A Couple of Days in the Orlu Valley

20/09/18 – 21/09/18

We headed back downhill from the 3-Ax ski area to Ax-les-Thermes and parked in the same daytime parking spot as we did a couple of days ago. Here we wander around the town and manage to take in more than we did the first time round. It’s a pretty little town once you head away from the main road. We explore a few shops and pick up bread products for the next couple of days, steering clear of anything that’s too artisanal for Paul to chew (he does like a white fluffy bread). In the town square there is a small food market but the thing that attracts me the most is the thermal pool where people are soaking their feet in the thermal waters that give the town it’s name. 

Free thermal foot spa

From town we head out on a smallish road that takes us to the Orlu valley. Our research has given us two possible parking spots. The lower one near the Forges d’Orlu where there are a few tourist attractions and the higher one up at le Fanguil. The road to the higher area looks narrow and so we decide to park in the large lower area and cycle up to le Fanguil to see what it’s like.

We cycle up the road to the higher parking area which is more open aspected. I would prefer to park here, but Paul is not happy to drive it; the herders are moving their sheep and cattle down the mountain and he doesn’t want to get in their way. As we’re not going to drive up we decide that we will cycle as far as we can up the valley. The ongoing path leads to a mountain refuge at the Etangs d’en Beys and starts as a wide track. We cycle steadily up the track which is a bit rocky under our wheels but not too difficult. At one point we are over taken by a man on an electric bike and in turn we over take several walkers including a large group of teenagers on some sort of school outing.

We don’t make it as far as the refuge but we do make it to the end of the track where the footpath branches off over the river. Here we rest and have a drink before we turn around and make our bone shaking descent. I realise that my uphill cycling muscles need some work as I am completely shattered by the time we get back.

Cycling back down the track
Views of the Dent d’Orlu from the valley
Cows being driven down the road

We stay the night in the lower carpark which has the benefit of a toilet block but no other motorhome services. We have a look around the small national park centre and admire the adventure playground where another, younger, school group are having a fab time. There is a wolf sanctuary here but it is not open, we don’t know if there are wolves in situ, but the next morning we hear howling and assume they must be, what a shame it was closed.

The following morning we take the walk up to the Etang de Naguille. It’s a steep walk through woodland at first following the stream up along damp and ferny paths. We see a lot of fungi and frogs, plus one large toad that hops lethargically out of the path in front of us.

Toadstool….
…and Toad

We slowly emerge from the woodland onto the open mountainside. There is a large dam across the lake which feeds the EDF power station in the valley below and we have to climb up a broken concrete ramp to one side of the dam as the original path, which zig-zagged across this ramp, is closed. It’s a stiff old climb but once we are at the top we are rewarded with the view of the lake stretching in front of us, it’s calm waters reflecting the surrounding mountains. Although we had planned to climb higher to the next set of lakes we decide this is a fitting climax to our first mountain walk in the Pyrenees and we decide to turn back. We are exhausted and we can already tell that our legs will be tight and sore the following day.

Cable car used for transporting equipment up to the dam.
View of the dam from below
The lake, and the end point of our walk

We drive back down to Ax-les-Thermes that afternoon. There are two aires in the town and one of them is next to the municipal swimming pool. We time our arrival before the swimming pool shuts which means that we can actually get in the aire and we can use the showers. It’s €5 euros for the night and the showers don’t look like much but they are hot and powerful. The women’s changing rooms are locked so I sneak into the men’s. Paul and I are in adjacent cubicles making sounds of pleasure as the hot water soothes our aching muscles. I just hope no one walks in as it probably sounds a bit dodgy.

Cycle the Orlu Valley
  • Distance: 18.1 km
  • Total Elevation: 602 m
  • Time taken: 2hrs 56mins
  • Type of Route: Easy off road cycle on wide but stony tracks
  • Further Information: IGN Carte de Randonnees Pyrenees 7
Walk to the Etang de Naguille
  • Distance: 10.18 km
  • Total Elevation: 1109 m
  • Time taken: 5hrs 44mins
  • Type of Route: Moderate walk along well marked tracks with steep sections
  • Further Information: IGN Carte de Randonnees Pyrenees 7

 

Stretching our Legs

19/08/18

We feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep and wake to find that the skies are blue and any signs of the previous night’s thunder and rain have been swept away. While we have our breakfast we watch several coaches roll up and pick people up from the hotel opposite us. Despite the ski resort being almost empty this hotel seems to do a roaring trade with coach parties, that evening another four coach-loads turn up. From our vantage point it’s an ugly concrete monstrosity, but from the other side you can see a generous restaurant terrace and balconies that look across the valley to the mountains on the other side. The only other thing that’s open is the Immobilier and when we wander around the streets we see the estate agent showing people around one of the chalets that is for sale.

