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Family Tour 2018 Day 1-2

Category: Caravanning
31 Jan 2019
Written by Andy Hits: 6174

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It's been a little while since I posted an update, so over the next few weeks I'll try and post a little bit about our "grand tour" as we nicknamed it, a trip of approximately 2000 miles from home to Scotland and back again, stopping off with family and friends along the way.


We did this over a course of 2 weeks and we didn't stay at a campsite for more than 2 nights.  It was kind of inspired by some of the fun we'd had a couple of years before with a motorhome on the North island of New Zealand, only this time there would be the 2 of us, plus our 2 dogs, and our 10 month old daughter.

This meant we did our best to break the journeys down into manageable chunks to fit in with feeding, sleeping and nappy changing requirements!

Day 1: 22/9/2018, Home to Newton Aycliffe (250 Miles)

We had to hold off setting off bright and early and meeting family up there due to commitments with a church camp we help with.  Fortunately the people hosting the event run a CaMac Certificated Location (CL) and there was plenty of space to park up with everything we needed for the rest of the journey, saving on the need to double back home.

We finally set off for the main push of this drive at about 4pm.  All was quiet for the majority of this drive, and we pushed on up to FerryBridge services for what felt like a well earned break.  They had something that I never tire of seeing.  Dedicated Car and Caravan parking bays.  Not that I mind stopping in the lorry section either.  The wireless camera on the back of the caravan and plenty of space makes parking along side the trucks seem relatively easy. 

But here we were in the dedicated parking spot in all its glory:

The services themselves left a little to be desired, with even the "clean" looking tables looking quite grubby, and the dogs turning their noses up at the "pet friendly" water.  Having seen them wanting to drink from muddy puddles on walks, I know their standards aren't always that high!

Anyway, dogs and humans were fed and watered (I did also have fresh water in the car for them) and it was my stint of driving up to the camp site, with well over half the drive already completed.  Things were going pretty well, until all of a sudden there was a funny periodic rumbling sound.  By this time, it was dark, so I couldn't see anything wrong in the mirrors, and figured that the tyre pressure monitor would be screaming if it was a blow out of some kind.  But being on the A1 I was very glad of the hard shoulder to pull on to, just after a junction to check what was going on.

Fortunately it was just the jockey wheel that had slipped down, and no harm had been done.  Lesson learned, always double check that it is tightly screwed shut.  The other thing I found while driving was that while having a camera at the back of the caravan on all the time is nice, that the brightness of the screen at night is a little bit too bright, and gets distracting.  Maybe something other than a cheap Amazon Special is going to be needed in the long run!  But as it has a folding screen, it was easy enough to fold down and shut the screen away until needed.

We continued on the rest of the way up to our chosen camp site for the night, at the Hammer and Pincers near Newton Aycliffe.  One of the members of staff was on hand as we drew up and directed us to the cutting to reach the camping area at the pub, as it wasn't very clear from google earth / streetview on how to get to the site from the road.

We quickly set up, having opted for a non electric pitch as we were there for only one night, and spending the next morning with family in Middlesbrough area, and the electric lead was one less thing to set up in the dark. 

And of course, it being a chilly September evening, the heating was acting up.  It seemed to not quite supply enough gas to keep the flame burning before the flame cutoff device cut in.  I figured a work around with wife and baby feeling the cold.  I lit one of the rings on the cooker to check the gas pressure was ok, having swapped to the spare bottle also, just to be sure.  As the heater tried to light, I noticed the size of the flame dropping, so found that if I turned the cooker off during the heaters lighting cycle, it would catch, and heat up nicely (until the thermostat said the van was warm enough, and then it wouldn't re-light!)
Still, it was enough to avoid having people too cold over night.  At later camp sites where we did have an electric hookup, I experimented more, and of course, it worked perfectly.  Maybe I'd just not used the heating on gas enough.

The camp site is lovely, with plenty of space between pitches. The only down side I could name was that it is close to the East Cost Main Line railway line that runs from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross (well, the Darlington to Newcastle stretch in this case)
But over night there weren't too many trains, so this wasn't too much of a problem.  Unfortunately we didn't get round to taking photos at this camp site, but like many of the camp sites along our route I can see us coming back if passing by this way

Day 2: 23/9/2018, Newton Aycliffe to Edinburgh ( 181 Miles )

In the morning we made our way to meet up with family in the Stockton area, and visited their church for a service, before having a nice lunch at their house.  We also took the opportunity to fill the car up too as it is so much easier using filling stations without an extra 7.5 metres of caravan on the back of the car.

Once back at the site, we paid our dues for the night, and set about emptying the water down and packing the van up for the drive up to Edinburgh.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon as we followed the A1 north past Newcastle, and I'm happy to say we had no difficulties along the way.

North of Newcastle, as we passed through Northumbria, it brought back memories of family holidays, seeing Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne.  I'm sure we will come back and stay in this area too, rather than driving through.  We then passed Berwick and then the Saltire that marked the border, and made it over into Scotland without any drama and continued our good steady progress to our campsite for the night, a CL called 22 Damhead

This was one of the smaller CL sites we have come across, with only 1 pitch free, and not a huge amount of space to manoeuvre the caravan through 180 degrees from the track into the site.  We gave up on reversing it, as we were going to wreck the grass if we tried much harder to reverse up a slope on full lock, and dropped the caravan and used the motor mover to get us the last little bit of the way to our pitch.  We then set up as quick as we could, both water, electric and our small porch awning.
While there my brother in law popped by from where they were staying for the weekend to confirm plans for the next day.  When we said the road we were on, they knew exactly where to come, as apparently there was an Ikea at the other end of the road, which we hadn't got as far as yet.

No dramas with the caravan over night, everything seemed to work correctly.

Car Caravan and Awning at 22 Damhead CL

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