Category Archives: 2020

North Yorkshire

As with many things of late, none of our planning had been done in advance largely due to the uncertainty with Covid. So the general area of interest around Whitby only started to be investigated the Sunday before we were set to leave on the Tuesday.

We used an app called ‘Park for a Night’ to flesh out a few campsites and wild camping areas in and around the Yorkshire moors, and it’s coastline. We had paid for the professional version of the app and at £8 yearly, it seemed to be worth it.

After working a full day on Tuesday, we left for the first location at 5 PM. At approximately 7.30pm and with no real traffic to contend with we approached our first camping spot . It was a steep climb and we had to drop to first gear for best part of half a mile .The moorland was green, but peppered with an abundance of purple flowers from the heather. Well worth the stress of thinking he wouldn’t make it up the hill.

Very steep for such a large van. Still, he did well 🙂

We arrived at Danby Beacon. an old radar station, high in the moors with 360 views across amazing countryside as far as the coast. The first leg of the journey was complete.

We both had an early night, but were awoken by what we both thought was somebody trying to get into the van. I jumped from the top bunk and slid the side door open, convinced I would be confronted by youths or hooded criminals. How far could I have been from the reality.

Two black faced horned sheep were semi startled when I slid open the door. Not too much I would hasten to add. Just a couple of quick steps away, then a glance round to see what had rudely interrupted their grassy feast. They were obviously used to humans, but as a human I wasn’t used to the horns of sheep scraping against the side of my van early morning.

Over the period of an hour or so Mandy and I had a coffee, shower and decided to have breakfast at the next location, which would be another Park for a Night freebie….Staiths.

The app has an “itinerary”, which basically uses Google Maps to take you directly to the location others have suggested as a place to stay. We arrived without issue in a small car park with very unremarkable views.

However, after breakfast we began to explore we realised that the real gem was hidden in a beautiful harbor cove which sat at sea level a steep walk from our parking spot. Wow.

After a few hours we had a look round, and coffee and an ice cream. We made our way back to the van and both agreed we would move on further north to a place called Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It only took half an hour, and we managed to park on a road called Marine Parade with amazing views of the beach.

Even better we were next to a small well tended garden, so our was a double whammy.

Again, this was found using the camping app, and it seemed too good to be true. Free parking overnight. We were obviously apprehensive at first, but there were no meters or signs regarding limited parking, and there were a fair few campervans dotted around. This was mid afternoon, and it was a little overcast, so we just had a wander around the town. The walk down to the beach was a steep one, so we decided to leave that for the following day. The sunset that evening was epic.

We both slept pretty well. The road wasn’t busy in the evening, the lights along the street didn’t cause any problems during the dark, and what’s more surprising is we weren’t woken up by the din of seagulls, which were really expected being so close to the Sea.

The following day we started the day with coffee, and cereal follows by a warm shower once the boiler had gotten up to temperature. We then set off for the beach down the long path. From there we walked to the pier, chilled for half an hour, then headed round to the Ship Inn.

Mandy and I always joked about the amount of pubs called the Ship Inn on the coast. Almost like the land lords couldn’t be bothered to think of something more creative. I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation.

At just before midday, we had to wait outside the car park in a small que to be offered into the outdoor seating area. This was our first served meal since before ‘lockdown’, so our first real experience of being hosted with the stringent restrictions that the Covid virus had forced upon the hospitality industry.

To be fair, it was a bit odd being handed a disposable menu from a waitress wearing latex gloves and a visor, but the meal of fish, chips and mushy peas was exceptional. Washed down by Old Mout cider, in the warm sunshine next to the sea, it was one of those moments that we just thought life doesn’t get better! Then we took a meander along the beach before heading up to our campervan.

We stayed a second night at Saltburn, the sunset was equally as epic, and the evening was quite, so we both slept well. We agreed that this place was pretty close to perfect as far as camping on a budget is concerned! Stunning seaside views, handy shops, nice pub serving great food. And no parking fees….. !

After, a coffee and a shower we decided to depart for Whitby just before 9am. We only had half an hours drive, but we weren’t sure how busy it got, so didn’t want to find ourselves having to park too far away from the main attractions as we only planned for a couple of hours browsing.

We parked in the quayside and there turned out to be plenty of spaces so there was no real need to rush. We had breakfast in the van and started our own tour of the popular areas. We had a coffee in Sherlock’s Coffee Shop which was amazing and far from the usual cafe, and cheaper restaurant options.

From this point I would say that mind’s eye perception of Whitby as a place to visit was one of commercialization, and not particularly the thing that ticked a box for me as a seasoned traveler. That said, I must confess, it was quite nice. I wouldn’t rush to go back there again (the last time we went was the week before the the Tour de France started in Yorkshire)! So based on that, once every six years seems to be the acceptable duration.

Our next camp over was at a campsite called Chester Villas in Thornton Dale, Pickering . We struggled to find the site at first but used the what3words app to get there in the end by putting in january.treaty.travels . The campsite was basic, but offered a separate price for EHU (£15) or just a pitch (£12). This suited us perfectly as all we needed was to empty the toilet and fill up the water tank.