Near the lift station is a map of walks in the area, none of them are particularly long but we decide to follow the blue trail to the top of the lift and then the orange trail back down again. The trails are marked with splodges of coloured paint and we follow them up a track through the woodlands. Part way along the track a maintenance vehicle pulls alongside us and lets us know (in good English, fortunately) that the route to the top is shut as they are building a new ski lift. He advises us to follow the purple route back down to the ski resort, so we skirt the muddy edge of the work site until we can turn left down another track.

As we head downhill the track is less churned up by the works vehicles. A small stream runs under a clapper bridge and the floor of the largely coniferous woodland is sprinkled with interesting fungi. Information boards are placed at regular intervals along here informing us of the types of trees that we can see. Where the trees part and views emerge there is information about the peaks and valleys. It makes a rather average walk a bit more interesting.

Clapper bridge over the stream
A row of Fly Agaric mushrooms

We devote the afternoon to cleaning. It’s not like us, but Paul had picked up some polish in Halfords and wanted to see what sort of difference it made to the exterior paintwork. He is so pleased with the result that he gets rather over excited and spends a few hours buffing Bertie. I feel too guilty to just laze in the sunshine so I do a bit of cleaning in between studying maps and deciding how we will spend the next few days.

Bertie getting a rub down

That evening we stay for a second night and watch the comings and goings of the coach loads of tourists as we discuss various options for parking spots over the coming days. Paul’s priority is clear – stay as high as possible – the sun and warm weather looks like it’s around for at least the next week.          

Randonnee des 3 Jasses et Campels

  • Distance: 8.3 km
  • Total Elevation: 297 m
  • Time taken: 2hrs 16mins
  • Type of Route: Easy walk along well marked tracks
  • Further Information: From tourist information in the 3-Ax Ski area

 

Cooling Down and Moving Up

17/09/18 – 18/09/18

After looking at the weather forecast, where numbers in the thirties were far too prevalent, we decided that we had to get to a higher altitude as soon as possible. The problem was that we were heading south and so the weather was getting progressively warmer, but at least we knew we would be rewarded with the possibility of high altitude parking. Bertie’s greenhouse-like cab developed a rather pungent aroma as we drove south without the benefit of air conditioning.

When we stopped for a quick break we realised that for the second time Paul had left our petrol cap behind at a fuel station. The first time that this happened I was willing to accept that it may not have been Paul’s fault, but now it was feeling like a habit. We tried a Norauto and a Feu-Vert without any success, but a very helpful assistant in the Feu-Vert recommended the local Autodistribution, a ‘proper’ auto parts store where we found ourselves a temporary replacement (again).

A couple of hundred miles south and 5 hours driving later we stopped before we expired of heat exhaustion. The aire in Grisolles was just off a main thoroughfare into Toulouse and we found a spot under the shade of the trees where we people watched for the rest of the day. Top spot of the afternoon was a man who returned from a bike ride, changed into his speedos and took his hosepipe to the motorhome service area where he washed himself down over the grey water disposal. Not something I’ve ever seen before, but I’m sure that the cold water was very refreshing.

The following morning we set off for Foix, a town where the lowlands of the northern Ariège meet the Pyrenean mountains of the Haute-Ariège. We parked up in the free aire and wandered into the town to find the tourist office. The tourist office was rather low on maps, but provided a booklet of local walks. We may work our way back when the weather is cooler and complete a couple of them, Foix was a pleasant town, but for the time being we still needed to find a cooler spot.

Foix aire, a snug fit but free

After using the free services in Foix we drove on a few km to Ax-les-Thermes, parked up in the daytime motorhome parking (next to the river on the Boulevard Paul Sabatier) and popped into the tourist office where they had more maps but were slightly less helpful. I had a moment of great frustration when I knew that the couple next to us were being shown a free map of walks in the area but the assistant who was ‘helping’ us didn’t even mention it. Eventually I had to just ask her to give us the same free map that the other couple had walked out with. I also bought two maps (I love a map) but by this point obtaining the free map was a point of principle.

