Smoo Cave

We left Talmine and headed for Smoo Cave…we thought it was a joke! Like maybe some kind of children’s place to visit or something but no, it’s fab. It’s basically a cave in the cliff, with a waterfall that goes down through a hole in the ground above, and splashes into a pool below.

When you walk down to the beach to the cave entrance it is enormous, but it peters out at the back so there are many cosy little places to explore. There is a smaller cave off to the right where there’s a natural lake. This is formed by the already mentioned waterfall, and you can even go for a boat ride on it. Sadly we could not as it was not operating that day for some reason.

We barely saw another person all day so although it was May it seemed to be right out of season everywhere we went. Even the small gift shop was shut. It didn’t matter though we spent a half a day here just exploring the cave and the cliff tops. 

Here’s a few photos.

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Talmine

We found this little town called Talmine after leaving Dunnet head. We’d gone over a long bridge where we’d had a campfire and 2 police came and warmed themselves by it and had a cuppa. The scenery was beautiful so we were simply turning down roads to see where they led. Some were dead ends, but others led to small villages and this is what happened to let us find Talmine. 

The water was crystal clear, so clear we went for a swim in it. There’s a little island just off the coast called rabbit island because apparently it’s infested with rabbits. The wreck on the shore makes it for me though, it’s such an idyllic little spot. 

There is a tiny campsite here, and we were told to walk up the hill to see the old lady who lived in a cottage. We did so and paid a few Pounds for the night. However we actually spent the night right on the beach, listening to the waves and smelling the fresh air. It was a beautiful night and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The next day we still had not seen anyone at all apart from a few fishermen on the harbour wall. Apparently this is still a working harbour. We’re definitely coming back here again!

Here’s a few photos.

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John O Groats

We drove for what seemed like a lifetime but the scenery was so immense we just wanted to keep going in this other world and enjoy it. We stopped now and again to take photos and to have a cuppa and to just take in the beauty of where we were. 

We didn’t have a plan really but when we saw a sign for John O Groats we decided to head there. We’d always thought it was the most northerly part of the UK but apparently that is Dunnet Head, which we went to later. John O Groats is about as tacky as you’d expect but we did still enjoy it. There was a nice atmosphere about the place but burgers and coffees were not cheap at the cafes so we were please we had everything we needed in the van. 

We were running low on water, so I went to the campsite and asked if we could pay a couple of Pounds to fill with water even though we were not staying the night? The lady looked quite shocked but even after a chat and a few more tries she wasn’t having it. Missed opportunity to make a couple of Pounds from someone who is not your customer if you ask me. 

Anyway, we continued on and the scenery was mind blowing. The roads were quiet too with hardly anyone around. We arrived at Dunnet Head so at least we can now claim we hvae been as far north as it’s possible to go int he UK.

Further on we spotted an inlet known as the Kyle of Tongue. It was very picturesque here so we pulled into a layby and settled for the night. 

Deciding to do this Scottish odyssey was a fab idea, and although I’ve tented up here in the past I am still seeing new places and Jo is loving seeing it all for the first time. 

Here’s a few pictures of our trip so far.

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Cheddar Gorge

So we decided to come down to Cheddar Gorge and explore the caves. I’d brought the kids down a while ago camping and really enjoyed it, and as Jo had never been I thought it would be nice for her to see it.  There’s actually quite a lot to do here and we loved it, especially the trip out to Ebbor Gorge and the visit to Wookey Hole. 

We’ve both taken to the camper van life like ducks to water although Jo isn’t happy about the toilet arrangements, but we always manage to find public ones. The caves sure are pricey to get into, I guess they have to make as much as they can from the tourists. 

We went to the original genuine Cheddar cheese factory and did the tour. I love cheddar but the stuff I eat apparently is very processed and nothing like the real stuff made here. I was canny excited to try the real stuff at the end of the tour, but a little sad that it was so vile I had to spit it out!

Never mind, the visit was a good one and we both enjoyed it, the freedom we have with this van is immense!

