating but I was really surprised that they only release the water from the top lake when electric is in high demand i.e. after one of the soaps and everyone wants to put their kettles on and then they pay for electric to put it back up again in the night when it’s cheaper! What a strange way of working.
So we have been deep into a mountain and stood on the top of Britain’s highest mountains. What a day.
White House Farm Certified Listing – Hartington, Derbyshire, The Peak District
Sunday 2nd – 4th June 2013
A wonderful quite site next to the Tissington Trail. It was a small field next to an old farmhouse.
On the Monday we cycled along the trail for approx 7 miles and then went across the road to a signpost for Milldale. The road had a steep decline and Fred chewed his way out of the dog basket and fell onto the road, how he didn’t break his neck I do not know. I put him back on the lead and we parked in the village and then had a beautiful walk through the valley.
We then made a big mistake: after buying an ice-cream we decided not to cycle back the way we came but to continue through Beresford Dale into Wolfscote along the river valley. We had to lift the bikes over some styles and it got harder the further we went and more frequent. We had travelled too far to go back, we had to cross some fields and then we took a wrong turning that a person had directed us to and I really began to wonder if we would ever get back to Boris.
On Tuesday we went back home via Geoff Cox for some repairs to the van – the battery needed to be replaced as it was found to be defective when we went to Shrewsbury for repairs to the water pump. When we got there they offered us use of a courtesy car for the day so we went to Matlock Bath and took a trip up Abrahams Heights.
It was wonderful, the views stunning and so sunny.
We then went into town and had fish and chips and on the way back walked the dogs along the Cromford Canal. Freddie decided to swim in the canal and swam to the other side!
First French Tour June 2013
Longfield Farm Certified Location – Dover
Sunday 9th June
Our first trip abroad. We felt excited and apprehensive about the whole prospect. Marc was worried about the driving and I was concerned about communicating with the French!
After a very long trip to Dover we arrived at the CL. When we left home we were in shorts and it was glorious sunshine, but when we arrived in Dover it was cold and very windy. Even though it was a CL there were more than 5 vans there but it was a big field and OK for a night.
Du Lac des Vergennes, Marçon – (an ACSI site)
Region: Pays de La Loire
Monday 10th – 13th June
We left England at 7.30am on a very cold Monday morning via the ferry with DFDS. Once we got into France Marc took over the driving and we travelled down the Autoroute towards Rouen. We were amazed at how big France is, all the fields are planted with foods/grains etc and there are also many wind turbines. The Autoroute was empty it was surreal. Once we got to Rouen we had our first issue as the motorway was closed! We had to get off and travel right through Rouen, it was really packed at there was a boat regatta on and after taking a wrong turning I said to Marc “follow that Hymer in front” which we did and it led us to the motorway connection the other side.
We arrived in Marçon at about 18.30. We couldn’t find the campsite at first and the satnav was having one its funny moment and after directing down a farm lane said “go offroad to your destination”! But we found it eventually and I communicated with the lady (ok so I did it in English) and we booked in. The weather was fine – nothing spectacular but the site was ok. There was a lake in the middle and we found a pitch among many other brits next to the lake and the beach. We took the dogs for a short walk across the bridge into a public park and they swam in the lake and ran around on the beach like a couple of children. We had arrived in France.
Tuesday 11th June
We enjoyed our croissants for breakfast. We ordered them the night before. Marc wasn’t keen as he had only had croissants in England and they are NOTHING LIKE those in France so he was in for a treat and really enjoyed them.
We took the dogs for a walk and intended walking completely around the lake but there were a lot of dead fish along the bank and Freddie and Molly wanted to roll on them so we cut it short and went and fed the ducks. We just spent the day sunbathing, reading and drinking. We had a BBQ and a lovely shower in the evening, the water was really hot and welcoming.
La Touesse, Dinard
Thursday 13th -17th June
After quite a long journey in the glorious sunshine we arrived in Dinard. The campsite was beautiful but really busy. The receptionist was full of information and said that there would be a wedding reception at the campsite on Saturday. We set up camp and took the dogs onto the local beach which was just through the campsite and down a lane. Annoyingly dogs were not allowed on the beach from tomorrow onwards! So we made the best of it and paddled in the water.