A satisfaction of maps

Finally we drove up to the extremely quiet 3-Ax ski station above the town where the weather was fresher. In fact there was a bit of a shower and some distant thunder – bliss.

The motorhome parking spot at the ski station

 

 

A Cycle Round the Lac de Saint-Pardoux

15/09/18 – 16/09/18

We spent the next day driving and with a couple of hundred more miles under our belts and the temperatures slowly rising into the low thirties we decided we needed to find somewhere we could cool down. This ended up being a large free aire at the park area of Lac de Saint-Pardoux.

Sheltered under the pine trees, in well marked out spaces, we could cool down a little. The lake offered swimming in blissfully cool water, the beach nearest the aire was busy (but not packed) with families enjoying a warm Saturday afternoon. We wandered around the area to decide whether we would stay or move on the following day. There was a large swimming pool, the inside pool was open but the outside area with water slides was closed for the season, there were basketball and five aside pitches, a play area for younger children, a high ropes course for older kids and a bike ride around the lake’s higgledy-piggledy circumference.

Relaxing on the lakeside beach   

We decided that a gentle bike ride might be a nice idea the following day, the notice board gave a distance of 24k, so not a long ride, it was mostly under the shelter of the surrounding trees and we could take our swimming stuff for a dip if we overheated.

What we hadn’t realised was that the bike ride was not all on the wide well surfaced trails that we could see from the Maison du Lac de Saint-Pardoux. I suppose the pair of serious mountain bikers making their preparations in the car park should have warned us, but we just assumed they were either off on a different path or took every ride far too seriously.  As we set off, making a couple of false starts before we found the route south around the closed high-ropes playground, we realised that at least some of the way would be on dirt tracks. In fact it ended up being a fun mountain bike route with lots of short ups and downs, narrow single track, rocky outcrops and roots. One uphill section was so steep that I had to get off and push and spent several minutes struggling to get any grip with my trainers and wondering whether I would just have to give up and slide back down to the bottom of the slope.

It seems that every bike ride ends up with one of our bikes upside down

As we approached the last part of the route, where the cycle path was due to cross a narrow stretch of land near Puyperier we hit a problem. The path was barriered off with diggers and ditches behind fencing. We attempted to find a way onwards, but increasingly overgrown paths led us onwards to a dead end where we encountered a group of orange clad hunters with their slavering dogs. I know that might seem a little over dramatic, but one of the hounds had blood on it’s jaws and obviously didn’t like bikes. I leapt off my bike and put it’s frame between me and the dog as one of the hunters came and dragged it away. We let them move away into the undergrowth and waited until we could no longer hear the barking and the sound of horns before we retraced our steps back to the Santrop bridge where the D44 crossed the lake and we could get back to Bertie.

Bertie enjoying the shade of the pine trees

Lac de Saint Pardoux Circuit

  • o    Distance: (with detours) 26.77 km
  • o    Total Elevation: 491 m
  • o    Time taken: 2hrs 55mins
  • o    Type of Route: Easy Single Track with short road sections
  • o    More Information

We stayed for a second night in this peaceful and comfortable aire, relaxing under the trees in the evening warmth with a glass of something alcoholic and listening to the hooting of owls. A welcome break on our long journey south.

Sun setting behind us

 

Walls and Water Lilies

14/09/18

We had arrived in France at dusk, and made our way to the aire in Montreuil. We don’t normally drive in the dark and the combination of mostly unlit roads with the moving lights of the wind turbines made for a strangely eerie journey. We were glad to get to the busy aire and negotiate into a spot in the overflow parking area.

On waking the following morning everything seemed much more normal. The aire was packed with French vans, their occupants stopping to chat to each other as they made their way into town or to the service point. We exchanged a bonjour or two as we popped out for a stroll around the towns walls before heading into the main square to set ourselves up with some cash. As well as the impressively high town walls (very wide but with no railings to stop you from falling into the allotments below) built after an attack by the Hapsburgs, the town was the British GHQ in the first world war. 

The brick walls of Montreuil were constructed in 1537 – you can walk around the wide tops of the walls

After stretching our legs we returned to the van and moved on. Our destination was Giverny, a small town that now is a busy tourist attraction, being the location of Monet’s house and gardens and a museum of impressionism. Our aim was to get here in early afternoon so that we could visit Monet’s gardens before they closed at 6. We had no desire to battle the Saturday morning crowds, and a tip from Trip Advisor had suggested that a late afternoon visit would be far less crowded than an early start.