Here’s a few photos. 

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Our first trip

Our first trip in the new van and we are excited. So we have cleaned the heck out of the van, done a few minor repairs and stocked the cupboard with food. The gas cylinder is full and I’ve filled the water tank. The cooker works fine as does the chemical toilet which is ready to use. The instant water boiler is ace and works fine. The fridge is a 3 way and appears to work although probs only at about 5 degrees. 
We’ve figured out how to use the top ‘bunk’ which is slightly claustrophobic but entirely usable on cold nights. The gas fire works thank god so we’re all ready to rock….to the lakes!

Well we’ve camped there for years so it made sense to go to a favourite spot and see what it was like with a completely different sort of camping. We chose Haweswater as it’s totally out of the way, hardly any tourists go there and there are some fine walks all around that area. 

May this become the new norm we are both really excited! Here’s a few photos I snapped while we were there.

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Start of a dream maybe?

Is this the start of a camper dream? OK so there we were watching soaps on TV…well Jo was, I was pretending to watch so as not to spoil it for her, but I also pretended I was doing important things on the computer in the spare room lol

Picture of camper from front nearside
My first van

So, as I’ve long wanted a camper and to travel around visiting everywhere I had looked at some on ebay and found a one for £1K. OK, it was old, it wasn’t anything fancy, but it worked apparently, had a cooker and chemical toilet and shower and a bed, and also chairs and tables. What more could you want?

I bid £50 just out of daftness and instantly it rose to “outbid” and it was now £51 from £30. Aha…someone has put a chunker on it. So I sat for a while deciding how much it would be worth to me. I reckoned £1500 cos that was what my last car cost, so I stuck £500 in as a bid and hey presto…I was winning!

I went and told Jo cos the soap had finished, and showed her all the photos of it’s interior, and how I’d looked at loads and there was not may like this for under £3K, which at the time was true. She seemed genuinely interested but not excited cos it wasn’t her dream and her mind was still full of Eastenders. We chatted about it for a while and talked about where we’d go and how we could stay away from home for months on end if we so chose. She wasn’t mad keen on that idea but she liked the idea of a month long European tour. 

Internal photo of camper
My first van

Anyway, the auction didn’t end til about 10:30 pm so we want and watched a film and stuff. I came back to check it just after end of auction time and OMG…I had won! It cost me £1000 but I’d won it! I’ve rarely been so excited and Jo was quite enthused by that point so at 11 pm we set off to get the train to Cornwall to pick it up. Yup…taxi to Newcastle, train to York, Birmingham New Street, Bristol Temple Meads and on to the local station where we were being met by the seller. 

This was sheer madness but you know, I’ve dreamed of this since I was young, and made the camper into something much more than it was. I built it up with emotion rather than logic. I knew it was old and probs not the best condition but hey…it would do as a start right? Both me and Jo love camping and have done it regularly even in the worst winters. I remember once in Derbyshire having to roll ourselves up in the tent to stop it flying away. At least we stayed dry and warm. 

However this was a different sort of camping, allowing us to live a little wild still, but able to travel anywhere and everywhere. This is how we spent the entire journey to Cornwall, leaving my flat about 11p m and arriving there about 9 am and being met by the seller. 

Of course the instant we saw it reality kicked in, but we were both fine, we had known it was not a brand new pristine model, it was ancient and had rust here and there and old fashioned styling, but after an hour of going over it, we found apart from a deep clean it was fine. Everything worked, the engine was fine, and even for an old van it was quite stylish. 

I eventually paid the cash and we drove off deciding to spend a week in Cornwall to get used to the van. The first night was great, although we were only parked in a layby! But we learned how to use the oven and made some toast and tea, we learned how to put the bed up. And we learned that we were right, it needed a very deep clean. So we got a great nights sleep and then headed back north. The intention was to spend a few days cleaning it and then decide where we were going. 

We were soooo excited!

Update: Due to an unreliable Western Digital drive I have lost all photos of Cornwall and also a Spanish holiday when I did not take the camper. 🙁

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