A 10k walk for an ice cream

Day five of the Slaw’s North Yorkshire adventure. Yesterday they arrived at Cayton Village CAMC campsite and an afternoon of catching up with friends was enjoyed (with one or two beverages imbibed 🤣)

It was a lazy morning with only a trot around the campsite dog walk for the pooches. Another bright blue sky and sunshine, but bitingly low temperatures. Mrs Slaw was now pretty desperate for a quality holiday ice cream, so they decided to walk along the Cleveland Way from Cayton to Scarborough to frequent the famous Harbour Bar. A journey via road of about three miles.

Picking up The Cleveland Way at Cayton Bay.

The Cleveland Way runs 110 miles from Filey Brigg to Helmsley. The section the Slaws took was well signposted and very well defined. Mrs Slaw felt quite giddy with life. It was so good to be out walking in the fresh sea air with the sun on her face (although she did get a sunburnt face yesterday 🔥) The gorse was magnificent against the azure blue sky and the heady scent of coconut was pungent in the air. Slaw was transported back to holidays many years ago when all the young ladies used to use Hawaiian Tropic sun lotion 🏝

Magnificent golden gorse against azure blue skies.

There was hardly a soul about and this meant there was wildlife in abundance. A kestrel hovered above, fixated on his lunch somewhere on the ground. A heron flew, long and lazily, over the rock pools in the bay, and a roe deer was nonchalantly grazing in the undergrowth seemingly disinterested in the Slaws excitedly peering at her through binoculars from the cliff top.

Roe deer in the undergrowth zoomed in on a mobile phone, hence very poor quality photo 😂

The Cleveland Way has many different facets keeping your interest and delight as each corner is turned. Cliff tops, dingly dells, steep ascents and descents, wooded glades, links golf course and short sections on the road. Magnificent views over Cayton Bay and Scarborough South Bay. Cayton Bay with its raw natural beauty and South Bay overlooked by the infamous Grand Hotel and Scarborough castle.

Cayton Bay.

Prince William and The Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed racing round on South Bay beach, chasing, rolling and splashing in the sand and water. Okay, only the Cowgirl did. The Prince came off the beach looking as pristine as when he went on and the Cowgirl looked like a Gremlin!

The three mile walk ended up being nearly six! With up hills and down dales of the Cleveland Way, but it is a footpath well worth taking and Mrs Slaw finally got her quality ice cream. Although the Harbour Bar is only doing takeaway and no sundaes, she tucked into a fabulously creamy, dreamy, delight of a strawberry swirl cornet. Heaven 🥰

Happy Mrs Slaw with a strawberry swirl cornet.

Lower Wensleydale to Cayton

By it was a nippy one last night! Mrs Slaw needed gloves and a scarf this morning while taking the pooches on their morning constitutional. There was a hard frost, icy cold but beautiful, as the morning sunlight danced on the white grass making it sparkle and shine like diamonds.

Even blue tits are joining the caravan club!

The Slaws are on day four of their North Yorkshire adventure. Yesterday was spent in Leyburn and today they move on to Cayton. All campsites are Caravan and Motorhome Club sites and this is their first outing for six months due to COVID lockdowns. To say they are giddy is a bit of an understatement 🤣

This morning’s constitutional took Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl down to Harmby Waterfall. It’s a busy road that runs past them and the sound of traffic usually drowns out the sound of the falls, but this morning was still and the traffic light. The sound of the water was loud and unmistakable. Mrs Slaw wasn’t sure how to get to them though 🤔 She ended up going down what appeared to be a private driveway. The pooches refused point blank to go into the thick, spiky undergrowth with Mrs Slaw (well, they have got short legs 😂) Pooches tied to a tree and Mrs Slaw set forth determinedly like Indiana Jones minus the machete, hat and boots. Okay, not like Indiana Jones at all. The falls were clearly visible not too far in luckily. The whole expedition taking less than 30 seconds. There must be an easier way though surely!

Harmby waterfall

The Slaws left Wensleydale and the vista opened out to a wide expanse; hills only found far on the horizon. The journey took them through the pretty market town of Thirsk. No sign of the Yorkshire Vet though. Mrs Slaw really is slipping in her stalking skills 🤣 Taking the A170 from Thirsk to Scarborough, is particularly scenic, especially as you enter the North York Moors National Park. However, you are bombarded by road signs warning of the impending Sutton Bank; the severity of the gradient means that car and caravans are prohibited. Even though Helga is a motorhome, this was a red rag to a bull and a mist enveloped Slaw. He became glassy eyed, not seeing or hearing anything. Steering wheel gripped tightly; teeth clenched. Oh no, another Bealach Na Ba feared Mrs Slaw 😱 Helga selected her own gears and the Slaw’s sailed up Sutton Bank with ease. What was all the fuss about? The perfect photo opportunity was also thwarted by the trees lining the ascent. Such a shame.

Following the road ever eastwards, the higgledy piggledy cottages with their red tiled roofs are so quaint and photogenic. Their tiny doors and windows seemingly perfect for the vertically challenged Mrs Slaw.

What a difference a day and a few miles makes. From yesterday’s golden triumph, the daffodils lining the route to Cayton have now turned. No longer standing proud and tall, shining radiantly, but brown, wizened and bowed. A sad end to their glory.

The Slaws arrived at Cayton Village; a newly revamped CAMC campsite and chose a pitch on the upper site. Slaw always get his compass out and checks where the sun will go down. He chose well and they enjoyed barbecuing and drinks with friends in the sunshine until it set over the hill at 7.30pm.

Hawes to Lower Wensleydale

Day three of The Slaw’s North Yorkshire adventure dawned with sunshine and birdsong and all was well with Mrs Slaw. The pooches’ morning constitutional was a circular walk from Hawes to Gayle and back via Mossy Lane. A lovely sunny walk with photo opportunities in every stone building and rustic signpost. Mrs Slaw got all arty farty with the photos 😜

Hawes church from the Gayle footpath.

