After waking briefly three times during the previous night, and hearing it belting down with rain each time, I woke that morning to blue sky and bright sunshine. My first thought was that there was bound to be some water lodged somewhere round the awning, probably on top of the connecting flap and the mudwalls outside, but when I got up and went out to have a look I was surprised to find there was none at all - not a drop of water anywhere, the awning was bone dry all over. That was brilliant - as long as it didn't decide to rain again I would thankfully be packing away a dry awning rather than a wet one.
I wasn't in too much of a rush to leave though so after a dog walk up the lane to the golf course and back I breakfasted at leisure then had a chat to the other group members who were on the point of leaving before I started the packing up process. With the van fully loaded and ready for off I still had some time to spare so I decided to have a walk up to the castle and back - after asking one of the site owners if it was okay to leave my van on the pitch until I got back (which it was) I clipped the leads on the dogs and set off. However, when I got to the castle I had a spur-of-the-moment change of plan and decided to find the path in the woods which went up to the top of the hill and do the circular walk back to the camp site, which I'd been told would take an hour and twenty minutes - it was only 1pm so I could do the walk and still drive home with time to spare before work. But as it turned out, that was big mistake number one.
I'd walked quite a distance through the woods before I found the path - I don't know how I'd missed it before - and as per instructions kept following it as it zig-zagged its way upwards. However, after the third bend it seemed to go on for ever, taking me further and further in the wrong direction; not knowing just how far it would take me, and seeing a minor path leading up through the trees, I decided to follow that instead - it was going uphill so it had to come out somewhere, but that was big mistake number two. I hadn't gone far when the trees thinned out and I could see a field so I was obviously going the right way, but when I got there I found it was fenced off with barbed wire and there was no way in. Luckily the fence wasn't high and there was plenty of 'give' in the top strand so I was able to drop the dogs over the top then lift the wire up enough to be able to duck through, but on the other side of the fence came big mistake number three.
Assuming that I should go back in the direction of the camp site that's the way I went - across the first field, through a gate, across the second field and through another gate, then across a third field where I came to a full stop. The field ended and I was faced with another barbed wire fence and more woods, with not a cat in hell's chance of going any further. By this time I was beginning to wish I'd never started this expedition but I'd gone too far to go back so the only thing I could do was follow the fence line up the field. At the top of the field I came to a stone wall with a gate set in one corner, and when I went through the gate I saw it - in the distance, and back in the direction I'd just come from, was a farmhouse and outbuildings. At last, signs of civilisation - and where there was a farm there must be a lane, so I headed back that way. If I'd walked straight up the hill when I climbed through the fence instead of going across it I would probably have got to that farmhouse ages ago!
Through three more fields - the hillside must have been an absolute patchwork of them - and I arrived at a farm track with horses in paddocks on either side. Walking up the track was a girl leading two horses so I thought I'd ask her where the lane was which would take me back to the camp site, but any hope of conversation soon went out of the window; I couldn't believe it - the first person I'd seen since I left the camp site and she was deaf! She must have been able to lip read though as when I said 'Abergele' she pointed down the track and to the left, and sure enough at the end of the track was the lane I was looking for. Thank heavens for that, now it wouldn't take long to get back to the site. But I hadn't reckoned on how far I'd actually walked and how far beyond the camp site I'd ended up - the lane went on for ever, and though it was going downhill all the time it seemed as though I would never get back to Manorafon. Now under normal circumstances I would have enjoyed that last part of the walk as the sun was shining and I was in some lovely countryside, but having left the van on my pitch I was worried that it could be stopping someone else from camping there - I'd been out far longer than I'd intended to be and I just wanted to get back there. Eventually though I could see some house roofs over the tops of the hedges and not long afterwards I emerged from the lane onto the small housing estate behind the camp site. Unfortunately though there was no way into the site from there so I had to walk right down to the main road then back up the track to the site entrance.
It was 3.15 when I arrived back at the van; I'd been out for well over two hours and at that time I would be pushing it to get back home in time for work at 5pm, but without breaking any speed limits I would try my best. Everything went well until I got to the outskirts of Manchester then I hit the early evening rush hour - definitely not my idea of fun, I was just glad I didn't have to do that every day. However, I got through it eventually and finally arrived back in Bolton, but I didn't have time to take the dogs home so I just drove straight to work - and I was only five minutes late. The dogs had slept all the way through the drive back - the poor little things must have been absolutely shattered from that walk - and they didn't even raise their heads when I parked the van; I wouldn't be at work for long so I knew they would be okay. Needless to say, when I finally got home and it came to taking them for their bedtime walk later on none of us wanted to go far!
Lying in bed a while later my mind went back over the last few days; okay, so the weather could have been better, but although I hadn't been able to take as many photos as I would have liked I'd still done a bit of exploring and I'd also spent some time in the company of a great bunch of people, so all in all I'd had a good weekend. And the camp site itself? - it was a lovely place in a lovely location and I certainly intend to stay there again in the not-too-distant future.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it