Site Review: Derbyshire | Aston Heath Farm CL - by Sandra

Aston Heath Farm is a 5 van Certified Location for the Caravan and Motorhome Club. It also offers bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation. It is located about 1.5 mile off the A50 between Uttoxeter and Derby. Care is required in the last half mile as the road narrows but there are passing places.

dsc_1240The CL has a mixture of level grass pitches with electric hook-ups, and some hard standing, fully serviced pitches, however these are narrow, and awnings are a tight fit. Rubbish and recycling bins are by the entrance to the gate to the field. There is a unisex toilet and shower room, (small charge for use of shower) and is at just before the field gate on your right as you pass the farm buildings. The chemical disposal point is situated outside the toilet/shower room. The field and facilities are well kept and the owners are available and helpful if required.

There are pleasant farm field views to two sides and there is little discernible road noise given its proximity to the A50.

Nearest petrol station is on the A38 towards Lichfield. This site makes an excellent and central base on its own but equally is an excellent overnight stop point. Local attractions include, Sudbury Hall & Museum of Childhood, Kedleston Hall, Calke Abbey, National Memorial Arboretum, National Brewery Centre and Alton Towers, to name but a few.

Site Review: Norfolk | Two Mills Touring Park - by Sandra

Two Mills Touring Park is by North Walsham in Norfolk and is part of the Tranquil Parks scheme. It is an adult only site. This is a site review following a two week stay in June/July 2019.

The site has 81 hardstanding pitches, the majority of which are fully serviced. The site is laid out over 3 tiers on the side of a hill.

66362035_463900541109523_9218410378965286912_nThere are two facilities blocks, the main one situated on the bottom Tier 1 also includes a washing machine and dryer, (additional charges), the only chemical disposal point for the whole site, a dishwashing area, a handwashing laundry room and a separate portacabin wet room and toilet facility for people with disabilities.

The facilities block on Tier 2 comprises male and female showers and toilets only with a small dishwashing room at one side.

Both dishwashing facilities are only available between 9am and 9pm.

Although the showers and toilets are free to use, the showers are of the push button variety and there is an additional charge for use of hairdryers provided in each of the blocks. There is no facility block on Tier 3.

The main reception area comprises an information room and some seating to make use of the free to use Wi-Fi whilst sitting in this area. This room closes at 9pm. There is a very basic shop in the office part of the reception area and papers can be ordered daily. The shop and office close at 5pm each day.

Wi-Fi can be purchased, at additional cost, to be used throughout the site but speeds are low and there is a limit on usage. This service, as it clearly states, is insufficient for downloading and/or streaming of TV programmes and similar.

TV signal is very poor, as stated in the literature. Digiboxes can be hired, at additional daily cost, plus refundable deposit to ensure a good range of TV programmes.

Mobile phone signals, depending upon your provider are generally very poor, with mobile data strength being weak to moderate at best. There is a telephone kiosk on site, situated by the reception area.

Pitches are of mixed layout, Tier 2, with the most expensive tariff require your caravan to be parked on a concrete base, if you require an awning, then that is placed on the gravel part of the pitch to the side. It should be noted that it is not possible to use an annexe with a full-length awning due to the flagstones at the front of the pitch, which make a good sitting out place.64997382_456939691750063_6940257784118116352_n

Tier 1 and 3 comprise fully gravelled pitches but you would be advised to carefully check with the site the dimensions of your outfit including any awning and/or annexe you may wish to use.

The site is situated in a dense wooded area and, as stated in the brochure is tranquil on site. The site, however, does have a very busy road running alongside it and road noise is noticeable. The site entrance does not have a security barrier.

The site and all its facilities are kept in an immaculate state and wardens are friendly and more than willing to help if asked.

There is a good dog walk around the top of the site and is enclosed with seats and dog bins. Dogs must be kept on leads at all time.