The electric pitches were near the farm building just off the road. The none electric pitches at the far end of the field near a stream. Suffice to say it was really idyllic and peaceful. The couple looking after the campsite were really friendly and lived in their campervan. Usually they travelled to the continent to look after campsites abroad during the summer season. However, due to COVID they couldn’t do that this year, so were helping a friend out in the UK at Chester Villas. So the following morning we sorted the van out and waved goodby to our hosts.

We had a brief stop at Thornton by Dale village, but due to the inclement weather we just had a coffee and headed off to Filey which was only a 40 minute drive away. During which time the weather took a turn for the better and the rain cleared.

We parked at a council car park on the top of the hill with great views of the coastline and had a walk down to the seafront after a bite to eat. On the Park 4 a Night app it gave us the impression we could camp there overnight if we paid the £9 for 24 hour parking.

However, later on that afternoon we were approached by a security guard who said we would be ticketed if we stayed. Another couple that were camping close to us in a VW T25 came over to see what the issue was. They were steadfast in their resolve to camp overnight with the same argument we had that you shouldn’t be able to pay for 24 hour parking if you can’t stay for that duration. also the signage wasn’t as obvious stating no camping. The security guard said that the people camping on the campsite close to the carpark had complained that they were paying a lot more and it was unfair that we were paying less. We both got up in the morning with a parking ticket, which we decided to appeal with Scarborough Borough Council. Watch this space.

Once we had gotten over the excitement of getting a ticket we decided to have a wander into the town centre. The weather was glorious and we were both in high spirits. We walked down to the beach and found a nice restaurant called Downcliff House. Cafe Del Mar was playing in the background and it really felt like we were abroad. Even though it was just before midday i decided to have a pint of beer.

We got back to the van early afternoon and headed for our next destination after consulting the oracle, the Park 4 a Night app. This was a at South Moor Farm in Dalby Forest. We were beset by similar issues to the campsite at Chester Villa inasmuch as the postcode took us initially to the neighbours farm a mile or so up the road, but we eventually made it to the correct location. This was only £10 per night and we were staying really just to get rid of our waste and top op the water tank. But the location was pleasant and there and we were just happy to chill and enjoy the views.

The following morning we left for what would be the final location of the holiday. This was at Pocklington lock, owned by the Canal and River Trust. The drive there was amazing as it took us from the campsite straight into the Dalby Forest with some of the best roads I’ve driven on in the UK.

The last night was another free camp over. Really nice location at the end of a section of canal that were in the process of raising funds to get the locks restored. We had no issues with staying there as we were members of the Canal and River Trust and there are places you can stay if your a member of the Trust. This pretty much concluded what was a really nice week away.

Norfolk wild camp

So plans to tour Europe or Scotland in June were scuttled as the Covid pandemic swept the world. We are all in the same boat and I’m sure there have been many that had similar ideas that have been equally disappointed as they couldn’t be realised as the lock down persisted. I guess we have been blessed (and spoiled) that we have had the opportunity in 2018 & 2019 to visit so many beautiful places in Europe.

We had arranged to take two weeks unpaid leave with our employers and Mandy had booked annual leave to bulk it up to the month we intended to take for our 2020 trip. Understandably, everybody will be wanting to start taking holidays after lock down, so Mandy was told she needed to take some of the leave. So we didn’t want to waste what was looking to be a nice week weather wise, by spending yet more time at home, even though we were quite probably breaking some rules by wild camping.

But the decision was made and we focused on the east coast of Norfolk using the ‘Park for a Night’ app. With the majority of the distance covered, we pulled into a layby in Sandringham forest. It was a nice spot on a quiet country road, and a potential first nights camp.

After consulting the app during lunch, we agreed that it would be nice to hit the coast.

It took us a approximately half an hour to arrive at Heacham South Beach with a short stop on the way to admire the fields of poppies against the blue skies. Although the beach front car park was limited to space, we managed to park in front of a sand dune overlooking the beach. Perfect!

The car park was £6.30 for 24 hours, and although it stipulated no overnight parking, we decided to take our chances. So the afternoon was pretty much chilling on the beach, listening to music and reading a book. Very lazy but we were there to do as little as possible, and just take in the warm rays and peaceful atmosphere.

The evening was spent with a brisk walk to a local convenience store for a bottle of wine, and when we got back to the van we had something to eat and listened to Cafe Del Mar. It couldn’t have been better. We really felt like we were abroad, and the location was fantastic.

I’ll just add at this point that there was absolutely nothing planned about this holiday. In fact we only decided that Norfolk would be the destination of choice the day before we set off. So this was a real ‘wing it’ kind of situation. Having the larger van opened the door to us being able to comfortably wild camp with the advantage of us being able to have a shower in the morning and at night. Don’t get me wrong, we have loved owning the smaller T3 affectionately known as Wolfgang Jnr, but if we were to spend any number of nights in it, we really needed to rely on additional facilities to keep ourselves clean. Not really an option during a pandemic.