Friday 14th June
We walked into Dinard to find the market. It turned out that it was the wrong day for the open air market. However in the main square was an indoor market and so we went in and I ordered everything in French; bread, vegetables, fruit, cheese and meat. I was so pleased with myself. The other great thing is that the French provide ‘poo bags’ for your dogs in containers on the lamp posts so we helped ourselves to a few!
Friday 14th June
We walked back into Dinard and today was market day. We had a walk around and then Marc went into the indoor market to get bread at which point the Gendarme came up and told me that dogs were not allowed in the market on market days! So I waited for Marc to come out and we went back to the site.
Saturday 15th June
We walked along the Clair du Lune walkway near the harbor and back to the site.
Sunday 16th June
We walked back into Dinard along the Clair du Lune path with our British campsite neighbours and then we sat outside on a pavement cafe and had beer and got to know some other Brits who live in France. It was really interesting talking to them.
Monday 17th June
We took the dogs to the vets for their worming tablets and signing of their passports ready for the journey home later in the week ( in Dinard). We travelled back towards Calais and halfway was the town of Saint-Saëns. We pulled into a campsite that we had seen in the ACSI book but it was full. We were extremely tired and were devastated but fortunately next to the campsite was a new Aire. It was lovely, so much better than the campsite. There were approx 16 pitches, all hard standing with newly planted shrubs in between and a pull in service area for water and waste. It was so new that there were not any photos in the Aires book. Next to the Aire was an old railway line that had been turned into a cycle way and it provided a wonderful walk for us and the dogs.
Château des Tilleuls, Port-le-Grand
Tuesday 18th June
A wonderful campsite set in lovely grounds of a chateau. There are many areas in which to walk that are within the site itself. The pitches are set on terraces and are very big with fresh water, grey waste and chemical toilet disposal on the pitch. The owners are currently upgraded the whole site and a new toilet block was in the process of being built and the old one renovated. We just sunbathed and relaxed before the journey home.
We had very big thunder storms in the night and Molly was so frightened that she wet on our bed.
We couldn’t believe how big France was, how empty the roads are and how friendly the people are. We are definitely coming back and their relaxed attitude makes it much more pleasant that England.
Tewkesbury Abbey Caravan Club Site – Gloucester
Sunday 7th – 10th July
A wonderful, beautiful, busy site. All grass pitches and 3 shower blocks. We had a lovely pitch that was in a corner of a small cul de sac and so we were completely private. We took Larissa with us and had a great time drinking, sunbathing, walking and we even took a trip on the river Avon.
The town was a beautifully scenic medieval town.
Setthorns Forest Camp – New Forest
Sunday 21st – 23rd July
A beautiful site in the forest with all the New Forest Ponies. We had a heat wave whilst there and it was great. We took mum on holiday with us and walked lots, sunbathed and just relaxed. We walked into Sway the nearest town and had a drink in a real Miss Marple Hotel called Sway Manor Hotel.
Brook Lea/Ilfracombe Caravan Club Site
Sunday 11th – 14th August 2013
The pictures do not do this site justice. It is split into smaller fields with a separate area for motorhomes on this all grass site although you can pitch where you like. We chose a motorhome pitch which was flat and free draining. It was really peaceful here and as there was not a cloud in the sky we got to see the ‘shooting stars’ of the comet Swift Tuttle.
France – September 2013
Monday 2nd September
We left home at about 11am and decided to take the more scenic route of the A303 as we had lots of time due to a Eurotunnel Crossing at 20.20pm. What a mistake! There were traffic jams at Stonehenge due to some roadwork’s which we sat in for 45 minutes, then for some reason we queued in traffic on the approach to the M3, the M25 and then sat on the London Orbital Car Park for approximately an hour. At the approach to the M26 I took a wrong turning due to roadwork’s and poor signage and we needed to take a big detour to get back to the correct road! So after setting off from home on what should have been a 4hour trip max we arrived at Dover Eurotunnel at 18.30ish. The approach to the tunnel was superb; the exit off the motorway was just for the Eurotunnel and the approach lanes well signposted. We arrived at the automated check-in desk and I was astonished that it had obviously read the registration of Boris as it said “welcome Mrs. Reynolds”. We were then offered the chance to take an earlier crossing of 18.50pm which we decided would be perfect. We rolled into the car park and had chance to walk the dogs round for a ‘wee’ before it was our turn to load. Again the signage was simple – ‘France this way’ and we travelled along the road to the loading area and went straight on. The trip was quiet and really quick although it was a little stuffy, but at least we could stay in the van with the dogs which was great for them.
