While everyone else got covered in mud!
Some of the 'camping for nutters' group members had decided to have an impromptu get together at Highgate Barn, a site in the Fylde countryside less than an hour's drive from home, and though I couldn't join them for the weekend due to prior commitments I decided on the spur of the moment at lunchtime to drive over there, spend a couple of hours chatting to various members, and also check out the site with a view to maybe spending a weekend there on my own sometime. The weather was a bit changeable with long periods of sunshine interspersed with brief but sudden showers, but on the whole it was fine with blue sky and the drive over to the Fylde was quite pleasant.
The site was situated down a long private track off a country lane in the middle of nowhere, and as I reached the end of the track I began to wonder if I was in the right place. It was a wooded site with small clearings dotted here and there, with a hard standing pitch in each clearing and caravans on several pitches, none of which seemed to be occupied, so I assumed that they were just kept there all year round. I couldn't see any tents though, so thinking maybe they were pitched right at the far end of the site I continued on down the access track. I thought wrong however, as there was nothing at the end of the track except for a large fishing pond, so I had to turn round and go back - and that's when I got stuck. The track was only just about as wide as my van, so to do a three-point turn meant I had to drive onto the grass at each side; going forwards and to the right was no problem, neither was reversing to the left, but when I tried to pull away nothing happened - my back wheels had sunk into very soft ground and were spinning uselessly. Luckily I had a couple of lengths of timber in the back of the van which I could put under the wheels but even those didn't help - the wheels just kept spinning, so I thought I'd better stop before they dug themselves too far into the ground and look for some assistance.
Leaving the dogs in the back of the van I went for a walk round the site and eventually found the tents I was looking for - they were grouped together under the trees at the far side of the toilet block, which was why I hadn't seen them before. At first there didn't seem to be anyone around but then I saw one of the group members who I had previously met at Riverside, and once I'd asked if he could help with the van it wasn't long before half a dozen members appeared from various tents and set off to the rescue. With some mats under the wheels for traction, and everyone pushing like mad at the back, I was finally able to pull out of the soft ground and back onto the track, but not without a great deal of mud flying everywhere, and when I got out of the van and looked at my rescuers most of them had been well and truly plastered in it. No-one seemed to mind too much though - after all, what's a bit of mud between friends?!
With the van back on solid ground I drove round to where the tents were pitched and parked up nearby, then with Sophie and Sugar on their leads I set off to explore the site, finishing with a couple of circuits of the fishing pond where I was joined by Diane and her dog Bruno. The site itself was quite nice and I liked the secluded individual pitches but there were several muddy areas on the grass; even the access track was muddy in places. I don't 'do' mud when I'm camping so it's not really a site I would go to at this time of year but in warmer and drier weather I would certainly consider it. By the time I got back to the van I was ready for a brew so with the dogs towelled down and settled in the back out of harm's way I set up my camping stove and made a mug of much-needed coffee, which was accompanied by a couple of small egg custards which had just happened to find their way into my trolley while I was shopping in Asda earlier on - I don't have to be camping in the true sense of the word to have coffee and cake! Then with the inner woman satisfied I went across to join the others and spent a very nice hour or so chatting to various members of the group.
The daylight was fading rapidly by the time I was ready to set off back home and though I would have liked to stay longer I had other things to do. Also it was getting decidedly chilly, so after saying goodbye to everyone I returned to the van and headed along the track towards the lane. The next time I met up with the group would be the Easter meet in north Wales - my afternoon at Highgate Barn had really put me in the mood for camping (in spite of getting the van stuck in soft ground) so I would be keeping my fingers metaphorically crossed for some really good weather for that one.
- 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