Around midnight last night, Mrs Slaw decided to check if there was availability at Lower Wensleydale for day three. It had always been the plan to feature Leyburn in this trip; indeed, Slaw merrily told anyone that asked that the Slaws were going to Leyburn 🤣 So much was this ingrained in his brain that he actually ignored the sat nav, carefully programmed by Mrs Slaw on day one, and head for Leyburn instead of Threshfield. It added a good half hour onto the journey, but it wasn’t a problem as Mrs Slaw had ensured Helga is well stocked with Werther’s Originals 😜 Anyway, we digress. Yes, there was availability for Leyburn. Bookings were swapped and plans changed.

Pennine Way through Gayle.

After the very pleasant walk this morning, it was time to head off to the next campsite. Helga was dutifully packed up and off they went. It’s a wide Dale from Hawes to Leyburn. Bright blue skies were scattered with white powder puff clouds. Limestone walls zigzag across the rolling hillsides as far as the eye can see. The roadsides swathed in the glorious spring triumph of golden daffodils. The road wend through lovely little villages following the course of the river Ure, but every so often was an ominous flood marker giving a stark reminder for the unsuspecting traveller of the force of nature.

Leyburn.

Check-in at Lower Wensleydale campsite was pretty pain free. The Slaws chose the same pitch they had last August. Lots of sunshine! A quick bite to eat then a 20 minute walk into Leyburn along the main road. It is quite busy, but a pleasant enough walk. As the Slaws walked into the market square Mrs Slaw’s heart sank. The Bymor Ice Cream kiosk was closed! Poor Mrs Slaw; thwarted yet again in her quest for a quality ice cream. It will end up being a Mr Whippy in Scarbados 🤪

An empty table was spied on the veranda of the Golden Lion in the Market Square. The Slaws settled in for a couple and a bite to eat. Oh dear! The pub stopped serving food at 2.30pm and they had no Pinot Rosè 😱 Mrs Slaw really is struggling on this holiday 🤣 A packet of Pipers crisps and a white Pinot Grigio it was then. All was well until Mrs Slaw realised that the crisps were £1 a pack 😳

Golden Lion.

It was a day of two halves. When the sun was shining it was toasty warm, but with cloud cover it was biting cold. What to wear at this time of year really is a dilemma. Oh well, just to be out socialising and sitting outside a pub with a drink is such a treat after lockdown that the Slaws will take it!

Wharfedale to Hawes

Mrs Slaw slept the sleep of the dead. Straight through without waking. She awoke to the rat-a-tat-tat of a distant woodpecker and the surrounding birdsong. A perfect dawn chorus.

Yesterday was the Glorious 12th. The first day of the lockdown easing where you can spend the night away from home in self-contained accommodation. The Slaws tripped off in Helga to Wharfedale Caravan and Motorhome Club site near Grassington in North Yorkshire and a lovely afternoon was had by all.

This morning, Prince William and The Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed their morning constitutional around Threshfield Quarry. This is a pleasant walk from the site up the hill and down into the quarry. Lots of information boards and sites of industrial heritage telling the stories of the lime kilns. Then it was time to leave the site and move on.

Threshfield Quarry Lime Kilns

The journey north from Threshfield to Hawes was beautiful. Single track roads, through quaint stone villages of chocolate box cottages with pocket handkerchief gardens and quirky names such as ‘Starbotton’. The Slaws meandered in Helga along the dale bottom; past Swaledale eyes and lambs grazing in pea-green meadows. Stone shepherd huts randomly dotted around. Climbing out again past the waterfalls and stone bridges at Cray, underneath the terraced limestone hillsides, before finally reaching the main road and turning left to Hawes.

Yorkshire Dales

A warden at the campsite was on hand to meet and greet and explain the COVID procedures. No toilets open on this site. Pitch up, NHS track and trace, then up to reception to pay. Not as many empty pitches here, but still plenty of choice. The Slaws chose their pitch then Mrs Slaw head off to reception to pay. As she was putting her arm out to open the door a man swiftly side-stepped her and shot through the door first. He must have felt Mrs Slaw’s piercing stare burning into the back of his head as he turned around and held the door open for her to follow him in. Mrs Slaw clenched her teeth, breathed deeply and calmly informed him that it states very clearly on the door that only one person is allowed in at once and she had been just about to walk through the door. He blithely said ‘oh sorry, I didn’t see that’ and shut the door in Mrs Slaw’s face. Now, he either caught Mrs Slaw on a good day, or she is mellowing in her old age, as the pocket rocket didn’t launch on this occasion 🚀 She merely chuntered outside about how this is the exact same attitude as those people who park where the hell they please, and they think it’s okay because they have put their hazard lights on!

Mrs Slaw was now in dire need of an indulgent creamy ice cream from the Wensleydale Creamery. Off the Slaws trotted through the charming little town of Hawes and up to the creamery. Shock horror 😱 No ice creams!!!!!! Mrs Slaw is not having the best of days 😭 Back down the hill and a ‘table a deux’ was spotted against the pub wall. Then ensued a relaxing afternoon chatting with locals and tourists alike and watching the world go by. How do you tell the difference between a local and a tourist? Tourists have clean wellies and locals have sh*t caked wellies 🤣

Hawes

The Crown has a good range of drinks and food on offer. Table service and patio heaters made for a very pleasant experience. The two waiting on staff were very friendly and efficient. Dog chews for the pooches and attentive service for the Slaws. The landlord made an appearance every now and then, reminding punters of the rule of six. One party of eight squashed onto a wooden bench seat which only really fits six at a push! Why do some people think the rules don’t apply to them? The Slaws both had the rotisserie chicken it was moist and tasty and a good choice. A random rain shower cooled things down and it was soon time to head back to Helga to settle down for the new series of Our Yorkshire Farm. Amanda Owen does shop in Hawes, but Mrs Slaw, super stalker, didn’t spot her today 😜

The Glorious 12th

April 12th 2021. Not to be confused with August 12th – a controversial date if you’re not into game sports. No, the glorious 12th; the third date of the government’s lockdown easing programme. The date that you can legally stay away from home in self-contained accommodation as we ease out of Covid lockdown. Campsites across England have opened for the first time in months and the Slaws were champing at the bit!