There are a wide range of activities and places to visit, eat and enjoy across the whole area. A good starting point is www.visitnorfolk.co.uk

Places visited during the visit included, Felbrigg House; Blickling Hall Estate; Horsey Windpump, (all 3 are National Trust, non-member charges apply). www.nationaltrust.org.uk All 3 venues offer the usual National Trust facilities, of note is the walk around the Lake at Blickling Hall which is wheelchair accessible; Horsey Windpump is a newly restored and opened attraction with onsite café and nearby boat trips onto the Broads, which come highly recommended. www.wildlife-boat-trips.co.uk You will need to book ahead as there are only 12 places on each trip. All attractions are within 15 miles of the site and dependant upon weather can offer a whole day out for each.

Cromer, with its famous crab is about 10 miles away, there is a train from North Walsham to Cromer if you do not wish to take the car. www.thiscromer.co.uk Equally, it is possible to catch a train direct into Norwich itself.

There are also several heritage railways in the vicinity, Bure Valley Narrow Gauge between Wroxham and Aylsham offers you the opportunity to visit Wroxham and the Broads at the same time. Another railway is the Holt to Sheringham Steam Railway, about 22 miles from the site, this is a full-sized heritage railway.

For beach lovers, there is a whole coastline to explore, much of which is dog friendly, but you do need to check. Mundsley, Winterton on Sea, Cromer are near the site.

There is a restaurant, Scarborough Hotel which is 5 minutes’ walk from the site, they do a wide range of food and allow dogs as well.  There are a wide range of takeaways and several pubs in North Walsham itself.


Guest Blog Post | Chester Fairoaks Caravan & Motorhome Club Site Review

This site is located approximately 5 miles from the world famous Roman walled/Medieval shopping rows city of Chester. It is very easy to access from the nearby M53, please see the Site Arrival Video

Site photoThe site is level and has 100 pitches of which 89 are hardstanding. The site is open all year round. Booking ahead is strongly recommended as this site tends to be busy at most times of the year. The Reception block provides the essential basics and has a well-stocked information room of leaflets and points of interest. It is advisable to check with Reception when you visit to see if there are any discounted attraction tickets available at the time. There is a secure dog walking area to the left of the site entrance. On site there are the usual service points and a generous sized toilet block, with dishwashing, laundry and disabled standard facilities. It should be noted that there is no late-night arrival facility at this site. It is open to members and non-members and tent pitches are available. There is a children’s play area available.

It should be noted that due to the proximity of the motorway, some road noise is unavoidable.

Wi-Fi is available on site and is rated as Bronze by the Club. TV reception is noted as good. Mobile telephone signal, dependent upon your provider, has very good coverage.

There is an almost endless list of things to do, whether it is a dry or wet day. For this review, it has been limited to an area of approximately 5 miles from the site.

The nearest supermarket is Sainsbury’s, which includes a petrol station and is sited next door to the McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks Outlet village.P6120004

Transport links are good, although if you are venturing into Chester with a car, it is far better to use the Chester Zoo Park & Ride, which is about 3 miles from the site. Parking in Chester is very limited and highly expensive. It is also possible to walk from the site, about 10 minutes, onto the McArthur Glen Outlet Village and catch either a No1 or X8, (correct at the time of writing) bus into Chester. You need to check that you are at the Chester bound bus stop side. www.stagecoachbus.com

P6120017 (2)For ideas of what to do, where to eat, shop etc, in the city of Chester, the best place to start is www.visitcheshire.com A few places of note are the Roman City Walls, Medieval Shopping Rows, Chester City Cathedral, Roman Amphitheatre, River Dee and the oldest racecourse in the country at Chester Roodee.

Nearer to the site are several pubs/restaurants, all within easy level walking. The nearest is the Rake Pub,  which you pass as you drive to the site turning, this pub does allow dogs. Slightly further on from the site, on the main road, are The Harvester and Old Home Farm, the latter of which offers a carvery. Chester-Zoo-March-2018-1

There are also numerous fast food, cafes and restaurants within the Cheshire Oaks, Outlet Village and are all within walking distance of the site.