The tip seemed to be accurate. When we arrived just before 4 there was only one coach in the car park, when we opened our curtains the following morning there were already half a dozen coaches parked up and more were arriving.

Monet moved to Giverny in 1883 when he was in his 40s. Initially he rented the house and lands. As he started to sell more paintings he amassed enough wealth to buy the house, lands and additional water meadows on the other side of the main road. He spent a lot of time on the gardens, becoming a keen gardener (with help of course). The gardens have an English cottage garden feel with packed borders surrounding grassy lawns. Although they are small they are exuberantly vibrant with colour. Dahlias, arranged according to their colour, were the star of our visit and the long nasturtium tunnel was a stunning focal point even if it had suffered from the hot dry weather. These underrated flowers trailed across the paths and up the arched supports in a riot of fiery tones and green leaf.

The rose and nasturtium arch leads through the centre of the garden to the house

To get to the water meadows, the famous Japanese bridge and the lake of water lilies you have to use a tunnel under the road. This area had a peaceful atmosphere despite being busy. You can see why Monet painted the scene here many times with so many perspectives. The light shines through the leaves of the willows and the tall bamboo creating dappled reflections on the water. Huge carp swim lazily in the lake between white and pink lilies. 

The lake of water lilies is like an ideal of impressionism

Monet’s house has been restored with the help of photographs from the time when Monet lived there. His studio walls are covered with reproductions of his paintings and the other walls of the house hold his large collection of Japanese prints. His bedroom has large windows that provide fantastic views over the garden, a comfortable space that would be difficult to leave. However the two tone yellow dining room, followed by the busily blue kitchen was a bit much for my eyes.

The yellow dining room may have put me off my dinner!

The cost of visiting Monet’s house and gardens is under 10 euros each and two or three hours is enough time to take it all in. It’s a shame that you cant wander all of the paths through the gardens, but with the volume of visitors you can understand why some areas are restricted. For motorhomers the bonus is a large free car park (no services) where a 24 hour stay is permitted.

My own garden would never have been a patch on this – but oh how I miss it! 

On the Way to France: Plans and Shopping Lists.

13/08/18

While we’ve been in the UK we’ve debated our travelling preferences – what do we really enjoy and what makes us stressed? What is the right balance of rest and activity? How far do we want to drive? How much culture do we want, how much do we eat out, how much time do we spend on outdoor activities?. As a result of some rather desultory introspection (it’s not really our thing), usually accompanied by a drink or two, we decided that mountains are our thing. I think that pretty much everyone can admire a mountain view and mountainous terrain supports our favourite pastimes of hiking and biking (and a bit of skiing). Plus mountains are usually cooler (we get grouchy in the heat) and they always bring a smile to our faces.

Our trip to continental Europe this time is going to focus on the Pyrenees. We’ll travel around the mountains on both the French and Spanish side until the weather becomes so foul that we’re driven to lower altitudes. Then we will get a bit of culture and perhaps some beach time in central and Mediterranean Spain. Importantly (for us) we will be returning to the UK for the festive season. Our attempt to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Spain last year just didn’t work. It reminded us of the one time we tried spending Christmas Day just as a couple; Paul ended up doing DIY and I pottered in the garden – just another normal day. We want to be close to friends and family to get that festive feeling.

As we drove to Folkestone to catch our train under the channel, we pondered our pre-embarkment shopping list. Last year we loaded up Bertie with the contents of our kitchen cabinets, full of money saving bulk buys and multi purchases. We’ve just about managed to get through all of that and have got into the discipline of having just one of each store cupboard essential in order to avoid impractically stuffed cupboards. However there are some things that we have found difficult to obtain while in foreign countries; not impossible, our last purchase of Fish Sauce was from an Asian stall in the food market of Florence, but finding them is mostly about luck.

We wanted to make sure we had enough of these items to last us the next three months. Here’s our list of those peculiarly British items that were on our shopping list (including those cross cultural ingredients that we have adopted into our everyday lives):

·         Gravy Granules (I’ll make do with bouillon powder and flour for thickening, but it’s nice to have some gravy granules for emergencies)

·         Golden Syrup (I managed to make a reasonable imitation last year, but Paul still prefers the real thing)

·         Mint Sauce (I also managed to make some mint sauce, but again it didn’t get the full seal of approval)

·         Tea Bags (okay, lots are available but I’m not a fan of Lipton’s Yellow Label and I do like a standard British cuppa, despite taking my tea black)

