Rain, Rain, Go Away!
After suffering rain for nine days, we fled Scotland early and headed back down into England. Almost immediately after crossing the border the clouds cleared and the sun’s rays began to beam down on us.
We were booked into a site in the Lake District in three days’ time, but for now, we had no idea where we were headed to. I was looking at areas around the Lakes when I spotted somewhere that made us both chuckle – Cockermouth. Childish I know but with a name like that our decision was made and Cockermouth would be our next stop.
After almost 8 hours of driving, we found ourselves in Cockermouth. Needless to say, there wasn’t much there, so once we had a quick snap with the sign, we got back in Onion Pussy in search of a campsite. Given that we were right near the coast, we thought a beachside site would be ideal.
Following a quick Google search, I landed on St. Bees. There were mixed reports about the site, but it seemed it overlooked the sea and that was what I wanted. To hear the ocean instead of the rain was going to be bliss!
We pulled into Seacote Park in St. Bees around 8 pm only to find the reception was closed. There was a note on the door that said if you wanted a spot outside of opening hours then knock on the door at the house behind. We felt a bit bad knocking at someone’s house after hours but the site looked to be just what we were looking for and it was too late to head anywhere else. Fortunately, we were greeted with a very warm reception and were told they had one spot left for us with electric. I think our van helped, the manager was very taken with it and asked all sorts of questions – Onion Pussy definitely got us attention!
We pulled up into our site and although we weren’t at the front directly over-looking the sea, we could still see straight out to it and hear the waves crashing against the sand. To the right of the beach was a cliff side with sheep at the top. This was the start of the 192-mile Coast to Coast walk, devised by Alfred Wainwright passing through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. It made for a stunning site as the sun set just behind it.
We walked up to the cliff top to get a view over the beach. Once at the top we found some little gravestones, which was quite creepy. Not sure if they were for people or maybe animals, but I was hoping that they weren’t for people that had fallen off the cliff! As we stood and took in the surroundings the sunset behind us cast a golden glow across the grass verge.
After a quick dinner, we ventured out for a stroll along the beach. It was gone 11 pm before daylight completely disappeared, darkness took over and the stars filled the sky above us.
The next morning after another stroll up the cliff to take in the last view of the beach, we got back on the road and headed to the Yorkshire Dales. We opted for the scenic route which took us down a gorgeous track called Tommy Road. It was a lane that took us right through a field littered with sheep and derelict old barn houses. It was a sure spot to get some drone footage so of course, we took full advantage of that. The fields around us went on for miles and you literally felt like you were in the middle of nowhere. All the scenery along the way was beautiful and I was so glad that we’d made the decision to skip out of Scotland early and head towards some true English countryside.
Our next stop was going to be Hawes. I hadn’t really looked too much into it, but the campsite I’d found there looked good and was surrounded by more open fields. As we pulled into the little village I noticed a sign for the Wensleydale Creamery. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love cheese so this really felt like fate that we had ended up in the home of my favourite dairy product! We booked ourselves into the Bainbridge Ings Caravan and Camping Site for two nights. It was a lovely site in a very scenic setting, surrounded by fields filled with cows. The only downside was the showers. You had to pay 20p for 5 minutes, not too much of a problem but the shower head was very low and didn’t allow you get right in under it. However, this was a small price to pay for the beautiful setting.
Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
After a good night’s sleep with only the sound of cows mooing around us, we were up and ready for a hike across the Yorkshire Dales. We decided on the 5-mile Hawes to Hardraw Circular, however in true Barry and Stef fashion we struggled to follow the guide exactly and ended up going around the circuit backwards and somehow added an extra couple of miles. I don’t think it really mattered but everyone we passed was going in the opposite direction to us.
The starting point to the trail was about a 10-minute walk from our campsite, across a sheep field and through the little village. We had to squeeze through the tiniest gate to get into the field. The walls were sat really close together so that there wasn’t any chance of the sheep escaping if the gate was accidentally left open. It was early, about 10 am but already the sun was shining bright…it was going to be hot!
We soon reached the head of the trail which started by a disused railway station. We walked through numerous fields along the way, filled with buttercups and daisies which were being left to grow ready to move the sheep and cattle in for them to graze on. A lot of the first section of the walk was uphill and with the heat rapidly rising, we were breaking a fast sweat. There was very little shade throughout the open fields and the few trees there were had flocks of sheep gathered under them. They all stared at us as we ventured past, probably thinking what are these crazy people doing walking in 30-degree heat!
After endless fields and beautiful views which went on for miles across the dales, we came across a farmer’s house and then not long after, the Simonstone Hotel. It was set right at the top of the hills, with views all across Wensleydale. From here our descent back down the hills started. At the bottom, we reached the Green Dragon Inn.
The Inn dates back to the 13th century and is home to Hardraw Force, the highest single drop waterfall in England. I do love a waterfall so there was no question about paying the £2.50 entrance fee the pub charged to go and see it. Situated in the pub’s 15-acre grounds, we walked through the narrow gorge of Hardraw Scaur, through ancient woodlands and over little footbridges to finally be met with the stunning water feature. Despite all the rain we’d been having elsewhere in the country, Yorkshire hadn’t been graced with very much recently so the falls weren’t as powerful, never the less, they were still spectacular. The water flowed over the ledge at the top of the gorge and fell 100 feet into a pool of water below.
We spent a good 30 – 40 mins taking in the falls and flying the drone around to get the best view. We then sat and had some lunch taking in the beautiful grounds.
Fully refreshed, we set off again. The trail continued to take us through more fields, but this time we also had the luxury of some shaded bridal paths. After about 4 hours of walking in the blistering heat, we found ourselves back at the village where we gulped down a well-deserved pint at the local pub.
The walk was probably my favourite part of our UK road trip so far. The scenery was gorgeous and all the little touches such as the mosaic markings we found on the brick walls and the countless sheep we encountered along the way were all Yorkshire’s hidden treasures.
Here is the path our hike took us!
The following morning, before we headed off to the Lake District for the final stop in our camper, we just had to pay a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery. I’m not sure I’ve said it enough, so in case you didn’t know I am a huge lover of cheese so finding ourselves in the home of this famous one couldn’t have been planned any better if we’d tried. When we arrived, we had just enough time to walk around the museum before we were given a demonstration of how the cheese is made and take a peek in the factory. Now I can’t give away any of the secrets so if you want to know how it’s made then you’ll have to make the trip there yourself.
My favourite part of the day came to the tasting – of course! Through the gift shop, you walked into a giant fridge where all the cheeses were lined up around a tasting table. There were so many different ones, about 20 in all and you followed the table round just tasting all the different types. I’ve never seen so much cheese, it was literally cheese heaven. I think I could live there!
Wensleydale is, of course, infamous for its Wensleydale with cranberries. This wasn’t the only fruit they mixed the cheese with though, they had everything from blueberries, apricots and mango and then other variations such as ginger and chilli along with types of blue cheese and goat cheese. It was so hard to pick a favourite but we managed to narrow it down to four to take away with us. We chose ginger & mango, a smoked cheese, a blue cheese and the Kit Calvert. This last one was named after the man who was the saviour of the factory after it almost got shut down for good in the 1930’s.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay amongst the cheese forever, so we jumped back in Onion Pussy and headed on over to the Lake District.