WEEK 4 for lesson learned scroll down to the end
Just before we are leaving Scotland, a word about the Highland Midges, very little biting mosquitos, which can make life to hell. They like warm and wet evenings and are about you within seconds. And there are soon more than hundred looking for YOU!
What happens then?
They creep everywhere in, especially in your hair, and start to bite immediately.
What are the effects?
Many small and many big red bulges keep you scratching (some all night long).
How to catch them?
They are too small to fetch by hand (1-1.5 mm), best result is a wet activated camper lamp in the evening (they like moisture), which you can spray with a mosquito repellent (check before using, the spray can destroy plastic). Most beasts are then assembled and DEAD!
What about those which still hide somewhere?
Those not dead will find your leg/arm in the night while you have a nice dream. So keep in mind: The Scottish Midges often loom like a cloud over the idea of a pleasant camping holiday or walk in the countryside.
Monday 3rd - Finally we left Scotland and Lake District for good, our next destinations are Wales and the Cotwolds before turing home through France. For two nights, Sunday to Tuesday, we chose the Laverick Caravan Site at the Laverick Road, Halton, near Lancaster. A small, but nice farm camping site with all amenities you need.
Today was trainy-day ... not a rainy-day. After a strong storm during the night we got a fairly good day. We crossed over the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire through narrow streets, soft hills of Yorkshire Dales National Park, tiny stone villages (like Dent) and finally the railway line of Settle-Carlisle Railway with the famous Ribblehead Viaduct. Later we tried several photo spots along the Western Coast Line near Lancaster and the sea shore. Most spots weren't satisfying as England rails has high fences along, bushes and trees and "do not entre" places all over. In the end, some shots went into the camera.
Traveling in the nature always has some animals and birds to see. A beautiful Gold Plover landed just next to our car at the pass near Applecross, the squirrel came sitting on the stone wall while I was waiting for a train, while driving we spotted Shire Horses and sheep in brown "fur coats".
Tuesday 4th - After some morning train pictures we drove down to Chester/Wales, where we met our first Wales rain ...
Wednesday 5th - Hoping for better weather to take the steam train to Snowdon peak (1085 meters) we parked nearby Llanberis at a siding along lake Llyn Peris for the night. Next morning we woked up by dropping rain. Instead of seeing the wonderful landscape of Wales we just counted low hanging clouds ...
At a small street crossing in Bedgellert we went for a hot drink and a dry seat under roof in middle of antiques:
From Bedgellert we drove through the Snowdonia National Park over Porthmadog - Dolgellau - Machynlleth and on a small mountain pass road up to the 544 meters high Bryn y Fedwen. There we parked and the clouds opened up and a wonderful view came alight. So we decided to stay for night next to Gwarchodle Nature Reserve.
Thursday 6th - We made up north again to make use of the better weather. But soon clouds became heavy and black again so we turned south direction Aberaeron at the Cardigan Bay. Light and clouds put the sea in bright colours and the sunny grass in the foreground into powerful green fields.
After passing Cardiff we stopped for some train pictures along the line to Bristol, but either shadow or bad angles prevented any useful photo. Looking for a campsite it was quite difficult to find a suitable place. We ended up near Dingestow, south of Monmouth. The place is not marked but a tip gave us the right direction. A clean and nice place gave a good night sleep.
Friday 7th - Driving through heavy rain we passed the Price of Wales bridge on M4 motorway into England. At Stanton Manor Hotel north of Chippenham we turned in after 1 hour of driving. A cosy place for the rest of the day !
Saturday 8th - Cotswolds today ! Touring around to Fairford, Bourton-on-the-Water and Naunton we enjoyed the picturesque and charming houses and gardens all over. Fairford is famous for its parish church St Mary’s and had a nice market ongoing. Bourton-on-the-Water (with hordes of tourists) is a charming English village, known as the Venice of the Cotwolds, situated on the River Windrush. Naunton is a tiny little village with 350 inhabitans, no tourists and the most beautiful "cosy" corners along the one and only narrow street.
For the night we parked at the M5 to Bristol in the Gloucester Services Southbound Station just after the turnoff no. 11A to A417 London/Cirencester. It can be highly recommended as it has superb facilities including family washing rooms, free shower aso, shopping with first class bread (all kind not the soft British only) and wide cheese board, restaurants and a special caravan/camper parking. Overnight fee is 23£ with a voucher of 5£ for the restaurant. As nowhere mentioned, the ticket has to be bought at the restaurant.
Sunday 9th - Our next destination became Dawlish near Exeter for a train photo stop and Dartmouth/Devon, an old harbour station. Finally the third train photo location in sunlight after 4 weeks of traveling !
