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Barrow Haven to Skegness

10 Jun

Day 58 – 9 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 80 miles

After publishing the report last night, keeping my open was proving difficult so I took the best course of action and went to bed allowing my eyes to take responsibility for their actions. That would have been about midnight and I slept well until about 0400 this morning.  I woke suddenly finding myself on the floor having slipped unceremoniously out of bed. I lay quietly for about an hour hoping to drift effortlessly back to sleep but without success. So by about 0500 I try the strategy of turning over to see if that would help. This process, simple it’s true was effective and I woke again at 0645. At this time it was still raining and I raised the blind gently to reveal the world outside.  A lively morning with the rain ricocheting off the motor home, a rabbit, darts around at great speed across the wet lush green grass to its home after a night out. Some pigeons and a thrush were also foraging about seeking an early breakfast. I had put some seed out last evening which so far had been neglected by the smaller birds that usually take up my generosity, but the small ground feeding contingent kept up their good work. There are only three other caravans on the site and apart from a gesture of hello during the rain none of us had ventured out the evening before for conversation. At 0730 the variable cloud is beginning to show signs of weakness and patches of bright blue sky are beginning to emerge all around me. Hopefully this will be the trend for the rest of the day.

I get ready to leave and whilst filling up with water I meet two people who are also preparing to leave. They were from near Heathrow airport and were returning their today. We discussed the positive features of where we were staying and they told me it was such a nice place to stay they come back each yes to use it as their base.

Leaving Barrow Haven at around 1000, Derrick the owner came to see me off and thank me for staying there and saying that he hoped I would come back again on a future occasion. I proceed east from here and my first call would be Immingham. The port is most well known for its association with the petro Chemical Industry and much of the plant is owned by the Total oil company. I remember providing some training for the Total tanker drivers from Immingham on courses at the Berystede hotel in Ascot many years ago. My passage past the refineries and chemical processing plants showed them to be gigantic and complicated structures which are amazing pieces of design and engineering.  The village of Immingham is of medieval origin and there is a memorial in the village to the departure of the Pilgrim Fathers from Immingham to the Netherlands in 1608.

Grimsby is next on my list and is found on the Humber estuary in Lincolnshire. It was known originally as Great Grimsby. The town was established by the Danes during the 9th century and is listed in the Domesday Book as having a population of 200, A Priest and a ferry. In the 12thcentury it developed as a fishing port and was granted a royal charter in 1201. There is a Dock Tower in the dock built In1851 and I spent some time trying to find a good position from which to photograph the tower. I stooped at the port gate in the hope I could go inside just to get a photograph, but the security guard would not agree to it. However not to be put off I found the best place I could to get my picture without getting into trouble and here is the immediate result. When I get home and can remove the fencing and possibly 1 or 2 other obstructions I may have a reasonable image.

Tower behind Bars

This will be a challenge for Malcolm at the photo society to see what results we can achieve at a Photoshop learning evening. A former ferry the PS Lincoln Castle was moored at the Alexandra dock in the 1980’s when it was used as a Bar/Restaurant. The design of the ship was unique and was Britain’s last surviving coal fired Paddle Steamer. Sadly she was broken up in 2010. Today the Ross Tiger is moored in its place at Alexandra Dock and this ship is the last surviving Sidewinder Trawler. Grimsby is also where our daughter Victoria received her college education at a special college, Thorseby College where they did outstanding work with Vicki to prepare her for a successful passage through life.

Cleethorpes, a couple of Miles further down the coast shows evidence of Danish occupation from the 6thcentury. In its early days it developed as a fishing village but diversified into becoming a successful holiday resort in 1820.

Cleethorpes Pier

The longest travel distance on today’s journey brings me to Saltfleet about 18 miles from Cleethorpes and 8 miles north of Mablethorpe and although it is surrounded by open countryside it is close to the sea. There is a 19th century windmill, a pub The New Inn, which dates from the17th century.

Mablethorpe is my next stop on the journey to Skegness and it has been around for many centuries. Some of the town was lost to coastal erosion in the 1540’s. Mablethorpe was visited by the Poet Andrew lord Tennyson in the 19th century and some of the streets in the town are named after him. In the novel “Sons and Daughters” by DH Lawrence Mablethorpe is the setting of the first holiday of the Morel Family from the book.

Sutton on sea is the next place I pass through and here at low tide it is possible to see the remains of an ancient submerged forest on the beaches. Going through here and from just outside the village Carol and I would bring the children and subsequently the Grandchildren to Huttoft bank along the coast beyond a Golf Course and down a narrow road to arrive at a long quiet beach of Golden sand and a must for children who want to run on an open uncrowded beach and bathe in a gentle sea. I stop here for a nostalgic lunch where we had consumed many a grand Carols’ picnic and after lunch I rested to recharge my batteries and I woke almost 2 hours later.

Beach aty Huttoft Bank

Moving on from my unplanned interlude I came to Ingoldmells and the church here has a tower dating from the 15thcentury. Butlins opened the Skegness Holiday camp here in 1936 and my eldest son Neil worked here on the camp for a number of years. During world war two the camp was closed and became a Royal Navy Shore base called HMS Royal Arthur. It also hosts the very glittering and vibrant Fantasy Island containing some of the most hair rising fairground rides I have ever seen.

Fancy a ride at Fantasy Island

Next and finally my arrival at Skegness is soon here and originally it was a fishing village until the arrival of the railway in 1875. Much advertising was given by the Great Northern Railway for excursions to Skegness and this would change the face of the town as it became more popular as a holiday destination. A statue of “The Jolly Fisherman” was used to promote Skegness which is now internationally famous.

Arriving at the caravan site just behind the Promenade and next to the Convalescent home established for Derbyshire Miners, I quickly settled in, although somewhat weary. The site warden was very welcoming and most helpful when I requested to stay for a second night.  Cheryll, Carols close cousin and her husband Bob were coming to see me at Skegness this evening and were staying overnight. The second night here would give me a rest and be able to spend some time with them during Saturday evening and Sunday looking at some places of interest in the area. It will be good to park the motor home up for the weekend and give it a well earned rest before resuming its duties on Monday. Cheryll and Bob arrived with me at about 1900 this evening and after a sit down for a chat we went out for a meal and had a delightful evening. We parted company for the night as they left to go to their B&B that Bob described as a lovely place with and outstanding friendly welcome from the owners. Tomorrow I will join them for Breakfast and I will report to you about the activities on my non travelling Sunday and I am looking forward to spending the time with Cheryll and Bob.

Take good care


Bridlington to Barrow Haven

8 Jun

Day 57 – 8 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 78 miles

Last night I managed a reasonably sustained effort to sleep last night was made and at about 0500 I woke to face a greeting of uncertainty with the weather. We had a considerable rainfall during the night. This morning whilst it was dry to start with the cloud formation was variable so it was a case of wait and see what would happen. A leisurely shower and breakfast of poached eggs seemed to provide a good start to my day. A few daily tasks to complete and I are ready for the road just after 0900. The weather has now deteriorated and looks very much as though the rain and I will get to know each other well today. The caravan site at bridling ton only opened last year and it was a fine site, well spaced out , surrounded by established trees and good modern facilities. After booking out of the site and with farewells to the wardens I steer the Drifter towards Bridlington where I shall call in to have a blood test done. The hospital and particularly the staff on the Lawrence unit were excellent with a warm welcome, a listening ear; rapid form fillers and have a can do philosophy. Venepuncture completed and all the details recorded there was time to sit and enjoy the cup of coffee offered. The sister explained that the results would be back with her this afternoon and she would telephone them through to me. Aren’t we so lucky to have the services of our NHS? Back on the road again and passing through Bridlington I take the road to Fraisthorpe, my first stop for the day. Arriving in the village I turn left at the signpost for the beach. After about 10 minutes of driving along a narrow lane that twisted and turned all the way to the shore the beach car park opened up ahead of me. With the poor weather I expected to find the place deserted but there was a large caravan rally taking place in a big field at the end of the car park and there was about four wind surfers enjoying the rather active sea. I parked next to another motor home that is also a compass Drifter like mine. The lady was telling me that they liked their Drifter as it had everything they needed. She was there with her family so that their son could do some windsurfing training on the sea. He has been selected to train with the national squad and is hopeful to be selected next year to represent England. It was his first time out at sea so Mum was understandably nervous for him. They certainly have high hopes for their son and I wished them every success.  I stayed a little while to try and get some pictures of the surfers in between the rain drops.