World-famous Chester Zoo is close by the site and adjacent to the Park & Ride mentioned earlier. You should allow at least a full day to get around all that the attraction has to offer.

For those people who enjoy shopping, you are very well catered for with the McArthur Glen Outlet Village.

Again, due to parking constraints and if it is a bank holiday, very lengthy queues are routine; it is highly advisable that you walk there. Dogs are allowed on leads to walk round the site and sit in the many outside catering areas but are not allowed in the shops or restaurants.

For good family fun, the nearby Blue Planet Aquarium offers a range of activities, based around marine life and the oceans.

Further on from the Blue Planet Aquarium, past Marks & Spencer is the Coliseum Shopping & Entertainment Area. This includes the multi-screen Vue Cinema, Ten-Pin Bowling and Crazy Golf.

There is a public swimming pool available nearby Marks & Spencer’s at the Ellesmere Port Sports Village.

Slightly further afield is the Ellesmere Port Waterways Museum, a museum, café/shop and you are able on certain days to take a ride on a canal boat. There is ample free parking right by the Manchester Ship Canal and if you are lucky, you may see a ship sail past. You will need to check as to whether dogs are allowed as it can vary. It is recommended that you take binoculars as you will have a good view to the skyline of Liverpool and across the water to John Lennon, Liverpool Airport. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

For those who enjoy walking and or cycling, there are a good number of walks and cycle routes nearby, including the possibility of walking along the canal to the museum.

Slightly further afield is the City of Liverpool and all its attractions. This will be covered in more detail in the Wirral Caravan and Motorhome Club Site review due out in the next few months.

Guest Blog Post | Twittercamp First timer

Since joining the Twitter caravanning community, probably nearing 2 years ago now, I had often heard of this thing euphemistically called ‘Twittercamp’. My curiosity was certainly piqued but in the early days caution made me watch from afar. By the early summer of 2018, I felt confident and safe enough to consider, at the very least, calling in on one of these events, if it was within hailing distance to see what it was all about. Then, of course, there was the tragedy of Trevor, Richard’s husband sudden death and it seemed that my opportunity had passed. I quite understood that there might not be another one as Trevor, along with Richard, had had a major role in organising these events.

By later 2018, posts started to appear suggesting that another Twittercamp would be held in 2019, to be held in honour of Trevor’s memory and to fundraise for Papworth Hospital as Trevor had been the recipient of life saving surgery there some years ago. I was really pleased that I might get, at least one, chance to sample this event and see what was going on, the excited chatter amongst the group reassured me that I would have a special experience.

We move forward now to the end of May 2019 and, amongst great expectation and, if truth be told, not a little apprehension, I set off to Moreton in Marsh for a long weekend of events at Twittercamp for Trevor, as it had become known.

I arrived after a very good journey down and set up at a site I had not visited before. If there was a bit of a downside, the site was it. The pitches are narrow, cars must be parked in front of vans, the quality of the pitches were not up to the usual Club standards. But no matter, I was there for much more important matters than a pitch grumble.

I made my way round to meet people, who although I had not met in person yet, I already felt I knew quite well, certainly in relation to the caravanning world. I need not have worried as I was very warmly welcomed and made to feel totally at ease.

We had a quiet day or so before the main event started but those who had already arrived got together for a chat over drinks and nibbles on the Friday evening. Even though we were not at full strength, it was quite an impressive sight to see all the vans, cars and then at the bottom of the cul de sac, a not inconsiderable gathering of chairs and people sat in an ever-growing circle. People were very friendly, and conversation flowed easily. We all agreed to meet the following morning for an outdoor breakfast of croissants, rolls, meat and cheese, along with copious amounts of juice, tea and coffee. It, for me, set the tone of the rest of the long weekend, one of friendly camaraderie and everyone mucking in to help.