Dartmouth lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There we enjoyed an excellent Sea Brass and Langoustines Tails for lunch at Rockfish restaurant. For the next four nights we stayed at Dartmouth Camping and Caravanning Club Site and planned to make tours around Devon and Cornwall, but most was rainy and cloudy times down here. The campsite is first class and has nice pitches to stay in.
Monday 10th - As we could expect some sunny spells may occur today we drove further west to visit Salcombe, Looe and Polperro. Nice fisher villages and beaches along the Devon and Cornish coast were waiting for us. Along small and smallest streets, up and down, high bushes on both sides ... and couldn't resist the sweeties at Salcombe beach. The surroundings almost like in the Caribbean Sea.
But soon rain came back and put Looe in dark light. Not much better at Polperro. The last is much cosier and the tiny harbour can be reached from the car park by an electric "tram".
Tuesday 11th - Have a break and stay at the campsite, eat some chips and nuts, and wait for the storm and heavy rain to be over ... hopefully for another, better day to come.
But how to spend a "indoor day"? Best you read a book about the life in Scotland ... A real classic among Highland books, "A Croft in the Hills" captures, in simple, moving descriptions, what it was really like trying to make a living out of a hill croft near Inverness fifty years ago. A couple and their young daughter, fresh from city life, immerse themselves in the practicalities of looking after sheep, cattle and hens, mending fences, baking bread and surviving the worst that Scottish winters can throw at them. The croft they bought at Abriachan, perched 1000 feet above Loch Ness, was 40 acres of arable and another 60 of rough grazing with shared out grazing on the moor. In the middle of it all stood a solid little croft house built in 1911 in the traditional style with a small steading. It possessed neither sanitation, piped water, nor electricity. Katharine Jeanne Stewart, 1914-2013, was one of the Highlands' most celebrated authors.
Wednesday 12th - Roundtrip to Cornwall in a rather dull day by driving. Visited Penzance and St.Ives. The first an ordinary English town, the last with hundreds of dogs and their owners beside of many tourists. To visit more shore villages was out of question, rain pouring down. On way back we passed Kingsbridge late at sunshine, a most beautiful place, and the wide beaches after Torcross/Devon. When weather permitting, a visit for tomorrow ... English weather at Penzance, St.Ives and Torcross:
After coming back we realised that South Devon has many beautiful places too: Harbours, nices villages, steam railways, boat trips and long beaches around in Brixham, Kingswear, Totnes, Dartmouth, Salcombe, Torcross and Kingsbridges worth to visit another year ... but then in sunshine please !
Thursday 13th - No sun but rain ... our last day of our holiday, tomorrow we steam over the Channel to Cherbourg/France. Near Poole, where we are boarding the ship, we found a good camping, named South Lytchett Manor (address Dorchester Rd, Lytchett Minster, Poole) for the night.
Now we are coming around the last narrow bend
our wonderful journey comes to an end
We had sometimes some pain
in the hills with clouds and heavy rain
Now my dear Old England we say goodbye
with a smile in one of our eye
Lesson learned - the good things about Scotland
Lesson learned - what is better to keep in mind
Reflection ... About Scotland’s forest situation, subsidized by UK (and EU for timber streets)
In the 1980s, the British government subsidized a blitz of bog drainage in order to plant exotic trees for marketable timber. The resulting plantations of lodge pole pine and Sitka spruce, species native to North America, failed to thrive. The Flow Country had been treeless for thousands of years for good reason. Peat soil is often too acidic and nutrient-poor to support healthy trees, and the Flow Country endures howling winter winds of up to 90mph, which can stunt their growth or yank them out by the roots. During the forestry boom, the government offered grants to those interested in ploughing up natural bogs to plant trees, and provided tax relief to wealthy forestry investors. Overall, 67,000 hectares – 17% of the ancient peat land of Flow Country – was drained. Some of Britain’s richest citizens reaped impressive profits, but usable timber was rarely produced. In most cases, the plantations have grown only spindly trees that are unsuitable for lumber, so are used as biofuel or simply abandoned. Today, Scotland is pouring cash into eliminating the very forests that people were paid so generously to plant just decades earlier. The Scottish government’s climate change plan aims to restore 250,000 hectares of peatland by 2030. When bogs are drained, air exposure speeds up peat decomposition, causing the bogs to haemorrhage carbon into the atmosphere. “Peatland switches from a carbon sink in natural conditions to a carbon source in drained conditions,” says Roxane Andersen, a peatlands scientist. The region is an essential habitat for breeding birds. In April, when the migratory waders arrive, the bogs come alive with graceful birds flying, calling, and soon after, incubating their eggs.
Extract from Guardian’s report “Scotland's bogs reveal a secret paradise for birds and beetles”, Nov. 27th, 2019