Returning to the main road I resume my trip with the next stop being Skipsea which is north of Hornsea. From researching the area before I left Bridlington I read about Skipsea castle in a small area outside of the village called Skipsea Brough. The castle was built in 1069 and although the castle has been destroyed. Extensive excavations have revealed some impressive earthworks. Having located the site of the castle the only access was by walking some distance and so no pictures were forthcoming.

The next village I pass through is Atwick which is very close to the sea and it has suffered significantly from damage caused by the sea water on its shore. In the centre of the village stands an old stone cross erected in 1786. It was placed at a distance of 33 chains and 63 links from the sea. The significance of the positioning appears to be uncertain. The distance now of course has been drastically reduced because of the erosion caused by the sea.

Village Cros – Alwick

Hornsea is soon upon me after only a few miles from Atwick where it is completely different to the small places I have been today. It is well known for its pottery factory making Hornsea Pottery. This brings back memories for me as in our early days; carol and I purchased some of first pottery purchase together from Hornsea Pottery. Sadly when I found the site the pottery had gone and the area has been replaced with a modern outlet village. The Trans Pennine taril ends at Hornsea and the end point is identified by the Trans Pennine end marker on the sea front. A pier was opened up at Hornsea in 1880, but in the same year it was severely damaged by a ship and in 1897 the pier was finally demolished. Next I go through the small village of Aldbrough which hosed gun emplacements, Lookouts and underground bunkers in the Second World War. I continue to Roos and like Aldbrough it is a very small place. On the coast just east of Roos is the Prime Meridian; this being the line of “0” degrees Longitude. J R Tolkien also lived here and the area was an inspiration for his Novel Lord of the Rings.

I next approach Withernsea where I shall turn west to travel along the bank of the river Humber. A pier was built at Withernsea in 1877 and was an impressive 400 yards in length. The entrance to the pier is guarded by two towers which following refurbishment is in very good condition. The whole project cost £12000 and in the 19thcentury a railway line was built connecting Withernsea to Hull.  This line provided the opportunity for many holiday makers in the Victorian period to travel from Hull to have a seaside holiday in Withernsea.

Withernsea towers

Just before crossing the Humber Bridge I drive through Hessle which suffered very badly in the floods of 2007 and tragically people lost their lives. The Hessle festival is an annual event dating from the 1800’s and takes place each year and its purpose is to celebrate the forthcoming year. The feast this year was timed to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Derrick the owner of the caravan site was telling me that part of the feast this year was a grand waterborne procession for both Sailing and powered boats. The procession was enhanced by the presence of two tugs from the estuary and they provided water canon displays with the procession and it must have been a sight worth witnessing I am certain.

The site I am on is only a five minute walk along a lane, over an unmanned railway crossing and I understand that from the bank of the river the view of the Humber Bridge is outstanding. The place is called Barrow Haven just outside the village of Barrow on Humber. In the market place at Barrow on Humber are Stock Stones and here in medieval time’s local law breakers were tied to the stones as a public punishment for their misdemeanors. The stones are worn on one side from the movement of those tied to them.

Tomorrow I am looking to stay at the caravan Club site in Skegness and so I will be travelling east back along the south bank of the Humber to Grimsby and Cleethorpes at the mouth of the river.

Humber Bridge from the North

From here I shall work my way south travelling close to the sea down to Skegness.

I shall look forward to my journey tomorrow and telling you all about it at the end of the day.


Scarborough to Bridlington

7 Jun

Day 56- 7 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 69miles

Hello again and welcome to the 7thJune and day 56, The finale to yesterday added yet another new experience to this voyage which was a bit dramatic in its presentation. Having arrived at West Aynton in the warmth of a lovely sunny day and settled onto the site it wasn’t long before we suffered absolute intensive rain storm quickly followed by Thunder and lightning to the extent that after the first major lightning flash we had an area wide power failure.

Raindrops keep falling-

Would this have something to do with leaving Scotland behind me I wonder? For me it meant switching over to oxygen cylinders until the power is restored. It is anticipated to be for around three hours before normality is established once more. With all of the blog completed by hand and the pictures downloaded I now need to wait for power so that I can transcribe my work and publish the blog. The site I stayed at last night was at a small village called West Ayton which is about 4 miles west of Scarborough. Lying to the east of the village are the ruins of Ayton castle which was built in 1390. During the late 17th century stone from the castle was used to rebuild the bridge over the nearby river Derwent that flows between East and west Ayton.

When I get up in the morning to the damp around me but clear opening skies I step outside to recover my bird feeder from the tree to the side of me. The contents were soaking wet from the rain last night so I scatter the seed along the bank for consumption during the day. It was then I noticed a small creature foraging on the edge of the Hedgerow for food.  I thought it would be great for it to be the subject of the “what am I” question today. The picture I have got for you was taken very quickly before I lost the opportunity. So here it is and what do think I might be?

Can you tell me what I am ?

I leave the site at about 1000 to my first call at Scarborough and before I get to the sea I call at a supermarket to replenish used stock.  It is believed that the town was founded about 966 AD by Thorgills Skarthi. A Viking raider. The famous Scarborough Fair was permitted by a royal charter in 1253 allowing a 6 week festival of trading bringing merchants in from across Europe. The fair was held for 500 years up to the 18th century and it ran from August 15th to 29thSeptember. Scarborough first hotel was opened in 1863, the Grand Hotel and it was Europe’s largest hotel at the time. Anne Bronte the novelist died and is buried here in Scarborough.

Sea front in Bridlington

Moving south east from Scarborough I come upon Filey which is found on the coast between Scarborough and Bridlington. The oldest building in Filey is the parish church from the 12th century. Filey remained a small village until the 18th century when its popularity increased with large numbers of visitors from Scarborough seeking peace and quiet. Filey was well known for its Butlins holiday camp which ran for 40 years until its closure in 1984. During the war it was an RAF station, RAF Hunmanby Moor.

I continue my journey south east and beyond the golden sands of Filey Bay calling at Bempton Cliffs, a place that brings back fond memories of visits there with Carol to see the Puffins at the RSPB wildlife site at the edge of the cliff tops. The walk on the cliff was contemplated but on this occasion not attempted. So for me not a Puffin in sight. The cliffs are an amazing sight and if you are in the area they are a simply a must to visit. From the RSPB centre out to the cliffs is a very pleasant walk with viewing areas scattered along the footpaths.

To complete my visit to this peninsula I go to Flamborough Head and on the way I pass the Chalk tower which is the oldest surviving complete lighthouse in England which was built in 1674. The new lighthouse can be visited for guided tours in the holiday season. Nearby is Danes Dyke which effectively is a long man made ditch between the north and south landings. It is believed to be pre historic in origin and arrow heads have been found from the Bronze Age.