We arrived in France some 30 minutes later at 19.20 GMT 20.20 GMT + 1 (French time) and proceeded to take the motorway to Roye. Marc drove and I navigated our way to Roye a town north of Paris which had a free AIRE. I was thankful for the SatNav as I don’t think I could have found our way to the AIRE which was a car park next to a Fire Station behind a large church. We arrived at 22.30pm and I quickly prepared some dinner as we hadn’t eaten all day and had only had a small half hour break on a service station on the M3. We were really tired and after walking the dogs round the car park for a ‘wee’ we settled down for the evening pleased with ourselves for getting as far as we did. However our pleasure was short lived as the AIRE appeared to be on the path between the pubs in town and Benefit Land as there were a lot of drunks shouting, swearing and generally making a lot of noise. I was really afraid and after they eventually moved on at approx 2am I slept fitfully. I was then awoken at 5am with a lorry delivering to the nearby supermarket clattering about. So at 6am after having a quick cup of tea and some cereals we decided to set off.
The AIRE was in a large car park in the middle of town with a beautiful small chapel opposite and facilities for water and waste (for a fee) but it was very noisy and we won’t use it again unless in an emergency but it adds to the experience and was free.
Tuesday 3rd September
Department of Puy-de-Dôme
We continued south and even navigated our way around Paris in rush hour through many tunnels, turnoffs and one way systems! How we did this never ceases to amaze me but it is all thanks to the Sat Nav. We decided to find a motorway aire for a cuppa and a break after this.
We carried on through the lovely French scenery which is remarkable good even on the motorway which as usual was empty. We continue to be amazed at how little is on the motorway and how easy it is to travel in France, with no hold ups, traffic jams and roadworks. Every field is planted with some crop or another and we cannot understand why in England so much land is left fallow. Not only that but, everywhere you look are many wind turbines. France seems to be so much more self-reliant, something this country needs to do more of.
We stopped at another motorway Aire for lunch and marveled at how pretty they are with small picnic areas and a small shop, toilets etc, not the commercialized monstrosities we have in this country.
All was going well until we reached the toll booths at Clermont Ferrand. Upon entering the toll the machine said €36.75, a lot of money but we had travelled about 200 miles on the toll road. However when I put in the Post Office Travel card ‘the computer said no’. So I tried again in the top slot of the toll machine and again ‘the computer said no’. So I thought perhaps the machine doesn’t accept MasterCard so I put in the currency – again ‘the computer said no’. By this time there was a long line of cars behind tooting their horns, so I pressed the ‘help’ button and a person spoke in French. I tried to explain what the problem was and the helpline kept cutting off so I was starting to get angry. So I pressed the button again and a voice said to me was I paying in currency – yes I was trying to! More cars tooted their horn and some angry French voices started shouting so I lost the plot and shouting down through the queue “if you can do any F……. better then you had better f…….. come up here and help me” at which point the car doors and windows closed the tooting stopped and all went quiet! It’s amazing what a bit of English French does. A little scared girl came out and tried to get the machine to work but still a ‘no-go’. So she took my money and came back with the change by which time the machine had said €56.75! Never mind I just took the change and we carried on, me fuming and Marc quietly giggling to himself.
A few junctions later and we took a very scenic journey through the mountains and villages to our stop at Chambon-sur-Lac. We stayed on a campsite 1000m up the mountain called De Serrette and it was stunning. We overlooked the lake of Lac Chambon and the village and valley below.
We initially pitched along a small row of pitches that had views overlooking the Lac Chambon next to another British couple. This was a dirt pitch that was small and compact. We couldn’t get the electric hook up to work via the 2 pin French connection and so we joined the two electric cables together to stretch to the other English style hook up point.