By lunchtime, pretty much everyone who was to attend had arrived, including my good friend Richard who was, de facto, guest of honour. The afternoon consisted of games, drinks and conversation. It was surprising how quickly the hours flew by and even dogs got to play and meet new friends, some more successfully than others. I have to say my two did well, given the large number of people and other dogs on their first event.

That evening, with the weather being very kind to us all, started with a BBQ, a local butcher must have thought his Christmas had arrived early, given the very large order for beef burgers which landed on his door earlier that morning. It is to their credit that they managed to fulfil the order with some very delicious burgers to be eaten. The organising the team even provided salad and piping hot new potatoes, all of which were delicious.

The next event was a fun and very competitive pop quiz. Teams quickly formed and the entrance fees collected. The next couple of hours passed in friendly rivalry and much laughter. Sadly, the team I was on did not win but we had a great time, nonetheless. We spent the final couple of hours that evening chatting over drinks and nibbles.

Sunday morning, I awoke to another dry morning and made my way for, yet another delicious breakfast made on Cadac’s galore, I had to smile that there was no small amount of good-natured competition between the chefs as to the production of cooked goods for our consumption.

The afternoon was a quiet time, to catch up with the inevitable caravanning chores and a bit of sleep too!

I had booked on to the Sunday evening meal at the Swan pub close by the site. The organisers were also going to hold the raffle after the meal. We all arrived and just about fitted in the event room at the rear. We all had the choice of three types of carvery which was delicious. Again, everyone was friendly, and a lovely atmosphere was at play. Following the meal, was time for the raffle, probably one of the biggest I have ever seen. People had been so generous, in honour of Trevor’s memory. I was pleased to win a box of chocolates, always a good prize to get I feel. It was then time to return to the site and move all our chairs again to the head of the cul de sac and to end the evening with yet more drinks, nibbles and good humour.

Monday morning came around far too quickly, as I had to leave due to commitments which I could not change. We met for one final breakfast, time to say goodbyes and with a heavy heart I took my leave. A straightforward easy journey home completed the most delightful long weekend in memory of an amazing person. I thank all the organisers and each and everyone who attended for making my bank holiday a truly memorable occasion. I hope one day, soon, to meet you all again, so a final thank you and best wishes for a fabulous summer of caravanning.


Guest Blog Post | Penrhos & Cae Mawr CAMC sites review

Due to the proximity of both sites, we are offering you two site reviews and a joint section of additional information to help you make the most of your visit to the island of Ynys Mon - or Anglesey if you prefer.

It is the early Bank Holiday, May 2019. The first part of the review is for Penrhos Caravan & Motorhome Club site on the island of Yns Mon, near to the seaside village of Benllech.

The site, sited off the B5110, is spread over three distinct areas and has 92 pitches, 75 of which are hardstanding and 8 are serviced pitches. Click HERE for site map. The site is open from March to early October each year.

The site has one centrally located toilet block servicing the whole site, which is key operated and includes the usual facilities including a fully accessible toilet and shower room, reached via the use of a Radar© Key. There is also a designated disabled pitch next to this facility. There are a number of waste, clean water and rubbish disposal points throughout the site. The Motorhome service point is behind Reception.

The Reception sells pre-ordered newspapers, essential food supplies and a good range of caravan supplies. There is an information room to one side.

Arrival time is strictly 1pm. This is due to the access lane being single width with no passing places.

The site is quiet, being set well back from the road and despite being pretty full, the site was always quiet during the weekend. There is a children’s play area at the top of the site and a secure large dog walk field by the entrance with a much-appreciated bench on which to sit.

This part of the review features the Cae Mawr Caravan & Motorhome Club site.

Although we did not stay at this site on this occasion, we have regularly stayed here over several years. This is a smaller site, about 1.5 miles from Penrhos on the same road. This site does not have a toilet block. Reception provides the usual facilities including the option to order a daily newspaper if required. The site is over two areas, the top half being mainly grass only pitches, the lower half is predominantly hard standing. Check out the site map HERE. 