And they’re off!

The Slaws should have holidayed in Barmouth at Easter, but that wasn’t happening. So, those days’ leave were added to a weekend away and, hey presto! A week’s road trip in North Yorkshire it is! Six nights over four sites – Wharfedale, Hawes, Rosedale Abbey and Cayton Village. All Caravan and Motorhome Club club sites. The Slaws do like a club site due to their proximity to towns and villages.

The morning dawned bright and dry with beautiful sunshine and blue skies. The journey did have a few hiccups, mainly down to Slaw thinking they needed to go up the M1. He still thinks he’s going to Leyburn; no matter how many times Mrs Slaw tells him they’re not 🤦🏻‍♀️ En route Mrs Slaw counted the caravans and motorhomes. The route certainly wasn’t clogged up as many nay-sayers on social media proclaimed it would be. 24 motorhomes outnumbered by 35 caravans. The site at Wharfedale was also surprisingly quiet. So quiet Slaw just couldn’t decide where to pitch 🤔 Round the site they went, twice, before settling on a pitch under a dry stone wall. The wall afforded a lovely windbreak from the prevailing icy North wind. The site has all the COVID precautions in place and feels safe. The toilet blocks are open for toilets only and only four people are allowed in at once.

A bowl of homemade soup later and it was time to head off for a walk. Right at the bottom of the site, by pitch 91, is a gate onto the moor. A very pleasant walk down to Skirethorns Lane, then over the B6160 onto a bridle way round on to the B6265 into Grassington. Grassington has many themed weekends to delight you! 1940s, Dickensian Christmas, Music and arts to name but a few. First stop for the Slaws today was the Devonshire; famous as The Drovers Arms from All Creatures Great and Small.

The Drovers Arms from All creatures great and small.

Mrs Slaw was slightly worried as the table outside the pub was right at the side of the road. It was a very small road and those passing tractors are very big! The Slaws tried the beer garden round the back, but the plastic flowers adorning the trellis and the piped music wasn’t to Mrs Slaw’s taste. So, much to Slaw’s disgust they all trooped back through the pub to the first table they sat at out front 🤣 Even though the sun had now gone from those tables, and the tractors kept on coming, Mrs Slaw was much happier out front. If Mrs Slaw is happy, so is Slaw! A couple of drinks and some Seabrook prawn cocktail crisps were enjoyed. Oh my! Seabrook beat Walkers hands down every time!

Mrs Slaw spotted a van in the town square liveried with ‘TV and film set cleaning’. A bit of people watching later and she spotted a man carrying a Henry across the square and into an empty shop. He was diligently hoovering one shop and then went next door. As the Slaws left, Mrs Slaw accosted said cleaner who told her he was cleaning in readiness for filming a new series of ACGaS!

Back up the hill to Threshfield and the Slaws next stop was the Old Hall Inn. Serving food in the back beer garden. This suited the Slaws just fine as this was a lovely sheltered garden with full sun and fire pits. The pits were more for fancy or kippering you if you were in line of the smoke 🔥 A nice touch though.

Back beer garden at The Old Hall Inn

Decent menu choices allowed Mrs Slaw a chicken and chorizo pasta with focaccia and Slaw had gammon egg and pineapple. Fair pricing too at 13.95 and 15.25 respectively.

Time to wend their way back to Helga. Walking back up the Lane, the gardens were full of rabbits and pheasants. Delightful! As they walked back up from the bottom to the middle of the campsite, Mrs Slaw counted 17 empty pitches. Hardly full, as all the nay-sayers predicted! The Slaws have had a thoroughly good time on the first day of their North Yorkshire trip. Tomorrow is another day.

A party in Pickering

The second weekend in October is always on the Slaw’s calendar; the finale to their season. Slaw and the Mrs are reenactors for the Second World War and this weekend is usually North York Moors Railway in Wartime event in Pickering. Sadly the event was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Slaws and a gang of their friends still had accommodation booked and set off to Pickering for a long weekend.

North York Moors Railway

Helga was de-dogged and the 1970’s-style shag pile carpet put back in. Sounds seedy! But, after a summer of use with the pooches, Mrs Slaw loves to see Helga in her natural beauty. The lovely suede seating with cobalt, heather and teal flecks toning with the fawn and mushroom. Usually hidden under large velvet throws so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl can travel in style and the seats are protected from muck and claws. The covers also protect the seats from Slaw’s late night encounters with chocolate. Oh dear, this now sounds even seedier 🤦🏻‍♀️ The utilitarian hard floor (a must for furry little bodies who soak up half the beach on every walk and deposit sand in every orifice in Helga) is now covered with the luxurious deep pile carpet, so lush to wriggle your toes into on those cold mornings.

Helga’s natural beauty

Anyway, back to the weekend. Mrs Slaw wobbled a bit about still going to Pickering because the event had been cancelled. There was a fair bit of animosity on social media against people still turning up. Speaking to Slaw and other friends, she was persuaded as our group will put a rather large chunk of money into the local economy over the weekend. Meals in the cafes and pubs, copious amounts of alcohol consumed, Christmas presents bought in gift shops, bargains from charity shops, train tickets etc etc As Mrs Slaw was in Scotland when the arrangements were being made, Miss Gorgeous took over. She made a good start, even considering buying a colour coordinated folder for the job! Tables were duly booked for meals and drinks (separate and a must in these strange times) but Miss Gorgeous fell at the hurdle of coordinating activities. She very nearly booked the train tickets at the same time as the vintage vehicle parade 🤦🏻‍♀️ Mrs Slaw took over the reins. The Young Pretender (Miss Gorgeous) needs a lot more coaching before she can take her L plates off.