We were very hot and very tired after a sleepless night and a long journey down so we took a swim in the pool. It was amazing, we could still see the view of the lake, with the glass sliding roof it was warm in the building and the water was ok. We had the pool to ourselves and the site was almost empty.
Wednesday 4th September
After a good night’s sleep everything seems so much better. We drove down into the village of Chambon-sur-Lac and although we couldn’t park near the lake as motorhome parking was prohibited, we parked in the AIRE at Chambon-sur-Lac and as we were only day visitors we didn’t have to pay either. The views all around were breathtaking and we walked into the town/village itself with the dogs off the lead. Molly decided to have a swim in the lake but she found the muddy skanky bit, but after a bit of persuasion we managed to get her out and into a cleaner section of the lake where Freddie joined her for a much needed cool down.
Once in the town we stopped at a pub and sat outside for a beer just taking in the views of the mountains around us and the lake just across the road. There was a small deli in the centre and I bought one of the local AOC cheeses called Saint Nectaire. This is a soft cheese which had an earthy taste. Again we had a swim in the pool later on that day and had the pool all to ourselves. We decided to move pitches as Marc found a pitch that was all on its own and had our name on it! We didn’t have the view but we had the much desired privacy and the sun shone all day. In fact in Chambon-sur-Lac the temperature on the van read 39°C.
Thursday 5th September
We drove to Mont Dore which was just around the mountain from Chambon-sur-Lac. It was a beautiful drive with some great scenery. The French have their own unique way of mending the road; dump some tar on the road and then some stone chippings in patches where the road needs repairing. On the road to Mont Dore there was a lot of this type of repair that played havoc with the underside of Boris.
We parked at the AIRE of Mont Dore once we could find it and walked into the town looking for the cable car station to take us up Puy Sancy. After walking to the other edge of the town we realized that we needed to drive to the cable car station and found out via the Tourist Information Centre that the station of Mont Dore was 4km away. Back to Boris and a short drive later we arrived at the cable car station to find it had closed for lunch! Time for lunch ourselves whilst awaiting the first trip of the afternoon at 1.30pm. The cable car was busy but there was enough room and we were able to take the dogs. The journey up was very steep and once we reached the top we then had a 20 minute walk to the summit of Puy Sancy. The path was good covered in timber and the views of the surrounding mountains and valleys unbelievable. It was beautiful and the sun was shining all the way.
Friday 6th September
We went to Lac Pavin, which was beautiful. The French certainly have it sussed. There was a large signposted car park near the entrance with loads of room for motorhomes and it was free. We walked all around the lake and the dogs loved it, they had a paddle in the lake and so did I. When we returned we had a delicious ice cream, raspberry for me and mint choc chip for Marc. On our way back to the campsite we stopped to go into the Spar for some gin but it was closed! No sign on the door just closed, so we stopped at the garage in Chambon-sur-Lac. This was a great garage with attendants to fill up the van. Next to it was a massive deli with cured meats of all descriptions, sausages and what must be a specialty – nougat cakes. We tried many of the meats and settled on a cured garlic sausage (sliced) and some sliced wild boar meat (cured). The lady then offered us a taste of a local liqueur of apples and hazelnuts which was delicious so we bought a bottle and got the shot glasses for free.
That evening we went to the campsite restaurant and had a fondue evening. It was wonderful – all nationalities and fortunately for us the Germans, Dutch and Italians seated all around us could speak English and so as it was the language that we could all speak it was great for us poorly educated English folk.
This is a wonderful site and one of my favorites and we will definitely return!
Saturday 7th September
Les Dôme de Miage – St Gervais-les-Bains
Region: Rhône Alps
We decided after the long tiring trip down to Clermont Ferrand we would change our planned trip so that we did not have so much travelling on one day as we find it too much. We decided not to go to the site that I liked and so opted for one in Landry called l’eden de la Vanoise. We programmed the SatNav and off we set. The roads nearing the site were a nightmare; they had large overhangs from the mountain with sheer drops on the other side and a very narrow road with lots of heavy traffic. Once we arrived we couldn’t get into the site due to a barrier and after pressing the button and getting no reply we walked to the reception. It was surreal – there was no one anywhere, Marc walked around the site and I telephoned all the advertised numbers but no answer so we walked back and turned Boris around. Marc said it was just as well at the BBQ had last night’s or last week’s food still on it and the swimming pool was green.
