Midges and Beyond….. 12/6/2022

It feels like a long time since I started writing this… time just seems to run away with us!

After leaving Portpatrick we headed inland…. something that I had always been a little bit nervous about at this time of year due to those clouds of little nasty black things that appear to like my blood…… I was unfortunately proven to be right about having concerns!

Our next stop was Glentrool National Forest – recommended by Steve, like the previous places we visited in Dumfries & Galloway and apart from the midges, it didn’t disappoint!

We had booked five nights at the Glentrool Camping and Caravan Site (£23 per night without electricity), which is a proper campsite for ‘outdoorsy people’ – even had a bothy to go hug your bovril in – in the middle of the National Forest Park, famous for its Dark Skies…. Well, there isn’t anything else up here apart from Sheep, cows and midges…..so not really a surprise that the skies are so dark!!

It is fair to say it was beautiful, incredibly peaceful but pretty wet too. It rained every day but mostly overnight and first thing in the morning, so by about 10am the clouds cleared and the midges were in their element…. apparently they love a bit of warm, moist weather… oh, and my blood!

The campsite was located on a quiet road with walking in every direction – whether on trails, quiet roads or across cow pitted fields which reminded me of the cross country, ankle breaking running when I was at secondary school… that combined with the tufty marshland made it very difficult to walk on so we opted for a detour on the way back. You didn’t have to go far on a road as there were trails from the campsite taking you in one direction roughly 500m to a very good pub – which we did eat in on the Thursday night and is highly recommended – and the other direction up to the forest park and Information Center and onto numerous trails whether you were mountain biking or walking.

We had ample time to explore all of the above, taking in the blankets of bluebells and the beautiful rolling hills that just went on, uninterrupted forever … leaving alot more unexplored for the next time, when we will return before the midges take up residence… although to be fair, it was just the boys – the lady midges hadn’t quite made an appearance yet…. thankfully… this was the very beginning of the midge season!

Despite thinking about leaving the area area due to our pesky little unwanted friends, I am glad we didn’t as the meal in the House O’Hill Pub on Thursday night was pretty exceptional… Keith even had local Dover Sole – that is just to make my mum and Margaret jealous!!… but the whole meal was almost worth the itching that followed for the next two weeks…

We move on, leaving Dumfries and Galloway behind us on the Friday to catch up with friends who have been staying just outside Edinburgh. I know possibly a shock to most people, but we didn’t actually end up going into Edinburgh this time as it was more about being with friends. We did however manage to take in the ‘Capital view walk’ which passes by the top of the dry ski slope that looks out over Edinburgh and beyond… quite beautiful!

Three short days later and it was time to move on again…. time goes so quickly! Despite not having been into the city itself you do notice the difference of just 20 miles round the coast and away from the ‘hubbubb’ of a large city…. especially when the next stop was St Abbs – a complete haven of peace and tranquility!

If someone was to ask me what views I would want from my ‘forever’ home… it would probably be these – rolling vibrant green hills, rugged cliff edges, rough sea lashing in over the beaches and beautiful red/pink heather… not to mention the blue skies obviously!! …. ok, so we possibly found the only three days this year when St Abbs had this weather… but oh my, we are so happy about that – It was stunning!!!

We had booked three nights at Starney Bay CL (£25 per night inc.) and when I spoke to the lady who runs it she was up to her ears in lambs…. literally. The CL is really well set up, on the corner of a lambing farm… when I originally booked she had 1000 ewes giving birth…. apparently giving fruition to about 1500 lambs… and several sleepless nights!!

We ran and walked in every possible direction over the three days and it was possible one of the most beautiful places we have visited… but don’t tell the locals that it did remind us of being in Cornwall but without the crowds!!

All good things must come to an end however and we moved on to Berwick-on-Tweed for the Jubilee weekend….crossing back over the border into England.

