A stop off in Surrey

Tuesday, and time to head south again. Wary of the sloping corner at the site entrance I jumped out and Trev took it really slowly out into the road and Patsy emerged unscathed. We took an alternative route out, bypassing the worst of the narrow roads and hairpin bends, heading south on the A515, through Ashbourne then turning onto the A50 near Uttoxeter, then swapping over driving duties, just before the M1 where we remained for most of the journey. We’d wanted to stop for a snack but from previous experience knew that caravanners were not wanted at Newport Pagnell services as there was no obvious parking offered. Sadly, the same turned out to be true at Toddington Services - there were no signs indicating parking for caravans that we could see and we didn’t want to risk the attentions of some over zealous parking attendant.

In the end we continued all the way to the site - only about 12 minutes from the M25. The Camping & Caravan Club site is located in East Horsley in Surrey, south to south west of London, a little way from the A3 and was easy to find. It’s very pretty as you enter, with a fishing lake right in front of you. Sadly our pitch was in a different area  but it’s an attractive if un-manicured site.

Check out our site arrival video on You Tube HERE

After setting up we had a brief scout around and the smell of money was overwhelming. We’re talking huge properties, gated drives and private roads - although clearly very little of that all that money goes on fixing the public highways. It is certainly an attractive area though and a nice area to live - if you can afford it. Purely for research purposes, we called into a local hostelry where I was delighted to find a local brew - which tasted damn nice too, although if we needed a reminder that we were back down south, the price of a pint gave it unequivocally. Ouch!

A peruse of the local property rag was an eye opener too. Plenty of piles in excess of seven figures and not one single dwelling anywhere near to our price range without the millstone of a massive mortgage. How ‘ordinary people’ afford to live here I have no idea. Not that we’re thinking of moving.

Wednesday saw us in Guildford, just twenty minutes or so away down the A3 and we were given another reminder of our location by the volume of traffic – something that had been mercifully lacking for the majority of our time further north.

In fact we had toyed with the idea of getting the train – it was only one stop along the line from East Horsley and would have saved the inevitable trawl around for a parking space – but we wanted the flexibility of the car in case we didn’t hang around Guildford for long.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high expectations, thinking this would be just another commuter town, but was pleasantly surprised. In amongst the migraine inducing road network is a great shopping area with a lovely cobbled high street. Not as lovely as it could have been as work was underway to replace every single stone. A time consuming and painstaking job, but it will look terrific when done.



There was a great range of shops – independents mingling with the usual chain store – and that was just as well as the heavens opened at irregular intervals. There looked to be a lovely riverside walk too, but conscious that time was marching on, we passed.


Next cab off the rank was Aldershot. We'd both been here before – many moons ago – in 1990 to be exact, when the mighty er, Cambridge United F.C. played Aldershot F.C on the last day of the season in what was then, League Division Four.

Cambridge needed a win to secure a play-off spot in the hope of securing a place in Division Three. Aldershot were struggling both on the pitch and financially – in fact they were in serious difficulty. Cambridge won and went on to win at Wembley on a fantastic day for the club, gaining promotion to the then Division Three. Aldershot’s woes continued and a rocky couple of years saw them wound up in 1992, the first club since Accrington Stanley in 1962 to resign from the Football League.

The club was reborn by supporters, when Aldershot Town was formed, initially playing five tiers below the original club and eventually progressing to the new League Two (originally Division Four), although though they have since slipped back a little.  How great that the supporters cared enough about their town and their football to form a new club. I love stories like this – it show’s football is not all about the razzmatazz of cash soaked premier league and it’s overpaid prima donnas.

Anyway, I digress. Again. After Guildford, Aldershot was a bit of a shock. It was quiet – even the traffic was lighter – and plenty of empty shops suggested hard times. It looked and felt a bit run down. Very sad. We decided not to linger and turn tail.

Whilst we’d gone around Will’s mothers and Fanny’s Aunt to get to Aldershot, we took the main road back – the A31, and were rewarded with some cracking views over the North Downs with the skyscrapers of the city of London in the distance. Also, this side of Guildford was it’s Cathedral. We had noticed the signs for it on the way in earlier on, but then forgotten about it. We went to have a look.


Old it ain’t – as you can see - not as Cathedrals go anyway. It was consecrated in 1961 and is, I believe, Britain's newest. It sits on Stag Hill, high above the city and was built with bricks made from clay taking from the very spot it now stands. Completion was made possible – after a minor interruption also know as the Second World War – when 200,000 bricks were offered for ‘sale’ across the diocese. We were also told that every single brick used in the construction was made by just one man too. Impressive stuff.


There was a large restoration project ongoing, so some parts were closed off, and it’s perhaps not as architecturally as stunning as older Cathedrals, but nevertheless it’s still well worth a visit.