So we drove on to the site I had originally intended at Saint Gervais – Les Dôme de Miage. It was stunning – all around are the mountains, some topped with snow, Swiss style chalets and logs! The site was packed but we found a pitch under some trees not too far from the electric hook up. We had something to eat and then took the dogs for a short walk. The toilet block had some beautiful window boxes with lovely flowers.
This again is a wonderful site and we will return. The site is family run and the owners speak perfect English, and nothing is too much trouble. They have many vouchers behind reception for the local attractions offering price reductions and unlike many sites the leaflets for things to do in the area are printed in several languages.
I reviewed this site and submitted it for print in MMM which was published in February 2014.
Sunday 8th September
We walked from the campsite into the very touristy town of Saint Gervais which I imagine in the winter is packed from skiers. It was a grey sort of day so we didn’t stay long but took in the lovely church with its painted frescos of Roman Soldiers. There wasn’t a lot open but it was Sunday and termed their out of season time. We had a few thunder storms that afternoon and evening.
Monday 9th September
After looking through the brochures in the reception we decided to take the tramway up Mont Blanc and intend to go tomorrow. We decided to go out of town and get some fuel at a garage we had seen on the way in and then took a trip into the Casino (a supermarket) and bought figs, spring rolls, some cold meats etc. We found the tramway station and decided as it was sunny we would go up the mountain today instead of tomorrow and after packing some food in a back pack caught the next train up at 12.20pm. The views all the way up the mountain were gorgeous. We stopped half way up and got out in the glorious sunshine to have our picnic.
Afterwards we walked to the glacier at Bionnassay which was 45 minutes away. The path was precarious in places and all that stopped us from falling down the mountain was a length of wire drilled into the mountain side to use as something to hold onto. We wanted to walk to the rope bridge over the mountain stream but this would have added too much time onto our trip and we wouldn’t then have been able to go to the top of the tramway of Mont Blanc so we headed back to the station.
The next train didn’t turn up so we went up the cafe for an ice cream and continued to wait. We eventually caught the tram up to the top station but unfortunately the mist had descended and we couldn’t see a thing and it was very cold. We caught the last train down to Saint Gervais. All in all a very enjoyable trip and would do this again but take all day next time and hope to climb/walk the rest of the way from the top station to the top of the mountain.
The tramway had just celebrated its 100th year and the engineering involved to create this wonderful track is very evident in the sheer faces of the mountainside.
Tuesday 10th September
We decided to spend the day at the campsite and catch up with some washing. Unlike the tumble dryers at Club sites back home the token gave us a full hour drying time – great we could actually dry some clothes as well. We took a short walk up the valley in the morning which was just as well as it rained all afternoon and evening.
Wednesday 11th September
Tunnel – E’troubles – Valle d’Aosta – ITALY
We headed for Italy but before we left St Gervais we called into the patisserie and bought some delicious cakes and bread!
We headed out on the road to Chamonix another place I want to visit sometime and went through the Mont Blanc Tunnel another one off the bucket list but €68. On the other side of the tunnel we were now in Italy. Again mountains all around us but not so pretty as the French side. We headed towards Sarre for the campsite but once we were in the town we decided that it wasn’t for us (it was horrid looking) and decided to travel further on to Etroubles near the St Bernard Tunnel to Switzerland. We had some very steep twisty turny roads to navigate but we soon arrived at E’troubles. The site looked a bit run down and was on terraces but it was pleasant enough. We pitched up and then decided we wanted to move to another pitch in the corner! We had a large pitch with no one around us – just how we like it.
After lunch we walked into the town of E’troubles which is designated a museum. It contained a lot of art on the walls, sculptures and many communal vegetable plots. The bridge over the river had an enclosed side walk for pedestrians with beautiful window boxes.