There are several water, waste and chemical disposal points throughout the site. The motorhome point is in the lower field.

The site is also situated off the B5110 and it should be noted that the access lane to this site is also quite narrow and care needs to be taken when nearing the site entrance. If in doubt about your van or motorhome, you are advised to ring the site directly to check. We have seen American style/size RV’s on site on several occasions.

The site is spread over three distinct areas and has 73 pitches, 41 of which are hardstanding and is open from March to early October each year.

The site is nearer the road, but traffic noise is minimal.

There is no designated children’s play area or dog walk on site, however, there is a pathway which runs adjacent to the top of the site, by the entrance which allows you to let your dogs have a little run.

Benllech village is the nearest place to both sites, about 3 miles away. There is a Tesco Express and Co-Op, cash tills and a very wide range of fast food takeaways. This is also the nearest beach. Car parking is very limited and there is a charge during main season. Dogs are not allowed on this beach during main season too but there is a list in the Information Rooms of up to date beaches which allow dogs.

A Site Arrival video for both sites can be found HERE

In terms of places to visit whilst on the island, the list is almost endless. The best starting point would be www.visitanglesey.co.uk

A couple of places which we visited on this trip were Rhosneigr, good surfing and kite surfing area with a small range of shops and restaurants. Dogs are allowed on this beach. https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/north-wales/anglesey/rhosneigr.htm

For a fabulous place for Sunday lunch or, for any day of the week for that matter, we would recommend Sea Shanty Café in Trearddur Bay.

 

It is totally dog friendly, both inside and out. There are usually a lot of dogs at the restaurant, but we have never seen any problems. A bit of a drive but worth it for the food. Just one piece of advice, book ahead in good time.

In addition to these places we visited on this occasion, here are some more venues we have seen over our visits.

For those of you who are cyclists, National Cycle Network Route 5 runs close to both sites.

The nearest swimming pool is in Llangefni which also holds a small open-air market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

History lovers will find many places of interest throughout the island, one of the nearest to the site is Beaumaris Castle, situated on the south east of the island. It is quoted as being, “the most technically perfect castle in Britain has few equals”. The castle is dog friendly, with the usual caveats.

www.cadw.gov.wales/daysout/beaumaris-castle

The adjacent village of Beaumaris is worth a visit too and there are a good number of fish and chip shop on the high street. In high season, boat trips are available to sail down the Menai Straits, dependent upon the weather and tides. Visits can also be made to the nearby Puffin Island which is a nature reserve. www.seacoastsafaris.co.uk

By complete contrast and one for all adrenaline fans is the Anglesey Circuit, can be added to a trip to Rhosneigr. There are a wide range of races and events throughout the year. Please note dogs are not allowed anywhere on the site and cannot be left in vehicles at all.

Both sites offer a very different caravanning experience, depending on your preferences. There is always something to do on the island, whether it is raining or not.

Guest Blog Post | Troutbeck Head CAMC Site Review

This review is for the Troutbeck Head Caravan & Motorhome Club site and is based on a visit during Easter 2019, the site and amenity blocks were extensively refurbished in 2019. As with any review of sites in the Lake District its nearby attractions and amenities, there is an almost limitless choice. I have chosen a few options which are relatively close to this site.

The site is based close to both Ullswater, Keswick and Derwentwater. It is easily accessed from the M6 and A66.

The site is split into two areas, one to the right of Reception is for non-serviced pitches, the area to the left is exclusively serviced pitches on two tiers.

The site has 156 pitches, 148 of which are hardstanding and is open from March to early January each year. Arrival is from 12 noon and non-members are welcome but there are no tent pitches.

The site has two toilet blocks, one with family room and laundry, the other has a disabled access room.

There is an information room which also has some pool tables and children’s games. There is also a children’s play area adjacent.