·         Squash/Cordial (makes the drinks in our Camelbaks taste less like plastic)

·         Salad Cream (yuck from me, a must have for Paul)

·         Heinz Tomato Soup

·         Chutney/Pickle (all those cheeses need an accompaniment – our favourite suppliers are Cherry Tree and Tracklements)

·         Rice Wine (I find it gives that extra something to stir fried veg, dry sherry will do at a pinch)

·         Hoi Sin Sauce (yummy with Duck or Salmon)

·         Fish Sauce (great savoury seasoning for many things, not just east Asian dishes)

·         Mango Chutney and Lime Pickle

·         Hot Madras Curry Powder (the most versatile curry powder)   

Just Before We Go

10/09/18 -12/09/18

It has been such a busy summer. Three months we have been back and yet I don’t know where the time has gone. It’s been wonderful to catch up with people while we’ve been in the UK, and for everyone we have failed to see – apologies – we’ll make the time when we next return.

Our feet were getting really itchy and we were looking forward to getting back to Folkestone to get the tunnel (Tesco Clubcard vouchers again!) across to mainland Europe. Before we left we had three days in Taunton, an opportunity to spend some time with Auntie Margaret who was staying for a few days after Nan’s birthday, to give Bertie a wash (not a common event) and to cook dinner for Vicki and family in return for the use of their driveway and water.

Dunster Castle with Auntie Margaret
The beautiful Dream Garden in Dunster village
Climbing up Thorncombe Beacon on the South West Coast Path
Collecting Sloes
Sloe Gin – Now being carried around in Bertie’s Garage

 

A Very Important Birthday

06/09/18 – 09/09/18

Feeling like we were on possibly the shortest tour of the UK’s market towns we returned to Taunton. More celebrating was on the cards as Nan’s 90th birthday was imminent.

Nan was making the most of a fortuitous weekend Birthday with a lunch on Saturday in the medieval hall of Blackmore Farm, followed by a cream tea at home and then breakfast at Rumwell Farm Shop on the Sunday (the actual Birthday). Family had been gathered from around the country, children, grand children and great-grandchildren were present to help with the celebrations, close family friends (practically family after all) joined us in the celebrations. 

Family and friends gathered at Blackmore Farm
Waiting for dinner in the great hall

Ninety Years! Trying to imagine the changes that a ninety year old has seen is almost impossible. The ability to keep up, from the point when motorisation and automation was rare to the present computerised day, is not something that should be taken lightly. Despite Nan’s protestations she has kept up with the changes well, uses her laptop regularly (a new laptop was one of her gifts), banks online and is a keen texter. She is even looking forward to getting her first smart phone now that there is one available from the fantastic Doro.  

One of Nan’s gifts, a complement to her conscientiously kept diary and work in progress memoirs, was a picture album ranging from her childhood to the present day. It was handed from person to person while we enjoyed cream teas (hands were wiped clean first), with pictures taking us back to the time when Nan was a child and my great grandparents worked the land, through important weddings, family gatherings, and other events. Pictures started in black and white, until the early colour photos started to reveal things you may never have guessed from the monochrome prints, like the startlingly bright auburn of my Mum’s hair. Modern pictures may be more realistic but there is something evocative about the artificially painted quality of those colour photos. 

Me, my sisters and Nan

All too soon the gathered family members dispersed and went their separate ways, mostly back to the Luton/Watford/Bedford area. Who knows, in ten years time we may be celebrating a centenary, whether I’m still blogging at that point I don’t know, but I hope that I follow in Nan’s footsteps and keep a record of my day to day life.  

An Unexpected Journey

28/08/18 – 05/09/18

About 6 weeks ago we were on our way to Northumberland to spend a couple of weeks with Aaron and fiancé Kate, both of whom serve in the RAF. Now we were on our way back again to celebrate their last minute decision to tie the knot.

During the two weeks we spent with them they had shared their thoughts on their potential wedding. They didn’t want anything over the top and had been considering going abroad with close family and friends, or maybe a small wedding in the UK. We joked about them running away to get married without telling anyone. It was obvious they had been discussing their options and had lots of factors to consider, not least the armed forces rather old fashioned approach to couples (i.e. you have to be married or in a civil partnership to be considered for benefits like married quarters). Little did we know that a couple of weeks later they would have evaluated their options and decided to go ahead with a small wedding as soon as possible, although perhaps we should have seen it coming. 