Chalk Lighthouse Tower Flamborough Head

Next then to Bridlington where I phoned two friends earlier knowing they had a holiday home there and they possibly might be staying. As it happened they had returned there this morning so I arranged to call in for a coffee with Maurice and Elizabeth. I worked with Maurice in the Derbyshire Ambulance service and subsequently with them both at the Royal International Air Tattoo where they had given their time for many years in support of the RAF Charities. Whilst with them a neighbour from the same Holiday Park called to see them and this also was a colleague from The Ambulance service.  It was good to see Fred who looked very well and fit for his age. I had a relaxing couple of hours at their luxurious holiday home before moving on to my stopping place for the night.

Bridlington has an interesting history and part of that is that the right to have a weekly market and annual fair was granted by King John. Subsequently the number of annual fairs was increased to three by Henry VI in 1446.  Shell fish from Bridlington are exported to France, Spain and Italy in an industry reputed to be worth several million pounds a year.

Some of you may recall from yesterday that I had planned to get to Kilnsea tonight. With a night of restless sleep last night and being without power for several hours left me feeling weary today so I decided that a last minute alteration would be sensible and booked a stay at the Caravan Club site on the north side of Bridlington. After my visit to see Maurice, Elizabeth and Fred I return to the caravan site to settle for the night, giving me time to complete the blog at a more sensible hour and more leisurely than yesterday. It also gave me the opportunity to plan for tomorrows trip where my revised target will be the south bank of the rive Humber close to the Humber Bridge and this will allow me to keep a reasonable distance to travel. The journey will take me along the east coast passing through Hornsea, Withernsea and then across the Humber Bridge. I will no doubt be calling at some of the smaller places on that route.

I will look forward to a good day and letting you know how it all goes.


Stockton on Tees to Scarborough

7 Jun

Day 55- 6 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 68 miles

Following the publication of the late night final yesterday it had got quite late and it was the cue to exit stage left and leave the stage of the Internet and try the art of sleeping. Over the years sleeping has been one of my better skills and achievement. Like so any of these things the less you use what you have the less good you become and it would seem that this is the case for me regarding sleep. We had quite a lot of rain during the night and during my few hours of good sleep; I was simply unaware of the amount of rain that had fallen. When I woke the sky was cloudy ranging from dull grey cloud to areas of thin white cloud through which patches of clear blue sky emerged. The air was warm but with no visible sun to spread that warm glow. I was left optimistic and rose for the early shower. Fully refreshed, I am ready to consider today’s plan and working out where I can stay tomorrow. Giving due consideration to all the possible influences, the decision was made to stay on a small farm site at Kilnsea which is south of Whithernsea and at the mouth of the river Humber. I telephone to ascertain it would be alright to stay there, but alas, “no answer came the stern reply”. I leave a message and hope that someone will phone back with a positive response. I met the family staying next to me who was having a break with their grandson, Hamen. He seemed a bright young man and the first question he asked was why was I carrying that machine? Checking with his Grandad I explained to Hamen why and how it worked. He soon grasped enough new knowledge to satisfy his curiosity and decided it was time to have bike ride around the site.

This morning after cleaning up and disconnecting, travel readiness is established. I bid farewell to my neighbours and fill up with water before leaving White Water Park. As I drive around the site to leave there are number of caravans that the owners had decorated with Bunting and large Union Jack flags to mark yesterday’s jubilee.

Jubilee Caravan

I did say yesterday that I would look around this morning and try to expand a bit on the White Water course and the Tees Barrage. As it was so close I and at about 1000 I thought the best way would be to go there and see it in action first hand. I pulled up at the centre with the aim of going to the specially created viewing area and consume as hot drink from the Café there. It all seemed reasonably quiet and all the canoes were moored uniformly with not a canoeist to be seen and the water as calm as it could be. The main activity of the site at the moment is that it is being used for the training of the GB team for this year’s Olympics. With no one about to ask I decide to move away from the park and go to the Tees Barrage. A barrage is the name given to some kind of artificial barrier across a water course often used to change a water course or change the water level. In this case it was used to help control flooding of the area. All the pumps that generate the white water stood idle and so there was simply nothing spectacular to look at. It is a shame as I would think that there would have been a chance to get some good pictures of the white water.

Time is now ready to depart for Redcar and I rejoin the coast for my journey along the south bank of the river Tees.  Redcar sits just south of Tynemouth and looks out across the North Sea. It has 8 miles of extensive sandy beaches stretching both north and south of the town. The origins are as a fishing town, dating from the early 14thcentury. At the time Redcar was secondary in importance to nearby Marske by the sea a little further south. Redcar emerged as the centre attracting tourists and was very popular with the Victorian tourist. The well known racecourse has been in existence at Redcar since 1875. The world’s oldest surviving Lifeboat, built by Harry Greathead from South Shields is found today in the sea front museum at Redcar. The lifeboat was named “Zetland” and was operated from Redcar in 1802.

Redcar Frome Marske

Six miles further along the coast I arrive at Saltburn-by–the-sea. Old saltburn was a settlement that formed the origin of the town and it was an area very popular for Smugglers. In the late 1800’s the Pease family purchased some land from the Earl of Zetland and housing was built with as many possible positioned to get a sea view. The icing on the cake for Henry Pease was the completion of the Zetland hotel.

As I go further south I see some signs pointing to a village called Skinningrove and the name touched my curiosity so I went down to see what it had to offer. I discover that it is of Viking influence and the name means Skinners Grove or Pit. Until recently the village operated its own slaughterhouse and prospered from farming and fishing. Later in the 18oo’s an Ironstone works was opened and the prosperity dramatically improved. Mining carried on until 1958 and the works closed finally in 1980. In April 2003 a rare “Oarfish”  was caught at Skinningrove and it weighed  140 pound and was 11 feet long.

On The Beach

Before getting to Whitby I go to look at another village, called Staithes. Descending towards the top of the village I find a car park with many cars in and a large sign saying there is no public parking in the village centre. There was no indication I could see that prevented driving into the village. Not wishing to be defeated I took the turn and descended further into the Village proper and the descent was a challenge, not only for the steep gradient but also because the street was very narrows and surfaced with cobbles. While I was there I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures and if I was on foot then use of my tripod would have got some outstanding images. I turn round at the harbour which is very active with people sitting on the wall or at the café tables having hot drinks and copious chips and rolls. Whether you have an interest in photography or not and you are ever in the area it is a must to go and look round. Some of the women in Staithes stil wear the “Staithes Bonnet” and it is possible to purchase them from the local gift shop. Careful manoeuvering back along the cobbled street I arrive back at the car park at the top. This has to be easily the best place I visited today.


Whitby is the next place of interest and of course is best known for its role in the TV series Heartbreak. The origin of the town dates back to 656 and the Christian King of Northumbria founded the first Abbey. Although the Abbey was rebuilt after its virtual destruction the ruin is still the most prominent feature of Whitby standing high above the town. It is the oldest landmark and can be seen from miles around.  Whitby has also featured in the Bram Stokes novel, Dracula. The town developed extensively by extending its role into shipbuilding and it became the third largest shipbuilding town in the 1700’s.  By 1975 Whitby was a major Whaling port and at its height in 1814 8 shops caught a total of 172 Whales.

