Waterside House

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After Silver Sapling we had one night at home, but didn’t unpack the trailer, because we were straight off again the following day, this time to Waterside House on the shore of Ullswater, once again with our friends Beaver B and G and their family.

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On the first day, after we’d pitched the tent, we inflated the canoes and spent the remainder of the day enjoying the lake.

The following day we took a short stroll into Pooley Bridge.

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It wasn’t far, but there was plenty of entertainment along the way.

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Pooley Bridge is not a huge place, but TBH and G wanted to fully explore all of the shopping opportunities it had to offer. Fortunately, the sun came out and those of us who wee not so interested in tat could settle down on a bench and watch the world go by.

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Browsing concluded and ice-creams consumed, we moved on for an ascent of Dunmallard Hill. This was Little S’s brainwave; seeing it from the campsite, he’d announced his intention to climb it. The kids also selected the route, a frontal assault which turned out to be ridiculously steep and which I think some party members will remember for all the wrong reasons, having not enjoyed it at all. To add insult to injury, there are no views from the top because of the trees.

Fortunately, there are other routes from the top, one of which we used for our descent, finding opportunities for feats of derring-do en route.

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The principal reason for choosing the campsite was it’s lake-fronting location and we got out in the boats every day that we were there.

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A view from the water gives a whole new perspective on the Lake District and I found it very relaxing, even though the weather was a bit mixed.

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A in particular seemed to agree with me and, with her friend E, probably used the canoes more than anybody else.

TBH was out quite a bit too…

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…here with our friend G.

We didn’t go very far, but we didn’t need to. Down to the yacht club at Thwaitehill Bay a couple of times was the furthest. (Dinghies can be rented there we found, something I’ve stored away for future planning).

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Some of the kids were more keen on the small playground on site, and others, B in particular, spent a lot of time swimming. I probably would have swum more than I actually did, but for the fact that the water is not very deep. I swam out quite a way and found that I still wasn’t out of my depth. It seems illogical, now that I come to write it down, but for whatever reason, I don’t like that. Even TBH, much to everyone’s surprise, got in on the act…

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…briefly.

The campsite was excellent, we would definitely go again. The showers were good. The toilet block closest to us was a sort of upmarket portacabin, but it was always clean and perfectly adequate. There’s a small well-stocked shop and a take-away kiosk. The site was busy, but very quiet at night. The ground was water-logged – we saw one car get really stuck in the mire. For that reason, we put the trailer-tent on a bit of a slope, which isn’t ideal, but it worked out okay: we managed to pitch it with the beds level after a lot of help from our friends. The big advantage for us was the access to the lake shore which, hopefully you can tell, we really enjoyed.

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Waterside House

Silver Sapling Weekend

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Here is our trusty Conway Countryman pitched at the Silver Sapling campsite. Where’s that? What exotic locale have we chosen for our latest break? Well, er…it’s about half a mile down the road from home. The kids bikes, you’ll note, are strewn across the field by the tent, because they had decided that they would cycle rather than joining us in the car. It’s a Girl Guiding site, but bookable by other groups (although this is not immediately clear from the website). We were there for our friend Beaver B’s* big birthday bash. He’d booked it so that friends from the village could easily attend, but so that friends and family from further afield could also be easily accommodated. A brilliant idea I thought.

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We’d barely started to pitch the tent, in which task B is my principal assistant, when B discovered a Slowworm. It was dead sadly, but that gave us a good chance to examine it closely. It’s scales were gold on its upper-side and it was black underneath.

The weather was a bit mixed. When the sun shone, with trees on three sides but open to the south, the site was a lovely sun-trap. When it rained, we had the marquee to use, to which we added another tent to give a sort of T-shaped affair…

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For the kids there are pedal go-karts, grass sledges, giant jenga, and giant kerplunk (all provided on site), plus badminton, footballs, frisbees and bikes which we’d brought ourselves. There are huge barbecues and fire-pits on site too, which got good use, as well as a place where it’s okay to have a larger fire. Beaver B had ordered in a barrel of Tag Lag beer, which is brewed at the Drunken Duck near Windermere and proved to be very palatable.