With Kate due to be posted abroad in mid September they didn’t have a huge window of opportunity, and so the date was set as the 1st. We were notified by WhatsApp – how else would you let your parents know that you were getting married! Paul’s suit was dusted off and I ransacked the storage unit for possible dresses and had a minor meltdown when I couldn’t find any of my nice shoes. We booked a small site in Alnwick so that we could be within walking distance (the Shepherd’s Rest was expensive for a certified site, but we were paying for convenience).

Before we made our way up North we spent a few days in Taunton with my family, this time including youngest sister (also called Kate) and her two children. Then we made the long journey north, stopping off for a night in the carpark of the Bluebell Inn near Shirley in the midlands.

Entertaining the kids at French Weir park in Taunton

After a lovely intimate wedding with plenty of good food and drink, as befits such a food obsessed couple, we followed them down to Scampton where they were picking up the keys to married quarters. A substantial but empty three bedroomed house. Our role was to be there when various deliveries arrived and help sort out the various practical needs of moving into new accommodation. A flat pack extravaganza later and their house was looking more like a home and we could leave them to enjoy it for the few days before Kate’s posting. 

Flat Pack heaven – I was reading the instructions!

We are so proud of Aaron and Kate. No one can ever know what life has in store for them, but it’s always better with someone you love by your side. Here’s to the happy couple.

Just married

 

Bank Holiday Fun

24/08/18 – 27/08/18

The weather had truly turned by the time August bank holiday weekend came around. Gone were the long sunny, unnaturally warm days. Welcome back to the typical bank holiday weather; damp, cool and unsettled.

It got pretty chilly at times, blankets were needed.

But nothing was going to stop us enjoying ourselves. We were booked to spend the weekend with friends at Forest Glade campsite on the Devon/Somerset border. A motorhome, caravan and tent, 7 adults and one small child. We had booked it up quite late but they managed to get us into three very spacious pitches next to each other and the price wasn’t bad either.

Did I say one tent? I forgot about the VW.

We had a lovely weekend enjoying the facilities on the site. There was a small pool under a greenhouse style shelter – I bet it was lovely in the warm weather but it was a little chilly for us. The adventure playground had a very good zip wire (it’s not just for kids!), and an area for smaller children. There are plenty of bridleways and paths around the site, which is on a very level plateau on top of a hill, surrounded by forests, moorland and farms. I even managed a run (with Beverly) as well as several walks around the site.  

 

We Passed Our MOT

15/08/18 – 23/08/18

We took Bertie back to Tedburn St Mary and the accommodating and helpful MC services to have various repairs done to get through the MOT. As well as the steering rack and CV joint repairs we needed a few bits and pieces done including repair to the exhaust and handbrake adjustment. Bertie seems happier now, and if Bertie is happy then so are we.

Paul’s Dad took advantage of our visit to have some logs delivered to rebuild his winter log supply. A couple of hours saw us stack three tonnes of logs in one of the outbuildings. Paul and his Dad are very similar so I got lots of ‘helpful advice’ from both of them on the best log stacking technique. Let’s hope that it doesn’t fall over like some giant game of Jenga. We did such a good job of stacking logs that we were then invited to help fill bags of ice for ‘Mike the Fish’. Our reward was a roast dinner at the local pub, at OAP rates. Cheap labour.

Neatly stacked logs

We left Tedburn, had a quick stop in Taunton to do some chores, visit the family and get some washing done before going back down to Exmouth. We got our fix of rugby at a pre-season friendly for the Chiefs. Fingers crossed we will get to see them playing French side Castres in October.

All smiles at the rugby

While in Exmouth we also visited a few friends and had one day following the Exe estuary trail on our bikes, going from Exmouth into Exeter and then back out to Dawlish, before retracing our route a short distance back to Starcross where we got the foot (and cycle) ferry back to Exmouth.

Catching up with the gorgeous Sebastien (and his parents)

We spent most of the time on the campsite in Exmouth but also tried out the parking at the Imperial Recreation ground. This is one of the designated Motorhome parking areas in Exmouth now that overnight parking is no longer allowed at the seafront. It’s a lovely spot overlooking the estuary with views of stand up paddlers, kayakers and kite surfers enjoying the calm, shallow waters of the ‘dock pond’, but I can foresee some conflicts arriving between the motorhomes and the people who use that area for water based activities (although some people combine both). At £11 for twenty four hours it’s not cheap, but there were plenty of motorhomes using it, by the Thursday the majority of vehicles were motorhomes. 

Approaching Exmouth on the ferry