Before reaching Scarborough I call at Robin Hoods Bay just a few miles further south from Whitby. The bay was mentioned in 1536 and during this century Robin Hoods Bay was more important than Whitby. Smuggling was rife at this time and the Bay was extensively used for this purpose. It is reputed that there are underground tunnels linking the house involved in the smuggling. In 1773 two Excise vessels were chased out of the bay by smugglers boats using gunfire and in late 1779 a battle in the dock took place between the smugglers and the excise officers over 200 casks of Brandy. In 1881 a ship ran aground just off the bay and the lifeboat from Whitby 6 miles away was pulled by 18 horses with an advanced party of 200 men working ahead to clear the route for the large trailer being used. Two hours later the lifeboat arrives and on the second attempt all 18 on board were saved. The main activity today is tourism which was very obvious today and also some local fishing is still carried out.

Feeling now quite weary I decide to go directly to the caravan site and return to Scarborough tomorrow morning. I cut across the delightful North Yorkshire Moors where the weather begins to change and as I drove it was clear that a lot of rain had fallen and more seemed to be on the way. I soon arrive at west Ayton and receive a warm welcome from the warden. She meticulously showed me where I would park and how I should position my vehicle on the Pitch. Parking in a secluded area of the site with trees and bushes all around me, I connected everything up and was ready now for the rest of the day. The time believe it or not is only 1530.  I went inside and promptly lay down and went to sleep. On waking I work more on my blog but my comfort and peace were soon to be disturbed as the most intense rain storm occurred that I had seen in a long time. Accompanying the heavy rain was a Thunder and Lightning storm and within a few moments we were devoid of any electricity. Eventually I establish that it will be off for the next 3 hours. With all this happening I decide to try and address my fatigue a bit more with another sleep in the hope that when I wake the situation will be back to normal. This unfortunately was not the and with my concentrator battery beginning to run low I resort to my oxygen cylinder stock ad switch over to the portable oxygen pack. The power cut remained as indicated and after just over 3 hours it returned as quickly as it left us. As it is now late I will end the blog here for today and start off tomorrow with Scarborough.


Old Hartley to White Water Park

6 Jun

Day 54- 5 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 111 miles

The actual location for my stay last night was Old Hartley about three miles north of Whitley Bay. Although I talked a bit about Whitley Bay it will be my first point of calling today. The lighthouse I mentioned yesterday didn’t in fact light up. I enquired with the Warden and he explained that it was decommissioned in 1990 and the original paraffin lamp and the lens are both in a museum in Whitley Bay. The lighthouse stands on St Mary’s island at Old Hartley. Close by in Old Hartley is Segedunum Roman Fort and it was here that the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall was guarded for around 300 years. The fort has been extensively excavated and a museum and 35 meter high viewing tower has been put to get good views across the site of the fort; be warned however there is no lift!! It is also a great area for walkers with an abundance of cliff top footpaths in both directions.

St Mary’s Island

My night last night was reasonable and I woke this morning at about 0430 to catch the sun rising just above the horizon. With high expectations of glowing skies, dyeing the clouds with all shades of red and orange the camera is prepared for the occasion. Alas it was all an anti climax as the sun as if in some kind of race turned up the brightness and rapidly rose higher producing a clear white light reflecting harshly on the sea. At least however it was here and functioning perfectly as it was designed to do. After reconciling the letdown I felt a shopping list coming on so I decided it would be one of my first tasks after a good shower and tidying away the bed. The list completed, I then finish the washing up that was draining from last night. Time to relax for a while and consider the places I would pass through today on my journey to Stockton on Tees. The drive should prove to be an interesting one as I will be going again pretty close to the coast for most of it. Map book studied and a plan set for the day a robust start and a good feeling of satisfaction into the bargain.  Once again there are many places I will visit but time will only permit stopping at some of them apart from those spontaneous diversions that have become a feature of this experience. I will tell you something about them as we drive through the day together there is a cliff top road as I leave Whitley Bay and this is the one I have chosen for this leg of the journey. Fortunately on this occasion the access to the beaches not inhibited by the adjacent railway line as it has been laid slightly inland from the cliff road.

The first village is Cullercotes and looking down from the top of the cliff it has a large semi circular beach of sand stretching for some considerable distance around the Bay. The village grew on the fishing industry and also some coal mining was carried out. In 1848 a small boat from Cullercotes was taking a pilot out to sea to meet up with ship waiting for guidance. Sadly the small boat capsized killing all on board. It was this tragedy that influenced the Duke of Northumberland to fund a lifeboat station to be run the RNLI. The following year a further tragedy struck when 20 members of the lifeboat crew were lost after the boat capsized. This further stimulated the duke to set up a competition to design a self righting boat to replace the lost craft. The outcome of this gesture was that the “Percy” was built, paid for by the duke and commissioned at Cullercotes in 1852. The original lifeboat station remained in use until 2003 when a new one was erected. For a small village there is a wealth of history and of the community involvement through time.

Continuing further down the coasts I soon arrive eat Tynemouth, which as it name implies sits on the north shore at the mouth of the river Tyne. On the headland is the ruin of the priory and the castle. The castle can be clearly seen from the shore with the Priory lying behind it. In the Priory there are three kings buried; the first in 651, the second in 792 and these two were kings of Notrhumbria. The third is a king of Scotland who was killed at the battle of Alnwick in 1093. The lighthouse at St Mary’s island I mentioned earlier was built to replace the lighthouse at Tynemouth priory.

Tynemouth Priory and castle

Along the north bank of the Tyne I come to the Tyne Tunnel which I shall be using to cross the river and emerging on the other side at Jarrow. It is famed for being the starting point for the march against unemployment in 1936. Jarrow expanded with the onset of heavy engineering it became a major centre for shipbuilding. About 1000 ships have been built here at Jarrow and many of them naval warships.

Continuing along the south bank of the Tyne I go to Whitburn beyond South Shields and along the coast road I pause just to the north of Whitburn at a viewpoint which is a national trust site where the Souter lighthouse is located. It s thought that Whitburn originally was a Saxon settlement and it was first recorded in 1183. The site of a coal pit at Whitburn was closed in 1986 and is now a coastal nature reserve and I was struck as to how natural it all looked as I drove by.

Crossing the river Wear at Ayres Quay my next call beyond Sunderland is Ryobe, sitting on the main road and right next to the shoreline. This was a popular place and the parking areas were mostly full with visitors enjoying a day on the sands next to the parking zones. I would observe at this point that generally in the North and most of Scotland the thoughts and policies regarding parking do a great deal to attract people by making parking and access to beaches very compatible and user friendly. The south of our country could learn much from their colleagues in the north. Leaving the main road here I get closer to the sea and soon arrive in Seaham.

I then have to travel a short journey inland, going through Easington Colliery which had been a pit since th4e first sinking in 1899 and it produced coal until 1993 when it was closed. The Easington Colliery Band was formed in 1913 and it still survives today with funding through its own performances and its home is still the old colliery pay office which is the last remaining evidence of the Easington coal pit. Easington Colliery was the setting for the award winning film “Billy Elliot”

My next call is Hartlepool which was founded in the 17thcentury and commands Hartlepool Bay. With the demise of Shipbuilding in Hartlepool the docks have been refurbished and a Marina built and has helped the local economy greatly. The name Hartlepool arises from an old English name “Hart island” and 1182 the town was called “Hierdepol”. In the Marina there is a lovely old Galleon type ship and it is seen because of the visible tall masts and rigging but the rest of the ship was hidden from view.

Tall Ship Hartlepool

Sorry to rush here but it is getting late and I want to complete my daily report and publish it for you to read and help you sleep.

My next call is Seaton Carew which is a seaside resort east of Middlesborough and south of Hartlepool. The town has been inhabited since Roman times and some ruins of roman buildings have been found here. Life started as a fishing village but during the 18th and 19th centuries it became a resort used mostly by the affluent Quakers from Darlington. On the headland at North

Gore can be seen the wreckage of a Danish Vessel embedded in the sand on North Gore beach.