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Most importantly, there was lots of good company, both old friends and some we hadn’t met before. A fine time was had by all, I think. I certainly know that I enjoyed myself enormously.

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We had a couple of visitors to our tent over the weekend. On the Friday night there were some comedy attempts to photograph a quite striking green cricket using flash photography (the results are predictably blurred). The following morning I spotted this moth on our awning. There is a species of moth called the Mottled Grey. Since this moth is both grey and mottled, maybe that’s what this is.

In all, a fabulous weekend. The camp site can be booked in sections (as we did) or the whole thing can be block booked (every year a group of bikers have a charity weekend and concert here for example). It can also be booked for daytime use. You only pay per camper. Why not give it a try?

*When Beaver B has appeared here previously, I think he has just been B, but, obviously that gets confusing with our own B. I’m not sure that he will be too enamoured with this sobriquet, but it is how we make the distinction at home, since Beaver B helped run the local Beaver unit when our own B and S were members.

Silver Sapling Weekend

Towyn Farm: Cloud Ten

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Lesser Black-backed Gull (I think).

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Our tenth annual summer camping holiday at Towyn Farm near Tudweiliog on the Llyn Peninsula. (Eleventh for some of our friends, because we missed one year for a family birthday party). We were unusually late this year, meaning that S had his birthday before we got there – he has had almost all of his birthday’s in Wales.

Because I’m chary about taking my camera to the beach, my photos are wholly inadequate and don’t capture any of the things which are important about the holiday – the frisby flinging, beach tennis and mass games of cricket, games of Kubb, swimming and body-surfing, messing about in boats etc etc. There are no pictures of our various rock-pool finds, in particular of the Norway Lobster which B and I caught with a borrowed net. Or of the many fish I saw at low tide whilst snorkelling around the reef just off shore.

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But most importantly, there are no photos of the gaggle of old friends whom we meet here every year and who make the holiday what it is.

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The weather was very kind to us this year, with lots of sunshine and the rain largely confined to the nights or early mornings.

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Our kids adore the sea and seemed to be quite happy to spend almost all day every day immersed in it, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, boating, floating on a ring, jumping about in the waves etc.

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I’m already looking forward to next year.

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Towyn Farm: Cloud Ten

Annual Outing to Nether Wasdale

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Little to report from the annual camping trip to Nether Wasdale. The company was excellent, the weather was the usual mixed bag with a hard frost on the Friday night, beautiful sunny weather on Saturday and then a continuous downpour on Sunday, brightening again eventually on the Monday.

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Full of cold, I opted to take the easy way out on the Saturday and hang around the campsite with those of the children who had decided not to join either of the walking parties. (Scafell Pike and the hills above the Screes respectively). It was slightly frustrating, but I had a good book, a kettle almost constantly on the boil and a seat out in the sun where I could listen to the birdsong in the adjacent woods, so no complaints really.

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The rain on the Sunday was convenient for the kids, who were adamant that we should return to Mawson’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Seascale, which we duly did, receiving a fabulous welcome once again.

On the Monday the traditional massed football match was hard fought as ever. We also got out for a short walk, although I don’t seem to have taken any photos (probably too busy gassing). Finally, I should mention the campsite, which is a great place to stay, always very accommodating (and with extra showers now).

Annual Outing to Nether Wasdale

Camping in Wasdale

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Shortly after our return from Norfolk, the kids and I joined a friend from the village and his gaggle of children and spent a couple of nights camping at Church Stile in Nether Wasdale.

On the way over we stopped for lunch (pies) in the charming square in Broughton in Furness.

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Inevitably, the boys wanted to try out the stocks.

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I didn’t take all that many photos whilst we were away. We had some mixed weather. Were eaten alive on the campsite by midges. Had nightly campfires in a brazier we rented from the campsite and which was fashioned from an old washing machine drum.

We also had a wander up to Ritson’s Force in Mosedale Beck – we’d been told it was a good place for a swim. In honesty, the water wasn’t deep enough, but we had a bit of an explore and managed to get fully immersed, one way or another, so it was worth a look.