Mrs Perky then attempted to usurp Mrs Slaw by organising the train tickets. Either a technology error or an, ahem, age related failure 😜 meant Mrs Slaw once again took over the reins and the tickets were safely secured. Railway in Wartime is a fascinating look back in time to learn about and remember life in wartime. The stations are transformed and reenactors help the public learn what life was like in those days. Mrs Slaw is hopeful that she never has to experience any world wars in her lifetime, but is passionate that we must not forget what happened. These events are not a celebration of what happened, but a chance to learn and pass on knowledge to others. #lestweforget

A one o’clock finish from work and the Slaws were on the road by two. It’s a two hour journey for them up to Pickering and there is a section of the A64 just after York where two lanes merge into one and you can be severely delayed. That section was passed with ease and Slaw relaxed into the weekend. The campsite is Beckside on Mill Lane in Pickering. It’s a narrow approach road, but after the NC500 it was no bother for Helga. Miss Gorgeous also navigated the lane with the caravan with no problems. The site is small with a handful of hard standing pitches; some of them nestled under the trees along the beck. In the summer these would be very pretty but may be ‘midgy’. There are also grass pitches and electric is available on most. Some reviews report an issue with electric but there were no problems for the Slaws. There had been quite a bit of rain and the grass was muddy in places. The site has a small shower and loo block, wash up facilities and chemical toilet disposal. All clean and covid precautions in place. The cost of the pitch was steep for this weekend. £30 per night. However, they have stepped into dead-men’s shoes to secure the pitch for future wartime weekends. This is considerably cheaper than cottages that the Slaws and Miss Gorgeous have rented in the past, paying up to £900 for a two bedroomed cottage for four people 😱

Beckside campsite

It’s a pleasant 10 minute walk up to town from the campsite. You can either follow the road to the top of town or take either of two tracks through fields or a park coming out at the bottom of town. Pickering has lots of pubs and clubs and the Slaws have frequented most 🤪 They always return to the Black Swan on Birdgate though. It’s been recently refurbished and is very pleasant with it’s old ornamental furniture. In normal times they have live 1940s singers (you know what I mean! Not that they were alive in the 1940s. If so, Miss Marina Mae looks amazing 🤣) It was strange this year and the pubs are doing their bit for Covid, but some of the staff in the Black Swan were bordering on being rude at times. Mrs Slaw was extremely tempted to question them on their repeated use of paper menus that weren’t disposed of after each use, but the pocket rocket didn’t launch. Slaw was very pleased! The menu is currently limited but had choices including curry, pizzas, ham and eggs, pasta etc. A nice touch was the Kerala curry available either as chicken or fish. Slaw enjoyed a rather fine Porter from their own brewery Breworks and the gents urinals are certainly a talking point!

Black Swan urinals

There are also lots of cafes in Pickering. A favourite of the Slaw’s is Feast on the High Street. Dog friendly with local artwork for sale adorning the walls. There’s a very light and airy room as you walk in. Up the stairs, interestingly through the serving point, there is a cosy alternative seating area. The breakfasts are very good. Slaw had the full breakfast, served with quality sausages (always a bonus!) Mrs Slaw had the eggs benedict with ham and extra side of black pudding. An excellent choice, just rather too much ham for her personal preference. It is reassuring to be served by staff who have worked there for years and operate a slick service.

Even though the Wartime event had been cancelled, a lot of shops had quite obviously prepared for an influx of 1940s loving tourists with their themed window displays and strategically placed items to catch your eye. Bargains were had! Mrs K purchased a delightful vintage handbag and Mrs Slaw a CD of 1940s music. There were a handful of reenactors parading in their vintage clothing. The ladies resplendent in dress coats, corsages and stunning hats. The gents in uniform or gabardine and trilby. A small vintage vehicle parade gave a tempting glimpse into past year’s parades and hopefully parades to come in the future.

Willys Jeep
The Beast!

Once the parade was over, the Slaw’s decided to explore the Pickering they haven’t seen before. A steady walk past the railway station up to Pickering Castle was first on the itinerary. Mrs Slaw was riding bareback; no colour coordinated folder😳 It’s an easy walk around the ramparts of the Norman castle. It harks back to William the Conqueror and survived the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War. No chance of exploring the interior though as Mrs Slaw hadn’t pre-booked online tickets 🤦🏻‍♀️. A bit of a missed opportunity for English Heritage. No one was in the grounds. Four people were willing to pay and have a look round, but no pre-booking = no entry.

Pickering Castle

As no entry was allowed at the castle, the next activity was the Quaker Meeting House open garden. A delightful oasis of peace and calm. Perfectly manicured lawns edged with beautiful floral displays. Hung from the trees were thought provoking cards. Miss Gorgeous took time to sit and contemplate and Mrs Slaw found it hard to tear herself away. But the pub was calling Slaw!

Quaker Meeting House

The White Swan is bitter sweet for the Slaw’s. The pub is lovely, with cosy seating areas, fine ales and good food, but they loathe putting money in its coffers. A few years ago the pub started to rent out a cottage in the village. The Slaw’s and Miss Gorgeous rented this for a week for the Railway in wartime weekend for £750. It was perfectly placed, period style and decor. Just perfect! They tried to book it for the year after; the price had doubled to £1500 🤬. Needless to say, it wasn’t re-booked!

The White Swan

After a steadier night than Friday night 😉, Sunday dawned bright and fine. Today was the day for the steam train ride from Pickering to Whitby. The Optimist Service runs twice daily and gives nearly three hours in Whitby. Slaw entertained the private compartments in carriage A with 1940s music. Backpacks and vintage cases were emptied of beer, gin and whisky and Mrs K had a word with Mr K who was enjoying himself rather too much! The Slaw’s, Miss Gorgeous and Ms TT enjoyed lunch in the Abbey Wharf after walking through Sandgate. Mrs Slaw spent the rest of the day singing The Keel Row! Slaw chose fish and chips and Mrs Slaw the mussels. Oh no! Was this to be a repeat of mussel-gate in Banavie? Thank goodness, no! Mrs Slaw was very pleased with her mussels. Served in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce, just as she likes them. A receptacle was provided for the shells, but alas no finger bowl. Mrs Slaw is now resigned to the fact that she cannot find a perfect mussel meal. She sighed deeply and asked for a finger bowl. The young waiter stifled a snigger, looked at Mrs Slaw like she was an alien, but returned with the requested bowl. All too soon it was time for the train back. Mr Perky had re-stocked with beer and a joyous time was had on the return journey! Until next time dear friends.