Getting closer now to my goal I come to Port Clarence on the river Tees and this is where I cross the river. On the other side can be seen the Riverside stadium which I believe is the home of Middlesborough football club. In the 1900’s Port Clarence saw an increase in the number of immigrants from Ireland who came to seek work in the steel, chemical and shipbuilding industries.

Finally then to Stockton on Tees where I look forward to my arrival  as I am beginning to feel a bit weary and I could do well from settling for the evening and night. I go straight to the caravan site at White water Park which is only a short distance from Tees Barrage. This is apparently the largest White water Rafting Course built to international standards. This area is also famed for the International summer “Riverside festival”. The site has been nicely landscaped and it is good and flat and certainly well cared for. I will have a look round in the morning and try to give you a better flavour and insight before I return to the coast at Redcar where I shall continue my journey towards a night at Scarborough.

Happy reading


Coldingham to Whitley Bay

5 Jun

Day 53- 4 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 88 miles

Good morning and welcome to a bright sunny start to my day here in Scotland. I am currently lazing around at the site in Coldingham near St Abbs head on the coast. Sitting quietly for a while this morning has been very pleasant and interspersing my idleness with a few daily tasks.

Gallows Law at peace

A while of contemplating where I have been, the things I have done and those of you I have been able to meet on my way round as well as encountering some extremely steep climbs and exploring the multitude of small coastal villages and hamlets has been an irreplaceable experience and in some places eye opening because often what we have around us and not always aware of it. For those people who live in some of these places there will be times when the reality must be harsh but take into account the glorious weather I have experienced here in Scotland it must on balance, be a life style of a great and peaceful life. Although the coast line is so different around the country there are many comparisons to be made with remote life elsewhere and Cornwall comes easily to mind.

My first stop today will be St Abbs which I didn’t get to see yesterday. On arrival here the lane down to the harbour was a bit of a challenge but once there I find and idyllic setting and one that was surprisingly active. The harbour was the centre of pretty much all of the activity with the fishing boats had been hard at work and were now resting in the harbour. Lobster pots were being checked and stacked up on the harbour wall waiting for their next trip to sea. Groups of people are standing on the harbour wall with their various wet suits on receiving a briefing while boats were positioning themselves to take everyone on board for some wonderful diving experiences.

All aboard

Moving on my next visit will be to Eyemouth and what a contrast to St Abbs I found. The fishing industry here was substantial and buzzing with activity. People were hard at work in the processing buildings and on the quayside servicing the boats while others were loading crates of the processed catches into vans and onto large Lorries for onward distribution. The harbour was quite different with small boats moving restlessly with the water and some larger ones firmly fixed to the moorings and many tourists walking up and down looking at the different craft (and watching out that their children don’t fall in) and they are all enjoying the change from the from the routine of normal life to come and see such and interesting place in possibly a totally different setting to home.. The town is very much set up for the tourist trade and I am certain that many visitors must go there.

Stay with Daddy

Before getting to Berwick on Tweed I stumble across a small village called Lamberton. Lamberton sits on the A1 close to the coast with its eastern boundary being the North Sea. The original family who owned the estate in the area was Adam De Lamberton in the 12th century. From 1407 the land was owned then by the Renton family and although the estate around the village was handed down the family kept the village. There as an old Toll house in the village where irregular marriages were conducted in a similar way to those at Gretna Green. This practice was carried out by the keepers of the Toll and some of the clergy who acted unethically to say the least.

Before Lamberton I leave my relationship with Scotland behind me  but the experiences , challenges and memories will remain and I return to England  much richer for it all and some 2000 miles  of coastal meandering. Crossing into England a few miles out of Lamberton I duly arrive at Berwick on Tweed stopping briefly at Tweedmouth to get a good view of Berwick and the sea around me. The town was founded as an Anglo Saxon settlement and for hundreds of years it was in the middle of the border war between England and Scotland. The final time it changed ownership was in 1482 when England retook the town.  In 1707 the act of Union between Scotland and England confirmed which of the two countries Berwick would belong to. Traditionally it is a market town and still holds that reputation today, although tourism plays an important role in the economy of Berwick on Tweed. It is also noted for some of its architecture and defence walls, some of which are the only surviving structures since they were built during the reign of Elizabeth 1st of England.

Bamburgh is the next place on my radar which lies on the coast of the North Sea east of the southern shore of Budle Bay and along the coast from Budle Point. It is most noted for its castle which was the seat of the former kings of Northumbria. It is also is known for its association with Grace Darling who is buried in the castle. It is well known although not equally to my previous example for its attraction to the Derby Photographic Society in the production of competition winning entries by our top landscape photographer. I won’t embarrass you Mike by telling anyone your name!! Some amazing images have been taken here by the society members and created much comment by judges and even more discussion of the members. Today I joined the list of Bamburgh Castle photographers by taking a few photographs of my own. The town and the castle were intensely packed with visitors today and parking was impossibility so it will be a good place to return to for more images when it is possible to park.

Bamburgh castle, from the Wynding

Continuing south I pass through Seahouses where boat trips can be taken out to the Farne Islands and in 2009 Shirley, Brian, Carol and myself took one of the trips to the Farne Islands ably assisted by 6 willing and strong Geordies who lifted Carol in her wheelchair down into the boat, saying they had never heard of health and safety. Thank goodness for the Geordie down to earth approach to life. When everyone had disembarked from the boat I stayed on with Carol and the captain took carol and I round the islands for a close up look from the sea in order for carol to see as much as possible. This gesture made her day and I will always be grateful for the wonderful example of friendliness from people in the area; an experience I will never forget.

At the suggestion of Mike (The chap I said I wouldn’t name earlier) I call in at Craster where he assures me they sell the best Kippers in England. They are smoked on the premises by a family run business. When I got there you would have thought it was an overflow car park for Bamburgh Castle and there was not an available parking space.  So I thought a quiet drive around the village to find the shop and buy some Kippers. All however to no avail; as firstly you were not allowed to park in the village and secondly the queue outside the shop was so long the wait would have been considerable. I decided that it would a good place to go back to when there were many less people. Perhaps a combined visit with Bamburgh would be good.

For Craster then passing through Amble, New Biggin by the sea and Blyth I complete todays travel arriving at Whitley Bay around 1700. The site here is called Old Hartley and it has to be the closest to the shore on any site I have stayed at so far. Only 50 yards away you can see, hear and smell the North Sea at its best and in front of me just beyond some caravans stands a Lighthouse and should it light up today I will look forward to witnessing the effect it will create.

Whitley Bay was first mentioned around 1100 when King Henry 1st conferred it on the Priory of Tynemouth. Through a grant of Edward 6thit was owned by the Earl of Warwick who was created the Duke of Northumberland. With the demise of coal mining Whitley as it was called remodeled itself and became a haven for tourists. Following much confusion with the name of nearby Whitby in Yorkshire a local poll was taken to establish what the town should be called to remove the confusion. In 1901 the polls most popular choice was that it should be called Whitley Bay and the name has remained ever since. In 1944 the Whitley and Monkseaton urban district council became the Whitley Bay Urban District Council by royal charter. The charter was presented by the Princess Royal in April 1954.

Whitley Bay from Old Hartley Caravan Park

Tomorrow I will be staying the night at Stockton on Tees which is about 50 miles to travel. This will give me time to explore the area more carefully along the coast as I go south and around the Tees where there is much shipping, Chemical industries and heavy industry undertaken in the area. Although there will be much coast line to see it will be interesting to compare that and other places with the intense industrial areas I will see.


