Thursday, 19 May 2016

Road Trip, Camping in the UK. Bude, Bath and Beyond...

As you get older in life suddenly things or rather objects in life aren't so important, especially when it comes to your birthday. I remember as a young child getting a copy of the Argos catalogue months before my birthday and studying the pages from cover to cover creating the ultimate birthday list. Writing down the catalogue number and the page number and marking the item with a felt tip pen birthdays were extremely exciting.

Now in my thirties, things have very much changed and although I don't dread my birthday and fear getting older, I no longer have a list of things that I 'want' Instead I have a mental list of things I'd quite like around the house, including a casserole dish, a spatula and even a new ironing board cover. When did I get so domesticated?

I'm not sure what happened but when my other half ask 'What I wanted for my birthday' I replied with camping!

I wanted to go off and get away from it all, I wanted to sleep under the stars in a van without WiFi and without television and get back to basics.

My partner pulled a brilliant weekend away out of the bag and started by driving up the coast just an hour away just the other side of Bude where we wild camped the night. We were not alone as two other vans joined us for the evening but we enjoyed waking up to the sound of the waves and a morning stomp up a very big hill to the next beach and back.
Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Steep hill climb off the beach up onto the coast path
Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Northcott beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Northcott beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
North Cornwall Coast Path

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Walking along the North Cornwall coast path from Northcott beach to Sandymouth beach

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Walking to Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall


I was feeling extremely lucky, as not only were we staying in a beautiful location but the sun was shining and it was hot. I write this today as the wind howls and the rain rolls down the window so getting sunshine whilst off work in the UK is something to get excited about.
Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall
Sunrise on Sandymouth beach near Bude Cornwall
We then left the North Cornish coast and headed up country for a few hours until we reached Bath. We arrived at the Bath Marina campsite which sounds amazing however doesn't quite live up to it's name. It is right on the canal and does have a tow path access directly to the city centre however the facilities somewhat reminded me of an eighties holiday camp and the staff weren't particularly helpful either. We asked the reception staff if they had any cycle maps for the local area of which they didn't and when asked which direction we should head to get to the two tunnels cycle path were answered with a vague knowledge of the attraction but no idea where it was!

We made a start on the tow path and with a combination of a few cycle route signs and some very friendly people we found the two tunnels cycle paths. For anyone that hasn't experienced these tunnels on a bike I would HIGHLY recommend.
One of the tunnels is over a mile long and is the longest cycling tunnel in the UK, It's really is pretty cool. As you enter the tunnel your eyes take a while to adjust to the dimly lit corridor and the temperature drops, as the tunnel bends around you can't see the end or the beginning of the tunnel and then out of nowhere you catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of light and realise that there are lights and sounds all around and a feature of cycling through the tunnel.
Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath
Entrance to the Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath

Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath
Inside the Tunnel, the longest cycling tunnel in the UK just over 1 mile long
Cycling the canal paths around Bath
Cycling the canal paths around Bath
It's an awesome experience whether you walk or cycle the tunnel but hugely recommend exploring the area if you get the chance.

After cycling through the tunnels we met up with another canal path and made our way back into bath city centre and back to the camp site. In total we covered around 16 miles and feeling very pleased with our efforts decided to head back to the van, have a shower and head back into the city for dinner. However before we had even made it to the nearest bus stop we bumped into the riverside pub. Another thing the staff in the camp site had failed to mention, the fact that there was a pub a few minutes walk away!

We soon ditched the idea of getting the bus into the city centre and opted to stay by the river and have a meal here. It was a lovely evening and we watched the sun set over the water enjoying a glass of wine and a very lovely first day.
Sun setting over the canal in Bath
Sun setting over the canal in Bath
Bath marina, canal boats
Bath Marina
4 puddings on a slate
A whole slate full of desserts
Food and wine coma, but delicious and well worth it!
The Boathouse Bath
The Boathouse Bath
The following morning I woke up early and completed another few miles of walking along the canal path before my other half woke up and then it was back in the van before heading to the new forest. Another place I have never been to so when we arrived at quite possibly the most beautiful camp site I was hugely excited. My partner had booked us onto a pitch right next to a fishing lake in an adult only section of the camp site and it was perfect.
Camping in the T4 in the New Forest
Camping in the T4 in the New Forest
The sun continued to shine and so we headed off on our bikes again through the new forest in search of the nearest pub. We actually went for the second nearest pub and completed a lovely, if not rather hilly in places, 8 mile bike ride. After a bite to eat, and a pint it was time to cycle back to the camp site for the next activity, Go Ape.
Cycling in the New Forest
Cycling in the New Forest
The Green Dragon in Brook - The New Forest
The Green Dragon in Brook - The New Forest
Drinking a pint in a beer garden
Enjoying a pint in a beer garden

Now I do love the outdoors, I love cycling, surfing, running and all things active but I wasn't sure about heights and being Tarzan for the afternoon. It wasn't long before we arrived in another beautiful forest and I was being harnessed up and ready to start the sessions. It was late in the afternoon and we were on the last session of the day and suddenly the walking, cycling and beer drinking in the sun was taking effect and I was feeling sleepy!!!
Go Ape near the New ForestGo Ape near the New Forest
That soon changed as I climbed the first rope ladder up a huge tree and had to use a zip wire to get back down. It wasn't something that I would have chosen to do normally, however it was brilliant and would hugely recommend it to anyone. I've never done rock climbing or used a harness before and when a very confident child whizzed around my feet during the training protesting she knew what to do I soon found myself feeling a little worried and embarrassed.

The first few times I was clipping myself on I struggled and got my partner to double check them and the first leap off our of a tree was particularly scary but by the end I was loving it.
Go Ape flatforms in the trees in the New Forest
Go Ape flatforms in the trees in the New Forest
Certificates at the end of Go Ape
We might be adults but feeling very proud at the end getting our certificates

After nearly two hours of climbing, jumping and swinging through the trees it was time to leave and with the sun setting it was time to find another pub for the evening.

The following day we didn't really have any plans and found ourselves yet again enjoying the sunshine with good food and good drink in a beer garden in the new forest. I was so happy, the weekend was turning into something really wonderful and that afternoon with heavy stomachs we cycled another 17 miles.
Cycling in the new forestHuge trees in the new forest
We camped the final night in the new forest itself, in a camp site with no pitches, with very few rules and we didn't even have to pay until the following morning. We rocked up, camped under a tree and paid in the morning. It was great and apart from showers and toilets in a nearby building, there was nothing else here, apart from forest. It was amazing to just sit, and chat, and drink. No clubhouse, no TV, no Internet just the forest and our little van.
Camping in the New Forest
Camping in the New Forest
On our last day we were up early and headed into the local village of Lyndhurst where we managed to dine alfresco for breakfast. It was gorgeously hot and sunny and we were so lucky to be able to enjoy the sunshine.
Boiling a kettle whilst campingEnjoying breakfast in Lyndhurst
 After breakfast we headed in the van across the New Forest until we reached our last destination and had an afternoon cream tea and more beer in the quant little village of Burley before heading back on the road home to Cornwall.

As far as birthdays go this has been my favourite and getting back to basics and camping and making memories means so much more than anything I could purchase from the Argos catalogue!!!

Except for unicorn onesies!!! Every Birthday girl needs a unicorn onesie for camping in the UK when the evenings get cold!!!
Unicorn OnesieUnicorn Onesie
 Unicorn Onesie

Unicorn Onesie
Just being all grown up on my birthday.... Being a UNICORN hee hee