Hi to you all,
We have been “home” since 10th August 2018 when we came back from our European Tour we have been very busy visiting family and friends up and down the country from Chesham, Oxford, Doncaster and Liverpool, old friends in Prestatyn and new friends in Manchester whom we met in Croatia, we didn’t manage to see everyone this time so if we missed anyone we’ll see you all on our return.
In this short period of time at home we have been living in Pogo on Caravan and Camping club campsites which were both working farms at Rivington and Jumbles Country Park and staying at our daughters’ house at weekends helping our son-in-law with house improvements ready for their baby which is due in the New Year, after all that we need a rest so off we go, the road is calling!
One of our regrets on the European Tour was not taking any bicycles, well this time we have borrowed two, thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, many thanks to Jonathan and Roisin who have just had their old bikes serviced, good timing for us don’t you think!.
The drive to Glencaple, Dumfries was leisurely with good weather and we always enjoy the views of the lakes that start about 15 miles from Tebay Services on the M6 north, the hills always look fantastic no matter what the weather, it only takes us 2.5 hrs to get to the free spot by the River Nith about 3 miles south of Dumfries town. The local council have improved the place since we last came and it looks good, with designated motor home parking spaces, right by the river. After our meal in the pub we start our new game challenge, a running total of Yahztee wins, we have another league for Scrabble and after 30 years I am miles behind Cathy whose wins outrank mine at 3:1! I might do better at Yahtzee.
The next morning, we leave for Cairnryan ferry near Stranraer, it’s raining and not so good, it was only 80 miles or so from Glencaple, en-route I stopped at a chemist to buy a packet of Stugeron sea sickness tablets for Cathy. We found a place to sleep overnight but we felt there might be a better spot nearer to Stranraer, it was just a lay by but overlooking Loch Ryan, the weather was awful during the afternoon, and then the wind started!! Oh my, Cathy was not relaxed at all, she’s worried about the ferry, the cycle rack cover although secured properly was flapping around making it all sound worse in my opinion. Another round of Yahztee, and Cathy is in the lead now by one win so it’s all still to play for on this trip. Pogo was swaying in the wind which hit us from straight across the water of Loch Ryan, the rain was loud on the roof. We had to be at the ferry port for last checking in at 3.15am just 8kms away, early bedtime but sleeping was not so easy, the weather and me worrying that the alarm might not go off made for a restless night and Cathy saying she might not get on the ferry if the weather continues to be this bad.
Up at 2.00am, kettle on, I’m making tea for Cathy and a flask and butties for the ferry and Cathy says she might not go now, the weather sounds terrible outside, she feels sick already. I check the Stena website and all the sailings are normal!
I tried to reassure her, but I think I failed. We left and soon got in the queue at the Stena ferry terminal with many, many lorries. Soon we were waved forwards down on to the bottom level and literally we were directed to the bow doors at the other end, just us facing the sea doors! Well that was it, Cathy’s anxiety levels increase as she recalls the Zebrugge ferry disaster in 1987 when the bow doors were left open on MS Herald of Free Enterprise.
We quickly grabbed our rucksack, coats etc and made our way up the stairs to one of the lounges, finding a quiet spot which wasn’t difficult as there weren’t many people about at all. I consumed some jam butties with tea at silly o’clock as we sat and waited to land at Belfast. The ferry was very clean and spacious with free wi-fi. 2¼ hrs later the tannoy informed us to go down to our vehicles, as we sat there waiting for the huge doors to open I put the town of Carrickfergus in to the Sat Nav, about 20 mins away on the A2 north towards Larne, we selected this place from the Facebook Group Total Motorhome Ireland (Cathy joined this closed group about 6 weeks ago) as it was a short drive from the port, somewhere we could rest and decide what to do next, after all it only 6am right now!
We found the large car park easy enough, it has designated motorhome parking and a service point, it was deserted, no height barriers and its free too, well done to the local council. We climbed into bed for a much-needed rest and sleep. Woke about 10.30am to a packed car park! Some classic cars were parked nearby attracting some attention.
I got chatting to one of the owners and they are on a club rally travelling in Northern Ireland for 5 days, there were Bentleys, Lagonda’s and Delage’s, which are not seen very often.
Kettle’s on again for a tea and toast and soon we are exploring Carrickfergus in the dry sunny weather. It was founded in 1177 and is a very neat, clean, tidy and pleasant town, lots of colourful flowers, shrubs and recently cut grass, a large wide promenade along the water’s edge, nothing looks shabby or old, there is definitely an air of pride here.
The castle was built also in 1177, Edward Bruce, brother of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland led a Scottish army and put the castle under siege, eventually taking from its Anglo-Norman defenders in 1316.
There are historic monuments dotted around plus some new modern art sculptures, a war memorial for all those who have been lost in the wars are remembered here.
There is a Churchill Mk VII Tank on the grass verge of the main road all against the back drop of the castle. The tank weighs 40 tons, has a top speed of 12.5 mph, a 22 litre engine, two large petrol tanks holding a combined 150 gallons and does only a half a mile to the gallon in favourable conditions!
Back to Pogo for lunch and we decide to head off northwards on the Causeway Coastal road towards Larne and Ballycastle. The drive and the views were a real surprise to us, the scenery was beautiful we didn’t know what to expect of the Antrim coast it was a great little trip along the coast in the late afternoon sun.
We were feeling a little tired, so we stopped at the harbour masters hut at Glenarm as we had heard there was a water tap here, it is a great little spot ,we don’t think we’ll be bothering anyone here, so we decided to stay the night.
2 miles walked.
Wild Camping Glencaple, Dumfries, GPS N55.00267,W003.57438
Wild Camping Cairnryan, near Stranraer for the ferry, GPS N54.92139, W004.99067
Wild Camping Carrickfergus, Belfast, free car park GPS N54.71293,W005.80826
Wild Camping Glenarm, Co Antrim, GPS N54.96880,W005.95306 Glenarm and the water tap behind a large rock is GPS N54.96875,W005.95101
Stena Line ferry website return crossing costs us £213.00 from Cairnryan to Belfast, it’s cheaper to sail in the early hours between Tuesday and Thursday.
Stugeron sea sickness tablets @ £3.69