Fishcross to Coldingham

4 Jun

Day 52- 3 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 124 miles

Yesterday  I have called the golf drive as I must have seen more Scottish acreage taken up with people walking over the most beautifully kept grass that you might find occasionally except that most of it is by the sea. There is something about watching a Golfer and how intense they seem to get when they position themselves in the lead up to a shot and the passion you can see when they strike the ball. I am sure that it must be a very satisfying pastime with a full spectrum of feelings from achieving a great round to seeing a shot turn into a disaster as the ball enters a lake instead of the Fairway. Most of my evening was spent doing the blog and I too had a great feeling of satisfaction at the end as I pressed the soft key marked “Publish”. It must have felt like a golfer might feel when getting that final ball in to the hole on par.

Although I was late going to sleep, I did sleep well and woke in time this morning to witness the sun entering my world in glorious splendour. It certainly gave me the feeling that it would be here for the day. I do hope that you had a share of it as well.  At 0700 my phone sprang into life with Duncan and Margaret phoning to arrange a breakfast get together as they had driven through the night with a stop on the way and arrived this morning in Alloa which is not far from where I am staying in Fishcross. We agreed that they would make the short journey to the site at Fishcross and we would have a good Motor Home breakfast.  I got out the banqueting table, the best cutlery and breakfast service, the brown and red sauces ready to start the day in style. Gathering all the breakfast ingredients together I was ready for cooking just as they arrived. It was really lovely to see them both and to chat about Scotland which has become their home, my adventure, their weekend away and their two delightful daughters, Kate and Jenny. With breakfast over and washing up completed courtesy of Duncan and Margaret, further tea and coffee was consumed before they started their final trip of 135 miles to get to their Steading in Old Meldrum North West of Aberdeen. The 3 or 4 hours we had together were a delight and it was good to see you looking so well and young.  Now Duncan won’t mind me explaining to you that although he is just a bit younger than me, has more hair than me and is permanently active travelling the world with his work, I believe that I am much better looking than he is!!

Woods caravan site- Alloa

Parting company at just after 1030 they both travel north whilst I travel east along the southern bank of the Firth of Forth where I will recommence my journey around the coast. I cross the forth river at Kircardine Bridge and just to confuse people the Scottish have built two bridges at Kircardine to cross the Forth or is it to demonstrate the Scottish generosity  and providing people with a choice.  Each of the bridges has their own unique character even though they were constructed so many years apart.Driving first through Grangemouth I could see close up some of the giant chemical works along the banks of the Firth of Forth. What struck me mostly about them was not just the enormity of the structure, but also the complexity and maze of pipe work that form so much of the structure so that we can have chemical that add value to our daily lives.

Check those pipes please

From Grangemouth I continue to Bo’ness which is properly called Borrowstouness. It is located on the south bank of the forth and for many years the town’s main industry was coal mining and it had a major port. Historically Bo’ness goes back to Roman times and artifacts from the Roman period have been uncovered in the town. It was an established port from the 16th century and a harbour was authorized by the Government in 1707. The harbour was built in the 18th century and subsequently a dry dock was added 1881.

As I progress towards Queensferry I pull off the road at a view point high above the Firth of Forth and looking north towards Rosyth with a giant structure in the naval dockyard, whereas further east as I scan with my Binoculars there is North Queensferry an altogether more passive place.

Across the Forth from Newton on the south bank

Also from here in an easterly direction is the Forth Road Bridge which is the alternative crossing to either of the Kincardine bridges. Until the forth bridge was opened in 1964 there were ferries from the harbour to the north side of the Firth. At Queensferry a local fair that dates from the 12th century still takes place during august each year. It is a very colourful attraction with processions and Pipe Bands to entertain. Travelling around Edinburgh was the best choice as the volume of traffic entering the city would have created a time consuming journey. I was soon round the city and I rejoin the coast to Musselburgh just to the east of Edinburgh.

Musselburgh is known as the “Honest Town” and the town motto is “Honestoun” and it dates from 1332. The name came about when the regent of Scotland (Earl Randolph of Moray) died in Musselburgh and during his long illness the people of the town cared for him. After his death the new regent (Earl of May) wished to reward the citizens for the care the dying Regent. The town declined the gesture saying they were only doing their duty. The new regent declared them as a “set of honest men” and the name” Honest toun” emerged.

Travelling further east and with the day soon passing, I arrive at North Berwick where I make my turn south. The town is on the south shore of the Firth of Forth at its opening with the sea. Like most of the places I have passed through today there is a prominence of golf links here. The harbour was built in the 12thcentury and for 500 years a ferry service was run from North Berwick to Earlsferry on the opposite bank. Off the coast from North Berwick can be seen Bass Rock which is home to large colonies of Puffins and Gannets along with other sea birds.

Bass Rock

I visit Dunbar which I find to be a quiet place with many of the old buildings still used as shops and businesses catering for a wide range of consumers. Here is found the second oldest Lifeboat station In Scotland. Dunbar has a vast history and during the fifth century it was subsumed by Northumbria until the area was attacked by Norsemen and the Danes which caused Northumbria to lose a lot of its power and after a battle in 1016 Dunbar finally became part of Scotland. Modern Dunbar hosts the first outdoor Pipe band competition of the season and attracts around 80 participants from across Scotland.

Continuing south along the main road following the coast I arrive in Coldingham to establish myself on the caravan site I had booked to stay on. When pull in I find that all the spaces are taken and the site is full. I enquire with a gentleman who had walked up from a nearby house and he asks what I am doing. I explain to him about my booking and the site is full. He declared that  he has just spoken with the owner and she is not expecting me. After a few moments of conversation I deduced that I was probably not on the right site. This emerged to be the case and he then told me he knew exactly where my site is and proceeded to give me directions. Cutting a long story short I could not find it after much careful searching. Without more ado I consult again the handbook for directions and decide the easiest way is to make my way to the A1 and follow the directions in the book. Eventually I find it and it turns out to be less than half a mile from the incorrect one but in the opposite direction to those he gave me. I soon settle in and I am parked next to a field gloriously covered in the yellow flower of the Oil Seed crop. I met my neighbour who was exercising two extremely well trained Collies. So once again I find a peaceful place to be for the night after a great day. I am hopeful now that the really long journeys which I have endured lately have come to an end. The site is a farm site called Gallows Law.

Gallows law Caravan Site

Coldingham has been in existence since AD 660 when it was a high order religious establishment. In 1650 Cromwell attacked the Priory at Coldingham and after a siege of two days virtually destroyed the fortified tower which finally collapsed in the late 1700’s. In 1855 about 40% of the priory was restored and today it is used as the parish church. Coldingham bay is a tourist attraction for holiday makers, particularly those who love Surfing.

See you all tomorrow.


Montrose to Fishcross

3 Jun

Day 51- 2 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 146 miles

Here we are then on Saturday 2 June and the time just seems to go so rapidly being absorbed by some lovely places and amazing views and scenery.

During the evening yesterday and a good day of seeing more of Scotland, I set about preparing my journey for Saturday. With the route planner booted up and waiting for input, my atlas at the ready and pen poised, the route list was established. My first look at it made me think that although of late my journeys have been longer out of necessity this one was going to be too ambitious. Data in to the route planner soon confirmed my suspicion and the distance involved was far too great. This meant a review of Saturdays activities and identify where I could stay that would be achievable. I expected it to be a long journey none the less. Identifying three possible options ready for action in the morning, I waited patiently until after 0900 today (Saturday) to contact the sites on my list in plan A.  In the mean time some pictures of the caravan site seemed a good idea. This is one amazing site which as I said yesterday is beautifully kept and immaculate in every aspect. Even the mallards that visit early in the morning from the adjacent loch are tidy and well presented. With the loch on one side, the remainder of the site is surrounded by a small woodland area which separates it from the town. It was certainly worth the extra mileage travelling inland to experience this site in Forfar.