When we got back we investigated the showers but they were like the black hole of Calcutta and so I showered in the van. As there was very little to do in the area we decided we would move on the next day. Our initial thought to go into Switzerland was soon squashed once we realized that we needed to pay £27 for a permit in order to drive on their roads and as were only visiting for a few days decided that it was not cost effective on this occasion and we will visit another time when we plan to stay longer. So back to France we went.
Thursday 12th September
Les Gorges de l’Oignin – Matafelon Granges
Region: Rhône Alps
The journey back was the same as we headed back to the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Before that we needed to go back through the many tunnels of Italy!
We travelled along the river Baltea from Aosta to the Mont Blanc tunnel and the following tunnels:
Signayes = 2044m
Cote De Sorrely = 4475m
Les Cretes = 1529m
Villeneuvre = 3213m
Arvier = 2246m
Leveregne = 1912m
Avise = 3112m
Villaret = 2790m
Chabodey = 925m
Pre S Didier = 3360m
Dolonne = 2981m
Bren VA = 235m
We eventually arrived at the Mont Blanc Tunnel a further 11km in tunnels! The views between tunnels showed a lot of industry along the river and further away lots of valleys and vines crawling half way up the mountains. There were also many fields planted with crops and apple trees everywhere. The strangest thing was the men washing the road signs in the tunnels as you would windows!
We travelled to Neydens for the Sites & Paysages La Colombiére campsite so that we could hopefully go into Switzerland on foot to Geneva as the warden here offers tours, however when we arrived it was lunch time and therefore closed and Marc having looked around said it looked very ‘Caravan Club’ so we left.
We travelled further on to Metafelon-Granges through some beautiful scenery and travelling on roads that went up over hills and down through valleys of the Jura Mountains. This was a beautiful site next to a reservoir. The campsite was virtually empty on the first day there was only 5 other vans! We walked the dogs in the field between the campsite and reservoir which was full of butterflies – it was amazing, especially seeing the Adonis Blue as I had studied them for my Evolution Module in my Open University Science Degree. However Freddie seen a rabbit and was gone – after lots of calling he still didn’t come back so we had to go and find him. Eventually he showed his head and he was bleeding around his eyes. Back at the site they both had a hose down as they were filthy from paddling in the mud around the reservoir and I bathed Freddie’s eye to find no real damage.
Friday 13th September
We awoke to a beautiful day and found that most of our neighbours had left and so it was only us and one other Brit on the site. We sunbathed for a while and then when it got really hot we went up the site to the swimming pool. The pool area was charming with 3 pools. We went into the uncovered pool which was cold……. but we did have a swim around and then the owner came out and uncovered the other pool which we soon got in as it was the heated pool and much better. After a walk with the dogs chasing butterflies we had yet another swim! It was great, gorgeous sunshine, swimming pools all to ourselves what more could a person ask for.
Saturday 14th September
Campéole Le Brabois – Nancy
As the weather was due to take a turn for the worst and there was not much to do in Metafelon we decided to head to a campsite in Nancy with the intention of visiting the city of Nancy. We decided to re-programme the SatNav to avoid toll roads to reduce the costs and to see more of France. This worked really well as we seen some amazing scenery and stopped in a small village called Arinthod to buy figs, peaches and cakes from a street market.
As we got nearer to Nancy the heavens opened and the site was typical Caravan Club. It was soaking wet, all grass – well mud and horrible. We set up for the night but Marc moaned all night about the rain, mud and how we were going to keep the van and dogs clean.
Sunday 15th September
We awoke to it still raining and according to the free internet that I had a code for the day before it wasn’t going to stop so we decided to move on. When I went to reception to pay they advised me that they had never had weather like it – it had rained for 10 days nonstop!
We took the non toll road route and travelled along the Moselle into Luxembourg where we bought fuel for 99p a litre! We were astonished to see queues of people in the garage buying ground coffee in bags by the dozen. It also must be very cheap to buy in Luxembourg like the fuel. We only had to drive over the bridge and we were then in Germany – one side of the river being Luxembourg and the other Germany. We had travelled out of the rain and were in the sun so we were happy.