Pickering station in the steam

Tan Hill Inn

The view from the Loch side pitch at Ardlui Marina last night was breathtaking. From Helga’s cab window it looked like she was actually on Loch Lomond and the movement of the water made it feel like she was cruising.

Helga cruising Loch Lomond

Mrs Slaw used the facilities on site this morning to wash her hair. Such a disappointment! While the facilities were clean and well-maintained, the water pressure was terrible 😢 For most of the shower it was an abysmal trickle and even worse when a loo was flushed.

Cabin Crew prepare for take off! Mrs Slaw performed the pre-flight checks in the cabin while Slaw completed the outside jobs. It is a well-oiled, slick manoeuvre. Never planned or orchestrated. It has just evolved over their eight or so years of motorhoming. The final route through Scotland commenced. It was a bright, sunny but cold day. The penultimate day of the Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip, taking in the NC500. Tonight’s stopover though is in England. The road along the shores of Loch Lomond was reminiscent of the road Slaw drove our Vera down at the side of Lago Maggiore in the Italian lakes. Winding, tight and hairy in places; especially when you meet a big vehicle coming the other way! All too soon Helga crossed the border into England.

Back in England

Once Helga left the busy M6 and A66, the roads became smaller and smaller until it was just a single track road heading over the Yorkshire moors. Slaw commented on the lack of passing places. It seems England are far behind Scotland in that respect. However, the open moorland with stunning views for miles around gladdened the hearts of Slaw and the Mrs. The rugged raw beauty so familiar to Yorkshire folk. The Highland Coos now replaced by Swaledale Sheep, the emblem of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Tonight’s motorhome stopover is the Tan Hill Inn; famed for being the highest pub in Britain. A coaching inn since the 18th century, it sits aloft the moors at a heady 1,732 feet (528 metres) above sea level. While the pub has rooms available, motorhomes are welcome to stay overnight in the car park for a fee of £10 per person. Facilities include showers and loos. There is live music Friday and Saturday nights and a new attraction is the Dome Dining Experience. Mrs Slaw booked this as a treat for the last night of the holidays.

Tan Hill Inn

The Dome was set out beautifully. Crisp white table linen and napkins, shiny silver cutlery and sparkling glassware. A heater had made it the perfect temperature. An iPad played the songs of your choice. Mrs Slaw chose Prosecco and Slaw Guinness while they perused the menu. Slight let down for Mrs Slaw, the Prosecco was not served in a fizz flute, but a bog standard bar flute glass. Mrs Slaw has a thing about glassware. It makes or breaks a drink in her opinion. However, she soldiered on so as not to spoil the special occasion. The Dome is dog friendly so Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl were in attendance.

The pooches in the Dome

The dining experience is a three course meal with a bottle of wine or Prosecco. The menu choices are fairly broad. From chicken and chips, to curry, to steak. Starters are standard; such as soup and prawn cocktail. Desserts equally standard; brownie, fudge cake, crumble, ice cream etc. The starters arrived and Mrs Slaw was delighted with her tomato soup. To say the staff had to fetch it from the kitchens, round the car park, and across the grass to the Dome it was piping hot! Homemade and rustic it is a good choice. Slaw was happy with his prawn cocktail too. A good start!

The Dome Dining Experience

The sun was beating down on the Dome. The glare from the white linen was strong. Mrs Slaw ended up wearing sunglasses! She turned the heater off as she was now the colour of the soup 🍅 This was a mistake. The sun was now hidden by big black clouds and the wind and rain were lashing the Dome. It was soon apparent that the zip on the door into the Dome was broken and it was blowing a hoolie through the gaps. The temperature dropped and the heater was turned on again. This change in weather continued all afternoon as the wind blew the clouds and showers quickly through. It made for some stunning skies though.

Slaw in the Dome

The main courses were steak for Slaw and lamb shank for the Mrs. It is always a worry when Slaw orders steak as he’s probably sent more back than he’s enjoyed 🤦🏻‍♀️ However, it was cooked to perfection. Medium rare, with just the right amount of pink. Accompanied by a tasty peppercorn sauce. Mrs Slaw was also pleased with the lamb. Things were looking good.

Lamb shank

Desserts were also very good, but Slaw and the Mrs were full to bursting and so were unable to finish them. Coffees were declined. Overall, an enjoyable experience and something different. The food was good and the staff very attentive.

Mrs Slaw and a tractor

After their allotted three hours, the Slaw’s retired to the pub and were given a table in the ‘Rustic Barn’ where Crackpot played a live set. This was very strange! Live music in a pub? Not since February have they enjoyed such a thing. The duo played a mix of Irish and Americana foot stomping sing alongs that went down well with the crowd. New covid closing times adhered to and the pub was emptied by 10pm. It should be a good night’s sleep as the pub is in the middle of nowhere. It’s a clear night and the stars are out. A perfect end to a perfect holiday!

Crackpot

A meeting with Vera on the Bonny, Bonny banks of Loch Lomond

Mrs Slaw and the pooches set off for their morning constitutional from the Ben Nevis Campsite. They happened upon an open gate right at the bottom of the site. Ever the opportunist, Mrs Slaw quickly snuck through, furtively looking over her shoulder. The other side of the gate was a bit of a workman’s site; skipping past the machinery she found a little path that ran right along the river Lochy. It had been a frosty night (this is Mrs Slaw’s summer holiday for goodness sake! Wistful memories of that lovely new bikini for St Tropez fleetingly passed by) Mrs Slaw dug her hands deep down in the pockets of her Rab down jacket and wished she’d put her gloves on. It was all worth it though as she looked out over the river through the rising mist, at the heady heights of Ben Nevis broodingly towering over her.