Lochside Caravan park Forfar

Sorting out the change I need to make fro where I shall stay tonight and tomorrow night is going to be less than easy because every site I contact seems to be full up because of this special bank holiday weekend. I tried several sites that I had listed in Plan A and all to no avail.  Preparing then to move on to plan B I wasn’t particularly optimistic how I would do with those sites. As is suspected the first couple of contacts couldn’t help when suddenly my phone burst into its Apple song and the warden at one of the sites in plan A rang to say he had just received a cancellation and I could have the space if I would still like it. Problem solved and tonight I will be staying near Alloa in Clackmannanshire at a site called “The Woods”. The place I had originally booked to stay at was simply too far for one days driving so I rang the owner to explain and they have kindly reserved me a space for Sunday night. With everything working out I finally leave Forfar just after 1000. Although later than I would have liked it was important that my accommodation for the next two nights was firmly established.

Returning then to Montrose to start the day where I left off last night would be the first call for this trip. Montrose is in Angus and sits on the coast alongside Montrose Basin and north of Arbroath. It has a natural harbour and in medieval times it traded in Skins, Hides and cured Salmon. Montrose basin is a nature reserve of world importance as it is the largest salt water basin in the UK.

From Montrose I travel south along a small road through Lunan, Inchock to Hayshead and then Arbroath. Along this winding road high above the sea level some brilliant views and beaches were always in sight. I had an enjoyable and breathtaking experience during this part of the journey. There was one breathtaking moment when a car coming from the opposite direction where the driver was no doubt distracted by the views and if it were not for the timely positioning of a passing place that I could use he sailed by possibly completely  unaware of my presence. Soon arriving in Arbroath from the coastal road I get a view of the town across the rooftops and to the sea beyond. This gives a much different perspective that might be gained by using the main road.  Arbroaths history goes back to the Iron Age but the town became more prominent when Arbroath Abbey was built in 1178. The Industrial revolution saw even more growth in the town and a new harbour was constructed in 1839 leading to Arbroath becoming one of larger fishing ports anywhere in Scotland. It is believed that the sail cloth that was used on the Cutty Sark was manufactured in one of the many Mills in Arbroath.

Across the rooftops at Arbroath

Next on my itinerary is Carnoustie and for many will need no introduction due to its fame from Golf. The town was formed in the 18thcentury and grew because of the textile industry expansion. Bronze Age artifacts have been found in the area giving some indication of the inhabitants from that period. Today it is dominated by golf and to reinforce this, my observations as I drove through the town and out to the edges was the number of different links to be found and I passed a large number of people out suitably dressed and wheeling their golf trolleys and enjoying their games.

Great Round Sir

At the risk of being repetitive I next go to St Andrews which incidentally is known internationally as “The Home of Golf”. The royal ancient golf club was founded in 1754. It must not be forgotten though St Andrews has a university which is the third oldest university in the English speaking world. It has achieved an international reputation as being one of the UK’s best Universities. St Andrews cathedral is the largest in Scotland that dominates the town but it is today in ruins.

Moving on and passing through Crail where beaches with golden sands are close by, (PIC Crail beach) Anstruther, Earlsferry, and leven and into Kirkcaldy. From here I continue in a south westerly direction with good views in front of me of the Forth Road Bridge along the way.

A Bridge too far?

My journey is about reaching the end for today as I next drive to Rosyth and finally to Fishcross, north east of Alloa. I shall be stopping here tonight and ready to cross Kincardine Bridge in the morning.

Tomorrow my target will be Coldingham which is north of Eyemouth and not far from Abbs Head. During the journey I hope very much to meet up with Carol’s cousin, Duncan and Margaret somewhere around Edinburgh at lunch time.

I will of course let you know how tomorrow goes, and any gems of more information you probably don’t need.

Take care


Smithy Croft to Montrose

2 Jun

Day 50- 1 June 2012.  Distance travelled today is 132 miles

Hello everyone and welcome to the start of a new month as we work our way through 2012. As you k now it is the Queens jubilee special Bank Holiday this weekend and if you are going to street party or have some other kind of celebration this weekend, enjoy what you do and with the extra day this bank holiday it will give you all a chance to relax and perhaps spend some time doing something a little different.  It is 0500 here in Scotland and the sun is rising graciously in the east (That’s a good start!!), creating some wonderful shades of green as it cast its light across the rolling hills in front of me and on the grazing land and over the farmers newly planted crop fields. Within half an hour the Fell ponies have left from wherever they rested and are out in the field grazing ready for the activities that may be planned for them. After a game of Cat & Mouse between the sun and the clouds the sun has taken control and lifted my expectations of a great day. I had breakfast and sat with a hot drink and the next thing I knew an hour had passed and I had fallen asleep, which I suppose will have been good for me, although not what I had intended to happen. Having gathered my senses and got orientated I soon tidied everything away, filled up with water and set off just before I drive the short distance to Rosehearty and on the way noticed the ruin of Pitsligo Castle. The castle was built in 1424 by the Fraser family.

Pitsligo Castle

Rosehearty is on the north Scottish coast sitting on the Moray Firth and it was founded by Danes who had been shipwrecked during the 14th century. The remains of Portsligo Castle can be seen from Rosehearty.

Moving further east my next stop is Fraserburgh at the very north east corner of Scotland before I turn south for the descent. When I entered Fraserburgh I was surprised by the size of it and in particular the harbour which was a hive of activity with the largest fishing vessels I have ever seen. To describe them as enormous is an understatement to say the least. It was founded by the Fraser family in 1504 and it became a royal Burgh in 1546. A castle was built over some years at Kinnairds head and was called Fraseburgh castle. There has been a lifeboat here since 1806 and in 1858 the first operational RNLI station was built here to house the lifeboat and crew. I also went to Fraseburgh lighthouse museum and saw the very large foghorn that still is in place at the top of the cliffs at the headland.

Fog Horn Fraserburgh Lighthouse Museum

Leaving Fraseburgh and making that milestone right hand turn I am now travelling south soon to arrive at Inverallochy which is a very quiet and unassuming place with a tourist attraction called Maggie’s Hoose. This is a museum type of place with a typical Fisherman’s cottage and cobbled streets laid out.  As I drove down to the harbour not a great deal stood out until I looked beyond the shore line and a short distance out to sea a large ship lay on its side having struck the rocks and keeled over.

Couldn’t you read the sign Captain?

The next leg of today’s trip takes me to St Colomb where I have to turn inland a little in order to get me to Peterhead. Although the scenery was good and the sea could be seen at intervals along the way I drive down the main A90 to arrive in Peterhead. Like Fraserburgh, Peterhead was completely different to the way I had perceived it and again the harbour was vast, packed with those very large fishing vessels which were being worked on by men dwarfed against the size of the ships. A truly amazing sight to watch; Peterhead is the most easterly point in mainland Scotland and as founded by Fishermen. In 1593 the first harbour was built. The town had its first Lifeboat in 1865 and in 1888 Peterhead prison was built; It was reputed the one of Scotland’s toughest prisons. With the development of the Oil industry, Peterhead saw an extensive development in the 1970’s and a large gas terminal was built in nearby St Fergus.