Monday 16th September
We decided to take the dogs for a walk through the forest next to the site. We walked down the site and by the time I had got the token for the washing machine it was pouring with rain. We thought it would only be a shower and so carried on walking for about 15 minutes until we were soaked through to the skin and decided to go back. That afternoon it cleared up enough to go out that evening for a walk towards the town of Saarburg. We made the decision to go home early – rather than stay in the rainy weather for another week we thought we would go back on Thursday morning and so changed the crossing. Then we arranged for the dogs to go to the vets in Saarburg.
Tuesday 17th September
Du Vivier Aux Carpes
Region – Picardie
Department – Aisne
We travelled into the town to take the dogs to the vets and because we took a wrong turning ended up driving through a housing estate. The great thing was that we got to see a deer running around! The vets were wonderful – very little English but we got by just fine and the dogs had lots of fuss and treats.
Tierarztpraxis Bärbel Brieler, Heckingstraβe 27, 54439, Saarburg Germany
Tel: +49 6581 2953
GPS 49.606586 – 6.544321
(Unfortunately I cannot remember the exact cost but it wasn’t anymore than €50.00 for the two dogs in total)
We travelled back into France on the German side of the Moselle. It was wonderful, we saw goods trains as the railway ran between the road and the river, massive coal barges on the river and vines as far as the eye could see, there were even vines on the roundabouts.
Most of the journey back into France and onto Picardie was wet and we went via Belgium and bought some chocolates. The campsite just outside Saint Quentin was soaked – it was by fishing lakes and it had obviously been raining for days. The showers in the blocks were cold and we had a very cold and disappointing night. Molly was a bit of a nightmare as there were some chicken bones in the gravel of the pitch that she had picked up and so kept asking to go out!
Wednesday 18th September – Home
We were travelling back to Calais to a site nearby but once we got into Calais I decided to go to Eurotunnel to see if we could go back a day early. It was so simple – just before check in was an area just for people with pets – where you could park – take the dogs out and go and get the paperwork checked. They said that yes we could travel back in about 2 hours and our crossing was booked. This allowed us time to go and get some lunch – Burger King and good shop in the duty free in which we bought the drink for Christmas. We got home at about 8pm that evening.
Conclusion: I love the mountains of France, the wildlife and the sunshine. We touched into Italy and Germany and intend to go back sometime.
Clent Hills Camping and Caravan Club site
Sunday 13th – 16th October
A typical open site with marked out regimented pitches. We had to fill up with water outside the gate!
Also typical of Britain we were allocated a pitch and the warden escorted us to it. Just as well we were only here for the motorhome show at the NEC.
After the show on the 15th we just went straight home even though we had paid for the night because the site was so awful.
We have been so spoilt on the continent!
Castleton Caravan Club Site – Peak District
Sunday 24th November
We travelled to Newbold on Avon to a Brit Stop – The Barley Mow, a pub on the banks of the Oxford canal. A lovely stop. We had a long walk along the tow path and Freddie frightened us by climbing up the embankment and the next we seen him he was running over the road bridge! A pint in the pub and then we turned in for the night.
Brit Stops is a guide of British overnight stops that works like the French Passion scheme in which you are able to stop at a variety of places such as Farm shops, Pubs, Vineyards for free in the hope that you may take a look around at the produce on offer and buy something.
For more details go to: www.britstops.com
We drove to Castleton via Geoff Cox (more repairs). This is a beautiful site on the Peaks and was one of the few sites in the Peak District that we hadn’t been to. The reason that we keep coming back here is:
Our dealership is so far from Somerset that we make our trips to them for repairs into a short break.
I chose Castleton as I noticed in The Caravan Club magazine that Castleton is famed for its many Christmas Trees in December.
Today we did a 4 1/2 mile circular walk from a leaflet we purchased for 50p in the tourist information office. It was rather bracing and it is colder up here that in Somerset and naturally quite exposed. We found a lovely piece of rock with lots of Blue John crystals that is now pride of place on our hearth at home.
As we had the dogs with us we then took it in turns to see the many Christmas trees in the church (probably 50-60) all in aid of local charities and the church fund.
A nightmare day, a bus drove into Boris’s wing mirror and broke it and then Marc reversed the van into the oil tank!!
That’s it folks the adventures of Boris 2013 is officially over – coming soon 2014…….