Ben Nevis brooding over the misty Lochy

The holiday is coming to end. The Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip taking in the NC500 is now heading south. However, this morning has a western detour. It was a quick ‘off’ as there is a train to catch! The Jacobite Steam Train runs twice daily from Fort William to Mallaig and crosses the very picturesque Glenfinnan viaduct. A location used in the 1969 film Ring of bright water, but more recently, and famously, for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies. Mrs Slaw did her research and contacted the train operator to find out the times the Jacobite crosses the viaduct.

Helga arrived in plenty of time at the Glenfinnan visitor centre and a good job too! By 9.45am the car park was full. Slaw had made his plans to fly the drone over the viaduct to film the steam train. However, Mrs Slaw spotted the sign; ‘No drones’ 😢 Under the sign was another one though, that said ‘Permissions ring Alistair’ and a phone number. The call was made and a meeting arranged. Slaw was sweating a bit now as time was ticking by. Alistair arrived in his cow-muck green Landrover, dressed like a Scottish Laird in checked flannel shirt, green jumper and plaid knee breeches. Licence shown, insurance checked and questions from the drone code of conduct correctly answered. £10 admin fee duly paid and Alistair directed Slaw up the Glenfinnan Estate road to a large field from where to fly his drone. Whether Alistair is the Laird or the game keeper, someone is onto a good racket!

There were hoards of people climbed high up the hillside overlooking the viaduct for that ‘perfect’ shot. Looking backwards to the viewpoint from the visitor centre it was also packed. No pressure Slaw then to get that ‘perfect’ shot! The train was heard in the distance chugging as only steam trains can and a melancholy whistle sounded, echoing down the Glen. All around, the air was electric. The anticipation palpable. The Jacobite came into view from the right hand side; beautiful, shiny black engine and sleek red carriages. Snow white plumes of steam billowing from the engine perfectly suspended parallel to the carriages. It was majestic and stunningly framed in the nook of the Glen.

Jacobite steam train on the Glenfinnan viaduct

The Glenfinnan monument is on the Loch side of the road. An imposing structure at the head of Loch Shiel to commemorate Bonnie Prince Charlie. ‘Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing…’ (as we sung in school) On this site he raised his standard to recover the throne for his exiled Stuart ancestors in an arduous and unfortunate enterprise that ended at Culloden.

The Glenfinnan monument

Prince William had obviously had a veritable feast while mummy was taking photos. As Helga was travelling along the shores of Loch Linnhe, the Cottingham Cowgirl started crying. Mrs Slaw looked behind to the dog shelf, where the pooches travel in style in their harnesses and usually on a velvet blankie (currently travelling on a yellow and pink beach towel as Prince William puked on the velvet blankie 🤦🏻‍♀️) Prince William was looking very sorry for himself with something green and slimy hanging from his beard 🤮 The Cottingham Cowgirl had had enough and had jumped down away from her disgusting big brother (technically 1st cousin once removed 😜) Mrs Slaw set forth whilst Helga was still travelling. Her years as a coach hostess came into play as she held her own walking down the aisle looking for baby wipes, while Slaw looked for a suitable place to park. Mrs Slaw dealt with the offending item on the bench seat that Prince William had feasted upon. Some sort of tree nut? When will he learn? Mrs Slaw spends a fortune on grain free dog food with 65% animal ingredients for his delicate little tummy and he delights in filling his boots with cr*p then deposits it all over Helga 🤦🏻‍♀️

The incident dealt with, Helga continued on her route south. The drive through Glen Coe was stunning; reminiscent of the Slaw’s USA road trip through the canyons.

Glen Coe heading south.

The destination was reached; the Ardlui Resort at the head of Loch Lomond. Helga missed the entrance to the touring site and pulled into the hotel car park to be greeted by her predecessor! Our Vera! Would you believe it? These blogs have mentioned the Slaw’s beads and barefoot days many times and they regularly fondly reminisce about ‘our Vera’. She was reluctantly sold six years ago for a bigger van. She served the Slaw’s well. Taking them to France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy. Visiting the F1 GP in Spa and twice to Monza. Mrs Slaw was practically in tears! So emotional. What was even better was that the current owners love her just as much.

Our Vera

Helga parked up in her Loch side pitch. The most expensive pitch of the holiday. £35 per night, but the views of Loch Lomond are to die for!

Ardlui Loch side pitch

A few aperitifs in the hotel were consumed. Mrs Slaw was still quite emotional after reconnecting with V. The rosè was flowing! The conservatory was the second choice of seating as the recommended decking with views over the Loch was sodden from the lashing down rain. Not forecast on Mrs Slaw’s app 😡 The conservatory was cold with a through draught. So Slaw asked for our table this evening to be in the bar area. As expected the carpet was a tartan check. What was confusing though was the eclectic mix of decor. Quite fitting was a wall of taxidermy. A fox, an eagle, a large fish, and a stag. There was a wall of local history with old photos of the hotel. Then, seemingly out of sync two walls of Art Deco esque with striped wallpaper and mirror plaques with leaded flowers. Make your mind up Ardlui!

Mrs Slaw perused the menu. Mussels in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce. Ooh! Her favourite ❤️ But, after last night’s debacle with Mussel-gate in Banavie, Slaw was very happy when Mrs Slaw chose the Cullen Skink. Mrs Slaw was happy. Slaw was happy. When ordering, there was a wobble though. Mrs Slaw ordered the lamb and asked for it pink. The waiter said, he hasn’t got that option. It’s either medium, medium rare or rare. Mrs Slaw tried to explain those are steak options. She wants the lamb ‘pink’. In previous establishments she’s asked for it pink and the chef has sent it crozzled because those who ask for it pink send it back when it’s pink because it’s got blood in it 🤦🏻‍♀️ Mrs Slaw quite happily eats steak tartare so when she asks for rare or pink she means it! The main course arrived. It looked good and was beautifully pink. Sadly the meat was cold though. Mrs Slaw dare not sent it back for fear of it coming back crozzled. Very strangely it was served with onion rings, field mushrooms and a tomato. Not what Mrs Slaw is used to!