The evening saw us in another local hostelry, as we celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a delicious meal of erm, burger and chips. Fancy it weren't but having been together over 25 years, we know what we like – and like it we did.

Thursday was to be our last full day away, and the weather done it’s best to spoil it. We had a run east, to Dorking which, on a nice day would have been a pleasant trip to a nice old market town. We spent most of the time in a café waiting for the rain to stop. Which it didn’t!

So, in sightseeing terms, that was that. Another great trip, and more of our great country visited for the first time and the good folk of North Yorkshire, The Peak District and Surrey blessed with the presence of the Blogger in Black and his Portly Partner. Although slightly less portly these days it has to be said.

A long run now through to half-term when we’ll be dragging Patsy along to Hampshire for the week. So until then – Get Your Legs Down!


A Diary from the Dales - Part 5

And indeed the last part too, as our time in the Dales - first Yorkshire, then Derbyshire has come to an end. We’re now just an hour or so from home - Patsy’s home anyway - in East Horsley, not too far from Guildford until the weekend.

Saturday saw us meet up with some friends from just south of Sheffield for lunch and a mighty good chinwag. There was a lot of catching up to do and Trev’s jaw of course got a thorough work out, but the rest of us did manage to get a word or two in as well. After a coffee at the ‘van we headed to - you guessed it - a pub to replenish our reserves - depleted from all that jawing. The Royal Oak in Hurdlow - about 15 minutes drive from the site - was  the destination and being a Saturday lunchtime it was quite busy but they squeezed us in and boy, are we glad they did. We all had something different and all agreed it was stunning. Good honest pub grub well presented and in sensible sized portions - i.e. big enough! Add to that a selection of real ales and great company and it was an extremely enjoyable couple of hours or so.

We went our separate ways mid afternoon, us with an invitation to visit Peter & Pam for Sunday lunch the following day. A nice home cooked roast? Of course we accepted.

With lunch set for 2pm Sunday we took the opportunity to have a bit of a drive around in the morning and so headed south, stopping first at Ashbourne for a cuppa. The café was extremely busy, occupied mainly by middle aged men clad either in lycra or leather. No it wasn’t the tail end of some fetish party but clearly a popular stopping off point for the Sunday morning two wheeled crowd. Given the attire on view I still managed to get a few looks…

We headed north and east next, stopping briefly at Carsington Water reservoir. Lot’s to do here and it looked like a great place for families. It was clearly worth more time than we had - so, another place for a future visit.

Further up, just after joining the A6 was Matlock Bath, squeezed in between the river and steep hills, this too was extremely busy, clearly a favourite stopping off point for the two wheeled crowd - the ones with engines anyway. This also went down on the ‘must come back to’ list.

We turned off the A6 to avoid going through Bakewell again, instead passing the beautiful Chatsworth estate before joining the Sheffield road and arriving at our friends a little after 1pm.

Lunch was, as expected, delicious - Pam is a damn fine cook - and there was, thankfully enough apple pie for a second helping. We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

By complete coincidence - honest(?) the time of our departure meant we happened upon the Pack Horse Inn at around six pm - when they reopened for the evening trade. We had wanted to go back for another pint at least and with them being closed Monday and Tuesday this would be our last chance. Again, a friendly welcome and four new ales to try too. I only had two but they were excellent - this pub had a really friendly atmosphere and we will most certainly return.

Monday, and our last full day in the Dales. We had pondered getting the bus into Derby but with changeable weather again forecast we decided to stay relatively local and return to have a look at Matlock Bath and it’s neighbour Matlock. It’s certainly pretty and you can see why it’s popular.



While there is one main road through, there is a pleasant walk along the river to be had on one side, or if you need to fill your belly and empty your wallet cross over. A plethora of chippy’s and a few amusement arcades make you wonder if you’re at the seaside. Narrow steep roads climb the hillside behind.


A big draw here is the Heights of Abraham - a country park and caverns accessed by a cable car that takes you up from near the railway station. The views from the cable car alone I’m sure would have been fantastic, but with it being a bit misty we decided to leave it for another time. There were regular trains into Derby from the station too which was noted for future reference.


We had a brief wander around Matlock too - less touristy and more functional - before heading back to the site.

We had a good stay at Longnor Wood Holiday Park. The site is lovely - great facilities and a great location. It’s under the Tranquil Parks umbrella and so is adults only. The site is a relaxed place and there is no list of rules, you are just expected to use your common sense. Our pitch was fully serviced including a TV point - reception on the ‘van aerial was poor at times, so If you have an aerial cable, bring it. There was no mobile phone signal on either Vodafone or Three, and the mobile Wi-Fi dongle, with an 02 SIM card reported zilch also. There is site Wi-Fi and a weeks package will cost a tenner. There is no limit to the number of devices but data is capped at 2 gb. We got through that inside three days, so make sure those automatic updates are turned off!


Right, that’s out for now. Just one more part to come. Nearly there!