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Camping in Wasdale

Camping on the Llyn

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Summer comes and once again we’re camping on the Llyn Peninsula with the usual suspects.

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We had a couple of very wet days early on, but after that the weather was fine, but not particularly hot and often very windy.

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Purple Loosestrife.

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Small Tortoiseshell enjoying Purple Loosestrife.

As usual our ‘radius of activity’ whilst we were there was pretty narrowly focused; we mostly stuck to the field where we were camped and the beach below it.

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After 10 years of annual visits, it was quite surprising to find the beach quite markedly changed; superficially because of the waves, the seaweed and the jellyfish (including the ‘sails’ from By-The-Wind-Sailors which I’ve never seen before) which the stormy weather was bringing in, but also more substantially because the beach seems to have steepened, with a considerable bank of sand around the high-tide mark. One consequence seems to be that the tide doesn’t go out as far as it did, making it more difficult to walk around at low-tide to the ‘secret beaches’ beyond the main strand. The beaches were also more stony than they have been in the past.

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B found this little chap in our tent when we were packing up.

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I’ve searched through my field guide but to no avail; I can’t identify it. Any ideas?

Here’s B with his next find…

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A Garden Snail…

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And the sling? He broke his Radius just below the elbow, on the trampoline in our garden, shortly before we came away. He must have thought I was missing Lancaster A&E. He’s fully recovered now, although he gets occasional twinges, usually brought on by imminent washing-up duties.

Anyway, it was a great trip. Not sure what will happen next year when late school holidays and other planned trips look to be squeezing our window for a Tudweiliog getaway. (Imagine a suitably miserable looking emoticon here, since my technical know-how is insufficient to provide one).

Camping on the Llyn

Harlech Castle

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The size of our party fell from sixteen to three; from four families to just part of ours. The boys had very firm theories about what we should do with our days. We went to the circus in Pwllheli (they twisted my arm). And we must do a castle, they said. I’m was much happier with that idea. We’ve done both Beaumaris and Criccieth on recent visits, and Caernafon several times in the past. Andy suggested Harlech for a change of scene – which was a great idea.

This must be my third visit, I think. In my teens I had a holiday in Harlech, coincidentally just with my dad and my brother. I don’t remember coming to the castle, but we were camped on the links between the town and the huge sand dunes, right beneath the imposing castle, so surely we must have done? I’ve certainly been here with Andy, long before we had any kids and when there was no real excuse for us to charge around the battlements pretending to be knights. But we did exactly that.

The castle sits on a large dome of rock in a really commanding position. It’s another of Edward I Welsh fortifications.

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The views from the top, of the coast and the mountains of Snowdonia, are magnificent.

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The castle was taken by Owain Glyndwr during his war with the English, and was his residence and headquarters for a few years. His second Welsh parliament was held here apparently.

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The song ‘Men of Harlech’ was apparently inspired by a lengthy siege during the Wars of the Roses, when Lancastrian forces held on much longer here than they did elsewhere.

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It’s almost like they knew we were coming!

Touring castles with the boys is great fun; their enthusiasm for exploring every nook and cranny is infectious.

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Although I sometimes worry that they’ve overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable visitor behaviour, when they start crawling around in some dusty hole.

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We wandered around both the inner and outer wards at ground level.

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Climbed the only tower still open to visitors, which has an awful lot of steps!

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And also toured the battlements, where the relatively low wall made me feel slightly nervous.

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In common with just about every castle we’ve visited, Harlech was slighted after holding out against the Parliamentarians during the Civil War. Fortunately the ordered destruction wasn’t very thoroughly carried out and although materials were later taken from the castle to provide stone for buildings in the town, there’s still plenty here to see and enjoy.

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After the castle, we picnicked on a nearby sports field and then walked down towards the sea. We never really made it to the beach, because the boys…

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…were captivated by the dunes of Morfa Harlech and ran around exploring those, whilst I ‘looked after our stuff’ and settled down out of the wind to do some serious reading.

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They claim that I dozed off, but I maintain that I was just resting my eyes.

Harlech Castle