After breakfast mandy went on the beach, while I tried to stay in the shade and read my book. We hadn’t really discuss any plans for the following evening. It was nice where we were and the uncertainty of moving on to a spot that didn’t quite have this feel was something that i guess we both thought would only make us disappointed. But after a bite to eat we decided to have a drive. We weren’t committing to anything at this point, but we just decided that we would go for a drive….

Both Mandy and I are pretty restless when it comes to being static for any length of time. Me more so than her, but we both have a similar mindset so it works really well. So a drive was a great opportunity to see more of the Norfolk coastline and beautiful villages. Before we knew it we were really at the point of no return as far as Heacham was concerned, but we stumbled upon a National Trust car park at Morston Quay .

This was another perfect place to stay and free as we are members of the Trust (£4 per car otherwise) . We had fallen really lucky here. In fact we almost missed it. As i was driving Mandy spotted a National Trust sign and we turned back to investigate. The car park was a through fare for the tidal Quay so all of the activity happened at high tide. It was low tide when we arrives and had a walk over towards Blakeney. The footpath was only a mile or so long, but it was a warm afternoon. So we enjoyed what we saw but turned back about half way along the path.

Although we were parked in the very corner of the car park on a grass verge there was a constant stream of cars to and from the Quay. The parking area consisted of large stones with made a considerable noise as the vehicles went to and fro.

Not a massive issue of course, but 8am was high tide so there was a flurry of activity in the morning as people took advantage of the hot weather and untethered their moorings or backed trailers into the water to offload boats for time on the water.

This really was a very special place, and one that we vowed to return to once lockdown had lifted. I love to be on the water, and any opportunity to get on my paddle board, have a swim or go on a boat trip was excuse enough for me to return. We spoke to a couple of guys that were tending their seal spotting tourist boats about when they may be offering a service, but they said they were keeping an eye on the government guide lines hoping to start operating in a couple of weeks. This would hopefully mean they get to work again from July 4th. Very strange times we live in.

The photo above was just one of those pictures i took in the marina. I thought how abandoned it looked. A relic of the past being swallowed by nature. This was taken just before breakfast and after my first strong coffee of the day (i’m a creature of habit). However, as i started to eat my cereal, i heard a noise coming from the approximate location of the tractor just over the flood defences. I looked at Mandy as i had just finished showing her the photo of the dilapidated vehicle and ran onto the mound that separated us from the tractor just to see it drive off to assist in lowering a vessel into the tidal waters. Ironically, i saw the chap park the tractor in exactly the same spot later on that morning, maybe unwittingly luring other curious onlookers to think that its days of work were long over. I felt quite gullible!

So today was Wednesday and as if we hadn’t done enough already we decided to take a drive to Blakeney. (This was at the end of the path we had half walked the afternoon before). Little did we know that the perfect camping spot we had just left would not be visited again. on this trip.

Next stop was another ‘Park for a Night’ tip. A Place near Sheringham we visited before.

This was a nice car park called Pretty Woods right on the very edge of Sheringham Forest.The forest was the only thing separating us from the coast and boy was it nice.

We really couldn’t believe that we were able to park in these amazing places for free. There is always an element of apprehension when your staying somewhere new, but seriously, this was the trio of amazing wild camp overs. We chilled that evening sharing the car park with other like minded campers, all looking to abide by the social distancing rules, keep themselves to themselves, and make the most of what had been a pretty bad time.

Overnight the car park was blissfully quiet. We awoke to another sunny morning and just chilled. Our plan was to stay another night at this hidden gem. We both agreed that it was every bit as good (if not better due to the level ground) of the campsite we had stayed at a couple of years before just up the road for best part of £17 a night). We repositioned the van for better shade and our own outside bench…

After some lunch we decided to do one of the suggested walks around the forest. It really made us realise that there is so much to be thankful for.

Once we got back to the van we decided to go for a drive. We pootled towards Cromer and eventually ended up parking for half an hour in the town centre. Time was limited, but we felt we needed a bit of urban contact after so much time in the wild.

As far as days go, this was amazing. Waking up in a quiet woodland, enjoying the woods, and visiting the amazing Norfolk coast would be a groundhog day that would never tire. We headed back to Pretty Woods for a second night. Still the sun shone, and we enjoyed another night of birds tweeting as the sun went down.

The following morning i got up extra early and watched the news. It seemed like ages before Mandy started to stir, but i had already started to create an agenda for the day that i thought she would approve of. By 8 she was up, and by 8.30 we had driven to a free parking spot on the coast of Cromer.

We had breakfast and enjoyed another sunny day at the beach with fish and chips, perusing what few shops were open.

Mid afternoon we were ready to plan the last night. Where shall we go? It would be crazy to move further afield knowing we would be heading home tomorrow. So Mandy suggested the Beach at Heacham. That way we would be moving in the right direction, but there was a safety in returning because we didn’t get hassled last time. We both agreed and took the scenic route along the coastline.

So our last night was in familiar territory and closer to home. We decided to park in a different spot and this lead us to spend the evening with a very talented guitarist called Zeph. During lock down he couldn’t travel and entertain. So he and his partner had been stuck in a car park in their campervan for the last three months. They never complained, but you could tell he just wanted to play to an audience.

So that was our last night… We loved every day 🙂