Heading South from the NC500

It was a clear night last night and Mrs Slaw was stargazing through Helga’s bedroom roof light. A myriad of twinkling lights shining hues of blue and pink that lulled her to sleep. It was night 12 of the Slaw’s Scotland road trip in the motorhome taking in the NC500.

Day 13 was a lovely sunny start in Dornoch. Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl enjoyed a pleasant morning constitutional to the beach. Only a 10 minute walk from the Dornoch Caravan and Camping Park. Today is tinged with sadness though as it is the day the NC500 is completed. However, there are still four days left of the holiday and the weather forecast is promising.

Dornoch beach.

The drive south from Dornoch takes you over the Dornoch Firth. There are very pretty views to the right, of mountains in the distance and to the left looking back you see the full vista of the miles and miles of sandy beaches. It’s a fairly unremarkable stretch of road along the Cromarty Firth to Dingwall. However, a very fast road compared to those of late. A crumpled shell of a car, tied up like a birthday present in police tape, had its resting place in the ditch as a reminder to other travellers. One lady did not take heed and performed a very dangerous manoeuvre behind Helga, which very nearly resulted in her making a garage out of Helga’s bedroom! Slaw gestured rudely to her out of the window as she sped past 🤬

Helga turned off the drag strip just before the Cromarty bridge and took the Moray Firth Tourist Route to Dingwall. This is the official NC500 route. Mrs Slaw had identified a picnic table icon on the map just out of Dingwall and earmarked it for a brunch stop. Sadly, although there is a very pretty picnic area at the end of Ferry Road, it’s not really suitable for large motorhomes. Back on the road to find a better place, Mrs Slaw directed Slaw to a Forestry car park. Slaw declined as he thought it was a bus stop 🤦🏻‍♀️ Helga ended up parked in the services at Tore for Slaw to make sausage and egg butties. Mrs Slaw was quite happy observing two very buff loggers attending to their flat bed trucks 😜 All too soon, Helga crossed the bridge in Inverness with a view of the castle and the NC500 was complete! Helga had covered 575 miles. The official route is 516, but Helga had a few additions to Badachro, Firemore, Sheigra etc.

Inverness, the end of the NC500

Wester Ross is definitely a place that the Slaw’s will return to. The North and East did not hold the same delights for the Slaw’s and it’s a case of ‘been there done that’; however, the elusive NC500 T-shirt in a size less than large is still to be found 😉

The final leg of the holiday has now commenced. Wending our way down through the Highlands and Lowlands and back to God’s own county, Yorkshire. Helga hugged the shores of Loch Ness, seemingly not wanting to leave this beautiful area. The route passed through Drumnadroicht; a hive of activity with bars and cafes with their outside tables full of holiday makers enjoying the sunshine. Loch Ness’ waters are a deep cobalt blue. Stare at them for a time and who knows what you will see? The Loch follows the Great Glen Fault that was formed around 430 – 390 million years ago and cuts diagonally from Fort William to Inverness. Loch Oich was the next Loch en route. The waters were so still and tranquil. The images reflected in perfect symmetry. The waters so clear, Mrs Slaw was tempted to go for a swim.

Loch Oich

Fort William is the stop for the night. The Ben Nevis Holiday Park is aptly named with superb views of the Nevis Range, including oor Ben. All facilities are open at the time of the visit. It’s a very well set out site with hardstandings, lush green grass and pretty trees affording shade. There was a conundrum though, Mrs Slaw was directed to pitch 15. Pitch 15 was duly located, with a marker for pitch 15 and also a marker for pitch 16 on the same pitch? It was also the last pitch on the row, but the leaflet showed 15 and 16 as separate?? After a bit of head scratching, Slaw decided that as the pitch was next door to 14, it must be 15. God help the poor beggar who arrives to pitch on 16. It’s seems it’s like platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. Everyone knows it’s there, but no one can find it 🤣

Helga in the shadow of Ben Nevis

This stop was chosen for the Neptune staircase locks on the Caledonian Canal. The lady on reception told Slaw it was a 15 minute walk to the locks. She lied. It’s 30 minutes. Mrs Slaw knows because she timed it! The locks were not as photogenic as the locks at Fort Augustus according to Mrs Slaw. But there was some interesting artwork lockside. Mrs Slaw thought it was a urinal from afar 🤣🤣

Neptune’s Lock artwork

Slaw had done his research for the area and booked a table at The Moorings Hotel next to the locks. Mrs Slaw chose mussels and Prosecco and Slaw steak and San Miguel. Mrs Slaw waited, just waited, for the complaints from Slaw. It started. A disdainful look. A smacking of the lips. A sniff of the drink. Oh no, here we go! Slaw even argued with Italians about how Peroni should taste (see my blog Tre Laghi in un giorno) how will a Scots lady serving Spanish beer fare? He had his drink replaced and seemed content. Oh dear, Mrs Slaw’s food arrived. It looked magnificent. However, no receptacle was brought for the shells. Mrs Slaw had to ask. A bad sign. A few mouthfuls in and it wasn’t good. Mussels served in a white wine and cream sauce should have garlic as a flavouring in the opinion of Mrs Slaw, and believe me she is a bit of a seafood connoisseur. These were flavoured with tarragon! Yes, really 😱 In addition, the pancetta (yes, really!) was fatty and the baguette extremely dry. Mrs Slaw is an expert mussel eater. Using a shell to extricate the others. Wait! No finger bowl had been brought. Even worse. Mrs Slaw had to ask again (take cover!! The pocket rocket could be about to launch!) Luckily for the hotel, no one came to ask how the food was, and when the plates were cleared, no one asked how the food had been. Slaw ushered Mrs Slaw out very quickly and The Moorings Hotel lived for another day!

Mussels served with no shell receptacle or finger bowl.