Finding somewhere to stay was complicated unfortunately due to the majority of campsites being fully booked for the couple of weeks around the Jubilee days. We ended up at Ord House Country Park (£32 weekday, £37 Weekend per night inc.) which is part touring and part residential static homes. Not our favourite kind of location to stay at but it was a reasonable, well spaced out site and fairly quiet considering the number of people and children out enjoying the Jubilee celebrations. They had set up bands and events for the Friday and Saturday – just a shame that the weather wasn’t as good as they had hoped… but it was dry which is the most important thing!

We set out to explore a little further along the coastal path in both directions, around the town itself and then also up the river Tweed…. I am a bit of a sucker for beautiful structures and buildings and as far as viaducts or bridges go… this wasn’t to be ignored!!

We had gone into Berwick on Tweed to check out the market but as there were only two stalls that weren’t selling tack – one of which had only one local cheese out of all its wares .. such a shame when there are some wonderful locally produced cheeses available – the other was fruit and veg that looked like it had been in the sun too long – however, it gave us the opportunity to explore the walk along the river, especially considering the skies were so blue which made everything look incredible!

In fact, almost all of the walks that we did in the area were beautiful (apart from the coastal path going north) – just a little exposed and therefore windy!

Pretty much every other caravan and motorhome left on Sunday morning and the campsite returned to a tranquil, deserted static caravan site. We stayed until the Monday to miss the rush and then moved all of the 10 miles further down the coast to Link House Farm CL in Newton by the Sea (£20 per night inc.)

You couldn’t have had two more different places to stay, as this one was down the end of a country lane, surrounded by rolling hills with fields full of horses, cows, sheep, ducks, chickens, turkeys and even the odd peacock. It was 500m from the rough and rugged coastline and noisy waves and 1km from the nearest pub…. of which there were two – definately a place to sit with a glass of wine and admire the views after a long days walking.

We had unfortunately only been able to book two nights at Link House Farm CL so the time went even quicker than normal, but it was a place to return to and explore further… and I did notice that there was a dairy farm with Ice Cream not too far away as well!!

So with the grey skies and drizzle we set off to our next destination which was Low Hedgeley Farm Campsite, Powburn (£23 per night Inc.) Possibly one of the best campsites we have been to for both set up, peace and tranquilty and beautiful surroundings for walking and cycling…. and that is saying something!

It was still grey and overcast but we headed out for a walk after lunch to check out the Northumberland National Park and Ingram Valley which is stunningly beautiful and has a huge amount of history which dates back to the Bronze Age settlements.

We didn’t get much further than the base of the burial mounds and settlements on Wednesday as it was late in the day and it had started to rain, but it is an area to come back and explore further as it goes on for miles with lots of interesting looking routes, either by foot or bike.

We used the following couple of days to explore in different directions – all of which were equally as beautiful…. and a little dryer too!

The area is absolutely beautiful and there is so much more to explore round here in the National Park and Alnwick – which we ended up only passing through (and using its Sainsburys) unfortunately, although have been told that it is worth a visit. You always think that three or four nights should be enough but the time soon goes quickly especially if you have so much beautiy on your doorstep to explore!

We have been cooking a little more new stuff again over the last few weeks…. experimenting with new flavours and textures which has given some pretty good results… not that we are biaised!

New Recipes include the following:-
Thai Green Curry – a delicious combination of flavours that give a little hug from the inside when you eat it…. and its plant based!
Celeriac and Chimichurri Salad – Lovely combination full of flavour for a change at lunch
Mushy Peas – Marrowfat style – they take a little longer to make as you need to soak them over night…. but oh my they are worth it!
Keralan Thoran Curry – A flavoursome, dry curry which isn’t too spicy but carries lots of subtle flavours with it… Keith describes it as an ‘Indian Stirfry’
Cinnaman Knots – One of the recipes we made whilst on the Bertinet course back in January but hadn’t quite got round to making at home… work a treat and are pretty simple!

It has been a bit of a hop skip and a jump around the coast of Scotland, we had said we were only visiting a very small part of it – but what we saw in Dumfries and Galloway and the East Coast below Edinburgh was beautiful.

This is our first time in Northumberland with the motorhome too and every place we visit is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills …. so far we haven’t been disappointed so I am sure we will be back to explore some more.