Please note that there is no official Club Wi-Fi currently available on site and 4G services are very limited.

TV reception is good and is via a bollard signal booster. You need to bring your cable with you.

There is a small, unfenced, dedicated dog walking area alongside the entrance to the site and there is also a walk from the top of the site which exits out on to Matterdale Forest road and can be part of a longer circular walk. Dogs must be kept on leads at all times due to the presence of livestock.

A fish and chip van, which is very popular, calls twice a week in an evening.

The usual CAMHC services are available and a small shop selling essential provisions and gas refills is in Reception. There is also a late-night arrivals area. Entrance to the site is via barrier key fob.

There is a bus stop, on the A66, about 1.5-mile walk, (where you turn left to drive towards the site).

Rookin House Activity Centre is next door offering a whole range of outdoor experiences including quad bikes, clay pigeon shooting etc.

Next nearest is Aria Force,  car park (charge to non NT members), information room and café. The walk takes about half an hour on clearly marked paths. Please note that on weekends and bank holidays the car park can get very busy. A relatively new steamer stop has opened here and there is a signposted walk from there into Pooley Bridge, about 7 miles. There is also a car park at the top of the falls, which is on the A5091 and which you pass driving from the site.

Pooley Bridge, with its shops, pubs, post office and stopping off point for Ullswater Steamers is about 20 minutes’ drive from the site.

At the other end of Ullswater is Glenridding,  base of Ullswater Steamers  and home to two huge hotels, Inn on the Lake and the Best Western. The latter accepts dogs, at the time of writing, in its bar/restaurant area and has excellent Wi-Fi service. A local grocer and Catsycam shop are also located there.

Slightly further afield is Keswick which has a wide range of outdoor and mountaineering shops, plus the usual range of market town shops and banks. Booths Supermarket is probably the biggest in the area. The Theatre on the Lake also produces a wide range of shows and productions throughout the season. Boat rides are available from by the lakeside. Car parking is available but at a cost. Keswick is probably one of the most dog friendly places you could ever wish to visit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keswick,_Cumbria

Some views of the town’s main street and the well known Old Keswickman fish and chip shop.

Rheged Centre,  which you pass when leaving the M6 is a Discovery Centre. There are a regular range of activities aimed at families and young children and is a good wet day spot to visit.

Penrith is the nearest large town and has the full range of services, including the mainline rail service from London to Scotland.

For a slightly longer day trip, you might want to consider a visit to Gretna Green, the world famous place where you have been able to get married over the anvil for hundreds of years. The site is split over two main areas, plus several hotels in the area. The first area you will encounter after leaving the M6/M74 will be the Outlet Village, free parking, you can easily spend a couple of hours there, cafes and a good variety of shops.

Dogs are allowed in the open air mall and seating is provided.

A couple of miles further on is the main Gretna Green visitor attraction area. Here is where the anvil room is located, we were unable to visit this on the day as there were weddings taking place. There is a café/restaurant/specialist food shop plus a historical room and a tourist shop selling whiskey, keepsakes and even your very own kilt, sporran and jacket!

Easter 2019 was blessed with uncharacteristic excellent weather, the site is just as good a place to kick back, relax and enjoy some peace, quiet and fresh air.

Easter 2019 | Scotland Photos

Right, confession time! This wasn’t a caravan trip. I wasn’t going to drag Patsy nearly 500 miles for three nights not least because over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few BA Avios points. Also my dear caravanning friends Allison & Amanda said I could stay with them at their home near Falkirk. And what a great long weekend we had too. I’ll spare you the waffle usually associated with my blog posts but wanted to share some of the photos from the trip. I didn’t take my DSLR - something I soon regretted - but used my old Olympus compact instead. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them and perhaps be inspired to visit this lovely part of the country sometime.

The Falkirk Wheel

The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway and Scotland Railway Museum

Steamboat cruise on Loch Katrine

Little Druim Woods & Lock Venachar

The Kelpies