The turning tides of the NC500

The day dawned with driving, horizontal rain. Mrs Slaw and the pooches got very wet on their morning constitutional. Helga was parked in the Seaview Hotel car park at John O Groats. A motorhome stopover on the NC500. A much preferable option to sleeping in the public car park at JOG. The evening meal had been very nice. Both Slaw and the Mrs had chicken and haggis with a whisky sauce. Mrs Slaw followed hers with an ice cream sundae with Orkney fudge. Delicious! She felt sick afterwards; her own greedy fault 🤦🏻‍♀️

After seeing the negative local signs on the North Coast yesterday, Slaw checked out the most up-to-date online reviews for tomorrow night’s free camp. The car park at the Neptune Locks at Banavie had previously had good reviews. However, September had a new review – ‘Definitely not allowed to stay overnight’. Mrs Slaw started hyperventilating and having visions of flaming torches and pitchforks again. Slaw was on it! He found a campsite near enough so he can still walk to the famous staircase locks on the Caledonian canal. But that is tomorrow, back to today.

It’s a cold, wet and grey day. Manky weather according to Mrs Slaw. Ever the good Girl Scout, Mrs Slaw referred to the pre-planned colour coordinated folder. The oracle of the Slaw’s Scotland Road Trip 2020. Mrs Slaw’s pride and joy. First activity is a visit to Duncansby Head to see the stacks of Duncansby. Helga parked in the car park among the overnight free campers and bales of rotting hay, dumped by locals trying to prevent and discourage the free campers. Feelings are running high at the moment and Mrs Slaw cannot understand why the campers feel the need to camp in the car park that clearly states ‘No overnight parking’ when the John O Groats car park allows 12 hours in a day for £2 (making an overnight stop just £4), the Seaview Hotel offers motorhome stopover free when you have a meal, and the Lobster Co. only charge £10 per night to park in their car park. Plenty of alternative choices without creating animosity.

The walk to see the stacks of Duncansby is across a few fields. Mrs Slaw was chuntering to herself. ‘So, what did you do on holiday Mrs Slaw?’ ‘Well, I tramped across a field in driving, stinging, eye-watering, horizontal rain to go and look at some lumps of stone stuck out o’t’sea!’ There’s a laugh around every corner with Slaw though. He stepped on a wooden walkway and just as Mrs Slaw said ‘be careful, that looks slippery …..’ Slaw set off like Wayne Sleep performing an ungainly glissade! He made a superb recovery! Only his pride was dented 🤣

Stacks of Duncansby

Next stop was not an activity, but a necessity. Wick is a big town with all the usuals, Tesco, Argos, Pets at home. Mrs Slaw went shopping for the items not easily sourced in the Highland Crofter’s local shops. Soya milk and gluten free bread for Slaw. Back on the road again; still raining, but a glimpse of brighter skies ahead. Mrs Slaw wistfully thought of sunnier climes, usually experienced on her two-week summer holiday. Not to be this year. Hey-ho! An executive decision was made to do an Alastair Griffin aka ‘Just drive’. Sky Sports F1 theme tune. Next stop Dunrobin Castle approx 50 miles south.

The most interesting part of this section of the NC500, according to Mrs Slaw, was the wind farms and oil rigs out to sea and the grass roofed sheep huts. Good insulation in all weathers perhaps? Mrs Slaw picked up a theme in place names along the way. Ulbster, Occumster, Lybster. Intrigued, she looked into the meaning of ‘ster’. Apparently, according to forum.caithness.org it means ‘stead’ as in homestead or farmstead and is an old Norse word.

Past Berridale, driving through the Langwell Forest, you are reminded of the beautiful scenery of the West Coast. Winding roads, herds of deer, mountains silhouetted on the right hand side. It has finally stopped raining! Mrs Slaw feels like she is on holiday again. Looking out to sea, you can make out Tarbet Ness over the Dornoch Firth. There are glimpses of blue skies ahead! Helga passed the Clynelish Distillery at Brora but amazingly didn’t stop 🤣 Brora is a pretty little town with higgeldy piggledy houses and brightly painted shops.

Dunrobin Castle is the home of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland. Mrs Slaw knew from research that neither the castle nor the grounds are dog friendly. However, there is a woodland walk that you can take dogs on that takes you across the beach in front of the castle where you can get the perfect insta photo with the castle in the background. Slaw, Mrs Slaw, Prince William and the Cottingham Cowgirl set forth into the woods. They came across the fenced off burial ground of the Dukes and Earls in a clearing with a magnificent stone memorial and then headed onto the beach track. Alas! The tide was in. Thwarted of the perfect insta photo the only one available today was the rear of the castle.

The rear of Dunrobin Castle

Next on the activity list was the Loch Fleet nature reserve. According to Mrs Slaw’s research, this is full of sand banks with seals posing for the tourists. Mrs Slaw knows this because she’s seen the photos on social media. Guess what? The tide that was in at Dunrobin, was also in at Loch Fleet 🤦🏻‍♀️ No visible sand banks, just a solitary seal bobbing about in the middle of the Loch. The ruined Skelbo Castle sits just above the south shore car park. A toothless relic of days gone by,

Skelbo Castle

Tonight’s campsite is Dornoch Camping and Caravanning Site. Not a CCC site as Mrs Slaw thought! A very friendly welcome and Helga was soon pitched. Time to explore the town. Mrs Slaw was fascinated by the Witches Stone in someone’s front garden. Dornoch is famed for the last recorded execution of a person convicted of witchcraft by stripping, tarring and burning alive. The stone marks the site of Janet Horne’s execution in 1727.

The Witches Stone

Dornoch has other interesting places to explore, such as the old jail, now a maze of independent retailers setting out their wares in the cells. Mrs Slaw purchased her favourite Sea Kelp hand soap and conditioner on a stylish white porcelain stand. In the back streets there were photo opportunities in abundance. Mrs slaw found a picture perfect house and car. Heartbeat-esque!

However, Dornoch is not dog friendly. The first two establishments where Slaw tried to spend money over the bar refused the pooches entry 😱 Finally, they were allowed in the Coach House bar and restaurant. A very pleasant evening was spent chatting to fellow travellers. In fact, it seemed that without tourists, the bar would be empty. Tomorrow we finish our amazing NC500 route and head further south through Scotland. We will definitely return to the Highlands.