Peterhead harbour

Moving further south and with the day catching up the match between my location and the time didn’t match well to ensure I could arrive at the caravan site in good time. I next arrive at Cruden Bay about 26 miles north of Aberdeen. Cruden bay was the site of a battle between the Danes and the Scots during the reign of King Malcolm II in 1012. Today the long undisturbed beach was made famous by a Norwegian pilot who used it to land on after the very first flight across the North Sea. No more aircraft land on the beach and it is enjoyed by many families for its golden sands. Bram Stoker of Dracula fame has long associations with the area and his book “Mystery of the Seas” was set in Cruden Bay. There is a story told locally that stoker was inspired by Slains castle to undertake his work on the Dracula story.

Passing through Whinniefold where Bram Stoker would take holidays and in to Collieston before going back on to the main road and arriving at Newburgh. I would have turned off here to visit Carol’s cousin, Duncan and Margaret, but they had to be in Somerset and Essex so I am hoping to meet up with them at some stage during their return journey on Sunday.

My next call and getting much closer to my destination for tonight will be Aberdeen and out to Cove bay just south of the city. Aberdeen of course is most well known as the Granite City or sometimes referred to as the Silver City. Most of the buildings in the city have locally quarried granite in their structure. The city dates back 8000 years and was made a royal Burgh in 1495.Oil is now the main industry of the city and it has one of the busiest heliports in the world.

Statue in Aberdeen

There are so many places on this coast that I could talk about with you but I will quickly mention Stonehouse on the coast road towards Montrose. Stonehouse grew from the Iron age and the old expanded inland and in the 16thcentury maps showed it be called Stonehive. In nearby Donnater castle which is seen from a small road south of Stonehaven and it was used in 1639 to imprison men from the covenanter’s army where many of them died during their imprisonment.

Donnatter Castle

My final coastal call today will be Montrose and feeling the long journey I will return here tomorrow to resume my journey and tell you more about it then. It is as I mentioned earlier a special bank holiday for the Diamond Jubilee and with so many people taking advantage of the extra day there are more taking breaks and using caravan sites. With the limited number of places in this area I go inland to Forfar for tonight’s stay. The site is on the edge of town next to Forfar loch. I arrive here about 1700 (One hour later than I had planned) and was made most welcome. It is a busy site which is looked after to the highest possible standards and the wardens are very proud of the site they manage.  This week sees a large fun fair in town and the sound of the fair and the joy of the people experiencing the modern fair ground rides fill the air with a sense of good fun.

Tomorrow I will start from Montrose and my journey will take me through Arbroath, over the Firth of Tay, past St Andrews and across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh. Finally on to Coldingham near Eyemouth which is north of Berwick on Tweed.

A good day to look forward to and also some great visits and sightseeing on the way.

See you tomorrow


Culloden Moor to Smithy Croft

31 May

Day 49- 31 May 2012.  Distance travelled today is 131 miles

I didn’t much time to tell you a bit more about where I stayed last night. The place is called Culloden Moor and the caravan site lies on the left of the main road about 8 miles from Inverness traveling north east. Inverness is a bustling place, placed comfortably at the meeting of the Moray Firth and Beauly Firth and at the north east of Loch Ness. Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Scottish Highlands. It was one of the prime strongholds of the Picts and in AD 565 it was visited by St Columba. In medieval times the town was regularly raided from the Western isles and usually by the MacDonalds known as “lords of the Isles.  Whilst driving through Inverness yesterday I didn’t see a Macdonalds anywhere!!! In 1921 while Prime Minister, Lloyd George was on Holiday in Gairloch he called an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland. The meeting was held in the Town House in Inverness and was the first Cabinet meeting to be called outside of London.

The other and probably more interesting of places is the Battle of Culloden Moor. The site of this battle is only a mile or two along the road from where I am staying. This battle, I can remember studying at school and it took place in 1745 and was the final battle bringing to an end the Jacobite rising. The Jacobites were conclusively beaten here at Culloden Moor. The battle was apparently over in one hour with the jacobites suffering death and wounded of 1500 to 2000 men, whilst the government forces lost little more than 50. The site here is open to the public to learn of its history and walk the area.

After a restless night I decide to get up early this morning, have an early shower and sit lazily for a while with a hot drink and good breakfast. It gives me a chance also to tidy up and make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything from my shopping trip. Meals for the next three days are all accounted for and nothing more is needed (You see, organized to a tee) the weather this morning is grey, dull and overcast with a heavy mist over the top of the highland hills. Looking out towards the coast it does not offer a day of scenic panoramas at all. Let us hope that as the day unfolds the weather will improve. Whichever way it goes the coast I shall be driving along today has many nooks and crannies to explore in these hidden parts of Scotland for me to go and look at. As in so many of the other hidden places I have seen I never know what I will find unless I go and have a look.

Leaving Culloden Moor my first tour stop today will be Fort George standing on the Moray Firth. The current fort was built in the 18thcentury replacing the original fort built in 1727, following the Jacobite Rising in 1715. The walls are very wide providing the fortifications are constructed with plain stone facing and they are covered in grass along the tops. The construction took over 1000 soldiers and several years to complete. The budget had increased more than threefold to the sum of £200,000 before it was finished. Today it is still an army garrison and as it has never been attacked it remains very much in its original state and is open to the public. It is the only ancient monument in Scotland to be used today for the purpose for which it was built. Fort George is reputed to be the mightiest fortification in Britain, if not in Europe. If George, my grandson, who has a passion for things military is reading this you will be pleased to know that an army fort has the same name as yours.

Scottish Soldiers

Next along the line of coastal places is Burghead that juts out into the Moray Firth at the eastern end of Burghead Bay. The town was built between 1805 and 1809. A large part of a Pictish hill fort was destroyed when the town was built and carved were found depicting Bulls. These are known as the Burghead Bulls.

Sea Birds – Burghead

I pass through Lossiemouth soon after where a large RAF station exists and aircraft and staff from here has supported the work of the Royal International air Tattoo over a number of years. This journey today has been a joy and with the weather improving considerably has made the views and the drive it has given even greater enjoyment.

I stop at Whitehills for some lunch sitting on the harbour.  In 1766 Dr Saunders owned  Blackpots farm and he establishe the Blackpots brick and tile works. The works lasted util 1976 and during that time it had diversified in to making large clay pipes. The tiles originally made here can stil be seen on some houses in the village.

Harbour – No Vacancies

Arriving soon at Banff on the estuary of the river Deveron and on the opposite bank is the town of McDuff. The first castle built at Banff was to repel any Viking Invasion and in a charter dated 1163 it showed that Malcolm IV was living here in the castle. In 1372 King Robert II granted Banff Royal Burgh status and during the 15th century it was one of three prime towns in Scotland exporting Salmon to Europe.

Leaving Banff and McDuff behind, I continue my route close to the coast to arrive at Rosehearty. Here I turn south to arrive within a few miles my stop for tonight at Smithy Croft just off the A98 at Tyrie. Smithy Croft is a small croft lived in by the owners and their daughter’s family. Here they keep a small number of fell Ponies and some chickens as well. The fell Ponies originate from Cumbria. Originally the croft was a Blacksmiths workshop and the original buildings including the house have remained in place.

Smithy Croft – Blacksmiths workshop (Pre 1900)

Tomorrow I shall return to Rosehearty and recommence my journey from where I left off. I will continue then to Fraserburgh and turn south through Peterhead, Cruden Bay, Aberdeen and Montrose where I shall leave the coast once more to get to my night stop in Forfar.

I look forward to writing again tomorrow of another satisfying day in Scotland.



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